Bruins

Training-camp battles: Can a Providence player actually push themselves into Bruins’ lineup this postseason?

(Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Bruce Cassidy still doesn’t have the full list of names in front of him quite yet.

What he does have, however, is a rough estimate in terms of a number — 28. 

As more and more Bruins players make their ways back to the Commonwealth with training camp right around the corner, Boston’s top brass have some decisions to make when it comes to rounding out what will be an expanded roster for the revamped 2019-20 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The parameters of these bolstered rosters, as reported by the NY Post last month, will include 28 skaters once Phase 4 (return to play) is implemented, with teams allowed to bring an extra two skaters (30 in total) during training camp later this month. In addition, teams will be allowed to bring an unlimited number of goalies within the system — a safety net in case injury or sickness befalls any club with a small grouping of capable netminders. 

Speaking via Zoom earlier this week, Cassidy already confirmed Boston was already likely set on their backup goalies — with the Providence duo of Dan Vladar and Max Legace serving as insurance behind Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak.

As for the promising players up front and on the blue line, we can infer that the usual suspects will get the call, headlined by the likes of Jack Studnicka and Trent Frederic — a pair of forwards who have already made a jump up to the NHL ranks already, and possess a number of skills that could prove to be helpful once the playoffs resume later this summer.

Studnicka, while naturally a center, could be an offensive conduit if placed on the wing next to either Charlie Coyle or David Krejci. Even though his time up with Boston only consisted of two games, the dynamic prospect had a knack for generating quality looks from Grade-A ice, with the Bruins holding an edge in goals scored (2-0) and high-danger scoring chances (9-1) during Studnicka's 22:10 of 5v5 ice time.

Frederic may not have top-six potential, but very well could develop into a heat-seeking missile if properly deployed further down the lineup — with the Wisconsin product ready and willing to inflict punishment against the opposition every time he hops over the boards.

Both Studnicka and Frederic will likely draw the most buzz among the group of "Black Aces" — a group that, even without the guarantee of playing time, should benefit immensely from hopping aboard another promising playoff push.

"I think it's a positive experience," Cassidy said of the merits of joining the NHL club for this run. "I was in charge a lot of the extra guys over the years when I was in Providence and I always thought they took something from it — if nothing else, being around a winning environment, a competitive environment, a pressurized environment. It will only help them going forward."

But could the situation arise, even on a roster as deep as Cassidy's, that a blue-chip piece like Studnicka, Frederic or another young gun is drawn into the lineup once playoff returns?

For Cassidy, the two biggest determinants in whether or not such a scenario takes shape are pretty clear-cut: