Boston Bruins and NHL Mailbag

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Andrew Johnson | Follow me on Twitter @Justyouknowhyyy

This past Friday, I put out an All-Points Bulletin on both social media and a personally frequented music board for a mailbag. With all of the news around the NHL flooding in, you all had Bruins and other NHL related questions that you wanted answers for. Today I am digging into the mailbag to give you those answers! I will be starting with league-related queries and then answering the Bruins related ones.

The following questions were all edited for clarity.

What is your prediction for when the NHL season starts?

~ @BruinsBreakdown – Via Twitter

With news coming late Friday night that both the NHL and the Players Association have come to a tentative agreement for a January 13th start of a 56-game season, it seems we have reached a point where the NHL has come too far for this to fall apart now. There is still the obstacle of coming to an understanding with the Public Health Office of Canada to make sure inter-provincial travel can happen safely to ensure an all Canadian division can be accommodated. But it is my opinion that with the more pressing issues settled, a season is now an almost foregone conclusion. As of this writing, progress still is being made with the technicalities; I do not see a reason that the planned January 13th opening night with a 56-game season does not go forward.

Encouraging signs

If the NHL goes ahead in creating dedicated “New and Temporary” divisions due to COVID-19, do you think actual re-alignment could occur beyond what happens when the Seattle Kraken comes along?

~ Christopher N. – Via Facebook

Short Answer: No.

Long answer: The league has been preparing for the Seattle Kraken to come around for two years and set it up for Seattle to slot in seamlessly in the Pacific division. When the pandemic is under control, I see the NHL going back to the old divisions with no changes.

The Tentative divisional agreement

With the assumption that Canada’s teams will be unable to play in their country, how do you realign those teams for maximum insanity?

~ @SORENSEN_ANDY – Via Twitter

Do you want full-stop insane? Go old-school and put Toronto among the western teams and put them somewhere in the midwest. Move Winnipeg back to the East and put them in Atlanta to rub it in. Relocate Vancouver to Seattle just for the season and call it a trial run to foster that Kraken rivalry that the NHL wants. The remaining teams you may divvy up as you wish, but those three moves would ensure that chaos, Andy.

What would be your prediction for the Bruins defensive pairs whenever camp breaks?

~ Leon Lifschutz – Via Slack

There are so many questions surrounding this part of the team. The Bruins are still in a waiting game with Zdeno Chara’s omnipresent uncertainty coming back to Boston. I believe now we are at the juncture where its the safest bet that Chara isn’t coming back to the Bruins, and these pairs are with that assumption in mind:

Matt Grzelcyk-Charlie McAvoy
???-Brandon Carlo
Jakub Ziboril-Connor Clifton

Do you think this inspires confidence? Grzelcyk has never played above third-pair minutes for an extended period, and what happens with the pressure of more ice-time that comes with a new four-year deal? The largest gap is the blank space where a top-4 left side defender should be, so there needs to be another signing, trade, or PTO to fill it out. While the right side of the defense is well constructed, the left side is a huge question mark.

The Bruins front-office has trumpeted wanting to see what they have in their defensive prospects all offseason. Suppose a PTO or trade is unable to be made. There are questions among the fallbacks. Such as where does Jeremy Lauzon or Urho Vaakanainen fit? How much does Jakub ZIboril being waiver-exempt limit what the B’s can do? Can Kevan Miller even get on the ice? What is John Moore’s true value on this team? The apprehension surrounding both options of thrusting a greenhorn or a struggling veteran into the top-four is creating agita for Boston. Should we ask this question again during training camp, as the answer probably changes? Right now, however, it is unquestionably the weakness of this team by a fair margin.

( Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara )

What is the plan with David Krejci coming into the last year of his deal? Do we see him next year on a possible two-year “hometown” discount typical for the 35+ age group?

~ Turk_Sanderson – Via Phantasy Tour

I am in the minority in believing David Krejci is not on the Bruins past this season. In a similar situation to Zdeno Chara’s right now, I think that the front-office wants to see what they have in Centerman Jack Studnicka next season. Krejci will be 35-years-old at the end of this season and is a proven playoff performer, leading the league in playoff scoring twice in his career. And there is a legitimate argument in keeping him. But Boston is in a spot where they want to start turning the reins over to the younger players, as we see with the defense today. With the situation of a 35-year-old Second-Line Center blocking a prospect that the organization feels is ready for the NHL right now in Studnicka, that would most likely see the Bruins move on from a player that is considered to be a borderline Boston legend.

( Photo Credit: Jamie Squire / Getty Images )

Why not Mike Hoffman for the right price? The B’s have so many great two way players up and down that I think they could make up for Hoffman’s defensive mistakes and still benefit from his goals.

~ @Jacobabenante – Via Twitter

Oh Yes. The debate that’s been raging among Bruins fans since October.

Hoffman is an established sniper linked to Boston since the beginning of free agency. There is no doubt that Hoffman is a player who can help your team should they lack secondary scoring. However, the fact that Hoffman’s salary ask has reportedly stayed north of $6 million even with a flat salary cap should make one leery before starting. But a well-publicized aversion to playing defense that sees him as the only player among the 26 in the NHL to average at least 29 goals a season for the last three seasons to have a negative five-on-five goal differential makes Hoffman’s fit is questionable at best.

With Boston’s full team philosophy being two-way play up and down the lineup, a potential Hoffman signing would require too many moving parts in both team philosophy and salary structure in the name of jamming a square peg into a round hole? Pass for me.

( Photo Credit: NHLI via Getty Images )

What are the Bruins’ best and worst matchups stylistically from the new division?

~ Gratefulphish41 – Via Phantasy Tour

Re-alignment has proven to be a case study in the phrase ‘the best of a bad situation.’ The fringe-benefit borne out of this is that for at least one year, we’re back to the old divisional schedules of a by-gone era. Toronto and Montreal not being in the mix are disappointing, but with seven games against eight teams each, we are bound to get some bad blood boiling. The Islanders always provide a tough matchup for the Bruins, the Capitals as well, but with Braden Holtby out of the Caps crease, I see a more even matchup. The toughest matchup will be Philadelphia, an early cup favorite. But except for Philadelphia and possibly Pittsburgh, I see Boston near the top of the division when the dust clears.

Will Tuukka Rask FINALLY be traded this season?

~ Derek N. – Via Facebook

No.

No

Who is the Bruins’ best prospect to ever come out of [Prince Edward Island]?

~ Duffhouse12 – Via Phantasy Tour

When researching this, I was surprised that there were not more players that have come out of ‘PEI’ and have made it to the NHL. Just 34 players in the history of the league are from Prince Edward Island. For the Bruins, the best is easily Adam McQuaid. A veteran of over 500 games, ‘Darth Quaider’ was a fan favorite for his size and crease clearing toughness. McQuaid was an integral part of the 2011 Stanley Cup-winning team, becoming a tone-setting staple on the third pair. He is just as well known for getting hurt in the strangest ways.

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

The Boston Garden used to toast the hot dog rolls on the griddle. Do you think the Jacobs family could throw us a bone and add a little value to the hot dog experience at TD Garden when we have fans again?

~ Turk_Sanderson – via Phantasy Tour

Do you want to pay $12.00 for hot dogs? Because that is how you have to pay $12.00 for hot dogs.

And that’s it! I want to thank everybody who contributed to the BNG mailbag! I’ll see you in the next one when we are on the ice!

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