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Hockey’s hot stove season has heated up and nowhere is it hotter than here in the Hub of Hockey.
Highlighted by the NHL entry draft this past weekend and the selection of overall No. 2 pick Tyler Seguin, the Boston Bruins have put themselves in the center of it all, with moves being made, and rumors building of bigger moves to come. With so much going on in Black and Gold World, let’s see what we can do about summarizing the week that was for new President Cam Neely’s Bruins…
After the top spot in Friday’s first round went to the highly touted Taylor Hall, the Bruins made the next logical move and selected 18-year-old center Tyler Seguin with the second pick. Seguin, who tied Hall for the OHL points lead this past season with 106, will aim to join the big club come the fall, and begin what should be a very promising, and very hyped, NHL career.
The Bruins took eight players total in the two-day draftapalooza. After Seguin, Boston grabbed two more centers from the OHL in the second round, led by Michigan native Jared Knight, followed by Ryan Spooner. The B’s sat out the third round, but followed up in the fourth round with choosing forward Craig Cunningham from the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants, the former team of current Bruin Milan Lucic. Cunningham comes to the B’s with very high recommendations from Lucic.
The fifth round selection went to 20-year-old forward Justin Florek, who has played two years for Northern Michigan University. The B’s went to the crease for their sixth round pick, selecting Minnesota high schooler Zane Gothberg, who will be tending goal for the University of North Dakota this winter. Boston had two seventh-round picks round out their draft, with the additions of defensemen Maxim Chudinov from Russia and Zach Trotman of Lake Superior State College.
Mark Recchi, 42, will rejoin the Bruins for his 22nd NHL season after re-signing with the team on a one-year deal, rumored to be worth in the $1 million range. Recchi, who appeared in all but one regular season game last season, will again provide the veteran leadership he’s been known for, especially focusing on acting as a mentor to the younger Bruins on the roster, including rookie-to-be Seguin.
Forward Vladimir Sobotka, who appeared in 61 regular season games for the B’s last season, was sent packing on Saturday in a swap with St. Louis. In exchange, the Blues send the rights to Boston University defenseman and Marshfield native David Warsofsky, who will enter his junior year in the fall. In two seasons thus far at BU, the puck-moving defenseman has notched 15 goals and 31 assists in 79 games. Sobotka, who is a restricted free agent starting Thursday, is coming off shoulder surgery last month.
The Bruins made qualifying contract offers to three of their own restricted free agents over the weekend, including winger Blake Wheeler and defensemen Mark Stuart and Adam McQuaid. The priority here would seemingly be to lock up Stuart first, but at the right price, maybe McQuaid comes back as a 7th defenseman, and an under-performing Blake Wheeler returns at a discount. Daniel Paille, another one of the team’s RFAs, has not been extended a qualifying offer, but according to GM Peter Chiarelli, he will receive an offer soon, before Thursday’s free agency period begins.
Before the drafting frenzy even began, the B’s were able to land on a deal with defenseman Johnny Boychuk, bringing the powerful defenseman back on a two-year deal, reported to be worth $3.75 million. Boychuk began last season as the team’s 7th defenseman, but with patience and perseverance, climbed the depth chart so much that he found himself paired with captain Zdeno Chara by the end of the playoffs.
Boston did some more blue line retooling before this past weekend’s draft when they sent underachieving defenseman Dennis Wideman, along with the fifteenth overall selection in the draft, to the Florida Panthers in exchange for fourth-line energy forward Gregory Campbell and 25-year-old winger Nathan Horton, a former third overall draft choice, who has scored 20 or more goals in all five of his NHL seasons with the Panthers. Horton, who will earn $4 million in each of the next three seasons, has the potential to improve his offensive marks even more if paired with the right linemates who can set him up, a la Marc Savard.
With all that the Bruins have actually done this past week, fans can’t seem to stop talking about moves the Bruins haven’t made yet, which are the rumored moves involving veterans Marc Savard and Tim Thomas. Multiple reports have now indicated that Tim Thomas has waived his no-trade clause, allowing Boston to explore trade options for the 36-year-old goaltender, with Philadelphia and San Jose leading a small pack of rumored destinations.
Meanwhile, Savard has not officially waived his no-trade clause as of yet, however it has been reported that he would consider a move to a handful of teams, including Toronto, Ottawa, and Chicago. The problem is, none of those teams have an interest in him.
Trade Thomas? In my mind, you absolutely make that move. No one should pay $5 million for a backup goaltender, and Thomas doesn’t want to be a backup goaltender. Send him packing to a team that can use him and get all that you can get back for him.
Trade Savard? I don’t see how it can happen, at least not now. The B’s just traded away one center in Sobotka, and drafted another young center in Seguin who may not be ready for the limelight from the outset. I say Boston goes into the season with Savard still on the roster, pairs him with the newly acquired Nathan Horton, and hope to see the offensive fireworks fly. If they don’t, then come trade deadline time, maybe a trading partner emerges.
Tags: Adam McQuaid, Blake Wheeler, Boston Bruins, Cam Neely, Daniel Paille, David Warsofsky, Gregory Campbell, Johnny Boychuk, Marc Savard, Mark Recchi, Mark Stuart, Nathan Horton, Peter Chiarelli, Taylor Hall, Tim Thomas, Tyler Seguin, Vladimir Sobotka