COUNTDOWN TO CAMP: Tim Schaller
Countdown to camp: Tim Schaller
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: Tim Schaller.
Tim Schaller wasn’t expected to break camp with the Bruins last season after the New Hampshire native signed with his hometown team from the Sabres organization, but the 26-year-old turned into a mainstay on the NHL roster. At times he showed some offensive flash, an ability to play a big man’s game and had some of the most entertaining fans in the league that showed up with massive Schaller heads in the TD Garden balcony seats. Now that he’s shown he can play at the NHL level, it’s up to Schaller to see how much he can advance his skills along with his combination of size, skills and grit that can be pretty effective.
What Happened Last Year
Schaller took advantage of some injuries and some turnover on Boston’s bottom six, and earned a job at the start of the NHL season after coming on strong at the very end of training camp following some injuries. The 26-year-old parlayed that chance into a full season spent at the NHL level with the Bruins as mostly a third and fourth line option that posted seven goals, 14 points and a minus-5 in 59 games. At different times Schaller showed some very good straight-ahead skating speed, a good, accurate shot around the net and a penchant for adding some good, old-fashioned physicality as well. The one thing Schaller wasn’t able to consistently do was show these qualities on a nightly basis, and there were stretches of games where he’d go without being much of a positive factor for the Black and Gold. Last season was an encouraging building block for Schaller, but there are definitely improvements to be made even as the B’s re-signed him for another season.
Questions To Be Answered This Season
Schaller was a great story last season as a 26-year-old living out his dream of playing for the Bruins in front of his friends and family, and he certainly had his moments for the Black and Gold. But the 6-foot-2, 219-pounder will need more of those moments on a consistent basis if he wants to stave off competition from young prospects pushing through the system, and hold onto his gig in Boston. The Bruins need a little more offense, a little more physicality and a little more of everything from Schaller if he wants to protect his fourth line gig for this season and beyond. The question is whether he’s capable of it following a solid first full season in Boston, or if last season was just about all that Schaller has to give after honing his craft in the AHL through most of his time with the Sabres. Schaller will certainly get a chance again this season, but a young player like Sean Kuraly is going to present a major challenge to him for a fourth line roster spot after he finished strongly last season.
In Their Words
“Personally it was a good year. I set a goal to try and play in the NHL for a whole season and luckily I was able to get that. I think I had a pretty good year, but I still think I can get stronger and better. So, hopefully [this upcoming season] I can get another full season in the NHL. Playing for my home team was awesome. Getting to share it with my friends and family who live an hour up the road makes it pretty special.” –Tim Schaller, on his first full season in the NHL and what the future may hold for him in Boston.
The 26-year-old Schaller surprised last season and did enough to stick with the Bruins all year, and for that he should be commended. That’s not easy to do. Schaller flashed skills and physicality and was part of a pretty effective group of players that filtered in and out of the B’s fourth line last season. So the expectation is that he can do as much, if not more, for the Black and Gold in a bottom-six type role again this season, but it’s going to be a more crowded forward group with the addition of a few young players to the mix this season. Schaller is going to need to find a way to be a factor much more consistently, whether with offensive plays, with physicality or with strong special teams play on the PK, if he wants to reclaim an NHL job this season and keep pushing in his NHL career. Knowing the competitiveness of a kid like Schaller, he’ll be up to the challenge for the Black and Gold.