With the Boston Bruins having won the Stanley Cup, and Brad Marchand having score as many goals as Jeremy Roenick or Mario Lemeiux in the playoffs. Like Niemi the year before last, he also managed to be a contributor to a Cup winner as a rookie, and in the last year of his contract.

In adding up the factors against him getting a big pay day here are the big ones:

  • Was suspended for two games.
  • Has only played one full season in the NHL.
  • In the partial season he did play he failed to score a single goal and was a minus player.
  • Took undisciplined penalties including multiple ruffing calls, and a throwing the stick penalty.

In his favor there are a few marks.

  • Led all rookies in short handed points.
  • Scored points short handed, at five on five, and on the powerplay.
  • Was not afraid to go to the “dirty areas”.
  • Played well as both a checking line forward and a more two way forward.
  • Was a +/- leader in both regular and post seasons.

For comparison here are some of the other guys who scored forty-one points in the regular season last year:

  • Devon Setoguchi: just signed to a new three year deal for three million a year, has been a thirty goal man, but also missed time each of the last two seasons. Does not play shorthanded.
  • Mike Santorelli: Had a short handed goal last year, was the second leading scorer on an abysmal Panthers team, but had one of the worst +/- on the team. $600,000 one year contract expires the end of the upcoming season.
  • Michael Ryder. Highly inconsistent during the regular season on the same Boston Bruins, very solid post season, his four million dollar per year deal is set to expire 7/1, is a two time thirty goal scorer.

Current market forces not being something you can ignore, here are some of the recent signings:

  • Tomas Kopecky, has not topped 15 goals in his career and is seven years older than Marchand, did not play shorthanded last year, and just signed a four year contract worth three million per year.
  • David Jones is four years older, has also played just one full season in the NHL, scored 27 goals last season, one year contract for two and a half million.
  • Brooks Laich, had his second lowest career goal total last season. At 28 his points total last season was lower than either of the previous two years. Has just signed a six year deal with a cap hit of four and a half million a year.
  • Nathan Gerbe of similar size to Marchand, has signed a new deal worth a shade under one and a half million a year, only scored sixteen goals and 31 points in 64 games last year.

To me, given the speed, ability to agitate, and ability to play in all situations and his chemistry with Patrice Bergeron, I’d call two and half million a little low, and probably barely fair a deal between $2.75 million and $3.25 woud be about market value for any deal under four years. A deal over four million, or longer than four years could be somewhat questionable, no matter how much we like him.

I think I expressed myself pretty clearly on what to do with SS, or at least what not to do. Some of the other names floating around are nearly as over-hyped. I say nearly because Stamkos is actually highly talented. Some of the other players I don’t see a point to the Boston Bruins chasing this silly season.

 

  • Max Talbot. Good player, fairly young not too shabby as a third or fourth line player. But, the Bruins already have another guy just like him, Chris Kelly, who is a known quantity and fits in.
  • James Wiesnewski, not only is he less effective on a per minute basis on the powerplay than Kaberle he’s actually “talented” enough to get suspended for doing something to Sean Avery.
  • Steve Montador. ’nuff said.
  • Sami Salo. Aging, fragile, shrinking production.
  • Ville Leino. Soft, inconsistent, and some have questioned his desire to play in the NHL.
  • Simon Gagne. F.R.A.G.I.L.E.
  • Nikolai Zherdev. See Leino.
  • Ben Eagar. If we’re gonna have a pure goon, can’t we trade for Orr?
  • Marek Svatos. Five teams, three leagues, two seasons.

Some of these guys might not manage to do be a disaster, but why take the risk.

There are multiple reports that as of yet unsigned Restricted Free Agent Steven Stamkos is set to be offered a cap maximum  decade or more deal. This would make him the highest paid player in the NHL. It would also leave him a UFA at age 31 to 33. Meaning he’d still be young enough to court another major deal, assuming he was still healthy, and still perceived as a top player. The Lightning are expected to match this deal, assuming they don’t have him signed to one of their own before then.

The question is why? Yes Stamkos is a top twenty forward, but he’s hardly the best in the game. I don’t see him as even likely to become the best in the game. If you look at this years playoff run, in three series against the heavily depleted Penguins, a sweep of the Capitals and the eventual Stanley Cup winning Bruins he was + player only once. He was a minus player six times. By comparison, Teddy Purcel who outscored him was a + player seven times and a minus player just four times. Simon Gagne’s split was five plus, and four minus games in three less games. Out west, Patric Marleau who played the same number of games, and ended with the same number of points was split 4+ and 5- games, while playing injured. Joe Thornton, put a similar 4/6 split while also playing injured he gathered four more points and was one point short of point per game production.

By any standard except Cup wins, Joe Thornton is one of the ten best forwards the NHL has produced in the last twenty years. To me, if you can’t produce at the same or better level, you don’t deserve a huge deal. This doesn’t count the futility that is having him take faceoffs. Nor does it count the notably unpretty takeaway to give away performance that’s noticeably worse than known defensive lightweights Henrik and Daniel Sedin (aka Thing -9 and Thing -11). Unlike say Corey Perry, Eric Staal, Pavel Datsyuk, Marian Hossa or even Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand he can’t be relied upon to play or produce points short handed.

Even as a pure public relations move designed to put rear-ends in seats and cash in the concession stands registers a league max or even very high end deal isn’t the brightest idea I’ve ever heard.

Free agency is a high nearly unrivaled on the hockey schedule. Guys who played in a system they didn’t fit in last season can shoot for a better fit. Players who’s entry level deals are expiring can look forward to a more comfortable income. Fans who loathed the contract of an anchor on their roster can cheer its expiration. Best of all, any UFA becomes possible, if only for an hour or two. Here are some of the players I find most interesting in this years class.

Scott Hannan: If he insists on the $4.5 million a year of his last contract he could be in for slim pickings.  Offensively speaking he’s not quite as gifted as the otherwise comparable Andrew Ference. He does play about six minutes more per game than Ference in Washington, but there were a lot more injuries on the blueline of the Capitals this season. Still at 32, 6’2 and 225 he’s likely got two or three more seasons of similar contributions before beginning to decline.

Joel Ward: What a post season party this man had. He led his team in scoring, briefly led the NHL in goals in the post season, and made life miserable for the Vancouver Canucks in the second round. If you look up the word “workhorse” in your dictionary of hockey terms this mans picture might just be there. Of his ten goals last regular season five were power play goals and four were game winners. Those were good for third and second on the team, relied upon in all situations he led the Predators forwards in time on ice last season, its hard to see him not being retained at a decent price. Its also unlikely he’ll fail to get a deal worth more than the $1.5 million he got last season.

Scottie Upshall (@ScottieUpshall): After a season ending knee injury two seasons ago, he responded by coming back with a career high in goals and hits. With the ability to play both wings, good speed and some playoff experience it will be interesting to see where he lands. He was traded at the deadline from Phoenix to Columbus where he was reunited with former Flyers teammate RJ Umberger and now another former Flyer Jeff Carter has joined the crew. The $2.25m he earned last year probably isn’t far off from what his next deal will be. It will be interesting to see if the 27 year old goes for a short three year or less deal or for a longer one that might include a no trade clause.

Simon Gagne, is almost certainly the most pure scorer under thirty five in this free agent crop. He’s also got a collection of injuries that stretches on for pages. His last contract was for north of five million a year which is perfectly acceptable for a two time forty goal scorer. His last two season topped off at 17 goals a piece. While all players are a risk, as a GM I can see people steering clear or only offering one or two year deals

Anton Babchuck. The well traveled blueliner has seen a few cities already in his career. Of all the free agent defensemen he’s got the second highest powerplay goal total. He’s first in short handed points in that group. Overall he was the third highest scoring defenseman in this UFA crop. At 27 with those stats if his agent can’t double his salary this season they should be fired.

 

Several big events on the day. Seth Ambroz sliding nearly out of the draft has to be considered one of them. Filatov getting ousted from the Columbus organization.  The second round of the draft was dominated by Americans with nine, followed by eight Canadians and then then the rest of the world. Another member of the Sutter family has been drafted, and he too is Carolina Hurricanes property.

The least surprising surprise to me was the trade of Nikita Filatov out of the Columbus organization. How well he handled himself with the coaches and staff, and potentially other players is no longer relevant. How well the organization treated him is also meaningless. The choice of Nikita Filatov was the wrong one from the organizational standpoint. Just watching or reading one of his interviews from his draft year tells you he’s one of those larger personalities with a bit more swagger and edge than a lot of players. He’s got plenty of skill and silly speed, but was the round peg to a very square organization.  Filatov going to the Senators where they’ve coddled the odd fragile ego or two, one or more of whom may of course still be in the organization is a much better fit. The Senators are possibly the only team in Canada who had a quiet building last year most nights. The team on the ice was hard for any hockey team to watch, and adding a potential game breaker to Alfredsson, Spezza, Karlsson could go a long way towards energizing the  fanbase. Good move for all three parties if the Senators and Filatov mesh.

In a deal that was rumored before the start of the draft, Calgary shipped out Robyn Regehr, Alex Kotalix and a second round pick to Buffalo for $7,000,000 in cap space, Chris Butler, and Paul Byron. Butler has had two productive seasons in the AHL, and may be ready for the NHL full time. Byron was part of the defense off and on for the last three seasons in Buffalo, even seeing playoff time.  For the Sabres it looks like they are trying for a defensive mentor for Tyler Myers and someone to take some of the pressure off Ryan Miller. Regehr led the Flames in both hits and blocked shots last season.

Seth Ambroz a pugnacious power forward fell much further than I think anyone could have imagined. He says his favorite player is former Vancouver Giant, and Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins left winger Milan Lucic. Ranked at #31 by Central Scouting I was surprised he was still on the board when the Bruins picked in the third round, and surprised even more when he was passed over again the fourth round. He has committed to the University of Minnesota for this fall, and that may have played a part in team choices, I’d also heard some small whispers about maturity, which generally surprise me not at all in 18 year olds and worry me less.

Despite some highly amusing internet speculation that Grimaldi’s strength of faith was preventing him from being drafted he did manage to get selected. The 5’6 center will have another smaller player to mentor him should he make it into the NHL in the next couple years. Brian Campbell is now a member of the Florida Panthers, and the two could be a hellacious one-two punch for the Panthers powerplay units at some point.  If Sergei Samsonov is resigned they could form one of the shortest lines in the NHL.

As frequent;y happens there were several guys who slid out of the first round as teams went off the board for picks. So here’s a quick look at some of the guys the Bruins could draft at #40.

Shane Prince:

Prince is a native of the same stretch of ice the produced Patrick Kane. His sister is an athlete as well.

Scott Mayfield is another big, raw defenseman playing in the USHL and committed to NHL player factory University of Denver. Definitely a project, but that’s a good place for him to land to work up to the NHL.

Tomas Jurco could be picked up, he’s well regarded for his shootout skill in by his Saint John’s head coach.  Not a huge player, does interesting things with the puck. I’m surprised he landed outside the top thirty.

Seth Ambroz at 211lbs is one of the bigger forwards on the board in the top two rounds. And with all the bigger, badder defenseman in the NHL and even larger more aggressive forwards he could be a nice big gun to play behind Lucic and Horton in a few years.

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Alexander Khokhlachev is a very interesting Russian, Chiarelli has two Russian defensemen in the stable, why not a forward who is a center and left winger.

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Day one was anything but boring. Trades of players. Trades of picks. Off the board picks. Players sliding. Oh what a night.

Of the trades the one that got the least attention but might prove the most impacting was announced early. Troy Brouwer, a big aggressive winger went from the Chicago Blackhawks to the Washington Capitals. With the improvements on defense the Capitals showed last season, adding a Cup winning forward to the mix who will play physically and knows how to win. He’s comfortable on both wings, and having him opposite Ovechkin should simplify the problems for whoever is playing center for them.

The once unmovable contract of Brian Campbell has been moved. It may not really count because the general manager who signed the deal originally, is the man who acquired him. The Florida Panthers sent Rostislav Olesz, and moved up four million dollars in the salary cap space.

Probably the most shocking trade to take place was the swapping of two players that looked to be cornerstones of their teams. The NHL Entry Draft host Minnesota Wild sent former first round pick of the fabled 2003 draft Brent Burns, and a second round pick to San Jose. They in turn sent the recently resigned Devon Setogouchi stud prospect Charlie Coyle and a first round pick to the state of hockey. While both teams got something they need, I’m not sure you can call this anything but a win for the Minnesota Wild.

My two favorite picks, of the first round were for Landeskog and Larrson. The Avalance get a type of attitude that is simply lacking. There’s while not quite a belligerence, certainly the type of drive and swagger that is seen in Shane Doan and Jarome Iginla that the denizens of Denver just plain lack. For Larrson, he’s just the right fit at the right time for a team rebuilding on the fly. Ideally both players would play in the NHL next year. The Devils can bring Larrson along slowly in a limited role. I did think it was odd to hear Larrson damned with the faint praise of having better hockey sense and more physicality than Victor Hedman.

Mark Scheifele is probably the single happiest man in hockey right now;. Taken seventh by the reborn Jets, as their first pick in their return to the market he could be this years Jeff Skinner. Appallingly happy to be taken, personable and photogenic. the Jets new GM was gushing in his interview. This was clearly a hockey pick, unlike a certain franchise than drafts locals for language, but long term if Scheifele pans out it could be the best PR pick made by an NHL team in years. I also like that the team went a bit off the radar without making a huge reach to take him.

 

As I had hoped, the Bruins got a defensemen. A pretty damned good one. A good sized one. What’s not to love? He’s about the same size as Adam McQuaid, was ranked 4th overall by Central Scouting, and has a huge shot. He’s not quite perfect, with some holes still in his defensive game, but I somehow doubt Bruins fans will be disappointed to see him in a year or two. He’s a right handed shot, so when he does land in Boston, playing him with Chara is possible on the powerplay.  He projects as a top two defenseman, but will need a little time to develop. I don’t expect him to land in Boston this fall, and even next is bit of a stretch but god damn it’ll be fun to watch.

I was hugely shocked that the teams who desperately needed a solid defenseman ahead of the Bruins didn’t take him. They showed Peter Chiarelli walk up to the podium, and was smiling as much as when they won the Cup. I think he was even more surprised than I was, and I’m reasonably certain the thought going through his head at getting a high end defenseman that low was something like “suckers”.

You can bet he’ll be at the Bruins prospect camp in a couple weeks.

I expect some drama tonight but these things would be a massive upheaval in NHL life as we know it.

3) A goalie going in the first two rounds of the draft. There has been zero talk of any goalie at all. I can’t see any team being desperate enough to gamble a pick that high.

2) Less than three trades being made in the first two rounds.

1) Peter Chiarelli and the Boston Bruins trading down from the #9 pick. A trade for a player is remotely possible, but not merely down.