Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Rask: Tuukka Blanks Oilers, Reminds Leafs Nation of What Could Have Been

The fact that the red-hot Edmonton Oilers managed only 19 shots on Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask in Boston's 2-0 shutout win on Halloween at the TD Garden shouldn't detract from the fact that the 22-year-old played an excellent game. But what Rask's win, his second of the season, represents to the Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans is the price of making hasty and bad decisions.

Rask was the 21st overall pick of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by Toronto, and the following year, he won top goalie honors at the World Under-20 Championship Tournament in Vancouver. However, Toronto and then-GM John Ferguson Jr. were entranced with the WJC's overall MVP, Team Canada goalie Justin Pogge, who stole the show on home ice after being a third-round pick for the Leafs in '04. Although the fact that Toronto had two outstanding young netminders in the system should have been reason enough for the team to protect their seeming embarrassment of riches, Ferguson instead pulled the trigger on a curious trade six months after Rask shined on the world stage.

At the 2006 draft (held in in, ironically enough, Vancouver) Toronto gave Rask to Boston even-up for one-time NHL Rookie of the Year, Andrew Raycroft, who had struggled mightily in the first full season after the lockout for Boston. On the surface, it appeared that Toronto was getting a young, in-his-prime netminder who had showed considerable promise just two years prior en route to the 2003-04 Calder Trophy, while Rask seemed a long way off from ever reaching the NHL.

Unfortunately, Toronto fans know that Raycroft's tenure was ultimately a failure. Yes, he set a franchise record for wins in a single season (37), but he proved to be a mediocre talent, unsuited for the requirements of a premium No. 1, let alone the top goalie in the hockey pressure cooker that is Toronto. His departure left Leafs fans with nothing to show for the trade, while having to look longingly at Rask and how his star has risen since the deal was made in June '06.

* Rask played one outstanding year with Ilves Tampere of the Finland top pro league, posting a .928 save percentage on a team that didn't score a whole lot. He got them past one round of the playoffs before falling to league powerhouse Jokerit, but joined the Providence Bruins in the spring of '07 to begin the acclimation process after signing his entry level contract with Boston.

* His first pro season showed flashes of the hype which preceded him. He made his NHL debut against Toronto when Manny Fernandez reinjured his knee, winning the game and rubbing the first salt into what is going to be some deep wounds over the years. Although he didn't distinguish himself in any of his other three NHL games that year, he did manage to post 27 AHL victories in 45 games with Providence.

* In his second full North American season in 2008-09, Rask took off, winning 33 games and leading Providence to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they fell to the eventual Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears. He started just one NHL game, but it was a memorable one, blanking the New York Rangers for his first NHL whitewash. Going into the 2009-10 season, there seemed little doubt that Rask was ready to be Tim Thomas' backup.

As Toronto continues to get mediocre goaltending, whether it be from Vesa Toskala or Jonas Gustavsson, their fans are reminded of what could have been every time they see Rask in action for the Bruins. As he is behind the reigning Vezina Trophy winner in Thomas, he'll probably get about 30-35 starts this season. The Leafs could sure use a player of his caliber, especially since their club doesn't lack for gritty, try-hard types. However, without the pure talent of other NHL clubs, they must have better goaltending than what they've gotten.

And the guy Toronto chose to keep while sending Rask to Beantown? Pogge was an utter disaster last season for the Leafs, going 1-4-1 with an .844 save percentage in seven games. Only the most sycophantic and delusional Leafs boosters would argue that the team made the right call on Pogge, or that he has any business being an upper echelon NHL netminder. The team was so unimpressed with his performance and long-term upside that they traded him to the Anaheim Ducks, where he began the season with the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL. Ouch.

So, lift your glasses to Toronto, B's fans. Their loss is your gain. Their anguish, your salvation. Few would argue that if Rask were shouldering the load for them right now, they'd likely have a few more wins.

Given how critical the position is, and how Toronto GM Brian Burke staked his professional reputation by giving away important picks for a player who's good at filling the net with pucks and not keeping them out, Boston fans should give thanks that Rask wears black and gold and not blue and white these days.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stars beat Leafs in OT to Keep 'Em in the Cellar

The Dallas Stars got some late-game heroics from one of Bruins fandom's villains when Mike Ribeiro scored with less than 3 minutes left in regulation to pull his team even. The Stars then got an overtime goal from James Neal to grab a 4-3 victory and drop Toronto to 1-7-2 in their first 10 games.

Jonas Gustavsson was in net for the Leafs and posted an .889 save percentage- not the kind of numbers that are going to keep Toronto winning a lot of games this year. He's been OK (better than Vesa Toskala, which is kind of like saying that Josh Johnson played a little better than Byron Leftwich in Tampa), but mediocre goaltending isn't going to get it done for a team that has a below-average forward group and whose high-priced defense has struggled in the early going.

Oh, and the NY Islanders put a point of distance between themselves and the Leafs with a win over their cross-town rivals, the Rangers, last night. The Wild and Panthers, who very well could vie for the dubious honor of worst record when all is said and done this season, lost to the Predators and Senators respectively. Both are ahead of Toronto in the standings, but not by much.

Although the Leafs lost, they did post points in consecutive road games, which gives their fans a reason for small hope...but not much. This is still a bad team, and even with Phil Kessel's imminent arrival, without a premier player in Marc Savard's class to get him the puck, I don't know how much offense he'll generate with that moribund group up front.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

2010 NHL Draft Venue Set- I love L.A.!

Los Angeles Kings beat reporter Rich Hammond reported that the NHL has notified team officials that the 2010 NHL Entry Draft will be held in Los Angeles June 25-26. More here: (With h/t to Jimmy Murphy at

This is good news, as the instability in Phoenix (the preferred draft destination) finally forced the league to make the call. Normally, we know several years in advance where the draft will take place, and while Scottsdale, Arizona would have been nice, L.A. is a nice secondary option and will make for a fun trip.

I'm hoping that the NHL will elect to hold the '11 draft in Washington, D.C. The Capitals are a hot draw and the Verizon Center is downtown, a stone's throw from Chinatown and would be a great place for draft fans to congregate before and after the lottery. (Not to mention that with four picks in the first two rounds in '11, Bruins fans could make the trip to Washington much easier than most other NHL cities). For now, however, it's a West Coast show and I'm looking very much forward to attending and spending more than a few hours in Los Angeles.

Medicine Hat Tigers forward Emerson Etem is an L.A. native and told the Red Line Report that the '10 draft in his hometown would be "a dream," so it looks like dreams do come true.

Bruins 2010 1st, 2nd round pick position Updated!

If the season ended today, the Bruins would be picking in the following positions in the first and second rounds:

1st round

1st overall (Toronto- 3 pts)
12th overall (Boston- 11 pts)

2nd round

31st overall (Toronto- 3 pts)
39th overall (Tampa Bay- 9 pts- one fewer win than St. Louis, Atlanta gives preference to Lightning)
41st overall (Boston- 11 pts)

This does not take the lottery into consideration and there is still another 70+ games left in the season, so don't read too much into it. Still, those picks as they currently stand will provide some nice leverage for Peter Chiarelli in any trade talks, never mind providing legitimate re-stocking of the B's system if most/all are used in June.

Leafs Pluck Ducks...Still in Last Place

You knew that Toronto's winless slide wouldn't last forever, and late last night, they rode a Niklas Hagman hat trick to a 6-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center, the first game of an extended road trip for the Leafs. Defenseman Tomas Kaberle had a five-point night on the strength of a goal and four helpers

The battle of the Jonas Brothers (Gustavsson and Hiller that is) was won by the Toronto rookie, who stopped 25 of 28 shots for his first NHL win.

Former Bruin Petteri Nokelainen opened the scoring for Anaheim, netting his first of the season 10:28 into the game, but Hagman responded with his first on the night at 15:50 to pull even and it was off to the races after that.

Toronto now is 1-7-1 with 3 points, two behind the Florida Panthers, who don't look to be getting better anytime soon, with David Booth out for an undetermined amount of time with a concussion suffered against Philadelphia's Mike Richards on Saturday.

Toronto next faces the Stars in Dallas on Wednesday. Dallas is a Jeckyll and Hyde team- I was in attendance at Boston's shutout against them two Fridays ago, and they looked completely listless and overmatched, only to watch them travel to Chicago and beat the Blackhawks the next night. There is no telling which Stars team will take the ice against the Leafs.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hat tip to Mark Recchi

Mark Recchi has been one of the more maligned (dare I say scapegoated) players for the Boston Bruins this year, and I think that people who focus their energies on the soon-to-be 42-year-old winger who just played his 1,500th NHL game against Ottawa last night should be focusing their angst elsewhere.

Recchi, who tipped home a Derek Morris point shot for just his second goal in 10 games, pulled the Bruins to within one with less than 1:30 remaining in the third, allowing for David Krejci to do the same to pull even before the game clock expired. What Recchi did for Boston went beyond the obvious impact on the scoresheet: he made a veteran play under pressure, something that we all tend to take for granted when we clamor for our favorite young rooks to be in the lineup ahead of the aging, but far more experienced and savvy players like Recchi.

Fans complain that Recchi is too slow and can't keep up with the play. I don't disagree with that assessment completely; even in his prime, the 'Recchin' Ball' was not a speedster. Now in his 40's, he's clearly lost a couple of steps. However, what he loses in pure speed, he makes up for in smarts and creativity. Too often, hockey fans look at the bottom line: production. Yet, I've seen several games this season where Recchi has made heady plays and excellent passes, only to see linemates muff them or opposing goalies make great saves. True- it's all about what you finish off- but at the same time, I find that Recchi critics don't deign to take any of this into consideration when they bash him.

I know this post will generate some controversy and possibly even some hurt feelings. I certainly understand why people criticize Recchi, but my point is more along the lines of this: if you are going to spend your time and energy railing on a guy who has been dependable and consistent over the entire course of his career, then you're a lot like the dead people in the great movie "The Sixth Sense" in that you only see what you want to see. If you think that Boston's fortunes are going to depend on Mark Recchi or, more to the point- the young, inexperienced player who would replace him in the lineup, then I just don't think you're on the mark. The Bruins' early mediocrity and struggles go well beyond Recchi and the fact that he isn't one of the team's more productive players. The bottom line is this: aside from Morris, the defense as a whole hasn't been anywhere near as good as it needs to. Players like Dennis Wideman, Mark Stuart and Matt Hunwick are far more critical to Boston's success this season than Recchi will be whether he scores or doesn't.

The fact is- Recchi plays because he knows what to do at crunch time. Unlike the youngsters, who are, whether you want to hear it or not, going to be wildcards with the game on the line and time running out. Recchi went to the net late in Ottawa and put the puck past Brian Elliott to pull the Bruins to within one. Then, on Krejci's tying tally, he was part of the play, moving the puck into the right space to where Morris could get it and make the right play. That kind of a thing isn't going to jump out at you, but it's indicative of a smart veteran who understands where the shooting lanes are and isn't going to panic under pressure.

I won't lie- I've always liked Recchi, so his haters can certainly chalk this post up to just another example of Kirk going out of his way to defend a player he's taken a shine to. Guilty as charged, but I'll tell you- Recchi has earned more respect than he gets from people in my humble opinion. He's a good guy off the ice and a true pro who gets it and is a good teammate. You also have to love the fact that the guy who is the active leader in scoring right now was a fourth-round pick who was passed over in his first two years of eligibility. Why? Because he was small and slow, yet somehow, depsite the warts, Recchi has gone on to become a lock for the Hall of Fame.

It's like the late Patrick Swayze said when he played Hamilton Mustangs captain Derek Sutton in "Youngblood": "To the game and getting out of this hick town! Thank God there is a sport for middle-sized white boys. "

Kamloops, B.C.'s own Recchi has done just that, and he's part of the solution in Boston, not the problem.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Canucks Drop Leafs; Toronto Off to Worst Start in Team History

The Toronto Maple Leafs played better than they have in most if not all games this season, hanging in with Vancouver on the road, but ultimately losing 3-1 to fall to 0-7-1.

From what I saw (I was flipping back and forth between the Bruins and Leafs tonight), Toronto put in a good effort. I thought former Bruins goalie Joey MacDonald keep the Leafs in the game, but for Toronto to win, they have to not only outwork their opponent, but get lucky as well. With Roberto Luongo at the other end of the ice, that was a tall order and it ended predictably.

A couple of notes. Toronto fans really have to be disgusted with Mike Komisarek. After having a goal go in off his head last week, he knocked the puck into the net again tonight, giving Vancouver a 1-0 lead. When the guy is brought in to be your shutdown D and he keeps gaffing, and given the money he's making, it's like adding insult to injury.

TSN graphic said that the Leafs have yet to score first this season, which of course means that they're always playing from behind, which is a surefire recipe for the basement.

Brian Burke won't sit and wait forever...the psyche of this team won't hold up as the losses mount. And, watching Luke Schenn get destroyed in his fight with Tanner Glass tonight had to be like rubbing salt in the wounds. So, I think something will give at some point with Burke making some kind of move, but he's got very little to work with. No draft picks to speak of and a pretty bare cupboard with too many overpriced, underperforming vets on the payroll.

Bruins fans continue to be jazzed, especially with the 4-3 shootout win over Ottawa tonight.

The Sabres also gave the B's a reason to be happy when Drew Stafford scored with 16 seconds left in regulation to force overtime against Tampa Bay. Towering rookie D Tyler Myers won it for Buffalo in the shootout, robbing the Bolts of the extra point. The B's own Tampa's second pick this year, so the more points they miss out on, the better for Boston.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bruins acquire Daniel Paille from Buffalo for two 2010 picks

The Boston Bruins acquired former 1st-round pick (20th overall in 1992) Daniel Paille from the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday for Boston's 3rd-round selection and a conditional 4th-rounder in 2010.

The 25-year-old left wing came from the Guelph Storm of the OHL, posting a career-best 37 goals and 80 points in 57 games in 2004 before joining the Sabres organization.

This move has B's Assistant GM Jim Benning's fingerprints on it, as he was Buffalo's director of amateur scouting in 2002 when Darcy Regier made Paille the team's top pick. Paille became an NHL regular in the 07-08 season with a 19-goal rookie season, but dipped to just 12 markers last year. In two games thus far prior to the trade, he has no goals and an assist. Oh, and in that '02 draft, Benning picked a guy late you may have heard of- Dennis Wideman- so, if the B's can capture lightning in a bottle again with Paille, this may turn out to be another one of those under-the-radar deals that Peter Chiarelli has been adept at making. Time will tell.

My friend and die-hard Bruins fan, Jeff MacKey, made an interesting point this morning that Paille was acquired at around the same age as Chuck Kobasew was when the B's picked him up from Calgary. That's not to say that Paille will go on to become the 20-goal guy Kobasew was for Boston over the last two seasons, but he's young, relatively cheap ($1.125M) and provides some speed, penalty killing proficiency and scoring potential as he enters his prime.

The downside is that the Bruins give up their third-rounder, a top-90 selection. Given that they currently have five choices in the top-60, it's not that big a loss-- you had to believe that Boston wasn't going to keep all 11 of their picks. There's also a conditional fourth-round pick involved (as long as he hits 15 goals)- I don't know if it is Carolina's or Boston's, but assuming that the B's lose one of the fourths, that leaves them with 9 picks in 2010.

For now, Paille should help with Boston's woeful PK, and if the trade can light a bit of a spark in him, he just might pop in 10-15 goals from here on out, which is nothing to sneeze at. Some Bruins fans aren't pleased with the move, but the PK needed serious re-tooling, and he'll certainly address that. With Marc Savard (broken foot) and Milan Lucic (broken finger) both out, Vladimir Sobotka and Brad Marchand will get their chance at this level. But, you have to wonder how well Boston will do without its top scorer and 2/3 of its top line out of action for the immediate future. Paille and the youngsters are not going to fix that void in the lineup.

Bruins 2010 Picks at a Glance...updated


3rd- To Buffalo for Dan Paille 10/20/09
*4th- Conditional to Buffalo for Dan Paille?


Tampa Bay

**Conditonal to Buffalo for Dan Paille? Either or- the Bruins will retain one of the fourth-rounders they currently possess.

Total picks: 10* (Conditions-based)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Leafs winless...STILL?

The downward spiral in Toronto continues...after Saturday's 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers, the team is 0-6-1, and the wailing and gnashing of teeth continues in Leaf land.

Now, we all know that at some point, the team will get off the schneid and start winning some games, but does anyone really think that, barring some kind of miracle turn around (Wendel Clark is not walking through that door...Johnny Bower is not walking through that door...Borje Salming is not walking through that door!) that Toronto has the horses to pull off any kind of playoff run?

If the season ended today, the Bruins would be looking at the following picks overall in the first two rounds (not taking into account the lottery system):

1st (Toronto)
9th (Boston)
31st (Toronto)
38th (Tampa Bay)
39th (Boston)

OK- we know that Boston isn't as bad as they currently are sitting in the standings, but that's the kind of haul that should make all draftniks dance a little jig.

We'll do this pick update every Monday, so be sure to check back at the first of every week to see where Boston is picking.

2011 Bruins Draft Picks At A Glance

The Phil Kessel and Chuck Kobsasew trades have set the Bruins up well in the next two drafts. Although 2011 is currently projected as a weak class, anything could change between now and then, and having multiple selections in the first two rounds is never a bad thing.

Here's an update on where Boston stands in '11:




9 picks total, with four in the first 60.

Kobasew trade adds to pick bounty, organizational depth

By now, you've heard that Boston winger Chuck Kobasew was traded to the Minnesota Wild for a prospect, journeyman minor leaguer and Minnesota's second-round pick in 2011.

Kobasew was a popular player among Bruins fans because of his hard-driving style and energy. He put up a pair of 20-goal seasons for the B's, but became a victim of a tight cap in Beantown and goes to a team that will be able to use his attributes well. His age (26) and the fact that he has another year remaining on his reasonable cap hit made him a desireable commodity and the trade itself is not a surprise. The timing a is abit curious with Milan Lucic out for the next month or so with a hand injury, but his being on the IR and Kobasew's departure opens the door for a pair of impressive young forwards who were off to good starts in Providence: Brad Marchand and Vladimir Sobotka.

As for Boston, they receive prospect Alexander Fallstrom, Minnesota's fourth-round pick, 116th overall, in last June's draft (ironically enough- acquired with the selection Boston had sent to them with Petr Kalus as part of the Manny Fernandez trade).

Fallstrom spent two years at the storied Shattuck St. Mary's prep school in Faribault, MN, leading them in scoring last year with 87 points in 57 games. Shattuck has produced some legitimate NHL stars: Sidney Crosby, Zach Parise, Jonathan Toews and Kyle Okposo to name a few, and the B's hope that Fallstrom, despite the fact that he was passed over in the '08 NHL draft and was only a fourth-round pick last year can continue that trend. The Swedish right winger, who passed on the more traditional route of joining a hockey club in his native country and moving up through the junior system to the eventual pro ranks, is in his first year at Harvard University under the tutelage of former Bruin Ted Donato. He joins an impressive freshman class which includes fellow '09 draftee Louis Leblanc (first round- Montreal). Fallstrom, who would have been the youngest player drafted had he been picked in '08 (with his birthdate falling right on the Sep. 15 deadline), has excellent size (6-foot-2, 192 pounds) and an all-around game, but needs to improve his quickness and refine his game. Harvard isn't exactly a great program to develop NHL prospects in, so it will be interesting to see how he progresses.

Craig Weller is a 28-year-old hard-nosed forward who was a former fifth-round pick of the St. Louis Blues in 2000 and has bounced around in various organizations never scoring more than 12 goals in a full minor league season, and tallying three times with the Phoenix Coyotes in his longest NHL stint of 59 games two years ago. He'll provide some useful experience and toughness down in Providence. He had one assist and seven penalty minutes in five games with the Houston Aeros before the trade.

The second-round pick could be in the top-15, given Minnesota's current struggles, but regardless of position, gives Peter Chiarelli another asset he can either keep or use to improve his hockey club in the present. Draft picks are becoming increasingly valuable in this age of cost certainty, so with five picks in the first two rounds of 2010, and another four in 2011, the Bruins GM is setting himself up nicely to be a legitimate player when upper-tier veteran talent is put on the market by sellers looking to get some value. For years, former Chicago Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon stockpiled high picks and look where his team is now (although a shame Tallon isn't around to reap the benefits of having built a legitimate contender), so if Chiarelli holds onto many of the picks, the Bruins will be major players at the draft table and should receive a real infusion of youth and talent to their system.

Kobasew is a good guy who played well for the Bruins, so this is one of those trades that you chalk up to being beneficial to both sides. Wild fans will like him, and his increased role on that club should see him finding the back of the net right away and making a positive impact.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blood Is Thicker Than Water Pt. 1

When Bruins Director of Player Personnel Scott Bradley was the team's chief amateur scout, he liked drafting "bloodlines"-- that is, sons or relatives of proven NHL players.

This trend for the B's started in 2002, when they grabbed a former division rival, the great Peter Stastny's son, Yan Stastny, in the eighth round. A year later, Boston selected the scion of one of the team's old Bruins killers, Pierre Mondou when they took his son, Benoit Mondou in the eighth round. In 2004, Boston got another former Hab kid in Ben Walter, whose father Ryan was an outstanding two-way forward with the Canadiens and Capitals. In 2005, their bloodlines pick went to a European player, Petr Kalus, whose father of the same name was a Czech pro league star. In 2006, they picked Milan Lucic, whose uncle, Dan Kesa was an NHL forward mostly with the Vancouver Canucks. Additonally, top selection Phil Kessel's (who, thanks to his trade to Toronto is responsible for this blog!) dad was a pro football player, a quarterback drafted by the Washington Redskins who played in the Canadian Football League. 2007 broke the string, but they went back to the bloodlines with a pair of players, first taking Max Sauve, son of NHLer J.F. Sauve and nephew of Bob Sauve (and cousin of Bruin-for-a-minute Philippe Sauve) in the second round. They followed up in the fourth round with former Bruin Scott Arniel's nephew, Jamie Arniel. In 2010, Lane MacDermid, whose father Paul was a pest with the Hartford Whalers back in the kelly green days of the black and blue rivalry with the B's, had his name called in the fourth round. Final pick Ben Sexton's dad Randy is the current Florida Panthers GM and former Ottawa Senators manager as well. He didn't play in the NHL, but was an accomplished collegian at St. Lawrence University.

The 2010 draft class has no shortage of sons and relatives of former NHLers looking to add to the family legacy.

In the first round, Minnesota super high schooler Nick Bjugstad, a preseason favorite for the state's prestigious Mr. Hockey designation, ranked solidly in the first round- always a good sign before the season starts, as major junior and European players are able to showcase their talents ahead of the high school prospects. His uncle, Scott, played on the 1984 U.S Olympic Team and had one 40-goal NHL season with his hometown Minnesota North Stars amidst a journeyman career spent bouncing between the NHL and minors.

Jarred Tinordi is a chip off the old block- his dad, Mark was a hard-hitting defenseman who played mostly for the North Stars and Washington Capitals. At 6-foot-4, 185 pounds, he has a lot of filling out to do, but is on the U.S. NTDP Under-18 Team in Ann Arbor, where he'll get the conditioning and hockey focus that should stand him in good stead when he jumps to the NCAA.

Another Minnesota player from Warroad H.S., big center Brock Nelson, is related to a player who should register with B's fans. His uncle, Dave Christian was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic "Miracle on Ice" team and played for the Bruins from 1989-91, skating on the last Boston squad to reach the Stanley Cup Finals in 1990. He is currently projected as a second-rounder who could move up if he was a big year with the Warriors. Another Warroad High alum- T.J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues, beat the Bruins in a memorable shootout game last season

Another Brock-- Brock Beukeboom-- the son of NHL defenseman Jeff Beukeboom, plays for the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and is big (6-1, 202) and physical like his dad. He also skates pretty well and flashed some underrated hockey skills at the Ivan Hlinka tourney as a member of Team Canada's gold medal squad.

Oshawa's Christian Thomas has gotten off to a nice scoring start with the Generals, and who is really surprised, given that his dad, Steve Thomas, was one of the most productive and unheralded scorers of his time. Besides appearing in the movie "Youngblood" Thomas was an undrafted free agent who began his NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs (and eventually finished there) became a multiple 40-goal man. His son is on the small side, but the right winger will likely keep moving up the draft boards if he keeps putting the puck in the net.

I'll be back with more bloodlines players and guys to watch with NHL family backgrounds with my next post.

I'm going away for a few days, so I may not be able to update until the weekend some time.

Thanks for reading!

Boston 2010 Draft Picks At A Glance- Updated!

An astute poster who goes by the handle BFonzy over at Hockey's Future Boards (that's for those of you who somehow stumbled across this blog without having ever visited there) pointed out that I missed a pick the Bruins have in this draft.

On July 24, the Bruins sent veteran defenseman Aaron Ward to the Carolina Hurricanes for Pat Eaves and Carolina's fourth-round choice in 2010.'s the new updated pick list:



Tampa Bay


Total picks: 11

1st round- 2
2nd round- 3
3rd round- 1
4th round- 2
5th round- 1
6th round- 1
7th round- 1

I'd be surprised if Boston kept all of their picks going into the draft...depending on what kind of trades Peter Chiarelli makes, I would guess that one of the 2nds and either Boston's 3rd or one of the 4ths are prime candidates to be moved if a deal involving draft choices are involved.

Thanks for setting me straight, BFonzy...Byron Bitz was a fourth-round pick in 2003 (and Mark Recchi was too- waaaaay back in 1988), so you never discount them, even if they aren't all that sexy at first blush.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Leafs still winless

Toronto dropped a 4-1 loss to the young and upstart Colorado Avalanche at home, dropping them to 0-5-1, and in the NHL's basement for the early going.

I still remember the 1993-94 season, when Toronto set a record for the most wins to start a year. Pat Burns was head coach, Dougie Gilmour was Mr. Everything and Felix "the Cat "Potvin was a stonewall in net.

What a reversal of fortune. Obviously, the Leafs are going to win a game soon, but when the Bruins started out like this in 1999-00, they ended up picking seventh. Even the seventh pick in the 2010 draft is going to yield a heck of a nice player.

Red Line Report's Top-5 For October

Just got the October issue of the independent scouting service Red Line Report's monthly bulletin. Chief Scout Kyle Woodlief and his staff do terrific work- I've been a subscriber since the 1999-00 season.

Interesting surprise at the top of Red Line's list for this month: Plymouth Whalers star Tyler Seguin has taken top honors given his outstanding performance at the Ivan Hlinka (Eight Nations) Tournament in Slovakia back in August in leading Team Canada's Under-18 to a gold medal (a dominant performance by any standard, as the Canadians outscored their opponents 27-7), and then his torrid first month in the OHL, leading the league in scoring with 14 goals and 25 points in just 10 games. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound center can do everything well and has the leadership and character to boot. Obviously, if he keeps this up, he'll be rated as a franchise cornerstone-type talent. Oh, and he's apparently doing all of this without the help of linemate R.J. Mahalak, who had shoulder surgery and will be out for upwards of 2 months.

The highly-touted, uber-skilled left wing Taylor Hall, the preseason consensus favorite to go 1st overall has been outstanding in his own right (10-12-22 in 11 games; not quite Seguin-outstanding) with the stacked Windsor Spitfires, the favorite to defend their Memorial Cup title, is 2nd on Red Line's rankings. And again- they're not doing it to knock Hall- they're just giving credit where due. I loved what I saw of this guy in last year's Memorial Cup, and he's still an obvious favorite to regain top billing before the season is over with his pure speed, hands and top-shelf hockey IQ and vision.

American defenseman Cam Fowler, who bailed on a commitment to Notre Dame University to join Hall and the rest of the high-flying Spits, is 3rd and playing well with 15 helpers and 17 points in 11 games in his first OHL season. He'd be the perfect kind of marquee defenseman for Boston if the Bruins could somehow land him: he's an explosive skater with top-end speed and agility, excellent size and the vision/offensive hockey sense to be a point producer at the highest level.

Given Toronto's slow start, B's fans at least right now can look at these three as the definitive trio to have on their wishlist next June. We'll see how it all shakes out- the Leafs are destined to start winning any day now, but from this perspective at least, Brian Burke did that team no favors in terms of how they are constructed, so a lottery pick for Boston is not out of the question.

Whither Seguin, Hall or Fowler? All three look like sure bets at the next level and you can't go wrong with any of them!

Rounding out Red Line's top-five are a pair of Russian players: RW Vladimir Tarasenko who skates for Novosibirsk and LW Kirill Kabanov (who has not yet played for the Moncton Wildcats pending an appeal for release from the IIHF). More on these guys later, as the season goes on.

Next post will be a tribute to the many blood lines/son of former NHL players who are going to be available in the 2010 draft. Sons of Scott Bjugstad and Mark Tinordi are projected to be first-round selections, and there are several more names you'll recognize as the list goes deeper.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bruins 2010 picks at a glance

As it stands right now, the Bruins are looking at the following picks in the 2010 draft:


1st (Acquired with 2010 2nd and 2011 1st for Phil Kessel)

Tampa Bay
2nd (Acquired with Mark Recchi for Matt Lashoff and Martins Karsums)

So- 10 picks total, but five in the first 60, which could be huge. Draftniks beware, however- Peter Chiarelli could use one or more on trades for established players if he thinks the B's can make a serious run this year.

Toronto, Boston lose on Columbus Day

It was a pretty sorry Columbus Day (October 12th) for theLeafs and B's.

The Bruins dropped a matinee against the youtfully exuberant Colorado Avalanche, 4-3. Tuukka Rask looked like a rookie, muffing several rebounds and then giving up power play and short-handed goals in the second period after the Bruins had erased a 2-0 deficit thanks to strikes from Mark Recchi and Blake Wheeler. Michael Ryder scored in the third, but the Bruins couldn't get the equalizer on former Bruins goalie (for three days) Craig Anderson.

The Leafs dropped to 0-4-1 and are dead-last in the NHL after a 7-2 shellacking at the hands of the New York Rangers. The Leafs were only down by a goal going into the third, but gave up two quick ones to blow it open, thanks to Sean Avery, who tallied early in the period, and then late to close it out. Vesa Toskala gave up all seven Rangers tallies to post a .788 save percentage and certainly appears to be toast. Hard to figure him getting his game together anytime soon- he looked rotten when I saw him live against Washington last week and was pulled for Jonas Gustavsson.

If the season ended today, the Bruins would be looking at the No. 2 overall selection at minimum, with the best chance of winning the lottery. That's the good news. The bad news is that Boston's uninspired start would have them sitting at the 11th draft slot.

Lots of hockey to be played, so don't read too much into it after just five games.

Tampa moved up with a win over Florida tonight, so their second-rounder looks to be around 45 or 46 as it stands right now.

Welcome to Bruins 2010 Draft Watch!

I'm striking off on my own to create my own hockey NHL draft blog that I hope will capitalize on the buzz and excitement the Boston Bruins could generate this season, as they currently own three high draft picks in the June 2010 Entry Draft thanks to trades with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning, not to mention their own selections, which are all currently intact barring any trades prior to the big day.

Not since the 1997 draft, when the Boston Bruins had a pair of top-10 picks and ended up selecting Joe Thornton and Sergei Samsonov, has there been the potential for a multiple player bonanza. Given Toronto's (and even Boston's) starts to the 2009-10 hockey season, the Bruins aren't likely to get two top-10 selections, but they could garner an early pick and a mid-rounder if the B's continue to be a mediocre team. Toronto, as currently constructed, have engendered little confidence that even with Phil Kessel's expected arrival next month, that they are a legitimate playoff contender.

Over the course of the season, I will plan to keep B's fans (or fans of the NHL draft in general) updated on Boston's estimated draft position in the first two rounds (top-60) of the draft based on where the Bruins, Leafs and Lightning are in the standings. I will also post periodic updates and scouting reports on potential draft selections at the various positions based on my contacts with NHL and independent scouting sources, as well as my own viewings based on what collegiate and prep games I can get to this season.

I hope that you will enjoy this blog and welcome whatever questions, feedback or requests for information you may have as you read. This blog is not affiliated with the New England Hockey Journal or, but I will continue to produce the bulk of prospects and draft-related content to those Seamans Media publications, so please continue to visit the website!