Hockey is coming and that means it’s time for another glance at what’s to come in 2017-2018. This time around, we’re zeroing in on the Boston Bruins.
The Bruins made it to the post-season in 2016-2017 and that was a good thing, as it marked their first berth in three years. They lost to the Senators in the first round, but the experience authenticated the franchise and things have been relatively quiet over the summer as a result.
This asserts a rightful focus on prospects and the existing talent pool in Boston, with supplementary experience supplied by Don Sweeney’s group of veteran players. That should give the Bruins a good mix, as they boast the best line in the league in terms of shot metrics. They also have a hearty defensive group.
Brad Marchand is at the top of many lists and for good reason. The 29-year-old had 85 points in 2016-2017, including 39 goals, and he’s been steadily improving. That means 2017-2018 could be a wild one for the Halifax native, especially if he has a boost in power play time and skates alongside Patrice Bergeron.
Bergeron did have an “off year” in 2016-2017, so to speak. He posted 21 goals and added 32 assists for 53 points in 79 regular season games. He had 17 points in the power play and cracked off 302 shots on goal, good for third in the league. His offensive presence creates chances and that could lead to a nice tidy collection of points in 2017-2018.
The Bruins are still trying to work things out with RFA David Pastrnak. The 21-year-old produced 70 points in 2016-2017, including 26 points in his final 27 games. He proved an ability to adjust on the fly and can be counted on to produce points at a high level. While his ongoing contract business could hamper the club for a while, getting it sorted would cement one of Boston’s most crucial offensive weapons.
David Krejci is the number two centre. He produced 54 points in 2016-2017, but injuries kept him out of any playoff production and he only saw time in three games. That could make the 31-year-old a risk for fantasy owners, especially considering his downward-trending points-per-game totals. The flip side is that Krejci seems to be set to improve under Bruce Cassidy, especially if he’s paired with Pastrnak.
Torey Krug may have seen his season end due to injury, but he had a terrific year and finished just outside of the top 10 defencemen in the league with 51 points. He had 25 points in the power play and should enjoy another solid finish in 2017-2018. The 26-year-old averaged 21:36 of ice time a game and had 208 shots on goal.
Charlie McAvoy is turning heads in Boston and could emerge as the team’s top defenceman in 2017-2018. The Long Beach native was called up in the post-season and put together a three-point performance in six games. He averaged 26:11 in Krug’s absence and should see some serious ice time in the forthcoming season. He’s a projectable player at both ends of the ice and will win many a puck battle.
Chara still anchors the Bruins’ defensive unit at 40. He endured a decline in production and doesn’t see as much power play time with Krug and McAvoy in the fold, but the giant still posts numbers in almost all categories and could snag some surprising fantasy totals as a late pick. He had 29 points last season and added an assist in six playoff games.
Tuukka Rask continues to give the Bruins a chance to win every game. The 30-year-old should be a lock for 30 wins in 2017-2018. He’s coming off a 37-20-5 season, with a 2.23 goals against average and a .915 save percentage. He was 2-4 in the post-season and Boston will count on him for a lot of starts.
Zane McIntyre could see a shot in the backup role. He skated in eight games last season and clocked in for four losses, with a 3.97 goals against average and a .858 save percentage. Don’t let that fool you. McIntyre’s a big netminder and has proven himself at the lower levels. He could be ready to emerge in Rask’s wake.