With their assigning of Matt Bartkowski to Providence (AHL) today, the Bruins met the NHL deadline for trimming their roster to 23 players and being compliant with the league’s salary cap.
As expected, No. 2 overall pick Tyler Seguin remains with Boston over in Prague. Seguin has enjoyed a hot hand with three goals in the two exhibition games in Europe and has settled in, for now, as the club’s third-line center with the likes of Daniel Paille and Michael Ryder flanking him.
So the clock now begins to tick on Seguin’s nine-game audition to be a full-time NHLer. Seguin can be returned to his junior team in Plymouth (OHL) anytime, but after he plays 10 NHL games the first year of his NHL contract kicks in. If he hits the 40-game mark, the clock begins to tick on his free-agent status down the road.
Here’s a thumbnail look at the Bruins’ 23 remaining players, minus unsigned tryout Brian McGrattan, who could still sign and crack the lineup between now and Saturday.
Plus: With just a couple bumps along the road, Rask has accomplished every goal put in front of him and should be ready to emerge as one of the league’s top three goaltenders this season.
Minus: If Tim Thomas cannot serve as an adequate back-up, we don’t know if Rask could handle a workload of 60, 65 NHL games.
Plus: If he’s healthy and on top of his game, the Bruins are the favorites for the Jennings Trophy because they won’t suffer much drop-off when Rask gets a night off.
Minus: If he doesn’t get off to a solid start to the season — and it’s going to be tough to work in a start or two early — the fan base will turn on him and his teammates might even begin to let doubt creep in.
Plus: Should serve as a perfect veteran mentor to one or two of the Bruins’ prospects in Providence once he returns from Europe.
Minus: If for any reason he’s forced into action at the NHL level, that means the Bruins are having trouble in the one area — goaltending — that’s not supposed to be a concern for the club.
Plus: Seems to be grounded in his second season and focused on improving after his breakout stretch run and playoff performance last season.
Minus: No longer an unknown quantity, Boychuk will be challenged more by opponents and has to perfect his positioning to make up for less-than-fleet feet.
Plus: No one probably took last spring’s defeat harder than the captain, who knows he has to regain his Norris-worthy form and usually accomplishes the tasks he sets out for himself. Chara should have his edge back with a better supporting cast around this season.
Minus: The contract extension his agent is working on might linger into the regular season and distract the routine-obsessed defenseman.
Plus: Healthy again, Ference holds down a top-four job and serves as that puck-mover Boston really needs to succeed as a team.
Minus: We don’t know how Ference’s game will hold up over the course of 75, 80 games. The rigors of a full NHL season can take their toll on even the most experienced veteran’s decision-making.
Plus: Playing third-pair minutes on a healthy team could allow Hunwick to slowly regain his confidence and show the two-way ability he produced in spurts as a rookie in ’08-09.
Minus: Hunwick might be best served by a change of scenery as he continues to lack confidence and smarts and fails to fit into the system.
Plus: Gritty defenseman proved last year he can be ready at the drop of a hat (or an injured blueliner) even after long stretches of not playing in games last season. He might have carved out his niche as the perfect sixth or seventh blueliner at the game’s highest level.
Minus: If forced into action, McQuaid’s going to have to limit those mistakes he coughed up in limited duty last season. Those mistakes become more glaring when you’re only on the ice 10 minutes.
Plus: In a brief audition on Boston’s back end last spring, a healthy Seidenberg finally reached some of the potential expected of him in his previous NHL stops. He could be the perfect No. 2 defenseman.
Minus: Much like Boychuk, we still don’t know how much Seidenberg can produce playing top-four minutes over the long haul. Seidenberg’s four-year contract extension has set the bar mighty high for the backliner.
Plus: The first injury-plagued year of Stuart’s career should be a distant memory by the time spring comes and he has cracked the top four with some rugged defensive play and some unexpected offensive contributions.
Minus: He’s unable to get back on the developmental track and is relegated to a stay-at-home third-pair role averaging barely 13 minutes a night.
Plus: Veteran center should continue to emerge as a perennial Selke-worthy candidate and should sign an extension that establishes his permanent place in Bruins lore.
Minus: If the ongoing contract extension talks don’t distract him, the auditioning of wingers to play alongside him and Mark Recchi might hamper his production.
Plus: The Bruins’ revolving door of fourth-line centers should stop for two years with Campbell doing everything asked of him and doing it with an overflow of grit.
Minus: Something forces Campbell, injury-riddled last season, to lose his snarl and the Bruins aren’t able to roll four lines the way they like to.
Plus: Based on his size and instincts, he should be able to survive as an NHL rookie season logging third- and fourth-line minutes on a team that shouldn’t require him to chip in much offensively.
Minus: If other players relied upon for scoring don’t produce, the Bruins might ask Caron to do more or be forced to replace him with someone that can contribute.
Plus: The winger is so “happy to be here” he’ll do anything, including crashing the net and ravaging the corners to get the puck and march to at least 30 goals.
Minus: Without Marc Savard to set him up, Horton gets off to a slow start and loses his confidence — especially when the Garden faithful turns on him.
Plus: With Savard out, Krejci takes the extra ice time — at even strength and on the power play — and becomes a point-per-game performer.
Minus: The focus of opposing defenses combines with Krejci’s desire to do too much and leads to him having to be shuffled from line to line in search of his game.
Plus: In the first year of his new deal, Lucic takes the step injuries prevented last season and he pops in 20 goals to go with 10 fights and numerous goals caused by blocking out goaltenders from seeing the puck in front of the net.
Minus: The top-six role goes to his head and Lucic resorts to being too fancy with the puck, leaving the Bruins with a slow banger when they need a point-producer.
Plus: After two full seasons of pro hockey, Marchand finally “gets it” and toes the line between agitator for and detriment to his team.
Minus: Without adding anything offensively, Marchand spends his little bit of ice time earning his ticket to the penalty box.
Plus: Finally adds hands to speed on his resume and at least surpasses 15 goals while still serving as a solid penalty-killer.
Minus: He fails to find chemistry with Campbell or another PK performer and it costs the Bruins a spot in the top five among power play extinguishers.
Plus: Even at 42, he continues to play like he’s 24 in all situations and continues to wreak havoc in front of the net.
Minus: Age, or at least injury, has to catch up to Recchi sooner or later. For the Bruins’ sake, it better not happen this year.
Plus: The lure of a new contract next summer inspires Ryder to quiet the naysayers and return to 25-goal form with a little bit of edge added to his game.
Minus: Last year turns out to the rule instead of the exception and the Bruins have to either stick Ryder in the press box or bite the bullet on burying his contract in the AHL.
Plus: Depending on his ice time, the rookie emerges as a Calder-worthy scorer or a solid complementary piece while learning the ways of the league.
Minus: The demands of playing defense in the NHL take their toll on Seguin’s offensive game or — worse — earn him the scorn of head coach Claude Julien, who’s forced to make some tough lineup decisions.
Plus: After a training camp during which he again he proved he can bring more than just his fists to the rink, he gets a couple bounces and actually scores a few goals in the regular season.
Minus: The Bruins somehow decide to go with McGrattan in Thornton’s slot in search of out-and-out intimidation and turn Thornton into a press box dweller.
Plus: His stated desire to use his size more and become a more productive, regular presence around the net comes to fruition with a return to 20-plus goals.
Minus: The new skates and the new outlook don’t pay off and Wheeler is still a mistake-prone detriment to the Bruins’ cause on the attack.