The Boston Bruins have finally trimmed down their roster to the 23-man limit for the beginning of the season.
Defenseman Rob O’Gara was the last player to be moved off the roster, after he was sent down to Providence Tuesday. When the puck drops on the 2017-2018 season opener against the Nashville Predators tomorrow night, many familiar faces should be back in the lineup called by Jack Edwards. There will be a couple new faces, especially on the opening line: Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron – should he be ready to go then – will be joined by rookie winger Anders Bjork, who was played on a line with them through most of the preseason and is expected to remain there for the duration of the season.
While it is a sigh of relief to finally know who we will be seeing every night on the ice, for Don Sweeney, it is a double-edged sword. Many of the players at training camp this year outperformed expectations, including the multitude of rookies and Providence players that attended this year.
On Tuesday, the Bruins held a media day before the start of the season. GM Don Sweeney, Head Coach Bruce Cassidy, Owner Charlie Jacobs, and President Cam Neely all answered questions and gave their thoughts on the outlook for the next 82 games; Sweeney in particular was questioned on the challenge of cutting the roster from the 60 players that were present the first day of training camp. “Some of the players have made life difficult for what this lineup looks like Thursday night, and that’s a good thing,” Sweeney said.
Since this is not his first year of being a head coach through a training camp (Cassidy was also head coach of the Washington Capitals for less than two years in the early 2000s), Cassidy has known trimming the roster would not be as easy as it sounded.
“We feel the younger guys have played well,” said Cassidy. “These are difficult decisions, who are you going to keep? Who do you project to be ready over the course of the last two, three weeks? Some you’ve had a longer look at because they’ve been down in Providence. You hope you’ve made the right call come Thursday if they’re in the lineup for you.”
Before being an assistant coach with the Bruins, Cassidy was the head coach for the Providence Bruins for eight years, from 2008 to 2016. He knows the players he had to cut. While it makes his job a great deal harder, it means he also knows just who to call when a hole in the lineup opens up.
Bergeron and Backes questionable
On opening night, though, a familiar face may be missing from the opening lineup. On Tuesday it was also announced that Patrice Bergeron was day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Bergeron missed practice that Monday, but according to Bruce Cassidy, it was just a “maintenance day” and he was expected in the lineup for the following day. He was on the ice, but had to leave early and did not return to practice the next day.
Today, Bruce Cassidy told the media that there was a chance Bergeron might not play in the season opener, due solely to the fact that he did not participate in practice.
David Backes also was not present during the skate today; when asked about it, all Cassidy said was that he was under the weather.
While Cassidy being vague is nothing new, he is being cryptic—the possibility of Bergeron and Backes not being on the ice for a game against the Western Conference Champions, season opener or not, is a worry.
Subban Claimed by Golden Knights
Following practice on Monday, it was announced that goaltender Malcolm Subban was placed on waivers. Wasting no time at all, the newly-minted Vegas Golden Knights claimed Subban from the Bruins, whisking the young goaltender away to Nevada.
Though Subban had struggled to find a spot of success in Boston, and had never been a particular fan favorite in comparison to Rask, he still had been working hard to secure a backup goaltender spot with the team. He finally expressed the poise he failed to hold onto during this training camp and preseason, and though the Bruins were planning to have Anton Khudobin be Rask’s backup, having Subban be next in line was Sweeney’s thinking.
“I had my fingers crossed that it wasn’t going to happen,” Don Sweeney said during Tuesday’s media day press conference. “It’s disappointing. We’ve had a lot of time invested in Malcolm, and we were seeing him grow as a person on and off the ice.”
Though the Golden Knights already have two goaltenders in Marc-Andre Fleury and Calvin Pickard, it will be interesting to see how exactly Subban fits into the puzzle. The only certain thing is that the team sought him out, and that may be more that what the Bruins can say after drafting him five years ago.
Bruins sign 18-year-old goaltender to ELC
After all the roster fanfare in preparation for Thursday’s season opener, the Bruins announced one more move on Wednesday: the signing of Kyle Keyser, an 18-year-old goaltender from the Oshawa Generals, to an entry-level contract.
Though the name may not necessarily ring a bell, Keyser was present at the Bruins rookie camp this past September. He has also played two full seasons in the OHL, and has a 7-9-0 record from this last season.
Keyser’s contract is for three years, showing that the Bruins have a level of interest in working with him over the next few years. While he is expected to play another year with the Generals, Keyser could be moved to Providence at any point now and put into the system. With the absence of Malcolm Subban, it makes the battle for the position of goaltender even more interesting.
First game of the year
The Bruins open their season Thursday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. at home against the Nashville Predators.
Monday, Oct. 9, at 1 p.m. vs. Colorado Avalanche
Wednesday, Oct. 11, at 9:30 p.m. at Colorado Avalanche