As opening night in Columbus approaches — exactly one week from today — the Bruins have begun the trimming process. For some, this week will mark the final chance to impress management in hopes of joining the Black and Gold in seven days when they take on the Blue Jackets.
The Bruins have two exhibition games remaining against the Blue Jackets (at Columbus on Thursday night) and at home versus the Flyers on Saturday. With that in mind, we here at Bruins Daily figured that this would be a good time to debut the first edition of three up and three down for the 2016-17 season.
This week’s list features some fates that were determined with the first round of cuts, a pair of prospects that have been impressive and a returning player from the World Cup. Here is a look at the first list of Bruins (or in one instance a now former Bruin) who are either on the rise or the decline.
The Bruins’ emphasis of playing fast seems to be catching on, particularly with some of the younger players. One of those prospects, Austin Czarnik, has embraced that with his preseason performances thus far.
With a handful of centers remaining at camp, head coach Claude Julien is opting a few of those centermen to transition to wing, especially after Frank Vatrano’s injury. That has given Czarnik an opportunity to get valuable time at his natural position and it’s paying off so far as he’s tallied three points on two goals and one assist in his first four preseason appearances.
Though there’s always an option to move Czarnik to center, Julien isn’t in a rush necessarily to move him to win, and who can blame him.
“There are different things that we want to look at, and Austin has had a great camp so far,” Julien said about Czarnik following Wednesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena.
“We’ve talked about that, [if] he could play the wing and I’m sure with his speed and his smarts and everything else that he could probably adapt. So, who knows. We’ve got two [preseason] games left. We may make that decision, we’ll see what time. But for now, he’s not pegged to serve at the wing if we’re talking about next game.”
In the last three games, including Tuesday’s preseason loss to the Canadiens in Quebec City, the 5-foot-9 forward has two goals. With two games left, Czarnik is one of the odds on favorites to land a roster spot come opening night.
Another prospect that’s impressing at camp, former University of Denver star Danton Heinen is also making the most of his opportunity.
With the Bruins’ lacking in right wing depth, Heinen is bringing a breath of fresh air during the preseason. Although he wasn’t in the lineup during Tuesday’s preseason tilt, the British Columbia-born forward leads all Bruins this preseason with three goals.
Though it’s still early to speculate, Heinen’s creativity in developing scoring chances would fit nicely with the dynamic duo of Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. As his game continues to round out in all three zones, Heinen’s sights on a roster spot is becoming more realistic by the day.
Just a month into the hockey season, Brad Marchand has a couple of items already checked off on his list. The first item he marked off came last week when he signed a friendly 8-year contract extension worth $49 million.
The immediate aftermath of the new contract did not slow Marchand down. His impressive World Cup performance for Team Canada, including the game-winner in Game 2 against Zdeno Chara and Team Europe, completed an impressive September for the 28-year-old.
With one preseason game under his belt, Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Chara and the rest of the World Cup representatives will have the final week to both rest and prepare for the season ahead. If the last 12 months were any indication, Marchand’s momentum should carry on. The Bruins are absolutely hoping for that to be the case in hopes of returning to the postseason after a two-year absence.
The only thing that Bruins fans will remember about Peter Mueller’s camp is his 70’s style mustache.
Once a first round pick with the Coyotes — eighth overall in 2006 — Mueller’s career has taken several turns. The latest turn came when Mueller was released from the Bruins after being invited to camp on a PTO after spending the last few years in Europe.
Playing with Matt Beleskey for the most part in the preseason, the Bruins envisioned Mueller to fill a checking line spot if he advanced out of camp. Having lost out on his opportunity, one has to wonder if this was Mueller’s last chance of playing in the NHL again.
After a strong season with Sault Ste. Marie where he ended 2015-16 tied for fifth in the OHL in goals (45), the Bruins had high hopes for Senyshyn entering camp. Unfortunately for the 2015 first round pick, his off-season setbacks were too much to overcome.
As his fellow Bruins prospects took part in development camp in July and rookie camp two months later, Senyshyn was forced to sit out the two programs due to catching mono in the summer and undergoing an emergency appendectomy in early September. Although he returned to play in a pair of preseason games where he tallied one assist, the Bruins returned Senyshyn to his junior team during the first round of cuts.
Certainly a tough break for Senyshyn and it’s certainly difficult to pin the Bruins’ decision based on his performance. We’ll see if the third pick of the Bruins first round trio from 2015 will use this as motivation heading into another season with Sault Ste. Marie.
Despite a rough season in the QMJHL a year ago — a year where he admitted to deleting his Twitter account after getting backlash from fans about his play — Zboril was still on a decent track in his development. Making an emphasis to play better in his own end, the first pick of that aforementioned first round trio in 2015 was hoping to show progress and showcase his potential.
What he got instead was just one preseason game before the World Cup representatives returned. The Czech-born blueliner will have more questions to answer regarding his potential as he returns to Saint John.