Last night, Elliotte Friedman reported on a new wrinkle in the NHL’s Return to Play plan, surrounding each team’s roster size.
Couple of other notes from Return-to-Play protocol: Two exhibition games per team; 28 skaters and as many goalies as you wish to carry.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) May 27, 2020
As is the case with everything else about this hectic endeavor, this is subject to change, but appears to be the plan for now.
During a normal NHL season, roster limits go away in the playoffs, allowing teams to carry as many Black Aces as they want. However, with each team reportedly limited to just 50 personnel in total, such a set-up simply wouldn’t have worked.
Instead, the 28-man roster (with unlimited goalies!) means teams have to put a little more thought into which players they’ll be bringing to their hub city; presumably, in-series call-ups wouldn’t be permitted due to travel, testing, isolation, etc.
While it might be fun to imagine a team carrying 15 goaltenders as part of their unlimited plan, it stands to reason that those goalies would still count against the 50-personnel limit. Realistically, teams will probably bring a third goalie, and that’s about it.
Those are the parameters, and while the Bruins are pretty well set at the NHL level, they do have some interesting players in the AHL who may be able to make an impact if called upon.
- Tuukka Rask
- Jaroslav Halak
Rask and Halak are locks, with Rask a lock to carry the entire load unless he falters at some point and Halak steps in.
I could see the Bruins giving Halak a game during the round robin just to keep him busy, but it depends on how that whole seeding thing shakes out.
Defensemen - 7
- Zdeno Chara
- Brandon Carlo
- Connor Clifton
- Matt Grzelcyk
- Torey Krug
- Jeremy Lauzon
- Charlie McAvoy
There are no real surprises here. The Bruins will end up going with their regular six defensemen, plus an add-on.
Chara, Carlo, Grzelcyk, Krug, and McAvoy are the mainstays; from there, it’s either Lauzon or Clifton rotating in.
The decision between those two could be an interesting one. Clifton has the experience of playing last year and seems to have the trust of Bruce Cassidy, but Lauzon showed flashes of real promise and may bring a slightly different element than Clifton.
Forwards - 13
- Patrice Bergeron
- Anders Bjork
- Charlie Coyle
- Jake DeBrusk
- Ondrej Kase
- David Krejci
- Sean Kuraly
- Par Lindholm
- Brad Marchand
- Joakim Nordstrom
- David Pastrnak
- Nick Ritchie
- Chris Wagner
Again, nothing surprising here. Your top 12 forwards, plus a healthy scratch. It’s pretty much the same group the Bruins have been using since the trade deadline passed.
In all honesty, it will be tough (barring injury) for one of the guys discussed below to knock one of these guys out of a roster spot. However, it could happen, depending on match-ups with whoever the Bruins end up against.
The extra guys
Based on the numbers above, the Bruins would have 8 roster spots to use on “extra” players (remember, goalie spots don’t count).
- Dan Vladar
Vladar is a nice addition, and while it’d be cool for him to be on the roster, it’d be a bad situation for the Bruins if he ended up being called upon to play, as it would mean injuries or disastrously bad play sidelined Rask and Halak.
Still, Vladar had a great season in the AHL,leading qualified goalies in both GAA and save percentage. Getting selected for something like this would be icing on the cake.
Defensemen - 2
- John Moore
- Urho Vaakanainen
Similar to the goalie situation, it’s hard to see either of these guys getting in a playoff game without an injury occurring. With Vaakanainen, it’d probably have to be two or three injuries, but I’ve included him here based on upside.
Moore is (usually) steady, if unspectacular. He’d be a decent fill in if someone like Lauzon or Clifton struggled early and often in a series.
Forwards - 6
- Anton Blidh
- Paul Carey
- Trent Frederic
- Brendan Gaunce
- Karson Kuhlman
- Jack Studnicka
There are a few guys up there who could find themselves in the lineup without an injury, giving Cassidy plenty of options.
Frederic and Kuhlman stand out as guys who might get a look sooner than injury time. Carey could provide a bit more veteran’s steadiness if called upon, and Blidh could be used to add some sandpaper to the fourth line if the B’s find themselves in a physical series.
I don’t really see where Studnicka would get in without an injury, and Gaunce is another body with some scoring pop at the AHL level.
You could swap Zach Senyshyn for Gaunce if you wanted to carry another right wing stead of a left, and it’d probably be a toss-up.