|07.25.14 at 2:56 pm ET|
Bruins fans should prepare for Loui Eriksson on the first line next season.
Speaking to the media for the first time this summer, Claude Julien reiterated on Thursday’s conference call what’s already been said by Peter Chiarelli this summer: The team is confident that Eriksson is a viable replacement for the departed Jarome Iginla to skate alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic.
“We don’t feel like were in a real tough situation,” Julien said. “We’ve lost Jarome, but as you’ve probably heard, I think Loui Eriksson is a player that can be even better than he was last year. I think we started seeing that at the end of the year, and he could be a replacement for Jarome as a possibility.”
One issue with Eriksson playing on that line that has come up numerous times is the fact that he’s a left shot and that Krejci hasn’t had a left shot on the right wing in recent years, as Iginla, Nathan Horton, Rich Peverley and Tyler Seguin were all righties. Maybe that won’t be a problem for him at all, and maybe there will be some adjustment.
It is worth noting that Eriksson played on that line late in the regular season when the Bruins gave Iginla some time off to get him sharp for the playoffs. Amidst that stretch came Eriksson’s best offensive performance of the season, as he registered four assists (three of which were on goals by Lucic or Krejci) and had a season-high seven shots on goal.
In his time with Dallas, Eriksson was a first-liner, and the expectation when he came to Boston was that he would be the perfect second-line right wing to a team with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Those three never formed chemistry, and the struggles of Marchand and the two concussions for Eriksson meant that trio wouldn’t stick. He returned from his second concussion as a third-liner and teamed wonderfully with Carl Soderberg to provide the Bruins with their strongest third line since the Peverley-Chris Kelly-Michael Ryder days of 2011.
If the roster remains the way it is now, the Bruins should absolutely weaken their third line and put Eriksson on the top line. The roster isn’t going to remain the way it is, however, as the team should trade at least one of what Chiarelli considers to be nine NHL defensemen.
Unless the defenseman traded is Johnny Boychuk, the Bruins probably won’t be getting a sure-fire first-line right wing back. If they trade a lesser commodity like David Warsofsky or Matt Bartkowski, it’s more realistic to expect a third-line candidate in return.
Barring a trade for a first-line right wing, that Krejci line will be different than years past no matter what. Since Krejci became the team’s first-line center in the 2010-11 season, he has had bookend power forwards on his line, with Lucic to his left and Horton or Iginla on his right. Eriksson is far from a power forward, and the Bruins don’t have anyone on their roster who can bring the sandpaper to the right wing the way Horton and Iginla did.
There are pros to having Eriksson there, however. He may not be as tiring to play against as Iginla, but he’s younger, faster and depends well. And it isn’t like he can’t score; last season was the first time in a full season that he hasn’t scored at least 26 goals since 2007-08. He was a 36-goal scorer once upon a time, hitting that mark in the 2008-09 season.
Last offseason, Eriksson’s place in the Bruins’ lineup seemed obvious, but that changed. Perhaps the expectations held now can change as well, but for now it appears that Eriksson is a good bet to be a first-liner.
|07.24.14 at 12:30 pm ET|
The Bruins announced Thursday that they have signed defenseman David Warsofsky to a one-year, two-way contract.
Warsofsky’s contract will pay him $600,000 should he play at the NHL level. He has spent the vast majority of his Bruins career in Providence since being acquired in a trade with the Blues in 2010.
He did play in six games for the B’s last season, serving time on the power play and scoring a goal on Dec. 28 against the Senators.
The Marshfield native and Boston University product is a highly skilled puck-moving blueliner, which presents an organizational redundancy given the presence of Torey Krug on Boston’s back end. General manager Peter Chiarelli has said this offseason that he feels the team has nine NHL defensemen, a group that includes Warsofsky, and that he may trade one or multiple blueliners.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|07.24.14 at 10:52 am ET|
The Bruins on Thursday announced the hire of Medford native Joe Sacco as an assistant coach.
Sacco, who was the head coach of the Avalanche from 2009-13, will replace Geoff Ward, who departed the B’s this offseason for a head coaching job in Germany.
Last season Sacco served as an assistant coach for the Sabres but was let go after the season. As Avalanche head coach, he was a Jack Adams finalist in the 2009-10 season.
Prior to his NHL coaching career, Sacco coached in the AHL as an assistant for the Lowell Lock Monsters and Albany River Rats before serving as the head coach of the Lake Erie Monsters from 2007-09.
Sacco played 738 games in the NHL after being a fourth-round pick of the Maple Leafs in the 1987 draft. He played his college hockey at Boston University and went on to spend 13 seasons in the NHL between the Leafs, Mighty Ducks, Islanders, Capitals and Flyers.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|07.22.14 at 11:02 am ET|
The NHL announced the national television schedule for the 2014-15 season on Tuesday, with the Bruins set to receive plenty of national attention.
The B’s will be featured on 17 nationally televised games, at least least 13 of which will air on NBC Sports Network, beginning with their opener on October 8 against the Flyers at TD Garden.
In addition to the aforementioned 13 NBCSN games, four Bruins games will be treated as flex games, meaning they will be on either NBC or NBCSN. All four of those games are weekend games.
The schedules as they relate to the Bruins are as follows:
NBC Sports Network (all times Eastern)
Wednesday, Oct. 8, vs. Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 15, at Detroit, 8 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 28, vs. Minnesota, 7 p.m. (non-exclusive)
Wednesday, Nov. 12, at Toronto, 8 p.m.
Monday, Nov. 24, vs. Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. (non-exclusive)
Wednesday, Dec. 17, at Minnesota, 8 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 29, vs. Detroit, 7 p.m. (non-exclusive)
Wednesday, Jan. 7, at Pittsburgh, 8 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 4, at New York Rangers, 8 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 8, vs. Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 17, vs. Buffalo, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 2, at Detroit, 7:30 p.m. (non-exclusive)
Wednesday, April 8, at Washington, 8 p.m.
Flex Games on NBC or NBCSN (all times Eastern)
Sunday, Feb. 22, at Chicago, 12:30 p.m./3 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, March 8, vs. Detroit, 12:30 p.m./7:30 p.m. (NBC/NBCSN)
Sunday, March 15, at Washington, 12:30 p.m./7:30 p.m. (NBC/NBCSN)
Saturday, April 11, at Tampa Bay, 3 p.m./7:30 p.m. (non-exclusive, NBC/NBCSN)
|07.18.14 at 2:11 pm ET|
The Bruins announced new contracts for Jordan Caron, Tommy Cross, Craig Cunningham, Tyler Randell, Zach Trotman and Justin Florek on Friday. All but Florek’s deals have been signed.
As was reported Thursday, Caron’s contract is a one-year, one-way deal for $600,000. The rest of the deals are two-way contracts, though Trotman’s contract is two-way in the first year and one-way in the second year. Trotman will make $650,000 in the second year of his deal.
Cross received a one-year, two-way contract worth $600,000 at the NHL level and $72,500 at the AHL level. Cunningham’s contract is a one-year, two-way deal worth $600,000 at the NHL level and $85,000 at the AHL level.
Florek received a one-year, two-way deal worth $600,000 at the NHL level and $90,000 at the AHL level. Randell’s deal is a one-year, two-way contract worth $575,000 at the NHL level and $70,000 at the AHL level.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|07.16.14 at 12:18 pm ET|
According to a league source, the Bruins have signed forward Jordan Caron to a one-year, one-way contract worth $600,000. The signing was first reported by Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports.
Caron, 23, was a restricted free agent after playing last season on a one-year, one-way, $640,000 pact. He served as the team’s 13th forward, skating in 35 regular-season games with a goal and two assists for three points.
The 2009 first-round pick also played seven playoff games, scoring in Game 3 of the first round against the Red Wings.
Though Caron is under contract with the Bruins, the team has been looking at trade options for him in order to find him a team that has more playing time to give him. A defensively sound wing, Caron has not played more than 48 NHL games in a season since turning pro in 2010.
With Caron now under contract, the Bruins have $3.818 million in salary cap space, assuming Marc Savard ($4.027 million cap hit) is placed on long-term injured reserve.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|07.15.14 at 3:51 pm ET|
The Matt Bartkowski story is simple, yet complicated: The Bruins somehow got him in the process of ripping off the Panthers in a trade for Dennis Seidenberg, he was the last cut on the team that won the Stanley Cup and since then he’s developed into a serviceable NHL defenseman.
And nobody ever knows whether he’s in or out, traded or kept.
As Bartkowski’s new one-year, $1.25 million deal was announced by the team Tuesday, those things still aren’t certain. The Bruins believe they have nine NHL defensemen right now. Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Seidenberg, Dougie Hamilton and Johnny Boychuk are locks for the lineup as long as they aren’t moved. From there, it’s Bartkowski, Kevan Miller, Adam McQuaid and David Warsofsky battling for one lineup spot and the extra D spot.
All of those guys can’t be here by the time the season starts. They simply can’t.
Training camp competition is one thing, but having a boatload of NHL-ready defensemen – especially when there are guys getting closer to ready at the AHL level in Zach Trotman and Joe Morrow — is impractical when some of them can be moved to fill other needs in the organization.
The fact that it’s public knowledge that the Bruins tried to trade him two seasons ago for Jarome Iginla makes Bartkowski a logical candidate to be moved in the right deal. Then again, if they move one of their pricier blueliners, Bartkowski is a pretty good bargain to keep for a million and a quarter.
“I think it’s only just a hindrance to worry about where you’re going to end up and all that,” Bartkowski said Tuesday. ‘You just prepare for what you can, and the team you’re on, and if something happens, it happens. It’s out of our hands, so like I said, there’s really no reason for me to worry about it. I just try to focus on my summer workouts and being as ready as I can for next season.”
If Bartkowski stays and the five aforementioned locks are in Boston and healthy, playing time will be tough to come by. Depending on whether lefties Seidenberg or Krug are tried on the right side, there might not be a spot in the lineup for the left-shooting Bartkowski.
That would be a tough blow for Bartkowski for multiple reasons. For one, he played 64 NHL games last season, so a big cutback in playing time would hurt his progression. He’ll also be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, so being an extra defenseman would hardly translate into a pay day.
Of course, things happen. Remember, a season ago, the Bruins were only occasionally rotating him into the lineup before an injury to Seidenberg catapulted him not only into the lineup, but onto the second pairing.
“When I say I expect to play, that’s what I expect out of myself,” Bartkowski said. “It starts from having a good summer and being in shape coming into camp. You have to expect it out of yourself. Otherwise, what’s your motivation? What are you playing for? You want to be able to help the team every way you can, and I think expecting that of yourself to be able to play and be able to play well, night in, night out, is the best thing you can do.”
So many times, Bartkowski has looked destined to be the odd man out. Yet he keeps finding a way to see the ice, making him both a valuable trade chip or a player they might want to keep around.
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