The beauty of being a professional sports fan, is picking and choosing the sport,team, and players you wish to follow. Some fans prefer the physical attributes of a player. Some fans like the speed of a player, or some fans just like a player because of his or her personality. This article is about a new group of players that may or may not breakout in the National Hockey league in 2017/18. The first player we’ll focus on is Maple Leafs center Auston Mathews. Mathews was clearly the top rookie in the league last year with 40 goals and 29 assists totaling 69 points Mathews was an integral force for the Leafs last year which resulted in a playoff berth despite losing to the Caps in the first round. Mathews is also a slick puck handler and extremely dangerous on the power play. If Mathews can stay healthy,he should be a top five player in the league for a long time to come. Buffalo has a unique player in defenseman Jack Eichel. The Boston University product left school early to enter the NHL draft in 2015. Eichel was the top Sabre defenseman last year tallying 24 goals and 33 assist for 57 points. Eichel just 18 years old played in 81 games. Eichel was also an player on the teams power play last year. His hard work and dedication earned him a spot on the NHL All Rookie team . Look for Eichel to be the face of Buffalos’ franchise for years to come. Winger David Pastrnak of the Bruins is another player on the rise. With three years of NHL service, Pastrnak has been a key factor in the Bruins resurgence to playing playoff hockey. Pastrnak came into his own last year netting 34 goals, and 36 assist for 70 points. Pastrnak was also an important player on the power play. In 2015/16 he scored 15 goals,11 assists for 26 points. The question is can he keep doing it? Playing alonside Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron should only fuel him. Rewarded with a six year contract, he should be a Bruin for years to come. Center Alexander Barkov of Florida is one of the fastest skaters, in the league. In his first season Barkov scored 21 goals, and 31 assist totaling 52 points . Barkov however, missed 21 games due to an injury. Barkov was a force on on the power play not to mention being a great passer.If he can stay healthy he wii be an important piece in the Panthers push to the playoffs for a long time. Like fellow teammate Barkov, Panther centerman Vincent Trocheck may also be a star in the making.Trocheck was the Panthers 2013 number one pick. For two years, Trocheck has quietly been one of the most productive scorers in the league. Last year Trocheck scored 23 goals, and 31 assists for 54 points. Trocheck was also healthy for all 82 games last year. The year before he scored 25goals,along with 28 assists for 53 points in 76 games. If he can stay healthy, he may breakout, and be one of the top players in the league within time.
With NHL training camps officially undeway it’s time for hockey fans to start making their predictions.With a new expansion team hockey should be better than ever tis year. Welcome hockeys newest team the Las Vegas Knights. Lets examine three teams that will give the Penguins a run for their money. A team to keep a close eye on is Edmonton. General manager Peter Chairelli has developed the Oilers into a contender in just three years. He has two of the games elite Stars. Forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisiaitl are two of the games best. Both signed long term deals over the summer. McDavids deal is for eight years,one of the largest in team history. Defensively the Oilers are solid with veterans Kris Russell and Matt Benning protecting goalie Cam Talbot.The team also added winger Ryan Strome from the Islanders. Strome is regarded as a depth move and brings a physical presence to the roster. Dallas is a team that was very busy this past off season. The First order of business was the firing of head coach Lindy Ruff. Ruff was replaced by long time veteran Ken Hitchcock. Hitchcock previously coached the Stars ten years ago before moving on to St.Louis. The also added veteran goalie Ben Bishop. Bishop signed a six year deal thatshould bring depth to the goalie department Last years goalie Kari Lehtonen struggled through most of the season. Defensively Dallas acquired Mark Methot from Las Vegas.Plus the team signed Martin Hanzal and Tyler Pitlick. The new additions plus Hitchcock as coach should mix in well with star players Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. Within time the Stars should be serious contenders. This leads us to the Bruins. With a new head coach and a nice mix of veterans and rookies the Bruins could be the surprise of the league. Veteran goalie Tuukka Rask is only thirty, and still has plenty of upside.Look for youngsters Charlie Mc Avoy and Brandon Carlo to be elite defenseman.Look for the Bruins to challenge in the Stanley Cup finals.
Now that the Bruins have officially namede Bruce Cassidy head coach it’s time for the 2017 Bruins to go forward. With one of the youngest rosters in the NHL goaltending is still the main area of concern for this years Bruins club. The Bruins finally qualified for the playoffs after a two year absence. Development comes within time. Adding youth and veterans together the Bruins should be serious playoff contenders. Goal tender Tukka Rask is entering his eight NHL season as Boston’s goalie. He finished last year with a 37-20 record and a 2.64 goals against average. Not to mention eight shutouts and five ties. According to Sports Iluustrated Rask is ranke fouteeth among NHL starting goalies. Not bad company. But since the Bruins 2012 Stanley Cup loss to the Blackhwaks Rask has not won a post season round. This could be the result of various reasons. The main reason I feel is Rask plays to many games. Sixty five games plus the playoffs takes it’s toll on you. Personally I think Bruce Cassidy needs to rotate his goalies. Fifty five games and the playoffs would help mentally and physically. Depth wise the Bruins have Anton Khudobin and Zane Mcintyre in Providece. Khudobin is in his second season as Boston’s backup. Last year he had a 2.35 goals against average and a record of 8-6. Mcintyre only saw limited duty with only two apperances. Rotation is the key I feel to the Bruins success this year. If the Bruins can get steady backup play from Mcintyre and Khudobin then the Bruins should be OK. One thing the Bruins did learn from last year was expierience. Experience is your greatest teacher. With youngsters, McAvoy, Jakub Zboril,Brandon Carlo ,and Rob O’Gara fighting for a defensive pairing the defense should be solid. With veterans Dave Krejci,Adam McQuaid, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand leading the way the Bruins should make a strong bid for the Stanley Cup. Mistakes come with youth. Veterans also make mistakes. Mix the two factors together and you’ve got a pretty good team. Goaltending is still the Bruins main concern in 2017/18.
With NHL training camps about a month away, contract talks between the Bruins and David Pastrnak, are moving slowly. The latest proposal is a six year 36 million dollar deal. Considering Brad Marchands eight year 49 million dollar deal that’s not to bad The Bruins need to be careful not to overpay for someone who hasn’t won anything. One example is teammate Brad Marchand. Marchand has been in the league seven years with two trips to the Stanley Cup. Past contract talks have hurt the Bruins. Two such players Tyler Seguin and Phil Kessel Both times the Bruins did not want to over pay. This resulted in the Bruins trading both players,and have nothing to show for it. Seguin for example, was one of the most talented players in the league . But again the Bruins traded away a young talented player. Once again the Bruins have failed to get equal value in return for a good player. The Dallas trade for example bought Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Joe Morrow,and Matt Fraser. Eriksson was the most productive out of the four. After two years with Boston Eriksson signed elsewhere. Not to mention scoring 30 goals in 2016 . Kessel on the other hand landed the Bruins two number one picks in 2010 and 2011. In 2011 the Bruins drafted a solid defense man in Dougie Hamilton. Again Boston sent him packing two years ago. Despite the bad trades the Bruins have seemed to find their way back to the playoffs. Boston has missed the playoffs two years in a row. The Bruins have committed themselves to develop young talent. This is what makes Pastrnak so important to the future.He’s the young veteran who can hopefully get them back to the Stanley Cup finals. Pastrnak is one of a host of young Bruins on the rise . Flanked with sold veterans such as Zedeno Chara, Adam McQuaid and Brad Marchand . The Bruin management needs to recognize this and offer Pastrnak a fair salary. Last week the Bruins offered Pastrnak a four year 36 million dollar salary. Even though Pastrnaks been in the league three years either way it’s going to be a tough call. He’s on the same path as Kessel and Seguin. Personally I think a good deal would either be a bridge contract or six years at 42 million. The future is now for the Bruins. .
With the 2017 NHL free agency season moving right along the Boston Bruins have one main priority to take care of. That priority is to sign rising star David Pastrnak to a long term deal. Currently Pastrnak is under team control for three years. Pastrnak the Bruins number one draft pick in2014 had a breakout season netting 34 goals and 36 assist and is rapidly becoming one of the dominant players in the NHL. Negotiations are moving a long slowly but hopefully in the right direction.Pastrnak is currently earning $ 2,275,000 dollars with a yearly salary of $ 925,000. One option the Bruins could take would be a bridge contract. With a bridge contract this would give the Bruins some flexibility especially with it’s young group of players coming up. Keep in mind however this is a common problem in the NHL. Two players in similar situations are Capitals forward TJ Oshie and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov. Oshie recently signed a long term deal with the Capitals earlier this summer. Oshie’s deal is a $ 46,000,000 with a $20,000,000 signing bonus. In two years Oshie has been one of the most productive players in the league.Last season he scored 33 goals and 33 assist and the year before 26 goals and 25 assists. Kucherov on the other hand has put together two solid back to back seasons. In 2017 he scored 40goals and 45 assists for a total of 85 points. The year before 2014/15 he netted 30 goals and 36 assists. If you look at Pastrnaks numbers he’s right in the middle of both players. When it’s all said and done look for the Bruins to offer Pastrnak a long term deal worth $14,000,000 or $15,000,000 per season with a handsome signing bonus. Overall this summer the Bruins have been realitively quiet One small move was signing Winnipeg’s Paul Postma. Postma a seven year veteran had 1 goal and 13 assists in 65 games last year for the Jets. Also the Bruins inked winger Noel Accari to a two year contract. The Bruins had a solid campaign in 2017. The team ranked eighth in the NHL in defense. If they want to go deeper inthe playoffs goalie Tukka Rask needs to be protected. The B’s have two young defeseman on the rise Brandon Carlo and 2016 number one pick Charlie McAvoy. If the Bruins are to go forward signing Pastrnak would be a positive step and send the right message to the team.
So what direction will the Bruins go in this summer? A gutsy move would be to replace net minder Tukka Rask. Rask hasbeen heavily criticized for his poor post season performance the past four years. The only issue is Rask is in the third year of an eight year contract about a 7,000,000, million dollar cap hit. But who out their is better. Playoff wise Rask has made 53 appearances and winning 23. Since the Stanley Cup the B’s have suffered painful exits to the Blackhawks and Canadiens twice. And two years without any trip to post season. Barring any trades a interesting free agent is Kings goaltender Ben Bishop. Bishop 30 years old was dealt to the Kings mid way through last year. A playoff record of 21-13 GAA2.09. Bishop has a cap hit 5,590,000 a little cheaper than Rask. But roughly the same age most likely will be overpaid by some team. Not a good Bruins fit. Mike McKenna of the Lighting is another veteran available. McKenna is a well traveled player. However he’s only played in 27NHL games and at 34 is on the last leg of his career. Would not be a good fit for the Bruins. An intriguing player available is BlackHawk backup goalie Scott Darling. Darling has a Stanley Cup ring and had an ecellent teacher in Corey Crawford. Only 28 Darling is in the prime of his career. Jf theBs were to make a move d be their best fit He would be long term and cheap. A career record of 17-9 238 GAA. The last player available is Flyer backup Steve Mason. Mason 29 years old. Mason has played in 58 NHL games has a 26-21 record 2.66 GAA. In the playoffs he’s 2-9 with a 3.35 GAA. Maybe a good fit for Providence and Boston. But at best a backup. No matter what direction they go in the Bruins need to make deep post season runs at in the playoffs. Tukka Rask has had sveral years to do it but keeps coming up short. Bruin fans are waiting patiently for another Cup. If they come up short another year moving him and his 7,000,000 dollar contract might be their best logical choice.