Any draft in which you can get a personable, self motivated, healthy high end player has to be considered at least modestly successful. When they player happens to be versatile, prolific, and comparable to Steven Stamkos and other players who deserve at least the tentative title of franchise corner stone the draft shouldn’t take much more than that to be wildly successful. If only that were the case in the Bruins 2010 draft selections.

While it’s become a truism in hockey (at least in public) that one should draft for quality over need, it gets increasingly hard to see where the Bruins have done that for the past several years, or that other teams are consistently doing that.  Take for example the tenth selection in this years draft. While Dylan Mcilrath is not anyones idea of a poor defenseman, both Cam Fowler and Brandon Gormley were still on the board, both of whom many expected to go in the top five. The two qualities McIlrath had in excess of Fowler and Gormley are size and aggressiveness. Given the Rangers top six forwards acquired just three major penalties last season it’s not hard to conclude that Sather expects McIlrath to inject some testosterone into his blueline. This is a clear, and savvy use of drafting for need. If only the Bruins had done so as well.

As my last post was meant to illustrate, the Bruins have an enormous number of players either drafted at or playing now at center, more than any other position by far. As the acquisitions of Seidenberg, Boychuck, Morris and others over the last couple years clearly outlines the Bruins have not spent nearly as much energy scouting and drafting defensemen. The only men who were drafted by the Bruins and played a regular role on their defense last year were Mark Stuart and Matt Hunwick. The Ducks drafted both Emerson Etem and Cam Fowler, addressing their needs, with quality.

The Bruins on the other hand opened their eyes and let the golden boy Tyler Seguin fall into them, and otherwise assumed a prone position and waited hoping something good would fall into their hands. When good, and potentially very good players were free , they failed to take them.  When they had the opportunity to scoop up the coveted Petrovic, a puck moving defenseman with the 32nd pick, they added yet another small center. Without batting an eye they also skipped over the chaotic Kabanov whose talent is undoubted.  Thirteen picks later, they again skip Kabanov for the undersized Spooner.

Of the Bruins picks at forward in this draft, only Florek who is two years older than most draftees pays even lip service to the Bruins stated desire to get bigger at forward. Florek was the Bruins fifth round pick.

With their first seventh round pick, the Bruins picked an Andrew Ference like Russian defenseman who plays less minutes than the Bruins 2006 2nd rounder Alexandrov, whom the Bruins have yet to get into their uniform for even a single appearance in the AHL or NHL. While that is expected to be remedied this fall, I can’t help but wonder how much better the Bruins would have done against Carolina if Alexandrov had been skating in Black & Gold two years ago and not Steve Montador.

So, from overlooking talent that may be a challenge in Kabanov, failure to fill the teams needs on defense, and standing around doing nothing while good players free fell potentially into their laps, the Bruins final grade for the 2010 draft is:

C-


A contact of mine working in a hotel in Orange County faxed me a hotel napkin with what is believed to be Peter Chiarelli’s handwriting detailing the Bruins Roster and line assignments for the upcomig 2010-11 season.

The scan I made of it is too grainy to upload, but here’s what it says:

Lines:

Savard – Bergeron – Krejci

Caron – Colbourne – Seguin

Hamill – Arniel – Campbell

Nelson – Knight – Whitfield

Defense:

Riendeau – Goggin

Tremblay – Soderberg

Sauve – Sexton

When contacted the Bruin’s office would only comment that Chiarelli felt it was a move towards providing more creativity at forward and finding enough puck moving defensemen to satisfy the teams needs.


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.


Thomas:
5) He’s a freaking Vezina winner stupid.

4) Despite at least two injuries Thomas had the same number of shutouts in eleven less games than the year he won the Vezina.

3) Thomas put up better post season numbers behind a poorer defensive unit than Rask did in the teams last two playoff appearances. And unlike Rask his post season numbers were better than his regular season ones.

2) If the Bruins management is really desperate to free up cap space and have (wisely) ruled out buyouts, they should assign Ryder to Providence immediately and plan to promote a youngster or sign a UFA.

1) As young goalies like Price, Raycroft and Mason have proven a good rookie (half)season by a goalie is highly indicative of future success.

Savard:

5) Because short of rapists, and true locker room cancers one should love the elite play even if you hate the player.

4) Even if Seguin or Hall (or Colbourne or Caron or…) is the second coming, they are unlikely to have the endurance to play at a high level come April, May and June.

3) Let’s see, he’s one of the most productive players in the post lockout era. He’s even done it with bad linemates.

2) If the Bruins management is really desperate to free up cap space and have (wisely) ruled out buyouts, they should assign Ryder to Providence immediately and plan to promote a youngster or sign a UFA.

1) Players as productive as Savard in any sport sell tickets, sell merchandise, sell jerseys, and in some cases even sell hockey to people who otherwise might not give a damn.


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.


5 Quick reasons each why Savard or Thomas should go

Savard:

5) Cap Space. Honestly, unless Suave, Colborne or the like are showing more promise than even their biggest boosters think, this is a silly reason. About the only UFA forward still out there that could potentially be signed for 4 million a year and be worth it is Alexander Frolov, Tanguay and Nolan might be worth it but either would be happy with a $2.75 mil deal based on their age, the chance for success and their last year.

4) With Hall or Seguin coming in on top of Bergeron, Krejci, Sobotka, Colborne, Caron, Hamill, Campbell, Arniel, Goggin, Nelson, Riendeau, Soderberg, Tremblay, and Whitfield (not to mention whoever they draft) it might be argued that the Bruins have a number of men who can play center. True, at this point after Bergeron and Krejci the rest are either unproven or proven borderline in the NHL, but no team has absurd depth at all positions, and several of the men after the first two could hold down the third and arguably the second center slot on over half the teams in the NHL.

3) For all his amazing talents, Savard is not a very athletic player. With the generally younger team the front office has constructed in the last two off season, he’s become one of the slower men on the ice, and is possibly the least physically fit. As Mike Richards and other members of the Flyers proved a couple weeks ago, conditioning wins championships.

2)  The potential return is enormous. With his cap friendly deal, his consistent point production, and his recent transition into a three zone, two way player who is savvy in all situations, its not outside question to bring back a pair of first round draft picks or a fist full of prospects. Trading him to say Columbus even without a roster player coming back might yield former #6 pick Nikita Filatov, and former #21 John Moore.

1) It’s possible management doesn’t like him.

Thomas

5) Rask had an amazing season. Clearly the younger, cheaper goalie is the way to go.

4) Thomas’s contract is too long. At his age a three year deal would have made much more sense, and as his hip injury proves, he’s not holding up well.

3) The team is more comfortable playing in front of a goalie with a slightly less bizarre style.

2) Thomas will cause problems as a back up. Of all the reasons I’ve heard, or pondered for moving the former Vezina winner this is the most absurd. He had at least two injuries last year and still managed better numbers than most goalies, that said it is theoretically possible.

1) The potential to move him for a good return in picks or prospects is too big to resist.


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.


Assuming the Boston Bruins really are actively shopping the Ottawa native, there are probably a finite number of teams he’d be willing to go to who might want him in return. It’s a safe bet that the Pens, Wings, and Flyers aren’t holding open any spots on their dance card for him. The Oilers, Panthers, Stars, Lightning are all out for a number of reasons. It’s highly doubtful the Bruins would be willing to trade him within the division unless they could get more goal scoring help on wing, or possibly more leadership.

So let’s look at some places that might want Savard for the long haul.

Atlanta has the lures of familiarity with the city, and great weather. They also have a dynamic young roster without a great deal of depth at center. The team is far more balanced than it was when he left several years ago, and has one of the better defensive corps in the division.  They have the #8 pick as well which if Boston simply wishes to reload and get younger, larger and more aggressive as they’ve stated for years might be a great place to snatch Niederreiter or some other catch. On the negative side, the Thrashers have an ownership group that lacks cohesion, and is (perpetually) rumored to want to sell.  They are probably also a good defensive defenseman away from a playoff appearance.

Calgary has the lure of familiarity, a familiar face in premier power forward Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla. To compliment him there is emerging star Rene Bourque, one of the NHL’s ten best defensemen in Jay Bouwmeester, and top tier tender Miikka Kiprusoff, all hungry to hoist the Cup.  Any trade with the Flames will almost certainly require the Bruins to take back some, and possibly a lot of salary as the Flames are over $53 million with just 18 players signed. There is also the question of how willing the Flames management would be to put the teams future in the hands of two aging stars with high salaries.

Columbus while in the minds of hockey purists (or fat heads) this place is a backwater, their average home head count was only about a hundred below the New Jersey Devils. With Rick Nash, RJ “the Capitals Defense will sink them” Umberger, Nikita Filatov (The Russian Phil Kessel?) and others just looking for a top tier center Savard would have the opportunity not only at a Cup or two, but possibly of having his jersey retired their if he plays out his contract with a cup win or two. Sure it’d be easier to get ones number retired in a newer market than in a place like Montreal or Boston, but a retired jersey is not something most athletes can claim.

Minnesota, a team that seems to have been looking for a good center since they came into the league currently leans heavily on the undervalued services of Mikko Kiovu. The Wild could be in a worse cap position, have a solid goal-tending position, a defense that was hampered by a lack of anyone to do anything with their outlet passes, and sniper Havlat to ride roughshod over defenses on Savard’s wing.

Ottawa, while trading Savard inside the division is probably not on Chiarelli’s top ten list of things to do this off season, if the Senators do indeed trade Spezza, production wise Savard is probably the best available replacement. Coming into last season the two were two or three points apart for the past several seasons, with Savard having spent a great deal more time killing penalties and Spezza having blocked a few more shots in that time. In terms of cap hit, Savard’s is lower and shorter to off set the age difference. Assuming the Senators do part with Spezza, if they don’t bring back a solid defenseman for him, the difference in Cap hits might allow the Senators to retain Volchenkov. For Savard, Ottowa has proven they can play hard against top tier teams, and its his home town. Being on the first team to raise the Cup in your home town isn’t something many men will ever have the chance to do.

While I’m not 100% convinced the Bruins should or will trade Savard, these are currently among the most interesting possibilities.


Did the Boston Bruins were raped and rolled today?

While dumping Dennis Wideman to acquire some offensive finish and size in Horton they were forced to part with far too much. Wideman for Horton is about even in salary, by reputation they are not highly self motivated, and age wise they are not far apart. Selling Wideman down the I95 to a team actively looking to get rid of Horton should not have required much, a third round pick, maybe a second. To take on the additional baggage of an RFA forward who’s yet another in their retinue of small, bottom six players.

On top of this they gave up a highly valuable first round pick. Had this been last years draft, sure send it packing without regrets the 2009 draft class was just that weak. With the possibility of blue-chippers like Etem, Neiderieter, Campbell or other high end talents sliding out of the top 10 there’s little doubt the 15th pick in 2010 will be more valuable in a year or two than any of the men now packing their bags for a new city.

Let’s take a look at some possible why’s to this otherwise inexplicable overpayment:
The Bruins have no intention of signing Campbell, and will either repackage him or let him walk and take the compensation (if any).
Management views Campbell as a replacement for Begin, Paille or another bottom six forward and expect to sign him cheaper than the player he’s replacing.
Campbell is bound for AHL where he will spend the year mentoring younger players.
Management decide that it unlikely they could unload further salary (Ryder, Ference for example) for any meaningful return and would not be able to fit the cap hit of whomever is drafted #15 under the cap and expect their choices at that position not to opt for college or be eligible for the AHL.
Maybe the Bruins brain trust just doesn’t view this draft as being as deep as many in the media do.
Maybe, just maybe the Bruins believe they got two top six forwards back because they know something the rest of us don’t.

Only time will tell, if this was a Raycroft for Rask or a Versteeg for Bochenski trade, but not only does this move deprive the Bruins a high end player one or two years away from playing at a high level in the NHL at most, it robs them of even the threat of an offer sheet next year as well.

While it doesn’t free any cap space, it does reduce blueline clutter, hopefully opening the door for both Stuart and Boychuck to be resigned to multi-year deals.