The Boston Bruins came up short of a playoff campaign in the 2015-16 season. With the 2016-17 season quickly approaching, the question now becomes will the team find the stamina to compete throughout the entirety of the season? Age is the main issue that the Bruins are dealing with.
It's been 5 years since the Bruins memorable Stanley Cup run, and their captain Zdeno Chara will be turning 40 this season. Tuukka Rask is slightly younger than Chara, but if he sees as much action as he did last year his age will come into question as well.
The team went out in the off-season to add a leader in forward David Backes. Backes was a former captain of the St. Louis Blues and his presence should shed some light on the younger generation of Bruins looking to make their mark on the NHL. He also provides balance on the front line and allows the team to spread out their younger talents as well.
The losses the team faces will be crucial towards finding replacements for this developing roster. The team lost Loui Eriksson to Vancouver and had to buy-out Dennis Seidenberg's contract. This has really put a damper on the defensive side of the puck and really add pressure to Chara's shoulders. His leadership capabilities are never in question, but his ability to withstand the number of minutes and playing time he will face could be insurmountable.
The Atlantic Division also continued to grow and many teams have improved their rosters in key positions. The Florida Panthers remain a strong contender to win the division once again, with close pressure coming from Detroit and Tampa Bay. Boston did win one more game then Detroit did last season, but fell short of a playoff push by a short margin. Their off-season moves do not shed much light on filling voids in key positions and this could spell trouble for the team in 2016-17.
The team does have a few bright talented players gracing the lower level leagues and has some young talent up-front. Brad Marchand had a very strong showing in the World Cup of Hockey and is expected to produce on scoring opportunities this upcoming season. David Pastrnak is the youngest player on the roster and he looks to play a more prominent role on the team this year building off his 51 appearances last season. Colin Miller is a young defender who could fly under-the-radar and find a nice spot under Chara's leadership. Frank Vatrano is a young winger that had an incredible season in the AHL last year. Although he is sidelined for 3 months due to an injury sustained in off-season training, he could be a midseason call-up that brings young and fresh talent to the team.
The overall prospective outlook leans heavily on the ability of the team to outlast competition. Playing 3 full periods each night and remaining in high physical shape could be an issue for the team down the streth. Their veterans will have to be the teachers that fuel the new learning curve of skaters entering the organization. If they can compete within the division they should stand a chance to enter the playoffs this season. With the veterans on this team, you never know what could happen if they do get in.