Overall rating: 7.4
Bruins fans love their grinders.
The “little guys,” as Tommy Heinsohn used to call Isaiah Thomas. Some of the Bruins’ most popular players in recent years have been the undersized or under-skilled guys who play with tenacity and seem to somehow get the job done. Punching above their pay grade, if you will.
Sean Kuraly burst onto the Bruins scene with his OT goal against Ottawa in the playoffs a few years back, and his profile with the fanbase has grown ever since.
This past season, he continued to improve his three-zone play and continued to have a knack for scoring big goals.
Kuraly was 6th among regular Bruins forwards in shorthanded TOI per game, skating 1:18 of PK time per game. He definitely earned the trust of his coach, as his 13:46 of TOI per game was 7th-most among Bruins regulars.
During the playoffs, Kuraly’s profile rose even more: he led Bruins forwards in shorthanded TOI at 2:19 per game, and was 5th among all forwards in total TOI (behind the Czech Daves, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Bergeron).
Bruce Cassidy started using Kuraly’s line in a shutdown capacity this season too, with varying degrees of success. There were times were Kuraly and his linemates did a great job pestering the other team’s big guns, but there were also times where it was glaringly obvious that they were overmatched (a game against the Washington Capitals comes to mind as one where Cassidy stuck with their line for too long).
Still, on the whole, Kuraly had a solid season. He set career highs in both goals and assists (and points, as a result), and had an excellent postseason as well, finishing 5th on the team in playoff points per game.
Kuraly is under contract for the next two seasons at a cap hit of less than $2 million, a bargain by any measure.
The best part about Kuraly’s game, arguably, is that he’s versatile enough to move up and down the lineup. He has the speed to play with higher-end players, and gives Cassidy options when it comes to in-game juggling.
Kuraly is never going to be a 60-point scorer, but he’s the kind of player who would be valuable on any team in the league: a hard worker, a great skater, and a penchant for scoring big goals.
What’s not to like?
- Jake: 8
- Dan: 7
- Sky: 7
- Adam: 7
- Shawn: 8