Next month, the Bruins will start to trickle back to Warrior Ice Arena for captain’s practices. Training camp opens the first week of September. At that time, we’ll start to answer a long list of questions.
Unless general manager Don Sweeney has made a move to acquire a top-six right wing, that job is open. Who slides in? Will the Bergeron line remain intact? Will the Bruins still be carrying an eight-pack of NHL defensemen when they enter camp? How will the bottom-six roles shake out? Which prospects will push for playing time? Those are all topics to be discussed.
For now, let’s take stock of the roster as it stands. What follows is one beat writer’s list of who is most important to the team.
It’s not necessarily a ranking of the best players. Approach it this way: if so-and-so was removed from the picture long term, how bad of a loss would that be? The most significant losses will go first. If you think a player is ranked too high or too low, consider the position he plays and the depth behind him.
25. Trent Frederic, C: Wisconsin product hoping to get a look in training camp.
24. Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, C: Wouldn’t be a surprise to see him win the No. 3 center job.
23. Joakim Lindstrom, LW: Depth forward with penalty-kill experience.
22. Noel Acciari, RW: Aggressive fourth-line winger has played center.
21. Adam McQuaid, D: Willing combatant, had a tough time getting back into the lineup after broken leg cost him nearly three months.
20. Chris Wagner, C/RW: Walpole product brings crash-and-bang (third in NHL in hits last season with 253).
19. Anders Bjork, RW: Outside chance to land on David Krejci’s right after pre-injury showing as rookie (12 points, 30 games).
18. Sean Kuraly, C: Quite effective as a No. 4 center. Can he win the No. 3 job? Also a solid penalty killer.
17. Matt Grzelcyk, D: Third-pair stalwart isn’t big (5 feet 9 inches, 176 pounds) but slices bottom-six competition (Bruins scored 70.97 percent of goals while he was on the ice; no player had better mark).
16. John Moore, D: Didn’t sign for five years to sit in the press box. Strong skater adds size (6-2, 210) to left side.
15. David Backes, RW: Bruins could use his hard-edged presence on the bottom two lines.
14. Kevan Miller, D: Physical, consistent defender brings size and has significantly improved his skating.
13. Ryan Donato, C/RW: Quite a season for the kid. Harvard classes, Olympics — and 9 points in 12 games upon big-league arrival. Expected to vie for a middle-six role.
12. Danton Heinen, LW: In first full season, showed 200-foot game and scoring touch (16-31—47).
11. Jake DeBrusk, LW: Speedy, rugged winger earned a spot on Krejci’s left wing as a rookie, providing critical secondary scoring.
10. Brandon Carlo, D: Bruins hope valuable defender and penalty killer sees his first postseason action.
9. Jaroslav Halak, G: Veteran has been an ace before. Should be solid option in reserve. Ideally, he and Tuukka Rask remain healthy, reliable.
8. Torey Krug, D: One of the game’s best quarterbacks (13 first assists on the power play last year, second among NHL defensemen).
7. Charlie McAvoy, D: Well-rounded 20-year-old becoming the face of the Bruins defense.
6. Zdeno Chara, D: The captain is still eating minutes at age 41 (team-high 22:54 last year) and killing large chunk of every penalty (second in PK minutes among defensemen last season).
5. Tuukka Rask, G: Managing workload is an annual concern, but he’s still a quality No. 1.
4. David Pastrnak, RW: Expect greater things from the 22-year-old after an 80-point season and 20-point playoffs.
3. David Krejci, C: If No. 2 center is healthy and on his game, tough for most teams to match up.
2. Brad Marchand, LW: Tough to find production like his (34-51—85 in 68 games). Imagine if he stayed on the right side of the edge.
1. Patrice Bergeron, C: Heart and soul of the squad. Still an elite, complete No. 1 center.
Honorable mention: Jack Studnicka, Zane McIntyre, Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon, Dan Vladar, Anton Blidh, Peter Cehlarik, Colby Cave, Urho Vaakanainen, Jordan Szwarz, Zach Senyshyn.
Stats via Hockey-Reference, Natural Stat Trick
Matt Porter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mattyports.