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X-Factors: Tuukka and Tim

08.24.10 at 1:00 am ET
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Each day this week, will be putting a player or position in the spotlight based on their ‘€œX-factor’€ status entering the season. Monday, we took a look at Michael Ryder. Up next are the two men between the pipes in Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas.

Though it may be a bit strange to not consider strong goaltending to be a sure thing in Boston given the past two seasons, it is certainly worth looking into what type of production the Bruins can expect from their netminders. Each player has something big to deal with in 2010-11. For Thomas, its another year under his belt and for Rask it’s the dreaded sophomore slump.

For the Bruins, and this goes against most of the fans’ wishes this offseason, it would appear the right choice was made in not dealing Thomas and his $5 million salary cap hit. The fact of the matter is that though he is 36 years of age, is coming off hip surgery and did not show his Vezina form last season, Thomas is of utmost important to the Bruins’ operation. He started the majority of Boston’s regular season games and posted a respectable 2.56 goals against average last season. He didn’t get a single start in the postseason, but he played just as big a role as Rask in getting the team there.

So why all the negativity surrounding Thomas? One would have to guess it can’t be fun going into each season with fans expecting you to lose your job, something Thomas has undoubtedly had to deal with for quite some time. Though he made $1.8 million more than Rask (after the rookie’s performance bonuses), evaluating the position as a whole based on cap hit would actually suggest the Bruins are paying a fair price.

Entering the coming season, the Bruins will be paying $6.25 million for a tandem that gave them a 2.33 goals against average over 82 games last season. The team’s GAA was second to only the Devils. For a frame of reference regarding that $6.25 million number, that’s exactly how much reigning Vezina winner Ryan Miller will be making with the Sabres next season. Though Thomas’ cap hit may be alarming by itself, the Bruins are paying a manageable amount for perhaps the league’s best duo in net. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask, xfactors,

Agent: ‘No rush’ on Chara deal

08.23.10 at 10:30 am ET
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These days, when a Bruins contract is brought up, it is done so in a conversation about how the B’s must clear money and distance themselves from the salary cap. The team is over $3 million over the cap and will need to move a big contract when Marco Sturm returns from his long-term injury status.

Maybe this is why there hasn’t been much of a commotion when it comes to extending the team’s impending free agents. While the contracts of Sturm, Tim Thomas, Michael Ryder and Andrew Ference receive regular attention, a guy like Zdeno Chara prepares to enter what could be his last season in Boston.

Chara signed a five-year, $37.5 million deal as a free agent with the Bruins in 2006 and has been a key member of the team since, contributing as both the team’s top defenseman and its captain. Though there have been points at which Chara’s camp and the Bruins have touched lightly on the possibility of an extension, nothing has progressed past the preliminary stage.

Chara’s agent, Matt Keator, told Sunday night that he and Chara are taking a “wait and see” approach, and that there’s “no rush now at all.”

Chara is the team’s highest-paid player and, at $7.5 million, has a cap hit that’s more than $4 million higher than any other defenseman on the team. Dennis Seidenberg is the team’s second-highest-paid blueliner at $3.25 million per year.

The Bruins would be wise to try to swing a deal with Chara’s camp before he hits free agency, as he would likely cash in on the open market, as he did in ’06 after bolting the Senators. Chara’s value to the team seems to be worth the high price tag, as he is the first Bruin to win the Norris Trophy since Ray Bourque, a feat Chara accomplished in 2008-09. He also led the team in plus-minus last season.

The Bruins likely will do what they can to bring Chara back. With Ryder and Sturm coming off the books at season’s end, the team will have some money to throw at the likes of Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Mark Stuart, but all is quiet for now.

Read More: Zdeno Chara,

X-factors: Michael Ryder

08.23.10 at 1:02 am ET
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Each day this week, will be putting a player or position in the spotlight based on their “X-factor” status entering the season. Michael Ryder is up first.

Who better to kick this series off than a guy who fans wanted gone in the offseason but could end up having a major offensive impact in 2010-11? No, it’s not Marc Savard, but rather right wing Michael Ryder. Given his $4 million cap hit and inconsistency last season, it has been rare to hear Ryder’s name in the past few months without also hearing “trade,” “buyout,” or “Providence.” To the contrary, the likelihood is that Ryder will indeed be with the club when the Bruins begin their season in Prague in just over six weeks.

Bruins head coach Claude Julien has been known for — in both positive and negative connotations — being a big supporter of Ryder. He spoke to the lack of appreciation and credit the winger has been given when he gave the “Michael just had one bad year” (2007-08) quote during the 2008-09 playoffs. Though he also pointed to him as a guy the team didn’t get enough of at times last season, he still seems to be one of Ryder’s biggest fans.

Though Julien’s fondness of Ryder dates back to their days in Montreal, Bruins fans aren’t quite as loyal to the now 30-year-old, and perhaps for good reason. After a debut season in which he finished second to Phil Kessel in goals with 27 and had 53 points, Ryder’s jersey sales likely took a major hit in the 2009-10 season.

Though the offense as a whole was never as powerful as it was when the team finished second in the NHL in scoring, Ryder was among those who took the brunt of it. The line that looked so good a season before consisting of him and Blake Wheeler with David Krejci in the middle wasn’t so hot the second time around and everybody took notice. Ryder finished the season with just 18 goals and his 33 points put him in a tie for seventh on the league’s worst offensive team. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Michael Ryder, xfactors,

Report: Whitfield could miss season

08.22.10 at 11:19 am ET
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Bruins center Trent Whitfield, who spent the majority of his last season playing for Providence, has a ruptured Achilles tendon and could miss the entire year, according to

In 52 games for the Providence Bruins, Whitfield scored 17 goals and added 26 assists. He played 16 games for Boston and had one assist. The 33-year-old likely was not in Claude Julien’s plans for the upcoming season but the injury is certainly a case of losing depth at an important position.

The Bruins already have the likes of Marc Savard, David Krejci, Tyler SeguinPatrice Bergeron, and Gregory Campbell at center as they prepare for training camp next month.

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Bruins tickets go on sale Sept. 10

08.18.10 at 11:25 am ET
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The Bruins announced Wednesday that individual game tickets for the upcoming season will go on sale Friday, Sept. 10, at 11 a.m.

Tickets for the Bruins’ home games at TD Garden will be priced from $10-$294 per seat. The cost of the ticket will vary depending on the opponent and date. Both the Tufts Medical Center family section and the Chipotle student section will offer reduced prices at various points of the season.

Tickets can be purchased at the TD Garden box office or at the Bruins official website. Though full season-ticket packages are sold out, 21, 10, and five-game plans are still available for those interested in buying in bulk.

Lehtonen bolts for Sweden

08.17.10 at 3:35 pm ET
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The Bruins suffered a minor loss Tuesday, but a loss nonetheless when forward Mikko Lehtonen left the states to take a one-year deal in the Swedish Elite League. Though his Bruins career technically isn’t over (the Bruins still have his rights), the 23-year-old will play next season with Skelleftea.

In two games with the Bruins over the last two seasons, Lehtonen did not record a point, but he led Providence in goals in each of the campaigns, scoring 28 and 23 goals in 2008-09 and 2009-10, respectively.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli indicated to Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe Tuesday that Lehtonen “felt there was not an opportunity for him in our organization.”

Read More: Mikko Lehtonen, Peter Chiarelli,

Savard ‘hurt’ by trade rumors

08.15.10 at 1:21 pm ET
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Bruins center Marc Savard has been popular this offseason. First there was the owners’ vote to penalize blindside hits to the head after his scary injury incurred from a Matt Cooke hit in March. Then came the recent news that the veteran’s seven-year, $28 million extension inked in December is under investigation by the NHL.

Despite the numerous reasons for the buzz surrounding Savard as he prepares for his fifth season in Boston, nothing compares to the months of speculation as to whether the Bruins would trade the center before he plays the first game of his new contract.

Savard has been quiet throughout everything. In fact, he hadn’t spoken at all in the midst of the rumors until recently, when he told the Ottawa Sun that he did indeed hear his name in numerous reports.

Now 33, Savard signed with the Bruins following a 2005-06 season in which the team finished 13th in the Eastern Conference with 74 points. With the Bruins having made it to the second round in each of the last two postseasons, it would seem like the worst time for any player with Stanley Cup aspirations to be shipped out.

‘€œ[The rumors] hurt me a little bit just because I went to Boston and I helped to build that team back up,’€ Savard told the paper. ‘€œI’€™ve really tried to work hard with the young guys and being a core player. I was really focused on staying there for the rest of my career. To hear all this stuff this summer bothered me inside more than anything else.’€

Though there haven’t been concrete reports of specific trade talks regarding Savard, the logic that would lead one to such speculation consists of multiple factors, including the Bruins’ salary cap situation and the selection of wunderkind center Tyler Seguin with the second overall pick in June’s NHL draft.

In 782 career games, Savard has scored 205 goals and registered 491 assists for 696 points since coming into the league in 1999 with the Flames. Should his contract, which tacks on extra years at lower salaries to decrease his cap hit in an otherwise lucrative deal, be voided, Savard would be free to sign with any team. Speaking with the Sun, however, Savard indicated he’s simply staying in the present.

‘€œRight now I’€™m a Bruin and that’€™s the way it is,’€ Savard said. ‘€œ[But] it’€™s been tough.’€

Read More: Marc Savard,

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