It appears all but certain Marcus Johansson will be playing for a team not named the Bruins next season, leaving Boston with an important void to fill.
Of course, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney went out and got Johansson at the trade deadline this past season because the Bruins were struggling with offensive productivity in the middle six, and the acquisition proved to be a big one. He started on the second-line right wing but ultimately found a home on the third trio opposite Danton Heinen with Charlie Coyle between them. At times during the postseason, that unit was the best of the four. But with the Bruins limited on cap space, signing Johansson became unfeasible, and now Boston pretty much is back to having the same options at winger now as they did prior to the 2019 trade deadline.
They did sign Brett Ritchie and Par Lindholm, but who likely will take Johansson’s place? Sweeney addressed the brewing competition Monday afternoon.
“I think Danton Heinen, depends on which side we play him on,” Sweeney said. “If you think whether Karson (Kuhlman) or (Zach) Senyshyn, whoever, Brett Ritchie, obviously guys who are right shot if we play lefty/righty and move Danton over, I think fits into that same milk of player, creative wise. Marcus wasn’t a shoot-first guy either, and Danton’s not. We’d like him to shoot a little more volume, if he can. We’ll see when Anders Bjork comes back online. We’ll see what Peter Cehlarik does. I think we have, as I referenced, some guys internally. Paul Carey’s another guy that’s played a lot of games in the National Hockey League with his skillset. You never know where guys are going to come back at and assimilate with. You know, Paul being able to play with Charlie Coyle, let’s see. Let’s see where it goes. I’m not rubber stamping any of that, but I do believe we have enough depth that was an area that showed up in this year’s team that was very valuable. Hopefully, we recognize that we’ve addressed some of that when we couldn’t go fishing in the deepest of waters.
Indeed, depth in the organization proved to be important, as 37 different skaters played at least one game for the NHL Bruins this past season. Cehlarik showed nice flashes in the 20 games he played but ultimately flamed out. Bjork has great skill, but streaky play and injuries have kept him from sticking in the top flight. Kuhlman made a real case for himself to be an NHL mainstay, providing a nice jolt whenever he was slotted into the lineup, ultimately playing in the final two games of the Stanley Cup Final.
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