Sean Kuraly - Forward
Most people remember Sean Kuraly for his impressive performance during the Bruins’ 2017 playoff series against Ottawa. The Bruins relied on Kuraly, who had played just eight games with the club that season, to fill some holes and be an extra body for the playoffs. However, he ended up doing more than that. Not only did he fit seamlessly in the lineup, he scored two goals in Boston’s thrilling double overtime victory in Game Five, including the game winner. Long story short, Kuraly introduced himself to Bruins fans in a big way.
Kuraly did not stop there. After proving he was capable of handling NHL responsibilities, he worked hard during the offseason with the goal of earning a spot in training camp. And he did. Kuraly secured his role as the fourth line center to begin the season and played all but seven games for the Bruins in 2017-2018.
Kuraly did get off to a slow start after earning a starting job, and it was highlighted by an October 26 benching against the San Jose Sharks, a game in which Kuraly committed three minor penalties and played only 4:26.
The benching was the spark Kuraly needed. He scored his first regular season goal three games later and slowly regained the trust of head coach Bruce Cassidy. He became a trustworthy option down the middle and helped bolster the penalty killing unit (he averaged 1:10 of shorthanded time on ice per game). Kuraly also developed an incredible chemistry with his line mates Noel Acciari and Tim Schaller to give the Bruins their most reliable fourth line since the days of the Merlot Line.
Kuraly’s speed allows him to get up ice and create plays, but the Miami University alum also plays with an edge. He finished third on the team with 143 hits and dropped the gloves twice. He plays a chippy game, which definitely comes in handy at times.
Kuraly missed the final seven games of the regular season with an injury, but returned in time for the playoffs. And thankfully he did, or else we would not be blessed with this beautiful goal he scored against Toronto in Game 1.
His 2018 postseason did not end with any electric overtime goals, but Kuraly managed to score two goals and two assists in 12 playoff games to go along with a plus-5 rating. He also was one of the only players in the bottom-six who could actually keep up with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round.
Aggregate Grade: B-
The Bruins allowed Kuraly to work through some slumps last season, but it paid off in the end. Kuraly received a three-year extension in early July after his promising rookie season and it is clear the Bruins have him in their plans for the foreseeable future. His up tempo style makes him a perfect fit in the modern day NHL the potential is there for Kuraly to elevate his game this coming season.
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