Key Offseason Losses: Dennis Wideman, Miroslav Satan
Key Offseason Additions: Tyler Seguin, Nathan Horton
Last Season Ranking: 6th in East
The Boston Bruins were one of the worst offensive teams in the NHL last season. In fact, the team finished dead last in goals scored per game with an average of 2.39. This was mostly due to key injuries throughout the season, but it was also a partial testament to the lack of depth on the team and showed how much losing Phil Kessel actually hurt the squad in terms of goals. The team didn’t make many moves in the offseason, but they did manage to make moves that matter and should help improve the team’s offense.
The first addition came via trade when the Bruins sent defenseman Dennis Wideman to the Florida Panthers in exchange for right wing Nathan Horton and depth forward Gregory Campbell. Horton is a hard-working player with a lot of offensive potential. If he gets time alongside a healthy Marc Savard this season, Horton could crack the 30-goal plateau for the second time in his young career.
The second addition was center Tyler Seguin, who the Bruins nabbed with their second overall draft pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. With 106 points in 63 games in the OHL last season, Seguin was a natural choice. Rumors have swirled that Seguin could see time on the wing of the second line this season in order to help acclimate him to the NHL game. He would also be more valuable to the team if he got second-line minutes instead of centering the third or even the forth line where he would play more of a grinding role.
Health will be a big factor coming into this season. Center Marc Savard was limited to only 41 games last season because of a knee injury and a concussion. When Savard is healthy, however, he is capable of producing anywhere between 80 to 90 points. Tough guy Milan Lucic will also need to stay healthy this year. The Bruins believe that Lucic is capable of tallying at least 20 goals a season, but last year he was limited to only 50 games and 20 points, including nine goals. Second-line center Patrice Bergeron is also capable of producing at a point-per-game pace, but, again, he will need to stay healthy and play a vast majority of the season if he is to be a valuable asset to the team. Players like David Krejci, Mark Recchi, Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder should all benefit from having a healthy squad as well.
After being one of the best defensive teams in the NHL two years ago, the Bruins’ defense seemingly took a step back last season. Perhaps injuries on the front end plagued the defense as well, but only four of Boston’s defenseman was plus-1 or better last season with Zdeno Chara leading the way at plus-19. Look for Chara to again lead the way on the blue line for the Bruins in terms of both points and plus/minus.
With the departure of Dennis Wideman, the Bruins will need some younger talent to step up and help solidify the Bruins’ defensive core. Matt Hunwick is capable of playing much better than his minus-16 last season while guys like Dennis Seidenberg can certainly help chip in some points as well.
The enigma about this team is that while they were last in goals scored for per game, the team was second-best overall in goals scored against per game with an average of 2.33. This was largely due to goaltending as the 23-year-old Tuukka Rask virtually took over in net and didn’t look back until he was leading the league in almost all of the goalie stat categories. Rask finished the season with an impressive league-leading 1.97 goals against average as well as a .931 save percentage. Rask was a proverbial brick wall in net and was a big reason why the Bruins finished as well as they did despite losing so many key players to injuries. Whether or not Rask is the go-to guy again this season remains to be seen. Tim Thomas is an outstanding goaltender in his own right and could work his way back to the number one position if Rask falters in his sophomore season. As it stands now, however, the Bruins have a solid tandem in Rask and Thomas.
The additions of Horton and Seguin will certainly help add depth to the Bruins roster, but remember that the team is currently over the cap, which means that one or more of the players mentioned may move before the start of the season. Current rumors place Savard, Ryder and Thomas all on the trading block and waiting to see who the right deal comes along for. Regardless, health will again be a big issue for the Bruins and the team’s defense needs to step it up a notch. Goaltending bailed them out last year, but it isn’t a guarantee that the same will happen again. For a team that has a lot of potential, there are still a lot of lingering questions going into the season and a lot of possibilities for how it could all play out.