When the Bruins signed Chris Wagner last offseason his addition was seen as a depth move by many. The veteran winger had never reached double-digits in goals or recorded more than nine assists in a season. He was known for his physicality a trait which fit perfectly with the Bruins. In his first season playing for his hometown team, however, Wagner was more than just a physical presence.
The Walpole native quickly became a fan favorite due to his style of play. He once again recorded over 200 hits and averaged 13:27 of ice time. The former fifth-round pick became invaluable on the Bruins fourth line while setting a career-high in goals with 12 and points with 19. With the expectations higher in Boston, Wagner thrived playing for a contender.
Additionally, the veteran winger affected the game in many other ways. His excellence on defense was vital as he prevented clean breakouts by harassing defenseman. He was also was wiling to sacrifice his body as he blocked 38 shots.
With the addition of Wagner, the Bruins fourth line became one of Cassidy’s favorites. They gave the Bruins a boost at times and were used to set the tone early in games. In the postseason their impact only grew.
After a solid regular season, Wagner continued to excel in the playoffs. In 12 games, he only had two goals, but they came at big moments. He also played a heavy forechecking role before his postseason run was cut short.
In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Wagner blocked a shot with his wrist which would later require surgery. Although Wagner was cleared to play in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, he was kept out. It was an unfortunate result for a player that was key to the Bruins playoff run.
Despite the disappointing ending, Wagner will arrive to camp ready to build off last season. With Noel Acciari’s departure in free agency Wagner’s play will become even more important. He will most likely return to the fourth line but is unknown who will join him and Sean Kuraly.
Regardless of where Wagner slots in, he will again provide the Bruins bottom lines with a physical presence. If he can replicate his offensive numbers from last year that will be a plus. The former fifth-round pick got off to a good start in Boston, and in year two his legacy should only grow.