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2023 Player Ratings: Matt Grzelcyk struggled to find a true place in Monty’s system

The Boston native clocked in and showed up with enough regularity to make it work, but struggled to find a place in Coach Montgomery’s setup.

Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Matt Grzelcyk - LHD

Writer Rating: 6.4

Reader Rating: 6.1

It’s weird, and maybe a little sad. I really thought Gryz was going to flourish more than he did as part of Monty’s system. I figured he’d probably get a 7 at bare minimum for what he normally brought.

Oh well.

In the Regular Season, he mostly did more of what he did last year

All of the Matt Grzelcyk things you know and love where still true of this season; he was an unbelievable skater with an uncanny ability to identify offensive opportunity as the trailing man, still kept a pretty good shot on him even if he only had four goals this year, and was an assist machine, getting the third most among defenders. He’s also been the pinnacle of consistency, registering another improvement on his previous season with 26 points, two better than last year.

This is also one of his longest seasons to date; having completed 75 games in Black and Gold. He did have to take a little time off from injury due to a shoulder injury, which is a shame, because otherwise...he did a lot of things right, and the other stuff, well...they kept winning, so it was kind of a moot point, right?

He also spent a little time off the ice due to the introduction of Dmitry Orlov, who did a lot of the same stuff, only slightly larger. Which was acceptable.


In the Playoffs...well, you know.

It is a small sample size It is a small sample size It is a small sample size It is a small sample size They were already flagging and unless he became Bobby Orr he wasn’t going to fix it all at once It is a small sample size It is a small sample size Even if he 1000% played better in four games than Derek Forbort It is a small sample size It is a small sample size It is a small sample size It is a small sample size-

Yeah. He showed up and actually played alright, but it didn’t amount to much on the scoresheet.

He still should’ve played Game 6. You’ll need a bunker buster to dig me out of that hill. Even then, you’d better be ready.

Under the hood...a step back for him?

This is the thing about Gryz this year. He showed up, clocked in a respectable performance for a middle pairing defender, and felt incomplete.

Gryz struggled to really establish himself to his new coach and I feel like it did show up in his on-ice impact. Sure, he got his goals and he showed up on the board, but his effectiveness felt significantly diminished, and as a result, he was one of the very few players who didn’t have Monty’s immediate trust. That must bite to think about; Derek Forbort and Connor Clifton receiving more leeway than you.

I’m just gonna make this clear, this was a bad year for Gryz. He played 10,000% better than Forbort did at evens. Should probably work on that power play, though

After some research, I can only find that this is kind of a dramatic outlier for him; every other year he’s been exceptionally useful in his role. Nothing really about his game changed all that much; he still predominantly played with guys like Carlo...I guess the change in coach really did do something.

One can only hope it remains just that; an outlier. Because they’re going to need him.

This upcoming season, the Bruins were not able to secure the services of Dmitry Orlov, and still desperately need both cap space and also to compete in order to remain relevant for fans. This puts Matt Grzelcyk in a very awkward position: if he plays well enough, there will be calls to trade him because he’s the most attractive (read:movable contract) piece at a position the Bruins have strength in. If he stays like this; out of sorts and trying to find a place for himself in a team in flux, there will be calls to trade him because he’s the most moveable contract that can no longer be forgiven for the crime of being under 6’2, something BU really should’ve thought about changing when he was there.

Either way, this is a very important upcoming season for Gryz to establish that this was just a blip in an otherwise solid career, or a sign that the hometown boy may be set for greener pastures in the service of making the Bruins a better team.

Given how this season went, both paths could end up being true.