Until then, there are still plenty of kids on the bubble who are fighting for one of a handful of spots on the big-league roster.
Realistically speaking, the Bruins’ top-six is pretty much set. It’s going to be some mixture of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci and Ryan Donato, with Donato being the most speculative of that bunch.
The third line has two spots pretty much spoken for by David Backes and Danton Heinen, leaving one spot there and then possibly one on the fourth line, depending on what Bruce Cassidy wants to do there.
So basically, there are about 12 forwards fighting for one spot. Have fun, kids!
Let’s take a look at who’s left as of Tuesday morning.
Out of the question
Martin Bakos is dealing with an injury and is done for camp, meaning he’ll have to wait for a shot to land on the NHL roster.
Livin’ on a prayer
Jakub Lauko has opened some eyes during training camp, but considering his age, his level of experience and the fact that he’s currently dealing with an injury, he’s unlikely to end up on the Opening Night roster.
Mark McNeill isn’t exactly a kid (in NHL terms) at 25, but he’s in the mix as well. In all likelihood, he ends up in Providence and earns a call up when the Bruins need some muscle or toughness on the fourth line. With other players ready to step into a fourth-line role, however, he’s unlikely to earn a spot out of camp.
The Grinders, as we’ll call this group, are just too numerous. Jordan Szwarz, Anton Blidh and Colby Cave are all looking at bottom-six roles, but so are more established players like Joakim Nordstrom, Chris Wagner, Sean Kuraly and Noel Acciari. One of The Grinders could surprise and earn a look, but it isn’t likely.
Jack Studnicka is a prospect who has shot up the Bruins’ charts, and has had his flashes during training camp. He has offensive upside, but is it enough for the Bruins to hand him the keys to a third-line center role? It might be a little too soon.
Karson Kuhlman has been a pleasant surprise in his first training camp with the Bruins. The former UMD Bulldog has shown an ability to play in a number of different roles, and while he’s been impressive at times, there are higher skill guys ahead of him in line. He could see time on the third line at some point this season, but it likely won’t be on Opening Night.
Ryan Fitzgerald has his sights set on an NHL roster spot, and has the talent to play in a middle-six role, if needed. However, he’s been dealing with an injury during camp, and probably hasn’t seen as much action as the Bruins would have liked.
Anders Bjork has kind of been the forgotten man at times in training camp as he continues to get back to full strength. However, the Bruins clearly have high expectations for the kid, as they felt he was ready to be tossed on the first line for a time last season. Bjork is someone who has the talent to do great things at the NHL level. If he’s healthy, expect the Bruins to give him a look.
Peter Cehlarik is a guy who seems like he’s been a prospect for years now. He showed some signs being ready for regular NHL duty last season before being sidelined by injury. He’s had a strong training camp, looking borderline dominant at times, and could probably play on the second line with David Krejci (though there isn’t much room) or on the third line with Backes or Heinen sliding to center. This should be his best shot to make the team.
Trent Frederic and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson are two guys who have their eyes on that 3C role. While the Bruins could mix things up, things went pretty well with Danton Heinen on the left and David Backes on the right last season. With Riley Nash out of town, the pivot role on that line could be up for grabs.
My guess is that the two guys above have a slight edge over Jack Studnicka. With the Bruins getting ready to ice their regular roster in one of the final two preseason games, it’s now or never (more like now or next season, I guess) time for Frederic and Forsbacka Karlsson.
There’s a chance that both guys get a shot in the final two games, and a decision is made this weekend. Right now, I’d put my money on Forsbacka Karlsson, who has looked like the best player on the ice at times in the preseason.