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Player profiles for 2008-09

Posted by Fluto Shinzawa, Globe Staff  May 22, 2009 10:51 AM

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Marc Savard led the Bruins in scoring for a third straight season. (Barry Chin/Globe Staff)

Thirty-two players appeared in at least one game for the Bruins in 2008-09. Here's a look at every player and some of their season highlights.

Marc Savard

Team's leading scorer for the third straight season... Played perhaps the best two-way hockey of his career... Centered Milan Lucic and Phil Kessel to form one of the most dangerous top lines in the game... The power play flowed through him on the right-side half-wall... Was limited by a sprained right knee in Game 7 against Carolina... Is entering the final season of his four-year contract... Has a no-trade clause, which could make dealing him a challenge.

David Krejci

Established himself as one of the better young centers in the NHL... Played a shifty, clever game, helping Blake Wheeler have an impact as a rookie and Michael Ryder reclaim his goal-scoring ways... Killed penalties with Wheeler... Battled through a hip injury all year... Will have surgery on June 4 and is not expected to play at the start of 2009-10... Should be even better given full health and another year of development... Will be a restricted free agent... Is Boston's top offseason priority.

Mark Recchi

Acquired at the trade deadline with a 2010 second-round pick from Tampa Bay for Matt Lashoff and Martins Karsums... Boosted the power play by serving as left-handed net-front presence... Found chemistry with Patrice Bergeron and Chuck Kobasew... One of the league's best at setting up in front and tipping pucks... Played with a kidney stone and required surgery before Game 7... Will be an unrestricted free agent... Wants to return to Boston.

Phil Kessel

Continued the development and maturity process, scoring a team-high 36 goals... Recorded his first hat trick of the year in the season finale... Used his speed and skill to put defensemen on their heels... Tore the rotator cuff and labrum in his left shoulder against Columbus... Underwent successful surgery today... Will not be ready for the start of 2009-10... Will be a restricted free agent... Has been in play at last two trade deadlines, which could indicate leaguewide interest again at the draft.

Michael Ryder

Was considered a risky summer signing considering his wretched 2007-08 season... But rebounded to pop in 27 goals and serve as a first-unit power-play threat... Had chemistry with Krejci and Wheeler... Missed time when he was high-sticked in the face by Antoine Vermette, but was otherwise durable... Given his $4 million salary, might be on the trade bubble, but should be back in Boston in 2009-10.

Zdeno Chara

Rebounded from offseason shoulder surgery to put together arguably his best year ever... Was a shutdown force who regularly played against top forwards... Combined stick, strength, and positioning to become a Norris Trophy finalist for the second straight season... Became more effective as a backdoor option on the power play... Played through shoulder, knee, and groin injuries, which limited his efficiency in the playoffs... Was team's MVP.

Dennis Wideman

Proved he's worthy of a four-year contract worth $3.875 million annually... Used positioning and in-close stick skills to overcome size and skating shortcomings... Was the team's sharpest puck-moving defenseman... Credited changing his skates as helping to correct the groin problems that wore him down last season... Could be under consideration for an invite to Team Canada's Olympic camp this summer.

Blake Wheeler

Was projected to start the season in Providence, but made the team out of training camp and had a strong rookie year... Highly skilled with good speed and puckhandling ability... Scored one of the prettiest goals of the season when he picked his way through just about every St. Louis Blue to net a SHG... Proved he's more of a skill forward than banger despite his size... Tailed off in the second half and was a healthy scratch for the last three games of the playoffs, when he failed to score a point.

Chuck Kobasew

Was hurt in the season opener but rebounded to score 21 goals... Was his usual rambunctious self throughout the year, hitting opponents and entering the danger areas... Saw power-play time on the second unit... Played with two broken ribs in Games 2-7 of the second round... Could be a trade candidate given his mid-tier salary ($2.33 million) and production.

Milan Lucic

Had a rough training camp and struggled at the start of the regular season, skating on the fourth line, but rebounded to become one of the best players in the playoffs... Didn't fight as much as he did as a rookie, but still posted 136 PIMs... Was most effective with Savard and Kessel on the first line... Was sidelined with a shoulder injury and a suspected concussion... Was involved in one of the season's highlights when he smashed Mike Van Ryn through the glass at TD Banknorth Garden... Will be entering the final season of his entry-level contract and will be due for a significant raise in 2010-11.

Patrice Bergeron

Had a significant setback when he suffered his second concussion in December... Showed stretches by the end of the season that he was rounding into his old game, combining smarts and power to serve as the team's best all-around center... Was the team's best faceoff man... Recorded his first NHL fight in the playoffs when he dropped Josh Gorges with a straight left to the chin... Was the permanent alternate captain... Uncertain whether he will return to his point-per-game form... Given his salary and production dropoff, should be mentioned in trade chatter this offseason.

P.J. Axelsson

Scored 30 points while serving in just about every situation, ranging from first line to fourth line... Served as a defense-first forward, usually the third man high, when he played with Savard and Kessel... Saw his usual high number of reps on the penalty kill... Was an ill fit on the No. 1 power-play unit until Recchi's arrival... Will be an unrestricted free agent, meaning he could have played his last game as a Bruin.

Matt Hunwick

Was one of the team's most pleasant surprises when he was promoted and became a blue-line mainstay... Was at his puck-moving best during the first half of the season... Was under consideration to appear in the rookies vs. sophomores games during All-Star weekend... Played several games up front, where he used his speed and smarts to complement Savard and Kessel on the No. 1 line... Suffered a ruptured spleen in Game 1 against Montreal... Could have seen action had the Bruins advanced past Carolina... Will be a restricted free agent and due for a raise, perhaps in the $1.25 million per season range.

Steve Montador

Acquired from Anaheim at the trade deadline for Petteri Nokelainen... A defenseman who also played forward... Proved to be an important depth player when Hunwick and Andrew Ference went down in the playoffs... A risk-taker who could have benefited from more time adapting to Claude Julien's system... Is similar to the old Wideman in terms of freelancing and risk-taking... Will be an unrestricted free agent.

Stephane Yelle

Signed late last summer to a one-year deal... A perfect fit on the fourth line and penalty kill... Gritty depth player and respected voice in the dressing room... Was credited by Shawn Thornton for adding stability to the fourth line and making it a consistent unit... Will be an unrestricted free agent.

Mark Stuart

Played in every game for the second straight season, the only Bruin to do so... Established himself as the No. 5 defenseman on the defensive corps... A defense-first defenseman, but showed he can join the rush and contribute offensively... Perhaps the second-strongest Bruin after Chara... Elevated his game in the playoffs... Will be entering the final season of a two-year deal.

Andrew Ference

Was the team's best all-around defenseman before he suffered a fractured right tibia courtesy of an Andrei Markov slap shot... Was at the center of the Dallas-Boston fireworks, laying out Steve Ott with an open-ice hit, then dropping the gloves with Sean Avery... Couldn't find his early-season form after returning to the lineup... Saw power-play time at the left point... Suffered a groin tear on April 4, then absorbed additional injuries in Game 3 against the Hurricanes... Is scheduled for groin surgery next month... Is entering the final season of his current contract.

Marco Sturm

Was projected to score 40 goals this season by Cam Neely prior to the start of the year... Was sidelined with head and neck injuries that resulted in a whiplash-like condition... Was lost for the year when he tore the ACL and meniscus in his left knee... Returned to skating in the second round, but was a longshot to return, even if the Bruins advanced to the Cup final... Because of his no-trade clause and major surgery, will be hard to move in the offseason.

Shane Hnidy

Stay-at-home defenseman... Had chemistry with Stuart on the third pairing... Laid a savage beating on Matt Niskanen during the Dallas-Boston fisticuffs... A good fit as a No. 6/7 defenseman... Will be an unrestricted free agent.

Shawn Thornton

Saw his minutes increase and was deserving of more playing time... Energy forward capable of creating scoring chances with skating and physical play... Wasn't afraid of fighting anybody, starting with Georges Laraque in the first Boston-Montreal regular-season game after he beat down Steve Begin during the preseason... Credited Yelle for making him a more well-rounded player... Was a healthy scratch in Game 4 against Carolina... Will be entering the final season of his three-year contract.

Aaron Ward

Defense-first defenseman who paired with Chara on the shutdown duo... Was a good complementary player to Chara, as they combined to play against every opposing top line... Did his usual job of blocking shots and playing a physical game with little regard for personal health... Absorbed Scott Walker's sucker punch in Game 5... Will be entering the final season of his two-year deal.

Byron Bitz

Arrived from Providence mid-season and made sure to stay in Boston... A physical, grinding forward with smarts to go along with his brawn... Very good at settling pucks in his own zone and chipping them out... Saw some shifts at center, his natural position in college... Was a healthy scratch to start against the Hurricanes, but never seemed out of place when he returned to the lineup... Scored the opening goal of Game 7... Made Karsums and Petteri Nokelainen expendable... Will be a restricted free agent.

Vladimir Sobotka

Was primary passenger on Boston-Providence shuttle... Wasn't as consistent this year as he was as a rookie... Scored five points in 25 games... Has played in all situations in Providence, which should help in his development... Is a strong candidate to make the team out of training camp in the fall.

Martin St. Pierre

Acquired from Chicago for Pascal Pelletier last summer... Was a valuable fill-in when injuries struck the big club... Had the second-longest stick on the team behind Chara... A clever playmaker in the AHL, but not able to bring that game to the NHL... Has played with Sobotka for most of the time in Providence... Will be an unrestricted free agent.

Petteri Nokelainen

Slowed in training camp by a groin injury, the first of a number of setbacks that plagued the energy forward... Also dealt with a shoulder injury... Had a bad scare when Dan Boyle clipped him in the eye... Had to take eye drops to help heal the damage... Was swapped at the deadline to Anaheim for Montador.

Martins Karsums

Top-six forward in Providence but could never find a role in Boston... Might not have been tendered had he remained with the Bruins... Traded to Tampa Bay with Lashoff for Recchi at the deadline... A career third- or fourth-line NHL wing.

Matt Lashoff

Was given multiple opportunities but struggled with the big club... Has NHL wheels and hands but struggled with confidence issues... Tried to work on puck retrieval and transition game... Traded to the Lightning with Karsums for Recchi... Saw big-time minutes with Tampa Bay once he got healthy... Has the skills to a top-four NHL defenseman.

Johnny Boychuk

Acquired from Colorado for Matt Hendricks during the offseason... Only appeared in one NHL game... Arguably Providence's MVP this season... Big shot from the point... Will be an unrestricted free agent.

Mikko Lehtonen

Made his NHL debut in second-to-last regular-season game... Big skilled winger with good speed and soft hands... Could add some sandpaper to his game... A top-six guy in Providence who had a solid rookie season... With some bulking up over the summer, will be a player to watch in camp... Will most likely start 2009-10 in Providence, but could be in the Wheeler mold of a skilled wing.

Tim Thomas

Has the inside line on the Vezina Trophy after posting his best NHL season... Continued his development in settling down his game, pulling out the acrobatics only in last-ditch moments... Teamed with Manny Fernandez to record the lowest GAA of any duo in the league... Sparkled in a late-season effort against Philadelphia, a game in which he stopped Scott Hartnell with a diving head save... Signed a four-year, $20 million extension... Will be the go-to goalie in 2009-10 while serving as Tuukka Rask's mentor.

Manny Fernandez

Put his knee surgery behind him... Was a good fit as Thomas's partner in the goaltending rotation before his back gave out... Was never the same after missing time because of his back... Will be an unrestricted free agent... Is considering retirement.

Tuukka Rask

Made his only big-league appearance a good one, as he blanked the Rangers on home ice... Saw his workload increase in Providence... Threw an A-1 nutty after a shootout loss, pitching his stick and milk crate onto the ice... Will be Thomas's backup in 2009-10... Will be entering the final season of his entry-level contract.

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