Charlie Coyle’s versatility for the Boston Bruins could come into play as soon as Thursday’s opener, depending on the health status of David Krejci. Winslow Townson/Associated Press

BOSTON — When the Boston Bruins traded for him near the deadline last year, the general consensus seemed to be that Charlie Coyle was a good player, who had a chance to blossom in Boston.

He’d been solid in Minnesota, but it always seemed like there could be another layer still to be explored. The Bruins hoped a return home would spark the native of suburban East Weymouth, Massachusetts, to another level in his development. A strong postseason (16 points in 24 games) that saw him deliver big plays and big goals might be an indication that the predicted blossoming is indeed progress.

If the Bruins are going to be the rare NHL team that makes back-to-back deep postseason runs, a strong year by Coyle would go a long way. On a roster filled with young players and aging veterans, Coyle is 27. He’s either at or near that sweet spot where athleticism and skill are still a peak on someone old enough to benefit acquired experience and wisdom.

If he can take another step in his production and leadership, less will be asked of the team’s aging veteran core or inexperienced younger players.

“I want to be the best I can. I want to improve on last year,” he said. “I want to be a consistent player on this team.”

What would peak Coyle look like? He was asked to describe the best version of himself.


“I’m a guy who can play up and down the lineup,” he said. “(I want to be) a guy who can create space and use my size to my advantage. I’d like to shoot the puck a little more. I think that’s something I can definitely do. And use my speed down the middle to open up space and areas for my linemates. I want to be someone who can play in every situation, that’s what I strive to be and someone I can be.”

His growing versatility makes him a potential answer to a lot of different Bruins roster questions: Who will be the third-line center that can make the line an offensive contributor? Who will step in to center the second line if David Krejci (lower body injury) is unavailable for the opener Thursday at Dallas? Who could play right wing on the first or second line if either needs an offensive boost? He could fill any of those roles.

The novelty of playing at home hasn’t worn off yet as he begins his first full season in Boston but it’s not just location that makes this hockey opportunity special.

“When I first walked in with these guys you could just tell. Everything about the leadership all the way down to the younger guys. Everyone is a great guy. Everyone is team-first. That starts with the leadership and trickles down to everyone,” he said. “You see first hand why this team is always in contention come playoff time and always making runs. To be part of that is tough to walk away from. I’m loving spending the first training camp here and get here right off the bat to spend the whole year here and go through the ups and downs.”

Coyle will be an unrestricted free agent next season. He said he’s letting his agent handle any questions about his money while he focuses on hockey.

“I’m not really worried about it at all,” Coyle said. “It’s not something where I’m saying ‘we’ve got to get this done’ just so it’s off me. I’m really focused on this year. I’m under contract this year so I feel like I can just play and do what I need to do to help this team win and be the best player I can. That stuff will work itself out if I keep focusing on the task at hand.”

Besides the task at hand is too fun to overlook.

“I’m pretty pumped to be here wearing this uniform,” Coyle said. “I want to make the most of this opportunity.”

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