The Boston Bruins have undergone some roster turnover the last few offseasons, and there will be plenty of fresh faces hitting the Warrior Ice Arena sheet this week.
And with such change comes plenty of questions.
Bruins training camp begins Wednesday, with the first preseason game set for Sunday and the opener on Oct. 16. So, in what really is not a lot of time, the Bruins, like every other team, have plenty of tasks they need to handle.
Here are a few of them.
Who will replace David Krejci on the second line?
The very simple answer is it will be Charlie Coyle. He has the inside track for the gig, at least. And while it would be surprising to see Coyle start anywhere but between Taylor Hall and Craig Smith to begin camp, he’ll still have to win the spot for the regular season.
A possibility also exists that somebody else plays well enough to justify keeping Coyle in his usual spot on the third line. The likely candidates seem to be Erik Haula or Jack Studnicka, though maybe Trent Frederic also could make a push for a middle six center job.
The Bruins have options, and the second/third-line center battle is an interesting one to follow. Even if Coyle ends up on the second line, there will be a vacancy on the third unit. Finding good centers is a hard job, so we’ll have to see if Boston’s best option is internal or one of the offseason additions.
Which goalie will separate themselves?
Talk about a truly wide-open battle. Linus Ullmark is the more veteran netminder between he and Jeremy Swayman, but Ullmark is in his first year in the organization.
The better question here, probably, should be: “Was Swayman’s 2021 an aberration?” The sample size on Swayman still is small, so it’s possible he hits some bumps during camp or early in the season. However, if he plays to his capabilities, then he and Ullmark could make for a really exciting tandem.
Maybe Ullmark will stand out. Perhaps it will be Swayman. Could it be both? We’ll see.
Where will the new additions fit in?
To catch you up, Ullmark, Haula Nick Foligno, Tomas Nosek and Derek Forbort were among the additions this offseason.
Haula has experience as a center, so he could end up as the third-line pivot should Coyle move up a line. If not, he still has plenty of value as a winger. Nosek can center a line or play on either wing, and provides some offensive upside as a fourth line forward. He should get a crack at winning a job on one of the fourth line wings.
Then there’s Forbort, who Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said the team wants to, at some point, try with Charlie McAvoy. What seems more likely to happen is Forbort spends much of camp with Connor Clifton/John Moore/Jakub Zboril on the bottom pairing, then at some point in the season gets mixed in with McAvoy.
The bottom line with pretty much all of these guys is they boast versatility. That seems to be a point of emphasis for the Bruins going into this season.
Will any prospects make a push for a roster spot?
If we’re making a shortlist, it would include Studnicka and Frederic (if you even can consider them prospects), Oskar Steen, Cameron Hughes, Jakub Lauko, Jesper Froden, Urho Vaakanainen and Jack Ahcan.
Studnicka and Frederic probably will break camp with the NHL team. Steen and Hughes could fight to be one of Boston’s first call-ups, while Lauko and Froden are more unknowns, but a pair who could really put themselves on the NHL call-up radar with good camps.
Vaakanainen and Ahcan both got a taste of the NHL last year, and will attempt to further their cases for varsity ice time.
For even more Bruins, tune into “Bruins: Back To Work” Wednesday on NESN at 5:30 p.m. ET. For the latest updates, view the NESN TV schedule here.