Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Joe Haggerty of CSNNE,
It’s been a couple of years since Adam McQuaid was able to play his punishing stay-at-home defenseman game without worrying about some health issue or another.
Two years ago, it was returning from a blood clot that left him in a weakened state entering the season. Last season, he was dogged by lower body problems throughout a season that ended for him in January....
“I think he came out and tried to make a statement that he’s ready to play, and that he wants to be here,” said coach Claude Julien. “I thought he played a really strong game. I give him high marks for his first game back.”...
That’s great news for the Bruins in that they may be getting back a player that finished with 15 points and a plus-30 three seasons ago as big, strong bottom-pairing defenseman It’s also a positive development if the B’s opt to deal him from their D-man surplus now that he’s shown he’s once again healthy.
from Joe Haggerty of CSNNE,
Krug finished a spectacular rookie season with 14 goals and 40 points, and shocked the kind of charge into the B’s power play that would make a defibrillator jealous.
He also finished fourth in the Calder Trophy voting, and then watched two of the award finalists (Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat) get locked up with three year, $10 million contracts as RFA’s. It’s natural that Krug thought a healthy payday was coming to him, and Boston’s offer of one year and $1.25 million – the exact same deal given to Matt Bartkowski – seemed like a bit of a lowball offer.
It’s also lower than what Krug made last season when he toped $1.75 million based on salary plus the $850,000 in bonuses he earned by reaching a few milestone statistics (25 assists and 40 points). Technically he’d be taking a pay cut with what the Bruins currently have on the table as an offer. That’s a tough sell to a skilled player ready to take off, but that might be why Johnny Boychuk has been front and center about the trade rumors.
“There’s times when you get paid very well, and there’s times when you don’t,” said (Jeremy) Jacobs. “That’s how the [salary cap] system is built, and it’s functioning and doing very well. We’ve never had more money to spend than we have right now, and we spent every cent that we had.
“It isn’t like these people are necessarily underpaid. [It’s not like] they can’t live on it. They just want to do better. I don’t blame them. I can’t think of a person in this room that doesn’t want to do better. But their time will come, and if they’re great players moving forward then they’ll be compensated as they get older.”
from Caryn Switaj of BostonBruins.com,
"... you don’t wish one of these d-men to be traded, but we just have too many d-men. So at some point I’m going to have to do it, and most of the teams in the League will like one of these defensemen. And I know everybody’s wondering 'will he make a move?' 'will he make a move?' but I’m going to see what’s going to happen, see who fits well with whom."
The trade market right now is "pretty good," according to Chiarelli, and has been that way all summer.
"I've said that I'm looking to trade a defenseman, but I'm very eager to see the competition," he said. "There's spots, there are no restrictions - if I have to open with eight D, I can, so there's no real pressing need to do it, other than it's not ideal."
The Bruins nearly opened last season with eight defensemen, before Kevan Miller was the final cut.
"Seven spots ideally, but I could carry eight."
more on the Bruins...
from Joe Haggerty of CSNNE,
“I feel like I’ve turned the corner in the last week or week-and-a-half, so that’s a positive. But I’m still working to get it up to 100 percent,” said Lucic, who had a hard cast on his left arm from elbow to hand for the majority of the summer. "I’m just exciting to be back with everyone, and to get things going. You don’t want to do anything to have any setbacks, so you have to be smart about it. It’s turned the corner for the better as far as rehab has gone.
“I’m just working to get the strength back in it. It’s been a good last two weeks, and hopefully it still gets strong as the month goes along. Every time you have surgery it never really goes all the way back to 100 percent, but you hope you get back to a point where you’re feeling as good as you did before the surgery.”
from Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald,
Winger Reilly Smith and defenseman Torey Krug are still both unsigned. General manager Peter Chiarelli said he hoped they’d be in camp, but he would not comment on negotiations. And while that situation plays itself out, there’s the likelihood of a trade happening. Chiarelli all but said he’ll be moving one of his nine defensemen.
“I’ve always tried to get the team together signed and get them in place and give them a level of security. I always feel that with that, they will perform,” Chiarelli said between periods of a rookie tournament game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. “Of course, I’ve got to see the performance to get to that point. They’ve seen that we’ve tried to keep this team together as much as we can; we’ve had a lot of success with this group of guys.
“Around the fringes, guys have to go . . . I think they understand that we always want to ice a Cup-winning team, and with that comes some casualties. This year, I’m looking forward to it, to a certain degree; there’s a lot of competition, there’s a lot of spots, including — you don’t wish one of these (defensemen) to be traded, but we just have too many. At some point, I’m going to have to do it, and all the teams in the league, most of the teams in the league would like one.
“And I know everyone’s waiting, ‘What move will (he) make? What move will (he) make?’ Well, I have to see what’s going to happen, see who fits well with whom, but the uncertainty is something this year that is a byproduct of the cap and a successful team and locking up those guys, and eventually there’s other guys that are just going to get too expensive. I don’t cast any aspersions on them for being at that level, but that’s what it’s at.”
Joe Haggerty of CSNNE answered a few questions from the fans....
What does your gut tell you about Boychuk? He staying or going?
JH: My head tells me that he’s going, and my gut tells me that he’s staying with the Bruins. Make of that what you will, but I’ve maintained for a while now that trading away Boychuk makes them worse in the short term when they have legitimate Cup aspirations headed into the season.
Bruins staff watch Patriots O-Line w/out Veteran presence, Mankins? Don't trade a reliable Vet. Boychuck.
JH: This was my favorite tweet of the day on Wednesday. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Logan Mankins/Johnny Boychuk parallel over the last couple of days, and it was pretty stark watching the Patriots offensive line flounder in Miami last weekend. Making tough decisions with veteran players is always part of reality in a cap situation, and oftentimes you don’t truly miss – or value -- something until it’s gone.
It’s hard to say what would happen to the Bruins if they traded away Boychuk, but a top four defensemen group of Zdeno Chara/Dougie Hamilton and Dennis Seidenberg/Johnny Boychuk is a pretty good place to start. Teams with legit championship aspirations sometimes have to simply watch a valuable guy play out his contract, and then watch him walk away when they can’t afford him.
You simply can’t cast off key veteran players when you’re the prohibitive favorite in a still weak Eastern Conference, or at least you can’t do it unless you’re getting likeminded value in return. If there’s a young, affordable stud forward (Yakupov, Jurco, Silfverberg) coming back in exchange for Boychuk then that’s something the Bruins might have to think long and hard about.
from Joe Haggerty of CSNNE,
Zdeno Chara is famous for always looking for ways to improve his game, even after 1,132 games, even after 17 years in the league and even after reaching the pinnacle with a seemingly annual honor as a finalist for the Norris Trophy. It’s perhaps become a bit easier to search for improvement in recent years, though, as Father Time is catching up to the 6-foot-9 defenseman just a bit.
As the NHL gets faster and sleeker as an overall style of play, Chara needs to work that much harder to keep up as the largest individual in the league. The Bruins are doing their part by dropping his ice time: it’s gone down nearly a full minute over the course of four seasons from 25:26 in 2010-11 to a 24:39 mark last season that stood as his lowest ice time total in his Bruins career.
Chara is also doing his part to work on his speed and agility during his notoriously rigorous offseason training, and keep up with players in the league that are now literally half his age.
“I’m a huge fan. I’m in there probably 70 percent of the time watching games. When you have an organization like the Bruins that’s contending every single year, that makes it exciting. You have high hopes and high expectations. Obviously last year was a little disappointing with an early exit against Montreal.
“But the thing that they have in place with the core of the team is exciting for fans, and for management too. They’re always looked at as one of the teams that should be contending. I remember around this time year you’d be getting excited for camp, and there’s only a few weeks left. You get back into that work mode, and this time of year always kind of brings me back to that.”
-Ray Bourque on the Boston Bruins. More from Bourque by Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
“I think they have a very strong nucleus,” Park told ESPN.com in a recent phone conversation. “I think they’ll probably lose some offensive power with Iginla not coming back. I don’t think they have somebody capable of scoring, on a regular basis, 25-to-30 goals. Offensively, that hurts them.”
The Bruins, who recently signed key performer David Krejci to a six-year deal worth $43.5 million, have approximately $69.8 million committed for next season (the cap has been set at $69 million), according to Capgeek.com, and that is with restricted free agents Reilly Smith and Torey Krug still unsigned.
Considering the obstacle that faces general manager Peter Chiarelli, many believe the Bruins will have to trade one of their defensemen. Boston currently has a glut of blueliners as they head into training camp later this month.
Park thinks the Bruins’ back end is particularly solid, and should be a strength for the club, especially if they can stay healthy.
from Joe Haggerty of CSNNE,
Nobody wants to see Boychuk traded from this current group of Bruins, and dealing away the hard-nosed, hard-hitting D-man with the booming shot will weaken their team in the short term. His inclusive personality would be missed. His intensity in the playoffs would be missed. His willingness to endure a puck to the face to win a game would be severely missed.
Winning it all this season would be aided by having No. 55 in uniform for the Black and Gold.
But Boychuk would net the biggest savings if his $3.36 million cap hit was dealt to a team in need of his services, and he’d also yield the best player in return to a Bruins team that could use a right wing. Could he be packaged with other items to rescue a gem like Nail Yakupov from the Edmonton Oilers, or Jakob Silfverberg, or Tomas Tatar?
There’s also the cold, hard fact that the Bruins won’t be able to afford Boychuk after this season when he hits unrestricted free agency. He will easily command $5-6 million per season based on the ludicrous contract given to Brooks Orpik by the Washington Capitals, and the Bruins would be hard-pressed to go that high with a second-pairing defenseman on the wrong side of 30.
It comes down to signing players like Soderberg, Hamilton, Krug, Smith and others to deals while absorbing the $7.25 million Krejci cap hit after this season, and Boychuk seems like an ill-fitting jigsaw puzzle piece from a cap perspective.
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.
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