Max Pacioretty: A Fit For The Boston Bruins?

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Max Pacioretty #67 of the Montreal Canadiens skates during the warm-up prior to the NHL game against the Calgary Flames at the Bell Centre on December 7, 2017, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Calgary Flames defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in overtime.
(Dec. 6, 2017 – Source: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                             Follow Me On Twitter: @godwentwhoops

It’s the middle of free agency frenzy, and once again the Boston Bruins are in the thick of it.  Every once in a while, a respected foe (or bitter rival depending on your mood) ends up in the trade rumor mill. This time around it is Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty, who just found out the bleu, blanc, et rouge want to move him out of the Bell Centre as fast as humanly possible.

The 29-year Pacioretty is a 10-year NHL veteran. He’s spent his entire career in Montreal where he has stitched his name into the ancient rivalry between the Habs and the Boston Bruins. He’s certainly received his own fair share of stitches after numerous run-ins with various members of the Black and Gold.

Pacioretty became one of those players that Bruins fans could either respect or loathe, and his antics (especially as their captain) certainly made B’s/Habs tickets a coveted item these last few years.

It’s been a troubling time for both Pacioretty and the Montreal franchise. Pacioretty had a rough go of it last season.  He put up just 37 points (17 goals) in 64 games for the Habs last season.  That was a severe fall off from his last four seasons, where he tallied at least 30 goals.  The Montreal captain missed the last 18 games of the 2017-18 season with a sprained MCL.

Over the years, the Habs often had the better of the B’s.  But not last year. The Canadiens were a mess last season. The Habs finished 28th in the overall NHL standings with an abysmal 29-40-13 record. There wasn’t much to cheer about at the Bell Centre as Montreal finished 29th in offense and 25th in defense. The Black and Gold ran over the Canadiens all last year sweeping the Habs for the first time in over 20 years.

So, can the Bruins make a move for Pacioretty?

Pacioretty is only 29. He’s still young enough to be a force in the NHL. He’s a solid playmaker who could easily find himself a spot in the top or middle six in Boston. (He’s also from Connecticut, so there is that ‘local gritty guy’ argument that keeps popping up with New England players.)

Pacioretty can’t be blamed for the Canadiens’ troubles last season. The Habs had a weakened blue line.  The team didn’t seem to click like it used to. They had traded away several marquee players, and Carey Price’s rough year certainly reflected in the Canadiens ugly spot in the rankings.

With all that Pacioretty brings to the table, could the Black and Gold find a way to bring the Habs outgoing captain to Boston?

It’s highly unlikely. The Canadiens and the Bruins organizations rarely make deals with each other. The last thing the Habs are going to do is give their former captain to their most hated rival.

There is also the youth movement that is going on at the TD Garden right now. Signing Pacioretty would move a lot of people around, and that would hurt the development of players who the B’s are trying to get on the ice.

The B’s are also pushing the edge of their salary cap. The Black and Gold have just under $3 million left at the moment. There is no way the B’s can shoehorn in Pacioretty without having to make moves that Bruins general manager Don Sweeney would object to.

Had the Habs made this announcement a few days earlier, the Bruins might have actually given him a serious look. Once again, the Habs seem to have made a bad move at a bad time, and will likely suffer for the mistake.  It’s almost sad enough to make a Bruins fan not chuckle at their misfortune.

 

 

 

 

 

Boston Bruins: The Salary Cap And Its Implications

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                       Twitter: @godwentwhoops 

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Boston Bruins General manager Don Sweeney speaks to the media during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 25, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.
(June 24, 2016 – Source: Jen Fuller/Getty Images North America)

The Boston Bruins have finished their first week of ‘free agency frenzy’, and many fans feel a little underwhelmed. The Black and Gold signed several players that they believed would provide skill and depth to their current roster. The B’s biggest catch so far has been the signing of goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who has been brought on board to back up Tuukka Rask next season.

The B’s also made a splash by signing veteran John Moore to a five-year deal.

While it cost the team several players, the Bruins front office believe they made the right choices as the B’s head into the 2018-19 season.  Bruins general manager Don Sweeney knew that the Bruins had to rebuild the bottom half of their forward core after Riley Nash and Tim Schaller signed with other squads.

“Well, the skating component of all the players we added today, I think, was paramount,” offered Sweeney on the team’s summer acquisitions. “Joakim is a great skater. Wags will be forechecking, he’s real hard on the puck. John, from a recovery standpoint, from getting back on pucks, being able to play against different line matchups in situations for us.

“But overall, I think we have better balance in terms of what we can present each and every night as a matchup for our team.”

The Bruins knew they needed to find strong skaters. They were a major player in the John Tavares sweepstakes, but lost out to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“I would’ve preferred it not in our division,” said Sweeney on Tavares’ signing with Toronto. “The overall process was a really good process and structural to have somebody else dive inside our own team, and we were thankful for the opportunity to present. [Tavares’ agent] Pat [Brisson] and his group and John himself were really good about it, and he was well prepared, and we felt we were.

“We put our best foot forward and it didn’t fall our way. But, again, to be in that situation is something that our group should be happy about…. it’s, obviously, a reflection of our current players and a testament to them….it’s a reflection of our entire organization.

No matter what happens, there will be Bruins fans who believe the front office failed because they couldn’t get Tavares.  Still, the B’s missing out on Tavares might have been a blessing in disguise. The Bruins would have spent an awful lot of money on a single player. That would have forced the B’s to dump a player or two at a discount price in order to stay underneath the cap.

Factoring in all the choices the Bruins have made, the B’s still have just under $3 million left to work with. The Black and Gold still have a little room to manuver and they might pick up a couple of two-way players just before the B’s start training camp in September.

There are a few things that are out of the Bruins control when it comes to the salary cap. The B’s have to deal with the retained salary of Matt Beleskey and the buyouts of Dennis Seidenberg and Jimmy Hayes.  Those three players levy a four-million dollar hit against the cap ($3,933,334).

The Bruins will still have to deal with Seidenberg and Beleskey next year, and that three-million dollar hit will certain have ramifications as the team tries to keep the youth movement going in the 2019-20 season. The B’s will also have to juggle several of their entry-level players and that will cause problems for the team.

If the Bruins are looking to find anyone else, they’ll have to make some kind of move with their remaining roster. That means at least one defenceman could be moved. While a lot of people believe that Torey Krug is the player most likely to be moved, it seems unlikely that the B’s would give away a player that put up 60 points last season.  Fans should expect to see some kind of deal that sees Kevan Miller or Adam McQuaid being moved off to another squad before the start of the season.

The Bruins have made responsible choices during this offseason. While they weren’t able to bring some ‘A-list’ players to the TD Garden, they’ve been smart about their moves. Don Sweeney hasn’t repeated the mistakes of Peter Chiarelli, and that’s a good sign for the Black and Gold as they get ready for the start of the season.

Boston Bruins Need To Pass On Milan Lucic

 

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Milan Lucic #27 of the Edmonton Oilers falls to the ice after contact with Bobby Ryan #9 of the Ottawa Senators as teammate Filip Chlapik #78 looks on in the first period at Canadian Tire Centre on March 22, 2018 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
(March 21, 2018 – Source: Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                      Twitter: @Godwentwhoops

Former Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic is looking to leave Edmonton. Depending on the sources cited, Lucic wants another shot at the Cup and/or wants out of Canada. Former Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has begun to shop around Lucic and his contract.

Who doesn’t remember that hit? When Jack Edwards said that hit would be on hockey highlight reels for a decade, he was right. That hit has ingrained itself into hockey history and it will certainly be a part of Lucic’s career highlight reel when he retires from the NHL.

Once again, the Boston media began sniffing around about bringing Lucic back to the TD Garden. So, should the Black and Gold welcome Milan Lucic back to Boston?

The Boston Bruins should look on that hit and Milan Lucic’s time in Boston with nostalgia. Then the Black and Gold should move on to better options in free agency.

Sure, there is interest in Lucic. He’s still a big body that can deliver punishing hits and could be a solid middle-six forward for the Black and Gold. But the Bruins already have that in David Backes (and there are rumors that the B’s are trying to get him out of Boston).

Well, it’s a complicated one obviously given the length of the contract,” offered NHL Insider Darren Dreger. “The worry, I suppose, from some that Milan Lucic can’t deliver in the capacity that he has historically. He’s not coming off a very solid year, but there’s interest in this player. I’ve spent enough time on this file over the last several days, I would say, to at least acknowledge that there’s interest in Milan Lucic.

“The problem though is, to your point, what’s the construction of a trade and what has to go out with Milan Lucic just to bait a team to take on that contract. I still believe he’s got game. He’s 30 years old, but you’ve got to be certain of that as an interested general manager because there is a pile of money – and it’s not just about the cap space. We know he’s a $6 million cap hit. We know that from a salary standpoint, Edmonton paid what – $8 million this past season, $7 million owing Lucic next year and then it drops to 6, then 4, then back up to 5, and then 4 in the final year of the deal – 2022-23.

Milan Lucic has begun to slow down. That’s bad enough in a league where the players keep getting faster every season.  He always seems to be two or three steps behind players like Connor McDavid, and he’d have trouble keeping up with the B’s speedier players.

His numbers have also fallen off. Lucic put up just 34 points (10 goals) for the Blue and Orange last season. He’s also had a very rough go of it since last Christmas. The B’s just can’t afford to that kind of money into a player that is having a Jimmy Hayes kind of season.

 

Once again, the Boston Bruins are hemmed in by cap space. The B’s have $7.4 million left and several forwards still unsigned. At this point, Reilly Nash is a better buy for Boston than Lucic. Nash’s contract will eventually end up at around $3 million, half the price of Lucic’s contract.

That six million dollar contract will be a tough sell for some organizations, and it will certainly make Don Sweeney think twice before agreeing to any kind of deal that brought Lucic back to Boston.

While free agency frenzy will surely grab a hold of the Bruins, there are better choices to be made with the money they have available.

Ilya Kovalchuk: A Bad Idea For The Boston Bruins

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Gold medal winner Ilya Kovalchuk #71 of Olympic Athlete from Russia celebrates after defeating Germany 4-3 in overtime during the Men’s Gold Medal Game on day sixteen of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Hockey Centre on February 25, 2018, in Gangneung, South Korea.
(Feb. 24, 2018 – Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images AsiaPac)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                             Twitter:    @Godwentwhoops

Free agent Ilya Kovalchuk is back on the market, and he’s interested in coming back to the NHL. Naturally, Boston area organizations jumped on the story and began spinning and weaving the idea that the 35-year old Russian player would want to wear the ‘spoked B’ and play for the Boston Bruins.

Are the Bruins actually looking to get him? Honestly, who knows at this point. There is active speculation that the B’s are a ‘top contender’, but it’s just speculation. Boston-area media has an ugly tendency to go ‘full Toronto’ at times when it comes to hockey rumors.

So, what are the odds the B’s are actively pursuing him?

Kovalchuk could provide a big body on the wing for the Krejci (who is also under aggressive speculation on him being moved) line next season. In his five years in Russia’s Continental Hockey League, Kovalchuk’s game has expanded into something that better resembles Patrice Bergeron (who is a finalist for the Selke award for the seventh consecutive year).  It also seems that the B’s might thank forward Rick Nash as his time as a summer rental and move on.  This leaves an opening that former No. 1 overall pick could fall into.

Kovalchuk is certainly not a bad player. He led the KHL in scoring last year, putting up 63 points in 62 games. He could bring size, snarl, and a very dangerous shot to the second line, especially if David Pastrnak finds himself on that line at the start of next season.

While a Kovalchuk signing sounds like a great idea, it’s very unlikely that it will happen in Boston, and there are several reasons why.

Kovalchuk has been out of the NHL for five years. While the KHL isn’t the AHL, it’s certainly not the NHL. Kovalchuk is 35 years old, and the last thing the B’s need to do is to swap out a quarter-season rental for a full season one.

Kovalchuk is also a natural left winger. That’s the one position the B’s are positively overloaded with talent right now. Sure, he did play at right wing with the Devils organization, but again that was five years ago.

Financially, it doesn’t seem to be a good fit for the Black and Gold. Kovalchuk will be expecting a decent salary to return. Ty Anderson from 98.5 The Sports Hub projected that Kovalchuk would be looking for a contract similar to the one signed by Patrick Marleau to join the Toronto Maple Leafs. That was a three-year, $18.75 million dollar deal ($6.25 million dollar cap hit).

Frankly, the Boston Bruins aren’t going to be able to afford him. The Black and Gold have about $7.4 million left in cap space after they signed Matt Grzelcyk to his two-year deal.  Assuming the B’s do move on from Rick Nash, they’re still short a few forwards, and they’ve yet to sign Riley Nash, Sean Kuraly, and Tim Schaller. Trying to pull off a two or three-year deal at $6 million will certainly price himself out of Boston, even with a potential cap increase next season.

Finally, it also seems like a bad idea from the perspective of the B’s current culture. The B’s have invested heavily in the youth movement right now. The last thing the Bruins need to bring into the locker room is a player whose time is rapidly running out.  The B’s can’t afford to tie themselves down to another Rick Nash type signing.

The Boston Bruins aren’t really looking to make sweeping changes going into the 2018-19 season. Kovalchuk might sound great on paper, but he won’t be what the Bruins need to be better moving forward.

Boston Bruins: Will The B’s Keep Tim Schaller

 

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Tim Schaller #59 of the Boston Bruins and Mikhail Sergachev #98 of the Tampa Bay Lightning fight for the puck during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 6, 2018, in Tampa, Florida.
(May 5, 2018 – Source: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                        Twitter: @godwentwhoops

 

The Boston Bruins have had a thing about local players these last few years. Unfortunately for the B’s, that hasn’t really worked out for them. The Bruins kept looking for that local, gritty winger but ended up getting disappointed in players like Jimmy Hayes and Frank Vatrano.

The Bruins did seem to have better luck with New Hampshire native Tim Schaller though. Schaller has become a reliable fourth line player for the Black and Gold and put up some career-best numbers last season. The 27-year old Schaller put up 22 points (12 goals) for the B’s and lead the team in short-handed goals (three).

Schaller does bring a lot of positives to the bottom-six in Boston. There is also room for some improvement in his game as well. The fourth line seemed underwhelming in its series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Schaller also had hand surgery in the off-season and his chances of being ready for training camp aren’t exactly 100 percent.

So, what are the odds of Schaller staying in the Black and Gold next season? At the moment, it looks like it’s a 50-50 split on him staying in Boston. While Schaller would make a good fit on the fourth line, he’s been realistic about his chances of coming back next season in the spoked ‘B’.

“I would love to stay. Being from just an hour up the road, obviously it’s a dream come true to play here, but at the end of the day, it’s a business, and whatever they want to do, it’s up to them. We’ll find out in a month or so,” said Schaller to the media on the B’s last day at the TD Garden last season. “At the end of the day, I’ve got to look out for myself. I think, playing here a long time is obviously a dream. I don’t know if it’s realistic or not. Like I said, we’ll find out, but if an opportunity arises somewhere else, then, like I said, we’ll go from there.

There are several major factors that are playing against Schaller right now.

First, the fourth line is the easiest line to replace for most NHL teams. Unless you’re Shawn Thornton, it’s a tough job staying on the fourth line. The Bruins are committing themselves to a youth movement right now. There are several young guns in Providence who could find themselves taking Schaller’s job away from him.

There is also the matter of the Bruins cap space. The B’s may not have enough room to keep everyone going into next season. Last year, Schaller’s services earned him a modest $775,000. He’s due for a raise, and the B’s may not have all the cash they need to pull the trigger on even a moderate bump up.

Schaller will certainly explore free agency to see what other teams are offering. While he’s no Patrice Bergeron, he’s certainly a marketable NHL player who played in all 82 games last season. He’s been a reliable bottom-six forward who put up twenty-plus points while being on the fourth line. His skill set could easily earn him a two or three-year deal in the high-one, low-two million dollar range.

While it would be a shame to lose Schaller, there are players out there that could fill in that role. We’ll see what the B’s have in mind when free agency starts on July 1.

 

Boston Bruins: A Tale Of Two Nashes.

 

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Riley Nash #20 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game Six of the Eastern Conference First Round in the 2018 Stanley Cup Play-offs at the Air Canada Centre on April 23, 2018, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Bruins 3-1.(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
(April 22, 2018 – Source: Claus Andersen/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                             Twitter: @godwentwhoops

With just over a month before the start of free agency, the Boston Bruins are going to have some tough choices to make on which of their free agents will be staying with the team next season. Among the UFAs the B’s will have to make a decision on are the two players with the last name Nash.

Riley Nash had a solid year as a three-zone, two-way center. With a 41 point (15 goals) season, he put up the best stats of his career while wearing the spoked ‘B’. He even held his own as the B’s top-line center while Patrice Bergeron was dealing with an injury.

Rick Nash was brought on as a late-season rental for Boston. The B’s were hoping he would be a dynamic player in the playoffs and he was mostly invisible. The B’s were hoping for Milan Lucic 2.0 and ended up with Zac Rinaldo.

So much for giving up Ryan Spooner, who finally seemed to have found a solid and steady stride with the Black and Gold (not to mention a first-round pick in 2018).  The losses sustained by the B’s organization weren’t worth the three goals put up in 12 games by the 33-year old Nash.

Riley Nash certainly wouldn’t mind coming back to Boston.

“I’ve been around for a while, so winning is going to be one of my top priorities,” said Nash. “If they see a fit here, then I’ve truly enjoyed my two years here, it’s been awesome and I’d love to come back. I think they have one of the best teams coming up with the young players and the veteran leaders, so this has been a good fit for the last two years. We’ll see if we can figure something out.”

Rick Nash would also enjoy playing another season with the Black and Gold.

“The organization was great,” offered Rick Nash on his hopes of coming back to Boston. “The guys were awesome…So, it was a great chapter here and hopefully, it can continue.

“I would love to [return], for sure. They’ve got a special group here and a lot of talent. It’s a great place to play.”

So, what are the odds that one or both Nashes remain in Boston?

Frankly, not very good. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney knows the odds are long on retaining the current squad.

“Obviously, our team accomplished a lot to get to the 112-point level. Ideally, you’d like to bring everybody back and think you take another run at it. I don’t think that’s realistic in a cap environment,” said Sweeney on the B’s current roster. “We can afford the salaries they’re currently at, but some of the guys had very good years and you expect that to change. I’ve had discussions periodically with some of those players and will have with their representatives going forward in the next month or so.

Bruins President Cam Neely wasn’t entirely optimistic either, especially when it came to Rick Nash.

“It’s unfortunate that [Nash] got banged up near the end of the season there, and it really took him a while to get back. I don’t think he was himself. He said that during the exit meetings that he wasn’t quite himself. It’s disappointing because we felt we had a guy that was really going to help our secondary scoring and that line and help David [Krejci] get going in some offensive situations,” said Bruins team president Cam Neely at the end of the season press conference.

“You could see the big body and how he protects the puck, and how good he is in the corners and along the walls. But he just wasn’t quite himself after coming back from that [concussion] injury.

“As Don [Sweeney] mentioned, we’re going to look at every UFA that we have, and RFA, and come to conclusions on whether or not it makes sense for us to move forward with those players.”

At the moment, the Bruins look fine when it comes to cap space in the offseason. But is it worth taking a gamble on a player like Rick Nash? Not really.

A stronger case can be made for Riley Nash (who should have won this season’s 7th Player Award).  Riley Nash became the B’s Swiss Army Knife of forwards, playing in all four lines at some point during last season. The biggest problem for Riley is that his career season may have priced him out of the TD Garden.

It will certainly be an interesting free agency period in Boston, that’s for sure.

 

 

Boston Bruins: Cam Neely Hopes For Changes In Officiating Next Season

 

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President of the Boston Bruins Cam Neely speaks onstage during the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation hosts “A Magical Evening” at Cipriani Wall Street on November 17, 2016 in New York City.
(Nov. 16, 2016 – Source: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                   Twitter:  @godwentwhoops

 

Bruins President Cam Neely certainly wasn’t happy with the team’s early exit in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season. Neely felt that several calls severely hurt the team in their quest to get the Cup, and would like to see things change next season.

Neely certainly has cause to be angry.  While the B’s were eliminated by a faster team, the team lost momentum at key times due to bad calls, missed calls, or penalties that seemed to appear out of the aether.

“It does need to get addressed because the game has gotten faster,” said Neely at the end of the year media press conference. “There were a lot of great, exciting matchups in the playoffs, and a lot of the talk – not just in our series – was about the officiating.”

While the Bruins certainly weren’t the only team slighted by the refs, they seemed to take a healthy share of the abuse from the zebras. Even now, the hockey media around the US and Canada are asking for certain refs to be penalized for their actions or missteps.

“It is something the league has to look at,” said Neely on his thoughts regarding the poor state of officiating during this season’s playoffs. “They have to go back and look at all the games, and I know they do that after every game, but I think they really need to take a hard look at what’s happening with the refereeing because the game’s gotten that much faster. Are the referees keeping up with the pace of the game? It’s fast out there.”

“Replay is [a way to keep up with the speed]. I’ll give you an example: It would take two seconds for somebody to call downstairs and say it was [Victor Hedman] that got hit with his own stick, and it’s a non-call [on David Pastrnak]. Something like that would be easy. The puck off the glass [for delay of game] in the Toronto series would be an easy call. If you get too deep into the weeds you’re going to find yourself with delays as the calls are being debated, but I think there are some really easy ones where you could call down and say ‘that wasn’t a penalty.’ There’s a lot of technology that can help you, but you really don’t want to get bogged down in the weeds slowing the game down [with replays] too much.”

The 2017-18 Boston Bruins certainly exceeded expectations this year. After an abysmal start, a healthy majority of the Boston media had wrote the team off. The infamous ‘too young’ comments helped spur to the Black and Gold to finish second in the Atlantic. Perhaps Neely is disappointed because he believed the team would be even better than they ended up.

Hopefully, the league will take a look at how the refs have done this season, and try to implement a few changes for the 2018-19 season. Not just for the Black and Gold, but for the rest of the teams in the league as well.

 

 

A Look At The Boston Bruins Salary Cap

 

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David Backes #42 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period of Game Four of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 4, 2018, in Boston, Massachusetts.
(May 3, 2018 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                 Twitter: @godwentwhoops

The Boston Bruins exceeded most fans expectations last season. The youth movement helped lead the team into a second-round run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. While their early exit was disappointing, the B’s front office now have to turn the page and look to the upcoming 2018-19 season.

Moving forward, the Bruins have a few things going for them regarding the salary cap. The Las Vegas Golden Knights slightly magical (and sort of improbable) Stanley Cup Final appearance will certainly help propel the league’s overall financial performance. This will certainly add a few dollars to the salary cap next season.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman claimed the salary cap would go up. He mentioned that it would at least $78 million. That figure could go up even more, perhaps as high as $82 million. If the salary cap goes that high, it would certainly help the B’s out now and down the road.

The Bruins currently have $65.3 million reserved for their current roster of players. That figure includes 10 forwards, six blueliners, and Tuukka Rask. With the projected minimal cap increase, the B’s will have $12.7 million to lock up the remainder of the squad. At the moment, it would be three forwards, one defenceman, and a backup goaltender for Rask.

The B’s are very likely going to keep Anton Khudobin on the roster. He was the better goaltender early in the season and was a dependable player for the Black and Gold last year. The B’s will likely sign him in the high-six, low-seven figures (Best guess would put the figure at a cool million).

This leaves $11.7 million.

The Bruins will still have a lot of space available for their restricted free agents. Forward Sean Kuraly and middles Matt Grzelcyk will be retained for relatively low costs.  A realistic guess would have the B’s picked up both players for roughly three million. Those three purchases would lock up the team at the defencemen and goaltender positions and still give the B’s 8.7 million to sign the forwards.

The Bruins have a few less-than-ideal contracts on the books right now. The B’s are paying six million a year for David Backes. At 33, he’s one of the more expensive middle-six forwards in the NHL. There have been a lot of complaints on David Krejci’s seven-plus million as well.

The complaints about Tuukka Rask could fill a dozen articles. No matter what Rask does, there will always be arguments about him not being a Stanley Cup goaltender.

Unless something radically changes during the offseason, the Bruins organization are going to keep all three players. (Personally, I’d like to keep all three as well. My inner backseat GM would try to move Backes solely on the six million for a middle-six player.)

So, who are going to be the three players that the B’s should sign for next season? Riley Nash’s strong regular season performance should put him at the top of the list. The Bruins should be able to secure him for a high-two, low-three million dollar deal.

That gives the team roughly between $5.6 and $6 million left to play with.  The Bruins front office now have a more difficult choice to make among the remaining players. Do they retain veterans like Rick Nash, or do they fully embrace the youth movement?

Bruce Cassidy seems to be leaning towards doubling down on the youth movement. At the end of the year press conference, the Bruins bench boss expressed his excitement over the large pool of young talent that could earn themselves a position come October.

“So we have players that had positive years in Providence,” said Cassidy.  “Austin Czarnik had a really good year. He could come in and take somebody’s job. He’s a pending group six. Again, I can go through the whole list of players I’m sure you’re referencing, whether it’s Jakub Zboril, whether it’s [Zach] Senyshyn, whether it’s [Trent] Frederic coming out of school, we’re cognizant of every one of them and sort of where their potential trajectory is. Our exit meetings with [Jakob] Forsbacka-Karlsson, as an example, who had a tough injury and missed a stretch down there, they’ve all made good progress, but when the rubber hits the road in training camp, you’ve got to take someone’s job.

“That’s what we try to tell them. Prepare for what’s in front of you and your opportunity will be there. We’re excited about our young players. But, the player himself will dictate it. The opportunity will be there. Nobody is boxed out. We have depth. Hopefully, we’re going to continue to add to that in our organization, because you need it.”

If we are to take anything out of this, it seems that Rick Nash will not be re-signed by Boston. Tommy Wingels and Brion Gionta will also likely be thanked for their service and not re-signed. Tim Schaller seems the only one of the team’s current UFA forwards that will be retained, and his contract will likely be around Anton Khudobin’s price range.

The Bruins will likely comb through the talent pool of Providence and see if any of the young forwards are ready to make the big move to the NHL. Several of them have already shown flashes of brilliance, and that may make the choice easy for the organization come training camp in September.

While there are storm clouds on the horizon for the Bruins, those hard choices are two seasons away. At the moment, the B’s salary cap position looks relatively secure for the 2018-19 season.

Boston Bruins: Trading Torey Krug?

 

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Torey Krug #47 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with Kevan Miller #86 after scoring a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the third period of Game Seven of the Eastern Conference First Round in the 2018 Stanley Cup play-offs at TD Garden on April 25, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Maple Leafs 7-4.
(April 24, 2018 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                      Twitter: @godwentwhoops

 

As fans of the Boston Bruins, we’re all disappointed at the end of the B’s 2017-18 season. This year’s squad had the potential of making it to the Stanley Cup Final. The Tampa Bay Lightning ended those dreams by taking out the Black and Gold in five games.

They’ll be no dirty water in the Stanley Cup this year. So what happens when the team doesn’t go all the way. As usual, the fans and the media resort to the annual round of recriminations against the players and the front office.

A fair amount of that rage has been put on two players. Torey Krug and Brad Marchand. The most recent grumblings around Causeway Street are to have one or both of these players moved in the offseason. While Marchand’s licking antics were certainly a distraction, he was one of the best players for the B’s in the regular season and the playoffs.

Marchand’s not going anywhere. Like Patrice Bergeron, he’s going to be in the Black and Gold until he retires.

But persistent rumors continue to swirl around Torey Krug. Could the Bruins organization be considering moving him in order to find the missing piece for next season? The B’s have several left-shooting d-men coming up through the ranks, and on some level, it might actually make sense?

But would the Bruins do it?

Absolutely not. Trading Torey Krug is asinine.

Krug is the kind of player who will kill himself in order to make the play. He broke his ankle in Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning and will be wearing a boot for the next two months. (Thankfully, the injury won’t require surgery.)

“To be honest, I was hoping I just had a sprained ankle or something and I’d be able to go off for a shift and come back out there, but it was pretty obvious that that wasn’t going to be the case,” said Krug about his broken ankle. “You just try to get up and get off the ice. My dad always told me, ‘Don’t lay on the ice and let people pick you up.’ So [I] just kept going.”

Krug should be fully healed in time for training camp in September.

The biggest reason the Bruins organization won’t move him is simple: Krug is too bloody valuable to Boston. Krug led all defencemen with 59 points this season. His 14 goals was also a personal best for the 26-year old Michigan native. Krug also led B’s defencemen in scoring during the postseason, notching up 12 points for the Black and Gold. (By comparison, Bruins wunderkind Charlie McAvoy only put up five.)

Krug is one of the more reliable blueliners the B’s have right now. That he is one of the better puck-moving d-men out there certainly increases his value. He’s dependable, reliable, and gives people six inches taller than him a serious run for their money.

The Bruins organization might move Krug, but the offer would have to been one of those Tuukka Rask for magic beans trades that Boston always finds a way to get the Toronto Maple Leafs to agree to.

Krug’s potential has yet to be fully realized. Krug has the ability to be a 60 or even 70 point player for Boston. That’s something Cam Neely and Don Sweeney won’t walk away from.

So, the next time some media outlet mentions a ‘hot take’ on moving Krug, you can toss that opinion into Boston Harbor.

 

Boston Bruins: Simple Mistakes, Simple Fixes

 

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Riley Nash #20 of the Boston Bruins talks with Matt Grzelcyk #48 during the second period of Game Three of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 2, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts.
(May 1, 2018 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                          Twitter: @godwentwhoops

The Boston Bruins are proving to be their own worst enemy right now. The Black and Gold had a sold-out crowd backing them on Wednesday night at the TD Garden. The B’s looked poised to push the Tampa Bay Lightning into Boston Harbor with a resounding win.

Then the B’s started making simple mistakes. The Bolts easily capitalized on those simple errors, allowing Tampa forward Ondrej Palat to score twice within the first 3:19 of the game.

“[The] puck kind of felt like it back-spin on me on the ice,” said Matt Grzelcyk about his early error that led to the Bolt’s first goal of the night. “[I] thought maybe it went behind me, so [I] just took my eye off the puck, I guess. And they capitalized because they’re a good team. Obviously not the way you want to start a game. It was tough bouncing back after that.”

Unfortunately for the Black and Gold, those two goals were all Tampa needed to beat Boston. The B’s ended up falling to the Lightning 4-1.  The B’s get another chance of redemption against Tampa Bay on Friday.

“We made a few mistakes early that unfortunately, we couldn’t crawl our way back from,” shared Bruins forward Brad Marchand with the media postgame. “But we had some pushes during the game where their goalie made some big saves. That’s how it goes sometimes.”

Can we blame some of this on shoddy officiating? Some, but not much. The Bruins certainly got no favors from the refs in that game. (If you take a look around the league, the refs have been maddeningly inconsistent across the board in the second round of the postseason.)

Thankfully, the B’s penalty kill did its job most of the night in Game 3.

Did the refs take away the momentum from the Bruins at times? Sure, but when the B’s seemed to have control of the ice, they were unable to find a way around Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Do the Bruins need to go back to the drawing board? Certainly not. The B’s are an elite team that earned their place in the playoffs. They’re just going to have to make a few tweaks and focus a little more on their puck management.

The B’s top-six forwards will remain the same. They’ve been doing most of the heavy lifting so far this series. While there are certainly no passengers on the team right now, there are players (especially among the bottom-six forwards) who need to hunker down and give everything they’ve got left to win this series.

While changes are going to be made among the forwards (and quite possibly a shuffling of the defensive pairs), Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is keeping any new configurations under his hat for the time being.

“I’m not going to tell you who’s going in or who’s going out now because we’ve got to get the healthy guys sorted out first and then go from there,” offered Cassidy. “Tuukka [Rask] will start, I’ll give you that.”

The Bruins seem ready for Game 4, and they’ll stand by whatever decisions Cassidy wants to make.

“He’s gonna make his decisions as a coach,” said B’s alternate captain David Backes. “We’re the players, if we’re in the lineup we’ve got to give everything we’ve got every time our name is called to get on the ice. If it’s not called, we need to be supportive of our teammates. The character in this room is something I’ve never been concerned about. We have guys that when they’re out there are working their butts off to try and stay ready if their name is called.”