The Bruins will have many battles going on before the start of the regular season. One that will be interesting to watch is how the Bruins’ third line pans out. With the departures of Riley Nash and Tim Schaller in free agency, the Bruins have holes to fill. At the moment David Backes and Danton Heinen depending on who ends up on the second line are the only locks for the third line. The Bruins have many candidates for the last spot on the third line including Chris Wagner, Trent Frederic, and Jack Studnicka. All these players will be looking to make their case with the start of the season approaching.
The New Guy
Earlier this offseason the Bruins signed Chris Wagner to a two-year deal worth 1.25 million a year. Wagner is not the most offensively gifted and is seen as a better fit on the fourth line. He brings a bottom six versatility and could play center or on the wing. He relies on his physicality and intimidation. Wagner brings toughness to the Bruins’ bottom lines which would fit well on either the third or fourth line. In order to secure a spot on the third line, he will have to show more offensively. Of these three Wagner has the most secure spot on the Bruins’ roster the only question is where he will be placed in the lineup.
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Prospects Battling For the Third Line
Two players battling for the last spot are highly touted prospects. Between the two Frederic is closer to being NHL ready. The Bruins drafted Frederic in the first round of the 2016 NHL draft. He was seen as a reach at that spot due to his limited offensive ability. He will never be a thirty goal scorer but the Bruins still have high expectations for him. Frederic will most likely fill a defensive role while contributing a respectable amount of offense. Frederic will have to show that he is ready for the NHL as he has only played in 13 games at Providence. He will have to hold off another highly motivated Bruins prospect who is starting to make a name for himself.
The Bruins drafted Jack Studnicka in the second round of the 2017 NHL draft. Last season he played five games for Providence and was able to tally five points. He has the tools to be an elite scorer which was on display in the prospects challenge. He has more offensive upside than Frederic and is not afraid of standing up for his teammates. That will be key on the third line and his play has impressed the Bruins front office. In order to secure a spot he will have to continue to show his play-making ability. Even if he is sent back to Providence he has already left a good impression on the Bruins front office. He is a longshot to make the Bruins roster but he is not letting that hold him back.
All of these players are battling for a single spot. Whoever does not win will end up in Providence or in Wagner’s case on the fourth line. They are each playing with a chip on their shoulder which will only make them better. For Studnicka and Frederic, it will give the Bruins a glimpse of what they can do. They will also be battling Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson who will looking to make the jump to the NHL but will most likely start the season in Providence. The Regular season is drawing closer but this battle is only getting started and it will have an impact on the Bruins’ future.
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