2008/09: 53-19-10, 116 pts (1st in Northeast, 1st in East)
Arrived: Derek Morris (NYR), Steve Begin (DAL), Drew Fata, Dany Sabourin (EDM)
Departed: PJ Axelsson (Sweden), Stephane Yelle (CAR), Shane Hnidy (MIN), Aaron Ward (CAR), Steve Montador (BUF ), Peter Schaefer (Buyout), Manny Fernandez (UFA)
The 2008/09 Boston Bruins gave up the least number of goals per game and were second behind Detroit for the most goals scored per game. You can expect much of the same for the Bruins this season as Marc Savard leads an offense in which everyone contributes while Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas make it extremely tough for the opposition to score. Phil Kessel has remained in the headlines in Boston this offseason as he and the Bruins have yet to agree on a contract. It appears as if Kessel’s days in Boston are done as he will likely sign an offer sheet with another club (possibly Toronto?) and if he does the Bruins will not have the cap space to match it. With or without Kessel the Bruins are the favourite to finish atop the Northeast this season.
FANTASY WORTHY FORWARDS
Marc Savard – Even five straight seasons over a point-per-game wasn’t enough to earn Savard, the NHL’s most underrated player, a spot on the Canadian Olympic camp roster. Don’t let Stevie Y and the gang’s decision fool you, Savard is a premiere fantasy player. He silenced critics in 06/07 by putting up 96 points without the help of former teammate Ilya Kovalchuk and silenced them once again last season as he finished with a plus-25 rating. Savard is one of the best passers in the game and is good for 60-70 assists and around 25 goals this season. He will also contribute to your team’s PIMs as he is averaging 77 per season with the Bruins.
Milan Lucic – Unlike his teammate Savard, Lucic did attend the Canadian camp and it should provide him with a big boost of confidence going into this season. Not only will Lucic give your team over 100 pims (136 last season), but his scoring is bound to improve as well. Expect 25 goals and 30 assists.
David Krejci – After a strong rookie showing of 27 points in 56 games in 07/08, Krejci recorded 73 points in 82 games, surprising pretty much everyone. He also lead the NHL in plus/minus last season with a plus 37-rating. Dig a little deeper into Krejci’s stats and you will find that he recorded 31 points in a 19 game span during November/December and just 42 points in the other 51 games. I think a season around 20 goals and 40 assists is more realistic for Krejci this season. Krejci underwent hip surgery and isn’t expect to be ready for the start of the season.
Michael Ryder – Ryder is a lock to be right around the 30 goal mark this season and with Kessel out of the picture he should see his icetime and powerplay time increase. He is a one trick pony on most teams, but on the Bruins he will also provide a solid plus/minus.
Patrice Bergeron – Caution: Use at Own Risk. Bergeron is a phenomenal talent but since Randy Jones knocked him out of the season in 2007 he hasn’t been the same. Upon his return last season Bergeron fell victim to the Bruins being deeper at center as Krejci took his spot as the second line center. With Kessel and Axelsson gone, Bergeron will regain a spot in the top 6 and, if healthy, is capable of a 75 point season.
DRAFT WORTHY DEFENCEMEN
Zdeno Chara – Even if Chara didn’t get points he would be a valuable fantasy defencemen. 95 pims, 50 points and a plus-23 ranking eanerd him the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defencemen in 08/09. His cannon of a shot provided him with the 19 goals, the third highest total among defencemen last season. Likely won’t hit 60 points, but will show up in every category.
Denis Wideman –Many people questioned the Bruins decision to send promising sniper Brad Boyes to St. Louis in exhange for Wideman in 06/07. Wideman has laid those discussions to rest following a 50 point season last year that tied him with Chara for 12th in defencemen scoring. Wideman started last season on the second powerplay unit , but when Bergeron went down with an injury Wideman took over his position on the 1st unit alongside Chara. With Kessel likely moving on, Wideman should secure a spot on the first powerplay unit as Bergeron will likely move to Kessel’s spot.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Tim Thomas – Thomas’ league leading goals against average and save percentage helped him take home the Vezina last season and a pretty hefty pay raise. With any other player I would question their motivation level after such a signing but judging by Thomas’ competitive nature it will not be an issue. Thomas was comfortable with just 54 starts last season which is considerably lower than the rest of the upper echelon keepers. With Fernandez out of the picture, Thomas may see more starts and therefore more wins this season but youngster Tuukka Rask is more than capable of 25-plus starts. His stats might drop off from last season but he is still a top 10 fantasy goaltender.