Boston, Ma – The Boston Bruins summer vacation which came earlier than hoped for in June finally ended today as the team took the ice together to open training camp. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy, in his fifth full season, lead his charges through two 120 minute on-ice sessions. Just under sixty players split between the two sessions competed for their spot on the team’s 23 man roster. There were notable absences in the wake of players like David Krejci and Sean Kuraly moving on, and Tuukka Rask who is unsigned and recovering from off-season surgery. But GM Don Sweeney tried to address the team’s needs by bringing veteran forwards Nick Foligno, Erik Haula, defenseman Derek Forbort and goalie Linus Ullmark.
Stalwarts Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand led the first group which featured young vets like Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, David Pastrnak, and Curtis Lazar. Providence Bruins regulars like Matt Felipe, Curtis Hall, battled against July’s draft class of Fabian Lysell, Brett Harrison, and free-agent signing Jesper Froden to try and make the parent club. Ullmark, Kyle Keiser, and Jeremy Brodeur manned the crease for the opening session. Ullmark, a 28-year-old Swede, is expected to compete with Jeremy Swayman for the starting nod in goal.
“I stay in the present, stay in the moment,” said Ullmark when asked about the split with Swayman coupled with a possible return of Rask. “That’s something for the future. It’s nothing that I focus on right now.”
McAvoy paired with newcomer Forbort while Grzelcyk skated with Connor Clifton. Froden took a few reps with Bergeron and Marchand while Pastrnak skated with Jakub Lauko.
Cassidy touched on the shifting of Pastrnak and Froden. “We were going to mix a few of those lines up. He (Froden) had a good camp up in Buffalo for a good couple of games. He’s a little bit ahead of guys because of his age (26) and the level he’s played at. So we came in with a bit of a plan to try and see what some of the higher-end players. I talked to Pasta (Pastrnak) about that. He knows that’s his line. I thought Pasta with Lauko could help him along as well. He’s getting closer. Jakub probably looks up to David so it’s not a bad landing spot for him.”
Other notable players that took the ice at the 10 am session were Trent Frederic and Charlie Coyle.
The noontime session was headlined by the likes of forwards Craig Smith, Taylor Hall, and Chris Wagner as well as defensemen Mike Reilly, and Brandon Carlo. Hall skated with Smith while a bulked-up Jack Studnicka centered the duo.
Newcomer Foligno, who garnered early praise for his veteran presence, skated with fellow veteran newbie Haula and Jake DeBrusk. Reilly and Carlo continued their defensive pairing while Urho Vaakanainen paired with Tyler Lewington. The second group featured the likes of newly re-signed Zach Senyshen, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, and defenseman John Moore.
“We still think he’s got good games left,” said Cassidy of Foligno. “We do have expectations for production and all that but the intangibles are definitely an asset for us. We lost a good veteran leader in (David) Krejci.”
Swayman patrolled the crease with Troy Grosenick, Callum Booth, and Kyle Keiser.
The 2021 roster is pretty much set, with Cassidy admitting as much today. It’s just a matter of rounding out the edges and shoring up the supporting cast. The AHL’s Providence Bruins kick off their camp on Monday, October 4, and many of today’s skaters will be participating in those sessions as the senior squad will be in Philadelphia taking on the Flyers in the fourth of five preseason contests.
“We have a pretty good idea of where our line-up is going to look like,” Cassidy said. “It’s just where do the pieces go type of thing.”
Training camp continues tomorrow at 10 am at the team’s facility Warrior Ice Arena.