Stanley Cup Final Preview

June 2, 2015 at 7:03pm in Bruins, Featured, NHL
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In a match-up that is sure to be entertaining, the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning will battle for the Stanley Cup. The action kicks off with game one on Wednesday in Tampa Bay. The Blackhawks are playing in their third Final since 2010 and are looking for their third championship in that span. The Lightning return to the Final for the first time since hoisting the cup in 2004.

Both teams boast elite forwards in their captains, for Chicago it is Jonathan Toews and for Tampa Bay it is Steven Stamkos. The Blackhawks have an elite scorer in Patrick Kane with the Lightning’s Tyler Johnson has been excellent at lighting the lamp this postseason. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook lead the way on defense for Chicago while Victor Hedman has taken his game to another level for the Lightning.

The Blackhawks have the edge in experience and coaching, as Joel Quenville has been at the helm for both of Chicago’s championships. They are also the more complete team, boasting not only Toews, Kane, Seabrook, and Keith but also Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Andrew Shaw, along with Johnny Oduya. All of these players have performed in big moments for Chicago and have Championship experience.

Tampa Bay is not as deep as Chicago but boasts some impressive talent. J.T. Brown, Brian Boyle, Valterri Filppula, and Anton Stralman should all make an impact. Ben Bishop has been solid for the Lightning in net and the battle between him and the Blackhawks’ Corey Crawford will be a big element in the series. Both teams were top ten puck possession teams this season (via CORSI advanced stat) and can also score. Chicago is third in goals per game this postseason while Tampa Bay is fourth.

In the end, both teams play exciting and physical hockey. However, the Blackhawks just have too much experience and are too solid top to bottom for the Lightning. Tampa Bay will be contenders for the next several years, but Chicago remains the NHL’s gold standard.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Staff photo by Ted Fitzgerald

On Wednesday, the Bruins officially announced that Don Sweeney will be their new General Manager. This makes him the eighth GM in Bruins history. This past season ended in disaster, just missing the playoffs then firing GM Peter Chiarelli shortly after, and all the rumors about Claude Julien getting fired as well.

So Sweeney has to deal with all of this and deal with all of it soon so he can end the Chiarelli era in Boston and begin an era of his own. There are a few things he has to deal with before anything else.

Keeping Claude?

It is best for the Bruins organization if Sweeney officially makes up his mind on whether he is going to keep Claude Julien as his Head Coach this season or if he will end up with the same fate as Chiarelli. Continue reading A Few Things That Don Sweeney Needs to Address Right Away »

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The Bruins announced Wednesday morning that they promoted Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney to General Manager position.

Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs praised Sweeney: “Don Sweeney stood out amongst an incredibly talented group of candidates that we considered for this hire. He carries a unique and impressive mix of playing experience, front office experience and business acumen.”

“Don has complete understanding of what it means to be a Bruin”, Jacobs continued, “and we have full confidence in him to steward the organization back to being Stanley Cup contenders year in and year out.”

The 2015-16 season will be the tenth for Sweeney in the Bruins front office. The Harvard economics graduate played for the Bruins for 15 seasons as a defenseman.

The promotion of Sweeney increases the chances that coach Claude Julien will stay in place, although no announcement has been made on that front. It also means Jacobs and team President Cam Neely believe in their core and don’t want to completely change the make up of the roster. That doesn’t mean a major trade or two won’t happen, however. Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic could still be trade bait, but them moving on is a bit less likely than if a team hired an external candidate.

 

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(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

NHL free agency begins July 1st and it’s a date many fans and media outlets look forward to. Any player not under contract with their current team  is free to seek offers and sign with any other team in the league.The Boston Bruins currently have eight players from their starting roster this past season who are not under contract for next season, qualifying them for free agency. Greg Campbell, Dan Paille, Carl Soderberg, Adam McQuaid, and Matt Bartkowski are unrestricted free agents (UFA). Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Spooner, and Brett Connolly are the Bruins restricted free agents (RFA).

Back-up goaltender Niklas Svedberg was also qualified to hit the NHL market, but he has already fled the country and signed in the KHL.

That leaves the Bruins with five forwards and three defenseman to re-sign or not to re-sign. Continue reading The Eight Bruins Free Agents and What They Should do with Them »

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Why the Wait on Bruins GM?

May 19, 2015 at 8:24am in Bruins, NHL, Opinion
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It has been over a month since Peter Chiarelli was fired as the Bruins general manager. Since then, Chiarelli has been hired by the Oilers and the Devils have also filled their general manager vacancy with potential Bruins candidate Ray Shero. The Bruins have still yet to hire a new man to run the front office behind team President Cam Neely despite several interviews. Rumors and reports have suggested that Don Sweeny, the current Bruins assistant general manager, is a likely candidate. But if that is the case, why has he not been named to the post yet?

There is one potential candidate that could be holding everything up: Rangers assistant general manager Jeff Gorton. Gorton is no stranger to Boston, he was the assistant general manager under Mike O’Connell in Boston and was the interim head during the 2006 offseason before Chiarelli left Ottawa to take over.

As the assistant general manager, Gorton built a substantial part of the 2011 Bruins Stanley Cup Champion team, helping draft both David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron as well as signing Tim Thomas to both his initial deal and his extension. His 2006 offseason as interim general manager was one of the best of the last decade for the Bruins. His first three draft picks were Phil Kessel, Milan Lucic, and Brad Marchand, a haul that any front office executive would be jealous of. He also helped sign Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard that offseason, although Chiarelli and Jeremy Jacobs also had strong influence on those two moves.

Currently in his post as the number two man behind Rangers top man Glen Sather, Gorton has helped build a Rangers team that is in the Eastern Conference Final for the second year in a row. The team advanced to the Stanley Cup last season as well. The Rangers have a strong core of defensemen and a plethora of speed up front, two things the 2015 Bruins were sorely lacking.

The trouble with Boston hiring Gorton is that because the Rangers are still in the playoffs, he is not available to even be interviewed yet and if they advance to the Cup Final he may not be available for another 4-5 weeks, a long time to wait for a team at a crossroads. It is not a sure thing that the Rangers will make Gorton available to interview even then, as Sather is 72 years old and may have Gorton in mind as his eventual replacement.

Gorton would be the best hire, in this writer’s humble opinion, but the Bruins cannot wait around too long to nab their man. If hired Gorton may want to change coaches, a process that gets more difficult as the offseason continues. He also would have little time to evaluate the roster before the draft in late June and free agency in July. Until the Bruins make a decision the Bruins will remain a front office in flux, which is not good for anyone.

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Jan 2, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins goalie Niklas Svedberg (72) in front of the net during the second period against the Nashville Predators at TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Bruins backup goalie Niklas Svedberg has signed a contract to play for Salavat of the KHL.

Svedberg was first signed by the Bruins in May of 2012. The 2012-13 season saw Svedberg in Providence playing for the AHL Bruins. He appeared in one game during the 2013-14 season and became the full time backup to Tuukka Rask during the 2014-15 season, appearing in 19 games.

In his 19 appearances, he had a record of 8-5 with a save percentage of .918. His 2.33 goals against average was 29th out of 92 total NHL goalies in 2015, but he often looked shaky in net. Bruins coach Claude Julien appeared to have little trust in Svedberg, as he only appeared in 18 games in 2014-15. Tuukka Rask was forced to play in a career high 70 games, smashing his previous career high of 58. The Bruins were likely already going to be in the market for a veteran backup goalie, as Malcolm Subban may not be quite ready for full time NHL backup work and is also an enticing trade chip for the Bruins.

His agent said the goal is for Svedberg to eventually return to the NHL as a starting goalie.

The news was confirmed by CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty.

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Milan Lucic

The Edmonton Oilers announced on Friday that they have signed former Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli as their General Manager and President of Hockey Operations. After his 9 year tenure at the helm of the S.S. Bruins, Chiarelli will get a fresh start in Edmonton.

First off, good for Peter Chiarelli. Although he could be frustrating to the fans at times, Chiarelli had a tremendously successful career in Boston. He took a flailing franchise and brought them a Stanley Cup and a perennially dominant team. He’s exactly what the Oilers could use right now- a responsible, conscientous mind that isn’t afraid to trade the pieces that don’t fit into his vision for the team.

What’s happened in Edmonton over the past five years has been nothing less than fascinating. They have drafted first overall three times during that span, and the others were third and seventh overall. Statistically speaking, no team has been worse during that span. And the crazy thing is, they don’t show any sign of turning that around. Continue reading Trading Lucic to the Oilers Makes Sense for Both Sides »

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