The Boston Bruins have had the same strong core of players for quite some time, which saw two Stanley Cup Finals appearances, while hoisting one. It was a bit of a surprise to the fan base when the front office decided to shake things up in the roster, which leaves fans asking, will the Bruins be better or worse this upcoming season? It’s a tough question to answer at this point because we haven’t seen this team take the ice yet. Only time will tell, but it never hurts to at least breakdown the roster a little bit.
There is no question about it, Tuukka Rask deserved the long contract he just received earlier this week (eight years, $56 million dollars). Throughout this past season, we saw Tuukka mold into one of the better goaltenders in the NHL, and he not only defied all expectations, he busted through them. It makes Bruins nation feel better knowing that their superb net minder will be back for the next eight years, but what about the back-up situation? Nobody is taking this situation serious it seems, but the loss of Anton Khudobin is bigger than people think. During the shortened season this past year, Khudobin went 9-4-1, with a 2.32 goals-against-average, and .920 save percentage in 14 games. Khudobin was also the ECHL’S Goaltender of the Year in 2008, as he went 20-1-4 with a 1.98 goal-against-average, while playing for the Texas Wildcatters. The Carolina Hurricanes landed on a goldmine, as Khudobin is a great goaltender to have, especially as a team’s backup. With all the health trouble Cam Ward has sustained in the recent past, it wouldn’t surprise many if Khudobin goes to Carolina and becomes the starter. It will be interesting to see what direction the Bruins will go the rest of the offseason in determining who will be the backup for Rask.
Last Season Grade: A
Upcoming Season: B+
There is no way around it, the loss of Nathan Horton and Andrew Ference really hurt the Bruins this offseason. Both had been stellar players on and off the ice for the B’s, and they will be truly missed. With that being said, the Bruins had to make moves in order to replace, but I doubt anyone thought that there would be as big of change as there was. The Bruins front office decided that it was in the team’s best interest to part ways with Tyler Seguin due to performance, and also because of off the ice issues they had with him. They traded away Seguin, Rich Peverly and others away for Loui Eriksson, and some minor league players (Joe Morrow, Matt Fraser, Reilly Smith). Loui Eriksson is an amazing talent, who is what most would classify as a “two-way” style player; meaning that he can contribute on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ice. After the B’s did this, they signed Jarome Ignila , who has been a tremendous talent in the league for quite some time now. What Boston fans should be excited about is this, the B’s will now have Patrice Bergeron, Gregory Campbell, Loui Eriksson, Jarome Ignila, Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Brad Marchand all on the same squad. This group of forwards should easily be the top in the NHL next year, and should get Bruin fans excited about the upcoming season(s).
Last Season Grade: B(+)
Upcoming Season Grade: A(-)
Everyone knows that defense is what the Bruins hang their hat on, and nothing will change that as long as Claude Julien is behind the bench. In this pas post-season, everyone saw the Bruins march out onto the ice with three rookie defensemen, and not even skip a beat. When a team has players like Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuck and Dennis Seidenberg it’s hard to not be successful on the defensive side of the ice. Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask, should praise his defense all the time because they make his life much easier. Torey Krug should see the ice for the Bruins this year, which is a great thing because he played very well in the Boston season, and didn’t seem to play like a rook. Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski should improve, and should be better prepared if their names is called upon this upcoming season, which will only add depth to this already impressive Bruins defense. This upcoming season look for the Bruins to still provide stellar defense throughout a long season.
Last Season Grade: B(+)
Upcoming Season Grade: A
With the drastic improvement to the forward position, and bringing back veteran players on this roster the Bruins should find themselves in the same position as they did this year. Fans were very upset about due to loses of Horton, Seguin and Ference, but the future is very bright with the core that has been constructed this offseason.
Overall Last Season Grade: B(+)
Overall Upcoming Season Grade: A(-)