BOSTON – With off-season profiles conducted for the goalies and the right defensemen already, along with plenty of off-season coverage on left defenseman Zdeno Chara, and ten games left until the regular season, I decided to take the series of Bruins off-season profiles right to the wings. The Bruins are strong at many positions and while I think their best depth comes at the center line, there is no denying that their crop of wings is among the best in the league.
The starting left wing for the Bruins is longtime Boston great Brad Marchand. Backing him up is Jake DeBrusk and rounding out the group in the third line is Anders Bjork and Joakim Nordstrom. As for the right wing position, it is helmed by David Pastrnak. His first substitution is Karson Kuhlman. And finishing up in the third line is a group consisting of Danton Heinen, David Backes, and Chris Wagner.
Wagner is coming off his first season with Boston where he recorded a plus/minus of three with twelve goals in 76 games. He may not be a big factor this year, but there is still plenty of room to grow. Only slightly more influential is Backes, who definitely started to show signs of deterioration in Boston during the 2018-19 campaign, but is similarly aggressive. A longtime foundational player for the St. Louis Blues, Backes only just edged out his career low in goals scored last year with seven. His record low of six was recorded in a season during which he played 22 fewer games, however.
With Backes trending downwards, Wagner might get an earlier look on the ice than anticipated. But the most logical beneficiary is Heinen, who is not only a solid wing, but also a great defender when he is called upon. He racked up 43 takeaways last year and was seventh in overall scoring on the team, with 34 points. As for Karson Kuhlman, he played in just eleven games last year, but he is undoubtedly primed for a surprise performance as an emerging youth talent.
Still, the stars remain DeBrusk, Pastrnak, and Marchand. Last year, DeBrusk was sixth in team scoring with 42 points. Pastrnak was second with 81 and Marchand was first with an astounding 100 point season. While we have come to expect greatness from Marchand, I am going to make a bold prediction about Pastrnak. I am going to say that he will build on his season last year (which also saw him notch 17 power play goals) and earn himself the Hart Memorial Trophy.
It's bold, for sure, but I truly believe Pastrnak is not only the next Boston great, but the next NHL great. He's only going to get more mature. He's only going to get better.
Image via Wikimedia Commons / Jeff Egnaczyk