Ryan Spooner Ready For NHL

Bruins prosepct Ryan Spooner is poised to play for Boston full time next season. (Photo credit: Meowwcat)

Bruins prospect Ryan Spooner is poised to play for Boston full-time next season. (Photo credit: Meowwcat)

By Eric Converse

As Jarome Iginla takes his talents to the mile high city, some fans are in panic mode seeing their team take a significant offensive downgrade. Meanwhile, Bruins management appear content in their current situation. Bruins general manager, Peter Chiarelli, announced to the media that he is “really comfortable” with Loui Eriksson moving up from the 3rd line to 1st line wing.

As of now, this is the most likely solution going in to opening night. However, separating Carl Soderberg from Eriksson on the third line will eliminate a pairing that had growing chemistry in the playoffs last spring and will create an opening for Providence Bruins forwards to get promoted to the big club. Providence Bruins 1st line center, Ryan Spooner, is poised to take this spot.

Spooner, the Bruins 2010 2nd round draft pick, has plied his trade in Providence for the last two seasons. His offensive vision, soft hands, skating speed, and tricky footwork while carrying the puck are his greatest assets. His ability to find teammates with his slick passing makes him a regular offensive threat every night.

Right now, Spooner’s shot is not quite as consistent or dangerous as his passing, as he tends to rely on finding the open space to dangle on defense and goalies to score. Defensively, Spooner is prone to lapses in coverage. Due to his size, he can be out-muscled to the puck, especially in the corners.

As many remember, Spooner already has had some time with Boston in the pre-season and regular season. He had a very impressive stretch of games already, registering 11 assists with the big club, only a preview of his true potential.

In the Bruins current position, Spooner is the ideal candidate for a full-time promotion at the start of the regular season. By this point in his career, it will be a disappointment if he is assigned to Providence by the end of training camp. If he plays at his best, he’ll earn a spot in Boston.

Although he is a natural center, Spooner could benefit from being placed on the 3rd line as a winger, along side Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly. On the wing his defensive coverage and face-off weaknesses will be far less exposed. He could ease into center duties and further sharpen his face-off skills by learning from the best.

There are some rumors that Gregory Campbell will be traded in a package deal by the end of the summer, which could also open up the 4th line center spot to Spooner. With that kind of trade, it would be in Chiarelli’s best interest to slide Daniel Paille up to the 3rd line, as he would be the only remaining “Merlot Line” player. Spooner could center an entirely new 4th line that includes other young talent such as Alexander Khokhlachev, Justin Florek, Matt Fraser, and possibly even David Pastrnak, to name a few.

Regardless, if Spooner can make the team this fall at any forward position, he will add much needed speed and offensive creativity to the forward core. He can add depth to the Bruins power play, with his puck-moving abilities. Now is the time for Spooner to prove himself that he is NHL ready on a full-time basis.

Lucic-Krejci-Eriksson
Marchand-Bergeron-Smith
Kelly-Soderberg-Spooner
Paille-Campbell-Florek/Fraser/Robins

This line up keeps the 4th line as more of a traditional physical grinding energy line.

OR

Lucic-Krejci-Eriksson
Marchand-Bergeron-Smith
Paille-Soderberg-Kelly
Florek/Robins-Spooner-Fraser/Khokhlachev

This line up converts the 4th line in to more of an offensively oriented line, which, would negate the loss of Iginla’s contributions to the line up if they are successful.

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NHL Free Agent Signings SO FAR

graphic-design-contract

A lot of this happened today.

NHL Free Agent Signings as of 10:00 pm July 8th, 2014

* Signifies player re-signed with the same team.

Anaheim Ducks
Clayton Stoner D 4 years, $13 million
Jason LaBarbera G 1 Year, $750,000 K

Arizona Coyotes
Joe Vitale C 3 years, $3.35 million
Devan Dubnyk G 1 year, $800k
Joe Vitale C 3 Year, $3.35 Million
Alexandrew Bolduc F 1 year, 2 way contract
Andrew Campbell D 1 year, 2 way contract
Mike McKenna G 1 year, 2 way contract
Dylan Reese D 1 year, 2 way contract

Boston Bruins
Jeremy Smith G, 1 year, two way contract

Buffalo Sabres
Brian Gionta RW 3 years, $12.7 million
Matt Moulson F 5 years, $25 million
Cody McCormack C 3 years, $1.5 million
Marcus Foligno LW 2 years, $3.75 million*
Andrej Meszaros D 1 year, $4 million
Tyson Strachan D 1 year, 2 way deal

Calgary Flames
Mason Raymond LW 3 years, $9.5 million
Jonas Hiller G 2 years, $9 million
Deryk Engelland D 3 years, $8.7 million
Sena Acolatse D 1 year, two way contract
Paul Byron F 1 Year, $600K*

Carolina Hurricane
Brad Malone F 2 years, $1.3 million
Jiri Tlusty LW 1 year, $2.95 million*
Drew MacIntyre G 1 Year, 2 way contract
Greg Nemisz F 1 Year, 2 way contract*
Jay McClement 1 year, $1 million
Zach Boychuk F 1 year, 2 way contract*
Jared Staal F 1 year, 2 way contract*
Michal Jordan D 1 year, 2 way contract*
Ben Holmstrom F 1 year, 2 way contract

Chicago Blackhawks
Peter Regin C 1 year, $650k*
Brad Richards F 1 year, $2 million
Cody Bass F AHL Contract
Pierre-Cedric Labrie F AHL Contract

Colorado Avalanche
Jarome Iginla F 3 years, $16 million
Bruno Gervais D 1 year, $650k
Jesse Winchester F 2 year contract, $1.8 Million
Zach Redmond D 2 year contract 2 year, $1.5 Million
Ben Street F 2 year, 2 way contract
Bruno Gervais D 1 year, 2 way contract

Columbus Blue Jackets
Brian Gibbons C 1 year, 2 way deal
David Savard D 2 year, $2.6 million*
Corey Tropp F 2 year, $1.25 million*
Corey Goloubef D 1 year, 2 way contract*
Sean Collins F 1 year, 2 way contract*

Dallas Stars
Ales Hemsky RW 3 years, $12 million
Patrick Eaves F 1 year, $650K
Anders Lindback G 1 year, $925K
Vernon Fiddler F 2 Years, $1 million year one, $1.5 million year two*

Detroit Red Wings
Kyle Quincey D 2 year, $8.5 Million*

Edmonton Oilers
Benoit Pouliot W 5 years, $20 million
Mark Fayne D 4 years Oilers
Keith Aulie D 1 year, $800k
Luke Gazdic LW 2 Year, about 750K*
Jeff Petry D 1 year, $3.075 Million*

Florida Panthers
Jussi Jokinen LW 4 years, $16 million
Dave Bolland C 5 years, $27.5 million
Al Montoya G 2 years, $2.1 million
Shawn Thornton F 2 years, $2.4 million
Willie Mitchell D 2 years, $8.5 million
Derek MacKenzie C 3 years, $3.9 million

Los Angeles Kings
Adam Cracknell RW 1 Year two way AHL contract
David Van der Gulik LW 1 Year two way AHL contract

Minnesota Wild
Thomas Vanek F 3 years, $19.5 million
Stu Bickel D 1 Year, 2 way Contract
Brett Sutter F 2 Year, 2 way contract
Joel Rechlicz RW 1 year, 2 way deal

Montreal Canadiens
Manny Malhotra C 1 year, $850k
Tom Gilbert D 2 years, $5.6 million
Mike Weaver D 1 year, $1.75 million*
Jiri Sekac F 2 years, amount undisclosed as of this writing
Joey MacDonald G 1 Year, 2 Way Contract

Nashville Predators
Olli Jokinen F 1 year, $2.5 million
Joe Piskula D 1 year, 2 way contract*
Anton Volchenkov D 1 year, $1 Million
Anthony Bitetto D 1 year, 2 way deal*

New Jersey Devils
Mike Cammalleri W 5 years, $25 million
Marty Havlat F 1 year, $1.5 million
Steve Bernier RW 1 year, $600k
Scott Clemmensen G 1 Year, 2 Way Contract
Stephen Gionta F 2 years, $850K*
Steve Bernier F 1 year, $600,000*

New York Islanders
Chad Johnson G 2 years, $2.6 million
T.J. Brennan D 1 year, amount undisclosed as of this writing
Harry Zolnierczyk D 1 year 2 way deal, $600K
David Leggio G 1 Year 2 way deal
Jack Skille RW 1 Year 2 way deal
Chris Mueller AHL Contract
Cory Conacher F 1 Year, NHL Deal, Terms Undisclosed

New York Rangers
Dan Boyle D 2 years, $9 million
Tanner Glass F 3 years, $4.35 million
Dominic Moore F 2 years, $3 million*
Mike Kostka D 1 year, $650k
Cedric Desjardins G AHL Contract
Matt Hunwick D 1 year, $600K
Steven Kampfer D Terms not disclosed
Nikolai Kulemin F 4 years, $16.75 million
Mikhail Grabovski F 4 years, $20 million
Nick Tarnasky F AHL Contract/Not Disclosed

Ottawa Senators
Milan Michalek LW 3 years, $12 million*
Carter Camper F 1 year, 2 way contract
Michael Sdao D 2 year, 2 way contract*
David Dziurzynski F 2 year, 2 way deal*
Aaron Johnson D 1 year, 2 way deal
David Legwand C 2 year, $6 million
Alex Grant D 1 year, 2 way deal*

Philadelphia Flyers
Rob Zepp G 1 year, $600k
Ray Emery G 1 year, $1 million*
Nick Shultz D 1 year, $1.25 million
Andrew Gordon F 1 year, 2 way contract
Jason Akeson F 1 year, 2 way contract*
Zach Stortini F 1 year, 2 way contract
Chris VandeVelde C 1 year, 2 way contract*

Pittsburgh Penguins
Christian Ehrhoff D 1 year, $4 million
Thomas Greiss G 1 year, $1 million
Blake Comeau RW 1 year, $700k
Marcel Goc F 1 year, $1.2 million*
Nick Drazenovic F 1 Year two way contract, $550K*
Taylor Chorney D 1 Year two way contract, $550K
Zach Sill F 1 year, 2 way deal*

San Jose Sharks
Taylor Fedun D 1 year, $600k
John Scott F 1 year, $700K
Tommy Wingels 3 year, $7.4 million*
James Sheppard 1 year, $1.3 million*

St. Louis Blues
Jori Lehtera C 2 years, $5.5 million*
Paul Stastny C 4 years, $28 million
Patrick Cannone F 1 year, 2 way contract*
John McCarthy F 1 year, 2 way contract
Sebastian Wannstrom F 1 year, 2 way contract*

Tampa Bay Lightning
Anton Stralman D 5 years, $22.5 million
Brian Boyle F 3 years, $6 million
Evgeni Nabokov G 1 year, $1.55 million
Mike Blunden RW 1 year, 2 way contract
Mike Angelidis F 1 year, 2 way contract*
Evgeni Nabokov G 1 Year, $1.55 million
Brian Boyle F 3 Year, $2 million
Andrej Sustr D 1 year, $874,125*
Matthew Corrente D 1 year, 2 way contract
Cody Kunyk F 1 year, 2 way contract*

Toronto Maple Leafs
Stephane Robidas D 3 years, $9 milliont
Leo Komarov C 4 years, $8.85 million*
Troy Bodie F 1 year, 2 way contract*
Mike Santorelli F 1 year, $1.5 million

Vancouver Canucks
Ryan Miller G 3 years, $18 million
Radim Vrbata RW 2 year, $10 million
Zack Kassian F 2 year, $3.5 million*
Yannick Weber D 1 year, $850,000*
Joe Cannata G 1 year, 2 way contract*
Peter Andersson D 1 year, 2 way contract*
Chris Tanev D 1 year, $1.88 million*

Washington Capitals
Justin Peters G 2 years, $1.9 million
Brooks Orpik D 5 years, $27.5 million
Matt Niskanen D 7 years, $40.25 million
Michael Latta C 2 Years, 1.15 Million*
Jon Landry D 1 Year 2 way Contract
Mike Moore D 1 Year 2 way Contract
Chris Conner F 1 year, 2 way Contract
Kris Newbury F 1 year, 2 way contract
Tim Kennedy F 1 year, 2 way contract

Winnipeg Jets
Mathieu Perreault C 3 years, $9 million
Chris Thornburn RW 3 years, $3.6 million*
Michael Hutchinson G 2 years, $1.15 million*

All information was researched through Twitter, NHL.com, Sportsnet, TSN, and NHL Network

More breakdown on each team’s roster moves to come!

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Boston Bruins: Iginla In Doubt

Veteran Jarome Iginla appears to be testing the market before making a final decision on where to sign. (Photo by Lisa Gansky)

Veteran Jarome Iginla appears to be testing the market before making a final decision on where to sign. (Photo by Lisa Gansky)

By Eric Converse

As the days pass and no word of a brand spankin’ new contract comes out of the Bruins camp for veteran forward Jarome Iginla, more doubts are creeping in on whether he will actually return to the B’s next season. Iginla, who at one time was labeled by many as a guy born to be a Bruin—for his hard-nosed scoring style—does not feel the same.

Even if he does re-sign with Boston, he’s clearly a veteran hockey mercenary looking for the best financial deal possible from a select number of contending teams. You certainly can’t blame the guy. With the NHL draft this week, many general managers will be lining up with their suitcases full of money to pry him away from Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli.

Based on the tweets by Boston Globe Bruins insider Fluto Shinzawa and other rumors floating around, the Bruins likely have their best shot at re-signing Iginla before the start of the draft this Friday. The Bruins significant cap issues also created a significant gap between what the Bruins can realistically afford and what Iginla and his agent are likely looking for. Today, things only got worse.

So, what if Iginla does not come back? The Bruins certainly lose a steady scorer (30 goals, 61 points last season). His 5 goals (7 points) in the playoffs weren’t too shabby either. His numbers COULD dip this year for the soon-to-be 37 year old. He’ll only get slower, too. He already looked tired and a step behind his opponents in last year’s playoffs.

The Bruins need to utilize the free agent market, despite reports suggesting otherwise, to realistically keep themselves as an elite contender for the cup. Promoted players from Providence such as Ryan Spooner and Justin Florek, a healthy Loui Eriksson, the more experienced Carl Soderberg and Reilly Smith, and extra production chipping in throughout the rest of the line up is not a realistic way to replace Iginla’s production. Everything would have to go right in order for that to work out.

If Iginla signs elsewhere another affordable, solid scorer must be signed via free agency . Here are a few players who are currently available (and very affordable) the B’s could consider:

  • Long time New York Islander winger Matt Moulson is a decent scoring veteran, with 30+ goal scoring seasons in 2011, 2012, and the equivalent of 30+ goals in the shortened 2013 season. He is not flashy or overly physical, and has limited playoff experience, but would provide needed scoring help if the B’s sign him for $2 to $3 million per season.
  • Western Conference mainstay Devin Setoguchi is a speedy scoring winger who is very much in the Bruins price range with an asking price of around $3 million per season. Although he is prone to inconsistency and his overall body of work is less impressive than Matt Moulson’s, his skating prowess could add some much needed speed to a line up that looked slow/lethargic during the Habs series.
  • Right winger Radim Vrbata is another affordable option the B’s could sign for $2 to $3 million per season as well. Overall he’s had less offensive production than both Moulson and Setoguchi, but could add much needed attacking speed. This seems the least likely of the options though, as he struggles with the physical game and is wildly inconsistent.

There are other more skilled, productive wingers with playoff experience available in free agency, but will not be able to sign here unless Peter Chiarelli magically can sign them to a lower priced contract than they are priced out to be on the open market. Trading picks for a player who has the caliber to score 50+ points per season is near impossible, unless you start trading away valued prospects. Trading players such as Chris Kelly, Johnny Boychuk, Greg Campbell, and/or Adam McQuaid with some combination of picks and prospects is a possibility, but in the end Jarome Iginla is definitely their best option right now for the right price.

Niklas Svedberg Signs 1-Way $600,000 Contract

Svedberg appears to be a shoe-in for the backup goaltender to Tuukka Rask, barring a major collapse at training camp with his new one-way contract. There are definitely some questions about Svedberg’s inconsistencies as described in my critical post about him on this site: “Boston Bruins: Niklas Svedberg Is Not The Answer.”

Although the critiques of his game still stand, following the announcement that the Bruins were imposed with $4.75 million worth of salary cap penalties, the solution for signing a veteran goaltender is no longer realistic. Svedberg’s $600,000 salary is an excellent move for the cap. Having an inexperienced backup goaltender is just going to be a necessary evil for the B’s. This move also hands the starting role reigns to star prospect Malcolm Subban for the P-Bruins.

If Rask can stay healthy and his game does not go to hell, Svedberg definitely has enough upside to overcome his recent issues to play well in a few games per month. Some of his lackadaisical play last season in Providence could have been a product of getting sick of being in the minors. If that was the case, his promotion to the world class Boston Bruins should cure him of that.

When Svedberg is on his game, he is playing big in goal utilizing a very structured and economical butterfly style. Hopefully Boston fans will see him at his best.

Goaltender Niklas Svedberg and I during a skate at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, RI.

Goaltender Niklas Svedberg and I during a skate at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, RI.

 

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Boston Bruins Budget Puzzle

graphic-design-contractBy Eric Converse

The upcoming NHL draft in Philadelphia on June 27th and 28th, along with the opening of free agency on July 1st should be circled on the calendars of all die-hard Boston Bruins fans. The B’s are tight against the salary cap due to a number of over priced contracts along with the recently reported $4.75 million bonus overage penalties by http://www.capgeek.com.

As of right now with the estimated salary cap ceiling being set at $71,100,000 , the Bruins have $8,397,500 of cap space to resign Jarome Iginla, Reilly Smith, Torey Krug, a replacement for Shawn Thornton, a back up goalie, and depth utility players for the probable playoff run next spring.

This predicament only worsens by next spring when David Krejci, Carl Soderberg, and Dougie Hamilton’s contracts expire. Soderberg and Hamilton will both definitely seeing raises and Krejci’s value could fluctuate depending on his performance next year. His salary is more than likely to go up as he will likely return next season to make up for his shoddy playoff performance.

Without trading any of their current players and trying to resign everyone would put the B’s over the salary cap.

Boston’s current roster is as follows:

Boston Bruins Roster as of June 19th, 2014. (Courtesy of CapGeek.com)

Boston Bruins Roster as of June 19th, 2014. (Courtesy of CapGeek.com)

So, Peter Chiarelli has his work cut out for him. He’s given himself a challenge by signing so many players to contracts that are a bit higher than they are actually worth, along with giving many players no movement clauses.

Many writers have focused the B’s on trying to move third line veteran Chris Kelly, despite his strong penalty killing abilities, which were sorely missed during the Montreal series. Moving his $3 million salary from the team would provide the B’s significant financial flexibility. In the case that he waives the no trade clause, Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon is seeking veteran forward talent to compliment his plethora of recent high draft pick talent. Kelly could be a good fit there.

Loui Eriksson most definitely had a disappointing first season in Boston. His injuries most definitely played a factor, along with trying to adjust to new line-mates later in the season. The hope is that he has a healthy and big turn around season next year by putting up numbers reminiscent of his prime years in Dallas. If not, his $4,250,000 cap hit will begin to look like a huge drag in the line up, despite his defensive contributions.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that the only two defense-men who cannot be touched are Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton, leaving the rest of the core available for trade, in order to sign enough forward talent. Veteran Dennis Seidenberg should be added to that list, along with cap friendly Kevan Miller, who will only get better with experience. Torey Krug should only be kept if he can be resigned for $1.5 million or less. Boychuk is a formidable defense-man, but at his current contract of $3,366,667 per year, moving him off the books would provide further financial flexibility they need.

Upon further review of this current salary cap predicament, it is near impossible for Boston to have a “1B” type of back up to Tuukka Rask, unless, in the unlikely event, someone agrees to a discount contract.

THE PLAN

In the coming weeks, the Bruins most definitely must move either Chris Kelly, Johnny Boychuk, or possibly both players to other teams for draft picks or prospects as a salary dump. In the case that the Bruins can only move one of those players, fourth liner Gregory Campbell could see himself being traded or possibly bought out, due to his team worst face-off percentage, lack of production on a team in need of even more well rounded scoring, and widely reported awful corsi and fenwick statistics.

Ryan Spooner could center a new look fourth line that focuses on offense and speed, that the Merlot line was no longer capable of doing last season. Paille’s numbers would certainly increase with Spoons creativity in the offensive zone.

Reilly Smith and Justin Florek will sign respective deals to fill out most of the right wing. As of now the B’s are expected to resign Jarome Iginla. Hopefully the Bruins can get him to sign for less than his $6 million per year cap hit he had placed on the team last year, due to his decreasing value that should come with age.

Torey Krug may or may not be resigned depending on what happens with Boychuk and the other signings. Krug in no way should be considered a “must sign.” A contract with him should be dependent on how other parts of the roster fall in to place.

Lastly, the Bruins will need to sign practically anyone they select for the back up goalie role to around $1 million or less, which will be a necessary evil for this team.

Below is a very possible line-up scenario based off of the plan above:

One fairly possible iteration of the 2014-15 Boston Bruins roster. (Courtesy of CapGeek.com)

One fairly possible iteration of the 2014-15 Boston Bruins roster. (Courtesy of CapGeek.com)

Providence Bruins forward Bobby Robins could provide a part time enforcer role to add the occasional toughness when needed and provide him the much needed NHL experience to further his development. Matt Fraser, Alexander Khokhlachev, and various other Providence prospects could fill in as well.

Of course, if talks go south between Boston and Iginla, that could significantly alter how Chiarelli approaches the entire roster from both a financial and line up perspective. As of now, talks are positive and on-going. This plan also keeps Brad Marchand on the team, going with the belief that Chiarelli was not bluffing to the media about not shopping him around the league. Despite Milan Lucic’s bloated $6 million, it’s highly unlikely he’s going anywhere.

Piecing this line-up and financial puzzle together is tricky and it’s up to Chiarelli to get this done in order to keep this hot run by the Bruins going.

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Boston Bruins: Niklas Svedberg Is Not The Answer

Bruins Goaltender Niklas Svedberg. (Courtesy of goaliej54)

Bruins Goaltender Niklas Svedberg. (Courtesy of goaliej54)

By Eric Converse

With Boston Bruins goaltender Chad Johnson’s contract coming to end already, there is some discussion that the B’s are considering a change at that position. Some have justifiably called on the Bruins to upgrade the back up slot next season, while others have anointed Providence Bruins goalie Niklas Svedberg as the destined back up goalie next season. The possibility of Svedberg becoming the back up is very real, but it would not be a very good move for the B’s next season.

Johnson had a very good rookie year in the NHL, spot starting in 27 games with a 17-4-3 record, a 2.10 goals against average, and 0.925 save percentage. He played with his positionally conservative butterfly style. He is not very flashy or acrobatic, but despite staying fairly deep in goal, he played his angles very well. His susceptibility to poor rebound control was covered by the Bruins defense clearing all loose pucks in front of him.

With that kind of season in the books, Johnson could be looking at a raise to around or slightly above $1 million per season. The Bruins could very easily sign him to a deal of that amount and he could comfortably take the role of back up.

Johnson should be the Bruins 2nd choice for the back up goalie slot though, as he is only capable of being a back up at the NHL level. He’s not capable of taking on the starting role in the case that Tuukka Rask goes down with an injury. His style is not well suited to playing a long stretch of games against the more elite offensive teams of the NHL, especially in the playoffs.

Many pointed to Niklas Svedberg being the natural replacement of Johnson. He’s honed his skills for two years with the Providence Bruins, being named an AHL all-star and winning the “Baz-Bastien” award (best goalie in the league) in the 2012-13 season. The year before his move to North American hockey, he helped his team, the Brynäs Tigers, win the 2012 Elitserien championship. It all sounds great and he should be an upgrade and a shoe in for the back up position right?

Some serious questions developed for Svedberg during the 2012-13 playoffs after his banner regular season. His rebound control… lost control. He started to look small in net, dropping his shoulders too low when in the butterfly position, getting beat clean on clear perimeter shots. This was the post season that saw much of the PBruins defense core get dismantled with Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski getting called up to Boston, and Zach Trotman was concussed. So it was reasonably argued that the turnover in the defense core contributed to Svedberg’s poor outing in the playoffs.

However, this past season Svedberg added even more doubt to his capabilities of being a solid NHL back up at this point in his career. His goals against average bloated from 2.17 to 2.63 and at times he looked listless in the net. His issues from the 2013 post season carried over intermittently throughout the season. At times he was a brick wall and technically sound. Other times his technical issues reared their ugly head. Svedberg needs more time in the AHL to sharpen his game.

This past post-season, Svedberg was given the starting role over top prospect Malcolm Subban. After a couple of poor outings, Subban and Svedberg began splitting the net-minding duties as Providence coach Bruce “Butch” Cassidy was quoted saying Svedberg was not making the saves he needed to make to keep his teams in games. In game 7 of the series against the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, Svedberg let up 4 2nd period goals, and Cassidy pulled him yet again for Subban. Providence was knocked out of the playoffs that night despite a near comeback in the 3rd period.

Svedberg’s Jekyll and Hyde performances, periodic rebound control issues, slow lateral post to post movement, slow glove hand, and crouching too much in the butterfly position are all areas he needs improvement in. A part of Svedberg’s issues are attributed to his heavy workload the last 2 seasons in the AHL as a starter. He always held the back up role for the teams he played for in Europe until his unexpected and miraculous run to the 2012 Elitserien championship.

It can be argued that Svedberg could spot start games like Johnson did last season, with his one game call up to Boston being a small sample of that:

If the Bruins sign Svedberg to Boston next year, significant work with Bruins goaltending coach Bob Essensa would certainly be required to clean up his technique and consistency issues. Even so, Svedberg would still leave the Bruins with a back up goaltender who could not realistically take on the bulk of the workload in the case of a Rask injury, especially in the playoffs.

Another often overlooked point is how the back up goaltender can impact the starter. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli reasoned his initial signing of Chad Johnson last year as a way to create competition for the back up slot between him and Svedberg. Chiarelli should try to force more competition on Rask, despite the fact that he’s the handsomely paid starter.

Ideally, the Bruins should evaluate and sign one of the many upcoming veteran unrestricted free agent goaltenders for a little extra money, before settling with either Johnson or Svedberg.

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Brad Marchand: The Man In Question

Image courtesy of Lisa Gansky

Image courtesy of Lisa Gansky

By Eric Converse

There are rumors abound in recent weeks that winger Brad Marchand is being seriously shopped around by Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli, following yet another disappointing post-season. These reports have floated around the last two off-seasons, but this year the rumors seem more serious.

Marchand’s tenure in Boston has been a roller coaster of production and extracurricular behavior, with controversy occurring both on and off the ice. At the best of times he led the team in goal scoring and goaded teams in to retaliatory penalties. At the worst of times he is listless, embellishing, and offensively silent. His work as a whole generally labels him as a streaky and undisciplined player.

The Bruins squad is due for a bit of a shake up without significantly breaking up the core, after their very disappointing showing against the Montreal. It is no coincidence though that it is always Marchand that is brought up in trade discussions. If it was purely how did each player perform last post season, David Krejci and Milan Lucic would also be on the shopping list, but they are not… barring a sudden and HIGHLY… HIGHLY unexpected blockbuster move.

The Argument For Trading Marchand

Recent playoff performance is first and foremost the primary reason to trade Marchand. Following his incredible rookie playoff run scoring 11 goals and 8 assists (2 goals in game 7 of the Cup Final), Marchand’s numbers have progressively worsened with each passing year culminating with this year’s ghost-like 0 goal performance.

He did get 5 assists! Yay!

Also, the term “ghost-like” is rather inaccurate, as he put himself in the spotlight early in the playoffs by missing two pointblank chances in the slot against the Detroit Red Wings Jimmy Howard. His lack of scoring touch was actually front and center.

Marchand did have very solid regular season numbers, putting up 25 goals and 28 assists, playing in all 82 games, but this year’s Presidents’ Trophy aside, the Bruins want a team built for the playoffs, not the 82 game season.

The 2nd major issue with Marchand has been his discipline issues on and off the ice. His on the edge/over the edge behavior is a bit of a catch-22. He is at his best when he plays with a chip on his shoulder and is in the face of his opponents. During those streaks he also exhibits flashes of incredible stick handling ability and has a flash of a wrist shot that goes right under the bar. Too often though, Marchand would take his intensity one step too far.

For the duration of Marchand’s time with Boston, he’s periodically been sat down by coaches, management, and occasionally teammates to settle down and play a cleaner game. He’s responded to these interventions and cleans up his game for stretches, but how many more years would the Bruins want to put up with this?

Last and actually least, is his off ice behavior. Marchand is infamous for his post-cup celebration in 2011, where legend has it, he was rarely sober for about 2 months. His close friendship to Tyler Seguin has also created an interesting dynamic. Since being traded, Seguin is quoted in saying that the Bruins lockeroom culture is conservative and too serious. It is widely reported that Marchand misses Seguin’s presence on the team. Parts of Bruins management likely sense that Marchand is no longer a good personality fit for the team, along with all of the other issues with his play on the ice.

The Bruins are smart to shop Marchand and his $4.5 million salary that is slated to end in 2017. A player with his kind of regular season production is very marketable to middle of the pack teams seeking that ounce more of depth in their offensive production to make them a contender. This also rids the Bruins of a streaky, inconsistent, and undisciplined player, opening a slot to further strengthen a changing second line Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith.

The Quick Counter Argument to Ponder

Despite Marchand’s recent dip in production in the playoffs, the Bruins would be wise to keep Marchand, as this is only a statistical anomaly. His regular season numbers were very strong, being 3rd on the team in goals (25), and 5th in overall points (53). It is not like, Marchand is unproven in the playoffs. He’s demonstrated full well the ability to perform under pressure:

His impressive post season in 2011 is not going to be a flash in the pan. He had fairly strong numbers in the 2013 post season, which would have been even stronger if his line-mate Jaromir Jagr had better finish. In 2014, his two missed open netters in the Detroit series were more of a product of bad puck luck, as it went up on edge each time the puck went on his stick blade. He probably started gripping the stick too much for the remainder of this year’s playoffs, but will come with a renewed focus for the 2014-2015 season.

More importantly, Marchand is 26 years old. He’s about to enter the period where most players enter the prime of their career. He’s significantly cleaned up his game in recent seasons and has not gone over the line quite as often as he did 3 years ago. Marchand will mature completely in to the well rounded player the team has only season flashes of so far in his career. Keeping him on the line with the forever steady Patrice Bergeron and burgeoning star of Reilly Smith, the 2nd line could be one of the best in the league next season. Why risk ruining the years of chemistry built between Bergeron and Marchand, over a knee-jerk reaction to a temporary drop in playoff scoring?

What should happen?

There are many ways of evaluating him and coming to a opposite conclusions, as seen in this article alone. It is a complicated situation. The Bruins should only trade Marchand if they are getting a definitive scorer in return. There are rumors on http://mynhltraderumors.com/ that B’s might trade him to get an offensive defensemen like Keith Yandle or Alex Edler, which would be a huge mistake. The Bruins already have a ton of offensive defensemen and need more finish up front to make a true run at the cup next season. If no 25+ goal scorers are available for direct trade for Marchand (or some combination with draft picks), the risk would be too high that the B’s would end up downgrading on their 2nd line left wing slot.

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