Contract years swindled Boston Bruins

bostonbruins.jpgLast season, the Boston Bruins were one of the league’s true surprise teams. Simply put, they were on fire at times, getting plenty of good bounces and more than a few career seasons from its players. It was a perfect storm of contract years and good fortune that – clearly – has proven to be unsustainable.

Obviously, Phil Kessel is no longer with the team but he still fits the bill in having an unusually productive contract year season. It honestly is a bit staggering how much of their success could be attributed to conveniently timed peaks. Here are the other three contract year stories from that season.

Tim Thomas – he’s been a big disappointment a year after winning the Vezina trophy. To be fair, the Thomas signing was at least slightly logic; after all, last year was his best season but not his only productive one. Still, I doubt the Bruins are happy with his deal right now.

David Krejci had an impressive season last year (73 points) but is now down to 40 points this season. I get the feeling Krejci was “chosen” over Kessel, but I wonder if the correct answer would have been “none of the above.”

Dennis Wideman has been a disappointment for most of his career, until he had a fantastic 2008-09 season in which he matched Zdeno Chara’s 50 points while posting an impressive +32 rating. This year he’s gone back to being a poor defensive player (-17) and middling offensively (only 20 points this season). Wideman’s deal must be the biggest regret for Boston.

Now, if you combine the contract years of Kessel, Thomas, Krejci and Wideman with somewhat lucky seasons from Blake Wheeler and Milan Lucic, the picture becomes clearer. I’m not trying to say that the Bruins weren’t legitimate last season, but it’s clear that monetary motivation and luck just aren’t on their side like they were last season.

So, the bad news is that the Bruins’ cap will be clogged with players who will struggle to meet their contract expectations after atypical years. The good news, though, is that they can really stock up on prospects if those Maple Leafs picks end up being top-5 material. It’s not all rosy for Boston, but things should get better.

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    Veteran d-man Foster retires, moves into coaching

    UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Kurtis Foster #26 of the Minnesota Wild looks on during their NHL game against the New York Islanders on December 13, 2005 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.  The Wild defeated the Islanders 4-3.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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    Kurtis Foster, who appeared in over 400 games during a 10-year NHL career, is hanging up his skates to enter the next phase of his hockey life — coaching.

    Foster, 34, has rejoined his former junior team in OHL Peterborough as an assistant coach, per the Examiner. The decision comes after Foster spent the last three years playing overseas in the KHL and, most recently, in the German League.

    The 40th overall pick in 2000, Foster is often remembered for a horrific leg break while playing for Minnesota during the 2007-08 campaign, in which his femur was shattered by Torrey Mitchell after Mitchell tried to prevent an icing call.

    The severity of the collision and Foster’s injury — he underwent emergency surgery, nearly bled out and almost lost his leg — prompted an immediate rule tweak from the NHL, and has since been viewed as a catalyst for the league’s adoption of no-touch icing.

    Impressively, Foster recovered from the broken femur to post a career-high 42 points in 74 games with the Lightning in ’09-10.

    In addition to the Wild and Bolts, Foster spent time with the Thrashers, Oilers, Ducks, Devils and Flyers.

    University of Denver standout Moore goes pro, signs with Leafs

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    Trevor Moore, an undrafted junior out of the University of Denver, has opted to bypass his senior campaign by signing a three-year, entry-level deal with the Leafs, the club announced on Tuesday.

    Here’s what Moore, 21, has accomplished over the last three years:

    [Moore] skated in 40 games with the University of Denver (NCHC) this past season, collecting 44 points (11 goals, 33 assists) and eight penalty minutes. He finished tied for sixth in the conference scoring race with 35 points (nine goals, 26 assists) in 31 games.

    In 121 career games at Denver, the Thousand Oaks, California native registered 120 points (47 goals, 73 assists). Moore was named to the NCHC First All-Star Team and was the conference’s forward of the year during the 2014-15 season. In 2013-14, Moore was named to the NCHC All-Rookie Team.

    Moore scored his ELC after performing well at Toronto’s prospects camp earlier this month, and looks to be on his way to the Marlies for next season.

    If you’re wondering why Moore was passed over at the draft, do consider the Pioneers website lists him — perhaps generously — at 5-foot-9, 175 pounds.

    Of course, Toronto does have a similarly diminutive player right near the top of the organizational prospect pool in Mitch Marner,  currently listed at 5-foot-11, 160 pounds. It’s probably worth noting that Moore and Marner skated together at prospects camp.

    Preds avoid arbitration with Granberg — two years, $1.225 million

    NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - MARCH 28:  Petter Granberg #8 of the Nashville Predators lines up for a faceoff against the Colorado Avalanche during the third  period at Bridgestone Arena on March 28, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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    Nashville has retained the services of depth defenseman Petter Granberg, inking him to a two-year, two-way, $1.225 million extension ahead of his Aug. 3 arbitration hearing, per CBC.

    The contract will pay $575,000 at the NHL level in year one, and $650,000 in year two.

    Claimed off waivers from Toronto in November, Granberg appeared in 27 games for the Preds last season, scoring two points while racking up 13 PIM.

    He was a healthy scratch for all of Nashville’s playoff run.

    Looking ahead, Granberg could be in line for a bigger role with the Preds next season. He only turns 24 in August, and the team did buy out the remainder of veteran Barret Jackman’s contract in late June.

    That should open up some minutes on the back end, though Granberg will likely compete with free agent signings Yannick Weber and Matt Irwin for those depth spots.

     

    With DeKeyser locked up, Holland still has work to do in Detroit

    Ken Holland
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    There’s nothing too flashy about Danny DeKeyser‘s game.

    “Basically,” he told reporters today, “my game, I just try to move the puck well, play solid defensively, chip in some points or goals here or there when I can, and just try to be a good team player and do things that help the team win.”

    For that, the Red Wings gave the steady defenseman a six-year, $30 million contract, avoiding an arbitration hearing in the process. Yes, it’s a significant amount of money for a d-man that doesn’t contribute a ton of offense, but as we’ve already seen this offseason, players like DeKeyser have significant value. The Edmonton Oilers gave up Taylor Hall to get one.

    Re-signing DeKeyser is not expected to stop GM Ken Holland from trying to add to his blue line. The Wings have a surplus of forwards, and Holland has said he’d “love to get a top-three defenseman” prior to the start of next season.

    If Holland can’t swing a deal, Detroit’s pairings could look something like this:

    DeKeyser — Mike Green
    Jonathan Ericsson — Niklas Kronwall
    Brendan SmithAlexey Marchenko
    Xavier Ouellet

    It’s not a particularly young group. Kronwall is 35, Ericsson is 32, and Green is 30. The Red Wings chose not to re-sign veteran Kyle Quincey, and so far he has not been replaced. In June, they drafted a defenseman in the first round, but Dennis Cholowski is a ways away from playing in the NHL; he’s off St. Cloud State in the fall. There are a few other young blue-liners in the system, like Joe Hicketts, Ryan Sproul and Robbie Russo, but they all still have some developing to do.

    At the very least, Holland now has some cost certainty with DeKeyser. The next step will be getting Petr Mrazek‘s deal done, possibly with the aid of tomorrow’s arbitration hearing. After that, it’ll be working to get that defenseman he covets.

    Related: Blues GM says he might just keep Kevin Shattenkirk