Join TSN in a 30 teams in 30 days tour of the NHL in preparation for the upcoming season. Teams will be unveiled in reverse order of the pre-season TSN.ca Power Rankings, and the Boston Bruins are up next. Get the lowdown on their off-season and the issues they face this season. Use the Your Call feature to give us your take on the Bruins!
2009-10: 39-30-13 (6th in East, Eliminated in conference SF by Flyers)
General Manager: Peter Chiarelli (5th Season)
Head Coach: Claude Julien (4th Season)
What they did in the off-season:
Following a historic playoff collapse against the Flyers, the Bruins returned to Beantown to lick their wounds. The silver lining for Boston's brass came at the NHL Entry Draft when the happily selected Tyler Seguin second overall thanks to a deal with the Maple Leafs that sent Phil Kessel to Toronto. The B's picked up some additional firepower via trade, shipping Dennis Wideman and draft picks to the Panthers in exchange for Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell. The wheeling and dealing continued as Vladimir Sobotka was sent to the Blues for prospect David Warsofsky.
Blake Wheeler, Johnny Boychuk and Mark Stuart had their contracts extended for one more year while Dan Paille inked a two-year pact. Finally veteran Mark Recchi decided to return for one more kick at the can in Boston, signing a one-year contract. Unfortunately for the Bruins, it was revealed that Marc Savard was still dealing with the after effects of a concussion sustained last season and that he would miss at least a portion of training camp and possibly the regular season. The team is unsure of the severity of the injury and are taking a cautious approach.
Biggest issue facing the team:
The injury to Savard may well change the Bruins philosophy heading in to the season. Originally the team believed that despite some hard feelings after being floated in off-season trade discussion, Savard would be in camp, healthy and looking to reclaim his spot amongst the elite play-making pivots in the league. Unfortunately for them, his recovery from a concussion sustained last year at the hands of Matt Cooke has not progressed as well as they had hoped.
The silver lining in all of this is that it gives the Bruins a great opportunity to watch Seguin develop in his natural environment as the highly touted rookie, who was originally slated to skate on the wing, will now likely see plenty of minutes at centre to make up for the loss of Savard. While Seguin does not have Savard's obvious experience, he is a solid playmaker that makes the rest of his teammates around him better. That will be crucial as the Bruins will need to score a lot more often than the 206 times they found the back of the net last season. Only the Calgary Flames scored fewer times. Fortunately the Bruins were very pro-active in the off-season in their effort to bulge the twine a few more times thanks to the acquisition of Horton from the Panthers. Boston will also be looking for significantly more production from the likes of Blake Wheeler, who saw his goal totals dip in his sophomore season, and Milan Lucic who missed 32 games with finger and ankle injuries. If all the pieces come together as general manager Peter Chiarelli expects, then the city of Boston may have another Championship parade to plan.
Player to watch:
Just two years ago Tim Thomas was on top of the hockey world. The Flint, Michigan native appeared virtually out of nowhere to help lead the Bruins to the Northeast Division title while picking up the Vezina, William Jennings and Roger Crozier trophies along the way. The Bruins rewarded his play by signing him to an enormous multi-year contract extension to ensure that he would be with the team for the foreseeable future. Fast forward one year and it appears that midnight has struck and that the carriage that this Cinderella rode to the ball quickly reverted to its previous pumpkin-like form. It would not be fair to say that Thomas had a bad season; he was simply outplayed by super rookie Tuukka Rask who took hold of the number one goaltender's role and refused to relinquish it. In the new post-lockout NHL a young goaltender earning $1 million is much more valuable to a team than a veteran slated to ride the pine while sporting a $6 million cap hit. Thomas is a proud player, but he is also a realist and recognizes the fact that he is unlikely to regain the starter's role in Boston. He has been a good soldier for the Bruins throughout and has refused to complain about the demotion. He would undoubtedly welcome a trade that would give him an opportunity to become a starter once again. Considering his substantial cap hit, that may well prove quite difficult. He may well be forced to grin and bear it this season in hopes that he can impress a team enough to trade for him; otherwise he appears a likely buyout candidate.