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How the Bruins and Blues were built, and who has the edge

Written by 
Published in Hockey
Wednesday, 22 May 2019 19:32

Zdeno Chara doesn't like the word "rookie." The Boston Bruins captain is quick to correct the media if they use it in a conversation; Chara prefers the term "first-year player."

The 42-year-old Slovak has been in the league since 1997, and he has seen hundreds of players come from different countries, different backgrounds and, frankly, different sizes too (while the 6-foot-9 defenseman still exerts a physical presence, the league, as a whole, has trended much shorter as of late).

"Since a very young age, I didn't like the separation in a team between young players and older players, [or] players who have accomplished something or players that are just coming into the league," Chara told reporters in Boston this week. "I don't like to use the word 'rookie.' They are our teammates. I just don't like to separate. I don't think that's the right thing to do. Once you're a team, you're a team regardless of the age, or accomplishments. We have to treat each other with respect and the same way."

With deference to Chara, there are no "rookie" references in this article. However, it is a compelling exercise to dissect the makeup of both Stanley Cup Final teams. Where do the players come from and, perhaps just as important, how did they end up on the roster? While many hockey players don't see nationality -- often, they just see personality -- it's interesting to note the Blues are a decidedly more Canadian roster while Boston skews American. Here are some other notes that we found.

Note: For purposes of this story, we counted only players who have appeared in at least one playoff game this spring.


  • The average age of a Blues player? 26.9. The Bruins? 26.8. Pretty close! Chara -- at age 42, the oldest Stanley Cup Final participant -- helps skew Boston a tad older, while St. Louis has the Final's youngest player in 19-year-old Robert Thomas.

  • Most common age for both teams? There are six players (three on each) who are 27.

  • We often note that Boston has an aging core but has been able to retool on the fly. To that point, there are seven players (including the six who remain from the 2011 Stanley Cup team) 30 or older. There are also seven 23 or younger. The Blues have six players 30 and over, and just five 23 or under. Boston has three players (Connor Clifton, Jake DeBrusk, Karson Kuhlman) playing on their entry-level contracts, while St. Louis has two (Vince Dunn and Robert Thomas).


  • There are 10 Bruins players who were Bruins draft picks, and three who went undrafted (Torey Krug, Noel Acciari and Karson Kuhlman).

  • There are 12 Blues players who were Blues draft picks and one who was undrafted (Tyler Bozak, though he initially signed with the Maple Leafs in 2009).

  • Average draft round of players who have suited up for the Bruins this spring? 2.5. That includes six first-round picks and none drafted in the sixth round or later (excluding the undrafted guys).

  • Average draft round of Blues players this spring? 2.4. That includes nine first-round picks and three drafted in the sixth or seventh rounds (and excluding Bozak).

  • Among both teams, the most common draft position is the first round (16 combined players), then the second round (nine players), then third round (eight players). The fifth round features just three players -- all on the Bruins -- and the fourth round has two players, again, all on the Bruins. The Blues feature the only two sixth-round picks and the only seventh-round pick (shout-out to you, Carl Gunnarsson!).

  • Now for the not-so-fun stuff for some of the wistful teams watching at home: There are two San Jose draft picks playing (2010 first-rounder Charlie Coyle and 2011 fifth-rounder Sean Kuraly), two Anaheim picks (fourth-rounder Steven Kampfer, fifth-rounder Chris Wagner), two Pittsburgh picks (third-rounders Robert Bortuzzo and Oskar Sundqvist), two Washington picks (second-rounder Zach Sanford and first-rounder Marcus Johansson). And we must mention that the Toronto Maple Leafs have a former first-round draft pick in net for the Bruins in Tuukka Rask. Things might have shaped differently over the past decade if they kept that guy. Then again, who knows?

How they ended up here

  • The Bruins have only four players who were acquired by trade. That includes two from this year's trade deadline -- Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson -- as well as two acquired a while ago (Rask came from Toronto in 2006, and reserve defenseman Kampfer from Anaheim in 2010).

  • The Blues have acquired eight of their players via trade, a group that includes some important players: Ryan O'Reilly, Brayden Schenn, Alexander Steen, Gunnarsson, Sundqvist, Bortuzzo, Jay Bouwmeester and Zach Sanford.

  • The biggest makeup difference here? While nine Bruins players arrived as free agents, only three Blues players did. And for St. Louis, that technically includes 2007 first-round Blues draft pick David Perron, whose transaction history is fascinating. Despite playing for five teams in a 12-year NHL career, Perron has signed contracts only with the Blues. This is his fourth contract with the team, and third stint overall.

  • There are a whopping 12 players on the Bruins who played college hockey, but just four on the Blues. (As you'll see below, that's likely due to the American versus Canadian makeups.) There are lots of Boston connections, too. Three Bruins players suited up at Boston University. St. Louis' Sanford played for Boston College, while Noel Acciari played for nearby Providence and Clifton played for near(ish)by Quinnipiac.


  • Just like the Vegas Golden Knights last year, the Blues are pretty much Canada's team. Of the 21 players who have suited up this spring, 16 are from the Great North. Two players (Vladimir Tarasenko and Ivan Barbashev) are Russian, two are Swedish (Gunnarsson and Sundqvist) and there are just two Americans, though their origin stories are quite poetic: Patrick Maroon is a native of the St. Louis area, while Sanford grew up in Salem, Massachusetts, and went to Boston College.

  • The Bruins have only four Canadians on the roster (Marchand, Bergeron, Danton Heinen and DeBrusk). They are one of the NHL's most American teams, with 13 players hailing from the U.S. There is also one Finn (Rask), two Swedes (Johansson and Joakim Nordstrom), a Slovak (Chara) and two Czechs (David Pastrnak and Krejci).

  • For context, according to the website Quanthockey, 43.5 percent of the NHL this season was Canadian. Americans accounted for 28.6 percent, Swedes 9.7 percent, Finns 4.9 percent, Czechs 4.0 percent, Russians were 3.9 percent and Slovaks were just 1.1 percent (Chara is one of 11 in the league).


  • Despite having the tallest player on the ice in Chara, the Bruins are actually the shorter team on average (blame 5-foot-9ers Brad Marchand and Krug, good friends who are constantly chirping each other about who is shorter). The average height of a Bruins player is 72.7 inches, just below 6-foot-1.

  • The Blues average out at 73.6 inches, just below 6-foot-2.

  • Boston has three players under 6 feet. The Blues don't have any.

  • St. Louis has eight players 6-foot-3 or taller, while the Bruins have five.

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