The Boston Bruins’ 2009-10 campaign was an up-and-down affair, and in case you’ve forgotten, it ended in horrifying fashion.
Change was expected, but every season sees change. Coming off a 2008-09 where they led the East in points, the Bruins still let P.J. Axelsson, Stephane Yelle and Manny Fernandez leave, traded Aaron Ward, and brought in Derek Morris, all moves designed to strengthen weaknesses and give more space to their youngsters.
Injuries, regressions and underachieving followed, and Peter Chiarelli and company are back trying to make it all better. Honestly, they’re not that far away, but moves need to be made, and let’s see what they’ve done so far in what has been a very busy week.
We’ll look quickly at who’s expected to make the team at the outset of the 2010-11 season, meaning while all their draft picks are exciting, there’s really only one who’s likely to be in Prague for the opener.
C – Tyler Seguin: The second pick in the 2010 draft, delivered to them when the Edmonton Oilers selected RW Taylor Hall with the first pick. Hall plays a bruising, fast style on the wing and is a natural goal scorer, while Seguin is a more natural playmaker who might have to play out of position in Boston. For my money, I’ll always take a natural center over a wing. On a team loaded at center (Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci down the middle), Seguin has a chance to play on any line right away and contribute. And the Bruins won’t always be stocked; the 18-year-old might only play one season out of position (and less if they make a trade).
C – Gregory Campbell: According to the mighty Mick Colageo, Campbell is set up to replace Steve Begin, who showed flashes and was a good teammate, but never quite put it together (playing hurt for much of the season couldn’t have helped). But I’ll take my chances with a hard-working grinder on the fourth line.
RW – Nathan Horton: He was among the many who have been distraught over the thought of spending any more time with the Panthers, and he brings his goal scoring talents to Boston. His totals the past five seasons, playing without a real center? 28, 31, 27, 22, 20.
D – Dennis Wideman: Hahahahahahahahaha.
C – Vladimir Sobotka: A tough little playmaker capable of sending someone into the 9th row at any moment, but he was streaky, and with the additions of Seguin and Campbell, was never going to get a real chance here. Good luck to him in St. Louis; I hope he enjoys terrorizing the Western Conference.
C – Steve Begin; RW – Miroslav Satan: Good guys all, and Satan was huge in the playoffs until his linemate Krejci went down.
RE-SIGNED FREE ANGENTS:
D – Johnny Boychuck: Tough, bruising, smart and getting better. It’s nearly thrilling to know he’ll be in the fold for two more years.
D – Dennis Seidenberg: Coming over at the trade deadline for Derek Morris, Seidenberg proved a perfect foil for Zdeno Chara on the top pair. He’s a smart, puck-moving defenseman who can be physical when he needs to be, can anchor a power play and can shut down a top forward. He’s on board for another four years.
D – Andrew Ference: Wideman is gone because he couldn’t play an even game; he was either inspiring or horrifying. Ference has had more than his share of injuries, and his three-year extension seemed strange when he signed at the end of the season. But when Ference plays, he’s solid and rarely makes mistakes. He’s either very good, or he’s not playing. Maybe that’s what Chiarelli is paying for.
RW – Mark Recchi: He and Bergeron were my favorite Bruins last year. His point production at age 42 was incredible, and now he gets one more year to teach the finer points to Seguin and the rest.
RW – Shawn Thornton: Thornton is a fantastic teammate, offers up 8-10 high-energy minutes a night, knocks people out, and says funny things. Welcome back!
OFFERED CONTRACT TENDERS (meaning they’ll be back):
D – Mark Stuart; D – Adam McQuaid; LW – Blake Wheeler; LW – Daniel Paille (or will be soon, reportedly): Stuart is solid and potentially captain material when healthy, McQuaid was decent in the pinch, Wheeler is talented but maddening, and Paille was fantastic on the penalty kill, but had trouble finishing off his scoring chances, which he seemed to pull out of the air. I’m fine with all of them getting another look.
So, what could the Bruins look like in five months?
17 Milan Lucic – 91 Marc Savard – 18 Nathan Horton
19 Tyler Seguin – 37 Patrice Bergeron – 28 Mark Recchi
26 Blake Wheeler – 46 David Krejci – 73 Michael Ryder
20 Daniel Paille – 11 Gregory Campbell – 22 Shawn Thornton
33 Zdeno Chara – 44 Dennis Seidenberg
21 Andrew Ference – 55 Johnny Boychuck
48 Matt Hunwick – 45 Mark Stuart
40 Tuukka Rask
30 Tim Thomas
In the system:
16 Marco Sturm (knee injury) – 63 Brad Marchand, 52 Zach Hamill, 54 Adam McQuaid, XX Joe Colbourne, 62 Jeffrey Penner, XX Jordan Caron (Providence)
*This list edited with new jersey numbers on 6/30
Thoughts? Not a bad looking group. I’m not crazy about Hunwick, and with $5 million, give or take, in cap room, I have to think another move is coming up front, whether that means Savard leaves (which makes no sense in a hockey sense; a pure money move), Thomas goes for more goal-scoring punch, or Ryder is finally sent packing.
We’ll see. It’s a long time between now and October, and just because it’s hot outside doesn’t mean I don’t have ice on the brain.