|06.24.10 at 4:08 pm ET|
All indications out of California say that Bill Zito, the agent for Tim Thomas, has been cleared to talk shop with other teams regarding a new home for the goaltender. The story was first reported by TSN and it makes all the sense in the world, given the Bruins’ tight salary cap situation and Thomas’ $5 million cap hit for the next three seasons.
It is unknown which teams may be in on Thomas, though the Lightning have been rumored to be one of them. A source told WEEI.com earlier this week that the Flyers were not among those interested. Thomas’ no-trade clause doesn’t figure to be an issue in a potential deal, as the ’08-’09 Vezina winner’s ultimate goal is to start, which he wouldn’t do in Boston due to Tuukka Rask‘s stranglehold on the job.
|06.24.10 at 12:49 pm ET|
The Bruins and would-have-been unrestricted free agent defenseman Johnny Boychuk have agreed to a new deal to keep the defenseman in Boston. Multiple outlets have reported it’s a two-year deal worth around $3.75 million. The deal was first reported by the New England Hockey Journal.
Boychuk had a breakout year for the Bruins last year, chipping in 15 points. He highlighted the campaign with strong play in the postseason. He was on the ice for just over 26 minutes per game, trailing only Zdeno Chara, and blocking 39 shots in 13 games. He added six points.
‘He made great strides this year,’ Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said in Marina Del Ray, Calif., where the NHL draft will take place on Friday. ‘He was patient before he got into the lineup, he learned our system, he’s got a dimensional shot, he competes, he’s got size, but the biggest thing that I saw was that he improved from being the defenseman of the year in the [AHL] to being maybe our seventh [defenseman] to start [while] patiently waiting to learn along the way. We have a very good defensive system and Johnny has picked it up and showed improvement while he is in the lineup. He’s a good kid and he’s still young.’
Boychuk didn’t have much of a desire to test free agency, he told reporters in a conference call. Though the ride from forward, to defenseman, to the NHL, to being a healthy scratch, to playing, to being on the top pairing in the playoffs was a bit hectic, returning to Boston was his priority.
“I was thinking about maybe going to free agency and seeingwhat was out there, but when I looked around the league, I knew what kind of position I’d be in,” Boychuk said. “Just to come back to Boston to a great coaching staff that we have there and I know a lot of the guys.
“It made it a lot easier decision knowing that we would have all these people back in boston, so that was the main factor that tipped the scale for me.”
“When they moved Dennis, obviously it maybe makes an opening for me to maybe jump into the top four and play little more minutes than being a five or six guy,” Wideman said. “When they moved him, it kind of just maybe sent a message to me saying ‘You’d better be ready to be a top four guy.’ And even if I’m not, I want to play like I am.”
Boychuk’s new deal, which carries a $1.87 million cap hit in each of the next two seasons, leaves the Bruins with $5,723,690 in cap space. Notable contracts still to be tacked on include Taylor Hall/Tyler Seguin (anticipated $3.75 million), and Mark Recchi, should he return.
Graig Woodburn contributed to this report from Marina Del Ray, Calif.
|06.24.10 at 6:41 am ET|
Craig Ramsay, who was an assistant coach for the Bruins the past three seasons, will be named head coach of the Thrashers, according to ESPN.com. Ramsay, who spent his entire 14-year NHL playing career with the Sabres, also has served as an assistant coach for the Sabres, Panthers, Senators, Flyers and Lightning. He had brief stints as head coach of the Sabres (21 games in 1986-87) and Flyers (25 games in 1999-2000 and 28 games in 2000-01).
|06.23.10 at 5:48 pm ET|
The Blackhawks made a big step towards fixing the disaster that is their salary cap situations on Wednesday. According to reports from ESPN and TSN, the Stanley Cup champions shipped winger Dustin Byfuglien (he of a $3 million cap hit), defenseman Brent Sopel ($2.3 million), restricted free agent Ben Eager, and prospect Akim Aliu to the Thrashers for the 24th overall pick (which they acquired from the Panthers in the Ilya Kovalchuk deal) and forwards Marty Reasoner and Jeremy Morin.
The Blackhawks had entered the day with just $1.8 million in cap space according to CapGeek.com. The salary cap for the ’10-’11 season will be $59.4 million after the NHLPA exercised a five percent inflator clause on Tuesday. The deal was announced by both teams early Thursday morning.
|06.23.10 at 5:16 pm ET|
Courtesy of Oilers_Travels and retweeted by the Oilers, here are a couple of pictures of top NHL prospects Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin taking batting practice at Angel Stadium. The two are in town for the NHL draft on Friday night.
|06.23.10 at 3:31 pm ET|
It was a foregone conclusion that this week was going to be gigantic for the Bruins in some way, shape, or form, and with two days to go until the NHL draft, Peter Chiarelli and co. got a head start on making headlines by flipping the 15th overall pick and defenseman Dennis Wideman to the Florida Panthers in exchange for right winger Nathan Horton and center Gregory Campbell.
As the draft grows nearer and the Bruins come closer to finally making the second overall selection after months of buildup, the team that finished the regular season last in the NHL goals suddenly appears to be in very good shape to have a notably upgraded scoring force. From how Chiarelli spoke, that may start with Horton.
“He’s tremendous shooter, Nathan. He’s a big body, he can skate, he can play physical. There’s a lot of things to like about him, and we’re going to be getting a highly skilled forward with the No. 2 pick with some speed.
“We thing at the end of the day, if we do nothing else to our forwards, we’re adding an established big power-forward shooter and a real speedy young legs skill guy. We’re happy with that.”
On the subject of the embattled Wideman, Chiarelli called the team’s playoff points leader last year a “key part of our defense that we had to give up.” In making the trade, however, the Bruins were able to shake things up offensively without disturbing the core of the team.
“It wasn’t about changing the culture,” Chiarelli said. “It was just about changing the makeup of the team after the ups and downs. I am relatively happy with the room and the personalities in it. It was more of the makeups, [or] semantics maybe.”
Even with Wideman gone and the shot at Cam Fowler seemingly out the window, Chiarelli said adding another defenseman was “not a pressing urgency” and that though the team likes puck-moving defensemen, whichever defender(s) may be added won’t necessarily fit that mold.
“If we do add something, it may not be purely what you’d characterize as a ‘puck mover,'” Chiarelli said.
Chiarelli once again reiterated that if a deal does happen with Edmonton in order to secure whomever the Bruins prefer between Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin (they do hold one in slightly higher regard), the actual picks are unlikely to be swapped, and the Oilers would simply take the other player first overall.
Should they stay put, they won’t face the pressure that is on the Oilers to take the right guy. Hall and Seguin have been hyped as equally elite superstars in the making. So would the Bruins dare invest heavily into what would ultimately be a very difficult choice between the two players?
“If you make an informed decision, I think ‘risk’ is a better word than ‘courage,'” Chiarelli said. “We put that into our equation. It may be that the price that I have to pay to do that is unattainable. I can’t meet it. I’m not at that point yet.
“These are things that we look at. We look at the risk involved, we look at the fit, we look at the kids, we brought both kids in. There’s a lot involved in making this decision.”
The only real news that came in the conference call involved the team’s free agents. Regarding restricted free agents, Chiarelli said he will give a qualifying offer to Campbell. The Bruins blog reported last week that Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler had also received offers.
As for unrestricted free agents, Chiarelli said he has kept in contact with the agents for Mark Recchi and Johnny Boychuk but that he had nothing to report. The team has also told Steve Begin that they won’t be able to potentially negotiate with him until after free agency opens, as the team is “looking at other options.” Chiarelli has not yet spoken to anyone from Miroslav Satan.
|06.23.10 at 10:35 am ET|
Bruin fans will be hard pressed to forget the questionable, blindsided hit Matt Cooke delivered on Marc Savard on March 6. Replays confirm the maliciousness of the blow, although Cooke was never penalized on the ice and received no fine from the league office. The hit knocked out Savard until the Flyers series in May.
Known for being a pest on the ice, Cooke re-signed with the Penguins Wednesday, a reported three-year, $5.4 million contract. One of the Penguins’ top penalty-killers, he had 15 goals and 15 assists last season, to go along with a plus-17 and 183 hits. Cooke, who also has played for Vancouver and Washington, could have become a free agent July 1.