By: Kevin O’Keefe | Follow me on Twitter @Kevin_OKeefe89
The dust is now settling on what was an exciting off-season for the NHL. Trades, buy-outs, and free-agent signings were aplenty this year, which now has paved the way for what is sure to be an exciting 2021-2022 NHL season. As the month of August leisurely rolls along, I figured this would be the best time to put out my first mailbag article of this upcoming season. There is an avalanche of questions surrounding this Bruins team, so here I will give you my take on a few of your questions I received.
The first question comes from Twitter user @caper_jay.
If, and I know it’s a big if, but if Studnicka proves himself and wins the 2c (second-line center) out of camp, how do you see the bottom two lines shaking out? Do you see Coyle moving to the wing to keep everyone on their strong side?
This is a great two-part question. First, I’d like to note; it is correct when you say big if when it comes to Studnicka taking that second-line center position. Even with a strong camp, you would likely see him start out on the third line. With that said, let’s go off the narrative you’ve put forth, and Studnicka is now your successor to David Krejci at the second-line center. This would allow you to have Coyle drop down to the third line with Haula and one of Debrusk or Foligno. At this stage, it is tough to know who that would be. Will Debrusk have a bounce-back year forcing you to keep him on that line? Will that open an opportunity for you to move Debrusk for a piece to help your defense?
In my take, I’m going to go with that reality. This would then give you a third line of Foligno-Haula-Coyle. You hit the nail on the head with Coyle moving to the wing to allow Haula to take a comfortable position at center, where he flourishes at the face-off dot. Foligno being a Jack-of-all-trades and having a left-shot, would naturally slide over to that left-wing position. The fourth line would likely consist of Frederic, Nosek, and Lazar. Lazar proved to be an injection of confidence for that fourth-line last season, so I’m quite comfortable with predicting he will have his slot in the line-up. Nosek was brought in to continue that trend of blowing up the bottom-six and will fit in quite nicely at the fourth-line center position. I think Frederic will get the first shot at rounding out the bottom half of the line-up. He can bring a physical game the Bruins desperately need. Let’s hope it’s more of a disciplined physicality moving forward. Thanks for the question!
Moving right along, our second question comes from Twitter user, @ClovisRoy1
How effective will Coyle be as the second-line center? I think he’ll be fine surrounded by the talent on hand. Maybe Debrusk makes it back to the second line as well?
This is one of those questions that very well could go either way. On the one hand, Coyle could flourish with the talent available to him in the top-six, and on the other hand, he could fall flat on his face and not be cut out for the job. I’d have to agree with you and say I also think he will work out just fine with the plethora of talent in the Bruins top-six. Anywhere between 45-60 points lined up with Hall and one of Smith or Pastrnak would do the job, in my opinion. Coyle is very much capable of this and should have a bounce-back year after receiving surgery in the off-season to fix the issues he had from last season.
When it comes to Debrusk, I don’t think there’s a chance you see him on that second line unless something has gone terribly wrong. It would take a Hall injury to start, as well as Debrusk having a bounce-back year to warrant sliding him up there over Foligno and Haula. Playing him on his off-wing hasn’t garnered any success either, so to get the full potential out of Debrusk, you’ll need to make sure he’s playing on the left side. I think it’s safe to say that if Debrusk stays on this team, it will be as a third-line left-wing, who can hopefully give you a solid 20 goals and 40 points alongside Haula and Foligno.
Our last question comes from Twitter user, @britttanyirenee
How will adding Chris Kelly and Adam McQuaid to the coaching staff affect the Bruins this upcoming season?
Starting with McQuaid, I think this was a great move for the Bruins to add a familiar face as a player development coordinator. Adam having ties to the franchise and knowing how things work within the system should pay off for the young guys he will be working with. Adam was always a team-first guy who played the game the right way, night in and night out. There is also a good number of young defensemen in the Bruins system that could benefit from the knowledge and wisdom the former Bruins defenseman could teach these kids. I think this will have a great effect on these young kids moving forward in their careers to hopefully suit up for the big club one day.
Chris Kelly getting the assistant coach job surprised me at first, but after thinking about it, I’m beginning to see the benefits this could produce. Chris Kelly is no stranger to this team and won a Stanley Cup with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. I think Kelly will flourish in this role not only because he has great knowledge of the game and has former teammates to coach but also because, as a former player development coordinator, he may be able to get the best out of any of the young guys coming up in the future. All in all, I truly think these two guys will flourish here in their new roles.
That’s all the questions I’ll be getting to in this mailbag. Thank you to all of those who sent in questions; it is greatly appreciated. Moving forward into the season, if you’d like to be a part of my future mailbag articles, make sure to follow me on Twitter. You can find my Twitter handle at the top of the page! Looking forward to this upcoming season, as I’m sure many others are! Thanks again, and go, Bruins!