Archive for the ‘Tim Thomas’ Category

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.)

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Afternoon Cycle: Sometimes we’re wrong (except about NBC)

April 6, 2009

A few concessions are in order this afternoon.

  • First, it looks like the Tim Thomas contract is not nearly as Bruins-friendly as it originally seemed.

As mentioned at Stanley Cup of Chowder, the elder Swede’s dude from Michigan’s (thanks: SCoC) deal is considered a 35+ contract so if he gets injured, retires or turns into the second coming of Roman Cechmanek then too bad so sad for Boston. Thomas has been great this season – without getting deep into research, he might be our gut reaction Vezina winner – but Mirtle astutely points out that the NHL isn’t exactly heavily populated by older goalies these days.

Ultimately, the contract should be judged by how it affects the future of the B’s. Will they have the cap space to retain Phil Kessel, David Krejci and – eventually – guys like Milan Lucic and Marc Savard? Time will tell, but Krejci/Kessel might be sacrificed to the offer sheet gods before this is all over.

  • Our other concession: Alex Ovechkin probably deserves the MVP. For quite some time, we’ve been promoting Evgeni Malkin as the Hart winner but Ovechkin’s goal scoring ability is more of a “game breaker” than Geno’s all-world passing. Not to say it isn’t a very close match and we could always pull a 360 if Malkin scores 8 points this week.

But, really, the question is: will either be worthy of the “Staal” trophy?

  • One thing we have a hard time imagining: CLS ever pumping up NBC when it comes to NHL coverage.

It’s bad enough that NBC decided to show Minnesota vs. Detroit, a game that managed to be bland on two levels: the “familiarity” of seeing the Red Wings again combined with the tedium of watching the Wild. Could we call NBC “talented” at sucking? At least Bettman and NBC had to eat some crow, though, because Puck the Media reports that the game was NBC’s lowest rated match of the season. Shocking, we know.

  • Oh, but it gets MUCH worse.

You may or may not have heard that, in a move that’s just another slap in the face in a series of injustices, the peacock will be televising Games 1, 2 (good) and then 5, 6 and 7 if necessary of the Stanley Cup Finals. That’s right, the NHL might not even have the raising of the chalice on an American national network. Unbelievable.

After NBC’s stunning decision to move a heated Eastern Conference Finals overtime game to Versus for a horse racing preview show, they pretty much were dead to us. But give NBC credit for finding new and exciting ways to pour salt in the wounds of hockey fans.

Illegal Curve makes a good point about another flaw in NBC’s programming decisions: the lack of anything resembling consistency. A casual hockey fan truly can never know if they’re going to get to watch a game each Sunday as there is no clear reasoning to indicate when the NHL will be on NBC and when it will “take the week off.”

With the continued struggles of Versus to find a uniform home on basic cable, finding the NHL is starting to become like a sad sports version of Where’s Waldo. Despite what crazy Boston announcers tell you, the NHL needs one nightly ESPN game so people can at least find one game per week.

Ugh.

Interesting to see that Don was once considered “Dick’s brother” in their home town. You have to wonder if Don Cherry never reacts to being called a dick simply because he assumes the person’s trying to scream at his bro instead.

GHL has some other great posts too, with a look at the evolution of the Cup and also a discussion regarding a female hockey player who looks A LOT like Owen Hart.


6. Columbus
7. Anaheim
8. St. Louis

In case you’re wondering what my voice sounds like (most common response: “Do you have a cold?”) you might get the chance.

Look for a link, unless it ends up being a disaster. If that happens I’ll claim it was a different James O’Brien with the same lust for puns and disregard for personal hygiene and tact. Seriously, there’s about a million James O’Briens/Bryans/Brians out there.

News Cycle: Do any NHL players fit Sports Guy’s "underrated" criteria?

January 28, 2009
Tim Thomas provides a rare flair for the dramatic in net

  • Last night, I posted a stream of consciousness about an exciting Washington Capitals – Boston Bruins game. One of the lines was, “Marc Savard is still underrated.” After reading a new column by Bill Simmons, it got me wondering: are there any NHL players who are truly underrated?

It’s tough to say. Savard does indeed meet some of the requirements since he has been producing at an impressive level for quite a few years without being mentioned in the upper ranks of NHL forwards. That said, he did make the All-Star team and there is a question of if he “matters” much in the grand scheme of things on a deep, talented Boston Bruins team.

Tim Thomas might actually be a more appropriate case, because he’s putting up one of the better cases for the Vezina trophy this year – and has a knack for producing highlight reel saves.

Can you think of any NHL player who would fit the Sports Guy’s standards of underrated?

  • One player who absolutely is not underrated is Montreal’s Carey Price (or “Jesus Price”). There’s a pretty interesting little feature on Price in ESPN the Magazine which focuses on the pressures that come with being the Montreal Canadiens’ netminder.
  • Big news out of Detroit: the Red Wings signed Henrik Zetterberg to a massive 12 year, $72 million contract. As with most contracts that feature big money and long terms, it’s a mixed bag of a deal.

On one hand, the Red Wings will keep Zetterberg around for a cap hit of only $6 million per year, which is only one million more than Mike Ribeiro. That’s a very nice deal for a player who produces nicely and plays a solid two-way game.

That being said, Zetterberg is a little bit on the fragile side. He’s not quite as delicate as, say, Patrice Bergeron but he tends to miss about 5-15 games per year (career high GP: 79; career low GP: 61). At 29, Zetterberg might already have his peak years behind him.

It’s not an awful contract overall, but it’s possible the last six years could cause the Red Wings some issues.

Now the hot topic changes to: can the Red Wings find a way to keep Marian Hossa or Johan Franzen? It would be impossible for most teams, but you never know with Detroit.

“Does he LOOK … LIKE … A … Bouwmeester?” just doesn’t have the same ring to it…

The photo of Bowmeester in glasses brings back memories of Pulp Fiction, when Quentin Tarantino says that Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta look like “a bunch of dorks.” Bowmeester is a pocket proctector short of getting an atomic wedgie, right?