After reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in 2013, the Boston Bruins will head into the new season having experienced a bit of an overhaul. In some salary cap trouble, the Bruins were forced to let go of some key veterans, and will instead rely on some new faces and young players.
Those young players reside mainly on the blue line, where the likes of Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton, and Matt Bartkowski will look to make an impact. The intriguing one to watch on the blue line is Bartkowski, who will likely see an increased role after a new lease on life with the Bruins’ organization.
Initially set to be shipped to Calgary in the Jarome Iginla trade that fell through, Bartkowski made an impact despite limited action down the stretch and in the playoffs for Boston. He contributed four points total, between both the regular and postseason, appearing in 18 games total.
During the playoffs, Bartkowski was thrown into some key minutes for the Bruins, averaging about four more minutes of ice time per game than in the regular season. He was also utilized on the penalty kill, to the tune of 1:17 per game. That role in the playoffs should set the tone for him moving forward.
Bartkowski doesn’t get the attention of guys like Krug and Hamilton, mostly because the latter two boast more offensive upside from the blue line. But don’t count him out in the discussion among the three. He’s not the biggest guy on the blue line, but plays a solid two-way game, particularly in the defensive end. He uses the size he does have effectively. He makes the smart pass and helps on zone exits.
There’s little doubt that Bartkowski will see an increased role for the Bruins in 2013-14. He showed what he can bring to the table throughout the playoffs, and will get an increased opportunity to become a key piece of Boston’s defensive rotation this season. Not bad for a guy who was all but traded just a few months ago.