Since the NHL season is such a long ass marathon coaches and rosters have to be able to adapt to all the peaks and valleys they encounter throughout their journey. You’ll always have your injuries, and of course spells of poor or inconsistent play to deal with too. So having some viable options to shake things up when shit hits the fan is a must. And those options have to be affordable ones in the cap era NHL.
The signing of Dominic Moore has made the Bruins a bit more flexible with their forward group but in a peculiar way as well. Moore is another center in the long line the team already has. There’s obviously Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Ryan Spooner. But now the Bruins have added David Backes and Riley Nash this summer as well. Mix in nice rookie Noel Acciari with Dominic Moore and you’ve got a bit of a log jam down the middle. Some one has to flex out to the wing.
Nicholas Goss at NESN posted a projected forward lineup as of today that goes like this:
Danton Heinen/Seth Griffith–Noel Acciari/Dominic Moore–Riley Nash
It’s not a bad looking bunch. He opted to have Ryan Spooner be the odd center out. Spooner had a nice audition on the wing last year that proved he can hang there. And the B’s aren’t going to mess with the 37/63 and 46/88 duos. It doesn’t hurt that Boston had no problem scoring goals last year (5th in the NHL), except in the last 5-6 games when they really needed them, and this years group looks like it could score just as much as last year. But if I were to make a change to that lineup I’d do this:
Riley Nash–Dominic Moore/Noel Acciari–Jimmy Hayes
My reasoning is simple; Backes has more experience on the wing and could make the 37/63 line a matchup nightmare. Spooner is a natural center and his wheels mixed with a Vatrano, whom might be on the cusp of really emerging, could be a scary line. And Danton Heinen may have the offensive touch (more than Jimmy Hayes anyway) that benefits from being with some skilled young guys. Unfortunately, Hayes is in a pay grade and spotlight that defaults him to most likely get first crack on that third line and see if he can bounce back from a tough 2015/16 showing. You can mix up that forth unit any which way you want outside of Acciari staying in the middle, but somehow that unit has to make a contribution this year.
Who knows, maybe there are more changes on the way? If Don Sweeney is going to land his coveted “transitional d-man” it may involve a forward being shipped out of town in return and we’ll be right back here with another lineup projection for you. But at least we know the Bruins have some forward combination options when it comes to shaking things up.