If David Krejci is unavailable to start the season, Zach Hamill should get a crack as a temporary fill-in. (Paul J. Bereswill/AP)
With two games remaining in the preseason, the Bruins will continue to evaluate their players as they try to finalize the regular-season roster. But from this viewpoint, there's only one spot up for grabs -- and that's only temporarily.
David Krejci has a 50-50 chance to dress on Thursday against Washington, according to Claude Julien. If Krejci is available to go, he'll most likely center Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder on the No. 2 line. If not, Zach Hamill should fill in for Krejci on the No. 2 line, even though he's not ready to be a full-time NHL center.
Since wrapping up his AHL rookie season, Hamill has flown through every checkpoint. He was the de facto captain during development camp in July. He starred in the rookie tournament in Kitchener, Ontario. And he's proven in main camp that he's a shifty two-way center who can play in a handful of NHL games while Krejci rounds into form. Once Krejci is ready, then Hamill will be assigned to Providence, where he'll log big minutes and work on his strength.
"I saw a lot of potential," Claude Julien said of Hamill's performance last night between Wheeler and Ryder. "He's capable of making some pretty good heads-up plays and smart plays. I don't see him shying away from much. He's got to keep getting stronger. That's not something he's reached yet. But he's on the right track. He's improved immensely. Those are some of the areas, if he keeps working and going in that direction, will make him even better."
Every other position is set. Once Marco Sturm's groin is ready to go, he'll get a shot on the No. 1 line with Milan Lucic and Marc Savard. The Bruins like the two-way approach of Mark Recchi, Patrice Bergeron, and Chuck Kobasew. The crash line is set with Steve Begin centering Shawn Thornton and Byron Bitz. Vladimir Sobotka, especially after his noisy game last night, deserves to be the spare forward, especially if Begin's groin flares up again.
On the back end, Zdeno Chara and Derek Morris, who will skate together tonight, could be the top pairing. Andrew Ference and Dennis Wideman have played together before. Mark Stuart, Matt Hunwick, and Johnny Boychuk round out the last three spots. Tuukka Rask will back up Tim Thomas.