Friday, September 26, 2008

Can the Bruins Trade Fernandez?

Aside from the all-important return of Patrice Bergeron, the biggest issue facing the Bruins this offseason is a brewing goalie controversy.

In the red corner, standing 5'11" and weighing 201 lbs (think Stay-Puft), we have Tim Thomas:

- 34 years old, injury history includes minor tweaks to the groin and knees
- Career GAA of 2.80, Career Save % of .913
- Style of play similar to that of a beached dolphin trying to flop back into the water
- Career highlight - Led the league in save % most of the 2007-08 season, and was the winner of the All-Star game.
- Cap hit of $1.1M, and it's a contract year.

In the blue corner, standing 6'0" and weighing 185 lbs, we have Manny Fernandez:
- 34 years old, recovering from devastating knee injury
- Career GAA of 2.49, Career Save % of .912
- Style of play switched to butterfly late in career
- Career highlight - Won William Jennings trophy in 2007, along with Nicklas Backstrom.
- Cap hit of $4.33M, and it's a contract year.

With Tuukka Rask waiting in the wings, it's clear that one or both of these guys will not be returning next season. Therefore the Bruins are left with a difficult decision: to platoon the two goalies in a 1/1A system, or to cut one loose and hope to get a little return on their assets.

In this blogger's opinion, it's a pretty clear decision: unless Fernandez comes out and rocks our world, his salary hit makes him a liability to the growth of the team. Provided Thomas continues to flip-flop his way to a winning record, he has earned the starting spot and should be kept on the team.

So, the REAL question is: who might be willing to trade for Manny Fernandez? Any potential suitors would have to meet three conditions:
1) Lack of a legit starting goalie, or at least the need for a Plan B in case of implosion
2) A decent shot at the playoffs, and therefore motivation to trade for a B-list starter
3) Something to give back to the Bruins in return... particularly a #2 defenseman or high draft picks

Crunch the numbers and you get this short list of potential suitors:
Montreal (if Price underwhelms)
Nashville (ditto Ellis)

It's a safe bet that the Bruins wouldn't swing such a trade with a division rival, so Montreal and Ottawa are off the list. The only two teams remaining who make sense would be Colorado and Nashville.

Colorado - With a ridiculously soft duo of Raycroft/Budaj, the Avs are lucky to be in the playoff hunt at all. They have enough cap space to absorb Manny's salary, but not much in the way of useful commodities to return in a trade. Their most obvious option would be to move Jordan Leopold, who will be a UFA at the end of the season. The Bruins might be willing to bite on that offer.

Nashville - Preds fans are hoping that Dan Ellis continues to overachieve and a trade would be unnecessary. But if his sophomore season brings him back down to earth, Nashville will need to move quickly to stay in the playoff race. The Bruins might be willing to accept a straight-up trade in order to get some cap relief (the Preds have a cushion of $12.4M), or they could make an offer for contract-year veteran blueliner Greg de Vries. Ellis would make a nice #2 goalie in order to buy time for Rask in Providence.

Of course, Fernandez could dismiss all of this moot speculation by having a career season... but allowing 2 goals on 12 shots against the Habs in the exhibition opener wasn't a good sign that he's coming on strong this season. It's in the Bruins' best interests to move him quickly, to reduce the chance of losing him to injury or failing to find a suitor later in the season.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Memo to Minnesota: Trade Gaborik. Now.

Word on the street is that the Wild are still far apart in negotiations with semi-star forward Marian Gaborik. According to reports out of training camp, the Wild have offered him a beefy $8.5 million contract, a number matched only by Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Alex Ovechkin. Somehow, Gaborik's agent still feels there is something left to discuss, so the parties remain at an impasse.

(This is where I feel obligated to point out that "salary creep" has hardly even slowed down in the Cap Era. Eric Staal's $8.25m contract set the bar too high for sub-100-point players.)

If I'm running the Wild, or have a vested interest in their success, I'm spending as much time shopping Gaborik right now as I am flying to Slovakia to meet with his people. Here are three good reasons why:

1) The contract negotiations have been very public and are one ill-advised comment away from becoming nasty. We have all seen this happen before and it never turns out well, either for the player or the team. Plus, Gaborik's agent brought up Ovechkin's salary as an indicator of what Gaborik should be looking for. Red flags all over the place on this one.

2) Even if he's signed, Gaborik has never quite bloomed into a true superstar. He's a solid 40-goal scorer, which is fine but not unique. He also doesn't play particularly strong defense, which makes him much less useful. Mike Gartner was also a smooth skater who was good for 40 goals, but we all know what really distinguished him -- playing over 1,400 games and never bringing home any hardware to show for it. Gaborik is on essentially the same career arc.

3) It appears he's at the peak of his career, so his trade value is at its max right now. At age 26, he has perhaps 3-5 more years of incremental improvement before he starts to hit the veteran skids... perhaps fewer considering his injury history. While he's in the "money" phase of his career, it's an ideal time to move him and begin a search for a true franchise player. There's always a sucker team out there desperate to make a dramatic move, so the Wild could get some decent return on Gaborik before it's too late.

In the new, fiscally responsible NHL a guy like Gaborik should be pulling about $7 million per season. That would allow the Wild to go out and find him some linemates more talented than Mikko Koivu and Andrew Brunette, and everyone would go home happy. But the reality is that Gaborik will hold out for Ovechkin money, and make a PR mess if he doesn't get it. And at the end of the day, the Wild will be a lesser team if they build around a guy who plays a one-dimensional game -- and still scores less than 10 other players in any given season.

Move him now, before it's too late.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

**** yeah! It's hockey season!

After 2,637 hours of hockeyless summertime, the long wait is over.

The preseason began in earnest for the Boston Bruins as they smacked around the Canadiens last night to the tune of 8-3. Of course, the score is irrelevant, as are most of the events in any preseason game, but here are our takeaways for the night:

1) Patrice Bergeron was on fire, ripping off a goal and three assists. Bergy was not in midseason form, but looked pretty good for a guy who missed a whole season with a wonky brain. Mark off another step in his road to recovery.

2) Manny Fernandez, engaged in a tight competition for the starting-goalie duties, allowed 2 goals on 12 shots.

3) Not only did the Bruins light up the Habs on the scoreboard, they filled the fight card as well.

Shawn Thornton on Steve Begin:

Andrew Ference also pummeled Andrei Kostitsyn -- if anyone has a vid link, throw it this way.

The Bruins visit the Islanders tonight -- preseason rematch with the Habs is on October 1st... ye gads, only a couple of nights before the regular season begins!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Gettin' Hypocritical on Pierre LeBrun

Ok, in the context of my last post -- in which I brazenly predicted a Bruins division title -- this one might sound like I'm speaking out of the other side of my mouth. I'm comfortable with that, for two reasons:

1) The Bruins actually have a legit shot in such a weak division, with only three or four X-factors in play.

2) It's the preseason. All this stuff is bullshit anyway.

In the past X days, ESPN blogger Pierre LeBrun (who is, by the way, the best addition to the site since Bucci and might actually help return the WWL to hockey credibility) has predicted that both the Oilers and Sabres will be this season's "feel good stories" by squeezing out a couple more wins and making the playoffs in their respective conferences.

Now, I hate to be the sort of guy to piss in anyone's Cheerios.

Ok, I lie. I love pissing in the Cheerios of teams I dislike. So here we go.


The question is not whether the Oilers have improved. The question is, how many teams are going to fall OUT of the playoffs in the West?

You can pretty much lock in Detroit, San Jose, Dallas, Anaheim and Calgary. I don't know anybody who thinks Chicago is missing the playoffs again. Minnesota looks weaker this season, but it would take a lot to drop them 10 points in a single offseason -- unless the Gaborik situation crumbles. That leaves one measly playoff seed open for Colorado, Nashville, Edmonton and Vancouver to pursue.

If they stay healthy and Granato does a decent job, Colorado is a better team than Edmonton. I made a comment to that effect on Lebrun's blog and the Oilers fans nearly lost their minds -- but it's time to face the facts, folks. Colorado has two All-Star quality centers, not counting Peter Forsberg. They have two 20-30 goal scorers on each wing. They have a very solid top 3 defensemen in Liles, Foote and Hannan. Their goaltending is as good as the Oilers' (Raycroft/Budaj vs. Garon/Roloson... not a franchise goalie in the bunch). Aside from having decent depth and a pretty good #1 defenseman, the Oilers simply don't bring as much to the table... injuries notwithstanding they'll have a hard time keeping pace with the Avs.

Nashville is less talented but they always overachieve and play a relatively easy schedule. Vancouver seems to be out of steam, but has a rejuvenated Luongo and might be desperate enough to make a major trade (they already showed willingness to pay Ovechkin money for Sundin).

Too many pundits are disregarding the Oilers' sub-.500 first half and remembering the streaky team that finished the season. But playing well in the basement for a couple of months is not to be compared to going wire-to-wire as a playoff-caliber team. If the Oilers make it, they'll do it by the skin of their teeth and as a result of other teams' misfortune. This is shaping up to be a miss-by-one-point season for them, a learning experience to make the roster a little less raw for the future.


Lebrun's mistake was to imply that Buffalo is in a "rebound" season when in fact they are in a "rebuild" season. Everything about the Sabres suggests they are not building momentum for a playoff run, but rather insulating the franchise against the emotional turmoil of dismantling the roster.

Consider the moves they have made since 07-08 (with numbers from last season):


Daniel Briere (31-41-72)
Chris Drury (25-33-58)
Brian Campbell (8-54-62)
Dainus Zubrus (13-25-38)
Ty Conklin (2.51, .923, 18w, 2so)
Steve Bernier (16-16-32)

Patrick Lalime (2.82, .897, 16w, 1so)
Craig Rivet (5-30-35)

Paul Gustad (4 yrs)
Daniel Paille (2 yrs)
Ryan Miller (5 yrs)
Jason Pominville (5 yrs)

That is not a team "getting up off the mat", but rather one which is just trying to stop the bleeding. Obviously the front office is going to try and spin a storyline that they're trying to compete for a Stanley Cup this year, because that's what sports execs do. But from where I sit, it looks an awful lot like they're actually preparing for a stripdown/rebuild to last 2-3 years. The plan here is to lock in the core players in the meantime, so as not to have to start all the way back with lottery picks -- the Sabres could use trades and free agent signings to have a pretty decent team in place with a minimum of pain.

But playoffs? C'mon, they'll field a weaker team against a stronger conference... "feel good story" is a real stretch.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Blogosphere's Most Daring Northeast Division Preview

Much like Top 10 lists and Youtube tributes, season previews are the kind of stuff that bloggers use to justify their existence during the long, hockeyless summer. Since all the predictions go out the window as soon as the first puck is dropped, I see no reason to play a conservative game with these things.

Therefore, here are a few predictions that you're probably already thinking but would never say out loud:

- Barring an unexpected change in personnel, the Boston Bruins are the favorite to win the Northeast Division this season. Mark it.
- The Canadiens, in addition to being the Eastern Conference equivalent to the Sharks, are the most overrated team in the league.
- Mats Sundin is not going to be worth all the trouble.

Don't like my predictions? Get your own friggin' blog.

(Teams are listed in order of predicted finish)


Key change - Patrice Bergeron's return is going to grab all the headlines in Boston, but more significant to the Bruins' fortunes is the performance of Michael Ryder. Conventional wisdom says he should get much better ice time under Claude Julien, bond with setup artists Bergeron and Marc Savard, and return to the 30-goal level. But if he fails to find his game, the Bruins will be without a legit top-line RW and could be in for a season of deflecting media pressure around Ryder.

Biggest obstacle - The Bruins simply don't have a superstar player capable of putting the puck in the net more than 40 times per season. Therefore the pressure to score goals often falls to guys like Savard and Milan Lucic, who frankly aren't capable of carrying that kind of burden.

Daring prediction - Boston sports fans, without Tom Brady as their object of fanboi obsession, realize that the local hockey club has two starting goalies, a studly defense and two lines' worth of talented young forwards. By May the Celtics will be the second team in Boston to win a 2009 division title.


Key change - The Habs quietly allowed Mark Streit to sign with the minor-league Islanders this offseason. An injury to Andrei Markov would leave the Canadiens without a reliable 10-goal scorer on the blue line. Across the course of 82 games that might turn out to be a pretty bad gamble.

Biggest obstacle - Carey Price was the darling of the league through much of last season, but the Roy/Dryden comparisons might be a tad premature. "Sacre bleu! Price has won at every level of hockey! He's a winner!", say ze Habs fans from behind their rouge-colored glasses. Remember, we were saying that about Chris Drury several years ago... until he was expected to carry a team alone and fell right off the map. If Price crumbles under pressure, the backup is Marc Denis. That's like having only one reliable 10-goal scoring defenseman.

Daring prediction - True to form, it's an off year for Kovalev and Koivu. The Habs come to regret putting all their faith in Markov and Price, and find that losing 7-6 sucks just as much as losing 2-1. The Montreal media eats this young team alive, and a 5th-place finish is poor consolation for a season of wasted dreams.


Key change - Never has a team relied so heavily on addition by subtraction. The exodus of talent out of Ottawa - Emery, Redden, Meszaros, Commodore, Stillman - has left the Sens with fewer distractions but a schizophrenic identity. With some of the league's top-end talent juxtaposed against bottom-feeders like Brad Isbister and Jarkko Ruutu, the Senators have little choice but to break up their fearsome first line of Heatley/Spezza/Alfredsson.

Biggest obstacle - Let's not mince words. The Senators have positively the worst goaltending in the league. Martin Gerber is this generation's Damian Rhodes, and Alex Auld is a minor-leaguer at heart. Barring a stunning reversal in one of these guys' career, or a blockbuster deal (likely), the Sens are going to have a hard time keeping pucks out of the net even if they overachieve on defense.

Daring prediction - Reports of the Senators' demise are a tad premature. They still have top-flight talent and an underrated blueline. By the end of the season this team will undergo a total personality makeover, swing a deal for Khabibulin and make the playoffs.


Key change - Buffalo will be without the services of Brian Campbell and Dmitri Kalinin this season, and made only a small addition to the blueline (Rivet) to try and mitigate the damage. Like the Habs, they will be perilously thin at the point; unlike the Habs they don't have Andrei Markov. Sabres fans think they have already moved on from Campbell's departure, but wait until they get a load of their power play this season.

Biggest obstacle - This might be a problem year for Ryan Miller. He had the good fortune to join the Sabres at the same time they hit their peak, and was the darling of Buffalo in advance of his 5-year, "face of the franchise" contract. But this season he will truly be under the gun to rescue a struggling squad which is looking more and more like a lottery team. Frustrated goalies are rarely good goalies.

Daring prediction - By April, Lindy Ruff is no longer the coach of the Buffalo Sabres.


Key change - The Leafs have finally made the transition into a true rebuilding mode, shipping out more baggage than Air Canada over the summer. If Mats Sundin decides to head for greener pastures, it's a given that his departure becomes the biggest change from last season... but in any case the team has ditched its old identity and begun to take steps toward a new era.

Biggest obstacle - Oh, just pick anything.

Daring prediction - Sundin has not made a decision by November 1st, becoming a Forsberg-esque distraction to the entire league. He then re-signs with the Leafs for less than he made last season, just to piss everyone off.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bruins Go Edgy, Unveil Black Jerseys

The excellent blog Icethetics, with Hubhockey as its source, breaks news this morning that the Bruins have unveiled a new alt-jersey for the upcoming season. Seeing as how 3rd jerseys are intended to recreate a team's image, making it more contemporary and stylish, the Bruins have decided to go with an innovative look:

Gold on black.

Yes, this is a major departure from the established color scheme. I'll give you a second to catch your breath.

Basically what makes this look different from what the Bruins wore in the early 1990s is the lack of striping ("piping" to fashion-industry insiders) along the tail and shoulders. And, um, a slightly different combination of logos. And... yeah, that's about it.

I can't say I dislike the design, especially if it will (mercifully) only be used a few times this season. But I doubt many fans will be inspired to rush out and spend $300 on it, and I certainly don't think it's going to have a very long lifespan considering it's nearly indistinguishable from the standard home jersey if you're sitting in the nosebleeds.

But it beats the hell out of Winnie the Pooh.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, September 8, 2008

In Retrospect -- Blowin' up the Bruins

It's been a little less than three years since Mike O'Connell pulled the trigger on the biggest trade of his career -- sending Joe Thornton to San Jose and effectively closing the books on the Millenial Bruins. Of course, we all know what happened next: the Bruins fired O'Connell and coach Mike Sullivan, cleaned out most of the rest of the roster, and went into a 2-season hibernation. Fans stayed away in droves, many finally swearing off the team after many years of mismanagement and lukewarm attendance. This was only two years (including the lockout) after the Bruins narrowly missed a #1 playoff berth and appeared to be on track to break their Cup drought with a talented young core of on-the-rise players.

Needless to say, the dismantling of the early-2000s roster is still a sore spot among many Bruins fans, particularly those who still have a Thornton jersey hanging in their closet and have never heard of Phil Kessel. But let's take a closer look at the career arcs of the core early-2000s players who were eventually ditched in favor of a rebuild:

Joe Thornton - The centerpiece to the Bruins franchise didn't miss a beat in the transition to San Jose, leading the league in scoring and winning the Hart. However, he continues to carry the label of postseason choke-artist, which was basically the reason he was traded in the first place. To date he has only solidified his, and the Sharks', reputation for being pretty on paper but worthless in a Cup run.

Bill Guerin - His star has faded steadily since the lockout, having played for 4 teams in the past 3 seasons. As captain of the horrid Islanders, he'll probably never reach the 30-goal level again in the new, sleeker NHL.

Jason Allison - Having jumped ship early (2001) to LA, Allison has basically disappeared from the hockey radar. Despite being a nearly point-per-game player throughout his career, and still near his athletic prime at age 33, Allison's injuries have made him a non-factor.

Sergei Samsonov - The other half of the 1997 draft jackpot, Samsonov has played for 5 teams in the past 4 seasons, including 23 shutout games in Chicago. He experienced a mini-renaissance late last season with the Hurricanes and might still be a serviceable 3rd-liner.

Byron Dafoe - Flamed out in dramatic fashion with the Thrashers, ending his NHL career at 33.

Brian Rolston - Has developed into a reliable two-way, 30-goal forward with the Wild... and cashed in this summer to the tune of 4 years, $20 million. Welcome to the new, fiscally responsible NHL.

Anson Carter - Digging back a little further into the 99-00 campaign, Carter looked like he would be a franchise staple in the model of Cam Neely. Since that season he has played for 7 teams and scored 30 goals only once. Another victim of the new NHL.

Martin Lapointe - Have we found a theme yet? The Bruins overpaid for Lapointe after the Wings made him look like an All-Star. Since the lockout he has yet to score 15 goals in a season.

Glen Murray - Ok, the theme is "power forwards don't really fit in the new NHL". Murray's a sentimental favorite, but one look at his stat sheet tells you he's no longer a marquee player. Was bought out and will likely finish his career in a "mentor" role.

Andrew Raycroft - Is trying to survive the living nightmare of being hyped as a rookie, traded for a possible Hall of Famer, and falling flat in the league's most intense media market.

Hal Gill - Also became a target for Maple Leaf fans, having proven a tad too slow for the new style of play. A lucky trade to Pittsburgh has given his career a new lease on life.

Sean O'Donnell - Won a Cup with Anaheim, but never developed into elite status. Has the good fortune to play behind Niedermayer and Pronger.

Jozef Stumpel - Exiled to Florida, he never took that next step to become a top-6 forward.

Mike Knuble - Has found a place with the Flyers, develping into a reliable 30-goal forward with defensive skills.

Nick Boynton - Career never recovered from leaving Boston, playing his prime seasons in Phoenix and now Miami.

Dan McGillis - At one time, McGillis was considered one of the rising young stars in the league. Inexplicably, he imploded after signing with the Devils and is no longer able to hold an NHL roster spot.

P.J. Axelsson - The lone vestige of the early-2000s Bruins, he has found a niche as a hardworking 2-way forward with declining skills and a penchant for absorbing devastating hits to make a play. Will have to fight for minutes this season against prospects little more than half his age.

Average games played last season: 52.8
Average points scored last season: 28.4 (not counting goalies)

Yikes. Put that roster on the ice today and you've got yourself a lottery draft pick. About half a dozen of these guys will not start the season on an NHL squad. Only Thornton, Rolston and Knuble have avoided career collapse of some sort... and they're not exactly what you'd consider the core of a dynasty.

Of course, none of this justifies the ineptitude of the Bruins' front office over the past several decades. But it should give us pause to consider that, had the team been kept together, we might be in the same position that we now see in Toronto -- a once-proud, Cup-starved franchise saddled with aging and ineffective veterans with no clear way out.

Thank God for Joe Thornton.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, September 4, 2008

YouTube: Best of the Bruins

The month of September is a peculiar time for hockey fans. On one hand, it signals the end of a long, hot, hockeyless summer. On the other hand, we experience only shades of the game during this month. Summer practices, training camp, and a few lousy exhibition games pacify us through the final agonizing month of the offseason. The longest month of the year, no doubt.

So circle October 9th on your calendar and while away your September with these nuggets of YouTube awesomeness. I scoured through a bunch of Bruins clips, most of which feature Milan Lucic beating the shit out of somebody, to find the best Bruins videos on the web. Enjoy.

#5 -- Bruins locker room after they win the Cup, 10 May 1970

Imagine being in the room 15 minutes after the most famous goal in hockey history. If you don't feel like waiting through the entire nine minutes, hit the highlights: a delirious Eddie Johnston at 0:45, Wayne Cashman looking reminiscent of Reggie Dunlop at 3:30, Bobby Orr looking (and sounding) reminiscent of Peter Parker at 4:20, a brilliant interview with Phil Esposito at 6:45, and Don Earle getting champagne dumped on his head (3:15) and poured in his mouth (8:05).

#4 -- Bruins vs. Canadiens

Lovely tribute to hockey's greatest rivalry, with a sweet-looking logo montage at the beginning. So stirring, it might inspire you to punch someone from Montreal.

#3 -- Bobby Orr

It's hard to imagine a Carly Simon song fitting nicely into a hockey video, but this somehow pulls it off. Maybe it's the fuzzy 1970s footage. In any case, this is about as high-quality as an amateur video montage can be -- and is the most popular Bruins clip on YouTube with over 200,000 views and 2,100 comments. Each highlight played at three-quarters speed allows you to really appreciate the otherworldly talent that #4 brought to the game. Don't like the song? Turn down the volume and enjoy every one-handed shot, seamless pivot, and wicked slapper.

#2 -- Bruins Pregame Intro

Nothing fancy -- just a simple recording of the pregame video at the Garden, as seen from a corner seat in the rafters. But you can sense the nervousness and anticipation in the crowd, and before you know it you're transported to the feeling of 5 minutes before faceoff at an April home game.

#1 -- Welcome to the Show

Is it the best video in the batch? Maybe not. But it gets me freaking psyched for the season.

First exhibition game -- September 22nd vs. the Habs.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What the Yelle is going on here?

Surprise! The Bruins, who gave no indication they were planning on making any more moves this offseason, have signed Stephane Yelle.

To date, the reaction from Bruins faithful has been a collective "Er... Ok?". A team loaded with young, offensive minded centers and virtually no cap space -- of course they'd sign an aging, low-scoring center!

But Yelle brings something to the table that has been lacking on the Bruins roster the past couple of seasons -- faceoff prowess. Last season, Marc Savard was the only Bruin to take more than 300 faceoffs and have a winning record. While Yelle finished at 50% on the nose last season, he has historically been in the 53-55% range each season.

Also, Yelle gives the Bruins the ability to remove a top-line center from the penalty kill. Time will tell how it works out, but the safe money is that Savard gets some extra breathing time. That might turn out to be Yelle's biggest contribution to the offense, as we certainly shouldn't expect to see this too often from a guy who'll be lucky to score 10 goals.

In sum, the Bruins are paying bottom-dollar for a serviceable 4th-line center, penalty-killer and faceoff specialist. Yelle's contract is only for this season, and he'll be paid less than Petteri Nokelainen and Shane Hnidy, so presumably this addition is strictly aimed at deepening the roster and providing some injury insurance (remember late last season when David Krejci was the #1 center? Yeah, so does Peter Chiarelli). Though it might cost Vladimir Sobotka some ice time, worse moves have been made.

Possible forward lines:

Sturm - Savard - Ryder
Lucic - Bergeron - Kessel
Axelsson - Krejci - Kobasew
Schaefer - Yelle - Sobotka

Obligatory mention of Bryan McCabe: Check out this hilarious video of Chara treating McCabe like Patrick Roy's wife.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, September 1, 2008

On the way out, Sens politely hold open the playoff door for TB

As offseason mini-dramas go, the Andrej Meszaros saga made about as many waves as Jeremy Roenick's acting career or Mike Comrie's engagement. Not exactly the stuff we're going to be watching closely by the time the All-Star Game rolls around. Nevertheless, it's a good bellwether for two Eastern Conference teams on opposite paths: one quickly dismantling itself into playoff irrelevance, the other trying to throw together enough spare parts to crack the top 8.

Since the lack of competing hockey headlines has caused this subject to be over-analyzed already, my contribution is strictly Bruin-centric.


The good: The Senators' company line is that the team is still competing for a playoff berth, the division championship, and the Cup. The reality is that they may have just traded themselves out of the playoffs by making a borderline Lightning team slightly better. Considering the 6-10 seeds were separated by only 5 points last season, the Bruins' chances of passing the Sens get slightly better. And even though Ottawa gets rid of any further lockerroom distraction, it takes another step away from the team model that should have made them a Cup contender for the next decade.

The bad: No question that Ottawa got the better value out of this trade. Kuba has made a career out of being the averagest defenseman in the league, but Picard has a strong future and a 1st-round pick in the range of 10th-20th overall may turn out to be the plum of the deal (in 2005, players selected in that range included Anze Kopitar , Marc Staal, and Tuukka Rask). In the long run, the Sens will be better with Picard and a strong prospect than they were with Meszaros alone. In the short run, Kuba is a serviceable addition to a weak blueline corps.

Tampa Bay

The good: Tampa is far less of a contender than Ottawa, so temporarily shifting the balance of power in their direction is a good thing for the Bruins... at least better than allowing the Sens to get back on their feet quickly. Far better for us to have a potential All-Star defenseman leave for the Southeast Division, than sign on with a division rival.

The bad: Meszaros gives the Lightning a solid #2 or #3 defenseman (depending on how Paul Ranger's season goes). Tampa's biggest weakness is its shallow defensive corps, so this is a step in the right direciton for a squad that wants to play meaningful games in April. Chances are, that means they'll be going head-to-head with the Bruins for one of the road-ice playoff berths. While we might not worry about them overtaking us in the division, the Lightning might prove to be a real problem as a conference opponent.

Stumble Upon Toolbar