Who would have thought the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League would go from last place in 1997-1998, to being the 1998-1999 AHL Calder Cup champions. Against all odds the Bruins came together and were the winningest team this season breaking benchmark records in the process. With a championship under their belts, the players of the Providence Bruins enter this seasons training camp with more confidence in their abilities than ever before. The Bruins brass are confident in their youth and recently released veterans Ken Baumgartner and Dave Ellett to make room for the talented youngsters.
In the festive spirit of Ray Bourque’s 20th anniversary of being drafted, Defenseman Nick Boynton, was selected by the Boston Bruins with their first pick, 21st overall, from the Ottawa 67s of the Ontario Hockey League. The former CHL +/- Award winner, has exceptional vision and intelligence with and without the puck, and had the 2nd hardest shot among defensemen at the 1997 prospects skills competition (89.2 mph). The 6’2″, 210 lb. native of Etobicoke, Ontario finished last season with 11 goals and 48 assists for 59 points with 83 pim in 51 games. Boynton captained his Ottawa team to the Canadian Major Junior Hockey championship, the Memorial Cup, and was named the MVP in that tournament!
Left wing Matt Zultek, was Boston’s second selection, 56th overall, and was Boynton’s teammate on the Memorial Cup championship Ottawa club. Zultek beat Calgary netminder Alex Fomitchev in OT to win the coveted junior championship. The 6’4″, 222 lb. native of Windsor, Ontario finished in the club’s scoring race with 33 goals and 33 assists for 66 points and 71 pim in 56 games.
Goaltender Seamus Kotyk, 18, was Boston’s fifth pick, 147th overall and was also a teammate of Boynton and Zultek on the Ottawa 67s Memorial Cup championship club last season. The 5’11″, 185 lb. native of London, Ontario played in 41 games with Ottawa in 1998-99 with a 26-7-4 record and 2.39 goals against average in those contests. With the addition of Kotyk and Donald Choukalos, the 179th overall pick, the Bruins solidify a core of young goaltender’s on the rise.
In other news, the Bruins held on to Rob Tallas, signing the 26-year-old to a one-year contract believed to be worth $700,000.
With No. 1 man Byron Dafoe being a restricted free agent, the B’s could not afford to leave themselves vulnerable in the game’s most important area. “We needed a goalie anyway,” said Bruins assistant general manager Mike O’Connell. “We gave up on a young player (Randy Robitaille) to keep him and that was our plan regardless of what happened with Byron.
Tallas appeared in 17 games last season, his first full year in the NHL. He posted a 7-7-2 record with a 2.61 goals-against average.