Let’s face it folks, there’s no reason to panic about how Trent Whitfield’s season-ending injury, reported and confirmed by numerous outlets the last couple days, is going to affect the depth chart in Boston.
If there’s one area the Bruins can afford to lose players, it’s at center.
After their top three of Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, the Bruins can feature Gregory Campbell, Tyler Seguin, Joe Colborne, Zach Hamill or Max Sauve in the middle. Heck, even newly acquired sniping winger Nathan Horton, prospect Brad Marchand and journeyman Jeremy Reich have manned the middle in the past.
Whitfield’s injury is unfortunate for the 33-year-old’s career (by all accounts he’s a great guy and his opportunities to enjoy NHL success are obviously decreasing), but it’s merely a blip on the Boston Bruins’ radar.
Of course, about 45 miles south, Whitfield’s injury will have a more profound effect. While the Bruins brought in Reich, a former captain of the Providence (AHL) farm club, this summer, Whitfield was still going to provide invaluable leadership to what promises to be a super-young – both in terms of age and pro experience – P-Bruins club next season. Whitfield, who wore the ‘C’ last year when he was calling the Dunkin’ Donuts Center home, took most of Providence’s players under his wing and rewarded Boston for signing him to a two-year deal by being one of the better “organizational guys” around.
He didn’t use his time with the P-Bruins just to stay sharp for his several call-ups, which he still managed to do really well. He mentored a team that, like its parent club, was decimated by injuries (in addition to call-ups) and hung in the playoff race until the final weeks of the season.
This year, Providence will be leaning heavily on Colborne, Caron, Sauve, Matt Bartkowski, Yuri Alexandrov and Steve Kampfer – all first-year pros. While the presence of Reich and a few other AHL veterans, and a few prospects with a couple pro years under their belts, should help, it’ll be difficult to replace Whitfield’s intangibles.
Maybe while rehabbing his injury, he’ll be able to provide a shoulder to cry on and a spread some wisdom through the locker room. However, it won’t be the same as having him on the ice during practices and games, and could have an effect on Boston down the road, as it comes to rely on some of this year’s crop of AHL rookies, more than it’ll bother the Bruins this winter.