The Bruins are as front-loaded with goal-scorers as they’ve ever been in the Peter Chiarelli regime. The guys they have aren’t the 40-goal type, but they’re just the type that Chiarelli wants.
It goes back to the age-old question of whether a flashy and elite (yet one-dimensional) goal-scorer will ever be a fit here. It’s almost a sensitive subject around these parts. Everyone has their own opinions, but it seems the Bruins are of the mind that if they’re going to have scorers, they’re going to have the right ones.
Milan Lucic, Jarome Iginla, Loui Eriksson and Brad Marchand. Barring injuries, there’s a pretty good chance that those guys (in no particular order) will be the Bruins’ four top goal-scorers this season. Though Eriksson and Marchand both have the speed and skill to make them potential 30-goal-scorers, they’re highly responsible players and penalty-killers. Lucic and Iginla are power forwards who, when going right, can make a big impact regardless of whether they’re scoring.
Gone are the days of wondering whether guys like Phil Kessel or Tyler Seguin made sense here, as with the ultra-talented forwards came the dilemma of whether they brought a complete enough game. The Bruins aren’t going to have one of those players this year or any time soon.
“I think the well-rounded aspect is probably what we have in good supply now,” Chiarelli said Wednesday. “Guys that we brought in can score -- Iggy and Loui -- but the well-rounded part, the two-way part without the puck is what I find pretty exciting.”
Then Chiarelli stopped, almost as though he started hearing what he was saying, and chuckled.
“It may not sound exciting,” he admitted, “talking about goals vs. two-way play, but when you have that strong defensive foundation, the other stuff is gravy. They're more confident to score when the back end is taken care of. That's what I see.”
It isn’t a knock against Kessel or Seguin. Kessel is one of the best in the league at what he does, and it's a short list. As scorers go, he's right there with Steven Stamkos, and Seguin would be lucky to have the career his fellow former Bruin has put together. Regardless of what happens with the rest of his game, Seguin will score plenty in Dallas. Yet the Bruins obviously had their issues with having either on the ice. They were out there to score, and when they didn’t have the puck on their sticks, there were plenty of cringe-worthy moments.
None of the guys counted on to score goals in bulk for the Bruins this year, whether new or old, are that type of player. Take Marchand, for example. He had 28 goals two seasons ago and could have had a good shot at 30 had he not been suspended for five games. He’s proven to people that he can score a lot more at the NHL level than most expected, but he doesn’t want to just be a scorer.
“I want to be more of a two-way guy,” he said. “Obviously everybody wants to be a goal-scorer, but it takes a lot more than that to play in this league and to be a guy that's depended upon in the last minute. That's the kind of guy I want to be. I want to be out there at all points of the game.”
David Krejci is entering his seventh season with the Bruins and fourth as the team’s first-line center. Yet in his time on the top line, he’s never had wingers who fly up and down the ice, score and do little else (with the exception of a few games with Seguin here and there). He’s had Lucic and Nathan Horton, and now he has Iginla.
“Those two guys, Iggy and Looch, they bring something else to my line. They can do basically everything,” Krejci said. “They can pass the puck. Looch has got such great vision. I know Iggy's a great player, but he's only been on the team for a couple of weeks so we're going to wait and see how it goes, but I believe we're going to get some good chemistry off the bat.”
The Bruins obviously thought highly of Seguin, as Chiarelli spent the highest pick he’s ever had on him. Of course, the circumstances dictated the B’s select Seguin given that there was a pretty big dropoff from the top two players to the next tier in the 2010 draft.
At the time it seemed like the Seguin selection (and the Jared Knight and Dougie Hamilton picks) would be the end of the Kessel trail in Boston. Yet that trail has now led them to Eriksson, a two-way winger who is a better scorer right now than Seguin is. For this team and the way it plays, it’s difficult to see how Eriksson isn’t an upgrade over Seguin. At the very least, he’s a better fit.
The Bruins probably won’t have a top-five pick any time soon. They also won’t have the cap space to go out and sign a top-10 scorer. Iginla might not be around forever, but when looking at this Bruins team and the window it has to win championships, what you see is what you get. None of them are superstar scorers, but the Bruins have learned over the years (and proven) that they don’t necessarily need one.
“We've always been a team-first type of team,” Lucic said. “We've never let egos and superstar status and all that stuff become more than the 'B,' so I think that's a huge quality in our group and the personality of each guy on this team. It takes a lot of pressure off of guys knowing that you have guys having your back night in, night out.”