Adapt and survive. That is the mantra of Boston's 2014 off-season.
You can throw 'treading water' on the list, too.
|The answer? Can Loui Eriksson rebound and shoulder the scoring load in 2014? (via rantsports.com)|
When free agency began, the Bruins did not have the luxury of dropping bags of dough onto the doorsteps of players to plug the holes in their lineup. What's more, they didn't even have enough money to sign their own FA's, as their top goal-scorer in Jarome Iginla bolted from the Garden to sign with the Colorado Avalanche for a cool $5.3 million/per year deal.
In an off-season defined by sitting on the sidelines and operating with a lack of spending money, the B's and general manager Peter Chiarelli have been forced to think outside the box by way of looking inside their structure for answers. The talents on the farm system will play a large factor in the retooling the bottom-six forward lines of the Black and Gold. That much is evident. But who will fill the void left by Iginla on the top line?
B's coach Claude Julien believes second-year winger Loui Eriksson has the inside track to be the one skating on Boston's #1 line. Not just because of his ability, but also because the Bruins don't really have any other option:
Right now I think there's still some time and some things can still be done and there's no doubt we're still working on a few things...Nonetheless we don't feel like we're in a real tough situation. We've lost Jarome, but as you've probably heard I think Loui Eriksson is a player that can be even better than he was last year. I think we started seeing that at the end of the year. And he can be a replacement for Jarome as a possibility. But at the same time, Chris Kelly will be coming back. So are we going to look for somebody to be a third liner or somebody who is going to be replacing Iggy? So just a couple things here that we have to resolve...But at the same time we do have some young players in Providence that are going to deserve a look. So when training camp starts I think a lot of decisions will probably be taking place.
As mentioned, the young players from Providence, namely Ryan Spooner, Justin Florek, Matt Fraser (when he's ultimately re-signed) and even five-year vet Jordan Caron will all get their chance to stake their claim to becoming an everyday player for the Bruins. Even 2014 first round pick David Pastrnak, who signed an entry-level contract a few weeks ago, has a chance to make the roster out of training camp if he impresses the braintrust enough.
It would be rather difficult seeing a younger player taking on the responsibility of first line duties for a Stanley Cup contending club, but if Eriksson, who put forth a disappointing first-year in Boston in scoring just 10 goals and registering 37 total points, has another slow start come October, we could see Julien shake things up and throw someone else in the spot.
But it's Claude we're talking about, so that'll take a whole lot to make that happen.