Bruins

Haggerty's 2015-16 Bruins player projections

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Haggerty's 2015-16 Bruins player projections

The Boston Bruins finished 22nd in the NHL in goals scored last season and clearly had some issues offensively throughout last season’s disappointing journey. New Bruins general manager Don Sweeney made changes this summer in an effort to address the offensive depth issues among the forward group, and has continued a makeover to their defense corps with his decision to send Dougie Hamilton to Calgary.

It means there will be plenty of unknown to start this season for the Black and Gold, and that could be both good and bad. The changes and roster alterations make it a little more challenging to project exactly what each player is going to do this season, but that means there’s also plenty of room for Boston to improve on last season. Here’s a very scientific list of projections for the Bruins that was gloriously and proudly calculated without any fancy stats involvement whatsoever.

 
David Krejci (19 goals, 45 assists, 64 points): Krejci will remain healthy for the bulk of this season, and will make a return to leading the Bruins in assists and points while playing setup man for David Pastrnak on his right side. The playmaking center will definitely be highly motivated, and much of last season’s overall offensive struggle in Boston can be traced back to missing their best offensive player in Krejci. Any playoff chances for the Bruins include a big year from No. 46.


Patrice Bergeron (25 goals and 35 points, 60 points): The two-way center will once again be among Boston’s leading goal-scorers, will be a finalist for the Selke Trophy and will undoubtedly represent the Bruins at the NHL All-Star game. These are numbers that you can take to the bank every season with Bergeron, and he will provide them along with setting the example for everybody else in the lineup to follow.

 
Torey Krug (15 goals and 33 assists for 48 points): Krug is Boston’s best offensive D-man and biggest playmaker on the power play and his numbers will reflect that this season with added responsibility and ice time for the 5-foot-9 blueliner. Until further notice, and with Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg banged up, Krug is the No. 1 defenseman for the B’s until the team can find, or develop, a more appropriate option with Dougie Hamilton and Johnny Boychuk now gone.
 

Brad Marchand (26 goals and 20 assists for 46 points): Marchand will lead the Bruins in goals, and once again team up with Bergeron to be one of the most effective tandems in the NHL. The total could jump all the way to 30 goals if Marchand gets consistent power play time all season, but we’ll wait until we see that come to fruition during the regular season before bumping up the goal-scoring numbers for the Nose Face Killah.
 

David Pastrnak (21 goals and 26 assists for 47 points): The first full season for 19-year-old Pastrnak will have its ups and downs, but he’s got the goods offensively to create with Krejci. I think this is the minimum level that Pastrnak will get to in his sophomore NHL season, but the ceiling is higher for him to do more if he really hits his groove offensively. Maintaining the production on a nightly basis will be the challenge for him as he gets targeted by defenses a bit more this year


Loui Eriksson (20 goals and 25 assists for 45 points): He’ll never again be the guy that registered 30 goals and 70 points for the Dallas Stars, but he should be capable of posting another 20-goal season skating with Bergeron and Marchand. He just needs to make sure he avoids those “kill shot” headhunting hits that got him a couple of years ago, and there’s no reason to think he can’t do that based on last year’s production while gearing up for a potential walk year.


Ryan Spooner (12 goals and 30 assists for 42 points): Spooner will be the speedy setup guy between Jimmy Hayes and Brett Connolly, and will also be the playmaking force off the half-wall on the power play for the Black and Gold. While he’ll accumulate some points in his third line center role, Spooner is going to post much of his offense on the man advantage this season. I’d expect that he might challenge Krejci for the team lead in assists before it’s all said and done.

 
Jimmy Hayes (18 goals and 18 assists for 36 points): Hayes won’t hit 20 goals in Boston this season, but he will do a nice job of wreaking havoc in front of opposing nets with his 6-foot-6 body and giant frame. These kinds of numbers from a third line winger are more than acceptable, and there’s room for upside if he gets a lot of power play time.


Colin Miller (8 goals and 21 assists for 29 points): I think Miller will be the best of the young defensemen trying to break into the Bruins lineup, and he’ll also finish as the second-best offensive D-man option behind Krug. It’s only a matter of time before he’s playing big minutes, producing offensively and carving out a big role for himself in Boston. He was impressive during training camp, and his mobility is a must for Boston’s puck-moving hopes. He reminds me a lot of Kevin Shattenkirk.  


Matt Beleskey (16 goals and 12 assists for 28 points): Beleskey comes into the season skating in Milan Lucic’s vacant spot, but expecting him to post the same 25 goals and 50 points on the left wing would be a mistake. He did have 22 goals last season, but had never scored more than 10 in a season prior to last year. The smaller Beleskey will miss some games while playing that intense, physical style, and he’ll prove to be a temporary solution as a top line winger. Beleskey will be much better off playing second or third line in the future, but he’ll do fine alongside Krejci until they find a solution that’s a little more prolific offensively.


Zdeno Chara (6 goals and 19 assists for 25 points): Chara will still get some power play goals and stretches where he’s productive offensively, but health will be a greater and greater challenge for the 38-year-old. His days as a 50-point defenseman are now well behind him, and his days as an indestructible terminator on skates are also in the rear view mirror.


Brett Connolly (12 goals and 11 assists for 23 points): It’s a big season for Connolly, and perhaps he’ll finally explode for 20-plus goals and enough proof that he belongs in a top-6 role on this team. I think he’s somewhere in between: he’ll have his moments skating with Spooner, but he’s more of a bottom-6 guy despite his status as a former first round lottery pick.

 
Matt Irwin (5 goals and 15 assists for 20 points): Irwin was signed as a depth guy, but he will need to step in and provide some of the key minutes that the Bruins are losing early with Dennis Seidenberg injured. Irwin is a capable offensive/power play guy and should rack up some points with his big point shot.


Joonas Kemppainen (6 goals and 10 assists for 16 points): The Big Finn has opened eyes in training camp, and might have a little offensive upside as well should he settle into the fourth line center role with the Bruins. This was a good sign by the Bruins scouting department because it definitely appears that Kemppainen can play.


Zach Trotman (4 goals and 10 assists for 14 points): Trotman has a big, booming shot from the point and can skate, but he’s also a big, strong defender that will jump into the battle in the defensive zone. He looks like a well-balanced defenseman that’s ready for his shot. I don’t expect to see super-sized offensive numbers from Trotman or Joe Morrow at the NHL level, however.

 
Joe Morrow (2 goals and 12 assists for 14 points): Perfectly competent offensive numbers for Morrow, but I’m beginning to suspect that he’s a player that isn’t quite going to live up to his status as a former first round pick. He can skate, shoot and pass but it just doesn’t seem like those skills translate into that many goals on the ice.


Chris Kelly (6 goals and 8 assists for 14 points): The numbers won’t be glamorous in a fourth line role for Kelly, but he’ll still kill penalties, take big face-offs and play the two-way hockey that Claude Julien demands of him.


Kevan Miller (0 goals and 12 assists for 12 points): Miller isn’t paid to put points on the board. He’s paid to punish puck-carriers, and that’s a good thing as he’ll be the Bruins player that isn’t able to break through at all this season.


Dennis Seidenberg (2 goals and 9 assists for 11 points): Seidenberg should be able to bounce back from his back surgery, but he’s another D-man like Chara that isn’t at his peak level of performance anymore. Even then, Seidenberg was never much of a point producer anyway.


Adam McQuaid (1 goal and 9 assists for 10 points): McQuaid is paid to bruise, hack and whack players trying to get close to the Boston net in the D-zone, and these numbers will just be gravy to what he does as a stay-at-home guy.


Max Talbot (3 goals and 6 assists for 9 points): Talbot may get scratched a bunch and may get sent down to Providence for a stint as well, but I do think he’ll be in Boston at times during the season as well. There’s still enough left in the tank for the 31-year-old Talbot to kick in some offensive production when he does get the call.


Zac Rinaldo (2 goals and 6 assists for 8 points): Rinaldo will double his career NHL offensive output this season, but those expecting a 15-20 point performance from him this year might go blind from the Black and Gold glasses they’re wearing.
 

Tyler Randell (2 goal and 4 assists for 6 points): Randell won’t be relied on for offense, but will instead bring the thunder and the nasty on a regular basis with physical play, a willingness to set the tone with his hitting and standing up for his teammates when it’s required. A fourth line with Rinaldo and Randell on the wings will be hard to play against.


Tuukka Rask (33 wins, 2.25 goals against average and a .927 save percentage): Tuukka Rask will be very good for the Bruins, but he’ll be tested early and often by a defensive corps in transition and another heavy workload this season.  I don’t see any Vezina for him this season, but he’ll still be consistently good all year with flashes of brilliance.
 

Jonas Gustavsson (8 wins, 2.53 goals against average and .918 save percentage): Gustavsson should be the beneficiary of Claude Julien’s defensive system as a backup to Rask, and will give the Bruins a steady, veteran hand behind Rask.

McDavid, MacKinnon, Matthews? Who are the top 10 centers in the NHL right now?

McDavid, MacKinnon, Matthews? Who are the top 10 centers in the NHL right now?

The NHL is absolutely loaded with great centers.

Whether it's a young talent like Auston Matthews, Nathan MacKinnon, Connor McDavid or Aleksander Barkov — all of whom are under 25 years old — or more established talent like Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Patrice Bergeron, or Anze Kopitar, trying to determine the league's best center is a tough task.

But while some of these guys are off to slow starts, others' talents are on full display through a quarter of the 2019-20 NHL season.

Joe Haggerty is continuing his look at the Top 10 players at each position with a look at the league's best centers.

Click here for the Top 10 centers in the NHL right now.>>>>>

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Bruins' Brett Ritchie (infection) out again vs. Sabres with flare-up of previous injury

Bruins' Brett Ritchie (infection) out again vs. Sabres with flare-up of previous injury

BRIGHTON, Mass. — Bruins power forward Brett Ritchie's on-again, off-again status is off again as he won’t be in the lineup vs. the Buffalo Sabres after “a flare-up” of an injury that previously kept him out of the lineup.

This will be the eighth game of the season that Ritchie has missed with a couple of different injuries, but this is related to an infection issue that took the 26-year-old out of the lineup for a handful of games. Ritchie had been out for two weeks prior to returning on Tuesday night against the Devils and had just one shot on goal in 13:15 of ice time in the win over New Jersey.

“He’s had a flare-up of a previous injury last night,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “So that will leave Lindholm with Bjork and Heinen. If Ritchie was healthy, he’d be on the wing and [Lindholm] would have to work his way into the lineup. Maybe he’d be the 13th or 14th forward mixed in.”

Ritchie has had pockets of decent play this season and got off to a good start when he scored in the season opener in Dallas, but the two goals and three points in 14 games played this season hasn’t been very impactful play from a guy the Bruins hoped would bring size, strength, physicality and ruggedness to their forward group.

Cassidy added that he “fully expects” Patrice Bergeron to play against the Sabres after missing the last two games with a lower body injury, and the further expectation is that Torey Krug will return this weekend against the Minnesota Wild, though he was skating in a no-contact jersey at Thursday’s run-through.

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings vs. the Sabres based on Thursday’s morning skate:

FORWARD LINES

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk David Krejci Charlie Coyle
Anders Bjork Par Lindholm Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom Sean Kuraly Chris Wagner

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk Brandon Carlo
Urho Vaakanainen Connor Clifton

STARTING GOALIE

Tuukka Rask

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