First Line: Marchand-Bergeron-Studnicka
If there’s going be a young forward that breaks into the B’s lineup, I’m willing to bet it will be Jack Studnicka. The youngster is already a very talented and dynamic player but obviously doesn’t have much experience as he only has 5 AHL games under his belt. Putting him on the top line gives him a chance to play with some word class players but also to learn from them. Studnicka one day should become a center, but starting on the wing especially on the first line would allow him to not become overwhelmed by NHL play.
Barring an injury of some sort, there’s no reason to think the duo of Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron won’t return to the top line on opening night in Dallas.
Second Line: DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak
There’s a simple fix to the revolving door of wingers on the second line, and that is to add a little pasta. David Pastrnak is easily the B’s best right-shot winger and has come into his own the last two seasons and become one of the best goal scorers in the entire league. This really should be a simple decision for the Bruins coaching staff, to create two elite offensive lines to make it difficult on opposing defenses. Jake DeBrusk should improve after a slight down season and David Krejci should be at the top of his game after putting together his best season in quite a while.
Third Line: Heinen-Coyle-Kuhlman
I am being completely serious when I say this but if this line is put together it has the chance to be one of the best lines in the entire league. The trade for Charlie Coyle turned out to be an amazing move for the Bruins in February as Coyle was spectacular in the postseason. Not only did he put up the points, he was also very strong on the puck and was able to stabilize the B’s third line which had been stuck in neutral all season long. There’s no reason to believe he shouldn’t perform close to that next season and pairing him with two young, talented forwards would give the Bruins another rock solid line.
Danton Heinen should improve after a rocky second season and should see more scoring opportunities playing with Coyle. Karson Kuhlman is a perfect fit for this line with his determination for the puck and his willingness to go to the dirty areas. He also certainly doesn’t lack in his offensive game and could see upwards of 15 goals next season if he remains in the lineup.
Fourth Line: Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner
No surprises here, with Noel Acciari going to Florida. Chris Wagner was incredibly solid in his first year in Boston and should continue on the fourth line and won’t be too much of a downgrade from Acciari. Joakim Nordstrom rebounded from a uneven regular season to be one of the B’s best forwards in the playoffs and should have no trouble keeping his job in training camp. With Sean Kuraly centering this line, the Bruins again will have incredibly solid depth down the middle. Kuraly seems to improve every season so there’s no reason to not expect another jump from him this season.
Extra Forwards: Lindholm, Ritchie
Both players were signed as NHL depth so it wouldn’t shock me if they both started the year in Boston. Lindholm is a solid, versatile player that can easily slot in to replace anyone in the lineup if it be an injury or inconsistent play. Ritchie will probably be used in a similar way to Acciari as a fourth line replacement or he may see time on the third line if Kuhlman were to struggle in camp or the preseason.
First Pairing: Chara-McAvoy
Chara is another year older and probably won’t be able to play 24-25 minutes anymore but McAvoy should be able to pick up some slack. However, both players seem to work very well together and are often in the right place especially defensively. McAvoy could easily surpass Chara as the number one defenseman this season which would be good for the front office to see that the team would be in good hands when Chara eventually hangs them up.
Second Pairing: Krug-Carlo
As much flack as Krug gets for being average or worse in his own end, he is a beast of an offensive player and is a big reason why the power play had such a good season last year. He is easily their best offensive defenseman and should continue to be that next season. Brandon Carlo is almost the exact opposite as he became a shutdown defenseman during the playoffs and is just a solid player to have on the back end. Offensively he may not contribute much but is so rock solid defensively that is almost doesn’t matter. Assuming the B’s shed some salary, Carlo should see a decent raise this offseason.
Third Pairing: Grzelcyk-Clifton
This is yet another rock solid pair on the back end with both young players having very solid postseason performances. Grzelcyk has grown exponentially as a player ever since he was drafted and at points last season he was the B’s best defenseman. Clifton was incredibly solid when called upon and had a great postseason despite never playing a playoff game prior to this past season.
Extra Defenseman: Kampfer
With both John Moore and Kevan Miller likely starting the year on injured reserve, Kampfer is the obvious choice to have as the seventh defenseman. The B’s signed Kampfer to a two-year deal prior to free agency to serve as a safety net in case of injury or inconsistencies. He was solid in his playing time this past season and understands his role so keeping him around was a no brainer for the Bruins.
Really no debate here as both goalies should return to a 1A and 1B situation that was so successful for the team last season.
Rask was well rested by the time the playoffs rolled around and had his most successful postseason since 2013. Halak was incredibly solid as a backup and arguably had a better regular season than Rask. Both goalies should again have very good seasons barring any injury.