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Kevin Dean named head coach of Providence Bruins

07.18.16 at 11:06 am ET
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The Bruins named Kevin Dean head coach of the Providence Bruins Monday, a move that had seemed a strong possibility since the promotion of Bruce Cassidy to Boston.

A former defenseman who played 347 games in the NHL after four years at the University of New Hampshire, Dean served as an assistant coach on Cassidy’s staff for the last five seasons. This is the first AHL head coaching job for the 47-year-old, who spent one season as head coach of the Trenton Devils of the ECHL and four seasons as an assistant coach for the Lowell Devils of the AHL.

Cassidy and Jay Pandolfo were both promoted to Boston in May as assistant coaches on Claude Julien’s staff. Pandolfo had spent last season as the team’s director of player development.

Read More: Bruce Cassidy, Jay Pandolfo, Kevin Dean,

Bruins have begun negotiations with Brad Marchand on extension

07.15.16 at 1:27 pm ET
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Brad Marchand scored a career-high 37 goals last season. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Brad Marchand scored a career-high 37 goals last season. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

WILMINGTON — Following the Bruins’ July 1 signings, general manager Don Sweeney said he would take a bit for the organization to catch its breath before proceeding on another key front: signing Brad Marchand to a contract extension.

Speaking at the end of the team’s annual development camp at Ristuccia Arena, Sweeney confirmed that he has indeed began negotiations with Marchand’s agent. Marchand, who is entering the final year of a contract that pays him an average of $4.5 million annually, will be 29 when his next contract starts in the 2017-18.

He won’t come cheap, as the 2006 third-round pick has established himself as an elite two-way player. Last season, Marchand finished sixth in the NHL with a career-high 37 goals. For an estimation of what Marchand might command, click here.

While former general manager Peter Chiarelli believed in signing players before they entered their walk years (with Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and David Krejci serving as examples), Sweeney’s first year as GM saw him negotiate with free-agent-to-be Loui Eriksson throughout the season before the team ultimately opted to let him walk in free agency.

Asked whether he was inclined to get something done quickly with Marchand (which would mean signing him at the highest point of his career) or waiting, Sweeney was noncommittal but stressed his intentions to keep the player, who would be an unrestricted free agent next July without a new deal.

“I think I’ve been pretty up front that I’d like to be aggressive in trying to identify from what we have, I’ve identified March as a core guy and we want to continue down that path,” Sweeney said. “It always takes two sides to make a deal, and I would envision that he’d like to be part of this organization for what could be arguably his whole career, but Brad has a say in this as well.”

Marchand said in November that his hope would be to stay with the team that drafted him for his whole career.

“When someone has played in one place as long as I have — and I know there’s guys that have been here longer than I have — it would be a dream come true to play here my whole career,” he said. “I understand the game and the business of things, but I think as long as I continue to work hard and hold up my end of the bargain, hopefully I can be here for a while. It is something that crosses my mind. I know that I have a year and a half left on my deal, but it is something I think about and I would obviously love to be here for a long time.”

Read More: Brad Marchand, Don Sweeney,

Bruins sign Colin Miller, Joe Morrow to new deals

07.14.16 at 9:43 am ET
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Colin Miller

Colin Miller

The Bruins have signed defensemen Colin Miller and Joe Morrow to new contracts, the team announced Thursday. General Fanager was the first to report the signings.

Miller’s contract is a two-year, one-way deal with an average annual value of $1 million. The former Kings prospect, whom the Bruins acquired in the Milan Lucic trade last June, is coming off his first NHL season. Miller skated in 42 games for Boston and 20 for Providence, posting 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) in the NHL and 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in the AHL.

Morrow’s deal is a one-year, one-way contract worth $800,000. The 23-year-old played in a career-high 33 NHL games last season, scoring one goal and adding six assists for seven points.

Both players will be restricted free agents upon the expiration of their contracts.

With Miller and Morrow signed, the Bruins now have seven defensemen on one-way contracts: Zdeno Chara ($6.91 million cap hit in 2016-17; $4 million cap hit in 2017-18), Torey Krug ($5.25 million cap hit through 2019-20), Adam McQuaid ($2.75 million through 2018-19), Kevan Miller ($2.5 million through 2019-20), John-Michael Liles ($2 million cap hit for next season), Colin Miller and Morrow.

Read More: Colin Miller, Joe Morrow,

Danton Heinen hopes to solve Bruins’ problems at right wing

07.12.16 at 11:50 pm ET
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Danton Heinen has emerged as one of the Bruins' top prospects. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Danton Heinen has emerged as one of the Bruins’ top prospects. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Assuming the team doesn’t trade Ryan Spooner, the Bruins replaced Loui Eriksson with David Backes. Whether or not that was a wise move at the end of the day can be debated (it probably wasn’t), but a simple way of viewing this offseason is that one right wing came in and one right wing went out.

That would be incorrect. The Bruins also parted with Lee Stempniak (Hurricanes), Brett Connolly (Capitals) and Landon Ferraro (Blues) while bringing in center/wing Riley Nash. In the Bruins’ recent heyday, this right wing situation might have been a position of panic for Bruins fans, but these days, the Bruins’ defensive woes make right wing a perhaps underestimated problem.

Realistically, David Pastrnak should continue to progress and be a set-it-and-forget-it right wing next to David Krejci. Assuming that’s the case, the B’s still have a question mark on the right side of their third line.

Jimmy Hayes bouncing back would solve it. So would signing Jimmy Vesey, as they would move guys around until someone (probably a lefty; perhaps Frank Vatrano) ended up over there. Otherwise, it’s a hole on the roster.

Danton Heinen says he’s doing “everything he can” to take that job in training camp.

The Bruins got Heinen to go pro after his sophomore year at the University of Denver. The 6-foot-1, 190-ish-pound left shot forward was a fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft [worth noting: considering that draft also included Pastrnak and that the bar wasn’t exactly set high, it’s entirely possible that Peter Chiarelli’s final draft with the Bruins was his best outside of 2010], but since his selection has used strong play at the NCAA level to cement himself as a high-end scoring prospect.

Like the departed Eriksson, Heinen is a left-shot wing with experience playing both sides. Last season, Heinen skated on the right as he helped lead the Pioneers to the Frozen Four. He racked up 48 points in 41 games as a sophomore, including 20 goals. After signing with the B’s, he skated in four games for Providence, posting two assists.

“He’s the type of player that he can play with good players because he’s got high hockey IQ and he’s got really good skill,” B’s assistant coach Jay Pandolfo said. “I think anywhere you put him, he’s smart enough to figure it out.”  Read the rest of this entry »

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Surprise first-rounder Trent Frederic, who once played shinny with David Backes in Keith Tkachuk’s basement, doesn’t care about draft status anymore

07.12.16 at 4:29 pm ET
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Trent Frederic's selection at No. 29 overall turned heads. (Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)

Trent Frederic’s selection at No. 29 overall turned heads. (Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)

Trent Frederic’s time in the Bruins organization got off to a weird start.

First, the Bruins made the St. Louis native’s dream come true when they made him a first-round pick in the NHL draft. Yet Frederic, a projected second or third-rounder whom Central Scouting ranked the 47th-best North American skater in the draft, immediately became one of the most questioned picks of the weekend. It didn’t help when, a day later, the team’s director of amateur scouting said that Frederic is “not going to be a top two line guy” and that the team was OK with that.

Frederic admitted Tuesday that he was surprised when he was taken 29th overall, but noted that he went into Buffalo with the feeling that he would go anywhere from the late first to the early third-round.

Typically, a player with Frederic’s kind of game — he’s got “jam,” as they say — doesn’t go early in the draft, and they use the mindset that draft status doesn’t matter once you’re given an opportunity. Frederic is taking the same mentality despite his fortune of being made a surprise first-rounder.

“I just really don’t think it matters,” he said after his first development camp practice. “If you look at a seventh-round guy and a first-round guy, there’s not much difference. It all comes down to the work you put in now.”

Frederic projects as a bottom-six center, and though the Bruins could have swung for the fences more with a higher-end talent, a player taken in the late 20s who carves out a career as a third-line player would be considered a “hit” as draft picks go.

On Tuesday, Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo took the opportunity to provide a little damage control regarding Gretzky’s comments, projecting a much higher upside for the University of Wisconsin-bound player.

“He’s a really good athlete,” Pandolfo said. “He’s explosive. … He probably has a little better skill than people give him credit for. He’s got some upside more than maybe just a third-line player. I know that’s kind of what everyone was saying, but there were a lot of teams that were pretty high on this kid. I think he just kind went under the radar playing for that US (Under-18) team with some top skilled players.”

Frederic said upon being drafted that he’d always looked up to David Backes and modeled his game after the longtime Blues center. One week later, the Bruins signed Backes, presenting the scenario that the two could end up teammates one day.

Interestingly enough, however, it wouldn’t be the first time the two played together. Growing up friends with Matthew Tkachuk and his siblings, Frederic’s family and the Tkachuks became family friends.

As you’ll remember from this wonderful feature on Lee Stempniak, the Tkachuk house was something of a dormitory for young Blues players back in the day. As he did with Stempniak, Tkachuk housed Backes when the center was breaking into the NHL.

“I actually played shinny hockey with him when I was really young,” Frederic said. “He was living with the Tkachuks. He probably doesn’t remember that, but I do.”

Given that he’s still 18, there’s plenty of time for Frederic to develop into an NHL player and join his idol on the Bruins’ roster during Backes’ five-year contract. If he can prove to have a higher ceiling than expected, an initially criticized pick could end up being a rather useful selection.

Read More: Trent Frederic,

After overcoming injury, Malcolm Subban must overcome signing of Anton Khudobin for NHL job

07.12.16 at 2:21 pm ET
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Malcolm Subban

Malcolm Subban

WILMINGTON — Two days after Malcolm Subban suffered a frightening throat injury in warmups of a Feb. 6 game for the Providence Bruins, David Pastrnak relayed that he’d talked to Subban and that the goaltender was in good spirits.

Talked?

The right wing quickly clarified that the communication had taken place over text, as Subban wasn’t doing much talking after a puck hit him in the throat during warmups. In fact, Subban went what he estimated to be over two weeks without being able to speak before finally grunting out his first words (asking his parents for permission to buy a car).

Now, after working his way back from a five-day hospital stint that included surgery on a fractured larynx and one and a half days with tubes down his throat, the Bruins’ 2013 first-round pick is in town for development camp and hopes to pick up where he left off prior to the injury, which was the highest point of his pro career.

Though Subban’s numbers on the season were underwhelming — a .911 save percentage in 27 games played, marking a step back from his .921 mark over 35 games the season before — Subban had a .939 save percentage over his previous seven games leading up to the injury and, had he kept up the pace, could have challenged NHL backup Jonas Gustavsson late in the season.

“He was progressing great,” Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo said after Tuesday’s development camp, which saw Subban work with B’s goaltending coach Bob Essensa. “It was unfortunate the injury he had and having to miss half the season. He was definitely on the right track.”

Yet while the obstacle of his injury is gone, a new one has been presented in former Bruins’ backup Anton Khudobin, whom the team brought in on a two-year contract on the first day of free agency. Though Khudobin’s signing could have also been a move to give the team protection against losing Subban or Tuukka Rask in next offseason’s expansion draft, it also puts a player ahead of Subban on the depth chart.

“I’m not too focused on anything else that goes on in the organization,” Subban said of the Khudobin acquisition. “It’s all just about playing my game and trying to make sure I’m ready to go and I can go [do] whatever they want me to do. That’s where my focus is going into camp.”

If Subban doesn’t make the team as Rask’s backup, he would spend a fourth year in Providence, likely splitting time again with fellow prospect Zane McIntyre. Yet Subban feels he’s close to being NHL-ready, even if free agency made his road to the NHL a little tougher.

“I feel every year [there’s competition for the backup job],” Subban said. “Look at Tuukka. I’m sure he thinks of all of us as competitors, too. It’s healthy competition. That’s what you need it to be.”

Read More: Anton Khudobin, Malcolm Subban,

Bruins development camp commences

07.12.16 at 11:53 am ET
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WILMINGTON — Who looks good out there?

Bruins development camp got underway on Tuesday, with a smaller group than years past taking the ice at Ristuccia Arena.

Though the roster for the camp isn’t huge (26 players), it’s loaded with intriguing prospects, such as Danton Heinen, Malcolm Subban, Brandon Carlo, Jake DeBrusk and 2016 first-round pick Charlie McAvoy.

Daniel Vladar and camp invite Stephen Dillon were the only goalies to participate in Tuesday’s practice, though Subban and Zane McIntyre were on the ice earlier in the day. All expected skaters were on the ice with the exception of 2016 second-round pick Ryan Lindgren, who had a class commitment at the University of Minnesota. Lindgren will arrive in Boston Tuesday and join the other prospects Wednesday.

Read More: Malcolm Subban, Ryan Lindgren,

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