The Boston Bruins season is over, and one week is probably an appropriate time to chew on things before handing out grades.
So, let’s dive into our annual Bruins end-of-season report card.
A couple of things to note: Everyone who played at least one game this season and finished the campaign with the organization will get a grade (basically, no Anders Bjork or Par Lindholm). Also, we graded based on role, so Anton Blidh and Patrice Bergeron won’t be graded on the same scale.
Brad Marchand, A –If he wasn’t the best Bruin this season, he was second-best. He deserved to pop up on some Hart Trophy ballots.
Patrice Bergeron, A- — The struggles in the faceoff dot during the playoffs were fascinating, but he showed no signs of his overall game slowing down. Still an elite all-situations player.
David Pastrnak, B+ — This ultimately will be remembered as a bumpy season for him. There were some low points, but at times no one in the NHL was as electric as him.
Taylor Hall, B+ — The best left winger David Krejci has had since Milan Lucic. Bringing back Hall should be a priority this offseason.
David Krejci, B — It was clear how energized he was with Hall and Craig Smith as his linemates. That largely makes up for a lackluster first couple months of the season.
Craig Smith, A- — Everything the Bruins could have asked for. He played on three different lines, and found ways to contribute on each. His contract through one year is proving to be one of the biggest bargains of the 2020 offseason.
Nick Ritchie, B — A shame he disappeared during the second round because this was a great rebound year for Ritchie. He’s a useful bottom-six winger.
Charlie Coyle, C — As a third-line center, his job isn’t to be an elite scorer. But some of the things he does best just weren’t there enough this year.
Jake DeBrusk C- — We’ll give him the break that he was getting thrown around the lineup all the time, but this was without question his most challenging year as a pro.
Sean Kuraly, C — He was the driver of the fourth line for a long time, but simply wasn’t effective enough in 2021. Some of it was being victim of starting in the defensive zone almost every time he was on the ice, but it was a down year.
Curtis Lazar, B- — Things started unraveling at the end of the postseason leading up to his injury, but he is the Bruins’ fourth-line center of the foreseeable future. Overall, a good pickup.
Chris Wagner, C — Just not a great year for Wagner. Too often was a passenger, and wasn’t really effective enough in any area.
Trent Frederic, C+ — A solid showing as a rookie. He proved early on he had a good ability to get under guys’ skin, but his play overall tanked as the season went on. Still, he has an exciting future.
Charlie McAvoy, A — Right up there with Marchand. Truly an elite player.
Matt Grzelcyk, B+ — Tough luck on the injury front, but it was clear how much better the Bruins were when he was on the ice.
Brandon Carlo, C+ — Another guy with bad injury luck, but even prior to that, it was not his most sterling campaign as a shutdown guy.
Mike Reilly, B — His impact upon arriving at the trade deadline was palpable. He’s probably better off as a third-pairing blueliner instead of second, but he makes sense as a long-term fit.
Connor Clifton, B+ — Credit to him, he went from healthy scratch to being a really impactful defenseman. He quieted his game down, and that paid dividends. He’s proving to be a legitimate NHL D-man.
Kevan Miller, B — The fact he played at all was impressive. Even if the analytics weren’t kind to him, he moved well and the Bruins seemed like a better team when he was on the ice.
Jeremy Lauzon, C+ — Got put in some tough situations, and while he overall was fine, he made crushing mistakes too often. His postseason play also marred what was a decent regular season.
Jakub Zboril, B- — Looked way more confident this season than in previous NHL stints. He was better in his own zone than expected, and was active in the offensive zone. There’s some upside there, but he’s not a finished product yet.
Tuukka Rask, B+ — He dealt with health issues for much of the season, but still was one of the game’s top netminders when he was healthy.
Jaroslav Halak, B- — Basically lost his job because he got COVID-19, but for the first three months of the season was the steady No. 2 for Boston.
THE FRINGE GUYS
Jack Studnicka, B — He proved to be far more effective as a center than winger. The skill is tantalizing, but now it’s a matter of finding out where exactly he fits, because that was a question left unanswered this season.
Karson Kuhlman, B- — He’s often asked to come in on short notice and be a high-energy guy. That’s exactly what he’s done, but now it’s time for him to find out how to become a regular.
Steven Kampfer, B+ — Had to play a lot more than the Bruins probably would’ve liked, but as always, he did his job like a true pro. Kampfer deserves a lot of respect, he’s great at his job.
Jarred Tinordi, B — When the Bruins needed him to come in and be a stopgap, he did. Played physically, backed things up with his fists when needed and didn’t make too many mistakes with the puck. If Kampfer is done in Boston, Tinordi makes sense to be re-signed and serve as a spare.
THE CUP OF COFFEE GUYS (Fewer than 10 games)
Anton Blidh, C — His game is growing, especially in the AHL, but at 26 years old, he still hasn’t found a way to separate himself in the NHL.
Greg McKegg, C+ — A good insurance policy who spent much of the year on the taxi squad. Actually looked pretty good when he got into game action, too.
Zach Senyshyn, B- — One of the unluckiest guys in the world. Was great in Providence and showed promise in his season debut but got hurt. Tough to grade him when injuries keep impacting things.
Ondrej Kase, Incomplete — Got hurt in the second game of the year, then was injured in his first game back. Here’s to hoping he just gets healthy.
Oskar Steen, C+ — He was a little too invisible in his NHL opportunities, but the speed is impressive. His path to NHL playing time might continue to be on the wing instead of his natural center.
Cameron Hughes, B — We actually were impressed with how he looked in the one NHL game he played this season. If the Bruins bring him back (he’s an RFA), he could compete to be the spare center at the NHL level.
Urho Vaakanainen, B- — Vaakanainen still gets thrown around a little bit too much, but he’s still young and it takes defenseman a longer time than forwards to be NHL ready. The raw skills are there, he just needs a little more time.
John Moore, C- — His season was cut short due to injury, but he was outplayed and healthy scratched too often, and didn’t do enough when he did make his way into the lineup.
Jack Ahcan, B+ — Had a killer year in the AHL and looked confident during NHL playing time. Plays like he’s bigger than 5-foot-8, 178 pounds, and he moves the puck real well. He’s one to keep watching.
Dan Vladar, B+ — A lot of the talk is about Jeremy Swayman, but Vladar looked poised in his NHL time this season. Some periods were clunkers, but a largely good showing from the young netminder.
Jeremy Swayman, A — He’s looking like the Bruins’ No. 1 goalie of the future. Confident and technically sound, things are bright for Swayman.