Five Key Observations From Boston Bruins Training Camp

(Photo Credit: Andrew Taverna)

By: Andrew Taverna | Follow me on Twitter @andrewtaverna

Every year, the opening of the Boston Bruins training camp excites hockey fans because it’s the first sign the regular season is almost upon us. This year, the folks at BNG decided not just to have a strong showing, but in particular, we did two days’ worth of in-person image and video shooting. At the end of those two days, here are some of the biggest takeaways from those sessions. 

1 – The Top Line

There is little doubt that Bruce Cassidy will have the super-star line of Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak together at some point during this season, but to open camp, it does seem like he’s been willing to play with that a bit. Young gun Jesper Froden saw himself catch some shifts with Marchand and Bergeron. During his time on that line, he looked poised, strong, and, most importantly, skilled. There is a lot of attention on Froden, and it appears that Bruins management is interested in what he could offer long term. That said, it’s still unknown whether his game will translate well to North America and when he might be ready for a shot in the NHL. His time on that top line was short-lived though as during our second day at camp, the top unit was back together and had the same chemistry you would anticipate seeing from the trio of 63-37-88. 

2 – The Top D-Pairing

There has been a lot of discussion around who Charlie McAvoy would play with during this upcoming season. More than a few Bruins fans out there think the Grzelcyk/McAvoy pairing was more than serviceable, and frankly, they wouldn’t be wrong. 

That said, McAvoy would likely benefit from playing with someone who has a bit more size and could also play a more stay-at-home role during the season. Insert off-season acquisition Derek Forbort. The 6’4″ 219-pound defenseman is the exact time of minutes-eating partner that someone like McAvoy needs. From the limited viewing we received at camp of this duo, it would seem like Cassidy will stick with it to start the season. 

3 – The Second Line

When starting to jot down notes for this article, I assumed the majority of my talking points would surround the bottom two lines and how the coaching staff would play around with all the new additions there. Still, honestly, I think that’s far less interesting than the second line with the departure of David Krejci. The obvious choice to step into that role is Charlie Coyle, but both days we attended camp, Coyle was in a non-contact red jersey and could not fill that role. To take his place, the one and only Jack Studnicka took his place. There has been a lot of hype surrounding Studnicka this off-season, and honestly, he warrants all the hype and maybe more. While putting on muscle and size, he’s also managed to keep his edges and skate at the same, if not slightly faster, speed. The two days we watched Studnicka fill that spot on the second line, he fit like a natural. Ultimately, Coyle will likely take that spot, but it has introduced some interesting internal competition. 

4 – Jake DeBrusk

Like I said in my tweet, DeBrusk is a significant concern for me after the first two days of camp. His movement to the second group today is likely to do with the fact that he could ultimately be lacing them up in the first pre-season game against Washington. Still, even with that, it looked like DeBrusk was consistently one step behind everyone else today. When he needed to re-direct a shot into the net, he was one or two strides behind. When he needed to take a shot, he seemed to wait for one or two extra steps before releasing. These challenges could be part of DeBrusk’s early camp process, but for a guy who needs a big bounce-back year, I would have preferred to see a bit more consistency from him. If this Bruins team is to make a deep playoff run, they need DeBrusk to figure this out early in the process. Let’s hope he does.

5 – There Are A Lot Of Players To Watch

There are probably five or six guys in training camp who piqued my interest beyond what I anticipated, but I will attempt to highlight just two of them. Jack Ahcan and Fabian Lysell grabbed the most attention based on their overall performances. 

Jack Ahcan is an undersized Krug-like defenseman who has a lot of potential upsides. His ability to skate and move the puck is relatively normal for a defenseman his size. When you combine that with his strength, though, you find a guy who can protect the blueline and create plays and opportunities for the other guys on the ice with him. Not only can Ahcan move the puck well, but on several occasions, he took shots from the top of the circles that seemed to make it through 200 defensemen (yes, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point). 

Fabian Lysell is the second guy to highlight from my two days at training camp. The primary reason is his speed.

He uses his edges exceptionally well and can turn faster and maintaining more speed than most players you’ve probably watched. In addition to his dangerous speed, though, he sees the ice in a way not many players do. His vision and shot remind many of a young David Pastrnak, but before we go making those comparisons, it will be helpful to see him play the game in North America. Much like Froden, Lysell needs to adapt his game to a smaller and tighter North American game. 

Overall, this year feels incredibly exciting for the Bruins. In combination with the team’s work ethic these two days, Don Sweeney’s off-season moves make me feel like we could see something special this season. If you were unable to attend either day of training camp, you can view my less than 10-minute highlight videos of my two days there below. For more in-depth analysis, make sure to check out the upcoming episode of the Puck Lines Podcast

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