With the Boston Bruins roster almost set in stone on free agent frenzy, the only real battles were on the fourth line and thirteenth forward positions and who was going to be waived for possible assignment to the Providence Bruins of the AHL.
All those questions were answered at 5:00 pm Monday when the Bruins submitted their 23-man roster to the National Hockey League.
That has created quite the battle in Providence where they have eyes locked onto a championship run. There is an abundance of players on AHL only deals looking for NHL contracts but also a number of Maine Mariners, the Bruins ECHL affiliate, on ECHL contracts looking to take the next step.
With goaltenders Callum Booth and Jeremy Brodeur being sent to Maine, it appears the only position pretty much locked up is in the crease where Kyle Keyser and Troy Grosenick will share responsibilities of guarding the blue paint.
The battle for the blue line is where it gets interesting. Jack Ahcan, Brady Lyle, Urho Vaakanainen, Tyler Lewington, Nick Wolff and Victor Berglund are all under NHL contracts with Boston. Berglund has been injured throughout camp but skated with the P-Bruins yesterday in a red no-contact jersey and appears close to a return.
Aaron Ness, Andrew Peski, Jack Dougherty, J.D. Greenway (injured) and Josiah Didier (injured) are there on AHL deals with the P-Bruins. Michael Kim remains at camp and is under contract with Maine. Connor Doherty was also at camp but has since been returned to Maine.
And let’s not forget John Moore who Boston placed on waivers and he subsequently cleared. Boston has 30 days or until he plays in 10 NHL games to send him to Providence or he would need to clear waivers again.
Up front, there aren’t as many extra bodies as there are on the back end, but the battle is just as interesting if not more interesting. It begins with Chris Wagner who just cleared waivers and was assigned to Providence on Monday. Will he be here for the duration of the season? What role will he have on the squad? Could he wear a letter? Those answers will come in due time, but for now he is a P-Bruins.
The other intriguing forward is center Jack Studnicka. He had a terrific camp with Boston and all indications are that he will be the first forward called upon if there is an injury up front with the Big Club.
Jakub Lauko, Jesper Froden, Cameron Hughes, Oskar Steen, Zach Senyshyn, Samuel Asselin, Curtis Hall, Matt Filipe, Joona Koppanen and Steve Fogarty join Wagner and Studnicka at camp as forwards with NHL contracts. That brings the forward group with NHL contracts at camp to twelve.
Joining them for the battle are Alex-Olivier Voyer, Justin Brazeau, Ian McKinnon and Eduards Tralmaks, who are on AHL contracts with Providence. That brings the forward group to sixteen.
There was also a group of Maine forwards taking part in camp but have since been returned to the Mariners. They were: Jonathan Desbiens, Pascal Laberge, Lewis Zerter-Gossage and Keltie Jeri-Leon.
What are the lines going to look like? Your guess is as good as mine, but this has the makings of a team capable of going on a very deep playoff run and possibly winning it all. But if you asked me to take a guess, it would probably look something like this:
Lauko – Studnicka – Froden
Hughes – Steen – Senyshyn
Asselin – Hall – Fogarty
Filipe – Koppanen – Wagner
Leaving Voyer, Brazeau, McKinnon and Tralmaks as extra forwards.
On the blue line:
Ahcan – Lyle
Vaakanainen – Lewington
Ness – Peski
Leaving Wolff and Dougherty as extras. And of course, the injured Berglund, Greenway and Didier will need to fit in at some point.
And of course in net you have Grosenick and Keyser.
What also needs to be kept in mind is the AHL veteran rule.
The rule requires teams to dress a maximum of five veteran players (excluding goaltenders) in a game. The CBA defines veterans as players who have played more than 320 NHL, AHL or elite-level European regular-season games. Teams may also dress one “veteran-exempt” player (between 261-320 NHL, AHL or high-level European regular-season contests).
But the P-Bruins have no worries there.
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