Before today, center Patrice Bergeron was my pick for the Boston Bruins player most likely to crush his 2008-09 season with a monster 2009-10 campaign.
After seeing the 24-year-old at the Bruins’ golf tournament in Bolton, Mass., I’ll put all my chips on No. 37.
Bergeron looks rock-solid and ready to rock and roll this season. He reports that he’s all the way back to his playing weight after feeling a tad light last year.
“I wanted to get stronger, I wanted to build stamina and all that stuff,” Bergeron said. “I feel like this summer is back to normal, back to 100 percent and it feels great.”
With his body and mind at 100 percent Bergeron should be back on the path toward super-stardom that he was traveling before that ill-fated hit by Philadelphia’s Randy Jones. And the Bruins will need an even better Bergeron as they head into this season with David Krejci still rehabbing a hip injury and Phil Kessel on the contract/injury shelf.
Position battle: The No. 2 center job seems Bergeron’s to own while Krejci is out. Bergeron will be fighting for a spot on the top power-play unit, and could be battling for a spot on the point or up front on the man-advantage. Another big showdown will take place to his left, where longtime sidekick Marco Sturm will try to kick Mark Recchi out of his spot next to Bergeron.
Projection: As I said, Bergeron is my 2009-10 breakout player pick. If he stays healthy, anything less than 30 goals and 75 points will be a disappointment. Having Recchi and Sturm to rotate on the left wing (riding the hot hand) will help, as will the addition of Derek Morris to hopefully shift Bergeron to wing on the power play.