A couple of thoughts, shots, and pinged posts with less than two weeks to go before the Bruins open the season in D.C. And wondering why there can’t be more front office guys like Max McNab, the Capitals general manager long ago, who was ever-accessible, congenial, and eager to talk about the game he loved.
A.J. Greer, who appears intent on kicking down the door for a roster spot, is still among the 21 forwards who’ll return to the ice for Friday’s workouts in Brighton.
The Flyers will be here for a Saturday matinee, possibly allowing the 25-year-old left wing from Montreal his next chance to make a case for one of the baker’s dozen worth of jobs up front.
With enough forwards still in camp to fill seven lines, Greer still has plenty of work to do.
“Putting that jersey on is something special for sure,” said Greer, who took a giant step toward securing a spot Tuesday with a pair of goals, including the OT winner, vs the Rangers. “Growing up in Montreal, you see a lot of the Bruins; it’s always been an exciting team. I think I’ve always seen myself playing the kind of hockey the Bruins play.”
The 6-foot-3-inch, 210-pound Greer has shown himself to be somewhat of a Black-and-Gold throwback thus far. Recent preseasons have been, shall we say, docile, in large part because of roster depth and overall talent, commensurate with a franchise that played at a stunning .672 clip across the six seasons Bruce Cassidy was behind the bench. Not a lot of kids rattled the boards during training camp. It often had the look of a closed shop.
Hired on as a free agent in July, after three seasons of little to show in the Devils organization, Greer is rattling boards, delivering checks, and showing the kind of net drive and awareness the Bruins are in critical need of adding across all four lines. Whether he can do all that, or even some of it, at the NHL level remains to be seen.
But he has shown enough to this point that new coach Jim Montgomery said Tuesday night that Greer would have a roster spot if the season started right now. No guarantee there, but it’s the kind of attaboy that should compel Greer to make the most of what will be no more than four more preseason auditions.
“To be here is a dream come true,” noted Greer, who turned pro in the summer of 2016 and has played in only 47 NHL games. “I feel fortunate every day to be in the position I am, and I’m just trying to make the most of my opportunities.”
Put ’em up
Trent Frederic went to school over the summer, but class was held on canvas rather than campus. Encouraged by his brother’s love of the sweet science, the 24-year-old center/wing incorporated boxing lessons into his off-ice workouts, sometimes lacing up the gloves three times a week.
“Just took it on as another kind of workout,” said Frederic, noting his intention was not to transfer his new skills to the ice sheet. “It’s a lot different than a hockey fight.”
Best of all, said Frederic, the sparring and mitt work gave him a high-level cardio workout.
“I mean, by the end of it, you’re gassed,” he said. “You gain an appreciation for the people who do that. You go a couple of rounds and you’re just exhausted. We’d be doing the mitt work, and my sweat would be just spraying the guy in the face … and he’d be like, ‘OK, we can stop!’ ”
Once back skating four times a week with NHLers near his home in Chesterfield, Mo., Frederic trimmed back to one boxing workout per week as training camp drew closer.
“The boxing gym and the rink are attached,” he said. “So it’s really nice. You go from the [boxing] workout, then throw your hockey gear [on] and, boom.”
The roster cuts Wednesday brought to 42 the number of bodies still in camp, not including the rehabbing likes of Brad Marchand, Charlie McVoy, and Matt Grzelcyk, all recovering from surgery. General manager Don Sweeney noted on the eve of camp that all three remain on their projected return-to-play dates. They are expected back no later than the start of December, and Grzelcyk could be significantly earlier … Winger Luke Toporowski, who stood out in rookie camp, was among Monday’s demotions to Providence. The undrafted “Topper” played five WHL seasons and scored 35 goals last year with Spokane and Kamloops. Only 21, he has to grow his game, but his shot is already at a legit NHL level. He can hammer, almost at a Bobby Schmautz level. And like Schmautzie, he comes out firing. So beware, patrons of the balcony seats.
He seems to fit
It will all come down to numbers and maybe sleight-of-hand salary-cap management, but Anton Stralman was a seamless backline fit Tuesday night with fellow Swede Hampus Lindholm. Technically, Stralman, age 36 and with 930 games of experience, is in camp on a tryout … McNab was on the watch in Washington when the Capitals drafted Bob Carpenter, ex- of St. John’s Prep, as the “Can’t Miss Kid” in 1981. Son Peter McNab was in the thick of his eight-year run as a Bruins center at the time. In February ’84, then-Bruins GM Harry Sinden wheeled Peter McNab to Vancouver for Jim Nill, prompting a headline here that read, “Bruins get Nill for McNab.”
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.