Countdown to Camp: Brad Marchand
Countdown to Camp: Brad Marchand
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 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Brad Marchand.
In just five seasons, Brad Marchand has become as identifiable with the Boston Bruins as any player on the roster, and he’s playing the best hockey of his career as he hits his prime. The 28-year-old scored a career-high 37 goals last season and topped 60 points while again forming one of the deadliest pairs in the league with Patrice Bergeron. The hope is that Marchand can continue as a high-impact player for at least the next couple of years, and that he’ll be doing it in a Boston uniform.
What Happened Last Year
Marchand was Boston’s most valuable player from beginning to end, providing clutch, consistent offense and operating at a high production level in all situations. Marchand, who has more short-handed goals than anyone in the NHL since entering the league, finally carved out a place for himself on the power play last season. He's also become Patrice Bergeron’s right-hand man in a pairing that is intrinsically linked to any Bruins succes. If anything, the B’s are forced to ride Marchand and Bergeron too hard during the regular season and that might have explained why they came up short in the final few weeks of the playoff run. The only real blemish for Marchand remains his tendency to go over the edge with his emotions. It happened at times with Marchand taking penalties during the season, and he sat out the blowout loss in the Winter Classic due to a league suspension. But the good far outweighs the bad for a player who always immediately takes accountability when he does do anything to hurt the club, and has grown into a leader over the years.
Questions To Be Answered This Season
Is Marchand's contract situation going to hang over his head all season, or can the B's resolve it prior to their Oct. 13 opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets? Clearly there are other questions about whether Marchand can duplicate the 37-goal performance from last season, and whether he can continue to toe the line between agitator and elite offensive performer. But allowing hom to go into this season without a long-term, big-money extension could be playing with fire, and could cost the B’s in the long run as his World Cup involvement continues to elevate his profile in the hockey world. Marchand is approaching star player status, and the Bruins are going to have to pay him like one if they want to keep him.
In Their Words
“With the opportunity I had last year, [the 37 goals] raises the bar a little bit. If I’m given the same opportunity again this year, then that’s where the bar is going to be. It was nice to hit that next level, and the goal now is to stay at that level and continue to grow. The main thing is to not try to chase it. When you chase something like [a high goal total]. things can go wrong. You stop playing the game the right way. I’m not so much focused on hitting any numbers as playing the game the right way, being a good player for the team, being strong defensively and playing my role the way they want me to do it. I’m sure if I didn’t get back there [to 37 goals] as long as I’m playing my game and doing the right things then they’ll be happy with what I’m doing. It’s more about being the right player for the team rather than hitting a certain number. When you do that you can start to cheat and play the wrong way, and that can ultimately affect the team.”
-- Brad Marchand, who says he has no plans to change the way things worked out for him last season.
Marchand -- currently playing on the most explosive line in the World Cup tournament with Patrice Bergeron and Sidney Crosby -- is primed for another big year and that’s a good thing for the Bruins. Marchand might not reach 37 goals again, but he’s clearly got the skills, instincts and toughness to reach the 30-goal plateau in his prime years now that he’s consistently logging power-play time. The question is whether the contract situation will weigh on Marchand during his walk season, or whether it will motivate him to even better numbers with money on the table. Clearly the Bruins could remove this distraction by signing No. 63 prior to the start of the season, but there’s no indication at this point that it’s going to happen. It has to scare the Bruins on some level that Marchand has shown good chemistry with his fellow Nova Scotia native Sid the Kid during the World Cup, and perhaps the Penguins have noticed that as well. Marchand is ascending to star status at the NHL level based on his numbers and his World Cup performance, but it will be up to him to remain there, rather than going back to being the skilled agitator he was perceived to be prior to last season.