There haven’t been too many lineup selections that first-year Boston Bruins coach Jim Montgomery has had to face in 2022-23. Why ought to he as his staff has been probably the greatest for the reason that puck dropped on the season on Oct. 12 in opposition to the Washington Capitals? They are getting manufacturing from up and down the lineup, the protection, and goaltending.
Despite all of that, there have been some selections that Montgomery has had to face when it comes to his fourth line. For probably the most half, it has been a rotating door between A.J. Greer and Craig Smith for a spot on the wing. Greer began the season sturdy, whereas Smith has struggled from the primary recreation of the season. It’s not for a lack of effort for Smith, it’s simply been a lot of unhealthy luck and a lot of frustration with only one objective in 23 video games. Greer has offered power shifts, however lately he has discovered himself within the doghouse of Montgomery.
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In the Bruins’ 4-3 extra time loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Dec. 31, each gamers have been within the lineup and neither discovered themselves taking part in almost 10 minutes for the sport. Greer performed a team-low 9 shifts and simply 6:06 of time on ice, whereas Smith didn’t fare a lot better with simply 11 shifts and 6:46 of time on ice. Two days later within the Winter Classic in opposition to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 2, Smith performed 9 shifts and logged simply 5:32 of time on the ice. It’s clear that neither participant is presently the reply proper now on the fourth line and it may be time for the Bruins to look down to the Providence Bruins within the American Hockey League (AHL) to give a youthful participant a shot. Here are three gamers which have earned a shot in Boston as a bottom-six ahead.
One of the higher gamers in coaching camp this season was Marc McLaughlin, who ended up being despatched to Providence as a numbers casualty throughout coaching camp. With the P-Bruins this 12 months, he has 4 objectives and 5 assists, however as he has already proven, he’s NHL-ready.
After signing a free agent contract final season following his senior season at Boston College and he made a right away impression in Boston. In 11 video games, he had three objectives, however slot in with the Bruins within the backside six, taking part in on the third line with Charlie Coyle and Trent Frederic when he scored his first NHL objective in opposition to the New Jersey Devils. Smith has extra offensive expertise and Greer has extra NHL expertise, however contemplating their numbers, it’s exhausting to imagine that McLaughlin can’t give the Bruins greater than what they’re presently getting from the 2 veterans.
Another free agent signing by the Bruins final season after Georgii Merkulov’s season ended at Ohio State University with 20 objectives and 14 assists, the 22-year-old went down to Providence and had a objective and 4 assists in eight video games. This season in 28 video games with the P-Bruins, he has six objectives and 17 assists.
Merkulov possesses a combination of velocity and powerful puck expertise, whereas his offensive expertise was on show throughout his one season with Ohio State. The questions are whether or not or not he might translate it to the skilled recreation and to date he has within the AHL and whether or not can he enhance his defensive recreation in all three zones. The offensive recreation has been on show this 12 months as extra of a playmaker, whereas his defensive recreation has made strides underneath Providence coach Ryan Mougenel. It wouldn’t be a everlasting place in Boston, however it’s a chance that’s low-risk, high-reward.
The final two seasons haven’t been too form to Chris Wagner, however the veteran bottom-six ahead has gone about his enterprise as a skilled within the AHL. He has 9 objectives this season in 27 video games after being placed on waivers in October, however he has loads of NHL expertise underneath his belt.
A mainstay on the fourth line with Sean Kuraly for 3 seasons prior to final season, Wagner has been a regular presence in Providence, taking part in in all conditions, however in Boston, he has offered power shifts in addition to some penalty-killing shifts. Is he an improve over Greer or Smith? Offensively most likely not, however he’s somebody who could possibly be revived with a return to the NHL and at this level, it’s not far-fetched to give him one other shot. You would by no means have to query his work ethic on each shift.
Other choices in Providence are Luke Toporowski, however he’s solely signed to an AHL contract, which suggests common supervisor (GM) Don Sweeney would have to signal him to an NHL deal. Top prospect Fabian Lysell has had a good first season within the AHL, however he’s presently with Sweden on the 2023 World Junior Championship in Canada and isn’t accessible. Not many of those names are going to transfer the needle for a lot of followers, however at this level, giving another person a shot might be a jolt of power and it’s a no lose state of affairs for Montgomery and the Bruins.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent consumer of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports activities author for 25 years for various websites and day by day newspapers. Writing began out as a pastime, however it has develop into a ardour for Scott over time.