The storyline this offseason for the Boston Bruins has been how to replace the offensive void caused by the free agent departure of Jarome Iginla. Iginla, who signed with the Colorado Avalanche, and center Patrice Bergeron shared the Bruins’ lead in goals with thirty.
The Bruins organization and general manager Peter Chiarelli failed to sign any free agents to try and plug into the starting lineup, opting instead to promote from within the club. Winger Loui Eriksson, who was acquired in the July 4, 2013 trade of Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars, is expected to step up and provide some offense. Eriksson, who missed 21 games last season due to injuries, only netted 10 goals.
When asked about making lines and their development throughout camp, Bruins’ head coach Claude Julien replied, “We’re trying to get players that have an opportunity, a chance to showcase themselves in the right situations.” He then added, “As far as chemistry is concerned there’s not going to be a ton of changes. At the end of the day you see right now Loui is a possibility with [David] Krejci’s line. They’ve been together a little bit in practice and you’re going to see them in game situations but we’re getting close to that.”
Another forward expected to step up, who was also acquired from Dallas on the Fourth of July trade, is the newly signed Reilly Smith. Smith, who had been holding out, signed a one-year contract worth $1.4 million on September 29th. Smith had 51 points (20 goals and 31 assists) in 82 regular season games for the Bruins last year.
Trying to crack the lineup and hopefully contribute to the team this season is 14-year veteran Simon Gagne. Gagne, who was invited to training camp on a try-out agreement, did not play in the 2013-14 NHL season. Throughout his career, Gagne has scored 20 or more goals seven times, his last coming in 2008-09, when he netted 34 while playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. Long time Bruins’ fans know a thing or two about signing past their prime, aging stars who are at the end of their careers (For example, going back a few years Paul Coffey and Brian Leetch and more recently Jaromir Jagr and Brian Rolston.) If Gagne does make the roster, Bruins fans should expect him to be a third line player at best, who will contribute 10 to 15 goals.
Other established players, such as Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand, will look to continue to develop their chemistry with their line mates, and will be expected to bring their A-games to every contest this year.
“A lot of guys have been together for quite a while. When you talk about Marsh [Marchand] and Bergy [Bergeron] and you look at Krejci and Looch [Lucic] for example,” said Julien elaborating on the development of lines throughout training camp. “Two guys with good chemistry, it’s a lot easier to throw a third guy in there. When you have three new guys on a line it’s a bit tougher. But normally the one guy adapts pretty quickly so I’m not overly worried about that right now and I don’t think we’re going to be the only team trying to deal with that situation.”
No matter who is added to the Bruins’ top two lines, one thing is certain; they will be expected to put the puck in the net and help the Bruins in their quest to win the organizations seventh Stanley Cup.