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Fluto Shinzawa

Which Bruins have something to prove this season?

Matt Beleskey (right) is entering his 10th NHL season. Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff/Globe Staff

Right wing David Pastrnak will make his money, even if he has yet to sign an extension with the Bruins. The 21-year-old is coming off a 34-goal season, which will translate to a healthy payday when the sides agree on term and salary.

Other Bruins did not establish themselves with as much certainty as Pastrnak last year. The upcoming season will be a critical one for the following players:

■   David Backes: After one season, the ex-Blue’s five-year, $30 million contract looks like an overpayment. Backes did not play with the presence required of a $6 million power forward. The 33-year-old changed his offseason workouts to emphasize speed, quickness, and agility over muscle.


Whether the shift can help Backes get on pucks quicker remains to be seen.

■  Ryan Spooner: Arbitration helped the left-shot center score a one-year, $2.825 million payday. It’s up to the 25-year-old to prove he’s worth the dough. The Bruins need Spooner to be more than a power-play specialist.

He has the skill to be a good third-line center at even strength behind Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.

■  Matt Beleskey: The ex-Duck smacked face-first into the wall last season, totaling 3 goals and 5 assists in 49 games. He was a healthy scratch in three of the six first-round playoff games against Ottawa.

The Bruins left Beleskey unexposed in the expansion draft. But the Golden Knights took a pass on the three years and $11.4 million remaining on Beleskey’s deal.

The Bruins will not be pleased if Beleskey can’t be the No. 3 left wing.

Frank Vatrano appeared in 44 regular-season games in 2016-17.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

■  Frank Vatrano: A preseason foot injury dashed the East Longmeadow native’s push for top-six duty. Vatrano tried to come back from the procedure, but the winger didn’t put together the kind of season (10-8—18 in 44 games) the Bruins expected from the former UMass forward.


If healthy and at top condition, the 23-year-old has the speed and shot to be the No. 2 left wing.

■  Zdeno Chara: In some ways, it’s hard to note that a player of Chara’s pedigree has something to prove. He is the best shutdown defenseman of his generation. But the 40-year-old is entering the last year of his contract.

The captain wants to keep playing after this season. It will be his job to prove to the Bruins that he’s worthy of an extension.

■  Anton Khudobin: Tuukka Rask’s backup is unrestricted after this season. He’s probably not back in 2018-19, but the veteran’s job security may not even last until then. Zane McIntyre wasn’t ready for the NHL last year, but perhaps he’ll give Khudobin a run in camp.

At this point, Khudobin projects to be the safer play as the No. 2 goalie for 2017-18. But his job is not guaranteed.

Bruins goal leaders
2016-17 regular season
Brad Marchand
David Pastrnak
David Krejci
Patrice Bergeron
David Backes

Follow Fluto Shinzawa on Twitter at @GlobeFluto