Editor’s note- Reed Duthie debuts at the Scouting Post with his thoughts on what could be on the horizon for the Boston Bruins personnel-wise. Reed is not only one of the 3 Amigos, but he is the accomplished play-by-play announcer for the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. With the hockey season over, we hope to see more of Reed’s contributions here in the offseason as a longtime follower of the Bruins and astute analyst.
You have to crawl before you can walk, and you have to walk before you can run. If this season was any indication, the Boston Bruins as a group are certainly finding their way, maybe not running just yet but certainly getting up to a brisk jog.
Although the end of season / early playoff injuries put the Bruins a hole they couldn’t recover from we learned a lot about this team in terms of heart and soul. The additions of traditional blue collar players like Noel Acciari & Sean Kuraly gave the Bruins an energy boost, while Charlie McAvoy made Bruins fans begin to dream in optimistic terms once again.
But after a hard fought loss where do the Bruins go from here?
The Bruins will have some options as both the Las Vegas Golden Knights Expansion Draft & NHL Entry Draft loom on the horizon, and are set up pretty well to play what is becoming an ever more complicated chess game in NHL front offices.
Most likely the Bruins will go the route of protecting 7 forwards, 3 defencemen & 1 goaltender and some of the names are obvious, 5 forwards stand out (Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, David Krejci & David Backes), 2 defencemen (Zdeno Chara & Torey Krug) as well as an obvious choice as the goaltender (Tuukka Rask). Up front young talent such as Acciari, Kuraly, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson & Frank Vatrano are ineligible due to lack of professional service time, while veterans Dominic Moore, Tim Schaller & Drew Stafford are pending UFA’s and unlikely to be taken by Vegas. Riley Nash may qualify as a protected player for the Bruins simply due to his skill set as a bottom-6 forward who can play multiple positions and help shepherd younger players but the biggest question up front is the curious case of Ryan Spooner.
Spooner is an incredibly talented young player but seems to have yet fully seized that at the NHL level. The Bruins have the room to easily protect their still developing center but with Spooner being held out of Games 5 & 6 of the playoff series vs Ottawa and having been used sparingly at even strength when in the lineup questions will abound as to whether the Bruins want move forward with Spooner or could he be bait to add to a growing stable of talent on the back end of the Bruins lineup.
On defence the Bruins have clear choices in Chara & Krug but the picture gets cloudier from there, impressive rookies McAvoy & Brandon Carlo are ineligible due to service time while Colin Miller, Kevan Miller & Adam McQuaid would all need to be protected but would any of the three interest Las Vegas, and would they be replaceable for the Bruins?
The delta of these two issues comes when you look closely teams like Minnesota, Nashville, Anaheim, etc. who have a plethora of talented defencemen and not enough spots on the roster to keep them all through the expansion process.
Could the Bruins wheel Spooner as part of a package to one of those teams and come away with a left handed shot who could be a part of the Bruins future moving forward?
In my opinion Don Sweeney and his staff through their drafts and the development of players coming through the pipeline have earned the trust to be able to navigate through what will be a wild summer in multiple aspects and they will have a multitude of options at their fingertips to improve the 2017-2018 and beyond Boston Bruins.
Thanks for the nice article Reed! Always love the 3 amigos and the blog too- welcome to it! Re: the expansion draft, unless I read wrong, the Bruins can’t expose their impending FA’s- they have to make available players who are under contract at least through 17-18 and have the time served minimums. I am not sure if they have the freedom to expose a FA, but they need at least two that aren’t. So seeing as Vegas is obligated to take a Bruin, if not one of McQuaid or the Millers, who would interest them? Hayes? Beleskey? Malcolm Subban? Whoever they choose to expose from that defense trio is likely far more interesting to LV than anything else we have, even if just as a trade piece. Perhaps Subban might fit that bill too, but Hayes and Beleskey?
Addendum- or is it that they will end up having to expose their FA’s only after they meet the requirements for players that have contracts through 17-18?
I believe FA’s do count in exposing players. Dom knows the system better then I do but part of the attraction of signing Khudobin was so they’d have a goalie to expose instead of Subban.
I do believe the Bruins will expose Beleskey, Hayes, McQuaid and at least 1 Miller, if not both depending on if they make a move for a D from another team.
I’m not ready to give up on Spooner yet, but I think that as things currently stand, I’d leave him unprotected. I see the most likely loss as whichever Miller the Bruins leave exposed, so I would dangle Spooner in the hope that Vegas might take him instead.
They clearly have more forward slots than forwards, so trading a Miller for a better forward ithan those at their bottom of their protect list s also an option.