Bruins odds to win the Stanley Cup in 2012-13

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Bruins odds to win the Stanley Cup in 2012-13

The Bruins clearly like their chances with the players that won the Cup last year, and are sticking with vast majority of their Cup-winning nucleus aside from the Conn Smythe goalie that made off to Colorado.

But the odds-makers in Las Vegas arent quite to sure. According to the gambling site Bovada (www.Bovada.lv) the Bruins have only the ninth-most favorable odds to win the Stanley Cup next season. The Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers both sit at 14-to-1 shots to win the Cup next season after both teams bowed in the first couple rounds of this years playoffs.

The odds on favorite according to Bovada: the Pittsburgh Penguins are 7-to-1 favorites after getting bounced by the Flyers in the first round of this years playoffs in a bloody, hate-filled battle. The Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings sit second at 11-to-1 odds to go back-to-back next season, and the Blues, Canucks, Blackhawks, Red Wings and Rangers all rank as more likely to hoist the Cup than the Bruins.

Amazingly the New Jersey Devils sit just above the Toronto Maple Leafs with 30-to-1 odds of winning the Cup next season, but then again Zach Parise is not expected to return to Newark next season for a team that seemed to be the right one in the right place this postseason.

Here are the full odds provided by Brovada:

Pittsburgh Penguins 71
Los Angeles Kings 111
St. Louis Blues 121
Vancouver Canucks 121
Chicago Blackhawks 121
Detroit Red Wings 121
New York Rangers 121
Philadelphia Flyers 141
Boston Bruins 141
Nashville Predators 181
San Jose Sharks 221
Tampa Bay Lighting 251
Washington Capitals 251
Anaheim Ducks 251
Buffalo Sabres 251
New Jersey Devils 301
Toronto Maple Leafs 351
Florida Panthers 351
Colorado Avalanche 401
Dallas Stars 401
Ottawa Senators 401
Phoenix Coyotes 401
Winnipeg Jets 401
Calgary Flames 501
Carolina Hurricanes 501
Edmonton Oilers 601
Montreal Canadiens 601
Columbus Blue Jackets 751
Minnesota Wild 751
New York Islanders 751

Miller 'blessed for the opportunity' to remain with Bruins

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Miller 'blessed for the opportunity' to remain with Bruins

To the surprise of pretty much nobody, Kevan Miller was ecstatic with the four year, $10 million contract extension handed to him by the Boston Bruins on Tuesday afternoon. The 28-year-old is a hard-hitting, big and strong defenseman in the Bruins mold, and has proven he can be a bottom-pairing defenseman in the NHL over the last three seasons of steady improvement.

So Miller was happy to keep things going with the Bruins and spend his prime years playing for the only NHL organization he’s known since signing as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Vermont.

“I’d like to start off by saying thank you to the Jacobs family, Cam Neely, Don Sweeney, and the rest of the Bruins organization. I’m truly blessed for this opportunity and I’m very thankful. I’d like to also say thank you to my family, my friends – they’ve all helped me get to this point,” said Miller, who would have been an unrestricted free agent on July 1. “Boston is a great city to play in, and we have the best fans in the NHL. I’m very thankful to them as well.

“I love playing here; it’s an honor to put that jersey on before every game. I feel my style of play fits in well here. I’m really looking forward to helping this [Bruins] team get back into the playoffs and reach our ultimate goal, and win a Stanley Cup.”

On the plus side of the ledger, Miller skated in a career-high 71 games last season and established career highs in goals (five), assists (13), points (18) and penalty minutes (53) while posting the second-best plus/minus rating on the team with a plus-15. Miller topped 19 minutes of ice time per game and played top pairing D-man minutes with Zdeno Chara for much of the season without another viable candidate able to step up into that spot.

On the minus side, Miller has had shoulder problems and concussion issues in his recent past while missing healthy portions of time in just about every season of his pro hockey career. He will be overpaid at $2.5 million per season if he turns into nothing more than a 5-6 defenseman for the Bruins, and it’s hard to imagine Miller ever truly flourishing as a top-4 defenseman given the body of work over the last two seasons.

Nevertheless, Miller hopes to keep improving at an NHL age (28) where you are pretty much a finished product on the ice.

“Everyone’s always trying to improve their game. As you can see, the NHL is changing every year, whether it gets faster here or there. But the game changes a lot and you have to be able to go along with that, and change your game in different ways,” said Miller. “I’m going to stay true to how I play, but I think there are areas where I can improve on, that I will improve on. I’m looking forward to it.”

Given the relatively rich contract that Miller will enjoy over the next four seasons, the Bruins are banking on the 6-foot-2, 210-pound defenseman improving as he goes in Boston as well. 

Bruins sign Kevan Miller to four-year, $10 million deal

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Bruins sign Kevan Miller to four-year, $10 million deal

BOSTON -- The Bruins locked up a piece to a blue line that was godawful last season in announcing they’d signed Kevan Miller to a four-year, $10 million contract.

They also retained one of their own young restricted free agents, center Seth Griffith, by reaching agreement on a one-year, two-way deal with an NHL value of $625,000 per season.

Miller, 28, played in a career-high 71 games last season -- his third with the Bruins -- and established career highs in goals (5), assists (13), points (18) and penalty minutes (53). He also posted the second-best plus/minus rating on the team (plus-15) and generally seemed to be playing his best hockey down the stretch.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Miller was also forced into playing 19:04 of ice time per night while oftentimes serving as a top-pair D-man alongside Zdeno Chara. That resulted in a high number of mistakes and turnovers at critical times against the opposition’s best offensive players.

The rugged, hardnosed Miller obviously isn’t going to be judged solely by the numbers. He's also evaluated by the big hits, blocked shots and air of intimidation in the defensive zone. That said, a four-year contract is a bit of a head-scratcher, given that Miller wasn’t expected to command that kind of deal as an unrestricted free agent on the open market.

That four-year deal, which carries a yearly cap hit of $2.5 million, would also seem to hint at the impending exodus of Adam McQuaid or Dennis Seidenberg, or both, given the number of limited stay-at-home defensemen on the roster now making decent NHL money.  

The bottom line: Miller’s contract will be a good one if he can settle into a steady, top-four role. But it will be another overpay if he winds up being the bottom-pairing D-man many see him as at the NHL level.

Griffith had 24 goals and 53 assists for 77 points in 57 games for the Providence Bruins last season, and also had an assist in four games for Boston. He'll get another chance this year to compete for one of the winger jobs at the NHL level with plenty of competition.