John Bishop is the beat writer for BostonBruins.com. He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room. A graduate of Boston U. and Northeastern, 'Bish' grew up in Connecticut and moved to the Hub of Hockey in 1993. Since then he has made all four rinks at the Beanpot schools, as well as both Gardens, his icebound homes away from home. Prior to joining the TD Banknorth Garden staff in 2005, Bishop had written for several publications, with his primary focus being college hockey. He coauthored the book Bygone Boston in 2003 and hopes someday to pen a bio of Hobey Baker.
After a couple of weeks waiting for the other shoe, er, make that skate, to drop, Peter Chiarelli cleared up the Bruins crowded crease when he sent netminder Hannu Toivonen to the St. Louis Blues Monday afternoon in exchange for promising young forward, Carl Soderberg.
Soderberg, 21, was St. Louis' second round selection (49th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, is a native of Malmo, Sweden and spent the last two seasons with Malmo IF of the Swedish Elite League.
In 31 games with Malmo last season, the 6'3, 200 pound Soderberg tallied 12 goals and 18 assists.
The trade certainly should not have been a shock to anyone in Bruins Nation, especially after the B's acquired veteran goalie Manny Fernandez shortly after the NHL entry draft, and as Boston's NHL franchise moves through the summer following the 2006-07 campaign, it is clear that its GM is working his hardest to put the Black & Gold into the playoff mix this coming season.
Toivonen, himself a highly-touted prospect, spent four years with the Bruins organization, appeared in 18 games for Boston last season, and earned a record of 3-9-1 and a goals-against average of 4.23. In Providence last season, Toivonen appeared in 27 regular season games, posting a record of 13-13-1 and a goals-against average of 2.37.
Toivonen, 23, has played in 38 games in his NHL career, and has posted a record of 12-14-5 with a goals-against average of 3.33 and a .896 save percentage. His last outing of the season with Boston came in the Bruins' 4-2 loss in Buffalo to the Sabres on April 5, 2007.
Despite his growing pains last season, Chiarelli insisted that he believes Toivonen has the potential to be an excellent goalie in the NHL, but felt like his development would progress better, elsewhere.
"Hannu was kind of caught in between…with Tuukka (Rask) in the future and Manny and Tim (Thomas) for the present," he explained. "Hannu is a very good person, a high character person (but) he's someone, at the end of the day, we felt would be better suited (for) somewhere else."
Why is that Peter?
"It would be hard to have him develop in the current state of the goaltending situation here," explained Chiarelli, "And we felt that the duo, between Manny and Tim, would be highly competitive. With both (having) experience and tenure, that will allow them to push each other.
"(Hannu) had a tough year and expectations held by myself, by him, were high.
"It just didn't turn out this past year. Sometimes that stuff happens…(but) I think he is on the right track."
And there's no doubt that the Boston brass is very high on their new forward.
"He is a left (wing and) center…and he actually projects, probably, (on the) top two lines," said Chiarelli on a conference call. "He's got very good puck possession (skills), has some offensive creativity (and is) heavy and strong on the puck.
"He's still young, (with) an '85 (birth date), so he has got a lot of hockey ahead of him."
The Bruins are now very deep at center, but Chiarelli feels that the young forward is a very useful piece to the Hub of Hockey.
"You can never have too many good centers, but he also plays the wing," said Chiarelli. "And he's got some considerable size and that was something that we've been looking for, too.
"He's a versatile player…but his size and his stature made him attractive to us."
Chiarelli was impressed with the young forward's play in the Swedish elite league.
"We had good reports," said the GM, succinctly. "This is a very good player."
And Chiarelli expects that the B's newest face could make an impression in camp.
"I expect him to come here and contend for a big league job," said the B's boss.