The fantasy season is upon us. Another year of tears of joy and heartbreak. To help you along, here’s your fantasy outlook for the Boston Bruins.
2022-23 Fantasy Outlook: Boston Bruins
Last season: 51-26-5, 4th Atlantic, 10th overall. GF: 15th, GA: 4th, PP: 15th, PK: 9th.
The Bruins were ousted in the second round in consecutive seasons following a trip to the Stanley Cup final in 2019, and their first-round exit last season was their worst playoff showing in five seasons. This slippage ended up costing Bruce Cassidy his job, but it seemed inevitable; Zdeno Chara’s outsized presence left a big hole on defense; Tuukka Rask retired due to injuries; and both Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand were entering their mid-30s. They made it work on defense even with a young tandem, but offensively there was little depth behind their top three, who represented 38 percent of all their goals.
Best fantasy option: David Pastrnak, RW
Pastrnak spent much of the season playing on a separate line and it did not affect him one bit, posting his second 40-goal season in three seasons and also upping his shot volume to a career-high 4.33 shots per game. Bergeron and Marchand remain elite fantasy options, but Bergeron doesn’t have the same upside on offense and Marchand is expected to miss the start of the season as he recovers from injury. Since his breakout 34-goal season in 2016-17, Pastrnak ranks fifth in the league with 215 goals, third with 81 power-play goals and sixth with 1,510 shots. Not only does Pastrnak represent the best fantasy option on the Bruins, he’s one of the league’s most elite goal scorers worthy of a first-round pick.
Hidden gem: David Krejci, C
It’s back to the same well again for the Bruins, and Krejci returns to fill a massive hole behind Bergeron after a one-year sojourn with Olomouc HC in the Czech Extraliga. He led a middle-of-the-pack team with 20 goals and 46 points, good for 12th overall in the league, and at age 36 still has plenty of gas left in the tank. You’re looking at a player with 50–60-point potential whom many have already forgotten about. That might be enough upside to supplant Jake DeBrusk, Taylor Hall and Charlie Coyle, three frustrating fantasy players who have never lived up to expectations. That being said, the fact that we’re entertaining Krejci, a 15-year NHL veteran, as the “hidden gem” is also a testament to how thin the Bruins offense really is…
“The last thing you want is to see Ullmark and Swayman end up in a timeshare and only have one of them on your roster.” I wrote that last season, and lo and behold, Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman split the duty equally at 41 appearances apiece, finishing with respectable GAA’s and save percentages and winning a combined 49 games. Neither goalie held down the starting job for long, and even Benoit Blanc would’ve had trouble figuring out Cassidy’s rotation. The strategy is the same; either roster both Ullmark and Swayman, who have likely headed to a timeshare once again, or neither of them.
The Bruins should finish top four in the Atlantic Division again but it’s hard to see them supplant Florida, Tampa Bay or Toronto with so many important players missing the start of the season. Jim Montgomery will be a head coach for the first time since the Stars dismissed him in 2019, and his immediate impact shouldn’t be understated; in the 114 games he coached, the Stars were the second stingiest team in the league, allowing just 2.40 goals per game – trailing only Barry Trotz’s Islanders.
Granted, a big reason for their success was the excellent play of both Ben Bishop, who finished second in Vezina voting in 2018-19, and Anton Khudobin. Still, Montgomery was credited with making the Stars very difficult to play against. It seems unlikely that Ullmark or Swayman will challenge for the Vezina, but it’s also a hint that the Bruins’ identity won’t change much, and a new voice might be invigorating. The fantasy options on the Bruins remain uninteresting other than their top three forwards, and managers reaching for Hall every season must be reminded that he’s scored over 27 goals just once in his career.