I previously looked at the Boston Bruins depth chart for goaltenders and defencemen, and today I will attempt to break down the forward depth chart. Not an easy chore with so many of the forwards capable of playing multiple positions. When looking at depth, remember contract situation plays a role in the matter.
Here Is the depth chart looking at players that have signed NHL contracts only:
Patrice Bergeron: Bergy was still the premiere defensive forward in the game last season – despite his age – as proven by his record fifth Selke Trophy. Will come into the season as the unchallenged number one center.
David Krejci: Like Bergeron, Krejci is locked in for one-year at a very reduced salary. And even though he has had a year away from the NHL, there just isn’t anyone better in the organization to fill the 2C position.
Charlie Coyle: The only way that Coyle isn’t the number 3 center is if one of the youngsters is better suited down the middle and the Bruins move Coyle to right wing.
Pavel Zacha: A natural center for most is his playing days, Zacha is more than capable of playing the wing and that is likely where he is going to start.
Thomas Nosek: The fourth line job is Nosek’s to lose. He could be a cap dump in a trade as well. But if someone outperforms him in cap, the Bruins will not hesitate to make a change here.
Trent Frederic: You know him as a left wing in Boston, but he is a natural center. He will likely start the year on the LW but it would not surprise me in the least to see him take over the 4C role at some point.
Jack Studnicka: He signed his second contract this offseason and is no longer waiver exempt so now is the time for Studnicka to grab the bull by the horns.
Marc McLaughlin: A natural center who can play the wing had a good showing for the Bruins after signing his ELC last season. Unfortunately, the waiver situation means he is probably starting in Providence.
John Beecher: There is so much to like about Beecher’s game. Unfortunately, the waiver situation may affect him negatively as well. Besides, a year in the AHL to help develop more offence isn’t a bad thing.
Georgii Merkulov: Like Beecher, there is a lot to like about Merkulov’s game. But the defensive side of the game needs some improvement and he will get that in the AHL.
Curtis Hall: Has just been passed by so many prospects over the past couple of years.
Joona Koppanen: Good defensively and good on the PK, but so many bodies to climb over.
Brett Harrison: There are only two options for Harrison: Make the Bruins roster out of camp or go back to the Oshawa Generals of the OHL. Can’t see option one and option two is the best for his development.
Brad Marchand: Yes, offseason surgery will keep him off the opening night roster. But he is still one of the premiere left wingers in the game. Some may even say he is the best.
Taylor Hall: Hall had a good season last year and I think with the return of Krejci (if they are put back together) we will see an even better Taylor Hall. Easily the second best LW on this team.
Pavel Zacha: As mentioned with the centers, he likely starts, at least for this season, on left wing. And if that’s the case, find me a better number three on this list.
Trent Frederic: As mentioned above, he could take over the 4C role at some point. But at this point he is the best option for 4LW and it might not even be close.
AJ Greer: Bruins free agent signing this year could be the perfect 13th forward. It gives you options with Frederic to move him to the middle or up a line in a pinch.
Nick Foligno: Absolutely need to find a way to move this contract out. Depth is lacking after him though.
Jakub Lauko: Injuries have hampered him but his skating and tenacity might cause some havoc.
Samuel Asselin: Took a step forward last season, but he has a long way to go.
Matt Filipe: Honestly, if the Bruins need to call Filipe up to the big club, they have some serious injury problems.
David Pastrnak: One of the best pure goal scorers in the game and easily the best right wing on the Bruins.
Jake DeBrusk: Found a home with Bergeron and Marchand and old Jake was back. With Marchand’s absence to start the year it’s easy to move JDB to the left, but I wouldn’t. If the plan is to keep him on RW when everyone is healthy, don’t start moving him around.
Craig Smith: Probably the easiest contract for the Bruins to move because he has value around the league. But as of right now, he is the Bruins best option for 3RW.
Oskar Steen: Fresh off a new one-way contract, every opportunity will be given to Steen to run with a spot. He is no longer waiver exempt so the Bruins are going to have to be very careful here.
Fabian Lysell: A lot of debate on social media on whether he is ready to grab a spot in Boston. That remains to be seen. He is eligible to return to the Vancouver Giants of the WHL or the Providence Bruins. If he doesn’t make the big club (for ten games) his contract will slide again this season.
Marc McLaughlin: We listed him as a center but in reality, his best chance of cracking the lineup or even a callup are on right wing.
Vinni Lettieri: Depth signing by the Bruins in the offseason, but there aren’t a lot of bodies to jump on the right side, especially if Smith is the one that’s moved in a cap saving deal.
Chris Wagner: Unless the Bruins find a trade partner for Wagner, he is likely a casualty of the cap and will be destined for Providence in order for the Bruins to save some cap space. It will be the cap that dictates whether he would get a callup over let’s say Lettieri because Wagner’s cap hit is almost twice as much.
The Bruins also have a handful of forwards on AHL deals looking to earn an NHL contract. They are: Eduards Tralmaks, Luke Toporowski, Alex Olivier-Voyer, Joey Abate and Justin Brazeau.
Tralmaks is entering his second full season with the organization after a short stint in Providence after his NCAA career ended with the University of Maine. Toporowski is entering his first season after the Bruins signed the undrafted free agent from the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL. Olivier-Voyer is entering his second season with the organization after the Bruins signed him as an undrafted free agent from the Sherbrooke Phoenix of the QMJHL. Abate is entering his first professional season after the Bruins signed him as a free agent from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. After a season in the ECHL, Brazeau is entering his third season in the AHL, second with the Bruins.
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