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Bruins Sign Jimmy Hayes, Brett Connolly

By on July 6, 2015 at 3:28pm
Jimmy-Hayes Jimmy Hayes will sticking around in Boston for the next several seasons. Photo courtesy Florida Panthers.

The Bruins announced on Monday that they had signed restricted free agents Jimmy Hayes and Brett Connolly. Hayes, who was recently acquired from Florida, signed for three years at $2.3 million per season. Connolly, acquired at last season’s trade deadline from Tampa Bay, signed a one year deal worth $1,025,000 million.

Hayes played in 72 games for Florida last season and was third on the team in goals with 19. Connolly saw limited action with the Bruins due to a broken hand, playing in five games and registering two assists with Boston. While with Tampa Bay last season, he scored 12 goals and notched three assists.

Connolly is only 23 years old and Hayes is 25, each being a player that the Bruins feel can improve and be a part of their future. Both players figure to be a significant part of the Bruins forward lines, with Connolly a top six forward and Hayes potentially moving between top six and bottom six depending on production.

The team also announced the signing of forward Brandon DeFazio to a one-year, two-way contract that is worth $575,000 if he plays at the NHL level.

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The Bruins sent recently acquired goalie Martin Jones to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2016 first round pick on Tuesday. The Bruins also received center prospect Sean Kuraly as part of the deal. Jones had been acquired last week from Los Angeles as part of the return package for Milan Lucic.

Essentially, the Bruins dealt Lucic and have gotten a return of two first round picks and two prospects, which is a pretty impressive haul if the draft picks end up being used correctly. Although this move may not make the team better in 2015-16, it sets up well for the future. Jones, who had been a back up goalie for the Kings, was unlikely to stick around and this was likely the best offer Boston received for him.

The Sharks picked ninth in this years draft and aren’t likely to get better so this pick could end up being a high one for Boston. The Bruins also extended qualifying offers for Ryan Spooner and Brett Connolly on Tuesday, which are likely to be accepted. Don Sweeney has already made four trades in the last week and it is likely he is not done yet.

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lucic hamilton

The Bruins were busy for the early part of Friday, trading away both Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic. The Bruins then made three selections in a row in the first round,a  move that was unprecedented across the NHL. Hamilton was the best young defenseman the Bruins had and Lucic was a major piece on two Stanley Cup Finalist teams who embodied much of hard-nosed, physical style the Bruins have been known for. The shakeup comes at time when the team is bumped up against the cap and still reeling from missing the playoffs.

The day began with Hamilton being shipped off to the Calagry Flames. The Bruins received the 15th, 45th, and 52nd picks in the 2015 draft in return. Not long after, the Bruins sent Lucic to the L.A. Kings in exchange for the 13th pick in the 2015 draft, goalie Martin Jones, and defenseman prospect Colin Miller. The Bruins absorbed $2.75 million of Lucic’s 2015-16 cap hit to make the deal work.

Hamilton was an unrestricted free agent and his unwillingness to accept Boston’s contract offer ended up being the major factor behind the Bruins decision to move him. It is definitely a downgrade to their defense corps overall and will force the Bruins to rely heavily on young, unproven players next season. Zach Trotman and Joe Morrow have seen limited action with Boston and may end up playing a majority of the season with big club. Miller could also factor in as well.

Lucic was in the final year of a contract that would have cost the Bruins a $6 million cap hit. The power forward suffered through one of his worst NHL seasons in 2015, leaving some to question if had begun breaking down. There is no question that the Bruins will miss his presence both on the ice and in the locker room and he could be a major help to a Kings team trying to return to Stanley Cup form.

These moves left the Bruins with picks 13 (Kings), 14 (their own), and 15 (Flames) in the draft and the team used all three. They became the first team since 1968 to make three straight first round picks. With the 13th pick, the Bruins selected Jakub Zboril, a defenseman who plays a tough style at 6’1″, 185 pounds. The Bruins then took left wing Jake DeBrusk with the 14th pick and  wing Zachary Senyshyn with the 15th pick. Zboril is the most NHL ready of the three and Senyshyn has the farthest to go in terms of development. It was reported that the Bruins tried hard tp move in to the top five to take impact defenseman Noah Hanifin, but they were unable to close the deal.

The Bruins still have the rest of the Summer to alter and upgrade their roster but barring anything else drastic, this will be a much younger looking Black and Gold Squad when the puck drops in October.

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Bruins center Patrice Bergeron won the 2015 Selke Trophy on Wednesday for the league’s best defensive forward. It was his second Selke win in a row and his third overall. Bergeron won the award in 2012 and 2014 while finishing second in 2013.

His 60.2% faceoff percentage was the best in the NHL and he also led the Bruins in points with 55. It was also the second year in a  row Bergeron led the league in total faceoff wins. According to analytics, Bergeron was one of the best puck possession players in the league in 2014-15.

He finished ahead of Jonathan Toews and Anze Kopitar in the voting, two players Bergeron has a lot of respect for.

“You’re always very happy about that, and obviously it’s all about the help you get from your teammates. But I’m not surprised to see Jonathan and Anze again this year. They’re two amazing players, and I’m very honored to be nominated in the same category as them,” Bergeron said in an interview.

 

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The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 on Monday night to capture the franchise’s third championship in six seasons and sixth overall. Chicago won the series 4-2. Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Not only was it the third championship since the 2010 postseason for the modern day dynasty, but it was also the first time Chicago won a Stanley Cup at home since 1938.

Game six saw Duncan Keith score the first goal in the second period and Patrick Kane but the icing on the cake with a goal late in the third. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford had 25 saves in the clinching win. It was a heroic performance from Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, who revealed after the series that he had been playing with a torn groin since game two.

Keith, who played more than 700 minutes this posteason, scored 3 goals and added 18 assists during the Blackhawks Cup run. The series began with the teams splitting the first two games in Tampa Bay and game three saw the Lightning take a 2-1 series lead with a win in Chicago.

After two straight 2-1 wins for Chicago, the Blackhawks entered game six with a chance to end the season. The 2-0 win helped Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews win his third Stanley Cup with the team. The Blackhawks overall core is young but the team will have to battle the salary cap as well as opponents to keep the core intact.

This Chicago team had previously won championships in 2010 against Philadelphia and 2013 against Boston.

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According to his agent via CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty, the Bruins and Dougie Hamilton have not done any negotiating towards a long term contract. Hamilton, 21, is a restricted free agent. This means that another NHL team could sign him to an offer sheet and lure him away from Boston. Don Sweeney has a lot of work to do as Boston’s new General Manager, but getting Hamilton back for the long haul is at the top of the list.

Any team that signs Hamilton to an offer sheet would have a steep price to pay. Not only is Hamilton seeking $6-7 million per year according to reports, but the signing team would also have to give the Bruins a first, second, and third round pick.

Hamilton was the ninth overall selection in the first round of the 2011 draft by the Bruins, using a pick from Toronto that was acquired in the Phil Kessel deal. The two prized pieces of that deal were Tyler Seguin and Hamilton. The Bruins have already lost one and will not want to lose another one.

Hamilton has shown promise that he can be the elite defenseman to replace Zdeno Chara at the top of Boston’s depth chart. He played in 72 games in 2014-15, registering 10 goals and 32 assists, all of which were increases over the previous season. He was also adept at power play operation. Hamilton was always on Boston’s top pair of defensemen and when Chara was out injured, Hamilton was elevated to the top of the depth chart.

Although only 21, Hamilton has shown he is the type of player that Boston will want to keep around for the future. Although his price tag will be steep, the Black and Gold are much better of fixing the salary cap by moving another player instead of running the risk of letting Hamilton leave.

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tuukka-rask

There is no doubt that one of the biggest concerns facing Don Sweeney and the Bruins this offseason is the vacant back-up goaltender position. Last season’s back-up, Niklas Svedberg, has left the country to play in the KHL and using the eye test, one can only assume that young Malcolm Subban is not ready for the big leagues yet. Subban may be ready in a few years, just not now.

So with all that being said, the Bruins are almost forced to check out what is available for back-up goalies on the free agent market this offseason. Tuukka Rask may look like Superman on some nights but even Superman needs a few games off.

Here are the top 3 goalies on the market that Boston should consider. They are ranked by their ability to be a competent back-up and if they would cheap enough to fit into the B’s salary cap situation. Continue reading Assessing The Bruins Back-Up Goalie Situation »

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