That's probably a bit of a silly headline considering the Boston Bruins just won the Stanley Cup. 29 teams are jealous of them, as are all the fans of those teams, us included. But I'm already over the 2010-11 season, and I'm trying as hard as I can to look forward to what's in store for the 2011-12 season.
A lot of that hinges on this upcoming week and what the Flyers will do with Ilya Bryzgalov, the draft, trades and all of that. Restricted free agents are also due qualifying offers before July 1, and free agency obviously opens on the 1st, so the next week and change is a big time for the development of next year's team.
But if you're looking at the Boston Bruins, fresh off their Cup win and still sitting at the pinnacle of the hockey universe, they're not scrambling to get a roster set for next season. They're already set. And they're in much, much better shape than the Flyers are heading into next season.
When the Flyers beat the Bruins last season in the Conference Semifinals, B's fans surely would've been ecstatic if the team was blown up. Maybe not blown up but if significant changes came as a reaction to the historic choke that the Bruins put themselves through, it wouldn't have been an unpopular thing.
Peter Chiarelli knew better, though. So did Cam Neely. The architects of the Bruins knew that they weren't very far away from a championship, and that they had the team that could get the job done. Hell, if David Krejci and Dennis Seidenberg were healthy, it might've been different against the Flyers in 2010.
And so they stood pat last offseason. They had already made a bold decision to get rid of
an overpaid, underperforming a disgruntled player in Phil Kessel a few years earlier, and with it, they picked up an extremely valuable No. 2 draft pick that turned into Tyler Seguin last June. Other than that draft pick, they traded Dennis Wideman away for Nathan Horton and Colin Campbell's Baby Boy.
A relatively light offseason in terms of moves.
Some slight midseason tweaking -- adding Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley, as well as a slightly larger trade for Tomas Kaberle -- was all that was needed, and the team kind of flew under the radar all season long. Under the much-more-hyped Flyers and Capitals and perhaps even Penguins.
But they didn't get rid of any major pieces after the embarrassing collapse against the Flyers. They didn't jump the gun and say "We need a real leader!" and trade away Zdeno Chara, the man who until that point had lost approximately one million straight Game 7s. In fact, until that point, he had never won a Game 7 in his career. (He hasn't lost one since, by the way.)
They stood pat, and it paid off. They won the Stanley Cup.
And now, as they prepare to defend the Cup against 29 challengers next season, they're even in better shape to defend it. They don't have to get rid of any players thanks to the salary cap, and hey, what a novel concept, they have a ton of draft picks at their disposal this year in Minneapolis.
Seguin is really just the start. Sure, Peter Chiarelli traded away a solid prospect in Joe Colborne and a 2011 first round pick to Toronto for Kaberle, but he was able to do just that because he already had another first round pick in 2011. That's a trend with Chiarelli. He doesn't trade away draft picks unless he's replaced them already.
Let's take a quick peek at his 2011 draft transactions. We've already been over the first round. He traded his first round pick to Toronto in February for Tomas Kaberle, but he was able to do just that because he acquired a first rounder from the Leafs in the Kessel trade. He actually improved his draft position by 21 spots when all was said and done.
In Round 2, it's more of the same. Chiarelli traded his second round pick to the Ottawa Senators for Chris Kelly, who turned out to be a huge piece in the Stanley Cup puzzle for the B's. He already had that pick improved upon, though, since he holds Minnesota's second round pick from a 2009 trade of Chuck Kobasew. He improved his draft position by 20 spots on that one.
Chiarelli traded his third round pick, 90th overall, to the Florida Panthers in acquiring Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell last June, but he had insurance thanks to the 2010 trade of Derek Morris to the Phoenix Coyotes. He improved the Bruins' draft position in the third round by 11 spots with those deals.
In Rounds 4 through 6, the Bruins hold their original picks, and in Round 7, the Bruins look as though they're going to draft 183rd overall instead of 210th overall. They traded their seventh rounder to Chicago at last year's draft and hold a conditional seventh round pick from the Florida Panthers as their insurance.
Seven picks in seven rounds, many of them in better position than they otherwise would have been.
Not only did Chiarelli make bold trades and improve his roster with huge pieces that helped him win the Cup (Horton, Kelly, Campbell, Seguin), he did so without sacrificing the lifeblood of an NHL team in the salary cap era -- the all-important draft pick.
There is a way to do this successfully. Other teams have figured it out. It's time for the Flyers to get on board.