Boston Bruins season preview: Major changes, major problems
Plus: The good news for the Bruins is that the team should be plenty motivated after a rare playoff miss last season and significant changes in the offseason. Boston still has plenty of star power with Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci up front, Zdeno Chara leading the defense and Tuukka Rask in net. Aside from a few compliments to those stars, the Bruins’ roster is both aging and thin. Adding hometown kid Jimmy Hayes to the team should solidify the third line, and young defenseman Torey Krug looks like he could be in for a big season in a contract year.
Minus: One of the Bruins’ most infamous offseason moves was the Dougie Hamilton trade in which Boston lost the rising star defenseman to the Calgary Flames for draft picks. The Bruins have yet to pick up anybody on defense to replace Hamilton, which is mystifying since, aside from the 38-year-old Chara and the 24-year-old Krug, the Bruins’ blue line is full of question marks and mediocre players. While the team made plenty of moves over the summer, there is a strong argument that none of the moves seriously improved the team.
X-Factor: Matt Beleskey
The Bruins signed Matt Beleskey as a free agent in the hopes that the left wing can provide the team with some much-needed supplemental offense. Beleskey does not have a great history of adding secondary scoring though, as his 32 points in 65 games last season was a career-high, and Beleskey has never played more than 70 games in a season at the NHL level. If last season’s performance was a sign of things to come for Beleskey, he will be a good acquisition for the Bruins. If it was an aberration, Boston is in trouble.
Prediction: This Bruins roster — especially as far as defense is concerned — does not look strong enough to compete for a division title. If the team can stay healthy, the Bruins might be in the running for a wild card spot, but barring a strong year from a handful of players and some sort of miracle on defense, the Bruins won’t make the playoffs.