For a team coming off of a 107-point season and one win short of a Stanley Cup title, the Boston Bruins are set to open training camp next week with a slew of question marks across the roster.
The obvious one remains: When will Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy sign new deals?
Perhaps more importantly: How are the Bruins going to pay for it?
While Boston is one of many clubs still stuck in the mud when it comes to the RFA front, the B’s can at least take some solace in the fact that most of the remaining questions with the team don’t center around how they can recoup production lost via free agency/trades/retirement, but rather where this large assortment of returning talent fits into the lineup.
Most of those questions regarding the lineup revolve around the talent up front.
Sure, 63-37-88 are poised to once again be one of the top lineup trios in the league. While the cast could be rotated, a fourth line featuring the likes of Sean Kuraly, Chris Wagner, Joakim Nordstrom, Par Lindholm and more should be trusted once again to slow down top-six competition and kill penalties.
But after that?
Who will be the latest participant vying for a top-six role to David Krejci’s right?
Will Charlie Coyle stay at center or move up to the wing?
Can a youngster like Jack Studnicka or Oskar Steen earn a job out of camp?
Is slotting down David Pastrnak to the Krejci line the right move?
But if you slot Pastrnak down, who moves up with Patri-
You get it. There’s going to be a lot of tinkering up front between next week and the start of the regular season on October 3.
Elsewhere, things seem a bit more settled.
Once again, Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak will split duties in net.
And on the blue line, even with Kevan Miller’s timeline still uncertain and John Moore slated to miss the start of the season due to offseason shoulder surgery, the key cogs should remain in place — barring any severe contract snafus for McAvoy & Carlo — for a D corps that held opponents to just 2.58 goals per game last season (3rd in NHL).
And yet, bold as it may be, could the Bruins actually benefit from putting a few of their D pairings in a blender for 2019-20? Let's take a look: