Charlie Coyle will be eased into action during training camp, and that’s good news for Jack Studnicka.
Coyle had offseason surgery and he won’t begin the preseason with the main group right away. Since Coyle was set to get the first shot at taking over for David Krejci as the second-line center, that’s a role the Bruins will have to fill early on in camp.
Studnicka, as well as Erik Haula, will get opportunities there.
“We’re going to try different players in that spot, Jack Studnicka being one,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said Wednesday over Zoom. “He was drafted as a centermen, last year was tough on a lot of young guys with the limited schedule — he had a great first year in Providence, played some big games for us — so we’ve got to find out where he’s at. …
“(We’ll see) where does Jack best fit in, who best plays with Haula,” Cassidy later noted. “So, that’ll be the plan for the first week to 10 days or so, see where Coyle is at going forward and make any adjustments.”
This is a big season for Studnicka. Slowly making his way out of prospect territory, the 22-year-old fell victim to the logjam up the middle last season. When he did get opportunities to pivot, he seemed more impactful than when he was playing on the wing. So, with the departures of Krejci and Sean Kuraly this offseason, the door is open for Studnicka to kick in the door and earn a middle-six center job.
He’s off to a good start, having bulked up this offseason and showing up to camp noticeably thicker. Some of his issues at the NHL level in the past could be attributed to him not being strong enough on the puck, so this is a step in the direction of rectifying that issue.
“(We wanted him) just being a little stronger on his feet with balance, so core work, to be able to absorb some of the contact, the sort of chip hits where he’s going through traffic and a guy gets a piece of him, but he can keep his balance and keep going and keep puck possession,” Cassidy said. “Jack has a willingness to go into traffic, he likes to play in there, he likes to have the puck around the net, those dirty areas. So, you have to be strong on it if you’re going to be at your best. So that was part of the reason for the conversation. I think he recognized it as well.”
Studnicka said he gained 15 pounds over the offseason, and it sounds like he’ll get ample opportunities to prove that will be for the best.