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Did You know Marchand Signed?!

Posted By Matt Preston On Sep 21 2011 @ 8:00 pm In Boston Bruins | No Comments

Don’t worry, I did, too.

I also know it is old news. With the signing taking place a week ago, the Black-and-White Scrimmage last night and the team’s first pre-season game taking place this evening in Ottawa, there are far more current plotlines for the Boston Bruins I could be following. Unfortunately, the game isn’t being aired in favor of covering the Red Sox collapse and, as much as I would have liked to have been more punctual with the Marchand story, best man duties for my arch-blogging-nemesis FlyGuy5 trumped my writing duties this past week. Alas, the signing of Brad Marchand was the key moves for the Bruins this off-season and it was a brilliant deal to boot, one that deserves to be applauded in this space.

For a franchise that has oft been lauded for offering contracts that are either too much or just not enough, the Marchand deal was just right.

Brad Marchand lit the hockey world on fire in 2010-2011. His story is one that Bruins fans love to retell and listen to and one that everyone else hates on account of the pesky winger’s irritating ways.

Will the images of him repetitively jabbing the Sedins in the face ever be forgotten?

After spending the better part of two seasons in the minors, Marchand earned a full-time spot on the big club at the onset of what turned out to be a dream season in 2010-2011. The former third round pick started the year on fourth line before working his way up to becoming the spark plug for a championship team. Marchand’s 21 goals in the regular season ranked third on the team, while his 41 points ranked him ninth amongst NHL rookies and +25 rating put him behind just teammate Adam McQuaid when compared to last year’s rookie class.

And in case his regular season numbers were not enough, Marchand was even better in the playoffs. His 11 goals were the most by a rookie in the postseason this decade and second amongst all players during last year’s postseason. Marchand recorded a total of 19 points playing in all 25 of the Bruins’ playoff games.

What truly made Marchand valuable to the Bruins, however, was his tenacious style of play. More than his nose for the net, it was Marchand’s flare and dynamic play that helped the team the most. No matter what time of year it was, whether early in the year playing with Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell on the Merlot Line or on the second unit with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi around midseason and in the playoffs, Marchand seemed to generally find himself on the line that was playing the best in Black-and-Gold at that point in time. He was the consummate and clichéd  “character player” that often drives a team.

On account of his play and the fact he was one of the most valuable pieces to Bruins’ Stanley Cup run, Marchand was due a raise as he hit restricted free agency this Summer. In spite of all of this, however, the pesky forward is still entering just his second, full year in the NHL and let many questions be raised about his off-ice character with his behavior in the days following the Bruins Game 7 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. It was a fine line Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli and the Bruins Brass had to walk when determining what was just for Marchand.

The Bruins needed to be weary of offering too much money and too long a contract as a safeguard against a young player growing too content with such early success early in his career and in case Marchand turns out to be just a one-hit wonder. They also owed it to the player, however, to reward him for his performance and give him enough to keep him motivated. They did just that.

The $5-million price tag is a good fit. In essence, the Bruins gave Marchand Blake Wheeler money. While he might not have Wheeler’s potential upside in terms of physical talents and abilities, the two players put up similar numbers last season and Marchand has the intangibles Wheeler never had. The two-year contract, on the other hand, is ideal for a player like Marchand. It gives the front office more time to get a better judge of the forward’s ceiling, while it gets the 23 year-old back to free agency at a young enough age that he will have the chance to cash in once again as he is hitting what should be his prime.

If Marchand lives up to the hype he created with his play last year, the Bruins will be getting the pugnacious forward at a bargain. If the league gets the better of him and Marchand tanks, the Bruins will be waiting half as long to run him out of town as they did Michael Ryder, and at roughly a third of the cost.  Even if he stays consistent with his play, $2.5-million a year is a fair price for a 40-point a year player.

While I am sure the Bruins faithful are all hoping for that first scenario and for Marchand to continue to blossom as an NHL player, no matter how you slice it, two years and $5-million to keep Brad Marchand in Boston is a brilliant deal. The deal also put an end to the Bruins’ off-season, a now successful off-season, and means it is finally time to stop talking about it, start looking towards the season and play some hockey.

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