BOSTON – If you were to look at the starting players in each of the Boston Bruins’ positions on the depth chart, you would put that lineup against any other stacked hockey rotation from the past decade. They are just that good and that impressive.
It makes sense, of course, because the Bruins did compete for the Stanley Cup all the way to game seven of the finals. But it is hard to overstate just how solid the Boston starters are. Tuukka Rask is the starting goalie, young hotshot Charlie McAvoy and veteran Zdeno Chara lead the defensemen, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand are the starting wingers, and Patrice Bergeron, one of the league’s best, is the starting center.
It is a wildly talented lineup, but the secret to the Bruins’ success lies within their depth. Any player, even one from the bottom of the depth chart in the third line, can score at any time for Boston and it is an attribute that has been a tremendous boon for this position. For this article, this level of depth will be applied to the right defensemen, as they are among the strongest players in the rotation.
The right defensemen are led by the aforementioned McAvoy with Brandon Carlo leading the second line. The third line is filled in by Matt Grzelcyk, Steven Kampfer, Kevan Miller, and Urho Vaakanainen.
As for Vaakanainen, he played just two games in the 2018-19 season, so the next year should see him involved more. A former first round pick who is slightly undersized, Urho could provide a change of pace position for the team. After a fractured knee sidelined him deep in the playoffs, Miller still has not skated yet in the off-season after his surgery, so Vaakanainen may be a fill-in for him.
Last year for Boston, Kampfer continued his journeyman career with minimal playing time as he recorded minutes in fewer than half of the regular season games and three post-season matches. Grzelcyk, on the other hand, is one of the best third line options that the Bruins have. Aside from Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen, perhaps no one from the third lines contributed more than Grzelcyk did. The three year veteran racked up 60 blocks last year, along with 28 takeaways in the 2018-19 season, both of which were career highs.
As for Carlo, his most impressive stat came in his amount of hits - a whopping 134! - in his third year with the club. As one of Boston’s most physical players, he will be crucial going forward.
And lastly, McAvoy is the young player I am the most excited about in the future of the Bruins. When he’s not hurt, he’s one of the best upstarts in the league. He recorded 28 points in 54 games last year, along with eight playoff points. Look for McAvoy to have an even bigger breakthrough in the 2019-20 season than he already has. After all, he just inked a three-year contract yesterday worth $4.9 million annually against the cap.
Image via Wikimedia Commons / Puffycoombes