COUNTDOWN TO CAMP: Noel Acciari
Countdown to camp: Noel Acciari
From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2017-18 Bruins. Today: Noel Acciari.
After spending portions of time with the Bruins the past couple of seasons, Noel Acciari, 25, has begun to carve out a niche for himself as a hard-hitting, hard-playing Rhode Island kid who could really make a nice impact if he can stay healthy. He's on the cusp of establishing himself in the NHL as a fourth-line energy player and could do that with a solid showing this season for the Black and Gold.
What Happened Last Year
Noel Acciari split his time between the NHL and the AHL for the second consecutive season and he ended up putting some respectable numbers up at both levels. Combined Acciari played 59 games in Providence and Boston and posted eight goals and 19 points, to go along with 27 penalty minutes, while supplying a feisty, unyielding physical presence at both ends of the ice. The real breakthrough for the 25-year-old energy forward came late in the season for Boston when he scored his first couple of career NHL goals and clearly began to relax a little bit more at the offensive end. It was telling that Acciari saw his number get called for four of the six playoff games vs. the Ottawa Senators where he scored a goal in one of the games and played 28 plus minutes in Boston’s Game 5 double-overtime victory in Ottawa. The 5-foot-11, 205-pounder also missed some time with injuries through the season, but that may just be a byproduct of the way he plays.
Questions To Be Answered This Season
The biggest issue for Acciari at this point would appear to be whether or not he can remain in one piece playing his “take no prisoners” style. He specialized in massive car-crash-type body checks on the ice and doesn’t back down no matter how much bigger and stronger an opponent might be. That’s a great quality for a fourth-line, energy player to have on the ice, but it also calls into question how long a guy can play that way before eventually succumbing to some kind of injury. Still, Acciari really can’t be effective if he plays any other way except full speed ahead. Acciari’s spurt of offensive confidence at the end of the season also showed some upside in that area, and that perhaps he can push up in the NHL toward the seven goals, 19 points he posted in his first full AHL season in Providence. It’s clear the tools are there for him to be a very effective fourth line guy in the NHL and his style tends to aggravate opponents in a different, but also effective, way that gives Boston another agitator aside from Brad Marchand.
In Their Own Words
“I think last year was an up and down season for me. When I got the call back up [to the NHL], I just did what got me to that point. Not to be nervous, not to grip the stick a little too tight, and just play. Once I started doing that, relaxing a lot more and feeling a lot more comfortable with the guys, I think it made my game excel. The more comfortable I get with the team itself, the more I can produce and be a good player to help out in whatever I can.” –Noel Acciari, on what allowed him to start building up his game in the NHL toward the end of the season.
Acciari ended the season part of a very effective fourth line for the Bruins with Riley Nash and Dominic Moore, and was one of Boston’s best 12 forwards when the playoffs arrived. That kind of end to his season should push the hard-nosed Rhode Island kid into a regular role with the B’s where he becomes a physical, hard-hitting staple as an energy player. Acciari’s versatility will also be a big help for the Black and Gold as he can play center or the wings depending on what’s needed from him. It all hinges on Acciari being able to remain healthy while playing full-tilt and keeping up his confidence to chip in offensively while bringing the intensity. If he can do that and the B’s can find a couple of other players to fill the fourth line out, they’re going to have a very good energy line from beginning to end this season.