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What Could Have Been: Remembering the Providence Bruins 2007-08 season

Providence was the top team in the AHL that year, loaded with top-end talent.

St Louis Blues v Boston Bruins
Tuukka Rask (left) and Adam McQuaid.
Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

The 2019-20 Providence Bruins’ season looked destined to end with a Calder Cup title, the team’s first in over 20 years. And while we may never know what this Providence Bruins team was capable of, it was eerily reminiscent of the team’s successful 2007-08 season which ended in a Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy for the best regular season record.

But that year, Providence ran into a second-round roadblock against the Portland Pirates, then Anaheim’s affiliate, and second-overall pick Bobby Ryan. Providence lost the series, 4-2, after winning the first two games at home by an 11-1 combined margin.

That Providence team finished the season with its second-best record in franchise history – 55-18-3-4 – and was made up of several future NHLers. Let’s take a look back and see where the notable stars on that year’s team ended up following the 2008 playoffs.

Leading Scorer – Pascal Pelletier

The 24-year-old prospect had been a consistent scorer for Providence over the two seasons prior, but no one could have predicted his breakout season in 2007-08. Pelletier finished the regular season with 75 points (37 goals, 38 assists) over 73 games before adding an additional 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 10 playoff games.

Following the season, Pelletier joined the Rockford IceHogs for a season followed by a 2009-10 campaign split between the Peoria Rivermen and Syracuse Crunch. In his NHL career, Pelletier failed to record a point in 16 total games and finished at a minus-6. He is still playing low-level hockey in the Ligue Nord-Americaine de Hockey in Quebec for the Thetford Assurancia.

Starting Goaltender – Tuukka Rask

The Bruins’ starter still to this day, Rask got his confidence during the 2007-08 season with Providence immediately following the Phil Kessel trade. Rask played 45 games during the AHL regular season, posting a 2.33 goals against average and a .905 save percentage. Rask also backstopped Providence in all ten playoff games that season.

Two years later, Rask was a full-time NHL goaltender and the starter for Boston during its catastrophic 2010 playoff run. And now, he is in the prime of his career with Boston as its all-time leader in wins.

Top Prospects – Martins Karsums & Matt Lashoff

These two were supposed to be promising high draft picks, ultimately combining for fewer than 100 NHL games. Karsums, who is still playing in the KHL with Spartak Moscow, amassed 20 goals and 43 assists in 2007-08 with Providence and added 10 more points in the postseason. He was traded for Mark Recchi in 2009 and has spent the last decade playing in Russia.

As for Lashoff, he split the season between Boston and Providence. But while in the AHL, he had 36 points in 60 games as a defenseman and an additional four points in nine playoff games. He never lived up to his first-round status and was out of hockey less than a decade later.

Top Defensemen – Adam McQuaid & Matt Hunwick

Two members of the Bruins blue-line came from this Providence roster. Matt Hunwick and Adam McQuaid were both brought up over the following seasons, Hunwick in 2009 and McQuaid for the 2010-11 season. They were key contributors on the Bruins’ deep defensive unit and played a role in the team’s success as a physical and athletic group of players.

Hunwick was traded during Boston’s championship season to Colorado for Colby Cohen. That year, coincidentally and unintentionally, Hunwick injured Marc Savard for what would be the final time in his career when Boston played at Colorado. As for McQuaid, though he is out of hockey now, he was vital as an enforcer and as a stay-at-home defenseman throughout eight seasons with the Bruins.

Other Future NHLers – Nate Thompson & Matt Hendricks

These two were stalwarts all season long for Providence. While Hendricks racked up 52 points (22 goals, 30 assists), Thompson poured in 39 (19 goals, 20 assists) with the duo combining for over 200 penalty minutes. Their time in the organization didn’t last long.

For Hendricks, 2007-08 was his only season in Providence. Though he spent the better part of six seasons in the minors, he broke into the NHL in 2009-10 with Colorado. His resume also includes stints for Washington, Nashville, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Minnesota.

Thompson made his NHL debut with Boston a year earlier before earning a real shot with the New York Islanders a year later. He was a bottom-six forward on Tampa Bay by the 2011 playoffs and he has also spent time with Anaheim, Ottawa, Los Angeles, Montreal, and Philadelphia playing 70 games between the last two this season.

Best Name – Wacey Rabbitt

C’mon, you can’t leave him out when talking about the mid-2000s Providence Bruins.

Anyways, he scored twice in a first-round sweep of the Manchester Monarchs before being replaced for the second round. With Boston out of the playoffs, it allowed players like Vladimir Sobotka and Petteri Nokelainen to join from the NHL roster, ultimately taking Rabbitt out of the lineup. He’s still hanging around and has spent the last three years with the Jacksonville Icemen in the ECHL.