Monday, August 28, 2006


An Offseason Look at the Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins had one of the more interesting off-seasons, not only signing Petr Tenkrat but ALSO getting (they were impressed by the Tenkrat signing) Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard, while shipping former golden boy Andrew Raycroft to Elba, and waving bye-bye to Shawn McEachern, Travis Green, and the Pooh Bear jersey.

It's likely no team has improved as much this off-season. Definitely more than enough to escape the Northeast cellar, but is it enough to make them contenders?

In goal, Tim Thomas's great 2006 helped spur Raycroft's departure from town -- now the Bruins have to hope that the league doesn't figure Thomas out, and they don't have Blaine Lacher: the Sequel on their hands. Prior to 2005-06, Thomas never really did much outside of the Finnish league -- his AHL/IHL stints were decidedly middling. But Thomas is really just marking time until Hannu Toivonen is ready to go full time -- the 22-year-old looked pretty great in limited time last year, and was on a pretty hot run before an ankle injury ended his season.

Defensively -- hey, did you hear the Bruins signed Zdeno Chara? It was in all the newspapers and everything. Along with Brad Stuart and Paul Mara, they've got a pretty formidable top three. Beyond that -- well, hopefully Milan Jurcina and Mark Stuart (who'll probably miss the start of the season) are ready for prime-time. Nathan ("The New Greg Hawgood") Dempsey, Andrew ("The New Andy Sutton") Alberts, and Wade ("The New Wade Belak") Brookbank will see third-pairing time.

Up front, the signing of Savard was much-ballyhooed. He'll give them considerably more punch, though anyone who thinks he'll match his Atlanta numbers is encouraged to compare his current wingers to Kovalchuk and Hossa. Savard, Patrice Bergeron and the eternally-overlooked (I know, because in preparing this I forgot he was on the team) Glen Murray are all top-flight players; Marco Sturm and Brad Boyes will chip in their share, too, and I think we're all joined in hope that Petr Tenkrat will play like he did in Oulu. Rookie Phil Kessel is a huge wild card; I wasn't in favor of signing him, as young guys with crappy work habits could use some seasoning lest they become Pavel Brendl. But if Kessel rises to the occasion, I'll cheerfully shut my mouth.

They better hope he rises to the occasion -- the Bruins are pretty thin on the wing. Besides Sturm, Murray, and Kessel, the remnants are pretty thin. Shean Donovan's lost whatever magic skates he found for 2003-04, and Mark Mowers whined about being used poorly in Detroit, a team not really known for using players poorly. Yan Stastny was decidedly ok in spot NHL duty last year.

Prediction? Second in the Northeast, early exit in the playoffs. They're gonna be a lot better, and Chara's a much better heart-and-soul of the team than Thornton, but their forward depth is pretty scant past the top guys. Now, the real question: how many points will Petr Tenkrat score? 75? 100? 150?

how many points will Petr Tenkrat score? 75? 100? 150? the AHL, maybe

The Bruins also picked up Jason York for the defence, who I'm guessing will see more time than Mr. Brookbank.
Jes: oh ye of little faith.

James: thanks. I completely skipped over the York signing, and yeah, he'd probably push a couple of those guys down.
I think you guys should head on over to and check out the "Official Tenkrat Appreciation Thread"'s pretty hilarious.
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