Wow round one was nearly as long as a baseball game, with all the drama of an entire MLB season. Players fell from the stars into merely high orbit, and others came over the horizon sewing chaos as general managers dared to reap the whirlwind.

George McFee yet again failed to do anything to get his blueline off life support. Instead he opted for another young Russian who is compared to post season godsend Alex Semin.

Brian Burke unflinchingly defended the Kessel trade again even repeating his hope his Boston counterpart would get players he really liked and wanted.

Hall & Sequin went alphabetically and neither seemed shocked to go where and when they did.

Kabanov is still on the board.

Both Gormley & Fowler fell not just out of the top five but out of the top ten.

Kaberle is still a Leaf and Hamuis is now property of the other Quaker State team.

Bettman was booed.

Eleven Americans were taken in the first round, and Canadians immediately began face saving gestures by loudly proclaiming Fowler to be only half an American as he has dual citizenship.

The GM of the Wayward Whale allowed his bias against drafting defensemen to override the visible and unassailable success of guys like; Weber, Doughty, Keith, Seabrook, and numerous lesser lights. Instead he takes a figure skater.

10) There will be four or more deals in the first round.

9) A GM drafting between 10 and 30 will go off the chart with an unexpected pick.

8) Neither the Blue Jackets nor the Blue Shirts will draft Kabanov.

7) The Islanders will pick or trade for a goalie during draft weekend.

6) Chicago and San Jose will both make trades.

5) Burke will be linked to as people as a single Madonna.

4) Trade talk around the Bruins will escalate until the end of round 2.

3) Two teams in the Southeast will draft or trade to improve their defense.

2) A team hampered by lack of cap space will get hosed selling players for picks and prospects,

1) An ‘unmoveable contract’ (over 5 million) will be moved.

With fourteen players signed, and nine million dollars left under the cap, the Bruins are probably done tweaking their defense prior to the season. It’s highly unlikely whomever they draft at number two will fail to make the squad, and that will be a two or three million dollar cap hit by itself. Marco Sturm is unlikely to return to the ice before December with his second season ending knee injury in a row and a six month recovery time. I can’t imagine the Bruins rushing him back into the lineup. If he’s on the LTIR for sixty days that will save the Bruins roughly $1,129,032 in cap space, which is just slightly more than the paid Recchi last year.

Assuming the forward lines look roughly like this:

Lucic – Savard – Horton

Hall/Seguin – Bergeron – Recchi

Wheeler – Krejci – Ryder

Paille – Sobotka – Thornton

You’re left with Sturm on IR, and Suave, Colbourne, Hamill as the likely candidates for 13th forward.

Defense assuming the Boychuck & Stuart are resigned will probably be:

Chara – Seidenberg

Stuart – Boychuck

Ference – Hunwick

Both top pairings can do 25-28 minutes a night. The 6-9 spot is the complicated part. McQuaid played a handful of regular season games, and nine playoff games but looked unsteady in the post season. Hunwick looked good with some defense partners and is the best skater of everyone who played defense in Boston last year. Ference is oft injured, like Hunwick on the small side, and some might say overpaid. Penner played a bare two, and while Alexandrov led his KHL teams defense in TOI he’s yet to play even a single AHL game and like Penner, Ference, and Hunwick is well under 200lbs.

I suspect we will see one more move made at forward to free enough cap space to resign and carry players. At a rough guess, Stuart and Boychuck will come in at a total near six million as a high, and just over four million as a low. If we go with the lower number and assume Hall or Sequin’s cap hit is 3 million, that leaves only 2 million to play with. Two million in cap space with five roster spots left to fill is not going to work.  If Savard is moved that gives the Bruins much more latitude to both sign players before the season, and potentially bring back a solid player immediately but will most likely mean a salary coming back. Krejci going might mean a pick and a prospect coming back without a salary, and gives some wiggle room in the cap.

Pronger:  Pronger took two penalties, at least one of which was just dumb. Gotta love his game, he never quit and didn’t make any stupid hockey plays even under pressure, even when the team was down and struggling.

Hit: Tough to say, Richards laid out a couple bodies, Buff ran through Coburn, and several minutes of the second period seemed to be inspired by Drowning Pool.

Conn Smyth: Eh. Toews no doubt earned the honor, but he didn’t make this series his own anywhere but the faceoff dot. And yet, that was enough. He provided enough of a distraction for the Flyers top defenders to loosen the jessies on the rest of the team.

Top players:  Kane broke loose with a three point night, including the goal that got his team the Stanley Cup, and Briere quietly had a three point night, was a +2 and went 60% in the faceoff circle.

Gallery or Guarded: The answer to this one should satisfy fans of both styles of play as we saw both tight defensive hockey in bursts, and a track meet for stretches.

BQ: He used words.

It’s game six, one team can clinch and that’s just barely the most interesting question of the day. Here’s a couple I can’t wait to see the answer too:

Will Chris Pronger take out any anger he may have over a certain picture on the Chicago players? Or will he lay his hits on the media during interviews?

Will the biggest hit of the night be by one of the usual hulking suspects, or will Mike Richards show us once again that big hits can come in small packages that don’t know where the weight room is?

Will one of the candidates step up and etch their name into the Conn Smyth trophy tonight?

Can the top lines and top players buck the trend of this series and fill the score sheet as we’re more used to them doing?

Will we see another wide open shooting gallery where its not a question of if the goaltending will be victimized, but how often or will we see the type of tight defensive match both squads are capable of?

Bonus Question:
How did Gary Bettman explain “Chrissy Pronger” to his daughter?

Two teams I can name had difficulty scoring last year, and yet each had one enigmatic player in the fold who had the pedigree to be a or even the go to guy on their squad. One organization admitted no rift between itself and their wayward lamb while exiling them to the outskirts of Siberia, the other gave their will-o-wisp forward adequate ice time and a rotating cast of opposite wingers, and three or four different centers.

Neither team got what they wanted. I speak of course of Nikita Filatov, at least nominally of the Columbus Blue Jackets even though he spent most of the year in the KHL on loan to a team that was supposed to let him grow as a player with plenty of ice time. CSKA Moscow of the NHL finished their season without straining their endurance with a playoff run, much as the Blue Jackets did

Michael Ryder who had the odd off ice distraction to deal with also had to work with a center who some feel returned from off season hip surgery too soon, and a linemate who experienced what can be gently called a sophomore slump. He spent time trying to find chemistry with Marc Savard, which failed miserably, again. Watching the two of them together and expecting something positive to happen was like waiting for a bowling bowl to dissolve in a tub of baby shampoo. His time with the teams other centers was only slightly better. This was his second worst NHL season, and the second to last of his contract.

From watching the two players I’m convinced they are in the wrong type cities. I have seen nothing to indicate Ryder can stomach the attention of playing in a big hockey market. Remember Boston is a city that six years after he played his last game in Bruins uniform can still be seem sporting PJ Stock t-shirts and jerseys to games.  For all the heart and hard work Stock had, he scored exactly one goal in a Bruins uniform.

Filatov who is younger, a bit more outgoing and uptempo was born in the hot bed of Russia’s social and political nexus. Moscow is much more like a top tier North American hockey market in it’s size, sprawl, and concentration of humanity and scrutiny than Ryder’s more pastoral Bonavista New Foundland.  By comparison, Moscow is estimated to be over ten million people, making it about a third the population of all of Canada, much less the less than four thousand people currently living in Bonavista.

So the trade is simple. Filatov is an RFA with two seasons left on his entry level contract who was drafted sixth and had nearly a point per game for CSKA. Ryder will be a UFA on July 1, 2011, is making $4million a year, and has four times scored twenty five or more NHL goals in a season.

To Boston:

Filatov

3rd round pick 2011

To Columbus

Ryder

2nd round pick 2011

Since there just aren’t enough possible angles to cover free agency from, I decided we all need one more, well maybe it’s three more. So here goes.

Bloggers who wish to participate should comment here, or send me a message @pucksage on Twitter to be linked to and for bragging purposes. All entries must be up by the Noon ET on June 30, 2010. Bloggers can participate in any or all parts of the challenge. For the sake of everyone using the same source, we will use NHLNumbers ( www.nhlnumbers.com ) for the free agent listing and TSN.ca or NHL.com for any signings that don’t make the NHLnumbers site by deadline. You can of course make more than one post to cover each part.

Part 1: The First Domino

Pick a player at Forward, Defense & Goal off the UFA list who you expect to be the first to be signed.

Part 2: Team UFA

Very simple, really. Make a team 13 forwards, 7 defensemen, 2 goalies that is all off the UFA list and under the cap. Projected salaries for each player should be realistic.

Part 3: Worst Contract

Name the team likely to hand out the most absurd contract on July 1.

Part 4: Where’s Ilya

That right, you too can gaze into your crystal ball, ask your magic 8 ball or ouijia board or just sprinkle some Angel Dust on your Poptart and use it to tell the world where Ilya Kovalchuk will be playing next season.

Remember, prizes are bragging rights, pity beer from your friends, and not having to think of something to blog for at least one day. Void where prohibited!

The Bruins might be forced to sacrifice one of their top three centers to either reel in a top scoring winger, free up cap space, or possibly a puck moving defenseman.

Marc Savard has led the Bruins in offense three of the four seasons he’s been on the team. In his time here he’s developed his defensive game to a point where he’s consistently killing penalties. He’ll be 33 at the start of the next season, and just signed a long term contract. He’s not known for being a gym rat, and had a concussion this season that he appeared to recover from fully.

Patrice Bergeron is larger and more physical than either Krejci or Savard. As one of the members of Canada’s Olympic team, it’s probably safe to call him one of the thirty to fifty best players in the world.  Neither Savard or Krejci has ever scored 30 goals in a season. He’s hands down Boston’s best faceoff man, and is probably peaking now as a player and will stay at that level another 2-4 years depending on health.

David Krejci when healthy and on his “A game” is a dynamic play maker with world class vision of the ice. His faceoff prowess is nothing to write home about, but not going to cost him playing time. He’s been effective on both sides of the puck, and can be counted on to play if he can be made to stand and still hold onto his stick. He’s the youngest of the Bruins top 3 centers and will probably peak in a year or two. He was hit with a nasty wrist injury that ended his season early, but should be back for training camp and the Bruins European Vacation this fall.

The other centers in the system lack the experience or pedigree to be highly valuable, but may find themselves part of a trade package.  Not to be forgotten among the guys who were drafted at center is Blake Wheeler. We’ve seen him played exclusively on the wing here, Wheeler has the size, reach, speed and defensive prowess to make some people  ponder him at pivot.

Much has been made of the probability of the Bruins drafting Seguin and the need to then trade a center. First as Bergeron, Krejci, and Sequin have all played wing and will probably do so again this is not a given. Chiarelli has expressed his confidence that both Sequin and Hall can play all three forward positions so if the Oilers take Sequin and Boston fans are left to deal with those sloppy seconds, it doesn’t mean we will see Hall playing at the position he is best know for. Add in the fact that despite his paltry offensive numbers Vladimir Sobotka has a lot of fans in the Boston area and that he’s better at center than wing and you’re at four pivots  without even considering prospects or UFA’s.

Among those prospects are 2008 first round pick Zach Hamill who saw his first NHL action this season. Many expected him to make more appearances this year, especially after he helped lead rookie camp and was one of the final cuts during regular training camp.  Like Krejci, he’s a smaller player who’s more a skilled player than a grinder. He appears to have half a step or more of speed on Krejci. In his sole NHL appearance, he put in a more than creditable 12:08 of TOI with 1:36 of powerplay time. Both Bergeron and Savard were out of this game, and he finished with an assist and +1 against the high powered Washington Capitals.

Maxime Suave is another of the youngsters listed at center who has played at other positions which will probably help him into the NHL sooner.  I wanted him here after watching him in training camp and the preseason. He’s got speed, a willingness to shoot that on the whole is lacking on the Bruins, and just a touch of on ice swagger. The word that described him best at camp was raw. I can see him being the 13th forward to start the season if he’s doesn’t carve himself a top 9 spot in camp.  Like his draft year-mate Colbourne, Suave was signed to a pro contract late this season and played a handful of games for Providence.

Joe Colbourne is billed as “the second coming of Thornton” by some loudmouths. I hope that’s true, in fact if he turns out to have 2/3’s of the talent and skill of Joe Thornton I doubt he’ll ever be scrambling to find NHL work for as long as he’s healthy enough to play.  One of the things that the Bruins have been trying to do since Chiarelli took the reigns in Boston was get bigger at forward. at 6’5 he won’t be quite the largest player on the team, but he’s a whole lot taller, than Savard, Krejci, Recchi, Sobotka and either of the other prospects. Unfortunately at this point he’s still raw boned. He’s listed at five inches taller than Bergeron and four pounds less.  Like Wheeler he’ll need to fill out some before the size is good for anything but reach. Taken in the first round in 2008, he’s well regarded in a draft that looks like it’s going to take a while to creep into the NHL. Just about half of the first round, none of the second and just a handful of others have played in even one NHL game.