The Boston Bruins took a big step toward setting their 23-man opening night roster Thursday.
Three players — forwards Paul Carey and Brendan Gaunce and defenseman Alex Petrovic — were placed on waivers. Boston sent nine others down to the minors: Ryan Fitzgerald, Kyle Keyser, Joona Koppanen, Jeremy Lauzon, Zach Senyshyn, Pavel Shen, Oskar Steen and Urho Vaakanainen. Robert Lantosi also will report to Providence.
If you don’t include injured players John Moore, Kevan Miller, Peter Cehlarik and Anton Blidh, the Bruins are carrying 29 players: 18 forwards, eight defensemen and three goalies. Notable players who were not cut include Anders Bjork, Jack Studnicka and Jakob Zboril.
So what should we make of all this? Not much, honestly.
The Bruins have their final preseason game Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks, and though Boston’s roster likely will be comprised of almost entirely regulars, it makes sense not to skate the whole opening night lineup in order to minimize the risk of injury.
David Krejci all but certainly won’t play Saturday, so keeping Studnicka up to fill that void makes sense. There’s also no urgency to play Zdeno Chara in the preseason finale, which must be part of the logic in keeping Zboril up. Goaltender Maxime Lagace might see a good bit of playing time against the Blackhawks, but he’ll ultimately get sent down, too.
So with six players to cut, who likely will be out? Studnicka, Zboril, Lagace and Cameron Hughes all but certainly will not make the roster. That means two more have to go between, essentially, Bjork, Trent Frederic, Karson Kuhlman and Par Lindholm.
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy seemed to hint that Bjork would be better off beginning the season in the AHL so that he can play more often and get his confidence up. Frederic isn’t ready to become an NHL mainstay, especially if Krejci is healthy and ready to go to begin the season. Meanwhile, Kuhlman seems like he’s about to win the second-line right wing job, while Par Lindholm would be subject to waivers in order to send him down.
Of those four, Bjork, Frederic and Kuhlman (though to a lesser degree) are in the midst of their development, and keeping them on the roster only to scratch them most nights wouldn’t be prudent. However, Boston can get away with doing that to Lindholm.
So, considering all those factors, Bjork and Frederic could get sent down while Kuhlman and Lindholm land the final roster spots.
Here’s an opening night roster projection, all things considered:
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk-David Krejci-Karson Kuhlman
Danton Heinen-Charlie Coyle-Brett Ritchie
Joakim Nordstrom-Sean Kuraly-Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara-Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug-Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk-Connor Clifton
Scratches: David Backes, Steven Kampfer, Par Lindholm
Injured Reserve: John Moore, Kevan Miller