Fantasy Preview: Boston Bruins

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Scott Cullen
9/17/2013 12:44:28 PM
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Consistently one of the top teams in the league, the Bruins have a lot of players that are desirable options in fantasy.

Top Picks: While the Bruins aren't a high-flying team, but because of the strength of their top lines, they present a lot of players worth taking relatively early in drafts. Patrice Bergeron is a two-way ace and while his scoring numbers are good, what sets Bergeron apart is his plus-minus -- his plus-80 over the last three seasons leads all forwards. Tuukka Rask

Not so coincidentally, Bergeron's left winger, Brad Marchand ranks second among forwards with a plus-79 rating over the last three years and 67 goals in that time frame ties him with San Jose's Joe Pavelski and Vancouver's Alex Burrows, so he's not merely along for the ride.

As maligned as Jarome Iginla may have been for his play in Pittsburgh at the end of last season, he had 23 points in 28 (regular season plus playoff) games and his 12 power play points last season were more than anyone on the Bruins. If he's effectively replacing Nathan Horton on the wing with David Krejci and Milan Lucic, that's a pretty good spot for Iginla, with linemates that should complement his game and provide him a good chance to score 30 goals.

Another offseason acquisition, winger Loui Eriksson, is coming off a down season, his 0.60 points per game his lowest since 2007-2008, but he's been a consistent produccer, scoring 25 or more goals and 60 or more points in each of the preceding four seasons, so a move to a more competitive team, potentially playing on a line that racks up pluses year after year raises Eriksson's appeal.

Even though he's 36-years-old and coming off a season in which he scored his fewest points per game (0.40) since 2001-2002, D Zdeno Chara is one of the top handful at his position. Not only does he lead all defencemen in plus-minus over the last three seasons (tied with Bergeron at plus-80), but he ranks fourth among defencemen in goals (33), ninth in points (115) and sixth in penalty minutes (244), so he's a contributor across the board for fantasy purposes.

With this ace supporting cast, it turns out that the most valuable Bruins player for fantasy purposes is goaltender Tuukka Rask, who is the unquestioned number one for a likely playoff team and, oh, he also has the best save percentage of any goaltender to have played at least 100 games over the last four seasons.

Value Plays: It's certainly possible that C David Krejci could lead the Bruins in scoring -- he's topped 60 points three times -- but his all-around production isn't ideal; good enough to fit as a No. 3 centre in fantasy circles, with some upside if Iginla's arrival gives his line a boost.

Sleepers/Breakthrough: No one will be caught by surprise by LW Milan Lucic, who offers a rare combination of scoring and toughness, but he's a sleeper in the sense that he doesn't always play at his ferocious best. That element of risk means not investing too soon in Lucic, but recognizing that he provides upside as a No. 2 or No. 3 left wing.

Second-year D Dougie Hamilton is a candidate for a breakthrough season after a solid rookie year, during which he scored 16 points in 42 games. It wouldn't take more than maintaining his status quo per-game production to score more than 30 points this season and if that's coupled with a plus rating, it makes Hamilton a viable fantasy defenceman.

For deep leagues that count hits and blocked shots, Dennis Seidenberg offers value because he's been good for 100-plus hits and blocked shots in each of the last four seasons.

Rookies: It took a long time for the Bruins to lure 27-year-old Carl Soderberg over from Sweden, and he got a taste of NHL action late last season, but he scored 95 points in 96 games over the last two seasons in the Swedish Elite League and he could upgrade the skill in Boston.

The top forward in Providence last season, Ryan Spooner, tallied 57 poitns in 59 AHL games as a first-year pro, earning four games in Boston. He may not have room to crack a scoring line role in Boston, but Spooner could make it difficult to send him down this season.

Undersized D Torey Krug made a splash in the playoffs last season, scoring four goals in his first five games, but if he has a chance at some power play time, he could be productive enough to be considered by fantasy owners.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Bruins celebrate (Photo: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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