The Bruins have not been really known as a big offensive team, rather relying on timely scoring and defense, rather than plentiful offense and good enough defense. With that being said, they had to change the lineup after missing the playoffs last season and there is certainly no guarantee that these changes will see them return to the Spring Dance.
Some familiar faces are now out, like Milan Lucic, but they have been replaced by guys like Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes, neither of which really strike the utmost confidence here, but it is certainly a start. Injuries to the key parts of their defense, after it was dismantled last Summer, also didn't help very much either, so look for a healthy Zdeno Chara to hopefully make his mark again in the coming year.
Table last updated on August 15th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
With the Boston Bruins depth being an issue heading into the off-season, one would have had to have looked to the team's depth for an intriguing or breakout player and having 10 goals and 27 points in 46 games during his first season with the club, 2014 1st round pick, David Pastrnak comes in as the Bruins' most intriguing player. His inclusion does go against my general thought process for sophomore players, trying to stay clear away from them for jinx risk purposes, but he does appear to be the kind of player that could benefit from all the change in Boston. As a 19-year old to start the season, he had a good year with the big club and put up some fine numbers in the AHL as well and it could be his overall lack of buzz heading into this season, which ultimately helps him to excel.
First Round Picks
Missing the playoffs certainly will have an affect on the team's best pool point producer, goalie Tuukka Rask, as his numbers took a tumble last year and his projections for the coming year, see his name just outside of the opening round, unless the pool gets significantly deep or the panic for goaltending becomes a real thing. I don't see the Bruins winning enough games to get to the playoffs and with a lack of a definitive back-up, Rask will be relied upon to the bitter end this year, which could also be costly.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
It's an interesting mix of new and old faces among the Bruins forwards and in this period of transition through their lineup, it's hard to find where a great deal of points are going to be. To begin with, it wasn't like the Bruins were offering a plethora of points, so you change around some of the chemistry in the side and you wait for the results. David Krejci (assuming he's healthy), Patrice Bergeron, Loui Eriksson and Brad Marchand will all still generate some offense, while newcomers Jimmy Hayes and Matt Beleskey should be able to fit into the Bruins system and provide their own brand of offense as well.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
Without due care and attention, you may miss out on Zdeno Chara in this year's pool draft, as someone will have done their homework and projected him to improve upon his 20-point season in 2015. If you're reading this, you're taking more than enough care in this situation.
The Bruins defense kind of sputtered last season, didn't exactly make the impact that we assumed they should have. Torey Krug should be able to repeat his season, which wasn't too bad, while Dennis Seidenberg should have larger expectations and a new face in Matt Irwin, has some potential, if he can earn those top end minutes.
There's no question about the number one, he's a potential 1st round pick. The real question in Boston is who will support Rask this year... Malcolm Subban or Zane McIntyre? The job is open to one of these youngsters, unless the Bruins were to make a splash with a veteran free agent keeper, between now and the beginning of the season. If they go with the youngsters, I would bet on each seeing a little bit of time, trying to get their feet wet in the NHL.
Possible Entries Into the Rookie Race
Unless Rask was to get hurt and one (or both) of the young goalies were to be asked to fill in, we're probably not looking at a lot of entries into the rookie race from Boston. The team has worked hard to fill the roster with veterans, trying to remain competitive, despite working their way out of salary cap trouble.
Team To Pick From Late?
In terms of fringe players, the Bruins should be a decent team to pick from in the later rounds. A kid like Ryan Spooner or Brett Connolly has the potential to be a decent sleeper pick, if you're looking for one. The defense leaves a little to be desired, so I would definitely tread carefully there.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
The Bruins have all of their players signed on for the coming year and they have worked out some cap flexibility with their roster. I have the Bruins pegged with four open roster spots, including the back-up goalie position, with $5.6 million left to go before they touch the ceiling. If they're to use some of their youth in the upcoming season, feed off some entry-level deals and succeed, they'll be in a great position to be a buyer at the trade deadline.