The Bruins had to display their organizational depth last season when injuries left nearly every position shorthanded at one point. The positive of that — aside from how they survived that onslaught to get to the Stanley Cup Final — is they know what they have now.
Other than a pair of added forwards, the Bruins bring back essentially the same team, and they’re deeper in knowing what they have at each position all the way down the organizational depth chart.
Centers: Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Charlie Coyle, Sean Kuraly, Par Lindholm
The Bruins are deeper here than anywhere at forward, but injuries to Bergeron that lingered from last season, and the one Krejci suffered in preseason, bear watching. The addition of Coyle last season changed the entire look of the group, giving an anchor to the middle of the lineup, and security in all three zones. Kuraly could take another leap this season as a strong penalty killer with above-average speed, and a little more dynamic than a traditional fourth-liner. Lindholm is the new addition to the group, and while he doesn’t project to crack the top four, should have an important role sliding in when he has to, and has strong defensive skill and penalty-killing instinct.
Right Wing: David Pastrnak, Brett Ritchie, Karson Kuhlman, Anders Bjork, David Backes, Chris Wagner
Just who is going to play on the right all season has been a question mark for a while. Pastrnak is an anchor on that side, working on the top line, but then it gets muddier. Kuhlman has the inside track on getting time with the top six forwards, but Ritchie’s physical presence will also give him a chance. Then there’s what to do with Backes, who has had a strong preseason, and Bjork, who has worked better on the left side in the past. Wagner rounds this out as a presence on the fourth line looking to expand upon a career year last season.
Left Wing: Brad Marchand, Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen, Joakim Nordstrom
The Bruins are deep down the line on the left. Starting with Marchand manning the top line and then DeBrusk on the second, they have two bona fide top six left wingers. Heinen has shown scoring ability in the past along with a responsible defensive game to work alongside Coyle. Nordstrom is banged up to start the year, but he brings a responsible game as well to the fourth line, and plenty of versatility to switch around. He’s also a strong penalty killer.
Defense: Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Torey Krug, Matt Grzelcyk, Connor Clifton, Steven Kampfer
Kevan Miller and John Moore will join the mix later in the season as well, giving the Bruins a deep defensive corps overall. Their pairings are essentially the same they left off with at the end of the postseason, with Chara and McAvoy leading the way followed by a strong second group of Krug and Carlo, then Grzelcyk paired with either Clifton or Kampfer. Grzelcyk took a big step last season and should have an even more increased role this year, while Krug enters his unrestricted free agency season still as their power play quarterback. Carlo and McAvoy are locked in under contract after their status was up in the air during the offseason.
Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Jaroslav Halak
Like last season, the Bruins are secure between the pipes. They managed to lessen Rask’s workload during the regular season, and it made a difference for the playoffs.
Halak played well enough to allow them to do that, and there’s no reason to think they won’t be able to rely on both goaltenders again to carry them to the postseason.