Puck Daddy - NHL

Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.

Every year, it seems, Peter Chiarelli paints himself into a corner.

Around this time last year, we were all sitting around waiting for him to pull the trigger on the imminent Phil Kessel(notes) trade because the Bruins had no cap space; and, well, Kess wasn't especially beloved in the Boston dressing room.

Now the hockey community is refreshing Twitter every 10 minutes expecting to see another money-saving blockbuster from him, because once again the Bruins are out of cap space and, this time, overloaded at a couple of positions.

He wisely shipped useful energy center Vladimir Sobotka(notes) to St. Louis for the rights to David Warsofsky, a mobile defenseman with whom they are no doubt exceedingly familiar, considering he plays for Boston University.

The Bruins came into the weekend needing to offload Tim Thomas'(notes) albatross contract on some willing-but-ignorant dancing partner and came up empty, for now at least.

The lack of progress on a Thomas trade — once rumored to send the 2009 Vezina winner anywhere from Tampa Bay to San Jose or one of several points between — has, perhaps, forced Chiarelli to pursue a much less palatable swap: one that would see off Marc Savard(notes), of all people.

Likely to a division rival.

To just say, "The Bruins want to trade Savard," to a random hockey fan would be to invite quizzical looks and frank disbelief. "Savard? Why?"

But once again, Chiarelli is being forced to seriously consider, or even actively work, at a transaction he would almost certainly rather not make thanks to his often-infuriating insistence on following every brilliant move with an equally boneheaded one.

(Coming Up: The winners and losers among all 30 teams at the 2010 NHL draft, analyzed with the usual charm and consideration for hurt feelings.)

That Chiarelli was able to wrangle anybody of note in a trade that involved Dennis Wideman(notes) is, in itself, a small miracle. It cut out enough space to get Johnny Boychuk(notes) back onboard and Mark Stuart(notes) will likely soon follow, but something will have to give up front. The Bruins have only 11 forwards under contract, almost all of whom come with considerable question marks.

The Bruins have five forwards making $4 million or more against the cap next year, and Chiarelli's now-annual, desperate scramble to clear cap space has made Savard the only forward any general manager would take on money to acquire, even for a single season. Patrice Bergeron(notes) at $4.75 million? Pass. Milan Lucic(notes) at $4.1 million or so? No thanks. Michael Ryder(notes) at $4 million even? Dial tone.

So now Savard will waive the no-trade clause in the contract that he signed almost exactly eight months ago — one that would have kept him on Causeway St. until he retired — for several teams, the most notable of which are Ottawa and Toronto.

It's important to keep in mind that the Bruins offered Savard that extension, widely hailed as a smart bit of business for all involved, four months before his brain was bounced off the inside of his skull by Matt Cooke(notes). So maybe that's why Chiarelli would mull such a deal; Savard, whose inspiring comeback against Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference semifinals was almost enough to make even hardened hockey fans tear up, may not be able play the same way, or at the same level, he did before his concussion.

Both Bergeron's transformation from budding 30-goal, 80-point-scorer to injury-plagued, borderline-checking center as a result of his own concussion, and Savard's comparatively meek playoff performance after that one brilliant, chills-down-your-spine moment should serve as an adequate and disquieting reminder that no one is ever really the same after an injury of that kind.

That Chiarelli would consider such a situation at all paints a fairly bleak picture of just how dire the Bruins' salary cap situation really is, and perhaps of their pessimism for Savard's health going forward. It's possible the team is trying to roll the goodwill it has garnered from local fans in the last few months into coloring Tyler Seguin as an acceptable replacement both now and for the future, but it should be clear to everyone with an even passing interest in hockey what this really is: Damage control.

What We Learned

(A little bit of a different setup this week. Instead of just some regular ol' news about the various teams around the NHL, here's an assessment of their drafts. By me. You're sure to love it.)

Anaheim Ducks: Winners, no question. How happy was Bob Murray to get Cam Fowler at No. 12 and then pull a native Californian at No. 29? Have a look at the smile on his face. Tells you all you need to know. Now maybe he'll think about giving Bobby Ryan(notes) a call.

Atlanta Thrashers: Winners. The Thrashers wanted Alex Burmistrov for a while. "We targeted this player from Day One," Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley said. See? Plus, Dudley did not make any completely insane, terrible trades, so you gotta figure that's a positive as well.

Boston Bruins: Winners. Settling for Tyler Seguin is pretty OK, especially since they didn't need to finish 29th in the league to get him. I also really like the Vladimir Sobotka-for-David Warsofsky swap. Warsofsky's an undersized defenseman, but he's also pretty much the definition of a big-game player.

Buffalo Sabres: Losers for now. The Sabres took a project in Mark Pysyk, who even they admit is at least three years away from playing in the NHL and there were draft-day questions about his bladder. Pysyk was highly ranked by Central Scouting but dropped into the mid-20s, and the Sabres clearly wanted Riley Sheahan.

Calgary Flames: Losers. "The only splash I would have made is off the surfboard," Darryl Sutter said Saturday as the seventh round drew to a close. "There's not much happening here." That's what happens when you trade your first- and second-round picks for Olli Jokinen(notes) and Rene Bourque(notes), you dope.

Carolina Hurricanes: Winners, at least over all. You can easily criticize them for passing on Fowler and Brandon Gormley, but they targeted Jeff Skinner and got him. Plus they traded for Bobby Sanguinetti(notes), who is instantly one of their better D-men (though what that says about the state of the 'Canes blue line is obviously not so good).

Chicago Blackhawks: Winners, clearly. They won the Stanley Cup, got a first-round pick for a mediocre forward that overachieved in the playoffs thanks to a never-ending series of favorable zone starts, and had five picks in the first two rounds. Plus drafting a guy named Ludvig is gonna be an easy W every time.

Colorado Avalanche: Losers. The Joey Hishon pick was high comedy. Ranked as the 55th-best North American skater, he went No. 17 overall. Even he couldn't believe the Avs picked him, and not in that whole "I never thought this day would come," way, but rather that whole "I literally could not believe I went that high," way. The Calvin Pickard selection, though, almost made up for it.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Losers for now. I dunno, maybe the Ryan Johansen pick works out big-time and Rick Nash(notes) finally has someone that can get him the puck forever. But it's more likely that leaving Fowler waiting until No. 12 will prove to be one of those "How did they pass on THAT guy?" picks in about five years.

Dallas Stars: Winners, I guess. I wasn't alone in thinking they had a more pressing need at the blue line than they did in goal, but Jack Campbell is a proven winner — unlike noted American loser Mike Lee — and they loaded up on D with three of their four other picks. I'd say they did the best they could have.

Detroit Red Wings: Winners. I like the Riley Sheahan pick, but Kenny Holland better hope his history-bucking works out. It's the first forward the Wings have taken in the first round since 1992 when they drafted some fellow called Curtis Bowen, who played exactly zero NHL games and never scored more goals or points in a season at any level than he did in his draft year.

Edmonton Oilers: Winners. Taylor Hall may be odd-looking and boring and probably dumb as a bag of pucks, but that has very little effect on his game, which is obviously outstanding.

Florida Panthers: Winners. You can't say Dale Tallon doesn't know how to rebuild a hockey club. Three first-round picks, another two in the second, 13 overall. They're going to be terrible for several more years, but they could, in theory, become the 2017 version of this year's Blackhawks. They had the best weekend of anyone, no question.

Los Angeles Kings: Losers. Love the Derek Forbort pick (think of that blue line in about four years! Doughty, Hickey, Teubert, Forbort!). But this is a Kings team that's not really in a position to sit back and take safer, project picks just yet, and that was their stated goal coming in. They hosted the draft and needed to make a splash, and I'm sorry but they just didn't.

Minnesota Wild: Winners. The Wild loved Mikael Granlund. Had him ranked third overall in the draft, in fact. Then they had three second-round picks. They had four picks in the first two rounds in the last THREE drafts.

Montreal Canadiens: Losers. The Habs liked Jarred Tinordi so much they moved up five spots to get him and so did the Canucks (he was the condition on that conditional 25th they sent to Florida), but he was also their only pick in the first three rounds. Maybe they just figured that at 6-foot-6, he was equal to picking two normal Canadiens forwards.

Nashville Predators: Losers for a few years. Austin Watson was a nice if unspectacular pick; but not unlike the Habs, they only had two picks in the first three rounds. This is a team that drafts well, though, so maybe a couple of those late-round picks will turn out to be the next Patric Hornqvist(notes). Till then, I'm unimpressed.

New Jersey Devils: Losers unless Jon Merrill gets his act together. Merrill may well be a talented, very smart hockey player, but he's also a thug who has been suspended by USA Hockey for off-ice incidents stemming from the harassment of some high school girls, and his Combine interviews were notably poor. Maybe he puts it all behind him, but until then, you have to question this pick a little bit.

New York Islanders: Winners. Third-best draft of any team behind the Panthers and Ducks, and I thought they had the best draft last year too. Because of Nino Niederreiter and all their current forwards, they could gamble on taking a huge question mark like Kirill Kabanov in the third round. That might work out fantastically for them.

New York Rangers: Losers. Any time I literally laugh out loud at a pick, as I did when they took Dylan McIlrath at No. 10, you're having a bad go of things. "A special player doesn't have to be a top-end scorer or goaltender," said player personnel director Gordie Clark. "He's a special player. With the size, toughness and grit we project, he's that player." Know who else was a big, tough player the Rangers picked high? Hugh Jessiman(notes).

Ottawa Senators: Losers. Maybe you're the kinda guy that really really loves David Rundblad, but the Blues aren't exactly overflowing with forward talent, so why would they deal him? Otherwise, the Sens had just four picks, none in the first two rounds, and then they take a big body with little to no evident skill in Jakub Culek. The kid had 13 goals and was eighth on his team in scoring last year. In the QMJHL!

Philadelphia Flyers: Losers. OK, so things crashed out with Dan Hamhuis(notes) and they're right up against the cap, but they have an agreement in place with noted playoff warrior Evgeni Nabokov(notes) and.. oh what's that? He might still hit the open market? Well at least you had those two seventh-round picks.

Phoenix Coyotes: Winners? Brandon Gormley at No. 13 was an unexpected, great treat (thanks Darryl!) but the Mark Visentin pick was a bit off-the-board and the Phil Lane choice was just befuddling.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Winners. I don't care about anything besides the fact that they took four Americans. Beau Bennett will turn into the next Mark Messier, just you watch.

San Jose Sharks: Losers, prohibitively. The Sharks apparently had almost no interest in Major Junior players. Top pick Charlie Coyle (TONY AMONTE'S COUSIN!!!) is one of six future or current college players they drafted this year. Some odd picks, but they're almost all going to programs with histories of developing pro players (BU, BC, Michigan, Ohio State and MSU Mankato).

St. Louis Blues: Winners, but just barely. I did not love the Jaden Schwartz pick (I found it a bit sentimental), but I quite liked the Tarasenko pick. I also think the Vladimir Sobotka deal was one they'll like just fine this year.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Losers. In terms of the on-ice product I think the Brett Connolly pick is a winner even if it is a bit risky (the kid basically lost a year of development), but the rest of it? Meh. Brock Beukeboom? I mean, really? He's not his father, and his father wasn't very good either.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Losers. Brian Burke got his requisite tough guy/truculence in Brad Ross. Even PPP thinks it's merely an "interesting pick." As for the other selections, well, one of them is named Greg McKegg (with a leg for an arm and an arm for a leg). So they've got that in their favor.

Vancouver Canucks: Losers. The Canucks needed a top-pairing defenseman. They got a defenseman that is not one of those. Then they didn't pick until the fourth round. Not good, Gillis. Not good at all.

Washington Capitals: Winners. They drafted a Russian with their first pick and another in the third round. They're both going to turn into superstars almost by default.

Gold Star Award

Americans.

There were a lot of them taken, with 11 in the first round. That's right, Canada, we're gunning for you.

Minus of the Weekend

Americans.

Stupid Ghana.

Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week

User "therealkorean" is wheelin' and dealin' for the Sens.

To Blue Jackets:

Spezza

To Senators:

Voracek

Filatov

1st round pick 2011

... Sens then turn around and grab Savard:

To Bruins:

2nd round pick and B-level prospect

To Senators

Savard

Problem?

Signoff

You can control your bladder when you're dead!

Ryan Lambert publishes hockey awesomeness rather infrequently over at The Two-Line Pass. Check it out, why don't you? Or you can email him here and follow him on Twitter if you so desire.

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