Thursday, May 28, 2009
A look at the UFAs for the 2008-2009 offseason
Peace out to those UFAs who leave us

My post a few days ago talked about the restricted free agents (RFA) that are on the Boston Bruins roster. Today, I’ll take a look at the current unrestricted free agents (UFA) and which ones I hope the Bruins will bring back.

The Boston Bruins currently have six players who fit in the UFA category. They are PJ Axelsson, Manny Fernandez, Shane Hnidy, Steve Montador, Mark Recchi and Stephan Yelle.

First we’ll start with the “Pack your shit and get out crew”:

Pezell's "Pack your shit and get out" crew:

Manny Fernandez – Seriously, this guy was brought in so we could have a goalie tandem of a 1A (Thomas) and 1B (ManFran), but it wasn’t even close to that. In the 2007-2008 season, Fernandez played 4 games before succumbing to a knee injury. The 2008-2009 season was supposed to be ManFran’s comeback year, right? RIGHT!?

Well it wasn’t. Even though ManFran played in 28 games and had a win/loss record of 16-8-3, Fernandez was still a disappointment. He flat out played horribly during a stretch where he let in some of the worst goals of all time.

Remember this one?

You know it is bad when the NBC crew is calling you out asking if you know how to play the position.

ManFran and his $4.750M ($4.333M cap number) salary will not be missed, especially with Tuuka Rask waiting in the wings to finally get his chance at a full season in Boston.

Steve Montador – I guess it is unfair to tell Montador to pack your shit and get out, since the fans were expecting another Anaheim Duck to be dressed in a black and gold sweater. Unfortunately, based on his play against Carolina (sans one slap shot goal that reminded me of an actual NHL player) he is absolutely useless in the Bruins system.

Montador had a cap-friendly contract at $800K, but does that mean that he should come back based on that number? Hell no. Look at it this way, Montador played 13 games for the Bruins in the regular season and had 1 point. He tripled is point total to 3 points in 11 playoff games. He’s incapable of making tape to tape passes, playing the body and rarely positions himself well.

I, along with other Bruins fans I know, will not be sad to see this guy bite the dust.

Pezell’s “Meh Crowd”:

PJ Axelsson – I’ve never been a big PJ fan and I’ve made it known throughout his career in Boston. I feel Axelsson is one of the vastly overpaid guys on the team, breaking the bank at $1.850M.

What does he do well? Well he is a great penalty killer, there is no doubt there. Axelsson may be one, if not the, best penalty killer the Bruins had this season. Axelsson can also man the fourth line well, and with a line-up of Axelsson, Thornton and Yelle, you could put the fourth line out there without worry that the other team would beat on them.

What doesn’t he do well? Score. Lets face it, paying a player $2M to play on the fourth line is ridiculous. Axelsson played in 75 games this year, the same in the 2007-2008 season, yet scored 7 less goals, albeit his assist numbers went up.

I’m not saying I would like Axelsson gone, but if he is going to be a fourth line (and aging player) I think anything over $1.5M is overpaying.

Pezell’s Player inspired “Baby Come Back” crew:

Mark Recchi – The guy may be 41, but he put up some fantastic numbers in the 2008-2009 season. He played 80 games this year (62 with the Tampa Bay Lightning and 18 with the Bruins), amassed 23 goals (13 with Tampa, 10 with Boston), 38 assists (32/6) and 61 points (45/16). That ranks Recchi third on the Bruins in terms of point total with Savard (88) and Kessel (73) above him.

Recchi is the type of guy the Bruins need. He is a crafty veteran with playoff experience, who can sit in front of a goalie and deflect pucks into the net. He’s been playing this way his entire career.

The downfall is his age. Let’s call a spade a spade, Mark Recchi isn’t going to get any younger and by the time the season is over he will be 42 years old. He will be lucky to get a contract that is over 2 years in length. Given the fact he wants to stay in Boston should help the Bruins when they bargain.

Stephane Yelle – What an absolute steal Stephane Yelle was throughout the season. His cap number is the smallest amongst the UFA ($750K) and he may have provided more depth than anyone on the roster.

Yelle’s main role was to kill penalties and man the fourth, both of which he did very well. Many of you (and by many, I mean the 10 who read this blog) will be saying to yourselves “Hey, he is basically a clone of Axelsson,” and that is where you are wrong. Yelle provides the same penalty killing and fourth line play as PJ, but can win faceoffs. If you know hockey, you should know that winning a faceoff can be the difference between losing a game and winning a game. That puts Yelle in my baby come back category.

Shane Hnidy – The Sheriff needs to come back to Boston. There I said it. Hnidy is an animal and I think the guy is a damn good defenseman. We saw him step up in the Montreal series and deliver a huge goal.

He is a sold third pairing guy, maybe even second pairing with Aaron Ward (depending if Andrew Ferrence even returns). I don’t have much to say on him, no eye popping stats to give you. The guy made $757K (cap hit) last year, and should be in line for a contract among that line, however I have a feeling he’ll test the waters.


Well, these are the Bruins UFAs with a biased spin to them. Unlike the RFAs where I detailed more of the rules and compensation, this was based purely on which player(s) I feel did or did not fit in Boston. There are no UFA rules to go over (unless they are UFA IV, but even then, there is no compensation or Right to First Refusal).


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