We are now a week into training camp, so I figured it would be a good time to put out my first roster prediction.
Marchand Bergeron Bjork
Debrusk Krejci Pastrnak
Agostino Spooner Backes
Schaller Nash Acciari
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson
The top 6 of the forwards was easy to predict so far, the Bruins have made it pretty clear that Bjork and Debrusk have the upper-hand and it’s their positions to lose. Although I wouldn’t say either are a lock there is still a long way to go before the season begins and a player like Danton Heinen is pushing hard to get into the mix. The bottom 6 of the forwards were extremely tough to pick starting with Agostino, after a mediocre 1st preseason game Agostino bounced back last night and looked very good which involved his overtime game winner. Other players I was thinking about were Vatrano and Heinen, Vatrano has clearly improved trying to become more of a complete player but there was one thing I was hoping to see out of him in the first week of training camp and that was better ability of picking the corners. There is no question Frank has a great shot but the majority of his shots hit the goalie square in the chest and that won’t do the Bruins any good. Heinen on the other hand has impressed me during the first week and he was probably the one guy who I had the toughest time leaving off this roster, Heinen has shown the ability to play the fast paced style HC Bruce Cassidy wants and would be a good fit with 3rd line center Ryan Spooner who has incredible offensive zone vision.
For the 4th line there were two names who I think are going to push hard for spots and those are Sean Kuraly and Jesse Gabrielle. Kuraly made his presence known last season in the playoffs when his gritty, energy bringing style won the Bruins game 5 against Ottawa. Gabrielle on the other hand is entering his first season of professional hockey and has already jumped off the screen at me, going into the preseason I didn’t think he had much of a chance and I have been biting my tongue all week. Jesse brings something different to the 4th line that I like a lot and that is being a pest, sure he may cross the line sometimes (very similar to Marchand) but you need those types of guys to get under your opponents skin and bring energy for your own team. Jesse also plays a complete game whether it be in the offensive zone or back-checking in the defensive zone, he is my sleeper pick for making this team.
On defense it seemed like this was going to be pretty easy but then next thing you know Torey Krug takes a shot to the face and will miss at least the next three weeks. This opens up an opportunity for maybe one of the young guys (O’Gara, Grzelcyk, Lauzon, Zboril) or one of the older guys (Potsma, Cross) I chose Potsma for right now after his strong performance last night along with the fact he is a veteran and has LD experience. I do have an issue with myself picking Potsma though, I understand he has LD experience but do you really want five of your 6 defenseman being right-handed? Probably not so don’t be surprised if next week I have one of Grzelcyk or O’Gara replacing him.
Picking the backup for Rask was pretty easy for this week, I think it is a two-man race between Khudobin and McIntyre and for right now I went with Khudobin just based on the fact I haven’t seen enough of McIntyre this preseason. Next Friday I should have a better read of who is the front-runner for this spot.
Next Friday I will have version 2 of my roster predictions. Let me know what you think of version 1 on twitter @JeffScharver or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org