Bruins

Ryan: Why Jack Studnicka deserves more reps at center in Bruins’ lineup, even once David Krejci returns

(Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Bruins are faced with a good problem to have down the middle.

After a four-game absence due to a lower-body injury, David Krejci could very well find himself back in the lineup for Wednesday's matchup against the Capitals at TD Garden — with the veteran second-line pivot serving as a full participant during Boston's practice at Warrior Ice Arena on Tuesday.

"Full team practice, did everything," Bruce Cassidy said of Krejci's potential availability on Wednesday. "So I've got to get together with the medical team and then they'll better assess how he did today. But until tomorrow morning comes, we will make a decision because there could be residual effect. ... So until he feels good the following day after a skate, it's tough to say. I would put Krejci in that category. So tomorrow morning, I'll have a better idea."

Not only does Krejci's potential return offer more stability in Boston's top-six unit, it also creates a positive domino effect down the rest of Boston's pipeline of centers — with Charlie Coyle afforded easier matchups in the bottom six. But with Coyle regaining his usual spot at 3C, where exactly does Jack Studnicka fit into the equation?

With just 12 games of NHL experience under his belt, the 22-year-old Studncika — pressed into service as Boston's 3C during Krejci's absence — was never going to hold onto his current spot in the lineup once Krejci is given the green light to return.

But even with Boston's top three forward lines presumably set at the pivot position, that doesn't mean that Studnicka is necessarily going to be bumped back out of position on the wing, at least not right now.

Studnicka still has plenty to work on when it comes to rounding out his game over at the NHL level. But when it comes to getting the most out of Boston's top prospect, Cassidy is fully cognizant that Studnicka's been at his best when playing at his natural position down the middle.

The proof is in the numbers.