The Boston Bruins reported to Warrior Ice Arena on Thursday for off-ice testing. The 53-man preseason roster — divided into two groups for the first couple of weeks — will take to the ice for the first time this preseason on Friday.
Here’s a look at the top storylines to watch during the Bruins’ 2019 Training Camp.
A quiet and short off-season provided little developments for Boston’s two prized RFA’s. But no need to fret; both will be donning the spoked B this season — and beyond.
When they’ll sign is anyone’s guess. Another question: will both Carlo and McAvoy opt for bridge deals — especially with the team’s salary cap situation — in hopes of signing a bigger, longer-term contract down the road? Or will both ink deals for the foreseeable future?
Don Sweeney admitted that the discussions are a work in progress with both McAvoy and Carlo during Wednesday’s press conference. The talks with the former picked up steam this week according to Pierre LeBrun.
Having both Carlo and McAvoy anchoring the right side of the blue-line makes the Bruins better. But some of the younger defensemen have a chance to impress in their absences. This brings us to our next storyline.
Which young Bruins will make the jump?
McAvoy and Carlo helped kickstart a Bruins youth movement a few years ago. Their arrivals, combined with a healthy veteran presence, opened the team’s Cup window after a couple of years of transition.
Now the next core of Bruins look to begin their pro hockey journey entering a competitive training camp.
Jack Studnicka’s progression in the OHL put him atop the Bruins’ prospect ranks. He’ll vie for a spot in the middle of Bruce Cassidy’s lineup. Pavel Shen, Axel Andersson and Jakub Lauko also enter their first training camp with momentum after solid tenures in Europe and the QMJHL, respectively. The trio will likely start the year in Providence.
Urho Vaakanainnen, Jakub Zboril and Jeremy Lauzon had a small taste of NHL action last year. All three could vie for NHL minutes early, especially if the Carlo and McAvoy contract situations linger into the start of the 82-game slate.
Karson Kuhlman hopes to become an NHL regular after giving David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk a spark of sorts on the second line during his time in Boston late last year. Ditto for Connor Clifton, who had a similar path to Kuhlman and gave the Bruins’ blue-line a jolt with his inspiring brand of “Cliffy Hockey.”
Trent Frederic fizzled a bit in Boston after his first career NHL game but could benefit if Cassidy opts for a little bigger lineup. 2015 first-rounder Zach Senyshyn finally made his NHL debut last April but did he progress enough to finally make the trip up I-95 for good?
Sweeney re-stocked the Bruins’ pipeline with skilled up and comers. Some will make the jump this year, but they’ll have their work cut out for them.
The position battles
The roster locks barring any injuries or other developments go as follows: Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak on Line 1; Jake DeBrusk skating with David Krejci on Line 2; Charlie Coyle playing either center or wing; Danton Heinen at third line left wing; Chris Wagner and Sean Kuraly returning to Line 4; Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak in goal; and Torey Krug, Matt Grzelcyk and Zdeno Chara anchoring the left side of the blue-line.
The aforementioned youngsters have ample opportunity to earn one of the open spots. But veterans like David Backes, John Moore, Kevan Miller — once healthy — and even Peter Cehlarik should have chips on their shoulders for different reasons.
Free agent pickups Brett Ritchie and Par Lindholm will compete with Joakim Nordstrom (once healthy) for the open spots on the bottom six. The oft-injured Miller — a potential trade candidate for salary cap reasons — will have to fight off competition from the likes of Vaakaninen, Clifton and Lauzon whenever he laces up the skates.
The Bruins don’t have many turnovers from last years Cup Finalist squad. Marcus Johansson’s departure left a third line vacancy. Carlo and McAvoy’s contract situation provide opportunities on the back end for the time being. And injuries to the likes of Miller, Nordstrom and Moore left more spots up for grabs.
A large chunk of last year’s core is still intact, but there’s no shortage of opportunities as a spirited training camp awaits.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
Bruins Daily is a NHL credentialed media organization that is dedicated to being the leading provider of Boston Bruins news, analysis, and commentary, by focusing exclusively on the Boston organization. Bruins Daily provides written content, studio produced video, and on location video, all with a unique voice that fans can relate to. Complete coverage is provided through all of the latest NHL/AHL news, updates, scores, injuries, transactions and fan events.