By: Joey Partridge | Follow Me On Twitter @joey_partridge
The 2021 National Hockey League season is “hopefully” right around the corner, and this offseason has seen notable players leave and some players being added to the squad. With the roster assumably finalized, let’s take a look at some players to keep an eye on for the Boston Bruins next season.
The Boston Bruins announced on October 10th, 2020, that they signed Craig Smith to a three-year/$3.1 million deal. Craig Smith is a new addition that should command attention on your televisions. He is a five-time 20-goal scorer out of his nine-year NHL career. Secondary scoring is something that the Bruins have been lacking, and Craig Smith should be a part of that solution.
When you are talking about players to watch, David Pastrnak has to be on your radar. This is the Bruins’ best offensive player, and it seems he’s pulling out a new magic trick every time he’s on the ice. He is coming off a 48 goal, 47 assists, 95 point season, all career highs. The best part about that is it was only in 70 games due to the pandemic shutdown. When you’re watching the Bruins, keep your eye on 88.
Another key player that I will be keeping an eye on is Jack Studnicka. With the Bruins’ depth, it is not a certainty that Studnicka will be on the opening night roster. However, with the likely absences of Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak to start, I would be shocked if Studnicka doesn’t get a good look. This will be his fourth year in the system, and I expect him to take a big step forward.
Tuukka Rask is due to return to the Boston Bruins after opting out of the NHL restart due to a family emergency. First off, I want to make a side note. The Bruins’ faithful should welcome him back with open arms and support Rask as he is the franchise goaltender, and we all saw how much we missed him in the postseason. Rask gets too much hate for no reason, and I, along with many fans, welcome his return. Even Bruce Cassidy is excited. “I think everything that happened in the bubble has been addressed, dealt with,” Cassidy said Wednesday. “We’re moving on, getting ready to win next year. That includes our goaltender.” Rask was a Vezina Trophy finalist last season, and with extended rest during the offseason, I expect him to be the same Tuukka we all know of.
Another key player that I will be keeping a close eye on is Matt Grzelcyk. With Torey Krug’s departure to the St. Louis Blues and Zdeno Chara still unsigned, Gryzelyck’s role has just become that much larger. I always thought that Grzelyck had been underrated and a stalwart defenseman, so I think he can handle the extra minutes. Chances are he will be quarterbacking the top power-play unit unless Bruce Cassidy decides to go another route.
When it is all said in done, these are the key players that are new, have big shoes to fill, or have great opportunities to succeed. These five guys, in my opinion, will have a huge role in the Bruins’ hopeful success in the coming season, whenever that may be.