Which Bruins Forward Deserved the Worst Grade This Season?
Bruins Daily staff report
The Bruins face an offseason of uncertainty after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07. The one thing that we do know is that Peter Chiarelli is gone and Claude Julien’s fate will be decided by a new general manager.
Some of the Bruins on the roster may find a new home this offseason. That will be a story for another day. For now, the Bruins Daily staff evaluates the B’s roster with the year-end report cards. Here is a look at Part 1 grading Boston’s forwards. Check back soon for Part 2, as we reveal the assessments for this year’s defensemen and goaltending.
Milan Lucic — At the midway point of the season, it was hard to be pleased with Milan Lucic’s season. An injury to David Krejci and inconsistency on the opposite side prevented the big man from finding his game. The latter half of the season brought with it an injection of youth production into the line in the forms of Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak who seemed to ignite Lucic’s game when put onto his line.
Lucic finished the season with 44 points — the fourth most productive on the team — which by the numbers is certainly not a failed season. For a player who consistently scores 20 goals and posts 50 points per season, however, it is understandable that very few were excited about his production.
Entering the last year of his contract, Lucic will have to prove himself from start to finish if he’s hoping for an extension. All in all, it was a quiet season for the power forward, but a boost in his performance late in the season is promising for those who were beginning to doubt his abilities to help carry this team going forward. — Adam Bunnell
David Krejci — Following a disappointing performance in the Bruins’ surprising second round exit versus the Montreal Canadiens last spring, the aftermath was equally unkind to David Krejci.
The Czech-born center spent a good chunk of the season on the injured list. With lingering hip and knee issues plaguing him throughout the season, Krejci never made an impact as the team’s top center even when healthy. In 47 games, the veteran tallied 31 points (7 goals, 24 assists) and never got clicking with fellow linemate Lucic. Towards the end of the season, he was played as a right wing with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron as the Bruins were fighting for their playoff lives.
Krejci signed a six-year contract extension before the start of the 2014-15 regular season. Although that contract extension seemed warranted at the time, one has to wonder if the injuries will catch up to him in the years ahead. — Tim Rosenthal
David Pastrnak — Management stumbled out of the gates with what to do with their 18-year-old first-round draft pick last June. Send him back to juniors? Keep him in Providence? Bring him up to the parent club?
After deciding the AHL route, Chiarelli gave him five games with the varsity over two months in November and December when the team floundered. With just one NHL assist, somebody’s New Year’s resolution was to keep him on the roster for the rest of the season. That log would include 42 games with 10 goals and 16 assists, six multiple-point games, three game-winning goals and being named the annual 7th Player Award winner that goes to the player who exceeds expectations.
Why wasn’t Pastrnak in the lineup from Game 1 on? — Bob Snow
Ryan Spooner — Once Spooner was recalled by Boston for good, he seized his opportunity and never looked back. In 29 games this season, the 23-year-old tallied 18 points on eight goals and 10 assists.
Spooner was a breath of fresh air despite his struggles defensively. He made considerable strides in Julien’s system, one that he had trouble with early in his career.
With Carl Soderberg likely out of town, the chances of Spooner sticking around for at least one more year in Boston are pretty good. — Chris Chirichiello
Brad Marchand — Like many members of the Boston roster, Marchand did not do much in the first half of the season. Though the Bruins’ resident aggravator struggled to get his game going early, the second half of the year proved to be much more productive for No. 63. The midseason restructuring of the lines brought Eriksson back onto the Bergeron line and also seemed to ignite game.
While Marchand’s performance was better than most this year, the Bruins and their fans have come to expect a lot more out of the 26-year-old winger. When it’s all said and done, it is hard to imagine what the B’s overall performance would have been like without Marchand’s solid effort down the stretch. He ended the season as the teams top goal scorer, notching 24, to go along with 18 assists giving him 42 points on the season. — Adam Bunnell
Patrice Bergeron — During a season of ups and downs and injuries to key players, Bergeron remained constant and led the B’s in points with 55 (23 goals, 32 assists). The 29-year-old missed just one game this season.
With Boston’s struggles this season, many wanted the team to be “blown up,” but this may be the one guy that will be going nowhere due to his hockey IQ, faceoff win percentage and his will to win.
There are never any questions about No. 37’s effort. Simply put: Patrice Bergeron is irreplaceable. — Chris Chirichiello
Reilly Smith — After coming over in the Tyler Seguin blockbuster, Smith surprised many Bruins fans last year when he posted 20 goals and was a regular on a line with Marchand and Bergeron. One year later, he signed a bridge-year contract and it looked like a similar performance would be in the works. Instead, Smith underachieved, scoring just 13 goals and tallying 40 points in 81 games.
One would think that after a disappointing season, the Bruins would want to have parted ways with Smith, or at the very least just give him another one-year contract. Instead, in one of the last transactions he made in Boston, Chiarelli signed Smith to a two-year contract worth $3.5 million per season. At the time, Chiarelli said that Smith would’ve gotten the same amount of money in arbitration or on the open market.
If Chiarelli really thought highly of the former Miami (Ohio) product, then maybe he could’ve persuaded him to jump ship and sign with the Edmonton Oilers. Instead, the B’s, and whoever their next GM is, are stuck with a bad contract for a mediocre player. — Tim Rosenthal
Chris Kelly — Easily the most divisive member of the Bruins roster in the eyes of the fans, Kelly’s contributions to the team often go unrecognized. Criticisms of his contract aside, there’s no denying that Kelly is a key part of the Bruins’ bottom six.
Kelly finished the year with 28 points, which, all things considered, makes him one of the more productive members of the Black and Gold in an otherwise quiet season. From start to finish, Kelly was also one of the most consistent members of the Bruins roster.
Though he’ll never post the big numbers, his consistency, along with his leadership and experience, will continue to make Chris Kelly an effective and contributing member of the Boston roster. — Adam Bunnell
Carl Soderberg — The 29-year-old Swede was in the last year of his contract, becoming an unrestricted free agent at season’s end – with a big payday coming. So, what happens? He takes a hit in the wallet by going two months without a goal from January 17-March 19.
While Soderberg still ended tied for third in team scoring with Milan Lucic at 44 points – and produced a plus-10 with three game-winning goals – that drought was another reason why the team missed the playoffs. He only scored two goals in the last 11 games of the season, while ending as one of two players on the roster (Dennis Seidenberg) to play all 82 games. — Bob Snow
Loui Eriksson — Due to concussion issues, the start of Eriksson’s career in Boston did not go as well during the 2013-14 season. Though at times he was frustrating to watch, the Swede provided glimpses of the player he was in Dallas and bounced back nicely in his second year in The Hub.
In 81 games, Eriksson was second on the team in scoring with 47 points (21 goals, 26 assists). His versatility to jump from one line to another along with his roles on the power play and penalty kill is crucial for the Black and Gold and he’ll likely be in a similar spot next season.
He wasn’t perfect, and he may never be the same player he was in Dallas. But Eriksson’s importance to the Black and Gold will be critical if they are to bounce back and advance to the postseason in 2015-16. — Tim Rosenthal
Daniel Paille — Paille had one of his worst seasons as a Bruin, which earned him some healthy scratches to end the season. In 71 games played, the speedy fourth line winger tallied 13 points (six goals, seven assists) while sporting a team-worst minus-9 rating. The B’s brass finally came to their senses when they informed the 31-year-old that the team will not re-sign him. Paille may have scored in his last game of the season for the Black and Gold, but his struggles were obvious.
There’s no denying that Paille’s work in the past was admired by B’s fans, but his services are no longer needed. — Chris Chirichiello
Gregory Campbell — On breakup day, Chiarelli announced that, along with Paille, the Bruins would not be resigning a fan-favorite in Gregory Campbell. The decision came on the heels of one of Campbell’s least productive seasons since coming to Boston in the summer of 2010.
With 12 points in 70 games, Campbell’s performance this season was frustrating to say the least. While Campbell was more known for his strength on the penalty kill and his willingness to stand up for his teammates, there are a number of younger players (paging Brian Ferlin) ready and waiting for their chance to prove themselves on the big stage. The Bruins fourth line suffered almost instantly after the loss of Shawn Thornton at the end of the 2013-14, and they never seemed to fully recover.
Campbell will be a solid bottom-six forward for any team in the NHL looking to add depth to their roster; however, his prime is in the rearview as he leans more towards average each season.
Though he didn’t end his career in Boston on the best note, he’ll always be remembered here for his monster shift against Pittsburgh in the 2013 Eastern Conference Final after breaking his leg, and Boston will always be grateful for what he brought — including a Stanley Cup — to the city. — Adam Bunnell
Grade: D+ on his play (C on a curve because Boston will miss Soupy)
Max Talbot — After two seasons with the Avalanche and a distinguished career before with several teams – including Pittsburgh where he won a Cup and served as captain – Talbot came to Boston at the trade deadline with Paul Carey for Jordan Caron and a 2016 draft pick. Talbot became a quick locker room anchor for the playoff push, and a much-needed possibility to stabilize the fourth line at center. He was adequate with three assists in 18 games and even in the plus/minus department. — Bob Snow
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