The Bruins recently shelled out big bucks to make Tuukka Rask one of the highest paid goaltenders in the league as well as ensure he wears a Boston jersey for many years to come. Rask proved he is indeed ready for primetime when he put on a preternatural performance during the Bruins playoff run.
The Bruins watched backup Anton Khudobin pack his bags and head to Carolina where he is now riding the pine as Cam Ward's understudy but his departure won't send shivers through the B's fan base. As long as Rask is healthy, he will be tending the twine but in the event injury or the unforeseeable occurs, Boston has two superb prospects in Swedish sensation Niklas Svedberg (2.17 GAA, .955 save percentage in 48 games with AHL affiliate Providence) and 19-year-old Malcolm Subban who was selected 24th overall in the 2012 NHL draft. No doubt he will need a few more years of seasoning before he dons a spoked B but he is clearly on the Bruins radar. Perhaps the most likely to spell Rask this coming season is Chad Johnson, the former Coyote backup with only 10 NHL games under his belt.
Overall, the Bruins have to be extremely pleased with their healthy stock of quality goaltending both now and in the future. Maybe a netminder with more NHL experience in the fold would be prudent if something does happen to Rask but reports are that Svedberg is more than able to make the jump from the minors and the rangy Johnson is a quality option as well.
As captain Zdeno Chara goes so go the Bruins defense and as the Bruins defense goes so go the Boston Bruins. Yes, Chara plays that pivotal a role in Boston's fortunes. However, the 36-year-old mountain of a man showed he is indeed mortal in the Stanley Cup Finals as the minutes piled up and his play slowed down. Many will shrug and say that was just a brutal stretch of games to play in such a short amount of time and when you're relied upon to take the ice on every power play and penalty killing situation, anyone's play would suffer. But I'm not so willing to dismiss this as an exception to the rule for Chara - not anymore.
Chara is no spring chicken and will be 37-years-old before the playoffs start next season. Let's not forget that the Bruins signed veteran Wade Redden before their playoff run and it is likely Chara's former defensive partner back in his Ottawa Senator days has played his last professional game. There's just not enough tread left on his tire but here's the thing. The washed up Redden is actually three months younger than Chara! Take my word for it, Chara will continue to be an integral part of Boston's defense over the next few years but his days as the lynchpin are drawing to a close.
After Chara, the Bruins have some impressive young talent in Matt Bartkowski, Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton. At 6'5" Adam McQuaid is a 26-year-old veteran who towers on the blueline while Dennis Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk backbone a top-tier defensive corps.
Here's where things get a bit dicey, and it should be reflected in upcoming futures betting odds. The B's were 13th in scoring and 26th in power play conversion during the regular season. They traded in one aging veteran, Jaromir Jagr who recently signed with the Devils, for another in Jarome Iginla. I'm not so sure Iginla is going to give them much more than the lumbering Jagr gave them last season so let's call that a wash.
What the Bruins did lose was ready-made offense in Nathan Horton. Horton heard a Who, as in Who's gonna pay me? The Columbus Blue Jackets came calling and Horton answered the door. Boston also parted with Tyler Seguin whose off-ice antics were no longer as easy to overlook once his on-ice performance began to dwindle. He is gone and the B's received Stars winger Loui Erikkson plus a few others in return.
I'm not convinced the Bruins are even a middling offensive threat at this point, as they also lost Rich Peverley in the deal with Dallas. If they cannot convert their power play opportunities and their offense slips into a funk then it could be a long season for Boston Bruins fans.
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