Bruins Summer Series: Where will Charlie Coyle end up next season?

Bruins Summer Series: Where will Charlie Coyle end up next season?

Today’s piece on Charlie Coyle is the eighth in a 10-part series over two weeks breaking down the core Bruins group of players, and where they stand headed into next season after last spring’s Stanley Cup playoff run.

Nobody could have guessed how well Charlie Coyle would have meshed into the Bruins lineup by the time they got to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The 27-year-old Coyle was solid during the regular season after getting traded from the Wild to Boston in exchange for prospect Ryan Donato, and he certainly eased the burden on Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci with his two-way play as the third-line center. It’s exactly what they weren’t getting from Trent Frederic and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson before B’s management opted to pull the trigger on the 6-foot-3, 218-pound kid from Weymouth.

But the two goals and six points in 21 regular-season games with the Bruins gave no indication as what he’d do in the postseason.

Coyle’s power, strength and skating game translated to the physical, grinding postseason style of play and he busted out for nine goals and 16 points in 24 games while proving to be one of Boston’s most consistent forwards from beginning to end of the postseason. Both Coyle and Marcus Johansson more than proved their worth as trade deadline acquisitions once the postseason arrived, and now the big center has at least one more season in Boston before both sides have to worry about a contract.

That means Coyle is in Boston's plans for this upcoming season and the debate becomes where best he can help his new team.

Certainly, the Bruins could keep him in the middle on the third line and count on the same consistent, steady play with perhaps a bit more regular-season offense depending on the wingers on either side of him. But the B’s could also take advantage of Coyle’s versatility and turn him into the top-6 winger with size and strength that they have needed over the last couple of seasons. The Bruins could push Coyle up to the right wing with either David Krejci or Patrice Bergeron, and the addition to the B’s top line in particular could be interesting given the power forward dimension he could add to a line with Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

It might not mean huge offense since Coyle has broken the 20-goal plateau just once in his seven NHL seasons headed into this year, but he’s also never played on a line where he’d be set up with offensive opportunities like he could be with No. 37 and No. 63. The Bruins seem open to auditioning Coyle for a winger spot at least in part because they didn’t have the cap space to retain Johansson, or to find another top-6 candidate in free agency last month.

Some of it might also be dependent on the development of guys like Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic and Oskar Steen in NHL training camp.

But one thing is certain: The Bruins don’t want to bounce Coyle between wing and center once they’ve formulated a plan.

“I’m interested to see what happens with the center ice position. If somebody pops and can play a third-line role at center then we’d certainly look at Charlie on the wing,” said Bruins President Cam Neely in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Boston. “Bouncing him back and forth I don’t think is good for him or good for any linemate. But he had a solid, solid postseason.

“I thought that [third] line was a big reason we had the success we did. But if we have a centerman in the pipeline or even on the roster that could pop and play a third-line role? Then I wouldn’t be surprised if Butch doesn’t try Charlie out on the wing in a role with Krejci. So we’ll see.”

Interesting that it seems the Bruins only have Coyle in mind as a right winger for Krejci at this point in time, which indicates they're inclined to stick with the Perfection Line again next season. 

Whether it’s top-6 right wing or third-line center, the Bruins are going to need a young player to step up and claim that role at the NHL level just as they needed it last season. The good news is that with the presence of Coyle for this upcoming season, one of those positions is going to be filled quite nicely by the former BU standout.

It just remains to be seen where Coyle is going to play and whether he can build on last spring’s playoff momentum to realize all of his potential while skating for his hometown Black and Gold.

Key stat: 9 – The number of goals for Charlie Coyle during the B’s run to the Stanley Cup Final, which tied him with Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak for the team lead in 24 postseason games. Coyle had 12 goals in 81 games during the regular season.

Coyle in his own words: “I haven’t fully processed being able to play for the Bruins and what just happened.”

The biggest question he faces: Where will Coyle play next season? Will he be the driving force as the center on the third line as he was last season in pretty successful fashion? Or will Coyle be the top-6 winger upgrade that Cam Neely talked about at his final press conference of the season following the Stanley Cup Final loss? All of that remains to be seen.

Where B's rank among NHL's top centers, wings>>>>>

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Bruins-Hurricanes Simulation: Canes beat B's 1-0 on flukey goal

Bruins-Hurricanes Simulation: Canes beat B's 1-0 on flukey goal

The NHL season has been put on hold due to the coronavirus crisis, meaning we may have to wait a while to watch the Boston Bruins again.

As a way to make up for the loss of Bruins action, we'll be using the EA Sports NHL 20 video game to simulate each game on Boston's schedule until they finally return to action.

Previous Simulations:

The Boston Bruins were supposed to take on the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night at PNC Arena, here's how our simulation of that game went.

The B's fell to the Canes 1-0 on a flukey third-period goal that slipped by Tuukka Rask. 

Here are the game stats:

Three Stars of the Game + Game Stats

Anton Forsberg, Tuukka Rask and Andrei Svechnikov were the three stars of the game. The Hurricanes led in shots with 25 and they also had three power-play opportunities that they squandered. The Bruins seemed to have passed too much in the offensive zone and didn't take enough shots on goal in the loss when comparing the shots to their time on attack.  

Bruins Individual Stats

Charlie McAvoy led all B's skaters in ice time with 23:42 while David Krejci and David Pastrnak each had three shots on goal. Tuukka Rask stopped 24 of 25 shots in the loss, but the defense didn't help them out too much.

Hurricanes Individual Stats

Jaccob Slavin led all Hurricanes skaters in ice time with 24:11 and Martin Necas led in shots with four. Anton Forsberg stopped all 17 shots faced and the Hurricanes sneak by with a flukey goal from Andrei Svechnikov.

FINAL SCORE: Hurricanes 1, Bruins 0

Bruins Record (Includes simulated games): 47-16-14 (107 points)

*NOTE: We did not include Boston's games against the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs or Florida Panthers in the simulation, therefore the simulated record isn't 100 percent accurate*

Next Simulation: vs. St. Louis Blues on Thursday

Be sure to keep an eye out for our Bruins vs. Blues simulation which is set to drop on Thursday.

We aren't the only ones enjoying sports video games to pass the time and get their competitive fix. Even the B's Anton Blidh is enjoying his time off with a little virtual sports action.

Phil Esposito set impressive Bruins goal scoring record on this day in 1971

Phil Esposito set impressive Bruins goal scoring record on this day in 1971

March 31 is a special day in the history books of the Boston Bruins franchise.

Hall of Fame forward Phil Esposito scored his 70th goal (an NHL record at the time) of the 1970-71 season on this day, becoming the first Bruins player to hit that goal-scoring milestone.

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Check out the graphic below for more information:

Esposito's 76 goals in the 1970-71 season still stand as a Bruins record for a single campaign.

Bruins right winger David Pastrnak was making a run at 60 goals earlier this season. The 23-year-old star currently sits at 48 goals with the season suspended due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. Pastrnak is tied for the league lead with Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin.

If the 2019-20 season doesn't resume or the league decides to go straight to the Stanley Cup Playoffs upon returning, Pastrnak would be the first Bruins player to win or share the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the league's leading goal scorer since Esposito in 1974-75.