By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @dairybeast
Since Zdeno Chara was announced as the next Boston Bruins captain in 2006, it’s been pretty clear to most Bruins fans what the line of succession would be. When Chara moved on after the 2019-2020 season, everyone was confident Patrice Bergeron would be the next captain, and the management team confirmed those suspicions.
With Patrice Bergeron announcing that he will not be discussing an extension at this time, fans have begun to worry that this may be his final season in Boston. I think most of us are of the mindset that Brad Marchand, as much as other teams hate him, will replace Bergeron as the next captain, at least for a few seasons.
I think the more interesting conversation is about who takes over once Marchand moves on. Marchand probably has a few years left in him after Bergeron leaves, but he’s also 33-years-old and likely heading down the backstretch of his career. The Bruins have let a few different players wear an “A” on their sweaters this season, so I wanted to go through them and give my thoughts on why they would or would not make a good captain for the Boston Bruins.
If David Pastrnak were to be named captain of the Bruins, it would be another example of a team giving it to their best player. We’ve seen this before with Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Connor McDavid, and Claude Giroux. A team will give their best player the responsibility of the captaincy and then let them grow into it.
I don’t think this would be a bad option personally. It probably wouldn’t be my choice, but I wouldn’t hate it if it does happen. Pasta has shown willingness to stick up for his teammates in the past, despite not being much of a fighter, and he has grown into a consistently elite scorer.
In my opinion, though, a Boston Bruins captain needs to be more of a complete player if they’re going to be a forward. As the captain, you represent the team and its identity. While Pasta is a brilliant scorer, the Bruins have always been about being strong defensively, and he still has a lot to work on in that aspect of the game.
A final point against Pastrnak is his current lack of a long-term contract. He’s signed with the Bruins for two more years, and he’ll be a UFA at the end of this deal. That means he could very easily move on if another team offers him more money or better term than the Bruins do.
Charlie McAvoy is probably most people’s pick to be the future captain of the Bruins. He’s a bright young talent developing as a two-way player, and many hope he’ll be a Norris Trophy finalist for many years to come. I’m someone who is much more critical of McAvoy than a typical Bruins fan, so I still am a bit on the fence about him as a future captain.
He reminds me a bit of when Erik Karlsson was captain of the Senators. That’s not necessarily a good or bad thing, but I think that would be the best comparison for him if he were to be named the captain. As of now, he probably wouldn’t be my pick. Again, similar to the situation with Pasta, I wouldn’t be necessarily unhappy if he was chosen, but there is someone I think would fit the “C” a bit better.
I think if McAvoy fine-tunes his defensive game a bit more, I’ll open up more to the idea of him as a Bruins captain. At times though, he still makes some immature and silly decisions that I’d like to see him clean up before he’s responsible for leading the team. He also has never worn the “C” before at any level, at least according to his Elite Prospects page. That’s not a huge deal, but it is something to consider, at least in my opinion.
Brandon Carlo seems to be management’s next-in-line choice to be the captain of the Bruins when Bergeron and Marchand are both gone. That is, of course, merely speculation on my part, but he was the first choice to take up the alternate captaincy when David Krejci was out last season and being the guy to wear the “A” on opening night this season.
I like Carlo’s game. He plays within himself and focuses on locking down the defensive side of the puck before turning his attention up ice. I would like to see him continue working on his offensive game and getting involved in the offensive zone, but having an excellent shut-down defenseman cannot be discounted, especially when more teams prioritize small, quick, puck-movers.
I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that I think the Bruins need an imposing top-line defenseman to truly make a run at the cup again. If Carlo can continue to develop his two-way game, I think he has a chance to become that player. He very well could be the guy to wear the “C” for the Bruins in the Cup Finals in seven years or so if all goes well.
Now, I’m aware that it may seem like I’m gushing a bit about Carlo more than I did for the other two guys. Just because I think he would make a great Bruins captain doesn’t mean I see the drawbacks. One major problem is his injury record. It may be unfair to say, “don’t give him the captaincy because he’s always injured.” I get that it’s not his fault that he got cheap shotted by Tom Wilson or that he suffered a freak injury a few years ago. However, I think it’s fair to want the captain of your team to be someone who can go out there for at least 70 to 75 games most years.
Regardless of what letters they wear, I hope this is the future captaincy trio for the Bruins. If I were to pick, I would probably choose Carlo as the captain, with McAvoy and Pastrnak as alternates. I think that setup would allow all three of them to thrive, with Carlo leading the team defensively. At the same time, McAvoy and Pasta would be free to attack and be creative without having to deal with the pressure of having the “C” in addition to putting up offensive numbers. As I mentioned, I wouldn’t complain about any of them being the captain, but that’s just how I would like to see it in an ideal world.