Last Night,in Las Vegas, The NHL put it's official end to the 2013-14 season with it's annual awards ceremony. The final dotting of the I's and crossing of the T's saw the Bruins get some well deserved recognition for some of it's key players. Tuukka Rask won the Vezina Trophy for the leagues best Goaltender. Patrice Bergeron won the Selke trophy for the best Defensive Forward. Bergeron was also recognized by being the fans choice to be the cover athlete of NHL 2014 video game. Zdeno Chara while being the runner up for the Norris trophy for best Defenseman, was named to the NHL first all-star team which also named Rask for best goalie. Torey Krug was named to the all rookie team as a defenseman.
Last years business now finally over, the campaign for a new season begins this Friday with the first round of the NHL draft that will be held in Philadelphia, PA. The Bruins pick 25th in the first round. Picking late in the first round isn't unusual for the Bruins in recent years. It also means though, that it's unlikely that the players chosen so late in the draft will have immediate impact on the team. It is likely that the Bruins first two, maybe three draft picks will have an opportunity to make the Providence Bruins. Otherwise, those chosen will remain with their developmental teams through at least their 19th birthday. Regardless of whom is chosen, we will likely get our first look at them during the teams July developmental camp in a few weeks.
As with any team, one has to evaluate the entire organization before deciding what to look for in the draft. Some things immediately jump out to garner attention. The Bruins this past week signed Niklas Svedberg to a one way single year contract at $600,000. This signing and type of contract leads observers to believe that Svedberg will be the new back-up on the big club. This makes Malcolm Subban the number one goalie down in Providence. Current other goalies are a bit thin in development behind him. So I expect the Bruins to look hard at some of this years goalie prospects and perhaps take a goalie in one of the first two rounds. The second thing to consider is that the Bruins will likely look for size, speed and goal scoring touch in a player that will remain in a developmental status for the coming two to three years. What does this mean? I think it means the Bruins will look at American players that have already decided to accept positions on College hockey teams as rookies. There are a number of former Bruins currently in positions as coaches in several local Hockey East teams. One that jumps out is Ted Donato, former Bruin and current head coach of Harvard University. Harvard as may know, is the college and team Peter Chiarelli played for. In the past the Bruins have done just that and over the years drafted a lot of American talent. Having said this, predictions about what the Bruins will do in other areas start to take form.
Peter Chiarelli on Monday made a pre-draft news conference and said some telling things. The Bruins have no intention of making any compliance buy-outs at this point. IMHO, the only two players that seriously could have been considered for buy-out were Chris Kelly and Adam McQuaid. Both went through surgery and have not been medically cleared to play as of this date and so were not eligible to be bought out. As I explained in my previous article, the Bruins are high up against the Salary Cap for the coming new year. This limits the moves that the Bruins are likely to make in Free Agency. Chiarelli, stated that he was not expecting to make any big splashes in Free Agency, at best a couple of minor moves if any. What I heard in his statement, was that he not only wouldn't make a big splash, but perhaps the well reported negotiations with Jerome Iginla are not going well and he will likely not be signed by the Bruins. That would seem to indicate that all 5 of the Bruins free agents will move on. The others being Shawn Thornton, Andre Meszaros, Chad Johnson and Corey Potter. I do believe it's likely the Bruins will now focus in short order to sign unrestricted free agents Torey Krug, Reilly Smith and Matt Bartkowski. This will leave the roster with two goaltenders, eight defensemen and ten forwards. Leaving three forward spots open and perhaps competed for come training camp.
Trades would seem to be the other option to improve the team before training camp. What I don't see is a significant Draft Day trade to jump up higher on the draft list. This is a down year for the draft and after the top six picks, it doesn't seem to include players that could impact any team right away. I think the Bruins will go through the Draft, make their picks and allow players to get in shape or grow healthy heading into training camp before any significant trades may develop. Unlike other teams, the Bruins have invested heavily in creating a farm system to feed the parent club with talent developed in their system. I believe this is the year we see if the money was invested wisely.
Before I sign off, I'd like to welcome Michael Rudd and Ruthi Dubilo to BostonMadness.com and specifically to the NHL/Bruins section. You can already see that they are capable writers by reading their recently published articles here. As the Bruins work on and form their new team, we here at Boston Madness are developing and improving ours. Let the Madness Begin !
Just a few writers from Boston passionate about their sport's teams. Feel free to comment and leave your own opinion. I hope you enjoy! NHHockeyGuru