This is the final write up on 2011 the previous posts covering 3-4, 5-7, 8-10.

Number two: Stanley Cup

After four decades, the Cup was brought home to the Causeway. No city in America has hungered for a championship at this level. The other three teams in town had won recently. The entire career of the legendary Ray Bourque was allowed to elapse without a Stanley Cup. Adam Oates, Cam Neely, Andy Moog all passed time in the spoked-b and never got a parade. Don Sweeney played and went to the front office rising in the ranks and helping young players reach the NHL. Claude Julien weathered years, and years of constant criticism by fans, former coaches, players running away to play elsewhere in the division.

To win the Cup, all the Bruins had to do was overcome major concussions to three of their top six forwards. They only needed to integrate three new players from three different teams and systems. They only needed to overcome a powerplay that was the worst in history. They only needed to overcome the top offense in the NHL, smother Stamkos, St Louis, the Sedins. It was just a small matter of overcoming Dwayne Roloson,  Vezina nominee Roberto Luongo, Selke winner Ryan Kesler, arch rivals the Montreal Canadiens. Along side all of that they had to overcome history. Multiple failures, non more spectacular or recent than their collapse to the Philadelphia Flyers the year before.

But they did all of it. They won. The captain who’s leadership was questioned. The goalie who was doubted and discarded. A forward group who was ridiculed right, left and center for lacking a true superstar. A coach who averaged 100+ point seasons but had been fired across the conference. The general manager shredded in public for getting “no return” on Kessel. The ownership constantly mocked for spend thrift ways. From Jeremy Jacobs to the least of the assistants getting the locker rooms, practice facility and travel arrangements ready to Julien, the scouts, Bergeron, Thomas, Marchand, Chara and all the rest. One team, one quest, one goal one cup.

Number One: Reaching For Dynasty

Repeating as champion in any sport is difficult. You need to beat the odds, not once, but twice. Even if you’re skilled you need to be healthy. If you have chalked up luck, skill and health there is still the question of heart. As we’ve seen in teams in hockey, and in other sports luck all by itself only gets you so far. All the skill in the world can only carry a team to the cusp of greatness.  The Bruins had all those elements at once, and the will to seize the opportunity in front of them. They did.

In the salary cap era, no team has managed to repeat. No back to back championships for any NHL team. The Detroit Red Wings came closest, but in that last gasp against the Penguins it all slipped away. They’ve drifted further and further from the top each year as health, and heart slip away. The Penguins had an enormous fire sale after winning the Stanley Cup in their second straight trip to the finals. The Chicago Blackhawks cap handling issues were so well known that everyone knew this was the one shot they had to make good on the dream. Their firesale was in such dire need they couldn’t even wait for the team to have all the players have their day with the Stanley Cup. More than half the roster was turned over. The Bruins don’t find themselves in any of those situations.

The Boston Bruins started their follow up season with almost the same roster they won the cup with. Just three players gone. One who didn’t fit. One who was aging and retired. A third was talented but not part of the core. A lucky strike in free agency added to the treasure trove of talent. Resigning a critical RFA was immense. Contributions from the farm system also helped. Today, six months after winning the last horn sounded in Vancouver, the Boston Bruins are a better team than they were. Because there was so little change and so much hope, despite the soul sucking hangover of the early season, the teams sellout streak continues, other teams have to play up to them. The odds say they are the best, their scoring and defense say so as well. The standings don’t add doubt. The standings, the odds, the skill the heart, and championship roster await only health, luck and opportunity to win it all again. That makes the reach for dynasty the best of 2011.

Two thousand eleven was the most exciting, enthralling and simply satisfying year to be a Boston Bruins game in almost four decades. Some of the stories that made the year special are due a little more talking about.

Honorable Mention: Zach to Zenith

In 2007 the Bruins picked a small, skilled center from the Everett Silvertips as their first round pick. This was a draft that saw Patrick Kane go first, and follow his top selection up with a cup clinching goal before Hamill would ever make back to back NHL games. Injuries and ill luck in Providence saw Hamill’s stock drop dramatically in the eyes of observers and the team. Then a funny thing happened. He came into camp and outplayed not just his fellow AHL players but more than one of the NHL players. Since then he’s gotten two call ups, played all three forward positions and earned his stay. From the man many would consider the most conservative, veteran reliant coach in the league he’s earned the ultimate trinity of accolades: trust, regular shifts and special teams play.

Number 10:  Drafting Dougie

When the Toronto Maple Leafs put on a late season surge that yanked them out of the lottery and had them threatening to reach the playoffs. The Bruins had a huge need for a top defensive prospect. With the top of their blueline aging, and the pipeline containing middle pairing or lower potential players the hope of a top defensive prospect being drafted waned with every Leafs win. The June draft saw a few odd things happen, an out of zone pick by the Jets.

Several teams in need of defense opted for forwards, and as number eight was called, and the Flyers opted for Couterier, Bruins fans went mad. Four of the defensemen expected to go in the top ten were still on the board. The excitement was not limited to fans. The normally straight laced and reserved Peter Chiarelli walked to the podium. He didn’t have just his elusive smile, but a full bodied laugh as he stood up to perform one of the most important duties of a general manager. He picked Dougie Hamilton. When he was asked later he said what every GM says when they select a player “I never expected him to be there.” I believe him.

Number 9: Kaberle Trade

Possibly the most speculated trade in Boston Bruins history came to pass. In order to make room for Kaberle the Bruins had to jettison Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler to Atlanta-now-Winnipeg to have cap space. The trade was designed to fix the Bruins ailing powerplay. It did not. With the quote-unquote assistance of the former Maple Leafs powerplay quarterback the Bruins went on to have the worst powerplay in memory.  With a salary of over four million dollars he became the fifth defensemen in icetime sharing even strength shifts with rookie Adam Mcquaid.

During his tenure, Julien defended him, players defended him. Peter Chiarelli even defended the former Toronto Maple Leaf. Fans were not so impressed. The media was not so impressed. In the end the divide between lip service and throwing good money after bad was demonstrated as Kaberle would sign with Carolina Hurricanes.

Number 8: Lucic Hits 30

When you walk into training camp the fall after you are drafted and the comparisons to a guy who’s number is in the rafters, living up to the hype can take a little work. When you skate poorly and have a slew of nagging injuries in your third year, your fourth year, the first of a new contract is crucial. Boston is no stranger to either great or disappointing players. The former are lauded for decades past their last game, the latter are often run out of town (see above).

With a big contract to justify Lucic had a lot to live up to. With a wretched team playoff performance directly in the rear view mirror, he and the team had a lot to live down. With the aid of the newly arrived large bodied Nathan Horton and the slick passing David Krejci, Lucic finally started to live up the hype by potting thirty regular season goals. He finished the season leading the Bruins in goals, and ahead of John Tavares, Alex Semin, Brad Richards and Patrick Kane.

How broken can they be, they just won the Stanley Cup? Very. They are two wins below the next worst team in their division, and one bare point off the league basement. They aren’t scoring goals, they aren’t hitting. They aren’t blocking shots, and surprise surprise they aren’t winning. The last possible route has two lanes for fixing it although the first one often leads to the second.

Fire everyone below ownership. Get rid of everyone from Neely down to the third assistant stick boy. Many would say that if they didn’t prepare a team ready to compete after winning everything they clearly can’t be trusted with long-term stewardship of one of the NHL’s oldest teams. Coaches gone. Trainers gone. General manager and assistants gone. Jeremy Jacobs has stressed in recent years how much he and his son love the team. Is it time for them to show it by giving it a shot in the arm?

Getting rid of Julien is probably pretty easy. Coaches take the fall all the time. The Bruins powerplay is awful and has been for years. He’s blamed for driving the NHL October 2011 first star out of town for being overly demanding and stifling of young players. He’s characterized as overly defensive and inflexible. He can go and take the little dogs with him.

Chiarelli is even easier. With a history of bad trades and worse free agent signings he’s literally cost the team millions of wasted salary dollars. No one needs to be reminded he strengthened a division rival by sending them the current AHL points leader Joe Colborne, an additional first round and second pick in a disastrous trade for Kaberle who was clearly the wrong choice to fix the powerplay. Then there are trades like the Bochenski for Versteeg “deal”, the acquisition of Patrick Eaves for Aaron Ward, only to buy out eaves before the ink was dry.

Thirty goal scorer Michael Ryder came to Boston and his goal scoring touch was on life support the whole time. Manny Fernandez was an aging old goalie with knee and back problems brought in to “solidify” the goaltending position. In two seasons Fernandez played in all of 32 games. The 2008-09 season saw him ride Tim Thomas’s coattails to a share of the Jennings award despite being 25th in Sv% and 20th in GAA. Some other names that will make Bruins fans cringe that we have only Peter to thank for: Schaefer, Begin, Allen, Montador, Lashoff and more.

Worse in the eyes of many who would advocate just blowing everything up he’s failed to build a farm system that can regularly feed players to the parent club. The AHL affiliate is bad enough that it’s playoff record going into last seasons final weeks was worse than the parent clubs and has had a revolving door for coaches. Then there is the fact he’s failed repeatedly to find fixes for the powerplay.

Traveling the second option is possibly harder but almost certainly closer to necessary. When a coach not known for throwing players under the bus publicly does so in an unprompted manner, they may have just punched their ticket out of town. Given that questions of commitment have followed one of them since being drafted, and injuries have followed the other a change of scenery might just do the trick. This seasons powerplay bandaid Joe Corvo is third in PPTOI, but has not out performed Andrew Ference who is playing less than one third the minutes on the man advantage.  Former AHL defenseman of the year Johnny Boychuk has clearly stagnated with his points per game tailing off over his three seasons in Boston. The numbers don’t lie. When you look at the backup goaltender, not only does Tuukka Rask get uninspired play in front of him, his performance in the playoffs is noticeably worse than his regular season numbers across his career.

Something has to give. When you go from first to worst without significant changes in on ice personnel, the problem needs to be addressed. Nuking the team or off ice leaders, trades to fill needs, or simply a shakeup it is past time to live up to fan expectations of a creditable title defense. The season after a championship win shouldn’t be a sedate victory lap it should be a tour de force that shows why the team is the top food chain.

Like everyone else I’m sick to death of hearing about the Bruins Cup Hangover. I’m even more sick of the absolutely asinine statement that we need to go out and find another Recchi. First, there aren’t many 40+ players in the league dying for a third Stanley Cup who have recently mentored two superstar forwards in two different cities. There are even less who possess an indomitable work ethic, a hall of fame resume walking in the door, and the rare at any age or talent level ability to command respect simply by breathing.  Obviously the cure is going to need to be something different.

The most likely solutions given the Bruins management style, the players current status and the performance of other teams are:

  1. A small trade that takes someone off the roster and moves them for a player with a slightly different skillset but not one of the core players.
  2. A move from within that sends one or more players packing and promotes someone from Providence (or if we’re going to be guilty of hubris the CHL) as either a permanent solution or a stop gap until closer to the deadline
  3. Medium trade of no more than one or two top six forwards or top four defensemen (with or without picks and prospects attached) for another player or players who can fill those roles.
  4. A blockbuster trade that involves players getting more than five million a year, All Star level talent or involves three or more roster players on at least one of the teams, honestly not likely, but still possible if the right pieces fell into place or it turned into one of those now very rare three team deals.

Of teams and players who might be shopping or looking for a shakeup themselves here’s a few that might fall into the mix.

The Kings are reportedly shopping Dustin Penner, and getting the third line a stable left winger over constant juggling of a prospect and this years hope for magical coaching, could have larger effects. Good news: Pretty healthy over all, has hit the 30 goal mark in the past. Bad news: not especially physical clearly in a slump or not fitting in with LA. I wonder if they’d take the future considerations we got for Sturm in trade?

If we’re going to insist on getting older, why not go with one of Tim Thomas’s contemporaries and neighbors while flashing back to before the lockout? Brian Rolston would be a solid leader, good mentor and as long as he wasn’t allowed to take slap shots in practice good for the team in a number of ways, including likely the powerplay.  Good news: Great shot, smart player. Bad news: 38 years old, 5 million cap hit, and an NTC that could make it hard to pry him loose given he’s just had another kid.

For a potentially cheap, and low risk high reward player, that we could send one of the roughly 72,345 centers in the system from Providence who might slide into their second or third line at the NHL level in exchange for one of the Senators AHL prospects, I think a call to Peter’s old stomping grounds about Filatov might be in order. He’s had an interesting couple of years, but has yet to actually play for a good team where he wasn’t clearly the most gifted offensive talent on the roster. While that isn’t quite true in Ottawa, Spezza has had his injury issues, and Alfredsson is old enough to be Filatov’s dad. Good news: Skilled, fast and likely cheap. Bad news: potential locker room issues or just plain head case depending on who you believe. (Note, was spotted in Ottawa for practice while this was being written.)

Since it’s always fashionable to draw up trades and potential trades with the Phoenix Coyotes, I guess I’ll throw one in too: Oliver Ekman-Larrson is a pretty iinteresting young defenseman. Good news: Young, has 3 goals already, is playing 18+ a night. Bad news: I can’t see the Coyotes giving him up cheap, especially not where they are getting good goal scoring as a whole.

Old friend Kris Versteeg has been in Sunrise for weeks now and despite a hot start it must be time for trade rumors to start about him. Good news: Been there, done that, only 25, RFA at the end of the year on a solid deal, currently a RW but plays some center. Bad news: There has to be a reason he’s on team three since leaving Boston for only passable returns.

With Crosby eventually returning to the lineup, and in theory a time when all three of their top centers are healthy, the Penguins are likely to need to move someone. Who? Who knows.

The Blue Jackets are a grade a mess with little true top six and top four talent and a goaltender best described as shaky. They could blow everything up either for immediate talent or lots of picks and prospects. The very well traveled Vinny Prospal is playing some of the best hockey of his career to little effect. With his 10 points in 11 games, and small cap hit, he could still bring a solid return to the team. Good news: Playing well, clearly still hungry. Bad news: 35, is currently leading the Blue Jackets in scoring.

Carter Ashton is buried in the AHL, and is the only rookie in their top five for scoring, The Tampa Bay lightning prospect might be available for defensemen or  defensive prospect since the team is deep at right wing and giving up 3.00 goals a game already this season.  Good news: Young, good size, good speed, good touch. Bad news: Probably wouldn’t come cheap.

Brandon Dubinsky is off to a slow, slow start in New York City, could Sather be talked into a mutual shakeup move? Would we be stuck taking Avery or worse Redden if that was they case? Good news: Once out of the slump would likely become a fan favorite, similar player to Bergeron. Signed for a couple years at less than I expect Krejci to get on his next contract. Bad news: Unless he’s gotten very desperate for a defenseman, say Boychuk or another NHL regular I suspect Sather either says “no” or demands an absurd return.

The New Jersey Devils are currently in twelfth place, the face of their franchise for the last two decades is under-performing, and their best home grown talent will be a UFA that get’s big, big offers if he isn’t signed buy July 1. Since no writeup of idle speculation is complete without the sensible of the surface but too ridiculous to make happen for real trade idea: Tuukka Rask for Zack Parise.

I looked at the standings this morning. I’m willing to be the depression rate among Bruins fans will climb exponentially as more and more crack open their internet browser and do the same Given where things stand right now, the Bruins would be looking at the serious possibility of drafting first. Thanks to an hour of gong show hockey by the Flyers and Jets, coupled with their own continued sloppy play and what is almost certainly the best game of the year for Carey Price, the team finds itself in 29th place this morning.

Among the four teams that went to the conference finals last year, the Bruins made the least and least dramatic moves since. The Sharks booted Heatley and Setoguchi  and turned them into Burns and Havlat. The Lightning brought in a better performing back up goalie, allowed several free agents to find new homes, and are giving a hungry rookie his time to shine. The Canucks let some of their underperformers in the playoffs go, and brought in a legitimate (if slumping) power forward to help provide secondary scoring.

You can call it confidence or complacency but the Bruins most dramatic move of the off season was flipping a fourth round pick to a conference rival for defenseman who’s greatest claim to fame is having been arrested for punching a woman in a Boston bar. One of their top power play producers retired, the other, just as he was edging back into productivity was allowed to walk. They were replaced by a #4 draft pick who is the least skilled forward to play for the Bruins in the last half decade.

The powerplay is ranked 24th in the NHL. The team that finished the season with the best goals for to against numbers has given up more goals than they’ve scored. In the second period this season they have given up twice the number of goals they’ve scored. The only two players who appear to be trying their best for sixty minutes both wear masks.

Peter Chiarelli’s plan for creating competition for jobs in training camp was to bring in a 35 year old who’s best days are long, behind him, and to pick up a the twice discarded Pouliot. No signings during free agency of what might be legitimately considered a top six or even top nine forward, no trades to improve team speed or size or goal scoring. Not even a trade to pick up a draft pick or two. Not a single draft pick was kept in town to infuse hangover central with a little more enthusiasm. Khokhlachev, Spooner, Knight or one of the other skilled forwards could have been spark enough that even if eventually sent back to their junior teams the Bruins would have to have more points than the Winnipeg Jets, or the Ottawa Senators.

For that matter, picking up Wayne Simmonds as they Flyers struggled to get under the cap on the cheap would have added a very Bruins-like player to the roster and one who had a lot to prove. The Senators picked up Filatov for not a great deal, even with the questions that surround him and his former team, no one who has seen him and Pouliot play can doubt which of the two is more skilled.  Bergenheim had five goals in seven games against the Bruins in the conference finals, and Joel Ward was the Canucks own personal nightmare, both were available this off season if a complimentary piece is all that was wanted.

The Bruins do have some legitimate cause for putting up less impressive numbers than fans could hope. The inconsistency and lack of continuity on the ice is not something that can be entirely blamed on the short summer. Leadership has claimed their are constantly looking for ways to improve the team, and that they wanted to create competition for jobs at camp,. One free agent signing, a tentative at best promotion of a prospect and the brandishing of an injury plagued forward with less points than last seasons rookie number six defenseman don’t lineup with those statements very well.  I’m not sure when the media and fan backlash will begin, and while no small part of it should be aimed at the players it is no secret that organizations can only be as good as their leadership.

Yesterday afternoon the Bruins front office set of a wave of speculation. All they had to do was let the hockey universe know they were going to be holding a press conference today at 6pm. No one I’ve seen, or heard knows anything and the lines of speculation are both long and distinguished. Some of the more plausible ones include:

  • A trade, either major along the lines of acquiring a number 2 or 3 defenseman, or goal scorer to help finish when on the powerplay. Or just a shakeup move or shuffling of excess and or disappointing parts .Andrew Alberts and Chuck Kobasew were all traded early in the season under Chiarelli. Peter also pulled off some last years key trades well in advance of the deadline, so a settling in period is clearly part of his philosophy.
  • A contract extension for someone in management. I could be his, or someone else.
  • A change in parts of the coaching staff.
  • Injury updates: Marc Savard being the most discussed, but some have pointed out Krejci and Mcquaid’s injuries as cause for concern as well questioning the extent to which Rask is recovered.
  • Others have wondered about health of off ice personnel and management.

Trade talk has focused on a few specific people, without the overwhelming, ridiculous, and flat out wrong push given in notable quarters to the acquisition of Tomas Kaberle. While that doesn’t mean this won’t be a major trade, it is entirely possible the trade won’t be for who is most speculated.

  • Ryan Whitney of the Edmonton Oilers is a big contributor from the backend. He’s been in the 40 point range most seasons, and peaked at 59. Points wise that lines him right up with Zdeno Chara, he’s also a 28 year old Boston native with a four million dollar cap hit this year and next.
  • Daniel Alfredsson is one of the more interesting players speculated. Age and injury history make the amount of time and money left on his contract risky, but the fact he’s still up to playing over 19 minutes a game which is comparable to Patrice Bergeron who is more than a decade younger is solid counter balance. Add to that Chiarelli’s days in Ottawa, the fact he was worn the C even through all the nastiness the last few years there, and that he is well known to Chara and Kelly and you bring the appeal a bit higher. He was a big part of the Senators “golden years” when they were crushingly dominant, but at 38 has still not won a Cup.
  • Rene Bourque (no relation) of the Calgary Flames has his name floated about in trade talks about as often as Michael Ryder did after his first season here, and for similar reasons. When he’s good, he’s damned good, when he’s not he’s almost invisible. His cap hit is reasonable considering he’s produced two straight 27 goal seasons on team with questionable centers.

Those are the three most reasonable and frequently speculated trades. Some others possibilities exist, and are at least to me more interesting.

  • The New York Rangers are sputtering. They may have beat the Jets last night, but through seven games they’ve only scored fourteen goals. As much as they like having Dubinsky and Callahan are very similar players playing on the same line and it is possible a different player might be what is needed to give the team some mojo. Neither is playing particularly well, both play center and wing, often alternating during the game. Both were recently signed, but Sather and company can’t have too much room left on the leash after the way the team has ended the last couple seasons.
  • Kyle Turris is frequently named in speculation since the Phoenix Coyotes and he have yet to reach an agreement, but I don’t find this likely given how many times the GM has said he’d rather let Turris sit the year than trade him.
  • The Columbus Blue Jackets have just about flatlined. They have 1 point in eight games, have allowed more goals than any team in the league, and spent a lot of money in the off season specifically so they could see more teams below them in the standings than above them. Of the players they might be willing to move, R.J. Umberger is former Flyer with a lot of playoff experience who has the center/wing experience that the Bruins management favors, I suspect going back would be defensemen and maybe a goalie.
  • The Nashville Predators have a lot of big decisions to make both as management and players. Pekka Rinne and Ryan Suter will be UFA’s if not signed by July 1, Shea Weber will be an RFA with arbitration rights. Weber has indicated he only wants to stay if they are committed to winning, I can’t imagine Suter and Rinne have said or done anything different. While I don’t expect we’d land any of them, a couple draft picks from a team that might finish outside the playoffs in exchange for parts of our system that don’t fit could be win-win for both teams.
  • Another team that for the sake of it’s long term survival, and recent change in ownership can’t be ignored in any trade speculation, especially given how much change there was in Buffalo when Pegula took over is the Winnipeg Jets. They aren’t an expansion team, but they might as well be, and they will need to to keep the fan base very satisfied with such a small building to draw revenue from.

A bit ago as the Bruins power play was lurching into the record books on their way to the Stanley Cup I mentioned how some of the problems of the powerplay were the mechanics, which are a tactical problem. In the off season after free agency was seven days settled into the hockey world and how Chiarelli had failed to fill the void, a strategic problem. Today we dig a tiny bit deeper and look at the  obvious yet most overlooked fault, the supply chain.

In the past five year the Boston Bruins have made 31 draft selections.  In the first two rounds, the rounds that make up most NHL players, they have selected ten players. Of the ten selections six have been centers. Two more defensemen and two right wings. One of those defensemen, Dougie Hamilton was not the player the Bruins were expecting to pick.

The current Bruins roster has; Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron, Chris Kelly, David Krejci, Greg Campbell, Rich Peverley, and Brad Marchand currently or formerly playing at center. That’s eight out of twelve forwards. As you’ll see on the ice, and on the stat sheet most of the Bruins centers are pass first, shoot later or pass, wait, pass, pass and then maybe shoot. In the past three seasons only one center has finished in the top five on the team for shots on goal. Most seasons every single center on the team finishes with an average below two shots on goal per game. The only Bruins center to finish above two hundred shots in a season is Patrice Bergeron.

With so few guys who think shot first on the ice and two, three and sometimes four of these eight centers on the ice during a powerplay it isn’t surprising that powerplay is so bad. Add in the fact that the one of them who is most likely to get a shot on net is generally out at the point where it is hardest to do so and you’re just compounding the problems.  As has been pointed out here, and elsewhere on the web and in print, the Bruins lack a top level goal scorer. Those are hard to come by, and a guy like Marian Hossa or Martin St Louis don’t come along often, they do hit the market. Just as Chiarelli reeled in Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard into a much, much less competitive team and managed to swindle the Florida Panthers out of Nathan Horton and Greg Campbell, it is well past time the he went out and got a high end goal scorer who can be relied upon to be a consistent 35+ goal scorer and even average defensively.

There are teams out there right now that are going to need to blow things up and start over. Detroit without Lidstrom is not a playoff team, the New Jersey Devils are staring down the barrel of the post Brodeur era, and while the Dallas Stars are on the rise again they are hardly a complete team. The Coyotes and Blue Jackets could both use prospects they don’t have to pay a great deal. The Calgary Flames have been run poorly for years and despite superlative talent in some players have both a thin roster and very weak prospect pool. Worse for the Flames, the end of Iginla reign as king of the town is if not imminent, then something that can’t be projected as more than three or four years off.  There is talent out there. Get the right piece of talent and the powerplay issue goes away.

The Boston Bruins haven’t been shy about making trades in the Peter Chiarelli era. While many of them were the type of under the radar, no immediate impact trades like picking up AHL defensemen, or bringing in an aging veteran in exchange for some guys who were never going to be regulars, those aren’t the only trades we’ve seen. One need only look to last summer with the departure of Dennis Wideman and a first round pick for Nathan Horton and Greg Campbell.  Some trades have worked out better than others, few are for the player that everyone wants but they happen on a pretty regular basis.

When you look at the team a few things spring to mind immediately. One is the extreme and superfluous depth at center. This is the most obvious one, and half of the reason I suspect we’ll see a trade between now and the middle of October with it being more likely sometime from October 7th on. Another is how certain teams, mostly outside the conference are in desperate need of a penalty killing captain. For those teams, having someone who could help them against last years conference champions in 5 on 5 play as well would be a bonus.

On the backend things are a bit murkier.  The blueline has clearly been the general manager’s favorite place to tweak. Not one of the blueliners currently on or likely to make the opening night roster played for Boston before his arrival. Add in the movement of Andrew Alberts, Matt Hunwick, Matt Lashoff, Jeff Penner, and half a dozen others and it’s clear something motivates the man in the corner office to stir this pot frequently.  If you look at the Bruins scoring from defensemen last season, and compare it to other teams well, the ranking is quite similar to the powerplay, only not quite as high.  If you look for someone who may have failed to live up to their billing, or regressed since arriving under coach Julien’s eye the odds of someone being moved seem a little higher.

Given that Jordan Caron and Steve Kampfer spent enough time in Boston both playing and practicing with the big club for them to be known quantities, if a move is going to be made in their favor it shouldn’t come as that big a surprise.  They would in fact be following directly in the footsteps of Brad Marchand and Adam McQuaid who came up the previous year for some games and stuck to the roster. You could also say they would have an advantage over  McQuaid and Marchand in having been around to watch the big club prepare for and recover from playoff games. Assuming the coaching staff and management have faith in them, this would give them an entire season to integrate with the defending champions.

Given all the cryptic and in some cases naked remarks of Julien, Chiarelli and club history one or two prospects who might find greener pastures elsewhere might be moved as well. Sobotka, Bitz, and Nokelainen are just a few of the names who went from fringe players here to full time or regular NHL players in other cities. Currently the Bruins are at 49 contracts according to CapGeek.com, if they do need to make a move later in the year having another free contract spot could be make or break for a deal.

In order of likelihood I’d say we’ll see one move at forward, then a single move at defense, and least likely a larger deal involving two or three roster players and or prospects.

The Boston Bruins slayed the dragon on June 15th. They ended a Stanley Cup drought that stretched back longer than anyone on the team today has been alive. As a Stanley Cup champion they suffered injuries to the body of players that made up the winning legion. Some championship teams have been killed outright by massive loss of talent. For others, just as has been the case throughout the history of warfare disease has collected a far higher body count than enemy action. In the case of NHL teams, and certain nations throughout history victory disease is the quietest and most insidious killer.

Gone are leading powerplay producers of last season future hall of famer Mark Recchi and two time 30 goal man Michael Ryder.  Departed from the blueline is the man they paid a kings ransom for just prior to the trade deadline. In their place we have Benoit Pouliot, who’s extraordinary NHL exploits speak for themselves.  We have an empty roster spot that will possibly be filled with an AHL graduate or major junior prodigy. The blueline has actually been downgraded. As poorly as Tomas Kaberle performed he is still over the course of his the holder of greater efficacy than the Joe Corvo, and has avoided the off ice issues. Kaberle has been .13 points per game better than Corvo and even put up a better shooting percentage.

While it was nice to Adam Mcquaid extended it’s hard to say that the future of the club over the next four season would be radically degraded without him inked to an extension after his rookie season as an admirable third pairing defenseman. With Marc Savard unlikely to ever play again the same can not be said in regards to David Krejci who centered the top offensive line this season. His contract would have expired at the same time as McQuaid’s and unlike the brawny blueliner he’d have been eligible for arbitration. While he played behind the now two time Vezina Trophy winning, Jennings winning, Con Smyth winning 37 year old Tim Thomas Tuuka Rask is also probably a shade more important over the medium term than McQuaid, no rumor has reached me of an extension offer being dangled in front of him either.

The first elephant in the room is however the fact that training camp looms close ahead while the echos of celebration fade away and a forward who scored more playoff goals as a rookie than Mario Lemuix, who led the team in shorthanded goals in the regular season, and who clearly demonstrated his desire to improve year over year is still not re-signed. So far the lack of signing has been blamed on; illness, vacations, Stanley Cup days, El Nino, conflicting schedules, the hunt for the Amstel Light drinker and Brad’s ever absent shirts.  The second elephant is that several of the better teams in the eastern conference have been staging a noisy arms race since before the draft. The Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, and Buffalo Sabres have all been hugely active in trades and free agent signings, and the Pittsburgh Penguins are going to get back not one, but two Hart Trophy winners. The Bruins who finished a slim seven points ahead of Buffalo, and behind the Flyers, Capitals, and Penguins have put pop guns into their lineup while the competition loads up with surface to air missiles.

Fans have to be wondering what the commitment of the Bruins front office is to being the first team in the post lockout era to repeat is. The Bruins powerplay still hasn’t been adequately addressed and fans across the globe still wince in memory of it. The team has downgraded the productivity of its on ice product as Corvo’s sole advantage over Kaberle is his willingness to shoot the puck, and Pouliot has yet to put together a season as good as even Recchi’s least productive. For Bruins fans, the summer of love looks to run directly into the winter of discontent.