Boston Bruins Preview (2021-22) – Forwards Part I

What will the Bruins top-six forward group look like this season?

Welcome back to my preview of the Bruins roster for the 2021-2022 NHL season. I’ve decided to break apart the forward group into two parts. This first part contains my overview of the top-six forwards that will likely be in the Bruins lineup come opening night on October 16. The top-six group has been a staple of the Bruins’ success over the last ten years, but with the departure of David Krejci and the relatively recent arrivals of Craig Smith and Taylor Hall, the top-six group has shifted somewhat.

 

Forwards

 

Brad Marchand (LW)

Expected Statistics: (35G, 60A, 95pts)

Brad Marchand remains the Bruins best player and one of the most dynamic players in the league. The 33-year-old has aged beautifully over the last few years, proving his worth as a player and as a leader in the locker room as each season passes. The left-winger is a lock for Canada’s Olympic roster and a perennial contender for the Hart and Selke trophies. Though he will turn 34 this season, Marchand, like Patrice Bergeron, shows no signs of slowing down even as he approaches the back half of his career, as evidenced by his remarkable 69 points in 53 games last year. As part of arguably the best first line in hockey, I expect Marchand to perform as he has done in recent years, driving the team’s offense alongside Bergeron and Pastrnak.

 

Patrice Bergeron (C) 

Expected Statistics: (30G, 50A, 80pts)

There are myriad reasons why Patrice Bergeron is the captain of the Bruins. Not only is he the longest-tenured player in the Bruins organization, but he’s also one of the best players on the team, even at 36. Bergeron has defied age with an extreme work ethic and a mentality that keeps him as one of the hardest-working players on the roster year-in and year-out. The four-time Selke Trophy winner will accompany Marchand to the Olympics for Team Canada next February and should post roughly a point-per-game this coming season. After this year, Bergeron’s future becomes more unclear. Bergeron’s contract expires at the end of the 2021-22 season, and when asked about whether or not he would re-sign, he said: “I want to concentrate on this year… It’d be useless to think about the future.” Whether or not the captain re-signs with the Bruins is up to him, but I don’t expect him to fall off a cliff in terms of performance this season or next. The only franchise Bergeron has ever known will surely welcome him back if he decides to keep playing the game come next August. 

 

David Pastrnak (RW)

Expected Statistics: (40G, 50A, 90pts)

David Pastrnak is the unquestioned future of the Bruins offense. The 25-year-old has already won a Maurice Richard Trophy and is one of the best scorers in the NHL– when he’s on his game. Despite coming off of hip surgery, last season Pastrnak still managed to score twenty goals in 48 games. The expectation is that with a less demanding schedule and a full summer to recover, Pastrnak should post forty goals in a full 82-game season. Pastrnak will receive premier ice time and will need to continue to refine his defensive play as he progresses further towards his future role as the next offensive leader for the Bruins. 

 

 

Taylor Hall (LW)

Expected Statistics: (25G, 35A, 60pts)

Nobody in the hockey world expects Taylor Hall to compete for another Hart Trophy like the one he captured in the 2017-18 season. However, the expectation is that he doesn’t have the same start that he did in 2020, scoring only two goals in 37 games with the Buffalo Sabres. After the 2020 trade deadline, Bruins fans were treated to what looked like a return to form for Hall: the winger scored eight goals and fourteen points in his sixteen regular-season games with the team. Hall failed to score consistently in the playoffs, however, which contributed to the Bruins’ second-round exit. 

Hall’s strengths have always been his speed and creativity off the rush. If he can play to those strengths this season, he should be able to score more consistently for the B’s. 

 

Charlie Coyle (C/RW) 

Expected Statistics: (15G, 35A, 50pts)

After being traded to the Bruins at the 2019 trade deadline, Charlie Coyle failed to score consistently in his 21 regular-season games with the B’s, tallying just six points in that time. In the playoffs, however, Coyle combined with Marcus Johansson to form two-thirds of a dominant third line, scoring nine goals and sixteen points in the Bruins 24-game Stanley Cup run. The following year, Coyle performed well, but this last season was tough on the 29-year-old, as he played through a knee injury for most of the demanding schedule. Despite his struggles, Coyle is in line to assume the second-line center spot that Krejci has left behind, and having had corrective surgery on his knee, he will be given every opportunity to prove that he can play the position. With Hall and Craig Smith on his wings, Coyle should be able to take advantage of his superior puck possession skills to set up his shoot-first linemates for several goals this coming season. 

Craig Smith (RW)

Expected Statistics: (20G, 20A, 40pts)

Craig Smith was one of the more savvy signings by General Manager Don Sweeny in the last five years. Smith’s 3-year, $9,300,000 contract is a value deal for the Bruins organization, who saw the winger elevate himself from a third-line role to a regular position on Krejci’s right flank for the latter half of the 2021-22 season. The speedy winger has a shot-first mentality and showcases his shooting ability on most every night. With two talented linemates like Coyle and Hall, I would expect a twenty-goal season from Smith, who achieved the feat five times in Nashville but is yet to do so in Boston. 

That covers the first half of the forwards, but be sure to check out the other three articles, covering the bottom-six, the defense and goaltending, and the team overview: