The Boston Bruins are at a bit of an impasse heading into this season. The team’s core stars are getting up there in age. Brad Marchand is 34 years old, captain Patrice Bergeron is 37, and returning star David Krejci is 36.
With the aging core, Boston’s competitive window is rapidly closing. They must win a Cup now if they are going to win another one with this core in place. However, the age of their core isn’t the biggest issue facing the team.
The Atlantic Division is the toughest division in hockey. The Bruins know this better than anyone else. And this season, it’s even more difficult. The Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres, and Ottawa Senators all got better in the offseason. Each of these teams could steal points from Boston.
That represents a major challenge for the Bruins, especially as they enter the season with a new head coach. Can Jim Montgomery lead his team to new heights in his first season in charge? Here are three bold predictions for the Boston Bruins 2022-23 season.
Boston Bruins: 3 bold predictions for 2022-23 NHL season
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3) David Krejci readjusts
One of the few additions the Bruins made from outside of the organization has deep ties to the organization. They brought back forward David Krejci on a one-year deal.
Krejci is no stranger to the NHL. The 36-year-old spent 15 seasons in the NHL, all with the Bruins. He returns to the team following one season away playing in his native Czechia.
Krejci enjoyed a nice season in his native country. He scored 20 goals in 51 games for Olomouc HC last season. The 36-year-old added five points in five playoff games, as well.
It was a successful season for the veteran player. However, similar success should not be expected in his return to the NHL. Krejci had already lost a bit of a step prior to leaving for the Czechian league. And while the production from last season is encouraging, the NHL is a different beast entirely.
Krejci won’t play terribly. He will definitely hold his own on the ice. However, he may struggle to reach the 45-point plateau for Boston this season.
2) DeBrusk arrives
On the complete opposite end of things, let’s talk about Jake DeBrusk. The 25-year-old forward and the Bruins spent the last couple seasons embroiled in a bit of a standoff. The situation came to a head last November when he requested a trade.
However, DeBrusk and the Bruins have patched things up. So much so that the 25-year-old rescinded his trade request. He even carved out a role on the top line towards the end of last season.
DeBrusk credited his teammates for being a big influence in helping him realize his desire to stay in Boston. He will reward that support with a monster season in 2022-23.
The 25-year-old scored 25 goals last season, the most since his second year in the league when he netted 27. In 2022-23, DeBrusk will set a new career high in goals and assists now that the weight of a trade request is off his shoulders.
1) The window slams shut
Despite a breakout year for DeBrusk, the Bruins 2022-23 season will be a harsh reality lesson for them. The rest of their division, and the league as a whole, have passed them by.
The Bruins will miss the playoffs in 2022-23. As previously mentioned, the Red Wings, Sabres, and Senators made massive strides in the offseason. The Senators especially are a threat to make the playoffs with their pickups of Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux.
In comparison, the Bruins didn’t make themselves significantly better. The addition of Krejci is nice. And Pavel Zacha is an intriguing pickup for the Bruins. However, those two aren’t enough to keep them above water in the Atlantic Division.
Furthermore, the Bruins will be without Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy, and Matt Grzelcyk to begin the campaign. Marchand is the team’s best player, and one of the better all-around players in the entire league. McAvoy and Grzelcyk are two of the team’s best defensemen.
Marchand is expected to be out until late November at the earliest. Grzelcyk is expected to be out until November. McAvoy might not return until early December.
This obstacle is tough for any team to overcome. For the Bruins, it’s especially difficult given the division they play in and the current setup of their team.
While the team should see players like DeBrusk step up, this season is the year the window slams shut. The Bruins will miss the playoffs, and the team will have to decide how to proceed after the fact.