The Boston Bruins are a franchise in limbo. Last offseason, they made a bunch of questionable moves that were focused on the future; I’d argue they made them worse in the future but they certainly made them worse in the short term. On the other hand, their current core, especially the forwards, played at an extraordinary level to keep them in the playoff hunt. Unfortunately for them, they missed the playoffs on tiebreakers leaving the franchise in the worst position to be in; not a true contender but not bad enough to get the necessary talent for a brighter future. Not much has changed; they should fight for the playoffs again but they’re far from being a threat in the East. That said, they have a lot of decent fantasy options along with some elite guys so let’s take a look at how their roster is shaping up:
I held a pretty firm stance on Tuukka Rask last season; terrific goalie but a horrible defense in front of him. This held true as Rask had the worst goals against average and save percentage of his career. If the Bruins had even an average defense, Rask be a #1 fantasy goalie without question. However, that’s not the case so he should be drafted as a #2. I assume I won’t have Rask on any of my teams again because of his name value.
Anton Khudobin has returned to Boston as the backup to Rask. He spent most of last season in the AHL for the Ducks affiliate after a rough 2014-15 with the Hurricanes. Even if Rask went down with an injury, Khudobin’s upside is capped for the same reason as Rask. These aren’t the Bruins of 5 years ago when they trapped all the time and played extremely defensive hockey so avoid these goalies.
I’m sure I sound like a broken record but even for fantasy, the Bruins defense is a mess. There’s one guy in this group who I’d want on my fantasy team and he’s actually one of my favorite targets this year. If you solely look at points, Torey Krug only took a slight step forward last season. However, if you dig deeper, you’ll see that Krug was incredibly unlucky and is poised for a big breakout in 2016-17. After scoring 14 goals in 2013-14 and 12 in 2014-15, Krug scored only 4 last season. However, Krug made a huge jump in shots on goal getting 244 on target after 183 and 204 the previous two seasons. To be blunt, there’s no chance in hell that Krug scores only 4 goals again if he gets 244 SOG. I expect Krug to be around the 15 goal mark, possibly 20 if he gets on the right side of variance. Considering he’s great on special teams, has been +9 or better every season in his career and just had 40 assists, Krug has top 10 defenseman upside. He’ll be in the teens in my defensemen rankings and probably in the top 100 overall.
Once upon a time, Zdeno Chara was among the league’s elite. Now, at 39 years old, he no longer plays on the first power play unit and has taken on a much larger defensive role. Chara was still solid last year with 37 points and 71 PIM but it’s hard to count on a repeat at his age. If he’s your #4 D for the PIM boost, then Chara should be fine; drafting him to be more than that is a bit risky for my taste.
In deep leagues, John-Michael Liles could provide some cheap STP since he should be on the second PP unit. Kevan Miller will be on the first pair with Chara so the minutes will be there. He will be okay in PIM and probably plus-minus but with less than a shot on goal per game, he’s also only usable in the deepest of leagues.
I certainly didn’t expect the Bruins to have a top 10 forward last season but amazingly they ended up with two of them. Patrice Bergeron has been as consistent as they come for years but he found another gear at 30 years old, mostly because of an improved Bruins power play. Bergeron set a career high with 32 goals and 49 PIM while adding a whopping 28 special teams points. Add in 280 PIM and a +12 and Bergeron was above average in every category coming in as the #7 overall forward on the ESPN player rater for the standard RCL scoring system. While I don’t expect him to repeat that, Bergeron is clearly a top 50 player due to the upside he’s shown and his ability to stay healthy. Expect him to be ranked in the 30-40 range overall.
While I wasn’t shocked at Bergeron’s season, I certainly was by Brad Marchand‘s. Marchand scored 37 goals on the back of 250 SOG; his previous career highs were 28 and 180. Marchand was always a high shooting percentage player but he somehow maintained a 14.8% which is right in line with his career average. The troll also was +21 and added 90 PIM putting him as the #8 overall forward. Despite the great Bruins PP, Marchand had only 8 power play points giving him potential to counteract regression. He’s right in the same range as his linemate Bergeron. If you end up with big assists early, Marchand is a great fit for the goals and penalty minutes.
While I didn’t like the contract because of the downside in the long term, David Backes will be a great addition for the Bruins in the short term. From a fantasy perspective, I think he gets a big boost because he’ll move to right wing with Bergeron and Marchand instead of centering a shutdown line in St. Louis. Backes has consistently been in the 20-30 goal, 25-30 assist range for the last 5 years along with around 100 PIM. He’s never had a high power play point total before which also gives him some more upside. I think he remains a top 100 player with the upside to reach the top 50.
David Krejci bounced back from an injury plagued 2014-15 with a strong season scoring 17+46 in 72 games. He’s average in all of the other categories but that’s plenty good enough when you’re dishing 46 assists. Krejci will be close to 100th overall; like most guys in that range, a lot will come down to team fit in regards to what stats you need.
One of my favorite breakouts from last season, David Pastrnak had an up and down year. When all was said and done, Pastrnak had 15+11 in 51 games, which is great considering he had only 1 power play point. The 20 year old’s potential for this season almost solely comes down to his power play time. Early projections have him on the first power play unit. If he does, I can see Pastrnak having a breakout like my mancrush Mike Hoffman recently had. A slight uptick in shots will put him in position to be a top 100 player. I expect him to come in around the 150th overall range but he’ll be somebody I’m targeting in all drafts, especially dynasties.
At this point, Ryan Spooner looks to be the favorite for the last spot in the top 6. When Krejci was injured, Spooner was outstanding but otherwise he was fringe for 12’ers. For now, I’d leave Spooner to the waiver wire as I like to shoot the moon at the end of my draft instead of going safe. Spooner will be a top end streamer with potential to be a hold if the second line clicks or there’s an injury.
Matt Beleskey had a decent first season in Boston and will be a streamer in 12’ers if you need penalty minutes with some offensive potential. Same goes for Jimmy Hayes to a lesser extent; Beleskey will be owned in 14’ers while Hayes is fringe for 16’ers at this point. Besides Pastrnak, the other young guy on the Bruins with potential is Frank Vatrano. Vatrano was incredible in the AHL last season with 36 goals in 36 games. It didn’t translate much to the NHL, mostly because of the opportunity. The 22 year old probably won’t have the chance to start the season but he’s a great target in dynasties and deep leagues for the upside. He’s somebody to keep an eye on in all leagues to see where he settles into the Bruins lineup.
TOP 5 PROSPECTS
1) Jakub Zboril
2) Malcolm Subban
3) Charles McAvoy
4) Alexander Khokhlachev
5) Trent Frederic
That’s all for now guys. As always, feel free to leave any comments or questions below, any feedback would be appreciated. I’ll be back on Tuesday with a preview of the Detroit Red Wings. Take care everyone!