Back Check with the Bruins Buff

Monday, February 23, 2009

Where Are They Now? 2006-2007 Bruins Part I

Boston Bruins fans cringe at the mere thought of the 2006-2007 season. Gutless play. Soft players. Horrid goaltending. Band-aid fixtures. All topped off with wretched coaching.

In the midst of the Bruins' recent slump, it’s time to remind readers that they’re much better off than they were three years ago. A 12-7-4 "slump" in the New Year still beats the 35-41-6 record the squad posted back then.

Then it hit me -- What ever happened to some of the players on that team? The AHLers? The borderline NHLers? The ones that should've retired long, long ago?

Curiosity got the better of me, Bruins Buffs. After a bit of research, here's what I came up with. The following are five players you may or may not remember.

Part II to come soon as well. Enjoy.

1.) Andrew Alberts, Defense

Boston drafted Andrew Alberts in the sixth round, 179th overall, of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. After honing his skills with four years of college hockey, the Boston College prospect made his debut with the big club in 2005.

Alberts went on to play 184 games with Boston, posting one goal and 18 assists with the club. During the Dave Lewis era, the defenseman racked up an abysmal 124 penalty minutes thanks to an undisciplined system.

Alberts wouldn't last long after Lewis' departure. A lower-body injury limited his playing time in his last season with the Bruins, seeing only 35 games with the club. He also played in two playoff games, raking up two assists.

Boston chose to end Alberts' tenure with the squad and shipped him off to Philadelphia in Oct. 2008. The Bruins received forward Ned Lukacevic and a conditional fourth-round draft pick in 2009.

Alberts remains with the Flyers today, enjoying a decent season with the organization. He's played in every game for Philly since the trade, potting one goal and 10 assists.

2.) Wade Brookbank, Defense/Forward

A borderline floater, Wade Brookbank made his NHL debut with the Nashville Predators in 2003-2004. In nine games with the club, the Saskatchewan native didn't tally one point.

The Preds dealt Brookbank to the Vancouver Canucks later that season for "future considerations." What exactly those considerations ended up being is a mystery. But while in 'Couver, Brookbank potted two goals in 20 games.

After an extended stint in the AHL with the Binghamton Senators and Manitoba Moose, Brookbank returned to the big league after the lockout. He played 32 more games with the Vancouver Canucks, once again posting tame numbers.

Peter Chiarelli and crew picked up Brookbank as a free agent in July 2006 in attempt to fill one of the many gaps the squad held. He played four games with the Providence Bruins before making a cameo appearance with Boston.

In just seven games with the big club, Brookbank surprisingly potted one goal. But it wasn't enough to keep him on the team -- the brass quickly grew tired of his predictable play. He never quite seemed to know what to do with the puck and suffered from horrid transitional play.

In Dec. 2006, the B's dumped the unimpressive Brookbank to the Pittsburgh Penguins for "future considerations." And we all know what that means. The Penguins plunged Brookbank down to the minors, where he played with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

After seeing some time with the Carolina Hurricanes and their AHL affiliate the following season, Brookbank found himself in Tampa Bay in 2008. He currently plays with the club's minor-league affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals.

In seven games with the Admirals, Brookbank has put up predictable statistics -- zero goals, one assist, and 14 penalty minutes. Long live the Legend of Brookbank.

3.) Stanislav Chistov, Forward

Considered one of the biggest draft busts in recent NHL history, Stanislav Chistov began his hockey career with Omsk Avangard of the Russian Super League. In three seasons with the club, Chistov scored five goals and eight assists before craving a greater level of competition.

It didn't take long for the Russian Winger to taste NHL action. The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim drafted him in the first round, 5th overall, of the 2001 entry draft. Anaheim praised Chistov's speed and hockey sense, feeling he could fill a gap long missing on the club's front line.

Military obligations technically held Chistov to his country. But for the love of the sport, he defected from Russia and joined the Ducks in 2002-2003.

Chistov's rookie season was nothing short of impressive, scoring 12 goals and 18 assists in 79 games with Anaheim. He even stepped up his game to the next level in the post-season, potting four goals during the Ducks' 24 playoff games.

Despite his rookie success, Chistov struggled to maintain consistency in the big league. After playing 52 uninspiring games with the Ducks in 2003-2004, he was assigned to the club's minor-league affiliate in Cincinnati.

He stayed in the minors through the lockout until finally deciding to bolt back to Russia. The Magnitogorsk Metallurg, then part of the Russian Super League, picked up Chistov for 47 games in 2005-2006. Playing wing with Evgeni Malkin, Chistov tallied 11 goals and 22 assists with the club.

It didn't take long for him to return to North America. In the summer of 2006, the Ducks signed Chistov to a two-way contract.

He didn't stay in Anaheim, though. The Boston Bruins traded a third-round pick in the 2008 entry draft in exchange for the speedy winger. A replacement for the disowned Sergei Samsonov, if you will.

Aside from a handful of goals, including a beaut against the hated Habs, Chistov didn't play up to snuff in Boston. His unwillingness to fight for the puck and dig along the boards rendered him useless in many offensive situations. He quickly gained a reputation as a soft player, easily being knocked off the puck.

The B's and Chistov parted ways after the 2006-2007 season. The winger returned to Russia once again, playing with Salavat Yulaev Ufa in the Kontinental Hockey League. In his 15 games with the club, Chistov put up five goals and six assists.

That's not to say he entirely cut off ties with the Bruins. In 2008, Chistov expressed interest in coming back to the states to play for Boston once again. Peter Chiarelli said he'd love to have Chistov playing with the Providence B's, but showed no real interest in him playing with the big club.

The Russian winger became a free agent last summer. No team was willing to pick him up. So what did he do?

That's right -- he hopped back to the KHL. Chistov currently plays with the Magnitogorsk Metallurg club, where he holds 11 goals and 19 assists in 54 games.

As of now, he holds no plans to return to the NHL.

4.) Nathan Dempsey, Defense

Nathan Dempsey spent most of his professional career with the Toronto Maple Leafs and its AHL affiliate in St. John's. He was drafted by Toronto in the 12th round, 245th overall, of the 1992 entry draft.

From 1992-2002, Dempsey only saw 48 games in the NHL, tallying two goals and two assists with Toronto. The Alberta native did finish with an even plus/minus rating, though.

After his stint with the Maple Leafs, Dempsey signed with the Chicago Blackhawks as a free agent in 2002. He played two seasons with the 'Hawks before being dealt with the Los Angeles Kings in 2004 for a fourth-round draft pick and future considerations.

Dempsey managed to establish himself as a borderline NHLer, scoring more than a dozen goals with the ‘Hawks and Kings. He returned to Los Angeles after the 2004-2005 lockout, playing 53 more games with the club.

But his NHL career would end in Boston. Dempsey signed with the Bruins as a free agent in 2006. Though he spent the majority of the year with Providence, the defenseman squeezed in 17 games with the big club. He scored one assist with Boston and tallied 17 penalty minutes.

Dempsey wouldn't return to the NHL after 2006-2007. He shipped off Switzerland in the off-season, earning a spot with SC Bern in the National League A.

The defenseman tallied three goals and 10 assists with SC Bern last season. Unfortunately, the historic club failed to qualify for the playoffs.

No word on where Dempsey is today. He isn't listed on SC Bern's current roster and can't be found in the NLA's player database. Don't know if he retired or chose not to play this season.

5.) Jeff Hoggan, Forward

An undrafted forward, Jeff Hoggan began his professional hockey career in 2002. Minnesota signed the college grinder as a free agent that summer but immediately sent him to its AHL affiliate in Houston.

Hoggan tallied six goals and five assists in his first professional season, slowly gaining a reputation as a big bodied forward not hesitant to work the boards. He continued playing for the Aeros, added one goal and two assists to their Calder Cup championship run in 2003-2004.

The forward parted ways with the Aeros in 2004, opting to play a season with the minor-league Worcester Sharks. After putting up an impressive 16 goals in 47 games, Hoggan finally earned a shot in the NHL.

The St. Louis Blues signed Hoggan as a free agent in the summer of 2005, hoping to add grit and solid forechecking to the lineup. But the grinder couldn't raise his game to the next level. In 52 games, Hoggan posted a terrible plus/minus rating of -16 and only scored two goals on the year.

Regardless of his poor NHL debut, the Boston Bruins dove deep into the UFA pool and snatched up Hoggan in 2006. He played 46 games with the big club -- 46 games many B's try to forget.

"Hoggan the Masked Enforcer," as B's fans nicknamed him, failed to contribute anything of sustentative value to the squad. Slow, clumsy, reckless, and a horrible fighter, Hoggan didn't give the team any sort of spark. He failed to fill the "energy role" the brass asked of him.

The B's sent Hoggan down to the minors, where he played a full season in 2007-2008. Despite his poor NHL performance, the grinder thrived with Providence. In 71 games, Hoggan potted 29 goals and 31 assists.

From that point on, Hoggan proved he was nothing more than AHL talent. He played one game with the big club that year, tallying zero points or penalty minutes. Chiarelli and friends never bothered to call him up again.

The Bruins and Hoggan parted ways at the conclusion of last season. The Phoenix Coyotes signed him as a free agent to a one-year, two-way deal in 2008. Though he's played in four games with the 'Yotes this season, he's spent most of his time playing for their AHL affiliate in San Antonio.

In 53 games with the San Antonio Rampage, Hoggan has once again put up stellar minor-league numbers -- 21 goals and 11 assists. Chances are he'll remain an AHL floater in the coming years.

-- More "Where Are They Now?" players coming up later in the week. Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

Alberts had a concussion from the cheap shot by Scott Hartnell, not a lower-body injury. Still, I hope they have fun rooming together on road trips for the Flyers.

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