Boston Bruins Projected Lines – Opening Night:
These appear to be what you can expect for tonight’s opening game. I think the team is going to want to give Beleksey another chance and the best spot for him to get one is next to Ryan Spooner. Both players have something to prove and the veteran presence from Backes should be able to keep them in-check while playing on that line.
My honest opinion? I don’t see these lines stick much past the first few weeks of the season. Beleskey had an abysmal season last year and it seems as though there are other, hungrier & younger players battling for the position of 3rd line left-wing. I can see Vatrano, Kuraly and Heinen all placing their bids for the 3rd line left-wing slot in due time.
Possible lines – Early in Season
Beleskey most likely won’t stick this season. The Bruins have too many young wingers knocking on the door, most of which have a higher upside than Beleskey at this point in his career. Danton Heinen had a strong campaign in Providence last year and he followed it up with a strong camp this fall. Seeing him on the left of Spooner on the 3rd line makes a decent deal of sense. Bottom line, between Heinen, Vatrano, JFK & Cehlarik – Beleskey has to be feeling the flames against his skates.
The Bruins clearly have a “log-jam” of forwards coming through the system right now. This influx of talent is by no means a bad thing, however it could present some roster volatility throughout the line combinations. If my prediction about Beleskey not sticking around rings true, and Heinen isn’t the solution, I can see DeBrusk as a possible 3rd line left-wing. This scenario is continent upon a few things, but we saw Cehlarik briefly next to Krejci last year and he was a really nice fit alongside him. DeBrusk plays a much more physical, hard-nosed game than Cehlarik. Which this isn’t a knock, DeBrusk has a ton of talent – you don’t score 40+ goals in juniors by accident. With that being said, DeBrusk might not be ready to take on a top-6 role, if that’s the case then he could find himself flourishing on a 3rd line.
The Spooner situation is another aspect of volatility in the lineup. I’d suspect that the Bruins will be trying to trade him sooner rather than later, that way they can clear the path for young JFK. With JFK being NHL ready right now, he could find himself as the 3rd line center rather quickly.
Projected Defensive Pairs – Opening Night:
With Krug being temporarily unavailable for the first few games (jaw) it looks like the Bruins are going with the closest comparable they can find – Matt Grzelcyk. This is most likely a strategy to “stop the bleeding” while Krug is still injured. Grzelcyk offers a similar skill-set to Krug, which makes him for a much more viable candidate if that is in-fact the route the team is looking to go. Rob O’Gara is another player I think might get a shot in the team’s top-6 D core. Look for something like this throughout the season, maybe even early on:
Division Prediction – Atlantic
While teams such as Toronto and Boston and Montreal have plenty of talent on the ice, Tampa is the most complete. They have a talented young goalie, one of the best defensemen in the league in Hedman, and a good supporting cast of defense to compliment him. Add that together with a healthy Steven Stamkos and one of the best forwards in the league, Kucherov, and you should have yourself a possible division winner.