The face of the next-gen Big Bad Bruins.
After the shock of turning the young face of the franchise, Joe Thornton, into three role players, of which only Marco Sturm remains, gloom encompassed Causeway Street for quite some time. With the recent conclusion of the 2007-2008 season, one that saw Bruins beat writers pen more Trials and Tribulations than Lupe Fiasco, it appears gray skies have lifted with the arrival of Spring.
The team displayed unwavering grit in the face of perhaps more adversity than any other franchise in the NHL this season, and battled the top-seeded Canadiens to the brink in round one. And there’s more good news to come.
What do Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Phil Kessel, Petteri Nokelainen, Vladimir Sobotka, Tukkaa Rask, and Mark Stuart all have in common? Each is 22-years-old or younger.
Throw in Chuck Kobasew (26), Andrew Alberts (26) and Dennis Wideman (25) and you have a starting netminder, three defensemen, and six forwards already contributing for the big club to build a promising team around.
But, it gets better.
Next we have the prime-of-their-lives captaincy troika of Zdeno Chara (31), Marc Savard (30), and Sturm (29). And legitimate number one netminder Tim Thomas for one more year.
Total it up and you’ve got both goaltending positions filled, four quality defensemen, and eight potential point producing forwards. The Bruins also have Andrew Ference, Shane Hnidy, Glen Murray, Manny Fernandez, Peter Schaefer, and P.J. Axelsson to use or lose, and with some creative moves from GM Peter Chiarelli the B’s could turn cap space into someone capable of putting them over the top–think Marian Hossa.
There’s plenty still to be done before next year’s roster truly takes shape, but it appears the gray skies we’ve grown accustomed to over the past few season have morphed into a clear, starry night. With jovial Jumbo Joe gone and militant Cam Neely-wannabe Milian Lucic on the scene, the Big Bad Bruins might just be back.