- Bruce Cassidy has done an excellent job since taking over as head coach of the Boston Bruins, leading the team to a 117-52-22 record. Now Joe McDonald of The Athletic (subscription required) reports that the team has started negotiating a contract extension that would keep him in Boston past the end of his current deal. Cassidy’s contract is set to expire after the 2019-20 season. While the team failed to secure the Stanley Cup this year after reaching the finals against the St. Louis Blues, there’s no doubting Cassidy’s influence and success so far. It seems almost inevitable that a deal will get completed to keep him with the Bruins at some point.
Hindsight is an amazing thing, and allows us to look back and wonder “what could have been.” Though perfection is attempted, scouting and draft selection is far from an exact science and sometimes, it doesn’t work out the way teams – or players – intended. For every Patrick Kane, there is a Patrik Stefan.
We’re looking back at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft and asking how it would shake out knowing what we do now. Will the first round remain the same, or will some late-round picks jump up to the top of the board?
Here are the results of the redraft so far, with their original draft position in parentheses:
1st Overall: Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (1)
2nd Overall: Jamie Benn, Philadelphia Flyers (129)
3rd Overall: P.K. Subban, Phoenix Coyotes (43)
4th Overall: Logan Couture, Los Angeles Kings (9)
5th Overall: Max Pacioretty, Washington Capitals (22)
6th Overall: Jakub Voracek, Edmonton Oilers (7)
7th Overall: Ryan McDonagh, Columbus Blue Jackets (12)
Three different Montreal Canadiens draft picks have now moved up into our top-ten, with McDonagh joining Subban and Pacioretty. Amazingly none of the three are still with the team, and McDonagh didn’t even really get a chance. After his selection as the fourth defenseman off the board in 2007, McDonagh followed through on his commitment to attend the University of Wisconsin and immediately became a full-time player for the school as a defensive stalwart. After his sophomore season ended however his draft rights were included in a trade to acquire Scott Gomez from the New York Rangers, as the Canadiens were desperately looking for help at the center position. Gomez had just recorded 138 points over two years with the Rangers but was still owed quite a hefty salary. He would fall off the proverbial cliff in Montreal, scoring just 20 goals and 108 points in three seasons and ending up with a buyout in 2013.
McDonagh meanwhile quickly became a household name in New York, eventually ascending to the captaincy in 2014 after participating in the Olympics with Team USA. His presence as one of the premier two-way defensemen in the league was rarely questioned through the years with the Rangers, especially in the postseason where he suited up 96 times. In 2018 with McDonagh getting closer to unrestricted free agency and the Rangers starting the process of a rebuild he was flipped to the Tampa Bay Lightning where he set a new career-high with 46 points in 2018-19.
The 30-year old defenseman’s 287 regular season points put him behind only Subban among 2007 drafted defensemen (and 14th overall), while his leadership qualities and solid presence in the defensive zone continue to make him an extremely valuable player. His place at No. 7 comes as no surprise and the Blue Jackets certainly would have welcomed him to the organization if given the chance.
In hindsight, the team selecting after Columbus likely should have taken McDonagh instead. The Boston Bruins came up to the podium in 2007 with the eighth overall pick, and with it decided to select star WHL center Zach Hamill. Ranked ninth among all North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, Hamill was coming off a 93-point season with the Everett Silvertips, breaking several franchise records and leading the entire WHL. Unfortunately, that’s really where his playing career peaked.
He returned to Everett the next season and didn’t have quite the same offensive production, before failing to really establish himself as a star in the AHL the following two years. Over three seasons from 2009-12, Hamill suited up 20 times with Boston but recorded just four points. He hasn’t played an NHL game since, instead finding himself in the German second league in 2018-19. Unless something incredible happens in the next few year Hamill will never score a single goal in the NHL, making him the first real draft bust of the 2007 group. The Bruins would obviously like a do-over, but who comes next in our draft?
With the eighth pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, who should the Boston Bruins select? Cast your vote below!
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*Tragically, 17th overall pick Alexei Cherepanov died at the age of 19 and would never get a chance to suit up in the NHL. He has not been included in this vote.
Once a highly-touted prospect, it looks as though defenseman Rob O’Gara will need to work his way back into the NHL. Newsday’s Colin Stephenson reports that O’Gara has signed with the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL. The 26-year-old was a Group 6 unrestricted free agent this summer after failing to play in 80+ NHL games through his first three pro seasons. Yet, 2018-19 was his first campaign without any NHL action.
A late-round pick of the Boston Bruins in 2011, O’Gara played four seasons at Yale University and grew into one of the most effective two-way defenders in the NCAA during that time. He signed with Boston in 2016 and immediately became a key player at the AHL level and also made three NHL appearances. He played in eight more NHL games for the Bruins the following season, but was traded to his hometown New York Rangers in exchange for Nick Holden. O’Gara finished the season with the Rangers, playing in 22 games down the stretch and looking like a candidate for a regular role moving forward.
Unfortunately, that’s not how things played out this past season. O’Gara was cut from training camp and never re-emerged as a top recall option, even as the Rangers struggled. O’Gara was a solid defensive presence for the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, but didn’t take advantage of a full year in the minors with an improved offensive contribution. As such, the local product did not earn a new deal with New York and seemingly was unable to find a two-way role with any other NHL team. In San Antonio, he will have to reassert himself as a legitimate NHL option with a consistent, well-rounded game if he hopes to one day make it back to the top level.
While there has been talk for days that former Edmonton Oilers defenseman Alexander Petrovic has signed a professional tryout with the Boston Bruins, there hadn’t been any official confirmation. However, in his Sunday column, Edmonton Journal’s Kurt Leavins confirmed that Petrovic has signed the PTO with Boston. He was supposedly deciding between offers from several other teams, including Carolina and Calgary.
The signing of Petrovic should be a great addition for Boston, who have plenty of issues with their defense. The team dealt with numerous injuries last season that at times forced several players from the Providence Bruins to fill in. With recent news that veteran defenseman Kevan Miller still hasn’t started skating yet after fracturing his kneecap twice last season, and the fact that two of their blueliners, Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, remain restricted free agents and theoretically may not be at training camp, signing Petrovic makes sense.
Petrovic was a solid defenseman with the Florida Panthers, but was never thrilled with his playing time there as the most playing time he ever received was in his rookie season back in 2012-13 when he averaged 18:47 of ATOI. Unfortunately, his game never truly improved and he saw his time on the ice drop, eventually forcing him to demand a trade. That trade came in December last year when the Oilers acquired him to fill their void on defense. However, Petrovic never really got a fair trial with the Oilers, only playing nine games and dealing with a concussion issue. Of course, Petrovic will have to prove his value in Boston to get a contract, but he could be the perfect insurance for a defense that has plenty of questions.
Just a week ago, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen implied that he might be better off on another NHL team in an interview with a Finnish newspaper. However, Sabres general manager Jason Botterill has made it clear that the franchise expects Ristolainen in training camp next month, according to Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington.
Botterill said while his discussion with Ristolainen are private, the team has worked hard to put the 24-year-old in the best situation possible for success in the future.
“We’re continuing to try to set this team up where we’re putting ’Risto’ in positions to have success,” Botterill said. “Yeah, he wants to win. We also want to put him in a situation where he plays very well, and that’s what we’ve tried to do with some of the acquisitions, add depth to our defense, add competition to our defense.”
The Sabres do have options in front of them as the team has an overload of defensemen on the right side and a dearth of scoring options on the forward lines, suggesting that a trade could solve problems for both the Sabres and Ristolainen, who finished the season with 43 points, but also with an NHL-worst minus-41 plus/minus.
- Boston Bruins President Cam Neely said that while Bruins forward David Pastrnak seemed to lose confidence late in the playoffs on their Stanley Cup Finals run, he isn’t worried that it will be a long-term issue, according to NBC Sports’ Joe Haggerty. Pastrnak, who still held the team lead tied for nine goals and 19 points in 24 playoff games, but wasn’t dominant in the playoffs like he was during the regular season. Neely believes that Pastrnak should only benefit from his struggles and become a better player. “Then you get to the conference final and the finals and it’s tough hockey out there,” said Neely. “I look at Pasta and he’s grown from the first playoff experience to this last one, and I expect even more growth out of him moving forward. I understand losing confidence, but I don’t understand losing confidence and not shooting. That’s what I’d talk to him about.”
- The Athletic’s Darren Haynes (subscription required) writes that while the Calgary Flames lost a lot when Juuso Valimaki was injured after tearing his ACL during offseason training, the team does have some young players who are ready to take that next step to fill in the holes that they lost. The scribe writes that Rasmus Andersson might be ready to move into a more permanent top-four role. Andersson started taking minutes away from veteran T.J. Brodie last year and even has seen some power play time. Youngster Oliver Kylington also has shown that he’s ready for a bigger NHL role despite some of his defensive deficiencies.
The Montreal Canadiens seem to be a team on the rise last season as the team finished just two points out of a playoff spot behind the Columbus Blue Jackets. In the end, if the team just could have pulled off a late win, the season could have been looked at differently. The Montreal Gazzette’s Brendan Kelly also wonders whether forward Jonathan Drouin could have made that difference as well.
The winger, who was converted to center to start last season and then quickly moved back to wing after seeing that experiment failed, Drouin struggled throughout the year, especially in the final third of the season. The 24-year-old prized forward the team acquired two summers ago, hasn’t developed into the elite forward the Canadiens had hoped for. But his final 26 games resulted in just one goal and six assists. Had he played better, who knows what might have happened to Montreal?
Kelly writes that much of the Canadiens’ hopes for this season will fall on Drouin, who can be the difference-maker the team needs. Kelly believes Drouin has what it takes to be a star, but needs better coaching to take his game to the next level after looking lost in the final third of last season. The stress of being the savior to the franchise could also be having an effect, but his success could be the most critical element to the team’s season.
- The Detroit News reports that Detroit Red Wings executive Kris Draper has been promoted to director of amateur scouting. Draper, a former assistant to former general manager Ken Holland, replaces Tyler Wright whose contract wasn’t renewed three weeks into current general manager Steve Yzerman’s tenure. Detroit also announced a few other front office additions as the team hired two amateur chief scouts in Ryan Rezmierski (formerly with Nashville) and Jesse Wallin (formerly with St. Louis). The team also added two more scouts in Bryce Thoma and Rob Rassey as well as bringing over former Tampa Bay Lightning goaltending scout Phil Osaer, who has been named head of goaltending scouting and development.
- Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe writes that Boston Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller still hasn’t started skating yet in his recovery from his twice-fractured right kneecap. The 31-year-old played just 39 games last season and didn’t make an appearance after Apr. 4 due to the injury. Millar was actually close to being ready to return for the Stanley Cup Finals when he fractured that kneecap a second time, ending any hope of returning. The blueliner said, however, that the kneecap has healed through twice-a-day workouts over six days so far this offseason and he hopes to begin skating in the next few weeks. He doesn’t expect to be ready for drills in training camp and can’t confirm if he’ll be ready for the start of the season either.
Despite missing the playoffs in each of the last four seasons, the Vancouver Canucks decided to extend GM Jim Benning today. The reasons for that are complicated—and obviously do not hinge entirely on his postseason record—just as they were when the Minnesota Wild made the decision to fire Paul Fenton just 14 months into his tenure with the team. The inner workings of an NHL front office are almost never made public (unless there is an intrepid reporter like Michael Russo of The Athletic who gets the incredible story), and it is hard to see why some decisions are made.
Still, even the most casual fan can see the seat of specific executives and coaches heating up. When the Edmonton Oilers decided to move on from Peter Chiarelli during another disappointing season, it didn’t come as much of a surprise. On the other hand, it was easy to see why the Carolina Hurricanes recently locked up Don Waddell after he interviewed for another job.
Looking around the league, who is next? Which GM will be let go, either this year or next summer?
It might be easy to look at the teams that have struggled recently, but many of them have replaced their top hockey operations executive over the last few seasons. The Oilers brought in Ken Holland to change the culture in Edmonton, while Steve Yzerman returned to the Detroit Red Wings to bring a new voice to a stagnant team. Florida has gone through quite a bit of turmoil in the front office since their ownership changed but Dale Tallon now seems to be entrenched as a veteran leader.
There are others though that may not be so lucky. The Ottawa Senators are heading in a new direction after shedding their previous core, but if the young talent doesn’t develop as hoped Pierre Dorion could be held responsible. John Chayka was the youngest GM in history when he took over the Arizona Coyotes in 2016, but they still haven’t made the playoffs under his watch and now have new ownership of their own. Jason Botterill was expected to have success in Buffalo after finding so much of it in Pittsburgh, but the Sabres haven’t been able to build a full roster around Jack Eichel despite some outstanding individual players.
Nothing is certain when it comes to front offices however. Cast your vote below and explain just why you think they’ll be the first to go!
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*We’ve used Kelly McCrimmon as the Vegas GM, though he won’t officially take that title from George McPhee until September
- Part of Charlie Coyle’s value comes from his ability to shift between center and the right wing without too much difficulty. However, the Bruins plan to keep him in just one position for the full season, notes NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty. As things stand, he likely slots in as Boston’s third line pivot but if one of their young prospects shows they’re ready for that role, team president Cam Neely indicated that they could move Coyle into a top-six spot alongside David Krejci. Coyle is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and a full-time spot in an offensive role could go a long way towards bolstering his value.
The Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils have both renewed partnerships with their respective ECHL affiliates, the Atlanta Gladiators and Adirondack Thunder. Devils assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald released a short statement on the extended relationship with the Thunder:
On behalf of the New Jersey Devils, we are pleased to continue our partnership for the 2019-20 season with our ECHL affiliate, the Adirondack Thunder. Giving players consistent ice-time and exposure in all situations at the ECHL Level will help them develop throughout all levels of the New Jersey Devils organization and its affiliates. We are excited to work together with the management, players and coaches for our third consecutive season in Adirondack.
The Gladiators franchise has been partnered with the Bruins for several years now, starting in the 2015-16 season after they relocated from Gwinnett and parted ways with the Arizona Coyotes. During that time they’ve made the Kelly Cup playoffs just once and have an overall record of 124-133-31. Still, they are a valuable place for the Bruins to continue to develop their raw or long-shot prospects before bringing them into the AHL.
Meanwhile the Thunder have made the playoffs in each of their four seasons in the ECHL, all with some sort of partnership (informal or not) with the Devils. Last season saw them go 37-26-9 under head coach Alex Loh despite using a total of nine different starting goaltenders throughout the year.
There appears to have been more interest in Kevin Shattenkirk than most anticipated, making his one-year, $1.75MM pact with the Tampa Bay Lightning all the more interesting. Earlier today, it was reported that the Lightning and the Arizona Coyotes were just two of eleven teams that reached out to Shattenkirk. Now, The Fourth Period’s Dennis Bernstein states that the Anaheim Ducks went so far as to make Shattenkirk a formal, multi-year contract offer. He notes that the Los Angeles Kings also entered the mix. Colleague David Pagnotta adds that the Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche, and Winnipeg Jets were also serious contenders. As for some of the other possible suitors, there was rampant speculation that both the Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers would have interest in Shattenkirk. At the end of the day, the veteran puck-mover clearly chose what he felt was his best opportunity to return to form as a high-scoring, dynamic defenseman, playing with the uber-skilled Lightning. There were surely offers for more money and term than what Shattenkirk ended up accepting to go to Tampa, and what remains is to make the most of that gamble by asserting himself as a top option on a crowded blue line and padding his stats before hitting the free agent market again next summer.
- Despite Shattenkirk’s ties to the city during his collegiate career, it’s safe to assume that the Boston Bruins were not one of the teams interested in his services. The Bruins are having a hard enough time getting their own right-handed defensemen under contract with limited cap space, never mind adding another to the mix. Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo remain unsigned and the team has acknowledged that one or both may miss time during training camp due to to the rigors of difficult negotiations. Barring some magic from GM Don Sweeney and company, Boston will likely have to make a move to free up cap space. While many hope that it would be overpaid and ineffective veteran David Backes leaving town, such a trade would be hard to make and/or would cost the Bruins too much in picks or prospects. NBC Sports’ James O’Brien writes that defenseman Kevan Miller is instead the most likely casualty. Miller is a strong two-way defenseman who can make an impact on any team, when healthy. The problem is that he is not healthy as often as the Bruins have liked, leading them to invest heavily in defensive depth, such as signing John Moore last summer and extending Steven Kampfer and Connor Clifton in recent months. The Bruins have the depth to survive next season without Miller, after which he is likely to leave as a free agent anyway. Eliminating Miller’s $2.5MM cap hit may give the team just enough wiggle room to sign McAvoy and Carlo to long-term contracts. Meanwhile, even with so many teams facing salary cap issues, there would be a market for Miller’s services as a year-long rental to play a shutdown role for a contender.
- NHL scouts will have to travel to the Czech Republic to evaluate one of the 2020 draft class’ top goaltenders in-person this upcoming season. 17-year-old Nick Malik, son of former NHL defenseman Marek Malik, was drafted by the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in this summer’s CHL Import Draft, but will not sign with the club. His Czech junior team, HC Ocelari Trinec, announced today that their starting goaltender will be staying through the 2019-20 season. Malik is considered one of the top handful of goaltenders early on in the 2020 evaluation process, with one scouting source, Future Considerations, naming him their No. 2 goalie and No. 59 overall prospect in their preliminary rankings last month. The Czech keeper, who was actually born in Raleigh, North Carolina while his dad was playing for the Hurricanes, has turned heads with his calm demeanor and lightning reflexes in net and performed very well at the U-17 World Junior Championship last year. Rather than split time with new Greyhounds acquisition Christian Propp, who made 51 appearances for the North Bay Battalion last season, Malik will likely be the undisputed starter for Ocelari and will have the chance to make more appearances in the Czech secondary pro league.