BOSTON – The Boston Bruins have some lineup questions entering training camp after a disappointing second-round exit in the playoffs.
“Absolutely. Competition, with it comes uncertainty, and we’d all like things to be certain,” general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “But it also comes like the cream will rise to the top and I’m looking forward to it. On a smaller level we had a competition last year for a couple forward spots and we did OK. So we’ve got some invites, we’ve got some young players pushing. I look forward to it.”
The players went through off-ice conditioning tests Thursday at TD Garden and will open practice Friday at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington.
Two unsigned players did not report for testing. Defenceman Torey Krug and forward Reilly Smith are entry-level restricted free agents who cannot negotiate with other teams. Last year, Krug had 14 goals, and Smith 20.
Chiarelli would not comment on the negotiations.
“We want them in our mix. As has been chronicled, we’ve never had that type of player not sign and not come to camp,” Chiarelli said. “I’ve been through a few of them (camp no-shows) in my time. They’re not very pleasant, but that’s what we have right now.”
Chiarelli said the players who participated in testing impressed him. There’s not a lot of time for the team to get up to speed before the exhibition schedule begins Tuesday night in Montreal.
“It shows a lot of pride that this team takes in the fitness testing to be ready for the season and obviously for the training camp,” captain Zdeno Chara said. “There is a lot of competition and you could see it today, everybody was really trying hard for the best results. That’s all you can ask. Everything you did throughout the summer, you’re going to show it and bring it from off the ice to on the ice. So it’s exciting and it’s nice to have it over with and just start skating and getting ready for exhibition games.”
Up front, the Bruins need to replace Jarome Iginla, Shawn Thornton and, for now, Smith. On defence Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton are mainstays. Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Matt Bartkowski and David Warsofsky will compete for the open two spots in Krug’s absence.
Chara is excited that there are so many defencemen with a chance to make the roster.
“It’s a good problem to have,” Chara said. “No matter how you look it, to have that many players capable of playing gives you obviously an advantage. And like I said it’s a good problem to have and it would be obviously a different situation if we would be on the other side of it. So sometimes things are out of your control as far as trades and other things but as a player you … have to do your best to make the team and the lineup, and the rest of it is up to the management.”