Future could be bright for Bruins (cap analysis)

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kessel.jpgThe Boston Bruins are in a situation quite a bit like Anaheim’s: they have some assets that can turn their middling roster into a serious contender. Unfortunately, they don’t have anything near the Ducks’ talented young troika (instead, their roster is full of slightly problematic deals). The good news, though, is that they’ve stockpiled some quality draft picks for the near future.

Trading Phil Kessel might have hurt their goal scoring, but the Bruins received Toronto’s first round picks for 2010 and 2011 along with the Leafs’ second rounder for this year. With their own picks, the picks from the Kessel trade and the second rounder they received for Chuck Kobasew, Boston will have four picks in the top two rounds for both the 2010 and 2011 drafts.

On some level, the Bruins’ future depends almost as much on Toronto’s performance as it does on their own. Even though the Leafs have been hot lately, they are still the second worst team in the league. If Toronto finishes that low, they should end up with a fantastic pick out of Toronto’s 2010 first rounder.

Here’s a snapshot of their 2010-11 cap commitments (some amounts rounded up).

Forwards (7 out of 12): Bergeron ($4.75 million); Lucic (4.08); Savard (4.07); Ryder (4); Krejci (3.75), Sturm (3.5), Marchand (822k)

Defense: (3 out of 6): Chara (7.5); Wideman (3.94); Hunwick (1.45)

Goalies: (2 out of 2): Thomas (5) and Rask (1.25)

Cap space: about $12.2 million

More analysis of the Bruins’ cap situation after the jump.

It’s pretty hard to believe that Bergeron and Lucic are making more than Savard (and Ryder is making almost as much). Savard was already a bargain at $5 million per year with his last contract; all he needs to do is get healthy and he’ll have one of the league’s best contracts going forward. Blake Wheeler and Dennis Seidenberg are probably the most likely guys for Boston to re-sign this off-season.

The most interesting situations will come in the summer of 2011. Ryder and Sturm will come off the cap (combined $7.5 million) but the real curiosity is the big Z. His contract expires in 2012, so the Bruins could go in any number of directions. Will they go in a younger direction by letting Chara walk or would they rather sign the gigantic Slovakian defenseman to one more contract? That will certainly be something to watch.

Boston is going through some growing pains right now, but they have the potential to revamp their roster in a serious way. The question is: will GM Peter Chiarelli be able to take advantage of the situation?

There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

Connor McDavid
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Jack Eichel didn’t disappoint in the preseason, finishing with six points in four games, including two shorthanded goals.

Tonight in Buffalo, his NHL career will start for real when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators in regular-season action.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, stepping foot on that ice and making the NHL,” Eichel said, per NHL.com. “It’s kind of been a whirlwind, but you’re finally playing hockey for a living and everything you’ve done your whole life is to get to this point. It’s pretty special.”

The 18-year-old’s debut was front-page news this morning in Buffalo, where the Sabres have been among the NHL’s worst teams since last making the playoffs in 2010-11.

Eichel front page

Granted, even with the additions of Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Cody Franson, expectations for 2015-16 remain modest for the new-look Sabres. Certainly, a spot in the playoffs would count as a surprise.

But for the fans of a team that’s barely possessed the puck the past couple of years, it’s night and day.

“People are excited,” GM Tim Murray said earlier this week. “It’s great. They think we’ve improved, and there’s a real positive vibe, I believe.

“That’s what I said to our coaches, ‘I want everybody to be positive. I’m the only guy in the organization allowed to be negative.’ That’s the way I wanted it. If I’m the most negative guy in the city about the team, that’s pretty good.”

Sutter: Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks

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Lost in the various controversies (see here and here) of last night’s game in Los Angeles was a pretty dismal performance by the Kings, a team that should’ve been especially motivated to start the season after missing the playoffs last year.

The Kings were hammered, 5-1, by the visiting Sharks. They were outshot, 32-20.

“If you don’t check, you don’t have the puck enough,” said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter. “If you don’t have the puck enough, you can’t score.”

“We were pretty sloppy. Sloppy on our rushes, sloppy in our D-zone,” said forward Dustin Brown. “That’s probably most of it, but the other part is compete – in the corners and making hard plays coming out of our zone, going in. We didn’t play very well.”

Obviously, much credit has to go to the Sharks. Like the Kings, they missed the playoffs last year and came into 2015-16 looking for redemption. But the Sharks haven’t won two Stanley Cups in the last four years, and they weren’t the home team.

“Gotta check,” said Sutter. “You don’t check, you can’t score. We had a lot of guys, especially top guys that weren’t interested in that part of the game.”

The Kings get a visit from the Arizona Coyotes on Friday. If they don’t dominate that team…