The 2008-09 Bruins has given the city of Boston something worth cheering about, and may just have put "The Hub of Hockey" back on the map once again.
The Boston Bruins 28-week season has come-and-gone, as Bruins fans have witnessed its first true Stanley Cup contending team in the past decade end far too fast.
I've read many of the blogs—especially toward the mid-end of the season—listened to sports radio talk shows and its callers, and engaged in conversations with a number of people who "stopped watching/following the Bruins when Neely retired."
The posters of Black and Gold and "We Want It" flooded North Station like it was the Old Garden, and chants of "Let's Go Bruins" from the die-hard hockey-heads were almost reminiscent of the old "Gallery Gods."
Sell-out crowds, 116 regular season points, and first place in the Eastern Conference; the fans were back, and the original Six Boston Bruins were back.
We all witnessed the Black and Gold virtually dominate the regular season with relative ease. Although the post season has left us all with a sore spot, let's not forget the 23-2-1 run they had in the months of Nov. and Dec.—while winning 15 out of 16 games from Nov. 28-Jan. 1.
Fast forward 28-weeks—from their 5-4 victory in Colorado on Oct. 1, to the disheartening 3-2 OT loss to the 'Canes on May 14—we can now look into the upcoming 2009-10 season.
Peter Chiarelli has done a spectacular job since being named GM on May 26, 2006—putting together a solid squad, led by Head Coach, Claude Julien. And as if his job wasn't stressful enough, Chiarelli's job has gotten even more difficult entering this postseason.
Kevin Paul DuPont gave his take on this today, here, on boston.com. I definitely recommend taking a look at it as he breaks down the already cap-hit, free cap-space, and potential players that could be traded in order to create some added cap-room.
"Look for Chiarelli to get Krejci signed first—even if slightly above market—and relatively quickly (i.e. days ahead of the June 26-27 draft in Montreal).
Once Krejci is secured, Chiarelli then can: 1. sign Kessel at a reasonable number; 2. deal him around the draft; 3. entertain the prospect of someone overpaying Kessel as a free agent, and ultimately decide whether he wants to match the overpayment or take the compensation (first-round draft picks)."
I wrote about this inevitable situation, 2009 top free agents, back on Mar. 26, while focusing on four "must signs"—PJ Axelsson, David Krejci, Tim Thomas, and Phil Kessel.
It's time to start thinking about the upcoming 2009-10 Boston Bruins team, as it's sure to be different than this year's past.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
Phil Kessel: $850,000
David Krejci: $825,00
Byron Bitz: $625,000
Matt Hunwick: $775,000
(Kevin Regan): $720,000
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
Manny Fernandez: $4,750,000
Steve Montador: $800,000
Shane Hnidy: $760,000
Mark Recchi: $1,250,000
P.J. Axelsson: $1,850,000
Stephan Yelle: $750,000
(If Yelle doesn't retire, and is willing to re-sign with the B's for roughly the same salary, this one is a no-brainer.)
GROUP VI UFA : A 25+ year-old player, with three or more professional seasons, and less than 80 games played (28 for goalies).
Johnny Boychuk: $500,000
Martin St. Pierre: $500,000
Mark Marino is also the Boston Bruins Examiner at Examiner.com
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