BOLTON, Mass. — The Boston Bruins defensive depth will be tested from the start of training camp.
John Moore had shoulder surgery in June with a projected recovery time of 4-6 months; Kevan Miller had two knee surgeries at the end of the regular season and is unlikely to be available for the start of camp on Thursday and Zdeno Chara said last week his recovery from offseason elbow surgery may limit his participation.
Restricted free agents Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy remain unsigned meaning the Bruins could be without five of their eight defensemen who played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.
“Listen, it’s a hypothetical right now. I think I can answer that better once we get going,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said at their annual golf tournament at The International. “But at the end of the day as a coach, you coach the guys that are there. Listen, that’s the business side of it, I hope [Carlo and McAvoy] do well, get what they deserve and after that get them in the lineup ready to go.
“I don’t think any coach would tell you, or even players, that they want guys to miss. You want your team, you want the guys you’re working with, especially if they’re healthy. Guys that aren’t healthy, John Moore for example, he’s not going to be with us to start, but we’d like to have the other guys. If they’re not there, then guys like [Connor] Clifton, maybe [Urho Vaakanainen], guys that play the right side will get a better look.”
McAvoy led the Bruins in average ice time per game last season (22:10). Torey Krug was second (21:18), Chara was third (21:05) and Carlo was fourth (20:55).
Boston defensemen missed 164 man-games to injury in last season. Miller missed the entire 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and Boston’s other defensemen missed 19 man-games.
However, the Bruins finished tied with the Calgary Flames for second in the NHL standings with 107 points and were within one game of winning the Stanley Cup, losing to the St. Louis Blues in seven games.
“You know ‘next man up’ was the mindset all year and I don’t think it changes,” Clifton said. “The leadership group is just so easy to follow, honestly. Whether you’re young, old, it doesn’t matter, those are the guys you want to be with and battle with every day and I think that’s just how it is.”
The Bruins are determined not to let McAvoy and Carlo’s contract situations affect them.
“You know we’d like to see those guys as soon as possible,” center Patrice Bergeron said. “That being said there’s things that you can’t control and that being one of them. So for us it’s about whenever they show up, be ready to welcome them but at the same time hope for the best and right now we have to concentrate on who we have and make sure we’re building and getting ready for another great season.”
Added Bruins general manager Don Sweeney: “Again, I have no timeframe on when the (deals) will be done. I’ve said all along I believe we’ll find a deal at some point and time. And I’ve also said I’d rather it be sooner than later. Not going to change my stance on that but it’s just how every negotiation is different.”
BOLTON — Patrice Bergeron spoke to the media Monday at the Bruins’ annual golf tournament for the first time since the end of last season.
As he has in years past, Bergeron battled a groin injury for most of last season. His recovery process was shorter than usual because the Bruins took the season to the final day in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. His rehab was slowed further when he received a platelet-rich plasma injection in July that slowed his progress by two weeks.
“It’s still a question where I’m not sure if I’m going to be limited” Bergeron said. “I feel better, but it’s still lingering a little bit. It’s been there most of the summer. I got a PRP shot in July, and I’m slowly ramping it up on the ice. It’s what we’re trying to shoot for is more October than this Thursday.”
Since it was a short offseason for everyone, there’s been talk of the Bruins taking an approach to rest some of the veteran players early in the preseason. While Bergeron anticipates he’ll be ready to go by the start of the regular season, he might be one of the players who benefits from extra rest.
“(It’s) been going on for a few years now, and something we talked about over the summer was being able to put it in the past,” he said. “I should be able to play through it. It’s been there for a long time. With the PRP shot, we hope that it’s one of those things where it takes some time for it to work. It’s getting better, but it’s still there a little bit. I’m feeling good, and I’m feeling positive that I’ll definitely be ready for the start of the season. That’s not even an issue.”
Moore remains out
The Bruins might receive good news on Kevan Miller‘s health when camp begins, but John Moore won’t be ready when the season opens. He had shoulder surgery June 26 and is following a rehab timeline of 4-6 months.
“I feel good,” he said. “In the process of working my way back, rehab. Been here all summer grinding away. This surgery really kicked my (butt).”
Moore injured his shoulder at the end of the regular season but still played 10 playoff games.
“I definitely won’t be ready to go off the start, but hoping shortly after. … I’m optimistic it’ll be sooner rather than later. Initially 4-6 months was the window. I’m hoping for closer to four.”
The question of who will play on David Krejci‘s right wing seems like it won’t go away. Heading into the season, it remains a question mark. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy went through the plethora of candidates Monday, and it sounded like more of the same options.
“We’re going to use different guys there, you mix guys around,” he said. “So I wouldn’t read too much into the lines right away. We’ve got some guys who will compete with (Karson Kuhlman). First name that comes to mind is Brett Ritchie, a big guy that we brought in that’s played in the league. Then you have the (Peter) Cehlariks of the world and (Anders) Bjork, who’s doing well at rookie camp.”
Kuhlman played on the wing with Krejci during the season and in Games 6 and 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against St. Louis.