Well, the 2009-10 NHL season's second month is about in the books and so I'm back with the latest on Boston's first five picks in the draft if the season ended today.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are on the move: they skipped past the moribund Carolina Hurricanes this week with a nice come-from-behind win against the close-to-moribund Florida Panthers (two goals for Phil Kessel, giving him eight in 12 games- definite bang for the buck for sure). The guess here is that the Leafs won't drop past Carolina in the standings again, and they're probably about to leave Anaheim in their wake at the rate things are going.
On another note, the Bruins leapfrogged the New Jersey Devils and their 35 points to take the third spot in the Eastern Conference, thanks to the win over Ottawa Saturday night, which gave them sole possession of first place in the Northeast Division. So, that'll take a toll on the pick position for the B's, but it's all about winning, right? It's a tight race in both conferences, though, and any team that gets on a roll this week can turn the standings upside down.
So, once again- here's where your intrepid team is picking, B's fans. No soapbox discussions today.
2nd overall- Toronto (19 points- four ahead of Carolina four behind Minnesota, five behind Florida, Anaheim, Edmonton)
20th overall- Boston (31 points)
32nd overall- Toronto
45th overall- Tampa Bay (28 points- three behind Boston)
50th overall- Boston
So- that's picks 2, 20, 32, 45, 50- still a heck of a haul if it came to pass (and can you imagine the Bruins landing either Cam Fowler or Tyler Seguin or even Taylor Hall if the 1st overall is spent on Seguin or Fowler?), but time for Bruins fans to start preparing for some adjusted expectations if the trends hold true and the Leafs and Bruins both keep moving up in the standings. Kessel and Mikhail Grabovski are a threat to keep Toronto in every game even if the team surrenders a softie, and their goaltending is better than it was in October for sure.
I don't see a lot of evidence that Anaheim, Florida, Minnesota or Edmonton are going to be better over the long haul. Tampa looks much-improved over last season, largely thanks to Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman and solid goaltending.