Monthly Archives: September 2009

Is it Tuuka Time?

Tuuka Rask

Tuuka Rask

First off, apologies for the long hiatus – I’ve been swamped with school and internship responsibilities; but I’m sure you don’t really care. Anyways, moving on…

As good as Tim Thomas is, he is not getting any younger.

Even though Thomas was signed to a 4-year extension, don’t think it means that he will be shouldering the goaltending duties alone. Look for 22 year-old Tuuka Rask to spell Thomas to the tune for 25-30 games this year. In fact, I would say that Boston needs Rask now more than ever. Allowing Rask to have see significant game action during a time when Boston is playing high quality hockey takes a lot of pressure off of the young goaltender; it’s not as if the success or failure of the team rests with him as it has with Thomas ever since he pulled on the Spoked-B.

Tuuka Rask was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2005 and was traded to Boston in 2006 for, ahem, Andrew Raycroft (another Brian Burke blunder I have been graciously informed that former Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. was responsible for this trade.) Rask has only played five NHL games (3-1-1) and I’d say that Boston came out the victor in that deal.

Rask has spent the past two seasons with Boston’s AHL affiliate in Providence where he did a great job of adjusting to the North American style of play which is certainly more physical, with more traffic in front of the net. Rask surprised the coaching staff during last year’s training camp when he seriously challenged Manny Fernandez for the back-up job.  In my opinion, he was ready last year. However, Boston’s brass had not expected him to progress so quickly so they signed Fernandez and felt compelled to play him.

In all likelihood, Thomas will not see more than 60 regular season games over the duration of his contract. This leaves the door open for Rask to show that he truly belongs at the NHL level.

Rask is yet unproven; however from seeing his play thus-far (including a 1-0 shutout victory vs. the Rangers last season), he looks to provide Boston with quality goaltending for the foreseeable future.

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Kessel traded to Toronto

kesselSources are confirming that Phil Kessel has been traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Specifics have not been confirmed, but it appears that the compensation is two 1st round picks and a 2nd rounder as well.

I will amend this posting as I receive more info… More info received!

Phil Kessel has been traded to Toronto. He has reportedly signed a 5-year deal worth $27 million. The Bruins will receive two first round picks (one in 2010, the other in 2011) and a second round pick (2010).

And so it ends…sort of. Time will tell who comes out the winner in this deal.

I believe it’s Boston. Boston already has a glut of young (or not-so-old) talent on the team (Krecji, Wheeler, Lucic, Tuuka!, Savard, etc…) Toronto is in serious need of a rebuild, therefore tying up $27 million and giving up high draft picks has the danger of backfiring. Remember, Kessel has yet to play 82 games in a year and has only reached 60 POINTS once.

I’ll be interested to hear what the talk radio personalities in Boston have to say. (Actually, I’m just glad that they are talking hockey at all around here!)

Thoughts?

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Kessel to be Moved by Saturday

kesselAll indications are that disgruntled winger Phil Kessel will be traded by Saturday to either Toronto or Nashville. The (in)famous Eklund, rumor spreader extraordinaire, is reporting that Nashville is “closing in” on a deal tonight. I’ll believe it when I see it. Even with the questionable validity of the Nashville rumor, multiple sources are confirming that he will be moved sometime this week.

If you have lived in New England for any period of time, you know that the fans and media won’t let this situation die after Kessel leaves town; they will question the move — much more than they questioned Patriots coach Bill Belichick for trading Richard Seymour — and admonish the ownership for reverting to the all-too-farmiliar Jeremy Jacobs style of team management: trading away stars in order to save money.

Hogwash.

Kessel is great player, but he’s soft, which is why he will never achieve true elite status. Players like Ovechkin and Crosby will not only score 40 goals per year, but they will hit you. They will fight you. Kessel on the other hand, needs protection. He just doesn’t fit into Head Coach Claude Julien’s gameplan of tight checking and body-sacrificing.

Peter Chiarelli, Boston’s general manager, has made enough good personel decisions to warrant the trust of the Garden faithful. I’m sure that whomever (or whatever) he recieves in return for Kessel will be more than adequate.

Now we wait…

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Where will Phil land? Certainly not Boston.

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The latest news is that Nashville Predators GM has confirmed that he has been in discussions with Boston regarding Phil Kessel, and as we all know, Toronto is also in the hunt for the young forwards’ services.

Nashville does not have much to offer Boston via trade; perhaps Shea Weber (D) and Martin Erat (RW), but not much beyond that. Furthermore, I don’t believe that the Predators would want to part with Erat if they had Kessel coming in.

Toronto of course, attempted to ship Tomas Kaberle to the Bruins this June, however his no-trade clause has kicked in, meaning that Kaberle would have to approve of any trade. Toronto has more than just Kaberle to offer; Niclas Hagman (LW), Mikhail Grabovski (C), and 19 year-old Luke Schenn (D) would all look great in Black and Gold.

Stay tuned for updates.

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What about Phil? — Part Deux.

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Word on the street is that Phil Kessel is no longer actively seeking a to re-sign with the Bruins.

Is this a huge problem? No.

Sure, I would love to see Kessel in Black & Gold for the rest of his career, but he’s not at the price that he is demanding. He’s simply not worth it. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good player and boy, can he score goals, but as I said two weeks ago, I think he is simply too fragile to warrant $5M/year — especially with a bum shoulder.

The Bruins should trade him for a high quality, reliable, scoring defenseman, *ahem*, Tomas Kaberle anyone? During last years playoff series against Carolina, the Bruins clearly missed the presence of Andrew Ferrence and Aaron Ward. It was Boston’s inability to get the puck out of their own end which wore them down and cost them the series. The team will continue to score goals with or without Kessel; everyone saw how important quality defensive help can be.

Kessel is a great scorer with natural offensive instincts, but he needs to get over himself. It’s just his third year in the league, and he’s yet to score forty goals in a season — I know he had mono last year — and he only has one move; that toe-drag-inside wrist-shot thing he does. Defenders had that figured out by December. I went to fifteen games last year and I’ve never seen one player have so many shots blocked.

That said, he’s still a good player, and the B’s need to move him while his value is still high.

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Quick Hits – Claude Julien

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The Bruins announced that they have re-signed Head Coach Claude Julien to a multi-year contract extension.

Coach Julien, 2009 winner of the Jack Adams award (best Coach) has had nothing but success while behind the bench in Beantown. During his first season, the Bruins posted a respectable 94 points, an 18 point improvement over 2006/07. They lost in seven games to Montreal, but that series, most notably Game 6, rekindled fan interest in the Boys of Winter.

Obviously, the Bruins had another impressive campaign last year, finishing first in the Eastern Conference, but their early playoff exit at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes has left Julien, and the Bruins as a whole, with a palpable sense of disappointment and eagerness; a mixture that when properly channeled can, and should propel the Bruins deep into the 2010 playoffs.

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Why Boston loves Tim Thomas:

He wins. Period.

Most sportswriters in the Boston area will try and draw parallels between the blue-collared spirit of Boston’s people and the yeoman’s journey undertaken by Tim Thomas to reach the NHL; I think it’s more basic than that. He’s just a winner and doesn’t shy away from anyone.

When Thomas decked Andrei Kostitsyn last January (see above video) and played vigilante against perennial pest Sean Avery on April 4,he forever Continue reading

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