Bruins Trade Adam McQuaid To Rangers

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By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The Boston Bruins announced earlier today, Sept. 11, that they have traded Adam McQuaid to the New York Rangers in exchange for defenseman Steven Kampfer, a 2019 fourth-round draft pick and a 2019 conditional seventh-round draft pick.

Kampfer was part of the Bruins team that won the Stanley Cup in 2011, his rookie season. Unfortunately for him, a season-ending knee injury left him 3 games short of having his name engraved on the cup, despite a petition from the Bruins. He did, however, find a spot in the championship-winning team photo and was awarded a ring for his efforts. The following season he played 10 games for the Black and Gold before being traded to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Greg Zanon. In his last 2 seasons with the New York Rangers 2016-18, Kampfer skated in 32 games, scoring once and registering 2 assists.

Adam McQuaid spent 11 seasons with the Bruins organization after being acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets back in 2007. After 2 seasons in the AHL, he soon established himself as a fan favorite. Like Kampfer, McQuaid was part of the Stanley Cup-winning team in the 2010-11 season, featuring in 67 games, chipping in 3 goals and a career-high 12 assists. He went on to skate in 23 playoff games that year and was a key player in that championship-winning team. Last season, he was only able to compete in 38 regular season games due to injury. In his career with Boston, McQuaid appeared in 462 games, totaling 13 goals and 53 assists for 66 points with 652 penalty minutes.

Kampfer offers the Bruins both depth and experience. Boston have saved themselves $2.1 million in cap space with this trade, a good return on a player that wasn’t likely to see a lot of time on the ice this season due to the defensive depth the Bruins have on the current roster. The additional draft picks will benefit the team, though general manager Don Sweeney admitted it was hard to say goodbye to McQuaid.

“It’s a very difficult day…we want to thank Adam,” Sweeney said. “He was a tremendous Bruin, a tremendous teammate.”

Kampfer is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018-19 season.

Early Predictions For The Bruins First 5 Games

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By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

If you’re like me — obsessing over the 2018-19 schedule as a result of severe hockey withdrawal — then you’ll know that the NHL season is finally on the horizon. The Bruins poor start to last season has been well documented. Fortunately, they eventually found their groove and had a great campaign, finishing second in the Atlantic Division. What can we expect from the Black and Gold this October? Strap in while I consult my crystal ball and give my pre-pre-season (see what I did there?) predictions for the first 5 games.

In recent history, the Bruins haven’t had any blockbuster starts. In the first 5 games of the last 5 seasons (2013-14 to 2017-18), the Bruins have gone 3-2, 2-3, 2-3, 3-2 and 2-3. Reasonably consistent results, but consistently average. Last season the Bruins finished second in the Atlantic Division by a single point, a slightly better start could have made all the difference at the end of the regular season. I’m in no way criticizing the team’s efforts last season, just highlighting the small margins in a very competitive division.

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The Bruins will start the season on the road against reigning Stanley Cup champions, The Washington Capitals. Interestingly, the Bruins have fared well in game 1 of the last 5 seasons, boasting a 4-1 record. The Capitals are still riding the wave of their first Stanley Cup win, so facing them at The Capital One Arena will not be easy. The Washington roster is almost the exact same as it was last year, though they have a new head coach, Todd Rierden, so it will be interesting to see what changes he implements. I’m expecting this matchup to be a tough test and won’t be upset if the Bruins don’t win this one.

After facing Washington, the Bruins head to Western New York to take on the Buffalo Sabres. Back-to-back road games are always tricky, especially so early in the season. Jason Botterill, the Sabres GM, has had a hectic offseason and is rebuilding this team around the No. 1 overall pick, Rasmus Dahlin. The Buffalo roster looks more fresh and hungrier than last year with a wealth of young talent. I think they will be a tougher opponent for the Bruins this season, but given the lack of experience on their roster and limited time for the team to jell, Boston has an opportunity for a good result here.

Game 3 sees the Bruins face off against the Ottawa Senators in the first of three home games at TD Garden. Last season was Ottawa’s worst in 22 years — they were a far cry from the team that sent the Bruins packing in the 2016-17 playoffs. With rumors of issues among the squad and uncertainty surrounding the future of current captain, Erik Karlsson, the Senators are approaching the new season with more issues than just poor results. It’s important for the Bruins to get the stint of home games off to a good start and for me there’s only one result here, a win for Boston.

The second game at TD Garden sees the Edmonton Oilers come to town. Last season they underwhelming despite having the league’s top scorer, Connor McDavid. The Oilers have reshuffled their coaching staff in an attempt to get more production from their roster, particularly former Bruin, Milan Lucic, who they’ve invested a lot in. The Oilers are a threat offensively, but they’ve had a quiet offseason regarding player recruitment, I think The Bruins can exploit their defensive frailty and get a comfortable win.

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The Detroit Red Wings will be Boston’s fifth opponent of the season. Another team that struggled last year (28th in goals per game and 24th in goals against), like the Sabres, they find themselves in the midst of a rebuild. The Red Wings didn’t make any significant changes in the offseason and they’ll be heading into the season with low expectations. I’m excited to see what young forward Filip Zadina will bring to the NHL, but I think Detroit needs to improve defensively before they are able to compete in the Atlantic Division. The Bruins will be confident heading into this game, and I expect them to come out on top as winners.

The pessimist in me says that the Bruins will repeat history and finish the first 5 games with a 3-2 record, but I’m feeling bold, and if this team can build on what we saw last year, I think they can go a step further and be 4-1. The players will be desperate to put the playoff defeats behind them and start the season strongly in what promises to be a difficult Atlantic Division. The results remain to be seen, but I’d love to hear your predictions in the comments.

Have The Bruins Found The Right Balance Of Flair And Toughness?

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Photo Credit: The Associated Press of the Boston Herald

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

With training camp just around the corner, general manager Don Sweeney has been working hard to build a team capable of surpassing last season’s playoff run. We all know that the Bruins have plenty of skill on the roster, but the team was criticized last season for lacking toughness, particularly during the playoffs. The modern NHL is faster and more of a technical league than it was in the past. The enforcers of old are on the brink of extinction, but that doesn’t mean there’s no longer a place on the roster for blue-collar players. Besides, throwing your weight around never hurt anyone, apart from the opposition, right?

Last season the Bruins showcased some mouth-watering skill offensively. The top line of Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak combined for some of the best hockey we’ve ever seen with 228 points among them. There was also valuable contributions from Torey Krug, Danton Heinen, David Krejci, and Jake DeBrusk, all of whom scored more than 40 points during the regular season. The Bruins certainly didn’t struggle for production on the offensive side. With plenty of technically gifted players on the roster, adding more point-scorers this offseason hasn’t been a priority for Sweeney.

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One of the main criticisms of the Bruins last season, particularly in the playoffs, was that they were outmatched physically. Interestingly, the Bruins tied the Edmonton Oilers for the fifth-most regular season fights last year with 26. Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller were the chief goons with 10 fights between them. There were honorable contributions to the fight total from Matt Beleskey, David Backes, and Zdeno Chara. While fighting is in decline, going toe-to-toe can swing the momentum back into your favor and make opponents think twice before roughing up your teammates. Having someone on the team who can stand up for the rest of the players is important. Looking at the potential defensive pairings for next season, the general consensus is that McQuaid is likely to see less ice time. If that is the case, the Bruins will need to find someone else to drop their gloves and take care of business.

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While fighting is in decline, hitting will always be a big part of the game. Kevan Miller racked up the most regular season hits for the Bruins the last term with 164, considerably less than the league’s “big hitters.” Noel Acciari was the only other Bruin retained on the current roster who had more than 150 hits, thought it’s worth noting that McQuaid managed 80 despite only playing in 38 games. While these aren’t the lowest numbers across the league, they certainly aren’t the highest. Sweeney’s answer to this is a new recruit, Chris Wagner, who totaled 253 regular season hits last year, the third-highest in the NHL. There’s no doubt that he’ll bring a level of physicality to the Bruins that they were lacking last year. The Walpole, Mass. native will be desperate to prove himself to his new teammates and the fans. There’s hope that he can bring an extra physical edge to the Bruins, which will certainly help down the stretch.

How the Bruins will fair next season in a strong Atlantic Division remains to be seen. They will be targeting progress in the playoffs and the added physicality will give them a boost at the business end of the season. We’ve already seen that this Bruins team is capable of putting up the points, but with added steel in the ranks, it’s exciting to see how they fare in their pursuit for the Stanley Cup.

Why Another Year Of Chara Is A Great Move

NHL: Boston Bruins at Calgary Flames

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By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

Back in March, The Boston Bruins announced that captain, Zdeno Chara, had agreed to a one-year contract extension through the 2018-19 season. At 41 years of age, the 6-foot-9, 250-pound defenseman earned himself $5 million for one last dance plus a potential $1.75 million in performance-based incentives. The fans reacted well to the news, but after the Bruins crashed out of the playoffs, some questioned if Chara was still up to the task. Here’s why I think his contract extension was a masterstroke by GM Don Sweeney.

Last season Chara showed that he can still compete at hockey’s highest level. He played in 73 regular season games with a plus/minus of +22, great numbers for a player on the wrong side of 40. He also chipped in offensively with 7 goals — 3 of which were game-winners — and 17 assists. He established a solid partnership with Charlie McAvoy, the combination of youth and experience flourished, and they looked comfortable as the Bruins’ top defensive pairing. Chara’s experience allowed McAvoy to play with more freedom, boosting his confidence. While I think his ice time will be reduced this season, there’s no doubt that McAvoy will benefit from another season alongside Chara.

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Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Bruins captain boasted impressive individual numbers last season, but not everything can be quantified onto a stats sheet. His leadership is priceless to the Bruins. Time and time throughout the season we saw him bring the players together and give rousing team talks, rallying the squad just when they needed it. The Bruins have a young roster when compared to most NHL teams, and it’s important for them to blend the talented youth with experience. Chara sets high standards for the team, and his contribution as captain is often overlooked. Strong leadership is a key ingredient to any cup-winning team, there are few better role models for them than Zdeno Chara.

We’ve all been bored this offseason, but be careful what you wish for because next year will be a roller-coaster in comparison. Ryan Donato, Danton Heinen, Noel Acciari, Charlie McAvoy, and Brandon Carlo are all coming to the end of their current entry-level contracts at the end of next season. I would be surprised if Sweeney doesn’t want to keep all of them on the roster, but with salary cap restrictions, it will be challenging to hold on to everyone.

This is where the Chara’s contract extension really comes into its own. First, this allows younger players — particularly McAvoy — another season under his wing, which is excellent for his continued development. Second, at the end of next season, both Chara and fellow defenseman Adam McQuaid are set to become unrestricted free agents. Assuming that neither player is re-signed, the Bruins will free up $7.75 million worth of cap space. We’d all like to see the young talent tied down for as long as possible, especially if they have strong campaigns again next year. The extra cap space gives Sweeney more flexibility when he enters negotiations, and he also has the option of exploring the free agency market, which will be much stronger next year then it was this time around.

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While he can’t go on forever, I’m not ready to say goodbye to Chara, and I’m glad the Bruins aren’t either. Sweeney is putting together a talented roster and having his captain around for another campaign will help the team on many levels. I think the cup window will remain open for a few more years. Next season will be tough as the Atlantic Division is only getting stronger, but the future looks bright for this young team, thanks in part to our captain, Zdeno Chara.

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