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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Salary Cap Update

Peter Chiarelli did an interview today on WEEI's "Dale and Holley Show". They asked Chiarelli a question regarding the cap and rookie bonuses that I was very curious about myself. In sum, rookie bonuses count towards the cap number but the league is giving teams "bonus cushions" allowing teams to exceed the cap total by that amount. If the bonuses are reached by the player then they count against the cap for that year. If there is no cap room available it counts against the next year cap. Unlike this season where the entire cap number, including bonuses would count against the cap without bonus cushion clauses allowing them to excede the cap.

So for example, Blake Wheeler's cap hit is $2.825 million. Last season that would have counted all against the cap. This upcoming season, since his base salary is only $875,000, it gives the Bruins an additional $1.95 million to spend. If Wheeler does in fact reach those bonuses, then at the end of the season they affect the cap.

Additionally, the same rules apply to all other rookies who have rookie bonuses in their contracts. Therefore the Bruins will be given an additional $2.35 million from Tuuka Rask's contract and $.075 from Vladmir Sobotoka's contract, assuming both are on the team next season.

Here is a quick update looking at next season cap total:
Lucic (850K)-Savard ($5million)- Kessel (RFA)
Wheeler (875K) - Krejci (RFA) - Ryder ($4 million)
Sturm ($3.5million) - Bergeron ($4.75 million) - Kobasew ($2.2million)
Sobotka (625K)- Bitz (RFA) - Thornton (517K)

Forwards under contract - 9
Forwards needed to sign - 3 (Krejci, Kessel, Bitz all RFA)
Forward total cap number - $22.317 million

Chara ($7.5 million) - Ward ($2.5 million)
Ference ($1.4 million) - Wideman ($3.875 million)
Stuart ($1.5 million) - Hunwick (RFA)

Defensemen under contract - 5
Defensemen needed to sign - 1
Defensemen total cap number - $16.775 million

Tim Thomas ($5 million)
Tuuka Rask (850K)
Goaltenders under contract - 2
Goaltenders total cap number - $5.850 million

Total cap number - $44.942 milliom

Assuming the cap will be around $55 million, that leaves the Bruins with $10 million to spend on Krejci, Kessel, Hunwick, and Bitz. So this allows the Bruins to keep Rask to be Thomas' backup next season, without his entire cap hit affecting the cap. Assuming he is the backup and Thomas receives the bulk of the playing time, the bonuses in his contract would be virtually impossible to trigger.

Note: Glen Murray's buyout is still on the books for $1.383 million next season. Murray has gone through the first two steps of his appeal. Assuming the NHL rules in favor of Murray then his buyout cap number comes off the books. The expected decision is due in July.

No Bitz for Baby B's

The Providence Journal is reporting that rookie Byron Bitz will not rejoin Providence for their playoff run. Bitz suffered a rib injury in the second round of the NHL playoffs against Carolina. The injury is more serious then originally suspected, so Providence will not get the big winger back for their playoff push.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Kessel, Krejci to have surgery is reporting that both Phil Kessel and David Krejci will require surgery.

Phil Kessel will have surgery on a torn rotator cuff and labrum on Thursday. Kessel is believed to have suffered the injury against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday March 10th. Kessel was hit late in that game by Jan Hejda but did not miss substantial time following the injury. Kessel may miss up to 6 months

David Krejci is expected to have hip surgery next month. Krejci showed no signs of any injury throughout the course of the season. Krejci will miss 4-6 months.

Wow, now this is a surprise. It shows the guts the Bruins played with this postseason. Mark Recchi was battling with kidney stones throughout the course of the playoffs. Recchi had surgery the day before game 7. Recchi also is believed to suffered a rib injury during the playoffs. Chuck Kobasew was also playing with broken rips, which he suffered in game one of round two.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Post Season Grades : Defensemen

Here are my grades for the Bruins defenseman this postseason. Grades are based on expectations and performances over the course of both playoff rounds.

Zdeno Chara - B+
11 games, 1 goal and 3 assists +1
After shutting down Alexei Kovalev and the Montreal Canadiens in the first round, Chara didn't have similar results against Eric Staal and the Hurricanes. Chara was dominate for the majority of the postseason but two bad games really hurt the Bruins.

Shane Hnidy - B-
7 games, 0 goals 1 assist - 1
Hnidy was forced into duty once Andrew Ference went down. The quick forwards of the Hurricane really exposed Hnidy for what he really is, a 7th defenseman. A few bad turnovers and breakout passes and his lack of mobility hurt the Bruins at times, but overall he played steady and wasn't beat on too many occasions.

Steve Montador - C-
11 games, 1 goal 2 assists +5
Montador had to step in and play big minutes once Andrew Ference went down. Mondator provided the Bruins with steady defense at times but his ill-advised pinching often created odd man rushes against and resulted in Samsonov's goal in game 7. He didn't provide anything on the powerplay and probably scared everyone in the building everytime he stepped on the ice.

Mark Stuart - B+
11 games, 0 goals 1 assist +5
Stuart showed up big this postseason with his steady, shutdown defensive abilities. He has been underrated all season long because of his lack of offensive production. Stuart deserves more credit then he gets especially with his outlet passes.

Aaron Ward - B-
11 games, 1 goal 0 assists + 4
Ward played great in a shutdown role along side Chara early, but struggled against Eric Staal and the quick Hurricane forwards. The weakness with Chara and Ward paired together was their lack of mobility and ability to transition the puck for quick breakouts.

Dennis Wideman - C+
11 games, 0 goals 7 assists +3
Wideman partnered with Montador to be the shakiest defensive combinations on the back end. Wideman played well at times but his consistency was not there. Had many bad turnovers throughout the playoffs. When the Bruins needed Wideman to step it up and run the powerplay, he simply did not come through in the clutch.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Game 7 Lineups

No changes for the Bruins. Savard back in there as expected. For the Canes, Frantisek Kaberle is in for Anton Babchuk. Babchuk is one of their best offensive defensemen and has a cannon on the powerplay. During the regular season he totalled 16 goals and 19 assists with a +13. During the playoffs he has 1 assist and a -3 in 13 games.





Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chiarelli interview: "Ward Good to Go"

Aaron Ward, who was sucker punched by Carolina forward Scott Walker, will play tonight according to Peter Chiarelli in an interview with Dale and Holley this morning. Chiarelli stated Ward had a previous injury to his orbital bone but will play tonight. Chiarelli also stated Zdeno Chara, who suffered a slash to the back of the ankle, will be fine but is sporting a bad bruise. Walker will not be suspended as the NHL rescinded his suspension but he will be fined $2,500. To hear the interview go to WEEI's webpage and click on the Audio on Demand page.

Blake Wheeler is expected to be a healthy scratch for the second straight game. Wheeler will sit in favor of Shawn Thornton and Byron Bitz. Bitz is expected to take his spot on the second line. With Wheeler's absence in game five, the Bruins went to five forwards instead of six during the penalty kill.

The Bruins have not recalled any defensemen from Providence, providing further evidence that both defensemen will be 100% to go tonight.

UPDATE: Aaron Ward made it through the entire practice without a visor.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Keys to Game 4

The last two games could possibly be the worst the Bruins have played all season. This team looked like the team we saw go on a terrible skid after the lose to the San Jose Sharks back in February. Here are some of my keys to game 4

Play 60 minutes of hockey.
In game two the Bruins completely outplayed the Canes in the third period. The problem was that they got beat in the first two periods. The Bruins need to play a complete game of hockey without taking periods off.

Get the powerplay going.
The powerplay has been so predictable that the Bruins can't even set up in the offensive zone. Changing up the personal or atleast changing the approach is a must. The Bruins continue to rely heavily on the first unit to create offense. Therefore, putting Krejci or Kessel out with that unit may should be considered. If the Bruins continue to want to roll both units, the second unit should get more time.

Get a clean breakout.
The most important aspect of creating offense, the breakout. The Bruins were the best 5 on 5 team during the regular season. Why? Because of the transition game. The problem here is without Hunwick the Bruins lack secondary puck movers on the blueline after Wideman. Hunwick's absence really hurts this team especially against a fast group of forwards that the Canes have.

Traffic in front.
The Bruins simply need to get more bodies in front of Cam Ward. All of the goals that have been scored have occurred because traffic in front. The Bruins have plenty of big bodies, but they lack the willingness to get to the net. Lucic and Wheeler must live at the top of the crease like Recchi does. Ward is so good right now thats the only shot they have at beating him.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Injury Updates

Phil Kessel has a swollen elbow and missed practice yesterday. He will be available tonight. Here's what Claude Julien said yesterday

“When he fell yesterday, he banged his elbow. It’s not a big deal. It’s a little swollen this morning, so we just kept him off. He’ll be 100 percent tomorrow,”

Notes from Kevin Paul Dupont's Sunday Column.
Matt Hunwick is still recovering from spleen surgery. He has lost around 10 pounds but if the Bruins advance to the finals, Hunwick has a shot at playing.

Marco Sturm has also been working out but the chance of Sturm returning for the playoffs are about 1%.

Phil Kessel's injury didn't look promising when it originally occurred. Kessel was obviously in pain but stayed in the play and helped generate Savard's first goal. Hopefully, no further issues arise. Great news on both Sturm and Hunwick. If Hunwick could return for the finals (hoping the Bruins make it that far), his puck moving ability would be extremely important in a series against Detroit. As for Sturm, I will be excited to see him back next season especially with the progression of the younger players.
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