Chris Wagner has no guarantee of playing time this year. With the addition of Tomas Nosek to play fourth-line center, and Curtis Lazar being pushed to right wing, Wagner finds himself in a battle just to get in the lineup.

That would seem like a big difference from his first three years as a Bruin, but ‘s just how it’s always been for Wagner, drafted by Anaheim in the fifth round in 2010.

“I’m never comfortable. I haven’t been comfortable in 10 years,” said Wagner. “I’m just trying to do the best I can, work as hard as anybody on the ice, be physical, forecheck, penalty kill, all that and try to be an asset to help the team win.”

Wagner was given Tuesday’s game in New York off, but he played in the season opener in Washington. He played 14 minutes and 25 seconds, getting one shot on net, delivering two hits and blocking a shot.

“It’s always weird once you get going, like in the first period, you’re like ‘Oh yeah, we’re playing against other guys,'” said Wagner. “Then by the third period it usually ratchets up and gets physical.”

Coach Bruce Cassidy hopes he can create a sort of a fourth-line rotation similar to the one he had in 2018-19 with Wagner, Noel Acciari, Joakim Nordstrom and Sean Kuraly, a highly effective four-man group that not only worked together but pushed each other for playing time.

“The beauty of this is all four guys have played center,” said Cassidy. “Wags has played left in his career. The other two lefties (Nosek and Trent Frederic) are not going to play the left side, so there is room to shuffle the chairs around, too, so it’s not automatic that it would be just one guy out all the time. So there is competition. All four guys played in the league last year. Some have longer resumes than others. All have attributes that are good individually and can contribute to a fourth line. I think Freddy’s the only guy who hasn’t played a whole lot in that role over his career, so that’s something he’s going to have to embrace,.”

Frederic proved last season he’s not afraid to bring the belligerence and he’s willing to take on some of the toughest customers in the league. But the Bruins would like to see more offensive production from the left-shooting forward. He had just four goals and an assist in 42 games.

The message to Frederic?

“Work on consistency every night, getting his feet moving when he gets the puck, because I think he can shoot the puck well. So that’s the next part, having a little more of a shot mentality and then the plays will come to you,” said Cassidy.

Frederic, who worked with a skating coach over the summer to improve his initial burst, was re-signed to a two-year deal worth $1.05 million. While he was developed mostly as a center, the Bruins buying spree brought in three players that could play the pivot and Frederic has played left wing next to new center Nosek in training camp so far.

He hopes that “shot mentality” will come with experience.

“Hopefully this year is easier for that, just because you know the guys better and they understand you’re not being selfish. You’re just trying to help the team by shooting it,” said Frederic.

FORBORT SETTLES IN: Through the first five days of camp, Derek Forbort has found himself in a familiar spot – providing steady stay-at-home work to complement his more offensive-minded defense partner.

Forbort, signed to a three-year deal worth $3 million per season, has been skating with No. 1 defenseman Charlie McAvoy and he’s feeling right at home.

“My whole career I’ve been with guys like him – (Drew) Doughty and then (Neal) Pionk last year. They all three play similar to each other. I know my role in that (kind of tandem),” said the former Los Angeles King and Winnipeg Jet.

It hasn’t taken long for Forbort to get comfortable.

“He’s been doing a good job of helping me out with the new terminology and the D-zone style. It’s a little different than what I played before. But it’s been good. He does a really good job of communicating and he’s such a good player that he’s pretty easy to play with,” said Forbort.

WAGNER A PATS FAN: Having grown up down the road from Foxborough, Wagner has his opinions on Tom Brady’s return.

“It’s weird, obviously, kind of sad that he’s doing real well,” said Wagner. “I’m kind of sick of the whole social media thing and I haven’t even followed along with what he said and his Dad said versus what Bill (Belichick) said. He’s gone, give it a rest. Let’s move on and win on Sunday.”

But Wagner expressed a feeling many Patriots’ fans have right now.

“I just really hope they don’t get killed,” said Wagner.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.