Wasted Summer By The NHL

Well the new 2017-18 NHL season is about to dawn and the NHL gets revived after a school teacher two month vacation. In June there were exciting events; the crowning of the 2017 NHL champion Pittsburgh Penguins, the NHL Awards Banquet, the start of the new Las Vegas Golden Knights, and the NHL draft. After that flurry the NHL has taken what it considers a well deserved two month vacation.

Since July 1, the only news at the NHL website is which free agents signed with which teams, and a series of articles about the strength and weakness of every team for next season. The only significant news was that Dallas was chosen to be the site of next year’s NHL draft in honor of its 25th anniversary. Oh yes – the new Detroit arena opened.

Pardon me, but I think that is a poor result for a summer where so many important issues that can affect the NHL long term have gone unresolved. Sure everybody deserves a rest, but I was hoping that at least one major issue would be resolved before the new season started. All the significant issues that were shelved on July 1, are still present now with the start of this new season, and in some cases, with less time to solve them, some with potential dire consequences. Am I the only one who is being a sour, Scroogey, sore-head who thinks that this summer was wasted by the NHL which should have been working maybe even overtime to solve its problems and then putting its feet up for a well-earned rest?

I am not alone if you are a Quebec Nordiques fan and want to be finally taken out of the “suspended” state that the NHL placed Quebec in after the last bungled attempt at expansion. Resolving the Quebec situation would mean that Commissioner Bettman and the NHL finally found an acceptable owner instead of the pro-separatist Pierre Karl Peladeau who made inappropriate and unacceptable public remarks about Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson. Instead one of the two best markets in Canada without an NHL team, one of the more valuable franchises in the NHL, only has a couple of Montreal Canadiens pre-season exhibition games to look forward to next season. Its beautiful new arena, the Videotron which the NHL loves is wasted and empty, a continuing scandal to a summer of nothing.

And as a sidelight, the granting of a new Quebec expansion franchise would allow the NHL to realign at last into a 32 team NFL structure which would allow the league to expand comfortably in the future to at least 40 and even 48 teams. Instead, thanks to the greedy terms of the bungled last attempt at expansion, the league only got the new Las Vegas team, leaving it at 31 teams, one short of the symmetrical 32 necessary for realignment.

The NHL should have been working its tail off this summer at devising some acceptable new expansion terms so that it could expand as soon as possible and resolve the alignment problem. The investment world found a $500 million expansion fee too excessive and backed away during the last expansion leaving only fanatical Las Vegas and Quebec left, a humiliating embarrassment for the NHL. Now they have to either set an appropriate NHL expansion fee or wait indefinitely for investors to accept their current half a billion dollar terms. Expansion and realignment could be delayed for a long, long time.

And on the expansion front, Quebec’s brother franchise, Hartford, which also lost its team in the 1990s finally made some news last season by announcing a $250 million upgrade of the XL Center to a 19,000 seating capacity. So Whaler fans will also want to know the NHL’s opinion about this renovation, whether an upgraded 41 year old building will be suitable to get their team back and any expansion terms and fees that might occur along the way. But there has been no official announcement by the NHL on any of this, during the summer.

And when you mention Hartford now, you also draw in the New York Islanders because the Hartford mayor and the Connecticut governor sent the Islanders ownership a formal letter inviting them to become the new, relocated Hartford Whalers once the XL Center renovation is completed. The Islanders are having arena problems right now. The second-smallest NHL arena, the Barclay’s Center was built for basketball and has bad ice and obstructed view seats for hockey and the Islanders cannot sell it out. Because of the arena, the Islanders had the second worst attendance last year and if they don’t get good attendance they cannot afford to pay star players like John Tavares and build a competitive team.

The very existence of the Islanders depends on getting some kind of new arena, either by a move to Hartford or a new facility to be built in Queens. Time is running out and there have been no announcements about any positive developments this summer. This issue will heat up as the new season progresses. It is rumored that the Barclay Center itself wants the Islanders gone as soon as possible. The sooner this problem is solved the better, before an invisible gun is pointed at the NHL’s head.

And the NHL has a similar problem in its Western Conference, in Phoenix where both the NHL and the citizens of Glendale have publicly said they are finished with each other. Gary Bettman’s attempts to keep a team in Phoenix including the NHL owning the team and keeping it from falling into the lap of Hamilton via Jim Balsille may finally be over if a new arena in the downtown area is not built. But Phoenix and Arizona taxpayers are not going to be too eager to build a new arena for a franchise that is abandoning a facility that is only 13 years old and has only iced a competitive team once in its entire history. And in this summer of NHL nothing, there have been no announcements about a new arena or any move by the Coyotes to another city like Portland or Seattle.

And there have been no announcements about a new Seattle arena finally being built. Seattle, a “done deal”, a front-running city for an NHL franchise during the last horrible NHL expansion somehow bungled its bid like front-runners Houston and Hamilton did in expansions before them. The NHL was specifically courting Seattle because it was a western city that could balance up its conferences but the arena soap opera is going on with no end in sight. The NHL got their 31st team, Las Vegas, but not their 32nd team to balance things and realign.

Also on the arena front, there have been no announcements about the start of new arenas in Calgary and Ottawa. Bettman made a tour of these Canadian cites as well as Phoenix urging a resolution to these facility situations. There seems to be positive sentiment in Ottawa for a new downtown facility, but in Calgary, many politicians and citizens are questioning the terms and financial figures of the proposed “Calgary Next” project. And the Flames added fuel to the fire by threatening to walk out. There is nothing positive to announce in this summer of nothing in either city.

Nor is there anything positive to report internationally. The NHL pulled out of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea next year leaving many NHL players threatening to desert their teams and play for their country anyway. As if that was not enough, the South Koreans who have been down in the dregs of international hockey since it began, suddenly improved enough to be promoted to the top level of international play in next year’s World Championship. That could be awfully embarrassing for Bettman who has been trying to revive the World Cup and promote international hockey and for the NHL which has now snubbed a potential new market of 50 million people, if the South Koreans do anything significant in next year’s tournament. But no announcement during the summer of any change of heart has been made.

Likewise, there has been no announcement of any new developments to improve the quality of international hockey below the traditional “big 7″ country level. Vancouver and Los Angeles will play some exhibition games in low ranked, but big market China. And Boston and Los Angeles will host some clinics for the Chinese too. But there have been no formulated plans set out to raise the standard of play particularly in the dozen “B level” countries just below the “big 7″ so that a real expansion of international hockey and the revived World Cup can be made. Just the same old thing since 1972 when NHL professionals began playing in international tournaments.

All these issues plus others that were shelved during the summer are still there when the NHL comes back from vacation. Thwarted hopes for expansion and realignment, the fate of the Winter Olympics, unresolved arena issues, improvement of international hockey, are still now hotter than ever. Am I the only person who is a sourpuss because it seems to me that nothing was done on these issues? Will the NHL come to rue that some of these issues might have been solved or at least worked on during the past summer? Can these issues continue to be shelved forever?

 

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2018 NHL Draft Preliminary Rankings

 The 2018 NHL Draft will be one of the deepest ones ever for blue liners, as 15 defenders could possibly be selected in the first round in June 2018.  Leading the group of defencemen is future superstar Rasmus Dahlin, a dynamic two way defenceman.  Andrei Svechnikov, a big winger, will challenge him for the honour of being picked first overall.  Dark horses Adam Boqvist and Filip Zadina could also try for first overall.  All that being said, it’s still early, and a lot can change between now and June.

    1. Rasmus Dahlin

LD, 6’2, 181 lbs

Dahlin, who is projected to go 1st overall, is a two way defenceman with enormous offensive upside. A fantastic skater, Dahlin has drawn comparisons to Erik Karlsson. Dahlin uses his exceptional vision and passing skill to make plays and move the puck up ice. He can singlehandedly create opportunities, using his skating and hands to get past defenders. Doesn’t have a cannon, but is shot is hard and accurate. Great hitter, punishes forwards in open ice. He’s pretty good in his own end, he will improve in the corners and in front of the net as he gets bigger. Needs to make the simpler play more often, as he often makes very risky plays that will not work in the NHL, but he has shown coachability, so I have no doubts that he will address that. A generational talent, looks like a future Norris winner.

    2. Andrei Svechnikov

LHD RW, 6’2, 187 lbs

Svechnikov is a big skilled power forward. He primarily creates opportunities by driving to the net, where he uses his hands to finish. A natural scorer, Svechnikov skates well and has a good shot. His combination of skills will likely lead to extreme NHL success. Svechnikov will look to add on to a wildly successful USHL season with an equally good year in the OHL.

    3. Adam Boqvist

RD, 5’11, 170 lbs

Adam Boqvist is a highly skilled offensive defenceman. He skates well and has good vision and passing. He scores a lot of goals from the top of the circle after walking in from the blue line. Boqvist is active in the offensive zone, he’s always moving around trying to get open to unleash his shot. The majority of his points come from his shooting and passing, which stands out in a draft class full of dangling defencemen. His style of play should translate well to the NHL.

    4. Filip Zadina

RHD LW, 6’0, 170 lbs

A scorer-playmaker combo, Zadina does a lot of things well. He skates well, has nice hands and a hard, accurate shot. Nice vision, makes good decisions while under pressure. Great passer, passes are hard and on the tape. Overall he’s a great player with no real flaws. He and Svechnikov are on another level compared to the other forwards in this draft. Really talented player, could be a surprise #1 on draft day.

    5. Quinn Hughes

LD, 5’11, 170 lbs

Quinn Hughes is a two way defenceman that can rush the puck very well. Good skater, he’s fast and good on his edges. Pass first mentality, doesn’t really take a lot of shots, likely because his shot isn’t too good. Slapshot is below average, low power on it. Wrist shot is okay. Can make some nice passes. Good on both sides of the puck. Safe with the puck, doesn’t make high risk plays but still generates offence at a high rate. Impressive player.

    6. Ryan Merkley

RD, 5’11, 179 lbs

An offensive defenceman capable of putting up a lot of points. Good skater, nice shot. Smart player, very patient, waits for space to open up. Good hands, has scored some highlight reel, end to end goals. Good PP QB. Most impressive part of his game for me is his vision, he always knows where everybody is on the ice. Good at disguising his passes. Has struggled with turnovers, largely due to poor decision making. Sometimes takes poor penalties when frustrated. Defence is an issue, needs to improve there. Struggles with consistency. Some concern about how well his game will translate to the NHL, as his end to end attempts won’t work as often in the NHL. Will likely become more of a playmaker, utilizing his vision. A talented player, Merkley has the offensive skill to go high in the draft, but he’ll need to improve his defence, consistency and attitude.

    7. Joe Veleno

C, 6’1, 190 lbs

A skilled two way centre, Veleno has elite skill. A playmaker, he uses his IQ and passing ability to create oppurtunities. Great skater, has a smooth skating stride, agile. Good puck skills, can get by players with ease. Needs to improve his shot, not very powerful at this point. Game changing skill, 1C potential.

    8. Akil Thomas

RC/W, 5’11, 170 lbs

An offensive centre (that can play some wing) with the skills to take over a game, Akil Thomas has impressed on a terrible Niagara IceDogs team. He does everything well in the offensive zone. He skates well, he has a great first step and impressive lateral movement. He’s an elite playmaker, utilizing his top end vision and hockey IQ. Good hands and shot. Needs to improve away from the puck and add strength. Lots of offensive potential, could be a future top line forward.

    9. Bode Wilde

RD, 6’2, 170 lbs

A big two way defenceman, difference maker on the blue line. Skates well, transitions are smooth. Good puck mover. Big slap shot from the point, a lot of power on it. Calm with the puck, rarely panics. Shuts opponents down physically. Solid two way defenceman with offensive upside, top pairing potential.

    10. Ty Smith

LD, 5’11, 174 lbs

Smart defenceman with skill. Great skater, great hockey sense, great puck mover. Drawn comparisons to Duncan Keith. Very sound defensively, smart in his own end, good positionally and one on one. Solid two way defenceman with offensive upside.

11. Brady Tkachuk

C/LW, 6’3, 196 lbs

12. Rasmus Kupari

C, 5’11, 163 lbs

13. Jett Woo

D, 6’0, 202 lbs

14. Oliver Wahlstrom

C, 6’1, 198 lbs

15. Jack McBain

C, 6’3, 183 lbs

16. Jared McIsaac

D, 6’3, 209 lbs

17. Simon Appelquist

LW, 6’0, 172 lbs

18. Jesper Kotkaniemi

RW, 6’1, 186 lbs

19. Calen Addison

D, 5’9, 180 lbs

20. Anderson MacDonald

LW, 6’2, 203 lbs

21. Ty Dellandrea

C, 6’1, 186 lbs

22. Gleb Babintsev

D, 6’0, 198 lbs

23. Evan Bouchard

D, 6’2, 178 lbs

24. David Levin

LW, 5’10, 170 lbs

25. Nicolas Beaudin

D, 5’10, 161 lbs

26. Alexander Alexeyev

D, 6’3, 190

27. Ryan McLeod

C, 6’1, 183 lbs

28. Xavier Bouchard

D, 6’2, 175 lbs

29. Joel Farabee

LW, 5’11, 160 lbs

30. Giovanni Vallati

D, 6’1, 179 lbs

31. Benoit-Oliver Groulx

C, 6’1, 176 lbs

Three NHL Teams That Will Make A Serious Run For The STANLEY Cup in 2017/18

With NHL training camps underway this week hockey fans can start to make their predictions. Last year the Penguins skated, to their second straight Stanley Cup .A seven game hard fought series over Nashville. The Predators were one , of the most surprising teams in the NHL last season.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 The start of training camp means every team gets a fresh new start. During the summer teams retooled and got ready for the upcoming season. Three teams to keep an eye on are Edmonton, Dallas, and Boston. Dallas and Edmonton  were very active this past off season.For the Bruins they were fairly quiet. Boston was busy negotiating a long term deal for David Pastrnak. Still no deal has yet to be announced.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Dallas was the busiest team this off season. The Stars added veteran goalie Ben Bishop. Bishop. Bishop was traded to LA at the trade deadline,but ended up signing with Dallas this summer. The Stars will have great depth at goaltending ,as Bishop and KariLehtonen will split the time. The biggest move was signing long time NHL coal Ken Hitchcock to a contract. Hitchcock’s experience will greatly help Dallas.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  With captain Jamie Benn,and Tyler Sguin the Stars should be much better than their 34-37 and 70 point record. Hitchcock has the experience  to mold the Stars into a playoff team. Along with Bishop , Dallas acquired defenseman center Martin Hanzal,and forward Tyler Pitlick.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Edmonton is another team to keep an eye  on. The Oilers rewarded star center Connor Mc David to an eight year 100 million dollar deal. Mc David was was one of the leagues best players last year. The Oilers selected McDavid number one overall in 2015 Mc David and teammate Leon Draisaitl  together make the Oilers a very scary team.                                                                                                                                                                                                   General manager Peter Chairelli has got the Oilers back to respectability in just three years.If the Oilers can play solid defense in front of goalie Cam Talbot they will be a team to challenge the Penguins in the playoffs.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Boston under first year head coach Bruce Cassidy is another team that will surprise a lot of fans. Currently the Bruins are in negotiations with star forward David Pastrnak. If the Bruins can sign Padtrnak theycould be one of the biggest stories in hockey. The Bruins have a strong goaltender in Tukka Rask. The Bruins also have one of the youngest teams in the league.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                After losing in the opening round last year to Ottawa gained valuable playoff experience. The Bruins are led by number one pick Charlie McAvoy. McAvoy joins a host of young talent such as Brandon Carlo, Jakub Zboril Austin Czarnik, Sean Kuraly, Rob O’Gara, Noel Accari , Frank Vatrano. If Cassidy can mold the veterans, with the young players the Bruins could be serious contenders in 2017/18.

Jagr, Iginla, And Doan All Paying For Bungled NHL Expansion

Before the NHL officially announced its recent expansion which in the end produced “only” the Las Vegas Golden Knights, it was commonly reported in the media and on the Internet that there were four “done deals”, Las Vegas, Quebec, second Toronto, and Seattle all ready in the bag. And that was only the tip of the iceberg. The NHL had not expanded since 2000 and rumors and desires had been building up, that it was thought that the cup was overflowing with potential applicants just waiting to get in.

There was Quebec’s fellow lost partner, Hartford and frustrated Hamilton. There were two failed bidders from 2000, Houston and Oklahoma City. There was Kansas City with its empty Sprint Center, built to get an NHL and NBA team. There were the potential hockey hotbeds of Portland and Milwaukee and perhaps surprise bidders like San Diego and San Francisco. All were thought to be parked outside of the NHL’s door just waiting for an official announcement of expansion.

Instead the NHL ruined everything by tacking on a $500 million expansion fee and a $10 million “consideration fee” ($8 million to be refunded if your bid failed) that threw cold water on every potential bidder’s face. The verdict by the investment world: We’d love to own a professional sports franchise but we’re not suckers. An NHL franchise is not worth that amount of money. Of 16 potential bidders, only fanatical Las Vegas and Quebec stayed around to the end. And Quebec’s potential owner was unacceptable to the NHL. Even two of the “done deals” pulled out.

It was a first rate humiliation for the NHL. Not only did they want to expand, they wanted to realign as well into an NFL like structure of 2 conferences each having 4 divisions of 4 teams which would permit growth to the 40 team level and beyond. Instead they staged an expansion with no competition between rival cities (perhaps a “big 4″ North American professional sports first) and had to settle for only Las Vegas giving the league only 31 teams which prevented the NHL from realigning.

An unexpected fallout from this bungled expansion has been the fate of Jaromir Jagr, Jerome Iginla, and Shane Doan. All are representatives of the new kind of athlete that the NHL like its bungled expansion is unprepared for. With new advances in medicine and conditioning, it is now possible to prolong professional athletic careers beyond the usual retirement age of 35-40. Gordie Howe played until he was over 50 and Chris Chelios reached 48. But instead of being the exception, tomorrow’s athlete will play to these ages regularly.

The NHL is quite unprepared for this development. The oldest, Jagr, at 45 was still making significant contributions to his last team, the Florida Panthers. But NHL teams, ignoring that these elderly athletes can still make a significant contribution declined to sign these free agents, choosing to sign younger players who may have more long term potential in them for the future.

Sure Jagr, Iginla, and Doan have seen their best days pass them by. Modern medicine still isn’t advanced enough yet to turn them back into the state of 20 year olds, though that potential still exists in the future. But even at their advanced ages, they can probably still play better than many of the young players who are being given a chance, but will never reach their potential.

Doan gave up and retired. Jagr and Iginla are still waiting for offers. It is a shame that three of the NHL’s recent greatest players cannot get contracts and are being considered washed up without too much evidence.

If anything, the admission of Las Vegas should have made more NHL jobs available. And there would have been lots more if even only all four “done deals” had been granted NHL franchises. But the NHL’s greedy terms produced the worst “big 4″ North American professional league expansion in history. Now the NHL is caught between a rock and a hard place if they want to expand and realign in the near future. Either way they will lose face. They have to admit their expansion terms were unrealistic, refund money back to Bill Foley and Las Vegas so that they can set more realistic expansion terms that are more in tune with the real NHL franchise market, or wait years (decades?) before the investment world agrees that an NHL franchise merits a $500 million expansion fee and $10 million consideration fee. They could be stuck at the 31 team level, unable to realign for a long, long time.

If NHL expansion had been done properly, there would be four new teams entering the league now and Jagr, Doan, and Iginla would have no problem finding a new home. Their careers are either over or in suspension, a casualty of a league that is unprepared for the athlete of the future, and does not know the true value of its franchises in the investor market.

 

Status Of Hockey In The United States Part 10: New American Arenas Proclaim NHL Hockey: We’re Number 4

If you dig deep and read between the lines, the current home of the New York Islanders in Brooklyn, the Barclay’s Center provides valuable lessons about the status of NHL hockey in the United States, how to build sports arenas, and even about the future development of the NHL. And none of it is good.

To re-summarize, the New York Islanders have been treated badly since their glory years of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Their original home, the Nassau Coliseum held just over 16,000 seats at its peak. That was okay back then when the median seating for the NHL was in the 16,000-17,000 range but it is not acceptable now when the median is probably over 18,000. As the years passed, the Coliseum became the second smallest arena in the NHL ahead of only Winnipeg. The Islanders more than merited a bigger, more modern arena but nothing has ever come from it.

islanders

Eventually the Islanders moved to the Barclay’s Center which has even less seating than their old home and to make matters worse, has bad ice, and obstructive view seats for hockey. The Islanders found they could not sell out even this reduced seating venue and had the second worst attendance in the NHL last season, ahead of only Carolina. And as long as they remain in the Barclay’s Center, it is unlikely attendance will improve.

The Barclay’s Center was built for the NBA Brooklyn Nets. It was not meant to be the home for an NHL team. In fact there is talk that the arena wants the Islanders gone soon. The NHL franchise is in peril. The options are build a new arena, return to Nassau, or move to Hartford.

The NHL will always be at a disadvantage when arenas are built when compared to the NBA. Basketball seating will always be greater than hockey because more seats can be added to the floor of the arena. The Barclay’s Center provides several important lessons for building arenas. First, it is possible to build a bad arena for both sports. Second, it is possible to build an arena that is good for basketball but bad for hockey. Third, it is impossible to build an arena that is good for hockey but will be bad for basketball. And fourth, when designing and building sports arenas, the architect should think hockey first because basketball will always fall into place.

There is no problem building arenas in Canada where hockey is number one. Arenas are always built with hockey in mind. If new arenas are built in Calgary and Ottawa, these cities automatically become contenders for a new NBA franchise as well as their current NHL teams. When NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman paid his first visit to the new Edmonton arena, built for hockey, he was so impressed he has vowed to reward the city with an All Star Game and to be the host of the NHL draft.

edmonton

If only there was the same attitude in the United States. The new Detroit arena that will open next season will be satisfactory for the Red Wings. And the new Las Vegas franchise had its arena designed for the Knights. But in the United States, that’s as far as it goes.

San Francisco

Right now there are two new arenas being built in Milwaukee and San Francisco and they only have the NBA in mind. The new arenas have been designed for basketball which could make any new NHL expansion team face the same problems the New York Islanders have. The new San Francisco arena will have approximately 18,000 seats, meaning a new NHL franchise will have seating well below the NHL median. The new Milwaukee arena will only have 17,500 seats for basketball which translated to the NHL could make it the third smallest arena in the league.

Milwaukee

It is clear when American arenas are built in this manner, what the status of hockey in the United States is. And with the NHL folding the Atlanta Thrashers and the potential debacle in Phoenix, the American environment is not conducive to building hockey-friendly facilities. The NHL wants to stay in Phoenix but pulling out of an arena that is only 13 years old and was built specifically for the inglorious Coyotes is not going to induce the locals to build yet another new arena in the Phoenix area. And if they did, they would more inclined to reward the NBA Suns, not the Coyotes.

Another potential mess is Seattle. They were the front runner for an NHL franchise in the recent expansion, but lost out when they could not resolve their arena issue. How would a new Seattle arena be built? Most of the talk has been about getting back the Supersonics. Almost all the talk has been about a new NBA owner being the owner of a new arena with an NHL team as tenants. Would a new Seattle arena be suitable for hockey under this arrangement?

Seattle

Commissioner Bettman listed the arena as being one of the three most important factors to be considered when offering terms to Winnipeg, Quebec, and Hartford to return to the NHL. If arenas in the United States are going to be built to accommodate the NBA first, it also brings into question the future development of the NHL. Under Bettman, the NHL has followed a pro-American path, with expansion and relocation mostly in the United States, mainly to get a good American television contract. But NHL hockey cannot grow in the United States if new arenas are built like the Barclay’s Center. Bad new hockey arenas could mean that the growth of the NHL in the United States is at a dead end.

Would that mean a significant change in direction in NHL policy? Expanding the NHL in Canada or starting a new branch in Europe? Right now the future of the Arizona Coyotes and New York Islanders are unresolved. And the NHL wants to expand to at least 32 teams in balanced conferences so that it can realign. The arena problem is tangled up in these issues. Certainly the Barclay’s Center and the new arenas in Milwaukee and San Francisco confirm that in the chase for status in the United States, in a four league race, the NHL is in fourth place.

 

Can Bruce Cassidy Guide The Bruins Back To T he Stanley Cup Finals?

Now that Bruce Cassidy has been named head coach of the Bruins, fans can only hope that they have the talent to get them to the finals. Cassidy replaces long time coach Claude Julian who was fired late last year. Many questions arise for this year’s Bruins team.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              First, does the young talent on the roster have the skill set to win at an NHL level? Is the defense deep enough to keep the Bruins in games Thirdly is the goal tending strong enough? Tuukka Rask started sixty- five games last year. Only thirty years old Rask, is still young enough to get the Bruins back in serious contention.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The main strength of the Bruins is their offense. Ranked fifth overall in the NHL last year Boston didn’t make any big moves this past off season. Resigning  forward David Pastrnak will certainly be a big to the team. Pastrnaks’ thirty four goals made him one of the top young players in the league.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         If Cassidy can mold the  young players with the veterans then the Bruins should be right their come April. The Bruins have the twealth best farm system in the NHL Players like Charlie McAvoy,Brandon Carlo,Jakub Zboril, Tim Schaller and Noel Accari all made significant gains last year. They were good enough to keep the Bruins alive for five games in round one before losing to the Senators.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Only time will tell for the Bruins. Cassidy was very succesful at Providence during an eight year span. In February the Bruins fired ten year coach Claude Julian. The knock on Julian was he lacked patience with his young players.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Leadership is another strong quality that the Bruins have going for them. Veterans like Zedeno Chara, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid, David Krejci , Dave Backes, and Rask should be a big plus for the young players going forward.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   If Cassidy can rest Rask and utilize his backup goalies then the Bruins could surprise a lot of fans. Cassidy took the team over for only twenty seven games last year. But when he did take over the Bruins started playing together like the Bruins of 2010/11 the year they beat Vancouver to bring home a Stanley Cup.

GoaltendingStill Key Area of Concern for 2017/18 Bruins

Goaltending Still Key Area of Concern For 2017/18 Bruins

Now that the summer of 2017 has come to a close, opening  night of the 2017 NHL season is just around the corner. Free agency is pretty much over. For the Boston Bruins it was ralitively a quiet off season.For the Bruins getting forward David Pastrnak’s contract was the main objective over the summer. Negotiations between the Bruins and management are still going on. On a positive note at least the two sides are still talking..                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Aside from from the Pastrnak deal goaltending is the main concern for this year’s Bruins squad. Eight year veteran Tukka Rask played in  sixty five games last year. Rask posted a 37-20 record and a nifty 2.34 Goals Against Average. Not to mention eight shutouts and five over time games. At thirty years old Rask is ranked number fourteenth overall in the NHL,by Sports Illustrated. Pretty good company to be in.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Since 2012 the Bruins have not won a playoff round. The last goalie to win a Stanley Cup was Tim Thomas. In 2012 the Bruins lost in seven to the Black Hawks.Ever since the Bruins loss to Chicago success has not found Tukka Rask . This past season the Bruins qualified for the playoffs for the first time in five years. Ottawa was the latest culprit to defeat the Bruins in five games last spring.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Rotating goalies could be an option for first year head coach Bruce Cassidy. Cassidy took over for long time coach Claude Julian.Cassidy has backups Anton Khudobin, and Zane McIntyre in the wings.Khudobin was last years backup postiing an 8-6 and a2.35 Goals Against Average. McIntyre played in eight games last year and had no record.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Rest is something the Bruins should consider. At thirty years old Rask still has a lot of playing time left.Khudoin is a dependable backup, with more playing time this could prove  to be a key factor for the Bruins ths season.Counting on Rask to keep the Bruins in games could work against them this year.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 The youth movement has been the main subject of conversation this year. With a host of young talent on the roster the Bruins could have one of the youngest rosters in the league. Mixed with  solid veterans such as Zedeno Chara, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid, and Patrice Bergeron the Bruins could be the surprise of the league this year.