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Cullen: Bruins' well-rounded roster offers many options

Scott Cullen
9/4/2011 12:05:35 PM
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Naturally, the defending Stanley Cup champions are a fine source of talent when it comes to fantasy leagues but, for the most part, they tend to provide better support than elite talent.

If Tim Thomas plans on putting up numbers to match his 2010-2011 campaign, then he'd be worth taking at the top of any draft, but a 37-year-old goaltender coming off a career season is a prime candidate for some regression. Thomas should still be an early selection because he has a strong, defensive-minded team in front of him, but it might make more sense in the second round of most leagues.

A surprisingly valuable Bruin would be captain Zdeno Chara. It's not a surprise that Chara is valuable, but with back-to-back 44-point seasons, his upside would appear to be limited. However, Chara has also been plus-14 or better in eight of the last nine seasons, leading the league with a plus-33 mark last year. His strong plust-minus, combined with more than a penalty minute per game for ten straight seasons and only a dozen missed games in five years with the Bruins, makes Chara a top contributor across the board and probably as safe as any defenceman.

Following last year's breakout season, Milan Lucic may provide the most value among Bruins forwards because of his strong plus-minus and penalty minute totals. Lucic was the only player in the league to have more than 25 goals and 100 penalty minutes with at least a plus-25 rating and he's only 23-years-old.

Boston's offensive igniter, playmaking centre David Krejci, is creative, smark and responsible, but hasn't been able to score in the regular season like he did in last year's Stanley Cup run, when he tallied 12 goals in 25 postseason games -- a pace far ahead of his regular season career-high of 22 goals (in 82 games) or last year's 13 goals (in 75 games). His marksmanship shortcomings notwithstanding, Krejci is a quality second or third centre for most fantasy squads.

Rounding out the Bruins' top line, Nathan Horton may be a bit of a sleeper, if only because last year's .66 points per game was his lowest since his second season in the league, 2005-2006. He's scored at least 20 goals in six straight seasons and has recorded more than a penalty minute per game in four of his seven NHL campaigns.

Patrice Bergeron is obviously a vital player for the Bruins, but his all-around skills don't necessarily translate to fantasy production. He has 31 points in 36 playoff games over the last two seasons, yet Bergeron's 57 points last season represented his high-water mark since 2006-2007, before concussions set him back. That playoff production does suggest that Bergeron may yet have 70-point seasons in his future, maybe even this year.

When the Bruins acquired Tomas Kaberle last season, he was supposed to help the power play, adding a puck-moving element that the Bruins lacked. The results weren't ideal, so the Bruins added Joe Corvo this summer and he'll get chances on the power play. He scored 40 points last season, the third time in his career that he reached that threshold, and even if he doesn't match that total this year, there's a good chance that Corvo will improve on last year's career-low minus-14 rating.

Playoff hero Brad Marchand is coming off a tremendous rookie season and he should continue to improve, but the exposure generated by his standout postseason could inflate his value on draft day.

If there's a Bruin player that might be poised for a breakout season, it would be second-year forward Tyler Seguin. He played sporadically as a rookie, tallying 22 points in 74 games, but six points in the first two playoff games against Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference Final showed that the kind of upside that he possesses. Maybe Seguin's still a year away from making a big impact, but he's probably worth a late-round pick just in case this is the year.

In deep leagues, there might be room for the likes of Rich Peverley or Dennis Seidenberg, but they could be better suited to fill-in roles throughout the season.

After a Stanley Cup win, few Bruins are going to rate as under-the-radar; maybe goaltender Tuukka Rask, who is talented enough to start, but is now faced with the challenge of trying to unseat Thomas.

The Bruins return the vast majority of their Stanley Cup-winning squad so, provided there isn't a bad Cup hangover, they should once again be contenders this year, which should mean solid numbers throughout the lineup.

Depth Chart - Boston Bruins

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen.  For more, check out TSN Fantasy Sports on Facebook.

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