Well, it’s official. Brad Marchand and, technically, Milan Lucic are the only remaining members of the 2011 Stanley Cup-winning team.
How sad is that?
All right, get it together. With the retirements of spoked-B legends Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, as well as Taylor Hall touching base in Chicago, where do we go from here?
Again, I’m not Jim Montgomery, who just helmed the greatest regular season team in history. This is all speculation.
The Bruin in the room is, well, the center position. Without 37 and 64, Charlie Coyle gets a promotion: third line to first.
Who should be on his left and right, though?
Obviously Marchand and David Pastrnak are our two superstar talents, but I really don’t think we should put all of our marbles in the first line.
I think Pastrnak has surpassed Marchand as our best player, despite not being as consistent defensively, along the boards, or on the penalty kill. God, Marchand is awesome.
I’d roll out newly-acquired James van Reimsdyk (12 goals in 60 games for the Flyers last season) with Coyle (52.6 faceoff percentage) and Pastrnak (61 goals; 113 points).
Honestly, that’s not a bad first line. Pastrnak is a top-five player in the world and, who knows? Maybe Coyle’s promotion – more ice time alongside a superstar – will turn him into a great center, instead of a good one.
The best part of that line, however, is that Marchand isn’t there. Now, the star winger gets to shine against opposing second lines.
I like him next to Pavel Zacha, who – a lot of people forget – registered 21 goals and 36 assists last season.
Guys, Marchand, Zacha, and Jake DeBrusk (27 goals) is an elite second line. I don’t care what anyone says.
This is coming from a Bergeron and Krejci fanboy, too, but we’re a lot faster without them.
I’m not going to lie, the third line is a struggle. If we’re expecting previous performances from the likes of Loui Eriksson (30 goals in 2016), we’re gravely mistaken. Trent Frederic might be our most skilled option here.
I love him, and he’s a fan favorite, but he’s not a third-line player.
I also view this year as a development one. I say we put young prospect Jakub Lauko, 23, on the third line and let him, well, skate and shoot – kind of like Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner got to do in 2015.
On the fourth line, you’ve got Lucic, and not much else. If he can score 10 goals and – more importantly – protect Pastrnak and Marchand, I view it as a success. I’m old-fashioned.
What will definitely remain a success, however, is the defense. McAvoy, Grzelcyk, Lindholm, Carlo, and Forbort are all returning, and newly-acquired Kevin Shattenkirk used to be a star.
He’s not bad as a sixth defenseman, and the six as a whole remain an elite group around the league.
Look, are Marchand and Pastrnak going to score the bulk of our goals? Yes. Is it going to be frustrating watching nail-biters against lowly teams? Yes.
But with everything I just said – alongside the elite goalie pairing of Swayman and Ullmark – the Bruins will be back in the playoffs.
For sure, actually. I’d say the six-seed, as it will take time for newcomers and youngsters to develop.
I can’t wait for hockey season. It’s time for some revenge.