The second in a four-part series on the state of the Bruins' roster.
With the exception of 42-year-old Mark Recchi, no Bruins winger can say that he met or exceeded expectations in 2009-10. When it comes to assigning blame for the Bruins finishing last in the league in scoring, the majority of it falls on the shoulders of one of the most inconsistent groups of flanks in the league -- a group that wasted the talents of Boston’s top three centers (when those guys were healthy).
This is the one area the Bruins will look most for an upgrade, via trades, free agency and the draft.
Here’s a look at where the Bruins stand on the wing heading into the 2010 offseason:
Outlook: The Bruins might as well call their group of wingers “the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.” Sturm led the team with 22 goals, but even he’ll tell you that he should have scored at least 30. With the drop-off by Ryder (down nine goals) and Wheeler (down three) from 2008-09 to this season, the Bruins were desperate enough for help to bring in Satan, who was up and down throughout his five months on the job in black and gold. Basically, the Bruins’ plan to replace Phil Kessel with improved production from players already in the fold completely backfired. Now with Sturm out at least until mid-November after knee surgery, the Bruins have a lot of work to do to find scorers on the wings.
General manager Peter Chiarelli could have coveted draft prospect Taylor Hall fall into his lap at No. 2 overall and his job would be a lot easier this summer. By all accounts, Hall is NHL-ready and a legit sniper. The Bruins can’t count on Hall as a savior, but as a young supplemental player he would instantly make the club better.
Bringing Recchi and Thornton back should be no-brainers for Chiarelli, even if the GM sounded like he wasn’t too hot to retain his unrestricted free agents on breakup day. After Patrice Bergeron, Recchi was the Bruins’ most consistent forward this year in terms of effort and production. His leadership in the locker room on a team that’s led by a couple of quiet captains (Bergeron and Zdeno Chara) is impossible to measure. If the Bruins let him get on the open market, a Cup-contending team like Pittsburgh or Washington will gobble up Recchi in no time.
Thornton has been an unrelenting foot soldier for three years in Boston and should be rewarded with the chance to be the team’s enforcer, bodyguard and comic relief for another couple of seasons in his adopted hometown. He works too cheap to let him get away.
The Bruins could look to move Ryder this offseason, but if that fails, he could be a candidate for a cap-relieving trip to the Providence (AHL) farm club if another player -- the No. 2 pick, the No. 15 pick or a forward like Marchand, Zach Hamill, Max Sauve and Jeff LoVecchio -- makes a run for a roster spot. ... On the free agent market, the Bruins (as presently constituted) won’t have enough cap space to make a big splash. Lee Stempniak and Raffi Torres, two players the Bruins targeted at the trade deadline, will be UFAs. They could garner interest again depending on their price tags.