Welcome to another roster projection! This time around we’ll be shifting the focus from the wing and looking at the middle of the offense – center.
Of the three offensive positions, center seems to be the most clear-cut in terms of depth.
There are several on the roster that could play center, but it’s hard to imagine the main four being anyone other than Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Ryan Spooner and Riley Nash.
The only thing that could really shake up the center depth chart is unforeseen circumstances with some of the wingers.
First line: Patrice Bergeron / Projection: +15, 22 goals, 35 assists, 57 points
There really isn’t any debate to be had as to who the Bruins first line center is. Patrice Bergeron has been making big plays for the Bruins since 2003 and shows no signs of slowing down.
Bergeron’s goal total saw a slight dip last season, but he still provided a high level of offensive production. He has had at least 21 goals in four straight seasons.
He has also contributed with at least 30 helpers in seven of the last eight seasons.
The 32-year-old center is also known for his stellar play on the defensive end of the ice. Bergeron is the raining Selke Trophy winner. His 2016-2017 trophy was the fourth in his career.
Second line: David Krejci / Projection: +2, 22 goals, 35 assists, 57 points
David Krejci is coming off one of the best seasons of his career and looks to put up even better numbers in the 2017-2018 season.
He has always provided steady offensive production, recording double-digit helpers in every season of his career, but now he is starting to find the back of the net more often.
Last season he tied his career-high of 23 goals.
The only concern with Krejci last year was his defense. He was -12 on the ice which is his career-low.
Krejci left last years playoff run early with a lower body injury, if he comes back healthy, he should once again but up big numbers.
Third line: Ryan Spooner / Projection: -2, 12 goals, 30 assists, 40 points
Ryan Spooner will be returning to the Bruins for his sixth NHL season. He was a restricted free agent, but the Bruins avoided arbitration by signing him to a 1-year $2.825 million deal.
He reportedly wanted $3.85 million, but the Bruins refused to budge.
Spooner will come into the 2017-2018 season hungry and hoping to prove himself so he can get the deal he wants.
The 25-year-old center has had two consecutive seasons with double-digit goals and 28+ assists. These are decent enough numbers for a third-line center, but if he wants to get paid, he’s going to need to increase his production.
His defensive game also leaves a bit to be desired. He has only recorded a positive plus/minus one time in his five-year career.
The Bruins third and fourth lines need somebody to have a break out season. If Spooner wants a new contract, then he’s going to need to do just that.
Fourth line: Riley Nash / Projection: +/- 0, 7 goals, 12 assists, 19 points
Riley Nash is solid depth, nothing more and nothing less.
He was acquired in free agency last summer to fill a fourth-line role and he’s done just that.
Nash had a decent first season in Boston, but his numbers weren’t anything to marvel at. He lit the lamp seven times and had ten helpers. Expect his numbers to be more or less the same.
He is unlikely to make the jump to a top-nine player role, but his numbers are steady enough for a fourth-line center.
Other names to keep an eye on
- Frank Vatrano
- Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson
*The two players listed above will likely be used as wingers, but both have the ability to play center should the situation demand.