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Bruins roster stayed mostly intact, others did not

Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 2:33 PM / 2011 NHL Face-Off

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Bruins roster stayed mostly intact, others did not
While the Stanley Cup-champion Bruins stayed mostly the same, most other teams unveiled new looks when opening-night rosters were released for all 30 teams.
When the Boston Bruins raise their Stanley Cup banner prior to Thursday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden, the vast majority of their opening-night roster will consist of players who had a hand in ending the franchise's 39-year championship drought.

With the exception of defenseman Joe Corvo and forward Benoit Pouliot, brought in during the offseason, the remainder of the Bruins' 22-man roster played in at least a handful of regular-season games last season -- and the majority were big contributors to the Stanley Cup run.

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While the Bruins kept their 2010-11 roster mostly intact, many teams made significant changes through some combination of trades, free agency and the draft, and it shows on the official opening-night rosters released by the NHL on Thursday.

Perhaps nowhere are the fresh faces more evident than with the team that faces the Bruins to start the 2011-12 season. The Flyers sent captain Mike Richards to the Kings and top goal-scorer Jeff Carter to the Blue Jackets and reloaded with players like Jaromir Jagr, back in the League after three seasons in the KHL; Wayne Simmonds (acquired for Richards); and Jakub Voracek (acquired for Carter); Sean Couturier, the eighth pick of the 2011 Entry Draft, a selection acquired in the Carter deal; and college free agent Matt Read, signed in March. And let's not forget the new starting goalie -- Ilya Bryzgalov, who signed a nine-year contract in June.

The Florida Panthers, hoping to end a postseason drought that stretches back more than a decade, re-made their roster under second-year general manager Dale Tallon and first-year coach Kevin Dineen. Sean Bergenheim, a playoff standout with Tampa Bay, was brought in via free agency along with Matt Bradley, Brian Campbell, Tomas Fleischmann, Ed Jovanovski, Scottie Upshall and Jose Theodore, while trades brought in Tomas Kopecky and Kris Versteeg. In addition, defenseman Erik Gudbranson, taken No. 3 in the 2010 draft, is on the roster and set to make his NHL debut.

Numerous members of the Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks spent the summer swapping jerseys -- the Wild's opening night roster features former 50-goal scorer Dany Heatley and up-and-coming Devin Setoguchi, while the Sharks now sport offensive defenseman Brent Burns and veteran scorer Martin Havlat.

Among the legion of rookies set to play in their first NHL games are nine members of the 2011 draft class. Couturier is one of eight first-round picks who stuck with their teams -- the others are Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (No. 1, Oilers), Gabriel Landeskog (No. 2, Avalanche), Adam Larsson (No. 4, Devils), Ryan Strome (No. 5, Islanders), Mika Zibanejad (No. 6, Senators), Mark Scheifele (No. 7, Jets) and Ryan Murphy (No. 12, Hurricanes). In addition, second-round pick Brandon Saad (No. 43, Blackhawks) took advantage of a strong preseason and an injury to Viktor Stalberg to stick in Chicago. He's poised to become the first player picked outside the first round to play an NHL game in his draft year since Colorado's Ryan O'Reilly in 2009.

Bryzgalov and Theodore won't be the only new goalies in the spotlight -- the Avalanche sent a pair of high draft picks to the Capitals to acquire Semyon Varlamov to be their starter and then signed veteran Jean-Sebastien Giguere, a former Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup winner, to back him up. Tomas Vokoun left the Panthers and signed with the Caps, where he'll compete with Michal Neuvirth for playing time.

And while they might not be the players who make the big impact on a nightly basis, there are a number of players whose presence on opening night rosters are a bit of a triumph in their own right. Read, a 25-year-old forward out of Bemidji State, is one. Checking forward Jay Pandolfo made the Islanders on a tryout at the age of 36 following a season out of the NHL, while forward Fabian Brunnstrom resurfaced with the Red Wings. Also, goalie Ray Emery gets another NHL shot as the backup to Corey Crawford in Chicago, following an impressive late-season stint in Anaheim last season which earned him a nomination for the Masterton Trophy.
Quote of the Day

I came into a team that had 65 points, that was at the bottom of the basement, a team that everybody wrote off as never going to be good. My goal is to go from the very bottom to the very top.

— Forward Brandon Dubinsky on signing a six-year contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets