The Boston Bruins were an offensive juggernaut during the 2022-23 season, leading them to a historic 65 wins and the President’s Trophy as the league’s best regular season team. Forward David Pastrnak scored a career-high 61 goals, and the Bruins had nine players with at least 16 goals in a balanced attack. Only the Edmonton Oilers scored more goals (325) than the Bruins total of 301. Boston played an exciting, quick transition style that helped the club dominate the league for 82 games before losing in a first-round upset to the eventual Eastern Conference champion Florida Panthers.
How quickly things have changed! Centers Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci have retired, and the Bruins are beginning a transition period to a new-look roster. Coming into the 2023-24 season, Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle are the top two returning center options, and forward Taylor Hall was traded to Chicago, giving the Bruins an opening on the left wing. Veteran Brad Marchand is the top-line winger on the left side, but Boston will be looking to fill the second-line left-wing spot after not retaining free agent Tyler Bertuzzi.
One free-agent newcomer who could provide some offensive punch on the second line is left-wing James van Riemsdyk. The 14-year veteran signed a one-year contract worth $1 million with Boston on July 1, 2023. In his career, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound forward has scored 300 regular-season goals and is nine points away from 600.
Last season, van Riemsdyk scored 12 goals with 17 assists in 61 games for the Philadelphia Flyers. But during the 2021-22 season, the Middletown, New Jersey native scored 24 goals, nine of them on the power play, where the Bruins hope the left wing will help his new team the most. The former second overall draft pick in 2007 has been a solid goal scorer during his career, with seven seasons of 20 goals or more, including his career high of 36 in 2017-18.
Van Riemsdyk is now 34 years old and nearing the end of his career. The Bruins are taking a small risk that there is something left there to help the roster and supply some of the offense that is missing from the departures of Hall and Bertuzzi. If van Riemsdyk can still get to the front of the net and produce on the power play, the Bruins might have someone for short money that will provide the balanced scoring that the team had last season. The question will be whether there is still something left in the tank.