Archive for the ‘Phil Kessel’ Category

Cornelius of Hockey Blog Adventure on the Bruins’ upcoming draft

June 21, 2009

Cornelius is another great friend of the blog. He’s contributed to numerous CLS events, including his work for a couple of our playoff mini-blogs. You can check out his Bruins (and more) related blogging at Cornelius Hardenbergh and the Hockey Blog Adventure.

Thanks for everything, Cornelius. Make sure to follow his work as the Bruins go through a pivotal off-season that will determine whether or not the last season was a fluke or “just the beginning.”

The following are his “stream of consciousness” responses to our draft related questions. Keep in mind that the posts regarding teams with lower picks might be more general and historical.

1. With guys like Phil Kessel, Milan Lucic and Blake Wheeler developing rapidly, one must wonder about the condition of the Bruins’ farm system. How do you feel about the Bruins’ remaining minor league talent?

Well, losing Coach Gordon to the Islanders (and then Nate Thompson)isn’t great for the Bruins, but they did lose in the eastern conference finals to the Calder Cup champs, so I’m not THAT worried about it. However, it could all be a bunch of career minor leaguers. However, most of the callups we’ve seen this season have at least impressed me. Matt Hunwick and Byron Bitz especially, and who could forget as-tall-as-Pedroia-at-least-according-to-the-media-guide Martin St. Pierre? Oh and Vladimir Sobotka’s impressed me as well.

That said, we did trade some good prospects at the deadline this past year, including Nokelainen. Tuukka Rask should get called up, but might not due to cap concerns.

2. Do you expect the Bruins to make any draft-day moves? Obviously, there are some Kessel/Bergeron trade rumors going around. How likely could such a move be? Do you think the Bruins should be pondering a Kessel move?

If the Bruins trade Kessel, he will light it up for some other team. He got 36 goals this year and was out with Mono (haha, oh kessel…) to boot. The only guy who got within 10 goals of him was Ryder. I worry that they’re going to make a move like trading Kessel or Bergeron, but both are excellent. Depending on how contract negotiations go with Kessel, I could see him moved.

Then again I was convinced Thomas was going to get big money with another club next year, so what the hell do I know?

3. Looking back, what are some of the highest points in the Bruins’ history of drafting? Are there any moments that stand out as absolute “steals” or shrewd moves?

Uh…hmmm. Well, let me see… googling “bruins draft history”…

They got Ken Dryden in the third round, that ended up working out pretty poorly for him though. Versteeg was a 5th rounder and Hunwick was a 7th rounder. Andrew Alberts and Milan Jurcina went in the 6th and 8th. And of course, Stanley Cup Champion Hal Gill was an 8th round pick.

hahahaha, hold the phone. Mark Stuart was drafted before Bergeron? hahahahahaha

P.K. Axelsson (yes, it’s really P.J. for Per-Johan. go with it) got picked in the 7th round, as well. I’d say that worked out pretty well. However, there are a lot of Bruins fans who hate him for some stupid reason. I hope he comes back this year, he’s a UFA and getting old though.

4. Conversely, a team with a lengthy history like the Bruins obviously must have some low moments too. What are some of the biggest bonehead moments? Are there some plaguing “what if” type decisions?

Well, they traded away a lot of good players over time, including Ken Dryden.

My favorite What If is what if bobby orr had known about the 18% ownership stake and stayed with the bruins? I’m envisioning a Mario Lemieux/Penguins sort of thing. For those not stuck in the distant past, though….

Kris Versteeg for Brandon Bochenski was probably one of the worst moves the Bruins have made recently.

Soap box time If you’d like, feel free to share some Bruins/NHL thoughts. Should the B’s go after Dany Heatley?

Hahahaha, no. No thanks, Mr. Heatley. Really, the Bruins should have tried harder to lose the case against Glen Murray so they could get back another 1.3 million in cap space. Sweet merciful deity-of-choice, we could use that space.

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Krejci, Kessel or none of the above? A Boston Bruins salary cap outlook

May 21, 2009

So far, CLS looked at the salary cap situations of the Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers. With news of off-season surgeries and Sporting News executive awards for the Bruins’ front office, it seems like a natural time to take a look at the future of the Boston Bruins.

Boston Bruins
Current projected 2009-10 Cap number:
approximately $47.5 million (One goalie, five defensemen and nine forwards)
Best contract(s): Marc Savard (one year left, $5 million cap hit); Milan Lucic (one year left, rookie contract)
Worst contract(s): Tim Thomas ($5 million per year through 2012-13); Marco Sturm ($3.5 million through 2010-11)
Dude who is Seven-feet-freaking tall (on skates)’ contract: Zdeno Chara ($7.5 million per year through 2010-11)

It’s been a really nice two years for the Boston Bruins. After suffering briefly from a Joe Thornton hangover, they snagged the former assistant GM of the Ottawa Senators to construct a team that shares some similarities with Peter Chiarelli‘s old squad: staggering depth, splendid regular season play and … Zdeno Chara.

An unexpected (and utterly, undeniably dominant) run to the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference allowed the Bruins to stuff another gluttonous bowl of Chowder in the over-fed mouth that is the Boston sports market. At their best, the Killer Bees looked good enough to make Western Conference teams nervous.

That great run came at a price, as the Bruins were forced to hand their admittedly exhilarating goaltender a contract that will almost definitely bite them in the end. A Vezina-caliber season notwithstanding, Thomas has a few prominent strikes against him. Not to be an age-ist, but at the ripe age of 35, how long can an unorthodox goalie like Thomas thrive before he turns into Roman Cechmanek with a nicer yacht?

Still, signing Thomas allows the Bruins to focus solely on the extremely difficult decisions regarding their two young forwards Phil Kessel and David Krejci.

Kessel has the pedigree. After having some up and down years (including earning the respect of any human by overcoming cancer), the 2006’s #5 draft pick exploded as much as any Boston Bruin this season. In an abridged 70 games, he managed an impressive 36 goals. To put that in perspective, his .51 goals per game average ranked eight best in the NHL. He also showed impressive speed and was at times very dangerous in this year’s playoffs, with 6 goals and 11 points in 11 games. Despite injury concerns, Kessel is a true game breaker.

Say what you want about the dubious nature of the plus/minus statistic, it’s still pretty astounding that David Krejci lead the league with a +37 rating. After flying under the radar with 27 points in 56 games last season, Krejci managed a 73-point season. He’s a smart player who played a full season in 2008-09.

So, the question is: how much is each player worth? With All-Star caliber Marc Savard and former stud Patrice Bergeron already on the roster, should the Bruins settle for getting for a few draft picks for Krejci and/or Kessel? If you had to choose, would you rather get the dynamic but injury prone (and potentially more expensive) Kessel or the heady and steady work of Krejci (who you cannot be totally certain isn’t a contract year guy)?

Obviously the decision is circumstantial. If Krejci only wanted $3 million per year, Boston would be crazy to let him go. On the other hand, if Kessel wants to be paid Sidney Crosby money, that wouldn’t work for the B’s at all.

It’s funny that Chiarelli received a GM of the year award, because the next seasons will test that honeymoon period immediately. Three crucial contracts will be up for renewal for 2010-11: Savard, Blake Wheeler and borderline folk hero Milan Lucic.

While the Chicago Blackhawks are my pick for the team with the most potential to make shortsighted analysts look silly (“Why, they have young players so that means they automatically have a bright future derp!”), the Bruins’ window could close quickly.

It could end up a lot like Chiarelli’s Senators did. After being a dominant-yet-frustrated team for years, the team could no longer keep Chara, Martin Havlat and other solid-to-great players not named Spezza, Heatley or Alfredsson. By the time Chiarelli left, Ottawa became a top-heavy, deeply flawed team. Then again, there are also Buffalo Sabres parallels: a team featuring a talented cast-off (Savard/Daniel Briere), staggering depth and an exciting score-by-committee approach that ultimately became unsustainable within the confines of a salary cap structure.

Let’s not be TOO negative, though, as a very tough summer might turn into a series of shrewd, Ken Holland-sque maneuvers for the Bruins. There are definitely bright sides to look on: Chara is the only guy with a huge contract and he’s (probably) worth it. And for all the negativity about Tim Thomas’s gamble of a deal, it’s at least not as bad as questionable No. 1 contracts floating around the league like Cristobal Huet ($5.6 million through 2011-12), J.S. Giguere ($6 million through 2010-11) or Rick Dipetro‘s lifetime $4.5 million per year cap hit.

So, what do you think? Are the Bruins the Team of the Future in the Northeast division, just a fortuitous blip on the radar or somewhere in between? Either way, the Big Bad Bruins should be an interesting team to watch the next few years (on and off the ice).

(For the record, I strongly believe that the Bruins should do whatever they can to keep Kessel. Seriously.)

Hockey Orphan: Boston Bruins

January 12, 2009
Chara = unmitigated beast

(Definitely make sure to read the Hockey Orphan by Evan from Stanley Cup of Chowder first. My take is meant to be the fattening dessert after Evan’s main course.)

Evan covered the key pluses and minuses that come with being a Boston Bruins fan but there’s a few other things to think about when considering the Killer Bees.

Zdeno Chara, mountain of a man

When talking to my sports-but-not-hockey-fan friends, Chara is one of the guys who achieves mythical status. After all, is there anything more terrifying than a guy who ends up being seven feet tall on skates?

My favorite Chara story came from last summer. During the off-season, it was rumored that Chara wanted to be completely awake during his shoulder surgery to make sure that it was completed properly. Can you imagine being the surgeon in that situation … conducting a challenging, precise surgery while some Slovak monster stares you down?

That’s just so freaking manly. The shoulder surgery story was brought you by The Campaign to Make Mike Milbury Cry.

Phil Kessel
When Kessel came into the NHL, it seemed like he was considered something of a punk (at least by NHL standards). That image changed quickly once the American sniper courageously battled testicular cancer during his rookie season.

If you cannot root for Phil K just go ahead and jump off of a tall parking garage.

Fantasy hockey implications

Definitely cannot say that I saw the Bruins coming. Not to this extent.

But from a fantasy hockey standpoint, players such as Marc Savard, David Krejci and Tim Thomas are helping savvy (or lucky) owners get a leg up on the competition.

Wicked cool jerseys

The Original Six teams have the market cornered on cool jerseys and the Bruins are no exception. Great color scheme, the spoked wheel … it all works so well.

The unmatchable quality of their classic jerseys probably explains why they’ve struggled to come up with a good third jersey. That being said, their solid current third unis definitely look a lot better than those yellow bear monstrosities from the Joe Thornton days.

The Jacobs Factor

Evan touched on this, but the biggest mark against the team is its cheap ownership. Will the Bruins be able to lock up the red hot Kessel before he becomes a popular target for offer sheets? Can the team manage to either keep its two-headed goaltending monster (they are both free agents) or possibly make an upgrade in net?

If Jacobs is willing to pony up the cash, the Bruins could be the class of its division for years to come.

Grade: A-

Promising future, some very likable players (there is not one NHL fan who looks at Milan Lucic without a feeling of envy) and an awesome tradition. If only they mattered more to Boston fans with a slew of successful teams and to their polarizing owner.

There aren’t many teams with a mix of promise and still a hint of pre-bandwagon sneakiness quite like the Bruins.