Kukla's Korner Hockey
added 12:20pm, Boston release is below...
from Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald,
... Meanwhile, looking at the upcoming season, it’s still treading-water time. There’s reason to believe they can improve from a year ago. The David Backes-for-Loui Eriksson exchange was basically a push in talent level, but Backes’ crash-bang-boom style is more traditional Bruins. It could make them a better home team (even if Eriksson was quite productive at the Garden last year). Colin Miller still hasn’t reached his ceiling. Kevan Miller can be a better version of himself from the get-go. Having John-Michael Liles for a full season should help.
On the other hand, a sizable deterioration in Zdeno Chara’s play would adversely affect this team greatly — and he’ll be 40 in March.
No, this is no one’s Stanley Cup contender, but rather one of the many middle-ground teams in the league just hoping to scratch into the playoffs. . . . Again.
Neely has pleaded for patience for his organization and we believe it’s correct to grant it that for this year, regardless of the outcome (barring unforeseen disasters).
That doesn’t mean there is not an expiration date for that patience. That’ll come soon enough.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
On Tuesday, in the Americans’ 3-2 exhibition-finale win over Finland, Backes centered the fourth line between Justin Abdelkader and defenseman-turned-wing Dustin Byfuglien. Backes logged 13:28 of ice time, including 2:03 on the penalty kill, as fourth-line pivot and man-down specialist. Something will have gone very wrong if Backes is filling the same position in Boston.
The Bruins did not invest $30 million in the ex-Blues captain over five years to play him on the fourth line. Backes will be a go-to player, perhaps as the No. 2 right wing alongside David Krejci in the right-shot widebody role once played by Jarome Iginla and Nathan Horton. Backes could take late-game shifts with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron to give the Bruins a stifling defensive line.
Or he could be the No. 3 center behind Bergeron and Krejci, moving Ryan Spooner to left wing. Backes will be a net-front presence on the power play, a regular penalty killer, and always counted on to bring the pain.
“He’s one of the best two-way centers,” Pietrangelo said. “He’s the best net-front guy I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen a guy be able to tip a puck as well as he can. He does everything. He scores goals. He makes plays. His biggest thing is being able to play the defensive side of the game. He’s a guy who can shut down anybody. He plays big minutes on the penalty kill, power play. If you’re looking for a guy who can play in all situations, Dave’s going to be the guy.”
more plus other hockey topics, mostly World Cup related...
from Joe Haggerty of CSNNE,
The Bruins have the salary cap space and they still have the interest in nabbing a puck-moving defenseman they can install into their top-four group on the back end.
Both of these things have been true for the past 15 months after trading Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames, and for the past two years since shipping Johnny Boychuk off to the New York Islanders.
Whether it’s David Krejci or Ryan Spooner, the Bruins also have a surplus of centers now that would seem to indicate potential trade chips in place if Don Sweeney wanted to act quickly on a good, old-fashioned hockey swap.
Clearly, there is disappointment that the Black and Gold haven’t been able to execute a deal for Kevin Shattenkirk or force the Winnipeg Jets into trading away big, right shot D-man Jacob Trouba amid strained negotiations for a contract extension.
“I know basically from April to now everybody is talking about our back end, and not being able to land a top-four defenseman. We still have an opportunity as far as cap space goes if something shakes free, and I know Don [Sweeney] has been working hard trying to do something,” Bruins President Cam Neely said on CSN’s Great American Hockey Show podcast last week. “But I feel like as a group we can do better than we did last year.
from Matt Belesky at The Players' Tribune,
Want to hear a joke? A guy from Southern Ontario goes to China to teach ice hockey.
That’s it. That’s the joke. Except that’s exactly what happened to me.
First things first, I knew very little about China before I went.
O.K., nothing. I knew nothing about it.
China? Man, I’m from Barrie, Ont. I mean, my only connection was Chinese food — which is way different in China, by the way. (But more on that later.)
So when Bruins p.r. director Eric Tosi approached my teammate David Pastrnak and me, as well as former Boston goalie Andrew Raycroft, about heading over this summer, it caught me a bit off guard
“You want us to go to China to represent the Bruins?” I said.
“To teach kids hockey?”
from Joe Haggerty of CSNNE,
But it will be a new challenge for the 28-year-old headed into this season as it’s the final year of his contract with the Bruins ahead of unrestricted free agency. Marchand is coming off a career year where he scored 37 goals and really took a step forward for the Black and Gold. As the Nose Face Killah himself admitted, “it’s a high bar” to reach headed into a season where a lot of pressure could be on his shoulders individually and team-wise....
Given his age and his production, Marchand should easily expect to top the six-year, $36 million contract given to Loui Eriksson by the Vancouver Canucks on July 1. Another season for Marchand similar to last season – if the Bruins allow it to get to that point without a long-term contract extension -- could make the left winger one of the top salaried players on the roster.
An argument could easily be made that Marchand should be paid in the neighborhood of top wingers Bobby Ryan and Zach Parise, and that would put No. 63’s price tag in the $7 million to $7.5 million-per-season range without even taking the natural inflation of salaries year-to-year into account.
Beyond the numbers and his comprables around the NHL, it’s about the attitude and competitiveness that Marchand brings to the table for a Bruins team that’s gone alarmingly soft in the past two seasons while missing the playoffs. He’s one of the few players still retaining some bite from the Cup team of the recent past. That’s a key ingredient for success and keeping the old-time hockey fans happy around Boston.
from Matt Kalman at NHL.com,
Here are three key questions facing the Bruins:
1. Can the defense improve?
The Bruins ranked 20th in goals-against per game (2.78) last season. They bought out Seidenberg's contract but seven of the nine defenseman on the roster to end last season return.
Until the Bruins' prospects are NHL-ready, they are hoping the incumbents will make strides. That means Colin Miller and Joe Morrow, who re-signed as restricted free agents, have to take advantage of their opportunities to contribute, and veterans Adam McQuaid, 29, and Kevan Miller, 28, have to thrive in bigger roles. Captain Zdeno Chara, who will turn 40 on March 18, has to maintain a high level of play. The Bruins also will rely on the addition of assistant coach Bruce Cassidy to bring some new ideas. He was the coach of Providence of the AHL the past five seasons.
2. Can the Bruins make up for Loui Eriksson's departure?
Backes should provide the Bruins with a presence similar to what Eriksson supplied on the power play and be another workhorse on the penalty kill. But Eriksson scored 30 goals last season and Backes had 21 with the St. Louis Blues.
A healthy Krejci, a more mature David Pastrnak, a full season for Vatrano, and an improved Jimmy Hayes, or some combination of these elements, could make a difference.
more including reasons for optimism...
from Caryn Switaj of BostonBruins.com,
Hockey is hockey.
That’s one of the immediate realizations, upon first arriving at Xiaolang International Ice Rink in Beijing, China.
The rink is nearly 7,000 miles away from Boston. It has two sheets of ice, with overlooks for spectator viewing. There are signs lining the walls, with one that projects the motivational motto: “Be Hungry. Be Crazy.”
It is the home rink of the Little Wolf hockey family, but it served as the Bruins’ home away from home for a week of youth hockey clinics.
The mission? To help grow the game.
Current Bruins Matt Beleskey and David Pastrnak made the trek across the world to help host the clinics, along with alumni Andrew Raycroft and Bob Sweeney, and the Bruins Youth Hockey Development Team.
The trip — “Bruins Global: China 2016” — was made possible through a partnership with Beijing-based company O.R.G. Packaging and the Chairman of O.R.G., Mr. Zhou Yunjie. It represents a joint initiative to help introduce the Bruins to hockey and culture in China, while they help grow the sport of hockey abroad with their knowledge and skills.
“It’s been great,” Beleskey said of the experience. “You see all of the kids having fun and working hard. When you see kids playing hockey and having fun, it’s always a good time.”
Below, watch Matt Beleskey's visit to The Great Wall...
from Matt Dolloff of CBS Boston,
Not to frighten you, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney has some big decisions to make soon. And if the Bruins land their prize in pending free agent Jimmy Vesey, those decisions will only get harder.
That’s not to say that the Bruins should not sign the Hobey Baker Award winner, who still has the Bruins on his short list and sounds like he really, really wants to play for his hometown team. They clearly need to make a run at the Massachusetts native. It’s just that their cap space is already dwindling and major sacrifices may ultimately need to be made to keep him and other core players intact.
The Bruins now have just over $6.7 million in cap space for the 2016-17 season with 12 forwards, seven defensemen, and two goalies under contract, according to General Fanager on Twitter. They have two open spots on the active roster, and Vesey would obviously fill one of those – but at what cost?
To figure out the price for landing Vesey, who would immediately be a top-six forward for them, it helps to look at a similar player who entered the league in a similar situation. For Vesey, an uncannily similar comparison is New York Rangers center Kevin Hayes, younger brother of Bruins winger Jimmy Hayes.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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