September 23, 2013

Great Debate: Who will be the Bruins leading goal scorer?

Photos: Dave Arnold/New England Hockey Journal (Iginla, Lucic, Marchand)

Every week, a rotating group of NEHJ staff members will share their take on one hot topic in the hockey world. Here’s the latest edition of The Great Debate.

The setup: With a trade that saw Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley exchanged for Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser, and the acquisition of free agent Jarome Iginla this summer, the Bruins forward corps will look quite different in 2013-14.

The question: Who will be the Bruins leading goal scorer?


I'm going with Milan Lucic to win the Bruins' goal scoring crown in 2014.

He topped the team with 30 goals during Boston's Stanley Cup-winning season in 2011 and he's well positioned do it again.

It was a tough regular season for 'Looch' in 2013, but he took his offseason conditioning program seriously and appears to be on the verge of another strong campaign as he enters the first of a three-year deal that will pay him $6 million per annum. He scored just seven times in 46 games, but salvaged the year by equalling that total in just 22 playoff contests -- a much better clip and more indicative of what Lucic can do for the B's when he's steaming down the left wing like a runaway freight train.

Now, with future Hall of Fame forward Jarome Iginla over on the right side of a top line that should be able to pick up where David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Lucic left off last June, it is shaping up like a banner year for the 50th overall selection in 2006. Iginla is probably the popular favorite to lead the team in goals, but he's shown himself to be an effective passer/playmaker more recently, so don't be surprised if he teams up with Krejci to set the table for a leaner, more fired up Lucic in the coming year.

With a renewed hunger and that bullet release on a hard, heavy shot, Lucic is going to light the lamp quite a bit this season -- all the way to the top of Boston's scoring chart.



Despite being one of the oldest forwards on the Bruins' roster, it seems likely to me that Jarome Iginla leads the team in goals. Summed up, here's why: Iginla has never played with a center quite like David Krejci. While the preseason is an exceptionally small and unpredictable sample size, it's evident that the chemistry between the two is already developing. Factor in Milan Lucic, their other linemate who will no doubt create more space for Krejci to make plays and free up room for Iginla to get open, and you have quite the dynamic first line.

Iginla's reputation has him as the ideal Bruin. He can shoot, play physical, and mix it up with some of the best heavyweights in the league. Now that he's playing with two other skaters just entering their prime, there's almost no doubt in my mind that his game will be rejuvenated.



It's been nearly a decade since a player led the Bruins in goals in back-to-back seasons, with Glen Murray accomplishing that feat in 2002-03 and 2003-04. My money's on that drought ending.

Brad Marchand led the Black and Gold with 18 goals during the lockout-shortened, 2013 season. There are plenty of reasons to believe he can be Boston's top tallier again. No. 63's stats have improved each season, and he's ranked among the league leaders in shooting percentage in each of the last two campaigns.

Chemistry's always key to success, so the fact that Marchand's a lock to play with Patrice Bergeron again behooves the winger. However, I think the big boon is Loui Eriksson now flanking the two forwards, as opposed to a trigger-happy player like Tyler Seguin. Eriksson is much more of a playmaker than his predecessor on that line. With Bergeron and a perennial 70-point man like Eriksson as his partners in crime, I expect Marchand to find twine early and often.



As I'm already on record with Jarome Iginla as my pick to be the Bruins' leading goal scorer in 2013-14, I'm going to stick by it here.

After moving to Pittsburgh at the deadline last year, Iginla was used primarily on the left side, a departure from his many years in Calgary spent playing right wing. In Boston, the former Olympic gold medalist will be able to slide back into his natural position on the right side. With hulking power forward Milan Lucic likely skating on the opposite wing, Iginla and David Krejci should have plenty of space to create offense this season.

Now we turn the question over to you: