As we come closer and closer to the eventual start of the 2020-21 NHL season it's time for some bold predictions. There seems to be a lot of frustration around this offseason, especially on social media. With that in mind here are a few players who could surprise those fans. Since we don't know how long next season will any stat predictions will be based on an 82 game pace. So if player X is predicted to score 50 points, in 60 games he would need 37 points for a 50 point pace over 82 games. Now let's take a look at six bold predictions for Bruins players next season.
Forward Bold Predictions
First up is last year's big trade acquisition, Ondrej Kase. Unfortunately for the Bruins, both Marchand and Pastrnak look likely to miss the start of the season. However, a larger role for Kase is an opportunity to fill some of that scoring void. During the 2017-18 season, Kase played in 66 games scoring 20 goals with 18 assists for 38 points. Those 20 goals were good for second on the Ducks while his 38 points were fifth. With a training camp and time to build chemistry with his line look for Kase to score at above a 25 goal pace. With a spot in the Bruins talented top 6, Kase has a chance to set career highs across the board.
Sean Kuraly had a career season last year scoring 23 points in 69 games. If the Bruins want to get creative with their lines Kuraly could move up to third-line left wing. With Studnicka looking ready for an NHL spot he could take over as fourth-line center moving Kuraly up. Kuraly has increased his points in each of his three NHL seasons. An increase in playing time on the third line could see another career year for the two-way forward. Playing with Coyle and Smith our bold prediction is Kuraly will score above a 35 point pace.
Charlie Coyle didn't have his best season last year only scoring 37 points in 70 games. Now making 5.25 million per year more will be expected of Coyle. With improved linemates in Smith and Kuraly Coyle could be in for a significant jump in his point totals. The Coyle line routinely created quality scoring chances last season but just couldn't finish. Now with a proven 20 goal scorer in Craig Smith, the pressure won't be on Coyle to carry his line offensively. Our bold prediction for Coyle is he will Score at a 50 point pace for just the second time in his career. Back in 2016-17, Coyle had his only 50 point season with a stat line of 18-38-56 in 82 games. A resurgence from Coyle is just what the Bruins need with some key players out to start the season.
Defensemen/Goalie Bold Predictions
Our bold prediction for McAvoy is a two-part prediction. First Charlie McAvoy will finish top five in Norris voting. Even with so many talented defensemen, Charlie was still able to finish 10th in Norris voting last season. If you look at McAvoy’s first 49 games he scored just 17 points and was a +8. Those are not numbers that should have a player as a top 10 Norris finalist. However, over the final 18 games of the season, he scored 15 points and was a +16. For the year that's 32 points and a +24 in 67 games.
This is where part two of the prediction comes in with Charlie scoring at a 45 point pace this season. Those final 18 games showed the offensive upside to McAvoy’s game. With an open spot on the top power-play unit, if McAvoy can fill that role, he will be in for a career year. Just to recap our bold predictions are McAvoy will score at a 45 point pace and finish top 5 in Norris voting.
Urho Vaakanainen has an opportunity to carve out a big role on the Bruins revamped defense. With Krug now with the Blues and Chara still unsigned a top-4 role is open for the taking. The 18th pick in the 2017 NHL draft has only played in 7 NHL games with zero points. In the AHL Urho has had some success with 28 points in 84 games with a +20. Our bold prediction is that Urho will secure a top-4 role out of camp. If Vaakanainen can live up to his potential it will go a long way to establishing the blue line for years to come. Urho has also been mentioned in rumors around the league most recently in a possible trade for Noah Hanifin. While a trade like this is unlikely it's still possible.
Finally, we come to our last prediction and it's for Bruins goalie prospect Jeremy Swayman. If you haven't heard of Swayman here is a more in-depth article covering him. The former University of Maine standout collected his fair share of awards this past season. Swayman was a Hobey Baker finalist he won the Mike Richter Award as the top NCAA goalie and was the Hockey East Player of the year.
Jeremy played in 34 games last season with an impressive 2.07 goals-against average to go with a .939 save percentage. Our bold prediction is that Swayman will overtake Vladar as the Providence Starter this season. Vladar was no slouch last season however, Swayman looks like he could be the Bruins franchise goalie of the future. With Rask and Halak both UFAs after this year a strong season from Swayman might earn him some NHL time in the 2021-22 season. Unlikely, maybe, but Swayman looks like he could be the real deal.
Let's recap our predictions. First Ondrej Kase scoring at a 25 goal pace. Next up is Kuraly scoring at a 35 point pace followed by Charlie Coyle scoring at a 50 point pace. Then we have Charlie Mcavoy finishing top 5 in Norris voting and scoring at a 45 point pace. Finally two rookies with Vaakanainen securing a top-4 role and Swayman becoming the baby Bruins starter. Feel free to let us know what you think of these predictions and even tell us some of yours. With a season looking more and more likely by the day keep checking back for all the latest news. Until next time stay safe out there and LET’S GO BRUINS!!
Featured image courtesy of Maddie Meyer/Getty Images.