|09.07.14 at 9:33 am ET|
Being NHL-ready and stuck in the AHL because of organizational depth is tough, but sometimes there’s a solution.
If it were another player, it would be logical to thank the organization for the chance and respectfully ask the team to explore trade options, but it’s more complicated than that with David Warsofsky.
The chances of him cracking Boston’s lineup as long as Torey Krug is around and healthy are remote, but the Marshfield native grew up a Bruins fan and has family here, so the idea of parting with the organization isn’t as appetizing.
“I’ve got a big family around here, and everybody loves coming to the games, so that’s obviously easy for them,” Warsofsky said this week as he attended each of the Bruins’ semi-formal practices at Ristuccia Arena. “At the end of the day, it is a business, so I think wherever hockey takes me, that’s where it is. Right now it’s Boston, so I’m pretty happy with that.”
Warsofsky, who played at Cushing Academy before heading to Boston University for three years, has spent three seasons (parts of four) in Providence since being acquired from the Blues in 2010 for Vladimir Sobotka. In Providence, he’s played his game — that of an undersized puck-moving defenseman – and last season put up 32 points in 56 regular-season games and added nine more in 12 postseason games.
He also held his own in six games last season for Boston, contributing offensively by scoring his first NHL goal in his fourth game on Dec. 28 against Ottawa and assisting on a Chris Kelly goal against the Senators on Feb. 8.
“Obviously to get a couple games in and get that confidence that you can play at that level is obviously good,” he said. “In my head I obviously thought I could play at that level, but the reassurance of coming up here and playing well definitely helped a lot too.”
This offseason, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said he considers Warsofsky to be in the group of nine NHL defensemen he feels the Bruins possess. He’s probably right, but as long as Torey Krug is in town and healthy, none of us can be sure.
Both players possess similar size (Krug is listed at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, Warsofsky is listed as being the same height and 10 pounds lighter). They’re both strong skaters and power play assets. Warsofsky, at 24 years of age, is less than a year older than Krug.
With all the defensemen the Bruins have, there isn’t room for that redundancy. Krug has spent the majority of his Bruins career as the team’s No. 5/6 defenseman in addition to his power play responsibilities. Warsofsky isn’t going to leapfrog him.
“It is a tough situation with all the defensemen they have here, and obviously Torey and me play a similar type of game,” Warsofsky said. “I’m just focusing on myself right now, [which] is all I can really do; control what I can control and I’ll see what happens [in training camp].”
So again, a player in Warsofsky’s position might look for opportunities elsewhere, much like how the Bruins have looked at trade options to give Jordan Caron an opportunity to be in an NHL lineup every night. As a restricted free agent this summer, Warsofsky could have tried to leverage his way to another team, but instead happily signed a one-year, two-way deal to stay with the B’s.
“Obviously I wanted to come back to the Bruins,” he said. “This is my hometown and I want to play for the Bruins for a long time.”
Whether that happens remains to be seen. The Bruins need to make some sort of trade in order to free up space if they want to give Krug and Reilly Smith, both unsigned entry level free agents, respectable contracts. Trading Warsofsky wouldn’t solve any of the team’s cap woes, but including him in a trade would both yield a better return and finally give Warsofsky the opportunity he seems to deserve.
|09.05.14 at 12:15 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli announced Friday that the Bruins have signed forward Matt Fraser to a one-year, two-way deal. Fraser was at Friday’s semi-formal practice, making his first appearance.
Chiarelli also revealed that the bruins have invited Ville Leino to training camp on a tryout. The 30-year-old forward is coming off an unproductive three-season stint in Buffalo in which he totaled 46 points over 136 regular season games. His most productive season game in 2010-11, when he scored 19 goals and added 34 assists for 53 points for the Flyers. He is a native of Savonlinna, Finland, which is also the hometown of Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask.
Leino will join Simon Gagne as veteran wingers in Boston’s camp on a tryout.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|09.04.14 at 11:44 pm ET|
Justin Florek did not spend the offseason teaching himself to shoot right-handed. Other than that shortcoming, he feels he has done his best to position himself for a spot in Boston this season.
Florek, the Bruins’ fifth-round pick in the 2010 draft, got into four regular-season and six postseason games for the Bruins as he got his first taste of the NHL. It was almost immediately apparent when he got into the lineup during Shawn Thornton‘s suspension that the then-23-year-old was capable of handling fourth-line minutes in the NHL, but as he enters the upcoming training camp, he does as just one name on a list of players competing for a place with the B’s.
“It’s going to be a tough battle,” Florek said Thursday. “It’s going to be a great camp, and I think the compete level is going to be the highest that I’ve ever seen. It’s going to be a lot of fun; it’s going to be a good challenge, and all the guys that are fighting for that spot are really going to have to fight for it. It’s going to be good.”
Once Reilly Smith signs, the Bruins’ top two lines will be set in stone, but there are questions from there regarding who will play on the third line with Carl Soderberg (and presumably Chris Kelly), and which players will make up the fourth line.
The most glaring opening on Boston’s roster is on the third-line right wing, but there’s also an open competition for other bottom-six spots, including the fourth-line center position. Possibilities include Gregory Campbell being moved to wing and Daniel Paille being moved to the third line.
Amidst all the uncertainty, Florek just knows he wants to be in Boston. His chances might be better if he were a right shot. David Pastrnak and Seth Griffifth are right shots, but the Bruins’ young wingers with more experience, such as Florek, Jordan Caron and Matt Fraser, are left shots.
|09.04.14 at 1:11 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins and other NHL players contributed their semi-formal practices Thursday at Ristuccia Arena. Milan Lucic skated on his own for the second straight day, and he joined the other skaters for the first 15 minutes of the session before leaving the ice.
Lucic, who is recovering from wrist surgery, was sporting a new look. The 26-year-old, who has long worn a helmet without a visor, was wearing a visor on Thursday.
New look for Lucic. Rocking the visor. pic.twitter.com/pRNZnXorDA
— DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) September 4, 2014
Not present among players previously in attendance were Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Loui Eriksson and Daniel Paille. Bergeron, Eriksson and Paille were all scheduled to be at a Ray Bourque‘s golf tournament. Shawn Thornton, who skated with the group Tuesday and Wednesday, was not present, though Devils goaltender Cory Schneider took his place as non-Bruins skating with the team.
|09.03.14 at 6:20 pm ET|
According to a league source, the Bruins and David Krejci have agreed to a six-year, $43.5 million contract.
Krejci, 28, will carry a $7.25 million cap hit throughout the duration of the deal, which begins in the 2015-16 season. His salary breakdown will be $7.25 million for the first two years of the deal, $7.5 million for the next two and $7 million for the final two.
The contract will make Krejci the highest-paid player on the team cap-figure-wise when the pact begins in the 2015-16 season. Sitting behind him are Tuukka Rask ($7 million cap hit), Zdeno Chara ($6.916 million) and Patrice Bergeron ($6.5 million)
Krejci is entering the final year of a three-year, $15.75 million contract that he signed in December of 2011. His last contract was signed during a contract year before what would have been restricted free agency. In getting this contract wrapped up now, Krejci joins the likes of Chara and Bergeron (twice) as key unrestricted-free-agents-to-be that Chiarelli got signed before their contract years.
Though he struggled in the postseason with just four assists and no goals over 12 games, Krejci is coming off his second-best regular season. The first-line center scored 19 goals and added 50 helpers for a team-leading 69 points. He also led the league with a plus-39 rating.
Krejci has historically been a very productive postseason player, as he led the playoffs in points with 26 in 2013, while his 23 points in the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup championship run were also tops in the league.
As was the case with Bergeron when he signed an eight-year, $52 million extension last summer, the numbers, while certainly high, suggest Krejci left some money on the table. With another productive season and the salary cap continuing to rise, Krejci likely could have sought and received more money than he got from the B’s. In staying in Boston, he is under contract until he is 35 with the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2004 draft.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|09.03.14 at 3:51 pm ET|
WILMINGTON – Earlier in Adam McQuaid’s NHL career, the book on him fairly apparent: He was a tough-as-nails right shot defensemen whose responsible style made him a good fit on a third pairing, but he couldn’t be counted on for 82 games. That, and he could fight like a maniac.
McQuaid suffered smaller injuries here and there as he missed two playoff games in Boston’s 2011 Cup run, 10 games in 2011-12 (and then all seven playoff games with a concussion), then missed 16 games in the lockout-shortened 2013 season.
Last season, however, was a different animal. A quad injury hindered him through multiple attempts to return to the lineup, and when all was said and done McQuaid got into only 30 games, the last of which was Jan. 19. When it became clear that the quad had ended his season, the decision was made for him to get ankle surgery to heal another issue that had been bothering him.
Now, with the Bruins and other local skaters taking the ice in preparation for the season, McQuaid is at full health and trying to find his feet again. The biggest physical hurdle remaining for him is conditioning, as it’s tough to be in optimal game shape when you’ve been off the ice for seven-plus months.
“Just getting strength and endurance,” McQuaid said of where he stands in his comeback. “It’s been a bit of a layoff, so getting back into situations, making plays and reading plays and understanding your position on the ice, which probably everyone will have a bit of an adjustment but it’ll be a little more for me. So just need to make those areas that I focus on.”
Injuries aside, McQuaid’s biggest problem might be that he is returning to a Bruins defensive picture that is much different than the one that he left. When McQuaid initially suffered his injury on Nov. 13, he was locked in as Boston’s third-pairing right defenseman, playing regular minutes alongside Torey Krug.
When he went out, Matt Bartkowski got more NHL experience, while Kevan Miller emerged in McQuaid’s spot on the third pair. Now, the 27-year-old McQuaid is just one of nine NHL blue liners trying to get on the ice for the B’s.
“I guess it’s a good situation to have for the team,” McQuaid said. “Luckily, we’ve put ourselves in this position as an organization. I think everyone, just same old saying: control what you can control. I want to come out and give out my best effort. Hopefully that’s enough. We’ll see how things go. Just focus on your job and the other decisions will be left to the people that make those decisions.”
When Miller initially established himself and then signed a team-friendly two-year contract with an annual cap hit of just $800,000, it looked like McQuaid could become expendable. Trading McQuaid now would be unwise for the Bruins, however, as the more logical move would be to let McQuaid re-establish himself with an extended stretch of healthy playing time and then re-assess where the team’s back end stands.
“You just focus on your job and at the end of the day, you don’t make those decisions,” McQuaid said. “Other people do. You try to put yourself in the best position to succeed and that’s really all you can do.”
|09.03.14 at 12:58 pm ET|
WILMINGTON – Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara were the two notable additions to the group at Wednesday’s semi-formal (called informal, but super-organized) practice at Ristuccia Arena. Lucic, who is coming off wrist surgery, skated by himself beforehand and did not join the others, while Chara took part in the full skate.
After the session, both Adam McQuaid and Chris Kelly briefed the media on their respective injury situations. McQuaid, who is coming off ankle surgery and a quad injury, is at full health but is a bit behind on his conditioning. He hopes to be in playing shape during training camp.
Kelly, meanwhile, was instructed to not do any sort of exercise for six weeks following surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back. Since then, he has been working out and skating plenty. Kelly said he now feels no limitations.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
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