BRIGHTON, Mass. — The Bruins made their first cuts of NHL training camp over the weekend with their preseason schedule halfway over, and Providence Bruins camp for their AHL farm club set to begin on Monday. Young D-men Axel Andersson and Wiley Sherman were sent down to Providence this weekend, and Samuel Asselin, Chris Breen, Alexey Solovyev, Brendan Woods and Cooper Zech were all assigned to the P-Bruins as well.
The moves still leave the Bruins with a few young faces in NHL training camp as more veterans will be inserted into the lineup for the three home preseason games beginning tonight at TD Garden against the Philadelphia Flyers. But Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy has been quick to point out that there aren’t many open spots for young hopefuls this time around for the Black and Gold coming off last year’s Stanley Cup Final run, and taking into account all of the different players with NHL contracts in this season’s camp.
“This year is a more difficult camp to find a spot in the lineup. We just have more returning players. It doesn’t mean you can’t beat a guy out, but it’s more difficult than maybe last year where we created some competition at different spots hoping that a young guy would take over. This year [there are fewer openings] just because of the trade for Coyle and the growth of [Karson] Kuhlman. There’s competition for that right wing spot with [David] Krejci, but we like what Kuhlman did.
“It makes it tougher for those young guys trying to crack the lineup. So what you’re trying to do is identify yourself as a depth player that can be the first call-up in certain situations. That’s about the best you can do with the hand you’re dealt.”
Take for example, young center Jack Studnicka, considered by most to be Boston’s top young prospect entering his first season as a pro. Studnicka has been solid in camp and did his best to bulk up a bit in his first real shot at an NHL job, but it’s also pretty apparent the 21-year-old is going to be best served by some development time in the AHL where he can keep getting bigger and stronger.
“It’s going to be tough in the middle for Jack. We’d have to move pieces around, which we said we would do [if he was ready]. But I don’t think he’s there yet and that’s fine. With Jack there is great hockey instincts and great will, but I just think he hasn’t grown into his body yet strength-wise. It is what it is,” said Cassidy. “But we like how he’s playing. Is he ready to unseat anybody? I wouldn’t say so yet.”
With the numbers beginning to get pared down, here’s the expected lineup for tonight’s first preseason game at TD Garden this fall. Conspicuously absent from Monday night’s starter-filled Bruins lineup is Patrice Bergeron, who should make his only preseason appearance in Saturday’s finale at TD Garden vs. the Blackhawks just a few days before the start of the regular season:
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