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Could Danton Heinen see time on the Bruins' first line?

Cameron Kerry
July 27, 2018 - 12:20 pm

By the end of last season, the Bruins were gasping for secondary scoring.

Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak dominated as one of the best lines in hockey. The line posted a Corsi For percentage of 58.96 in their 49 games together. Although the three combined to be an unstoppable force, the Black and Gold arguably leaned on the trio too heavily. Oftentimes -- as showcased through the playoffs -- if the first line did not find the scoresheet, the Bruins failed to do so altogether. 

In their second round playoff series, the Bruins lacked puck possession and failed to enter the zone cleanly, relying on dump and chase entries and trying to physically punish the faster Lightning team. Each line struggled, but the lack of goals produced outside of the top line ultimately sunk their Round 3 hopes.

Danton Heinen struggled to remain in the lineup, losing his spot to deadline veteran additions Brian Gionta and Tommy Wingels. Although neither player added much in terms of offensive skill, Heinen was noticably off of his game and Bruce Cassidy wanted to shake the lineup up. In nine postseason games, Heinen only recorded one point. 

During the regular season, Heinen proved to be a valuable contributor. He accumulated 47 points in his first full NHL season, showcasing a blend of scoring and playmaking that help him be a dynamic forward. At five on five, Heinen posted a Corsi For of 55.22 percent and Corsi For relative of 1.96 percent. Heinen played the majority of his time (331 minutes) with the third line, but also saw 116 minutes with the first line and 60 with the fourth line. Heinen's strong skating and hands helped him a strong contributor wherever he is needed in the lineup. 

With some new faces up front occupying the bottom six and key spots up for grabs at third-line center and top six wing, Heinen will be counted upon to produce points. Cassidy will look to the University of Denver product to help alleviate the pressure placed on the first line and continue his development on the heels of a strong rookie campaign.

The Bruins have a gaping hole that needs to be filled alongside David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk on the second line. In order to maximize the top six, rather than just the first line, an interesting strategy to play with could be to move Heinen up to the first line permanetely.

In the 116 minutes of total time on ice skating alonside Bergeron and Pastrnak, Heinen posted a Corsi For of 54.59 and a relative Corsi percentage of 0.44 percent. The line posted a strong relative goals for percentage of 13.16 percent, proving that the trio could succeed offensively together. Although Heinen does not provide the same offensive capabilities that either Pastrnak or Marchand do, it would allow for one of the ultra-talented wingers to score alongside Krejci.

By spacing out the talent, it can help create mismatches. By separting the team's top tier talent between the top two lines, the opposition could be forced to split their best defenseman up or play inferior competition against the Bruins' high scoring forwards. Danton Heinen has the talent to handle top line duties, and should the Bruins yearn for scoring beyond their first line, could slot him on the first line.