With the National Hockey League lockout over, the Bruins, like every other team, will scramble to launch an abbreviated training camp. They will recall players from their current locations — Austria in Johnny Boychuk’s case, Charlestown for Shawn Thornton — and start camp in several days.
The NHL has yet to determine the length of the 2012-13 season. But if it is, as expected, a 48-game sprint, the season most likely would start Jan. 19. The Bruins originally were scheduled to play the Canadiens at the Bell Centre. There’s no reason why that matchup should change.
Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli, scouting Sunday in western Canada, said he was both “relieved and excited” upon hearing the news that the lockout was settled.
“It will be good for all of us to get back to business,’’ said Chiarelli by telephone from his hotel room in Regina, Saskatchewan.
Chiarelli said the Bruins likely will invite 25-26 players to camp, enough personnel for five lines, along with eight or nine defensemen and two goalies (No. 1 Tuukka Rask and backup Anton Khudobin).
Top prospect Dougie Hamilton, touted as a potential franchise defenseman, will be among the eight blue liners. Hamilton is just back in North America after playing for Team Canada in the recent World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia. The Canadians did not medal.
Training camp will be split between the club’s home arena on Causeway Street and its Wilmington practice facility. The Celtics have five dates at the Garden over the next two weeks, leaving limited ice availability. Nonetheless, Chiarelli said he would like the Bruins to practice there a couple of times before the regular season starts, with the workouts possibly open to the public.
A sheet of ice already is in place at the Garden, following a recent corporate skating session.
Provided scheduling permits, the Bruins would like to hold a scrimmage at the Garden against their Providence (AHL) farm club. Because of the lockout and the hurry-up start to the regular season, NHL teams will not be playing exhibitions against other NHL clubs.
Here are some of the pressing questions the Bruins will look to answer heading into camp:
1. Will the Bruins be cap-compliant for 2012-13? Yes. Marc Savard most likely will be placed on long-term injured reserve, allowing them to exceed the $70.2 million (prorated) cap by his annual average salary.
2. How long will it take the players who remained in North America to find their game legs? Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Brad Marchand, Thornton, and Adam McQuaid were the Bruins expected to make this season’s roster who elected not to play overseas. There is nothing to replicate game play, and these players haven’t had it.
3. Will Tim Thomas return or sit out the entire season? It’s highly unlikely the Bruins would welcome the goaltender back. His announcement in May caught the organization off guard.
4. Can the Bruins find a taker for Thomas’s contract? Probably not. The cap floor, according to TSN, will be $44 million. All teams are currently above that threshold.
5. How will Rask perform as the No. 1 starter? Rask has the pedigree and skill set to become a go-to goalie.
6. Can Tyler Seguin continue his development? Seguin is on the verge of becoming a superstar in only his third pro season.
7. How will Hamilton transition to NHL pace? It’s a big jump from juniors to the varsity. The Bruins will be cautious with the teenager, a defenseman who was the team’s first-round draft pick in 2011.
8. Can Horton recover from his concussion troubles? The rest may have been beneficial for Horton. The right wing is in a contract year.
9. Will the lack of significant roster turnover help the Bruins? A quick start will be critical. In theory, the Bruins won’t have to spend much of camp becoming familiar with each other or studying systems.
10. Who will be the No. 3 left wing? Chris Bourque and Jordan Caron could be in the running to skate with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley. Caron, however, didn’t make the most of his Providence time.