Brad Marchand turned 33 on Tuesday and it got this writer thinking about his place in Bruins and hockey history. The 71st overall pick in the 2006 Entry Draft, Marchand was initially thought of as a grinding player who had some skill. He has grown into a Hart Trophy Candidate and future Hall of Famer.
Marchand’s first full season was the Stanley Cup winning campaign of 2010-2011. He played 77 regular season games and quickly showed that he had the potential to be a top line winger. In the postseason, he was even better, compiling 19 points(11 goals) in 25 games. In the four games that the Bruins won in the Stanley Cup Final, Marchand had five goals including two in the decisive Game Seven.
Since his entry into the league, Marchand has grown into an almost unstoppable scorer while also facilitating offense and playing solid defense. In that span, Marchand is fifth in the NHL in shooting percentage. He’s scored at least 24 goals in every season except the lockout shortened 2013 season, in which he had 18. Marchand is second in the NHL in plus/minus since the start of his career. Since 2016, Marchand has had at least 85 points in each season except for the pandemic-shortened 2021 season. He tallied 100 points in 2018-19.
In 53 games this season, he has 29 goals and 40 assists. Adjusted for an 82-game regular season, he would be on pace to score 47. He is 11th in the league with 54 defensive takeaways this season and has emerged as a bona-fide Selke candidate, though forwards rarely win that award.
Perhaps most impressive is Marchand’s work on the penalty kill. He has teamed with Patrice Bergeron to form one of the elite forward PK tandems in the league. He and Bergeron routinely shut down opponent’s top power play units and Marchand has 31 short handed goals since 2011, including a league leading four this season.
Marchand’s maturity was a question in Boston for several years as he routinely went over the edge while trying to push the envelope. However, he has had a much better handle on that part of his game in recent years. His .87 penalty minutes per game this season is his lowest number since 2014. He has been suspended 19 total games in his career, but the last time was in 2018.
The Bruins have the best line in hockey with Bergeron, Marchand and David Pastrnak all playing elite hockey. On any given night, each one of them can dominate a game. Marchand’s skill has often been overshadowed by some of his antics and the elite play of his teammates. But there is no doubt that Marchand is making a strong case to have himself enshrined in the Hall of Fame when his career ends. For Boston, they are depending on him continuing his elite play this spring as they work toward a championship.