The Boston Bruins have been trying to replace what second-line center David Krejci has left behind in his absence since he decided to play hockey back home in the Czech Republic. First, the Bruins tried using 22-year-old prospect Jack Studnicka, but it quickly became clear that the third-year center was not ready to take on that kind of role at the NHL level. Erik Haula has been slotted as their #2 center for most of the season, but he hasn’t been anywhere near as productive as Krejci had been for the Bruins for the last decade or so, and his recent stint in the NHL’s COVID protocols makes the Bruins that much thinner down the middle.
Charlie Coyle has filled in at times on the second line, but his gritty game is clearly better suited in a bottom-six role, which leads the Bruins to an obvious conclusion: they need a second-line center, and quick.
The Bruins would be wise to hold on to Coyle and Haula in a lesser role, but perhaps the best trade bait they have to acquire a top-six center is the same player they hoped would fill the role at the beginning of the season. Fluto Shinzawa of The Athletic thinks that the Bruins have lost faith in Studnicka developing into a genuine second-line center, evidenced by Tomas Nosek being called up in Haula’s absence rather than Studnicka, which other teams around the league took note of:
Tomas Nosek filled Haula’s spot between Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak. This has other teams wondering where Studnicka stands with the Bruins. The 22-year-old has six goals and 11 assists in 25 games for Providence.
“I like Studnicka,” one NHL source said. “I wouldn’t mind him on our team. But I don’t think he’s a No. 2 center. Maybe a No. 3.”
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