|10.05.15 at 12:52 pm ET|
According to Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports and Bob McKenzie of TSN, the Bruins placed forward Max Talbot and goaltender Jeremy Smith on waivers on Monday. If Talbot and Smith go unclaimed over the next 24 hours, they can be assigned to Providence.
While the writing was on the wall for Smith when the Bruins signed Jonas Gustavsson to be their backup goalie on Sunday, waiving Talbot comes as something of a surprise. The Bruins got the Avalanche to retain salary on Talbot when they traded for him last season, meaning the veteran fourth-liner only costs $900,000 against the cap. Still, the emergence of potential fourth-liners Joonas Kemppainen and Tyler Randell in training camp likely made Talbot expendable in the eyes of new general manager Don Sweeney.
By taking Talbot off the roster, however, some clarity is provided to the team’s fourth-line situation. With Boston’s third line set to consist of Ryan Spooner between Jimmy Hayes and Brett Connolly, the B’s were overflowing with fourth-line options, the vast majority of which were left shots in Chris Kelly, Kemppainen, Zac Rinaldo and Talbot. The right-shooting Randell could now push to see time as Boston’s fourth-line right wing, though a Kelly-Kemppainen-Rinaldo line also makes sense.
Either way, Talbot’s subtraction figures to lock in Boston’s 13 forwards to begin the season, with Kelly, Kemppainen, Rinaldo and Randell rounding out the group.
Smith, a second-round pick of the Predators in 2007, built a strong case to be Tuukka Rask‘s backup with a .933 save percentage in 39 games for Providence last season. Though he has yet to play an NHL game, he seemed a likely candidate to make Boston’s team after re-signing with Boston in the offseason on a one-year, two-way deal worth $600,000 at the NHL level. The Bruins already have Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre in Providence, so it will be interesting to see what the B’s do with Smith if he goes unclaimed.
Update (6:20 p.m.): In another minor roster move, Zdeno Chara is now listed as being on injured reserve. Given that players must be kept out for seven days after being put on IR, Chara’s potential status for Thursday’s season-opener is not impacted by this move. His placement on IR is likely retroactive to Sept. 24 (the day he suffered his upper-body injury), meaning the Bruins could activate him whenever they want.
|10.04.15 at 5:43 pm ET|
The Bruins announced Sunday that they have signed goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to a one-year, one-way deal worth $700,000.
The signing comes as something of a surprise, as 26-year-old Jeremy Smith entered camp as the projected backup for Tuukka Rask. Smith, a former Predators second-round pick who split time with Malcolm Subban in Providence last season, was signed to a one-year, two-way deal worth $600,000 at the NHL level this summer. He would have to clear waivers to be sent to Providence, where Subban and Zane McIntyre are already assigned.
Gustavsson played in two games for the Bruins this preseason, stopping 42 of 45 shots he faced for a .933 save percentage. Injuries (most notably a separated shoulder0 limited the 30-year-old to seven NHL games last season, his third season with the Red Wings after playing the first three seasons of his NHL career with the Maple Leafs.
With his status uncertain late last week, Gustavsson said that he believed that even if he didn’t get a contract with Boston, he felt that he’d answered any questions in his mind as to whether he could bounce back from an injury-plagued season.
“Last year was different,” he said last week. “I had a big injury, so I missed a lot of time there and didn’t play that many games, but the last three months I was on the ice and I worked hard and practiced. I felt like my game was back to where it was before the injury.”
Teams have until 5 p.m. to set their 23-man rosters.
|10.04.15 at 1:41 pm ET|
‘ DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) October 4, 2015
The intrigue as Zdeno Chara stepped onto the ice midway through the Bruins’ practice Sunday was short-lived. Though Chara skated lightly on one end of the ice while the B’s worked on 2-on-2 battle drills on the other, Chara was forced to the bench when the team needed the full sheet of ice after about five minutes.
His work would resume later in the day, however, as the 38-year-old defenseman returned to the ice to skate with assistant coach Doug Houda for over 40 minutes following the Bruins’ practice. Chara, who was limited to just three shifts this preseason due to an upper-body injury suffered on Sept. 24, could be a close call for Thursday’s season-opener given that he still has not taken contact and does not yet appear able to take slap shots. While the latter wouldn’t necessarily stop him from playing, he would likely need to participate in some battle drills after 10 days without contact.
‘ DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) October 4, 2015
Though it’s worth noting that the Bruins are off on Monday, Claude Julien said that Chara is close to being able to fully participate in practice.
“In his situation, we said day-to-day because his injury was not one that we could say ‘it’s going to be a week,’ which it’s been right now,” Julien said following Sunday’s practice. “We didn’t know, so you can’t go out there and say he’s out for a week and then all of a sudden, three day’s later, he’s in.
“So he’s still day-to-day. I think he’s inching closer and I think he’s getting very close to practicing with our team. Because it’s day-to-day, I don’t know if he’s going to be in tomorrow, the day after, whatever. We’re hoping that’s the case. It’s looking like it’s heading in that direction, but there’s no guarantees.
“So we don’t know. He’s still day-to-day and we look forward to having him back as soon as possible, but he’s skating, he’s feeling better every day. That’s the positive thing about Zdeno’s situation.”
If Chara is unable to play Thursday against the Jets, Adam McQuaid will be the only top-four defenseman from opening night last season to play in this season’s opener, as Dougie Hamilton is in Calgary and Dennis Seidenberg remains out as he recovers from back surgery.
|10.03.15 at 12:24 am ET|
The Bruins concluded their preseason schedule with a 2-1 shootout loss to the Capitals Friday night at the Verizon Center.
Loui Eriksson’s first-period tally was the game’s only goal until Alexander Ovechkin tied the contest with less than three minutes to play in regulation. Ovechkin’s goal came against Jeremy Smith, who spelled Tuukka Rask in the third period.
Rask played the first two periods of the game, stopping all 15 shots he faced. Smith stopped 13 of the 14 shots he saw before letting in both shots he faced in the shootout.
The Bruins will open the regular season Thursday when they host the Jets at TD Garden.
|10.02.15 at 1:23 pm ET|
Now, the waiting game begins for Jonas Gustavsson.
After going through training camp and playing one and a half preseason games for the Bruins on a professional tryout, the 30-year-old netminder can do nothing but hope that the work he put in was good enough to earn him a contract and a spot on the bench as Tuukka Rask‘s backup.
Claude Julien said Friday morning that Gustavsson would not travel with the team for Friday’s preseason finale against the Capitals, with Rask starting and Jeremy Smith serving as backup. That means the preseason book is closed on Gustavsson, who stopped 42 of 45 shots over parts of two preseason games for a .933 save percentage.
“I’m not trying to think about it too much; I’m trying to do whatever I usually do – just practice, play games whenever I get a chance to play and have some fun,” Gustavsson said after Friday’s practice. “All the other stuff, that’s not in my hands. I guess I’m waiting, but on the other hand, at the same time, I’m just taking it day-by-day like I always do.”
Smith, a 26-year-old who was drafted in the second round by the Predators in 2007, is the favorite to win the backup job after a strong showing last season in Providence. That leaves Gustavsson, who played formerly with the Leafs and Red Wings but was limited to seven games with the Wings by injuries last season, potentially on the outside looking in.
Julien insisted Friday morning that a decision has not been made on the backup goaltender.
“There’s a lot that’s going to come into play there in that decision-making. It’s going to be a group decision,” he said. “We’re going to look at the pros and cons and everything else that goes into it. Unfortunately, that’s where it would be nice to have more preseason games and give a lot of those guys an opportunity to play even more and us assess them even longer, but that’s the way it is. Tuukka’s got to play. He’s our goaltender that we’ve got to get ready for the start of the season.”
Gustavsson’s preseason availability was limited by the birth of his first child, which cost him a preseason start that was perhaps made up when he played all of Wednesday’s game against the Rangers. Malcolm Subban (who started two preseason games) and Zane McIntyre are already back in Providence having been cut from camp.
Julien has noted that the decision the team makes for Rask’s backup will not necessarily be the team’s final decision. If the team loses confidence in the backup, as the Bruins did with Niklas Svedberg last season, they won’t hesitate to call up Subban and give him his shot. Should Smith get the first crack at the gig, such a scenario would do Gustavsson no good unless he remains unsigned.
Gustavsson saw his injuries create that situation last season in Detroit. As he battled a shoulder injury, AHL callup Petr Mrazek emerged as a starting option for the Red Wings, which made his services no longer required. If Gustavsson does happen to win a job in Boston, he intends to keep it.
“Every time you’re on the ice, you’re trying to prove yourself,” he said. “That’s what you’ve got to do, no matter if you have a contract or not. There’s always going to be competition. You can’t really take any spots for granted, no matter if you’re on a one-way or two-way or tryout or whatever it is. If you’re not going to perform over time, some younger kid or some other goalie’s going to take your spot. There’s only 60 spots in the league and there’s tons of good goalies.”
Gustavsson still considers himself one of them. He’ll have to wait to see if the Bruins agree.
|10.02.15 at 11:31 am ET|
The Bruins will play their preseason finale Friday when they face the Capitals at the Verizon Center, but they’ll be leaving a pair of players behind.
Forward Max Talbot and backup goalie candidate Jonas Gustavsson will hang back for Friday night’s game, with Claude Julien saying that neither move is an indication of either player’s status with the team. Tuukka Rask will get the start, with Jeremy Smith backing him up.
The lines in Friday’s practice were as follows:
All seven of the Bruins’ healthy defensemen — Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow, Matt Irwin, Colin Miller and Kevan Miller — are expected to make the trip. Zdeno Chara did not practice with the B’s Friday, though he did skate again prior to the practice.
|10.01.15 at 6:22 pm ET|
The Bruins announced another round of cuts Thursday evening, with Alexander Khokhlachev the biggest name among those headed to Providence.
Also released from camp were Brian Ferlin, Anton Blidh, Chris Breen, Brandon DeFazio, Ben Sexton and Tommy Cross. Breen, DeFazio and Sexton were previously cut from camp but recalled for Wednesday’s preseason game against the Rangers. Cross must first clear waivers before he can be assigned to Providence.
With Thursday’s cuts, the Bruins now have 27 players (including the injured Seth Griffith, Dennis Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara) on their roster, though goaltender Jonas Gustavsson remains in camp on a professional tryout.
Khokhlachev’s assignment to Providence is the latest step in what’s been a frustrating tenure with the Bruins. After being chosen early in the second round of the 2011 draft (40th overall), the Russian center has performed well in the AHL but has underwhelmed in pro camps. Clearly a skilled player who figures to be an NHL player before long, he raised questions about his attitude when he recently expressed his unhappiness with where he stands in the organization.
“This is my last year of my contract,” he said. “I’m 22 already. If they don’t give me the chance to play, why am I here? I will not play in Providence all my life. They told me, ‘Just wait for your chance.’ I’m still waiting for it.”
Khokhlachev, who has led Providence in points in each of the last two seasons, played just three NHL games last season. When speaking out recently, he pointed to his lack of ice time (2:53 in his last game on Nov. 24) in saying the team has not given him a chance to prove himself in the NHL.
Asked about Khokhlachev prior to the announcement of Thursday’s cuts, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said the team feels he still needs to make improvements in the AHL.
“All players are entitled to their opinion,” Sweeney said. “I feel that Alexander has a tremendous upside skill-wise. He still has a lot to learn away from the puck. He needs to go through these experiences, and he’s only 22 years old. Looking at the big picture for all our young players, they’ll determine when they’re ready to play and when they can help us at the National Hockey League level. I do believe he’s a player that can step in, and whether or not he can play up and down the lineup sort of remains to be seen.
“But we want him to continue to work hard to fill in those gaps, be it faceoffs and there are small details of the game that show up in the scoresheet each night. … There’s just little areas of the game that everybody as a young player needs to go through, experience and then come out the other side of it better. He wants to advocate for himself, so I don’t blame him for that.”