Blogger's Breakouts: Boston Bruins

Bruins

This is the first in our series of posts where we pick a couple of bloggers and ask them eight fantasy relevant questions.  Today we have Jim from Bru Crew (bottom of post) and Mark from The Hub of Hockey.  Follow the jump to read their answers...

To see the rest of our Blogger's Breakouts click here for the main page.

THE HUB OF HOCKEY

Q1) Bruins Breakout of the Year?

WheelerI'm expecting a big year from Blake Wheeler. He took the Bruins the distance with his arbitration hearing this off-season and received a one-year deal – now it's time for the 23-year-old to emerge as one of the top wingers in Boston. Upon being inked to a one-year, $2.2 million deal, the 6'5" Wheeler pointed out his weaknesses from last season – lack of physical game – and said he'll assert himself more physically this year.

Although being fifth on the team with 159 shots on goal, No. 26 has been putting some extra time working on his shot this offseason. If healthy (has played 81 and 82 games in each of his two seasons in Boston, respectively) Wheeler, paired with David Krejci, could flirt with a 30-goal campaign.

Q2) Darkhorse Breakout on the Bruins?

To fans in Boston, he may not be a Darkhorse, but for people outside the Hub, Johnny Boychuk probably isn't a household name. The 2008-09 AHL Eddie Shore winner was a healthy scratch for 23 of the first 26 games in 2009-10 as the No. 7 defenseman in Boston. But it didn't take long before Boychuk moved his way up the pecking order as a legitimate top-4 blue-liner in Boston. He seemed to have made the jump from the AHL – where he had a tremendous amount of success – to the NHL rather easily.

The 26-year-old began stepping up his game when his fellow defensemen were hit with injuries, and stepped-up even more in the playoffs. Boychuk pitched in with 2-4-6 totals in the playoffs, and watched his ice time jump from 17:39 in the regular season, to 26:10 – second on the team – in all 13 post-season games, including over two minutes on the power play and second-most minutes on the penalty kill.

This type of play could directly reflect which defensive partner Boychuk will line up next to in 2010-11...and don't be shocked if it's with Zdeno Chara.

Q3) Breakdown on the Bruins?

It's hard to predict someone's downfall, especially after the club's historic seven-game collapse against the Philadelphia Flyers in last year's playoffs. Further, every Bruin last year had an off-year – from David Krejci all the way down to the B's biggest disappointment, Michael Ryder.

Whenever a rookie goalie – especially in Boston – plays exceptionally well in his first year, there's always that question mark of a sophomore slump (Steve Mason, CBJ). I wouldn't put Tuukka Rask on that list, but we'll just have to wait and see.

But whomever decides to breakdown and underperform, AHLers such as Jordan Caron, Joe Colborne, Brad Marchand and Max Sauve will be breathing down the necks of those players for their NHL ice time.

Q4) League-Wide Breakout of the Year?

P.K. Subban.

Q5) Your First Overall Pick?

Alex Ovechkin. No question about it. Anyone who gets you over 100 points and over 400 shots on goal in a single-season, while being among the league-leaders in hits is a no-brainer at No. 1.

Q6) Top Fantasy Goalie?

It's tough to top Ryan Miller's performance last season, but here are the stats of three of my top choices. These guys are on, or near, the top of my list because of their consistency of great numbers and games started over the years.

Miikka Kiprusoff: At least 35 wins and 72 games started in the last five years with a five shutout average over that span. Has also posted a save percentage (SV%) of .914 and a respectable 2.42 goals-against average (GAA) over those five seasons.

Henrik Lundqvist: Over the last four seasons in New York, Lundqvist has averaged five-and-a-half shutouts and 71 games started. He's pitched a 2.30 GAA over those four years, and his .917 SV% is tough to beat.

Martin Brodeur: The shoe-in Hall of Fame netminder has started at least 70 games in 10 of his last 11 seasons (30 in '08-09 due to injury) with the Devils. The all-time shutout leader has average seven goose eggs in the last 11 seasons, with a ridiculous 2.22 GAA and .913 SV%

Q7) Taylor or Tyler?

Taylor. I don't see Seguin playing much in terms of the power play; not right away, anyways. Savard, Horton, Wheeler, Lucic, Recchi, and Krejci (in no particular order) should be slated as the Bruins' top-two power play units to start. Seguin could, and should, find his way in man-advantage situations soon enough, however. I also think Hall may be asked to do more in Edmonton while playing more minutes – with perhaps a bit more pressure with the Oilers having not made the playoffs since '06) than the second overall pick.

Q8) Who is Going to win the Stanley Cup?

If Tuukka Rask performs as well in his second season as he did in his first, and Nathan Horton helps the NHL lowest scoring team from last year, the Bruins have a legitimate shot. The one concern, for me, however, is their depth at defense.

Also in the East, Pittsburgh – because they have the best player on the planet and they've been there, done that.

And in the West, Vancouver is very impressive (especially when Alex Burrows comes back from off-season surgery) – and the same applies for Detroit as it does with Boston: if Jimmy Howard can play up to expectations (and welcome back Jiri Hudler), then the Red Wings will be tough to beat.

Thanks to Mark for his insight.  If you enjoyed it, check out more of his work at The Hub of Hockey.  Especially his Boston Bruins Fantasy Impact post

 

BRU CREW

Q1) Bruins Breakout of the Year?

Nathan Horton. Horton has put up solid numbers in Florida with little talent around him.  It seems probable that his numbers will jump up in Boston with Marc Savard centering him.  His style fits the Bruins system and although he's only 25 years old, Horton has a wealth of experience.  A good mid-to-late round pick. Prediction: 28 goals, 40 assists and 68 points. 

Q2) Darkhorse Breakout on the Bruins?

Tyler-seguin-nathan-horton-2010-6-29-19-41-33Tyler SeguinThere's no pressure on Seguin in his rookie year and he could be moved to the wing, allowing him to focus on goal-scoring.  Seguin will have the benefit of learning from a deep core of centers, who will also be great distributors. He may get off to a slow start but could be a good mid-season pick up.  Prediction: 20 goals, 30 assists and 50 points.

Q3) Breakdown on the Bruins?

Tuukka Rask. Rask could suffer a sophomore jinx, much like Steve Mason last season.  He needs to improve his glove and blockers to move to the next level of elite goaltending.  If Rask falters or fatigues, Tim Thomas could step in and steal back the starting job for a period of time.  Prediction: 24 wins.

Q4) League-Wide Breakout of the Year?

Mason Raymond. Raymond had a quietly impressive 25 goals last season while switching between first and second line combinations for Vancouver last season.  Raymond went from 11 goals in 08-09 to 25 in 09-10 and with Vancouver becoming one of the most consistent offenses in the NHL, Raymond's numbers should continue to rise this season.  He should be around in rounds 8-10 for a great value pick.  Prediction: 32 goals, 38 assists and 70 points.

Q5) Your First Overall Pick?

Alex Ovechkin.  Perennial 50+ goal-scorers do not grow on trees.  Hell, they're a dying breed.  You can get your dishing center in round 2 but guaranteed goal-scorers with Ovechkin's credentials will not be around.  Plus, he's got 100+ points 4 of 5 seasons and 92 points in his worst year.

Q6) Top Fantasy Goalie?

Henrik Lundqvist will get you 35-40 wins every year and will have a GAA under 2.45.  I wouldn't go crazy and draft a goalie early this season because there's a ton of depth.  I really like Jon Quick.  He should be around in the middle of the pack and will get you 70 starts and great numbers for your value.

Q7) Taylor or Tyler?

Taylor Hall will have the better fantasy year in his rookie campaign but Tyler Seguin will be a better pro.  By better I don't mean he'll score more than Hall, I mean he will be more well-rounded, a better leader, and more successful in the team aspect.  Seguin will be restrained by coaches this season where Hall will be thrown to the wolves which means Hall should produce more initially despite being on a far inferior team.

Q8) Who is Going to win the Stanley Cup?

Vancouver.  If Luongo doesn't pee down his leg in the playoffs like he tends to do in big games, I think the Canucks have a great chance to win the Cup.  Chicago, their biggest hurdle, is depleted, and the Canucks are perhaps the most balanced team in the league.  The Sedin Brothers are the most under-appreciated players in the league and will be tremendous.  Vancouver also improved their defense this off-season, their biggest weakness last season.

Thanks to Jim for his picks.  You can find more of Jim at Bru Crew... check him out. 

Keep coming back to Fantasy Hockey Scouts as we make our way through the other 29 teams.  For a listing of all of the Blogger's Breakouts check out the main page.


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