If the Bruins are going to ignore the obvious solution to their top-six forward problem and are going to keep David Pastrnak with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand rather than move Pastrnak to David Krejci’s right side, then they’re going to have to find a right wing for Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.
General manager Don Sweeney went over the internal options Monday, including Anders Bjork, Peter Cehlarik, Ryan Fitzgerald, Paul Carey and Charlie Coyle. If Marcus Johansson, an unrestricted free agent, re-signs with Boston, he could also be in the mix.
One thing is certain, president Cam Neely knows what attributes the player who fills that spot has to have.
“Yeah, I mean … I think you know David Krejci can still drive a line, he’s such a great playmaker, he can still drive a line,” Neely said after his press conference at TD Garden on Tuesday. “You just need to find the right player to play with a guy like David. You know he needs someone with a little bit more speed on the wing.
“David likes to hang on to the puck and kind of slow the pace down a little bit, so it’s really finding a right guy, and David wants to distribute the puck. So you need to have someone that’s willing to shoot the puck. And for some reason, nowadays, there’s more pass-first guys than there are shooters, which it’s hard for me to understand because I was a shooter. All of my assist were rebounds.”
Those specifications seem to rule out Coyle, who has been a pass-first guy most of his NHL career. However, Johansson just might fit the bill. He attempted 115 shots in just 58 games last season. He has mostly played left wing, but with a full training camp skating next to Krejci and DeBrusk, perhaps he could get comfortable.
Re-signing Johansson, though, is on the backburner while Sweeney tries to get clarity about where he stands with restricted free agents Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Danton Heinen.
Although Neely stressed that the Bruins have to find areas to improve after falling in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final to St. Louis, he sounded pretty content with Boston’s depth at all positions other than second-line right wing.
"Yeah, well, obviously I know it’s been talked about at length about another top-six forward, so we’ll see where that ends up,” he said. “We’re obviously going to need to have some strong centermen coming through the system, as we talked about with where Krejci and Bergeron are [in terms of age]. Our back end, I’m pretty comfortable obviously with Carlo, McAvoy. [Matt] Grzelcyk played really well for us this year. Torey [Krug] had a strong year. You know, obviously Zdeno’s [Chara] another year older, but we’ve got a couple good, young lefthanded prospects coming. And I think our bottom six was pretty strong this year, so if we can strengthen in the immediate future our top six, you know, that’s something we’d like to try and do. We’ve talked about that for a couple years now.”
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