Top Storylines for Boston Bruins 2013-14 Training Camp
The Boston Bruins' training camp has begun, and there are plenty of anecdotes to pay attention to as the season draws near.
How will the new additions fit into the lineup? How is the health of Patrice Bergeron and Gregory Campbell? Will Jordan Caron finally prove himself? What will the third line look like?
Here are the top storylines for this year's Bruins training camp.
Bergeron and Campbell Both Practice
Bergeron and Campbell both participated in practice this week even though they are not cleared for game action, according to Caryn Switaj of Bruins.com.
Bergeron spent the summer recuperating from a slew of injuries sustained in the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. No. 37 had a separated shoulder, a broken rib, a collapsed lung and torn rib cartilage.
Campbell has been nursing a broken right leg suffered in the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
But the good news for Bruins fans is that they both skated with the club, and they looked good.
"Right now, I would tell you that they [Bergeron and Campbell] would not be cleared to play a game if we started today but that might change in the upcoming days or in a week from now," head coach Claude Julien told Switaj and other reporters Wednesday.
Bergeron, who earlier this summer said that he expected to be ready for camp all along, expects to use the first few practices to determine how much work he needs to do before the season starts next month.
"The next couple days will really tell me where I stand with the lingering issues," Bergeron told reporters Wednesday.
Switaj also reported that Campbell is currently adjusting to the feeling of having screws and a plate in his leg. Campbell told Switaj:
To be honest, I'm gonna feel it for a while. If you've ever had a broken bone, there's a certain time frame where it's expected to be fully healed but there's weeks and months after that that you still feel the break. So that's where I'm at right now, I'm still going to feel it, and I'm fully expecting to feel it for a while now. As much as I can protect the area and make it as comfortable as possible, I think there's still gonna be some pain there, and it's just something I'm going to have to work through.
While they are still adjusting and not considered to play in any games, it is a great sign for Boston that the centers are practicing.
Will Jordan Caron Finally Prove Himself?
Better late than never? That cliche is something that Jordan Caron hopes is true indeed after failing to establish himself as a regular part of the Bruins since being drafted in the first round in 2009.
During training camp, the 22-year-old will compete for a spot on Boston's third line, which is perhaps the team's biggest question mark entering the season.
Caron has been called up from Providence several times in his short career, but hasn't earned a regular spot in Julien's system. He only has 25 points in 88 career NHL games.
The next few weeks are the most important of his career.
"Last year was tough season with the lockout and injuries and everything," Caron told Dan Cagen of the MetroWest Daily News. "I just want to focus on this year, I'm feeling pretty good and in great shape. I just got to be confident and show what I can do."
Spending the first half of last season in Providence playing for Boston's AHL affiliate, Caron was dealing with injuries at the start of the NHL season in January and wasn't called up until March. He played only 17 games and didn't skate one shift in the playoffs.
"I got to prove that I belong here and that I can keep it," Caron told Cagen.
Caron will have the next few weeks to prove he belongs. If he earns a roster spot, the burden will be on him to keep it.
Familiar Faces in New Places
Loui Eriksson and Jarome Iginla will finally be able to skate in organized team practices. The two newcomers have been practicing informally with some teammates in the past few weeks, but this will be their first true Bruin experience.
As expected, Iginla on Thursday was skating as the right wing on the first line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic, according to the team's official Twitter page.
Eriksson was on the second line with Bergeron and Brad Marchand, which was also expected.
If Eriksson and Iginla can become comfortable in training camp, the rest of the Atlantic Division should be put on notice.
Who Will Be the Third Line Wingers?
The only legitimate roster battle for the Bruins is who will join Chris Kelly on the third line.
There are several candidates to fill this open position. Job requirements include strong checking skills, ability and willingness to dig in the corners, shot-blocking and scoring. The top candidates for the job are Carl Soderberg, Jordan Caron, Matt Fraser and Reilly Smith.
Soderberg, a natural centerman, has the age and new contract to suggest he is a favorite to join the company of Julien, Neely, Chiarelli and Associates. But there are several young faces that could make an impression on the suits, including ex-Stars Fraser and Smith.
And there is the aforementioned Caron, who has been with the company for four years but still breaks the copy machine and turns in depositions late.
There is room for two candidates. Will it be Soderberg, the highly-touted analyst who just joined the company from its European offices? Or will it be Fraser or Smith, who just joined the corporate world and have limited job experience from the Dallas sector? Or Caron, the kid with the talent who hasn't put it all together yet?
Interviews will take place over the next few weeks at the Boston offices. The company will state who has been hired around the beginning of October.