Boston Bruins Key Storylines Heading into Camp

Via Boston Bruins

The Bruins are set to open camp with yearly physicals, and fitness tests. But the one glarring headline that had dictated the Bruins offseason, and was ready to dictate their camp was the David Pastranak contract situation.

Less than a day after it was reported that Pastranak was prepared to holdout of camp if the Bruins could’t get an extension done, it was first reported by TSN that the Bruins and Pastranak had agreed to a six year, $40 million dollar contract.

This was honestly the best case scenaio for the Bruins in a really tough spot. They couldn’t afford to lose another one of their talented young players over a resolvable problem. 

After contract negotations dragged on and multiple reports came out saying that Pastranak was looking for upwards of seven million a year. Getting him at a reasonable price of $6.67 million a year is the best case scenario for the Bruins.

Pastranak is coming off a career year last year finishing second on the team in scoring only behind Marchand, with 34 goals and 36 assists. Now that Pastranak has the big contract, he needs to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke.

Another young player that every Bruins fan will be keeping an eye on this year is 19 year old defenseman Charlie McCavoy. The expectations surrounding this kid are astronomically high, and understandably so. After being thrown into the fire during the playoffs last year, McCavoy looked fantastic for a 19 year old kid making his NHL debut in the playoffs.

You’d expect a player making his NHL debut to look nervous or maybe lost. Not with this kid, his transition to the NHL was eye opening, McCavoy finished with 3 assists, and averaged 26:12 minutes on ice per game. 

But to expect McCavoy to do that for an entire NHL season with only six games under his belt is ridiculous.

There have been stories out their that McCavoy could average upwards of 24 minutes a night and finish with 40 plus points. Those expectations are just ridiculous and unfair. If McCavoy had a season like that it would be historical.

To put it in perspective, Drew Doughty, arguably the best defenseman in the NHL, finished with 27 points, was a minus 17, and averaged 23:50 TOI.  So to expect 40 or 50 points out of Mccavoy is foolish, what I’m expecting to see is some defensive struggles, but signs of growth. McCavoy is going to be a transformative player, just not yet. He needs time to get some experience under his belt.

Rookies to watch this preseason:

Jake DeBrusk

Anders Bjork

Peter Cehlarik

Zach Senyshyn

Overall there are some roster spots open for rookies this camp. Not just fourth line spots, legit second and third line minutes are open. 

DeBrusk is player you want to see go out and take a spot this preseason, he’s been highly touted as having “top six” potential. Heading into his third camp its time to make those expectations a reality.

Cehlarik is a player with some upside, he got a shot in the NHL last year and flashed a little. Although the numbers weren’t great 3 assist, in 11 games, is solid production for a rookie. While with the big club he showed great vision, solid puck handling, and a decent enough shot. He is recovering from shouder surgery, but hopefully he is healthy enough to contend for a roster spot.

Advertisements

City in the Spotlight: A look around Boston Sports


It was an up and down month of August for Boston Sports fans. From talks of the Patriots going 19-0, the Red Sox winning the World Series, the Kyrie Irving drama, and the Bruins shopping their most talented young player, Boston has certainly been in the spotlight.

So let’s look back at the month of August and the state of all four beloved Boston Sports teams.

Boston Bruins

The biggest story surrounding the Bruins right now is the David Pastranak contract extension.

After years of being scrutinized for being unable to develop young talent, or keep their good young talent, the Bruins have been trying to change the narrative. But once again they find themselves at risk of losing another talented young player.

David Pastranak is still a restricted free agent with less than three weeks to go before the Bruins first pre-season game. Negotiations have not gone as planned for either side and talks seem to be at a standstill.

The Bruins offered Pastranak a six year, $36 million dollar extension earlier this summer followed up more recently by a seven year, $42 million dollar deal. Pastranak’s camp declined both and were “not impressed by either offer” (via CSNNE.com).

The Bruins seem to be sticking to an AAV of $6 million, while Pastranak’s camp is looking at the deal Edmonton gave to Leon Draisaitl (8 years with an AAV of 8.5 million dollars) as a base. Although their numbers are very similar, Leon Draisaitl plays center which is much more valuable. He was also the number three pick while Pastranak was the 25th pick in the 2014 draft., so Draisaitl should have a higher ceiling in the long term.

The Bruins are really in a lose-lose situation, they either meet Pastranak’s demands and overpay him, (because let’s be real he’s not a $8 million dollar player) and put themselves in cap trouble, or trade him away and continue to sprinkle the young talent across the league.

Best case scenario is the Bruins get Pastranak to sign a two year bridge deal to prove he’s worth eight million plus a year. But that’s highly unlikely.

The Bruins are going be forced to make a decision either to pay him or not as the start of the new season is slowly creeping up.

Boston Celtics

It’s finally official: Kyrie Irving is a Boston Celtic. After questions arose about the seriousness of Isaiah Thomas’s injury, the Cavs were seeking further compensation from the Celtics. At one point it was reported they wanted either Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum.

This report quickly led to a serious question…

How hurt is Isaiah Thomas and is he going to miss significant time this season?

The Celtics were rightfully frustrated with the Cav’s delay of the trade. After all, the entire reason the Celtics were willing to cough up the 2018 Nets pick is because of the fact that Thomas had a bad hip. If Thomas is fully healthy the discrepancy between him and Irving isn’t that great albeit it is a gap. So trying to swindle more out of the Celtics was a bad look on the part of Cleveland. Not because they tried to get more from the Celtics, but rather the way they approached it through leaked reports in the media.

The final package for Irving ended up being, Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets’ unprotected pick in the 2018 draft along with a 2020 second round pick.

It does say a lot that the Cavs were only able to get a second round pick out of Boston. It highlights that Boston had far and away the best package out there and they were to deep into it to reverse the trade at that point.

Saying either team won the trade is purely speculation at this point because the 2018 Nets pick could turn into a trans-formative player. But here and now the team who gets the best player in a trade wins the deal, and Irving is clearly the best player in this deal. Although Boston did overpay for him, (it’s kind of hard not to considering your trading your 25 year old stud point guard to the team you just faced in the Conference finals) I’d do this deal 100 out of 100 times because Irving makes that big of a difference both this year and for years to come.

The Celtics are no longer a bridge team piling assets while waiting for an opportunity to make a big move. They are a real team now with real expectations. Win or lose you better bet that the spotlight is going to be on Irving just like he wanted it to be.

So let’s see if he can live up to the pressure of being a true NBA superstar.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox presented us with their best and worst sides in the month of August. They got off to a blazing 11-2 start and continued to beat good teams night in and night out as the month kicked off. The offense was producing, the starting pitching was great, and the bullpen was lights out. All of a sudden the Red Sox were a trendy pick to win the World Series.

Then… they lost four in a row and got swept at home by Baltimore. Sale proved once again that he has a weakness and their name is the Cleveland Indians. The Red Sox couldn’t get out of the first two innings without giving up at least three runs, and when Nunez and Devers went cold their offense couldn’t do anything.

All of a sudden now the Yankees were 2.5 games back of the division lead and many wondered if the Red Sox were even going to win the division.

Then… they swept the Blue Jays and now have a 4.5 game lead in the A.L East heading into New York for a huge series.

I’d say the team we saw at the beginning of August isn’t the team you should expect regularly, neither is the team that lost four in a row and got swept at home. It’s somewhere in between closer to the team that won 11 out of 13 however.

The Red Sox are going to be a factor this October. I’ve believed that for a while now. This team is talented to say the least, they’re also sneaky deep. The lefty combo of Sale and Pomeranz is a great weapon to have in the postseason, along with the ability to have  players like Moreland come off the bench in a key at bat (like he did the other night when he blasted a two run shot in Toronto) or Davis when you need a big steal.

The Red Sox are for built for October now the question is “will the lack of playoff experience or their incompetent manager derail the?” All I can say with certainty is seeing Sale pitch in a playoff game is going to be must see TV.

New England Patriots

Not many teams can lose their most valuable receiver and arguably offensive player (besides Brady) and still be far and away the best team in football.

That’s the Patriots for you, but don’t be fooled they certainly took a major hit. Granted they have a really deep receiving corps and should be in a good position to withstand the loss of Edelman. But they really don’t have anyone to replace what Edelman does.

Cooks and Hogan are better suited playing outside the numbers, so are Amendola and Mitchell. Although Cooks can play the slot he doesn’t get anywhere near the amount of yards after contact that Edelman does. Even before he got hurt against Detroit he was dragging defenders for those extra couple of yards.

Another question that has risen this month, is what are the Pats going to do at defensive end. After Ninkovich retired and now with Kony Ealy being cut, there is a noticeable hole at defensive end. Trey Flowers has potential to have a big year, but they lack bodies at the position and starts to make you miss a true pass rusher like Chandler Jones.

But the biggest concern on an otherwise flawless roster is health. Amendola, Lewis, Gronk, and Cooks all have problems staying on the field. So while they can be productive are they going to produce for 16 games? If Gronk goes down the Pats could be in big trouble. Although Dwayne Allen is a good player, he’s not Bennett and that insurance proved to be huge for that Pats last year.

I fully admit I’m nitpicking at this point, but the Patriots look so good what else are you suppose to do? With the start of the regular season right around the corner we’ll be able to better evaluate the Patriots and see if they can live up to the hype.

 

 

New Professional Hockey Team to use Online-Vote to Determine Team Name. Which of These 5 would you Choose?

A new professional hockey team is looking for it’s identity, and who better to ask than the internet.

The team, which is going to be located in Portland, Maine, has had a tough time deciding on a name. To help them with the decision, the team has proposed an online vote for the fans. And according to ESPN, the final five nicknames are in.

Yes, you read that Tweet above correctly. And yes, the “Wild Blueberries” team name has made it into the top 5.

The other four are quite unique as well. They are reported to be: the Mariners, the Watchmen, the Lumberjacks, and the Puffins.

Each of the five is said to have plenty of fan support behind them. But according to ESPN, the Mariners name “might be the early leader in the clubhouse” as it pays homage to the old Maine Mariners who played in Portland from 1977-92.

The ECHL professional team is set to return to Maine after a 2-year absence, according to the Portland Press Herald. They are relocating from Alaska for the 2018-19 season mainly for revenue benefits.

It wasn’t long ago that we witnessed a similar situation with a professional hockey team. The latest NHL expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights, received plenty of input from the community when determining what their identity would be. However, the team ultimately decided on things behind the scenes and became Vegas’ first pro-sports team.

Maine’s new team has announced similarly that they won’t “strictly adhere to the popular vote, but will do it’s best to follow the fans’ wishes” however it’s hard to imagine that they don’t follow through with the fan voting.

So what’s your favorite name for Portland’s newest hockey team? Let us know in the comments below.

Featured Image Via ESPN.com

The Biggest Winners and Losers of the NHL Offseason

After the dust has settled from the NHL Draft and Free Agency, some teams have been able to improve and stabilize their roster with free agent signings and extensions. While others may have gotten sucked up into the moment.

Here are our winners and losers of the NHL offseason:

Winner: New York Rangers

It is widely regarded across the league that the Rangers signing Kevin Shattenkirk was a major win for the club. Shattenkirk agreed to a 4 year, $26.6 with the Rangers, the fact that New York was able to lock up the most coveted defenseman for only 4 years is a huge plus for the club. Most defenseman are getting 7-8 year contracts at the age of thirty, Shattenkirk is only 28 and his deal will be up when he’s only 33 years old.

The $6.65 million dollar cap hit is high for Shattenkirk, but for the amount of years he took of his deal there had to be some give on the part of the Rangers and that came as the dollar amount.

With Shattenkirk in the Rangers have greatly improved their defensive core with McDonagh, Smith, and Brendan Skjei as a their top four defenseman. This also allows their lesser defenseman like Staal and Klein to fall onto the third pairing. With Lundqvist in net the Rangers are hoping that their stout defense can mask the lack of talent that they possess up front.

The Rangers were also able to put themselves into a good cap position by buying out Dan Giradi and trading away Derek Stephan. Now this Rangers team goes from a mediocre hockey club to at least one with potential of making noise.

Loser: Washington Capitals

Staying in the Metropolitan division, unlike the Rangers, the Capitals were easily the biggest losers so far into the offseason.

Not only did Washington lose the aforementioned Shattenkirk (Rangers) they also lost Karl Alzner (Montreal Canadians) and Nate Schimdt (via expansion draft to the Las Vegas Knights). So saying that the Capitals defense took a hit this offseason would be a huge understatement. Defenseman weren’t the only ones skipping town on the Capitals: Veteran forward Justin Williams also left in free agency (Carolina) on a 2 year $9 million dollar contract.

Even the players the Capitals have been able to keep have been bad deals, and mainly the Oshie deal that is certain to cost a team that already seems backed into a corner. The championship window in Washington is closing and Caps fans should prepare for a humbling decline back to mediocrity.

Winner: Dallas Stars

After being the far and away most disappointing team in hockey last year the Dallas Stars and their GM Jim Nill are not hesitating to add to this roster. Nill hastily addressed the problem in net that has plagued the Stars for multiple seasons now by signing former Vezina candidate Ben Bishop to a 6 year $29.5 million dollar contract ($4.92 million annually). Bishop is the exact goaltender the Stars need. He’s a reliable net minder who won’t lose you games and has proven that he can certainly steal some. The Stars continued to address their obvious needs on defense by signing Marc Methot who is a stay at home defenseman which will certainly help out Bishop. Also, they added a big strong center in Martin Hanzal to add some size to their forward group while also maintaning the skill that makes this Stars team so dangerous.

All in all the Stars addressed just about everything that they needed to this offseason, however there is certainly still room to improve on defense. This Stars team should be a lock for the playoffs if nothing else.

Loser: Pittsburgh Penguins

Despite the fact that the Penguins are coming off back to back championships which is astronomically hard to do in the NHL, they have been bitter losers this offseason. Since the NHL expansion draft took place the Penguins have lost key players who were major factors in them winning their second straight Cup. From Marc-Andre Fleury who was great while filling in for the injured Murray, Nick Bonino who was great all around for the Penguins since arriving there. They also lost Chris Kunitz and Trevor Daley who was a major factor in replacing the production of Kris Letang and Ron Hainsey. Maybe even more important than the solid production that each of these players brought to the team, they were also all character guys and one of the most underrated groups in hockey team chemistry. So the Penguins team next season will certainly look different from the one that just won a cup to say the least.

However the Penguins ability to draft and develop players doesn’t receive nearly enough credit. So saying that the Penguins are not still one of the teams favored to win the Eastern Conference is foolish.

Winner: Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks best moves this offseason were made by other teams. Not losing Vatanin or Manson in the expansion draft was huge for this team. Also being able to resign their top defenseman in Cam Fowler to an 8 year contract which will pay him around $6.5 million yearly was a great move. They were also able to add a solid backup in Ryan Miller for a surprisingly low number (only 2 million a year) and extend Patrick Eaves who missed most of this years playoffs and will certainly help improve the scoring on this team.

Anaheim’s ability to keep their core together was critical and the additions they made sure provide some depth to their roster. Once again, there is more than enough talent on the Ducks roster. Now can they capitalize or will the window for a Cup continue to close on this team?

 

Hockey Fans Take Notice: 5 Crucial Takeaways From the NHL Draft


The NHL and NBA Drafts took place on consecutive nights, which was nothing short of awesome. However, now that they have passed, we have reached the dreadful time in the sports world where there is little to no action going on (except for baseball of course). So as loyal fans, we owe it to ourselves to begin looking ahead to next season while also analyzing the moves either our team or others have made in hopes of having a run at success.

By: Lorenzo DeMalia

The overall consensus coming into this year’s NHL draft was that their was no one player who was an obvious selection at Number 1 (as there was in the previous two drafts with Connor McDavid going to Edmonton and Austin Matthews to the Leafs).
However that doesn’t mean that this draft lacked talented players. Overall, there were no real shockers, but there were a few teams who were able to steal some players and the most obvious one came only two picks in.

1. Biggest steal of the draft may have went to Philly

Although we all knew that the Flyers were guaranteed to land one of the two best players in the draft many believed that it would be Hischier. So when Nolan Patrick slipped to them at number two, it certainly shocked many spectators. The main reason Patrick slipped was likely due to his inability to stay on the ice. Many teams have expressed concerns about if he will be able to consistently be in the lineup on a night to night basis. Still, the Flyers should be celebrating Patrick as he was projected as the number one pick throughout most of the year and is definitely the most NHL ready center in the draft. Patrick should pay quick dividends for the Flyers next season providing a young talented center behind Claude Giroux.

2. The Blackhawks overreacting to their first round lost may cost them

After being swept by the Nashville Predators in four games in the first round of the playoffs this year, the Blackhawks seemed eager to make some changes. One year after trading Brandon Saad away to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Stan Bowman shipped out their most talented young player in Artemi Panarin just to reacquire Saad. Panarin probably has a higher ceiling than Saad and has been a high end player for the Blackhawks the past two seasons. Many people point to the “lack of toughness” in Panarin’s games as the reason he was dealt, when in reality he doesn’t get payed to be a grinder because that’s simply not his game. His game is to score goals and make space for his teammates which he has done excellently since joining the league. Finally, if Bowman thinks so highly of Brandon Saad that he is willing to deal a bright young star in Panarin to get him, then he should’ve worked much harder to sign him to a long term extension before trading him in the first place. Chicago also dealt arguably their best defensive defenseman and the backbone of their defensive core in Hjalmarsson to the Coyotes. Although what they acquired in return wasn’t awful, the move only weakens the current team.

3. Vegas has not only been making headlines but is also a very solid hockey team

Just twenty four hours after Vegas snagged some talented Veterans in the expansion draft headlined by Marc Andre-Fleury, Marc Methot, and James Neal (both Fleury and Neals teams participated in this years Stanley Cup Final), they welcomed three first round picks to their NHL roster. They used those picks to select Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki, and Eric Brannstrom. Granted not all of these players are locks and maybe none of them develop into real great players, but Vegas is certainly increasing their percentage of finding a stud in the draft with all those first round selections. So far so good for the NHL’s newest team and with those three players the future certainly is intriguing for the Knights.

4. The Kings are getting a gift in Vilardi

Gabriel Vilardi was the number 11 pick in the NHL draft and just writing that is hard to believe. Many people were expecting Vilardi to go between 5-8 and the fact that he slipped entirely out of the top ten is an absolute stunner. The Kings were able to gain a strong center to bolster their roster and Vilardi will be able to provide an immediate boost to the team even if it doesn’t always show up on the score sheet. Villardi is already a force in the offensive zone with solid vision, and great on-the-puck control which allows him to act as more of a playmaker with a surprisingly accurate shot. Their is no reason I can come up with for why he slid so far. His only flaw is that he needs to work on his defensive zone positioning and his defense as a whole but that should develop as he grows older. Maybe the teams who passed on him saw something we didn’t. Only time can tell.

5. Capitals made the worst move of the night and it wasn’t even a draft pick!

The Capitals announced that they had reached an agreement with T.J Oshie for an eight year, 46 million dollar contract extension. These are the exact type of moves that the Capitals have been criticized for making yet they continue to give veteran players on the backside of thirty long term deals. Capital fans should be rioting at this contract. Oshie had a good season in Washington to say the least, scoring 33 goals and racking up 51 points however, this season was the exception not the trend for Oshie’s career and this contract makes it so he is signed as a Capital until he turns 38…yes, 38 years old! Oshie is a solid player, however this long term deal is not a move a team like the Caps should be making and it further makes people question what is happening in Washington.