Bruins Roster Reset: Projected Lines, Pairings After NHL Draft Trades

by NESN Staff

June 29, 2015

The Boston Bruins made two trades and 10 draft picks last week, and some of those moves will have a direct impact on the team’s lineup for the upcoming season.

Defenseman Dougie Hamilton and left winger Milan Lucic were traded to the Calgary Flames and Los Angeles Kings, respectively, giving the Bruins two important roster spots to fill over the summer. Third-line center Carl Soderberg and two-thirds of the fourth line also won’t return.

Here’s an early look at what Boston’s opening night lines and pairings could look like.

Lines
Brad Marchand–Patrice Bergeron–David Pastrnak
Loui Eriksson–David Krejci–Brett Connolly
Chris Kelly–Ryan Spooner–Reilly Smith
Max Talbot–Joonas Kemppainen–Seth Griffith
Extras: Alex Khokhlachev, Brian Ferlin

These lines could go a number of ways, but we already know Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Loui Eriksson and David Krejci will play in the top six. Everyone else could be placed up and down the lineup as head coach Claude Julien searches for the best combinations, although it’s likely Brett Connolly and David Pastrnak will play top-six roles.

Pastrnak is a speedy, highly skilled winger who scored at an impressive 2.56 points per 60 minutes rate at even strength as a rookie. Connolly is a former sixth overall pick with a fantastic shot and the willingness to battle for pucks behind the net, in front of the net and in the corners. He’d be best suited alongside a top-tier player such as David Krejci.

One of the main reasons why the B’s went from third in goals scored in 2013-14 to 22nd last season was Krejci’s injuries in 2014-15. If he plays close to a full season, Boston will have one of the NHL’s top 1-2 punches at center.

The bottom six is anyone’s guess right now, but the best options to replace Carl Soderberg and Gregory Campbell at center are Ryan Spooner and newly acquired Joonas Kemppainen. Spooner tallied 18 points in the final 24 games of last season, and he finally started to shoot more. We still don’t know if he can score close to that rate for a full season, but he’s definitely ready for a full-time top-nine role. Kemppainen plays a two-way game, wins faceoffs and impacts the game physically. He’s an ideal fourth-line center.

Right wing on the fourth line should be up for grabs in training camp, and a number of young players could battle for the job. Seth Griffith arguably is the best among them right now.

Defensive Pairings
Zdeno Chara–Zach Trotman
Torey Krug–Dennis Seidenberg
Colin Miller/Kevan Miller–Adam McQuaid
Extras: Kevan Miller/Colin Miller, Joe Morrow

Zdeno Chara, who’s 38, is Boston’s only legitimate top-four defenseman after Hamilton’s departure. Torey Krug could grow into that role, and while he generates scoring at the level of a top-four blueliner, he’s not yet there defensively. Dennis Seidenberg had a good finish to the 2014-15 season, which is encouraging, but he’s 33 years old.

Colin Miller and Zach Trotman could be the bright spots on the blue line. Miller, acquired from the Kings in the Lucic trade, was fantastic for the Calder Cup-winning Manchester Monarchs last season and is very good in the attacking zone, particularly with his booming shot from the point. Trotman impressed in a top-pairing role when Hamilton was injured for the final 10 games of last season. Trotman drove puck possession and played well defensively despite tough zone starts and difficult competition.

We also could see Joe Morrow play a larger role next season. The 22-year-old has spent the last three campaigns in the AHL, and it’s time for Boston to see what it has in this player at the highest level. Morrow was a first-round pick by the Pittsburgh Penguins in Hamilton’s draft (2011) and is ready for the challenge.

Goaltenders
Tuukka Rask
Martin Jones

Rask is the clear No. 1 as one of the five best goaltenders in the league. He isn’t likely to play 70 games again next season — which is a good thing — because the backup goalie position has been upgraded with newly acquired Martin Jones (from the Lucic trade). If Jones is traded before the season, Malcolm Subban and Jeremy Smith, or possibly even rookie Zane McIntyre, could compete for the backup job.

Either way, the B’s have tremendous depth in net throughout the organization.

Thumbnail photo via Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

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