The Boston Bruins returned to the playoffs on the back of their first line. I would argue that Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were the best trio in the league. Injuries hurt them immensely in their first round loss to the Senators but thankfully for them, they get a chance to run it back. Boston’s roster is almost identical to last season’s except for some young players that are ready to make a full time leap. They don’t have many interesting pieces from a fantasy perspective but they have a few elite options and some top end prospects. Let’s take a look at what they’re working with:
Elite Talents – Marchand has developed into a first round fantasy talent. The diminutive troll greatly expanded his offensive game last season setting career highs with 39 goals and 46 assists. The main contributor to this points boost was from the power play where Marchand totaled 24 points (his previous career high was 8). Add in that his +18 rating was actually his second lowest in 7 years and that he added 81 PIM with 226 shots and you’re looking at a top 10 overall fantasy asset.
Pastrnak had his big breakout at 20 years old scoring 34 goals and 36 assists. The shots were borderline elite pushing 3.5 per game and he was average or better in every other category. He’s a player I expect to be higher on than most in the early portion of drafts. I had Pastrnak at 22nd overall in my Way Too Early Top 50 and still like him as a potential pick at the back end of the second round.
Bergeron had an awful first half but there are plenty of signs for positive regression this season. Bergeron put a whopping 302 shots on goal while shooting his lowest percentage in 9 years. The power play points should rebound and the plus-minus is a lock to be in the black. His 2015-16 line of 32/36/+12/49/28/282 is certainly possible. I wouldn’t draft him with the expectation he gets back to there but it’s within reach. Consider Bergeron starting around the 5th round.
Must Drafts – David Krejci is a player I rarely own because he’s not great in any category outside of potentially assists. Krejci had a down season last year with only 31 assists but he did tie a career high with 21 goals. The problem is that he’s only average in every other category. If Krejci can get the power play points back up, he has 60+ point upside so he should be taken in the middle to late rounds. Just don’t expect him to wow you.
The other David, David Backes, has long been a favorite of mine. The problem is that his game is quickly deteriorating. In his first year in Boston, Backes had only 17+21 in 74 games. You’re drafting Backes for two reasons at this point; penalty minutes and the hope he carves out a power play role. If you’re in need of PIM, Backes is worth the gamble in the later rounds. Just don’t reach for him based on name value because his days of being a top 100 player are long in the past.
Streamer With Upside – Frank Vatrano has the potential to be one of this year’s biggest breakouts. The 23 year old should finally be locked into a top six role with power play time. Vatrano scored 10 goals and 8 assists in 44 games last year despite averaging only 13:29 a game. That gives him additional upside on top of his natural age progression. There’s a chance I end up taking him very late in drafts but at the least, he’ll be a top end streamer to start the year.
Streamer With Injury Upside – If Krejci or Bergeron went down, Ryan Spooner becomes an elite streamer. He performed admirably in the past when given an increased role. That said, he’s irrelevant without the role boost so just keep him in the back of your mind.
Must Draft – Torey Krug has been a personal favorite for a while. The shots dropped from elite to above average but there was also some quality growth. Krug set a career high with 43 assists and 25 power play points. Add in decent power play points and Krug is a solid #3 with #2 upside. I still think he can reach another level given that Chara’s role should decrease. I know Charlie McAvoy will be playing all season (saving him for the prospect section) but Krug should remain on the first power play unit which is enough to maintain value.
Bottom End – If Zdeno Chara is the last defenseman on your roster, I’m okay with it. Just don’t expect anything more than that at his age. Chara had 29 points last season with below average shots but added 59 PIM and a +18 rating. Honestly, I won’t be owning him anywhere because there are other guys who can do what Chara does but has upside.
GOALTENDING – Tuukka Rask remains the clear #1 in Boston. His goals against average bounced back in a big way last season with a 2.23 after a 2.56 in 2015-16. The problem is that Rask posted his second consecutive .915 save percentage. That clearly keeps him out of the first tier of goalies and probably the second. Given his volume, consider Rask a bottom end #1.
Anton Khudobin backs up Rask again this season. Khudobin was awful in 16 games last season and should only be streamed in the best of matchups.
HITS / BLOCKS / FACEOFF LEAGUES
If your league counts faceoffs, Bergeron gets a massive boost since he’s always near the top of the league in faceoff wins. Backes becomes a clearer hold given his great hit totals. Chara becomes a better option but I still don’t love him. Otherwise, the rest of the Bruins are decent in the categories so their values don’t change.
Pastrnak is a top 10-15 player given his age and current value. McAvoy gets a massive boost since he’s a blue chip prospect. Chara becomes nearly undraftable given that he’s 40 years old. The rest of their core are currently in their prime so there’s no rush in moving them before they drop off.
BLUE CHIP – McAvoy is everything a team wants in a modern day defenseman. In fact, when Reid and I do our gambling podcast in September, there’s a good chance I put a bet on McAvoy to win the Calder. He can skate incredibly well, his vision is terrific and he looked like he belonged in the playoffs. For my money, McAvoy is the best defenseman who wasn’t in the league full-time last season.
HIGH FLOOR – Being a Notre Dame fan, I’ve seen a fair share of Anders Bjork. Bjork was a monster last year scoring 51 points in 39 games for The Fighting Irish. The former fifth round pick was a late bloomer but is a lock to have a future impact in the NHL. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s this season, although I think he starts in Providence.
Jake DeBrusk looks to be a solid two-way winger down the line. In his first professional year, DeBrusk scored 19+30 in Providence. I don’t see a world beater but he should end up a consistent 45-55 point player given second unit power play time.
Jakub Zboril also has a high floor but it doesn’t compare to McAvoy. Another first round pick in the Bruins pipeline, Zboril had a solid year in juniors although the offense dropped off quite a bit. There’s a chance it comes back but more than likely he’ll be a bottom end guy in standard leagues.
HIGH UPSIDE – Zachary Senyshyn is a polarizing prospect who has the upside of being a tremendous power forward. He was expected to go in the second round but the Bruins shockingly took him 15th overall (to be fair, it was their third first rounder of the night so perhaps they decided to shoot the moon). Senyshyn had back to back 40+ goal seasons in the OHL and now should be in the AHL. I’m still not his biggest fan but there’s no denying the upside.
That’s all for now guys. I’ll be back tomorrow looking at the Toronto Maple Leafs. As always, feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments below. Thanks for reading, take care!