|09.15.15 at 1:48 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — When players took the ice at Ristuccia Arena for an informal session Tuesday, former Bruin Daniel Paille was long gone. Having agreed to attend the Blackhawks’ camp on a professional tryout, Paille’s long offseason of waiting for a chance was over.
The same could not be said for free agent right wing Lee Stempniak, who was still skating with the Bruins Tuesday after spending recent weeks at either Ristuccia or Boston University preparing for the season.
Stempniak still hasn’t agreed to anything with a team, though it’s likely a PTO is in his near future. The Dartmouth graduate, who has played for seven teams over his 10-year career, has lived in Boston with his now wife since he graduated college. Now 32 with a young family and looking for a job, Stempniak wouldn’t mind a shot with the Bruins.
“I think it would be a good fit. It’s a great organization,” Stempniak said. “I’ve heard great things. I’ve gotten to know some of the guys. I like them and have a lot of respect for some of their players, just the way they train, the way they play and as people. It’s definitely appealing, but for me, it’s sort of weighing the options. I’ve talked to more teams over the last couple of weeks and things have really picked up. [It’s about] finding the right opportunity at this point.”
Stempniak scored 15 goals last season between the Rangers and Jets over a combined 71 games. Though he’s on the back nine of his career, he is a more-than-servicable bottom-six forward with ample special teams experience. If he were to get a tryout with the Bruins, he would have his work cut out for him, given that the B’s already have a number of right wings in David Pastrnak, Loui Eriksson, Brett Connolly, Jimmy Hayes, Seth Griffith and Brian Ferlin. It’s likely the B’s will play Eriksson at left wing due to the abundance of righties.
This isn’t the first time Stempniak has waited to learn his fate. As a free agent last summer, he didn’t sign until late July, when he took a one-year deal with the Rangers. Back in 2010, Stempniak lasted until late August on the open market before re-signing with the Coyotes.
Though Stempniak has learned to expect the unexpected, the fact that he remains unsigned should still come as a surprise. After scoring six goals for the Jets in 18 regular-season games and then potting the Jets’ first playoff goal since the team’s return to Winnipeg, Stempniak figured he would be back with the Jets. Instead, the Jets opted to give their younger players a shot.
“I felt like I had a good year and a strong finish to the season,” he said. “I was hoping to go back to Winnipeg. I liked it there. It’s a great hockey city, a a great organization and I thought it was a good fit. It didn’t work out for one reason or another, and I’m just looking [for] the next thing. I’ve been on quite a few teams over the course of my career. Change is something I’m used to.”
Camps open across the NHL on Thursday. Given that Stempniak is good for 10-15 goals, he figures to be at one of them. That doesn’t make it any less stressful as the clock continues to tick.
“For me, it’s sort of out of sight, out of mind a little bit,” he said. “It’s hard. I have a young family, so it’s not just a matter of packing up and moving. I haven’t changed how I’ve prepared at all. I’m just preparing for training camp on Thursday. Right now, it’s just figuring out where will that be.”
|09.15.15 at 1:05 pm ET|
Simon Gagne announced his retirement Tuesday. The 35-year-old forward’s career ended with a 23-game stint with the Bruins last season.
“Today, I want to thank my trainers and teammates,” Gagne said in a statement. “You inspired me to surpass myself. You made me understand that you need more than talent; it takes sacrifice and discipline and you need to work harder than your rivals. I also wish to thank my fans. Every evening, you energized me and inspired me to perform.”
Gagne played 822 games over 15 seasons in the NHL, scoring 291 goals and adding 310 assists for 601 points. He spent 11 seasons with the Flyers over two stints in Philadelphia.
Following his second stint with the Flyers, Gagne took a professional tryout with the Bruins last fall before signing with the team early in the season. He had three goals and one assist before leaving the team to be with his family in the final weeks of his father’s life. Gagne’s father died of liver cancer in late December, two weeks after Gagne took a leave of absence from the team.
|09.14.15 at 2:41 pm ET|
BOLTON — After a season of terrible moments, David Krejci had one of the best moments of his life when he and his wife recently welcomed their first child to their family. As far as hockey goes, he should hope he doesn’t have to go to another hospital for a while.
Krejci, who had previously never missed more than seven games in a regular season in his entire professional career, had a highly frustrating go of it last season. After fighting nagging lower-body injuries through the first few months of the season, Krejci suffered a partially torn MCL in late February. All in all, Krejci missed 35 games in a season that saw Boston’s offense suffer without him.
Now, after an extra-long offseason that saw him lose his running buddy of his five-year tenure as a first-line center in Milan Lucic, Krejci hopes to return to both the health and performance of seasons past. He said prior to Monday’s Bruins golf tournament that his workouts were not encumbered this offseason, so he sees no reason why things wouldn’t get back on track.
“Last year was the first year in my career that I had [ongoing] injury troubles,” Krejci said. “I’ve been working out since pretty much the season ended and have had no setbacks. I’m shooting for 82 games, so we’ll see what happens.”
With whom Krejci plays those games is wide open. It’s safe to assume the Bruins will plan on free agent signing Matt Beleskey filling Lucic’s spot, but there’s no telling whether it will be David Pastrnak, Brett Connolly, Jimmy Hayes or somebody else on the right side. Loui Eriksson could potentially be an option, though he’ll likely be moved to left wing this season given Boston’s number of right-shot wings.
Krejci’s had some different right wings since 2010-11, from Nathan Horton to Rich Peverley to Jarome Iginla to a revolving door of players (Seth Griffith, Simon Gagne and Pastrnak among them) last season. He’s used to change on the right side, but losing his longtime left wing in Lucic, now with the Kings, will present new challenges.
“It’s going to be weird,” he said. “We’ve been together for a long time, and now he’s gone, so obviously that was a really sad day. We have to understand that it’s a business as well and there were some upper-management changes. They’re just trying to make our team better than last year, and they did some changes. I really like the we have right now, so we’ll see how that goes.”
The good news for Krejci is that he signed a contract extension prior to the start of last season. Last season was the final year of his contract, so rather than hitting free agency after injuries, he at least has the security of a new six-year deal. With that comes pressure to live up to the $43.5 million he’ll be making.
Last season was bad for pretty much everyone on the Bruins, injured or healthy. The teamwide dropoff in shooting percentage suggests the B’s will get back to scoring as long as they don’t have two consecutive seasons of wretched luck. Having Krejci back will undoubtedly help as well.
“It’s definitely something that you can’t replace,” Patrice Bergeron said. “He’s a player that is so important to our club. To have him fresh and healthy is something we’re going to a lot from. I’m really happy to have him and happy he feels good.”
|09.12.15 at 1:11 pm ET|
The Bruins announced a flurry of hockey operations personnel moves on Saturday. The most notable is that Jay Pandolfo has transitioned from development coach to director of player development. Pandolfo will now oversee and aid in the development of players and prospects throughout the Bruins’ system.
Sliding into the development coach role vacated by Pandolfo is one of his former Devils teammates, Jamie Langenbrunner. Langenbrunner played parts of 18 seasons in the NHL and won two Stanley Cups before retiring in January 2014.
In addition to those moves, Jeremy Rogalski has transitioned from video analyst to hockey operations assistant. The Bruins have also hired Dennis Bonvie as a professional scout, Alain Bissonnette as an amateur scout, Erkki Rajamaki as an amateur scout, Andrew Shaw as an amateur scout, Bob Wetick as an amateur scout, J.P. Buckley as video coordinator and Julie Nicoletti as a sports nutritionist.
|09.10.15 at 3:26 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson is the only player coming to Bruins camp on a professional tryout, for now.
“As of today, yeah,” Sweeney said when asked if Gustavsson was the only veteran invited to next week’s training camp. “It may change. I’ve talked to different players and representatives over the last couple of weeks. We have a healthy number of guys coming in, so that dictates it just a little bit. There could be injuries and such or there could be non-graduation, as we call it, from rookie camp to main camp that may affect that. I’ve been in touch with several players.”
Gustavsson gives the camp a veteran goaltender with NHL experience as the Bruins determine who will back up Tuukka Rask this season. Options under contract consist of Jeremy Smith and Malcolm Subban, both of whom played in Providence last season, as well as 2015 Hobey Baker finalist Zane McIntyre. Subban is the only one of the aforementioned three goaltenders to play in an NHL game, but he was pulled from his only contest after allowing three goals on six shots.
Still, Gustavsson is hardly a sure-fire upgrade from Boston’s inexperienced goalies. Gustavsson has the NHL work under his belt, but it isn’t overly impressive. He had a .911 save percentage in seven games for Detroit last season and a .907 mark in 27 games the season before that.
Other players that remain unsigned include forwards Erik Cole and Lee Stempniak, while blueliner Marek Zidlicky is the biggest name remaining on defense following the signings of Cody Franson (Sabres) and David Schlemko (Devils).
Last season, the Bruins had Simon Gagne and Ville Leino in camp on a tryout basis. Leino was released from camp, while Gagne signed a one-year deal with the B’s before leaving the team due to his father’s death.
|09.10.15 at 2:48 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins rookie camp got off to an interesting start, as all three of the team’s first-round picks from June’s draft failed the team’s conditioning test.
Part of the test consists of running 300 meters in less than a minute three times with three minutes of rest in between each sprint. Jake DeBrusk failed that portion, while it’s unknown how Jakub Zboril and Zachary Senyshyn fell short.
“To me, it’s a test you can train for, and that’s probably the most indicative thing,” general manager Don Sweeney said of the test. “If you put in the work in that situation, you may not be the best runner, the most graceful person, but if you put the work in, you should be able to come out the other side with positive results. We’ll have some guys who will have some supplemental work because of that.”
Senyshyn, who proved himself to be in impressive shape last year by jumping out of a pool, said failing was “pretty eye-opening.”
“I’m pretty determined for next time, kind of knowing what to expect, that I’ll be able to pass it next time, for sure,” the right wing said.
DeBrusk noted that he ran the first two sprints in under a minute, but went over in the third. Fortunately for the players, running isn’t part of hockey.
Sweeney said that all players that ran Thursday will be going to Buffalo for this weekend’s rookie tournament.
|09.10.15 at 9:58 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The most logical solution to the Bruins’ top-four woes is officially off the table, as free-agent defenseman Cody Franson finally signed a contract on Thursday with the Sabres. The team announced the deal, which is for two years and approximately $3.3 million per season, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
While that news is frustrating for Bruins fans, it might be music to Torey Krug’s ears. The veteran defenseman said earlier in the offseason that, with the Bruins talking to Franson, he would like a crack at the minutes the team might give to a free agent. Now that Franson is in Buffalo, Krug’s chances of playing above the third pair are looking better.
“Like I said, whether it was a month ago, or even dating up to camp, if there’s a spot open, I’m going to take it,” Krug said on Thursday. “It still goes that it’s the coaching staff’s decision, management, but I’m going to go out there and play the way that I do and look to improve my role within the team.”
Krug, who averaged a career-high 19:36 per night last season, is entering his third NHL season. He’s been mostly a third-pairing defenseman, though he saw increased time in the top-four at points last season due to injuries on Boston’s blue line.
The 24-year-old took a one-year deal with the B’s for this season in hopes to parlay it into a richer longterm deal. To do that, he needs to establish himself as more than a third-pairing defender and power play specialist.
With Dougie Hamilton gone and the B’s overflowing with players best-suited for the third pairing, Krug intends to emerge as a more reliable blueliner this season. He said he didn’t keep tabs on Franson’s status when the B’s were in contract talks with the former Maple Leafs defender, but that he was intent on achieving his goal regardless of who was brought in.
“I prepared for the season the same way I would whether they bring in five other guys or they don’t bring in anyone,” Krug said. “The way you prepare is make sure you’re reaching your potential each season. For me, that was about taking a step forward. I think I’m physically ready. Now it’s about getting in game shape and getting on the ice with your new teammates and getting chemistry and things like that. The preparation is generally the same.”