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Vesey is Key to Rest of Bruins Offseason Plan

By on August 10, 2016 at 6:29pm

Jimmy Vesey, the Harvard product who won the Hobey Baker Award as the best player in college hockey last season, is about to end all the drama and mystery when he chooses which NHL team he wants to play for on August 15th. When Vesey spurned the Nashville Predators this past spring and refused to sign with the team that drafted him, he instantly became the hottest free-agent on the market. Intrigue was added after his rights were traded to the Buffalo Sabres at the beginning of the summer, and hometown buddy Jack Eichel got the opportunity to recruit the former Crimson stud. Now all that remains is for Vesey to select which team he’ll call home and if the B’s are fortunate enough to land him, it’ll be the biggest offseason addition since Zdeno Chara 10 years ago. Yes that big. Continue reading Vesey is Key to Rest of Bruins Offseason Plan »

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9 games to circle on your calendar. (forum.canucks.com)

With the long-awaited Jimmy Vesey Sweepstakes, or #VeseyWatch as it was known on Twitter, coming to an unfortunate end last week after the North Reading, MA native decided to sign in the Big Apple with the Rangers instead of his hometown team, the buzz around this upcoming Bruins season has taken somewhat of a hit. The questions surrounding this group of players, specifically on the blue line, haven’t been addressed and the moves that have been made, most notably the signing of David Backes, have been second guessed. Adding Vesey to this group would have reinvigorated a fan-base that isn’t very happy right now according to recent sports polls, and masked some of the problems that still linger for this years squad. Nevertheless, training camp opens in just about a month, so rather than sulk and pout, I looked at the B’s upcoming season and found nine games that will surely get even the most depressed Bruins fan pumped up. Continue reading 9 Bruins Games to Circle on your Calendar »

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Brad Marchand (Bleacherreport.com)

Summertime isn’t the most exciting time as far as hockey rumors go, especially when the biggest news surrounding the Bruins roster is waiting for unrestricted free-agent and Hobey Baker winner Jimmy Vesey to decide which team he’ll play for next season. However, Brad Marchand has recently made headlines not for his on ice antics, rather what his next contract will look like as a professional hockey player. Marchand is entering the final year of a four-year $18 million dollar deal and will be seeking a significant raise after coming off of a career year in which he scored 37 goals and 60 points.

It’s recently been reported that Marchand is looking for a 7×7 deal, meaning he wants seven years at seven million per, which would end up costing the B’s a total of $49 million. Granted he receives this contract, Marchand will be paid among the likes of teammates David Krejci and Tuukka Rask as well as the Sedin twins and St. Louis Blues sniper Vladimir Tarasenko. Again, if he ends up getting this contract, it will put somewhat of a strain on the B’s cap space and will most likely force Don Sweeney to trade an impact player since David Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner will also be due for new deals after next year.

Although Marchand did prove to the entire NHL he was a dangerous scorer last year, it was his only season in which he scored more than 30 goals. Guys that have contracts in the seven million dollar range are either proven stars or franchise altering type of players. It doesn’t seem like Marchand is in that category just yet since last year was his breakout season, so it might be a better idea to wait and see if he repeats his high scoring pace next season and then sign him in the offseason. Not only would this give Sweeney more time to figure out what to do with all these contracts, it would also give Marchand the opportunity to prove he deserves a top-tier contract. The worst thing that could happen would be to lock him up long-term now and then find out he isn’t worth the dollars and term they are paying him. Waiting an extra season seems like the most logical choice in this case since he hasn’t completely shaken the agitator/borderline-dirty player mantra or cemented his place as a consistent scorer year after year.

The other option that hasn’t been floated around at all is trading Marchand now that his value is at an all time high. Even though this doesn’t make much sense right now, if Marchand proves he isn’t the goal scorer everyone thought, it would be harder to get the same type of players in return if the B’s did decide to trade him later on. While it’s hard to justify this now, it would look like a great move for Sweeney if some other team is paying seven million dollars for a 20-25 goal scorer with a wild side.

Obviously there are a lot of factors that come into play in a situation like this, but at a time where cap space is king and goal scorers come and go, it would be wise for the Bruins to hold off on signing Marchand right now and let him control his own destiny with his play next season. It’s been repeated at nauseum that the B’s finally escaped cap hell and inking Marchand now would bring them right back where they started, so Sweeney should show some patience and let Marchy show he’s grown from a pest to a leader.

 

 

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Don Sweeney and Cam Neely won't be smiling for long if they can't sign a free agent defenseman. (Photo courtesy of sportact.net)

Since the Bruins failed to address their one glaring need of signing a capable defenseman at the start of free agency, they are left with limited options and signing an unrestricted free agent seems to be the way to go. Don Sweeney and Cam Neely must find a diamond-in-the-rough type of player in the remaining UFA group of defensemen now that big names Keith Yandle (6 years, 44 million with the Panthers), Alex Goligoski (5 years, 27 million with the Coyotes), and Jason Demers (5 years, 22.5 million with the Panthers) have already inked large deals. The B’s must bring in another blue-liner if they want any shot at a playoff spot this upcoming season so with that said, here are a few available defensemen that could fill the void on the backend and be relatively cheap options at the same time.

James Wisniewski: The 31 year old had a rough season last year after he blew out his knee just minutes into the first game, causing him to miss the remainder of the year with the Hurricanes.  Wisniewski has been injury-prone during his career but he might be the best all-around defenseman still on the open market. He’s a bit of a journeyman in his 10 year NHL career suiting up for eight different teams, yet he’s still put up decent numbers in that time. His best year came with the Blue Jackets in ’13-’14 when he recorded 51 points for Columbus. Wisniewski’s injury problems and lack of production might keep him off other teams radars for now, however look for him to be a prime candidate for a professional try-out (PTO) this fall. Given what the Bruins currently have and the likelihood that they can get him for cheap, the B’s should absolutely bring Wisniewski in just to see what he can still do.

Kris Russell: Russell has gotten a lot of flack around these parts as being the one guy the B’s should avoid, and I’m not exactly sure why. From what I can tell, his game hinges around shot-blocking and a strong first pass out of the zone, similar to newly-signed Bruin John-Michael Liles. That doesn’t sound so bad to me as I liked what JML brought to the Bruins last year after the trade deadline. However, he is criticized for his unreliable defensive play and that’s one thing that would worry me if they did bring him in. The 28 year old might not be the most polished option, but he can’t be as bad as some of the players the B’s tried last year, cough Matt Irwin cough.

Luke Schenn: The former fifth overall selection in 2008 probably won’t be looking at Boston as a future destination after spending most of his career in hockey crazed cities such as Toronto and Philadelphia, but if it turns out Schenn does enjoy the high-pressure markets, Boston might be the right place for him. He isn’t a player that’s going to wow anybody with his stats but his physical, in-your-face style of play will surely have Sweeney and Neely eyeing his services. With Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid already locked up for a few years, it would only make sense to sign Schenn if Sweeney plans on trading one of the two.  This wouldn’t be the most ideal situation for the B’s as they really don’t need another hulking defenseman, however if he is signed, I’d trust him more with the puck on his stick than I would Miller or McQuaid.

Marek Zidlicky: Zidlicky was linked to Boston a few years back as another blue-line addition, but he was ultimately traded to the Red Wings that season. The 38 year old right shot defenseman would make a lot of sense on a one year deal with the B’s since his skill-set along with his age would create a low-cost, high-reward scenario. Zidlicky isn’t the same player he once was but his game also isn’t as diminished as it could be at this point in his career. His skating ability and offensive presence would certainly help a defensive squad often seen out of position, and off the score sheet, and his overall experience could replace that of Dennis Seidenberg, who was bought out last week. Zidlicky’s veteran presence, reliable game, and low cost seems like a great fit for a Bruins team that desperately needs fresh faces on defense.

 

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Jacob Trouba isn't worth the astronomical price the Bruins would have to pay for him. (Photo courtesy of bleacherreport.con

Jacob Trouba isn’t worth the astronomical price the Bruins would have to pay for him. (Photo courtesy of bleacherreport.com)

 

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have Jacob Trouba on the Boston Bruins. He’s a promising young defenseman that instantly makes the B’s blueline more skilled. However, if the Bruins plan on using an offer sheet on the 22 year-old, forcing them to give up their next four first round picks plus pay him a $7-8 million salary, they are incredibly stupid. Continue reading Trouba is NOT the Savior the Bruins Need »

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Bruins 14th pick, Charlie McAvoy. (Photo courtesy of causewaycrowd.com)

The Bruins went into the 2016 NHL draft with relatively high expectations. With the Celtics head-scratching draft the night before stealing much of the attention of casual Boston sports fans, the B’s entered the draft with uncertainty around who would be available for their first selection at 14, as well as the constant rumors that Don Sweeney would acquire defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk or Cam Fowler. Similar to the C’s draft night, it seemed there would be at least one big move that would change the landscape of the team and give the fan base something they’ve been pleading for. At this moment, it’s safe to say that didn’t happen. Continue reading Bruins Draft: Good But Not Great »

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The NHL draft is Friday night in Buffalo. Photo courtesy of sabrenoise.com

The Bruins hold two picks in this years 2016 NHL Draft, the 14th and 29th overall selections, and will be looking to add premier talent to a squad that doesn’t have much to brag about as of late. Much like last years draft, this class of eligible players is highlighted by multiple elite names at the top, including presumptive number one selection Auston Matthews, as well as forwards Patrick Laine, and Jesse Puljujarvi. By the time the B’s select at 14, there won’t be a franchise player like Matthews available, however there will be numerous players that could prove to be valuable assets in the near-future. Here are seven skaters that could end up donning the spoked-B Friday evening.

  1. Jake Bean (Defenseman): Arguably the most offensively gifted defenseman in the entire draft, Bean left nobody questioning his talent level after he recorded the most goals for a defenseman in the Western Hockey League this past season with 24. Bean’s smooth skating ability and wicked wrist-shot are his best attributes and is regarded as a pure offensive D-man, but his defensive ability is suspect. This has me wondering if he is the best option for the Bruins as they need a defenseman who can actually play defense, and not another Torey Krug-esque player on the back-end.
  2. Clayton Keller (Center): Keller, the Swansea, ILL native and former U.S National Team Development Program standout is one of a few forwards on the smaller side in this draft. At 5’10”, Keller does everything you want as a center but teams are concerned his small stature will hinder his NHL play. He had a tremendous season earning 107 overall points and is committed to Boston University next fall. While I would approve of this pick, the Bruins are stockpiled with centers, therefore he simply might not have a spot on the club.
  3. Dante Fabbro (Defenseman): Regarded as a natural leader and shutdown defender, Fabbro may be the safest pick available for the B’s. His keen offensive instincts combined with his impressive D-zone coverage skills make him a perfect target for the Bruins desperate for solid two-way defenseman. My only knock towards Fabbro is that the competition he faced these past couple years has been sub-par. Instead of playing major junior hockey he played a tier below in Jr. A. This might end up being a non-factor but it I wouldn’t overlook it too much.
  4. Logan Brown (Forward): Brown isn’t a popular name popping up regarding this pick, however I have a feeling the obsession with big, intimidating players B’s management has may make him an option here. Brown is a 6’6″ center who plays a heavy game and has great vision. He posted respectable numbers in the Ontario Hockey League netting 74 total points and projects to be an all-around center in the NHL. I would keep an eye-out on this guy being an out-of-the-box selection for the Bruins.
  5.  Charlie McAvoy (Defenseman): Another rearguard with high offensive capabilities, McAvoy completed his freshman season playing for the Terriers of B.U. and the 18 year old may not have to travel far after his college days are over. He didn’t have the eye-popping numbers like Bean did but he isn’t that far below Bean’s overall game either. Obviously, McAvoy’s local roots make him an automatic favorite as the B’s love drafting close to home, yet I’m not certain McAvoy has enough defensive responsibility in his game to make this a home-run selection.
  6. Kieffer Bellows (Forward): Keller’s teammate on the U.S Under-18 team, Bellows didn’t accumulate as many points as Keller, but he did rack up 50 goals and was a constant scoring threat for the American squad. Bellows has a bit more size at 6’1″ however he doesn’t have as complete of a game as Keller. Also committed to B.U, Bellows could be the best available player for the Bruins at 14 and I’d have a hard time passing on a 50 goal man in the middle of the first round, especially since the B’s are starved for goal scoring forwards.

Player to Watch = Alex DeBrincat (Forward): The small, speedy winger was at the top of draft boards last year but injuries and worries about his 5’7″ frame pushed his stock to the end of the first round. If the B’s keep their 29th pick and nobody takes the undersized scorer, the Bruins should jump all over this guy.

The draft begins Friday night at 7pm at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, NY.

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