While we all miss the NHL and the rest of the hockey world, there is one positive that might come out of the COVID-19 pandemic for the NHL: When play resumes teams will be a lot closer to full health than before the pause in action.
How does it effect the Bruins?
We’ve already heard that defenseman Kevan Miller wont be back this season as he just had another surgery just eight weeks ago. While Don Sweeney has already stated that Miller will get another contract offer from the Bruins this season, as he is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at years end, I think there’s a good chance that we don’t see Miller back in a Bruins uniform again at all. With the amount of unproven and potential talent that the Bruins have in the system, it would be unfair to them to have an injury prone veteran like Miller take up a potential roster spot as well as more money that a younger talent would take up. He was an absolute warrior for the Bruins, but given the circumstances I don’t think we see Miller in Boston after this season.
That being said, the defense should look the same when the Bruins return to action as Miller was essentially the only Bruins defenseman to miss significant time this season. Connor Clifton missed some time but even before his injury he was having a hard time sneaking into the lineup. With the emergence of Jeremy Lauzon being such a good defender for the Bruins it’s hard to see the Bruins taking him out of the lineup unless he really trends downward for a good amount of time.
Forward log jam
One of the Bruins biggest question marks the last few seasons has been at the forward position. Inconsistent play, injuries, too many players not enough spots, whatever it may be, it’s not gonna get any better come return to play. The seasons postponement is only gonna make things more difficult for Don’t Sweeney and Bruce Cassidy. Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase should both be coming back at 100% and should be full time in the Bruins lineup. Karson Kuhlman should also be 100% but he falls into the same situation as Connor Clifton; There’s just not enough roster spots. Kuhlman will probably end up being a healthy scratch for the Bruins when play resumes.
In the end, not much changes
The only thing that will really change as we see the Bruins back on the ice is that the players on the ice will be 100%. Nick Ritchie is more of a power forward, so we should be seeing some more production out of him as its hard for a player like him to make hits and be physical when he’s not 100%. Ondrej Kase is another guy that will benefit from the delay. He will be back up to full speed and able to cut skate around the ice and help that Bruins second line take some pressure off of the Bruins first line as far as scoring goes.
The thing that will be effected the most from all of this is the Boston Bruins depth. Kuhlman and Clifton being healthy scratches isn’t neccesarily a bad thing for the Bruins. We would love to see them on the ice, but the fact that they aren’t means that there is a lot of talent on the ice for the Bruins. Come playoff time, when rosters will potentially expand, it will help the Bruins even more as the Bruins will constantly have fresh legs on the ice.
Credit to NBCSports.com for the featured photo.