Now that the NHL preseason has officially began, it is time for the Boston Bruins to shake off that game seven loss to the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Final and move on to the 2019–2020 season. The Bruins took a vital first step this week by signing two of their best young defensemen, Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy, to very affordable bridge deals. Now, with the Bruins defensive core back in the mix, let’s take a look at what does the season ahead hold for the black and gold.
There is no reason the Bruins should not be just as explosive offensively as they were a year ago. They did lose Marcus Johannson to the Buffalo Sabres, which will open up a spot for a second or third line winger. The hope is that one of the Bruins young prospects will step up, like Jack Studnicka, Karson Kuhlman, or Zachary Senyshyn. Other than that, look for the Bruins to have a top five offense just as they were a year ago.
Like the forwards, the Bruins defensive core will not look much different personnel wise. Expect Charlie McAvoy to take on more responsibility now that Zdeno Chara is 42 years old and only getting slower. Boston will be very deep on the defensive end, as they will have practically the same core that brought them to game seven of the Stanley Cup Final, plus some reinforcements like Kevan Miller and Urho Vaakanainen, who will look to crack the lineup. It is safe to say the Bruins future on defense is bright, considering five of the six defensemen the Bruins put out there for game seven are under the age of 30.
This might be the first time I have ever said that I am not worried about the Bruins goaltending situation. Tuukka Rask may have had a shaky final game, but it looks like he can at the very least bring the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Final and maybe even give them a chance to win (as long as it’s not game seven). Rask held an exceptional .927 save percentage in the playoffs and the backup Jaroslav Halak had a great regular season, keeping the Bruins above water when Rask took his leave of absence in the beginning of the season. Look for another good season from these two guys this year.
Barring some sort of finals hangover, I would expect the Bruins to be in the same situation as they were a year ago, maybe even a bit better; assuming some of their young talent, like McAvoy and Carlo, have breakout seasons and look like top tier defensemen. The only thing that the Bruins may struggle with this season is that there are teams in the Atlantic Division that have improved, which will make the road much tougher. With the addition of Sergei Bobrovsky, the Florida Panthers will likely be vying for a wild card spot this season, and if the Bruins are not careful, the Panthers may have enough talent to surpass them if Bobrovsky carries Florida like he did the Columbus Blue Jackets a year ago. Obviously, this seems like a long shot, but hey, just two seasons ago we saw an expansion team make the Stanley Cup Final, so nothing is impossible.
Ultimately, I believe that the Bruins will finish third in the division because the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs are just too stacked with talent. It is also possible that the Bruins could finish third in the entire league, that just goes to show how stacked the Atlantic division is.