The 2009-2010 season was a disappointment for the Boston Bruins, though it was nearly salvaged before their playoff collapse against Philadelphia. A talented young roster, however, gives the Bruins hope that they can bounce back for the 2010-2011 campaign.
Increasing the challenge for the Bruins is recent news that Marc Savard is still suffering from post-concussion symptoms. Fortunately, the Bruins are deep at centre, but Savard is still the most proven playmaker on the team, so his absence will present problems offensively, particularly on the power play.
Patrice Bergeron stayed relatively healthy last season and tallied 52 points, his best total since 2006-2007, yet he didn't have a single power play goal and only eight power play points -- something that needs to change if Bergeron is going to help make up for Savard's absence.
David Krejci may have a higher offensive ceiling than Bergeron, though his point total dropped from 73 in 2008-2009 to 52 last year, due in part to his recovery from offseason hip surgery. A heady playmaker, Krejci should be in for an increase in production this season.
Newcomer Nathan Horton is expected to aid the Bruins as a finisher. He's scored at least 20 goals in five straight seasons, but has missed 32 games over the last two years. If healthy, 25-year-old Horton could challenge for 30 goals or more as his power forward game figures to mesh well with Boston's skilled pivots.
A power forward who isn't quite as accomplished yet, 22-year-old Milan Lucic, had his development stalled last year when he was limited by a high ankle sprain. Lucic is as tough as they come and 20 goals shouldn't be out of reach for him, but that will be a substantial improvement on the 20 points in 50 games he managed last season.
Rookie Tyler Seguin, the number two pick in June, is slated to open the season on the wing and should get an opportunity to play on a scoring line right away. There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to rookie projection, but Seguin's upside makes him worth at least a late-round pick in most formats.
Blake Wheeler is another Bruins forward with upside, though he slumped some in his second season (45 points as a rookie down to 38), but he has a rare combination of size, speed and skill, so he's worth a late-round pick in deep leagues on potential alone.
Should the cobwebs clear out of Savard's head, he's obviously productive enough to warrant fantasy interest, but the uncertainty over his health makes him a high-risk selection.
Other forwards like veterans Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder or Marco Sturm (recovering from knee surgery) may have value at times during the year, but aren't especially desirable on draft day.
While Zdeno Chara's 44 points and plus-19 rating put him in elite company among defencemen, he scored only seven goals and had 87 penalty minutes, his lowest totals in both categories since 2000-2001. Even if he's a step below the top-tier status he once held, the 33-year-old tower of strength is still a viable No. 1 defenceman.
After Chara, though, there isn't a great deal of fantasy talent on defense. Dennis Seidenberg is useful in leagues that count hits and blocked shots, while Johnny Boychuk showed potential in a more prominent role late last season. Both should be available late or on the waiver wire.
Goaltending is a strength for the Bruins. Tuukka Rask took over the starting job last year, posting an exceptional 1.97 goals against average and .931 save percentage. If Rask can keep numbers anywhere near that while playing in 55-plus games, he'll be a fantasy star.
At the same time, should Rask falter, Tim Thomas is more than capable of fulfilling the starting job. Even in an off-year, Thomas still had an above-average .915 save percentage last season and he's not likely to stand idly by and not compete for as much playing time as possible. At the very least, he's a good handcuff for Rask owners.
Boston Bruins Projected Depth Chart
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@ctv.ca or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy for Facebook.