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The wonder of abundance and stasis: Boston and Providence

August 20, 2011

This summer already I’ve written about who will assume Recchi and Ryder’s positions, and about Steven Kampfer as the seventh d-man. In truth, I wrote about these situations as if they were dilemmas, because I genuinely felt they were. But in hindsight, the quest for drama in the long hockey summer is what overcame me. What I should be writing and thinking about it just how wonderful it is the Bruins are overflowing with talent in the big club and in Providence, and scattered across the NCAA and major junior ranks.

It’s an enviable position to be in. And it’s not merely me–many a group and writer has lauded the Bruins’ prospect pool. For a team that’s been in the playoffs that last few years, the prospect pool hasn’t diminished in quantity or quality despite what should have been lower draft picks (again, thank you, thank you Kessel). But a lot of that has to be chalked up to Peter Chiarelli’s magical work. He’s done a fantastic job as GM pulling together the right players and drafting great ones (admittedly, a lot of luck happened) and most importantly, getting them secured for the right price. What this has led to is a veritable glut.

Sure, there are organizational blind spots on the roster. The “sniper.” The “puck-moving defenseman.” Bruins fans and media will belabor these points to no end. Truth is, we may have one in our ranks already. He just hasn’t shown himself yet. Moreover, we’ve had success without these components. Sure, offensive was by committee and there was no “go-to” guy. Maybe Krejci? Horton? Yes, Tomas Kaberle was to be the panacea, but he wasn’t. And still, we won a Cup. And the core for 2011-2012 is intact.

The numbers game as far as the salary cap goes at once fascinates and repulses me. Just checking CapGeek to see the world of holy hell that awaits Chiarelli next June in terms of UFA players is frightening. And it’s entirely the 3rd and 4th lines, with Campbell, Peverley, Kelly, Paille and Thorton all up. Every other position is mostly set. But fret not: the Bruins have lots of youth to replace them with if need be, and the benefit of being an Original Six, Cup-winning club in a nice city (hint, hint, ahem, hometown discount). Chiarelli will make it worth.

But back to my point: the glut of riches for the Bruins is a fantastic position to be in. There’s quality at every position. Fretting about who will challenge whom for various spots probably is futile. This is a good position to be in. Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight can take their sweet OHL time, as can Dougie Hamilton. In the NCAA, David Warsofsky and Tommy Cross have another year,  Colby Cohen (NCAA), Max Sauve (Q) will continue to improve in Providence. The baby Bruins haven’t been that great in recent years, perhaps owing to the talent that seeped north. But on the whole, the Bruins have done a fantastic job of drafting and developing talent and keeping it all homegrown.

There are a million variations here. But I think the Bruins may be on track for stasis in the coming season. It’s a winning formula, why change it? And I can’t blame Chiarelli for that. How things shape up a year from now will where it all gets interesting.

But for now, it’s a coasting year. Nobody needs to get signed, no blockbusters need to be made.

That said, it’s August 20th. I can’t wait for the season to start.

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