Archive for July, 2010

Wheeler hearing done

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

After last night’s last-ditch effort to avoid arbitration fell through between Blake Wheeler‘s camp and the Bruins, the two sides followed through with their scheduled hearing Tuesday morning. Each side had 90 minutes to present its case, and a decision will come down within 48 hours of the meeting’s conclusion.

“I think it was handled very professionally by both sides,” Matt Keator, Wheeler’s agent, told the Boston Globe following the hearing. “Our interpretation of the marketplace is different from theirs, hence the disagreement. I think both sides handled it well, keeping it professionally. They pointed out Blake’s shortcomings. We pointed out Blake’s strengths. But Blake already knew his shortcomings. He knows what he needs to work on. There were no hurt feelings in what was said. It was not contentious at all.”

Wheeler earned $2.8 million last season, his second with the Bruins.

Report: Arbitration will be for 1-year deal

Monday, July 26th, 2010

According to Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe, the Bruins have chosen for tomorrow’s arbitration hearing with right winger Blake Wheeler to yield a one-year award, meaning whichever salary the arbiter deems deserved will be for a one-year deal rather than two years.

Because the player filed for arbitration, the Bruins got to choose whether the contract would be for one or two years, per the rules of the collective bargaining agreement. It should come as little surprise that the Bruins would elect just one season for Wheeler, as he remains a promising player but statistically had a down year last season in comparison to his ’08-’09 totals of 21 goals and 24 assists for 45 points. Should the Bruins choose to retain Wheeler they could use the upcoming season to gauge whether or not he should be in the team’s long-term plans. In such a scenario he would become a restricted free agent after the season.

Agent Matt Keator is currently in Toronto for the hearing and Wheeler was expected to arrive sometime on Monday.

Season tickets sold out

Monday, July 26th, 2010

The Bruins announced via press release Monday that full season ticket packages for the 2010-2011 season are now sold out, an encouraging sign late in an offseason that has been very busy for the Bruins.

Though full packages throughout the loge and balcony are no longer available, some packages remain an option for interested fans. Half-season (21 games), 10-game, and five-game plans in addition to Premium Club memberships remain available.

Tyler Seguin and Nathan Horton have likely been selling points for fans, as they look to improve what was the worst offense in the NHL. The defensive core has largely been kept in tact, with Dennis Wideman shipped to Florida in exchange for Horton. Both Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask remain on the roster, rounding out a team that on paper has seen only upgrades over the summer.

Wheeler camp in Toronto, arbitration nearing certainty

Monday, July 26th, 2010

A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to WEEI.com Monday that Matt Keator, the agent for Bruins right wing Blake Wheeler, is already in Toronto in preparation for his client’s arbitration hearing with the team Tuesday. The source added that Wheeler will be flying in sometime Monday.

Wheeler earned $2.8 million last season with the Bruins. Following a hearing, the arbiter will award Wheeler a certain number that the Bruins can either agree to or walk away from. If the team walks away, Wheeler will be a free agent capable of signing with any team.

Should the sides head to arbitration, as is heavily expected at this point, it will be the first such occurrence since 2006, when the Bruins declined David Tanabe‘s $1.275 million award.

Wheeler, who has missed just one game in his two-year career, scored 18 goals and chipped in 20 assists for 38 points last season. His sophomore stats remain overshadowed by his rookie performance of 21-24-45 totals in ’08-’09. The Boston Globe was the first to report Keator’s whereabouts.

Krejci on the wrist, the wing, and the rumors

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

In this offseason, just about anybody on the Bruins could speak to media members and have their hands full. After all, with big names added, bigger expectations for the upcoming season, and enormous questions about the roster, a Q and A could go on for hours if both sides have the time. Make that player a young star recovering from a playoff-ending injury and it’s no different.

Center David Krejci took some time to speak with reporters after signing autographs for youngsters at the first Bruins summer camp on Friday. He first fielded questions from kids who took part in the camp. After handling such toughies as, “What position do you play?” and, “Who broke your wrist?” Krejci put aside the youngster’s mispronunciation of Prague (“Praig” was a good one) and touched on his offseason, the state of the Bruins, and his excitement to be 100 percent again.

Krejci will have his final procedure for what is hopefully a long time next Friday when he has the screws removed from his right wrist, which was broken by Mike Richards in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers. Though the first surgery on the wrist happened under unfortunate and unusual circumstances, Krejci is far less concerned with this one.

“They’re not even going to put me to sleep, they’re just going to make little holes in each side and just take the screws out and that’s how it is,” Krejci said.

The 24-year-old actually spoke rather highly of getting the screws removed, as their absence will leave just his large scar as the only evidence of the injury that shook the Bruins’ postseason.

“I can’t wait for [the surgery], because after it, a week or two after it, I’ll go on the ice and I’ll be able to start lifting heavy weights and I’m really excited for it,” Krejci said. “It’s been a long time and I can’t wait to go out there and get back on the ice and just back in the games and everything.”

While Krejci’s wrist has been a popular topic in the offseason, perhaps nothing in the last week or so has grabbed more attention more than the status of right wing and Krejci’s good friend Blake Wheeler. The two-year veteran filed earlier this month for arbitration, and by the looks of things, that’s where the process is headed.

Agent Matt Keator, who represents Wheeler and defensemen Mark Stuart and Zdeno Chara, told WEEI.com Friday that the only update on the situation is that the “tickets for Toronto [the site of his Tuesday arbitration hearing] are booked.” The two sides have not made progress in trying to avoid arbitration. Wheeler is currently on his honeymoon and therefore might not be hung up on his contractual status, but a question regarding whether Krejci and Wheeler have kept in touch yielded an interesting answer.

“We’re pretty good friends, and yeah, we talk once in a while. I just went to visit [him] a couple weeks ago. I went to his place in Minnesota, but I’m not going to say anything,” Krejci said. “We’re friends and whatever we talk [about], it’s just between me and him.”

While something is bound to happen with Wheeler, whether he be re-signed prior to Tuesday, granted or declined what the arbiter awards him. The same can’t be said for center Marc Savard, who has been the centerpiece of the rumor mill around Boston. With Tyler Seguin in tow, the Bruins have a surplus of high-level center icemen but not enough money to sign all 22 men for their roster (Seguin and Wheeler remain without contracts. What does Krejci make of the talk that’s out there?

“I have actually no idea. I have no idea, that’s all I can tell you,” Krejci said of Savard. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know that he’s getting traded or whatever [rumors] say. I have no idea. He’s with us right now and that’s how it is.

“You want to see the best players, the good players, the good guys in the dressing room,” he added. “We want them to be back, and he belongs to one of these categories and you want him back.”

The one thing Krejci does seem to have the utmost confidence in is his return to the ice. Though he has yet to skate this offseason, he noted that he doesn’t skate during the offseason anyway. After his surgery he will head home to the Czech Republic for about a month and hit the ice as he gears up for training camp on September 17.

“I’ll go on the ice mid-August and my wrist might be a little weaker at the beginning of the camp, but we still have like two and a half months before the season starts, so I’ll be definitely 100 percent for the first game,” Krejci said.

This offseason has seen a lot go right for the Bruins, be it the offensive additions or the buildup to Prague. With Marco Sturm‘s knee expected to keep him out for a good portion of the season, health remains a factor that shouldn’t be overlooked. With Krejci back and ready to go, the team maintains offensive stability that came and went last season. Krejci just hopes the Bruins make it back to the big stage that is the NHL playoffs and have a better result this time.

“We had not many people [believing] in us [last season], but we kind of [snuck] in to the playoffs and I think we were playing great hockey. Whatever happened happened and, you know, these things happen,” Krejci said. “We’ve just got to learn from these mistakes and hopefully it’s going to get us stronger and next time we’ll be in that position where we’ll know what to do.”

Roenick, Hatcher headline US Hockey HOF class

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Thayer Academy alum and Boston native Jeremy Roenick will be inducted into the the US Hockey Hall of Fame on October 21, USA Hockey announced Thursday afternoon. He joins former coach/executive Lester Berglund, defensmen and brothers Derian and Kevin Hatcher, and Dr. V. George Nagobads.

The eighth overall pick in the 1988 NHL draft, Roenick and the Blackhawks made it to the Western Conference finals in his rookie year and in 1992 reached the Stanley Cup finals but were swept by the Penguins. Roenick never won a Stanley Cup in his 20-year career that also saw stops in Phoenix, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and San Jose.

Roenick had 513 goals and 703 assists in 1,363 games for 1,213 points. The outspoken center was a nine-time All-Star.

The younger brother of Kevin, Derian Hatcher was selected in the same draft slot at Roenick but two years later, going eighth overall to the Minnesota North Stars in 1990. Hatcher played two seasons in Minnesota and 10 more with the Stars following the franchise’s relocation to Dallas. As captain of the Stars, he led the team past the Sabres in the Stanley Cup finals in 1999.

When Hatcher’s contract expired in 2003, he the Michigan native took a five-year deal with the Red Wings, but was bought out after just one season. He played his final three seasons with the Flyers. In 1,045 games, Hatcher totaled 331 points and 1,581 penalty minutes.

A look at where the Bruins’ cap woes rank

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

With all apologies to Tyler Seguin, Nathan Horton, and Cam Neely, the salary cap just may be the single topic that has dominated Bruins offseason discussion more so than anything else. This, of course, in an offseason that featured a team that came within a game of the Eastern Conference finals adding a wunderkind center, a high-scoring winger, and naming one of the franchise’s most popular players president.

But back to the cap. After all, fans will panic over the roster as long as the team doesn’t have sufficient room to sign forwards Seguin and Blake Wheeler. According to CapGeek.com (once again, if you don’t have it bookmarked you are not using a computer correctly), the Bruins (should defenseman Adam McQuaid play in Boston next year) have $12,229 in cap space with deals for Wheeler (whose arbitration date is set for July 27 and hasn’t made headway with the Bruins on a new deal) and Seguin (who will get a base salary of $900,000) still without contracts.

In most cases, when a rumor arises regarding Tim Thomas ($5 million cap hit in each of the next three seasons) or Marc Savard ($4.007 million in each of the next seven), the first thing that comes to mind is the Bruins finally having some breathing room as they float higher and higher towards the feared $59.4 million mark.

As we’ve written in this space before, don’t count on the B’s to take Marco Sturm‘s long-term injury status as an excuse to head into the season over the cap. Though they will get relief, general manager Peter Chiarelli has already noted that the team would still have to sort out their cap situation prior to activating the winger anyway. Such a move would be a temporary solution, and though they could potentially showcase their high-priced players in an effort to raise their trade value, it’s just not a safe hand to play.

The Bruins aren’t the only team with such concerns, however. Though their cap situation has gotten considerable attention this offseason, other teams are in just as tight a spot (or worse). Here’s where the Bruins rank among those teams (all cap numbers as of Wednesday morning, courtesy of CapGeek.com).

TEAM                                                CAP SPACE                      PLAYERS ON ROSTER

Calgary Flames                                   $650,000                                              22

BRUINS                                                $12,299                                                 20

Vancouver Canucks                         -$358,333                                               23

Chicago Blackhawks                       -$1,011,590                                            17

New Jersey Devils*                          -$1,801,667                                            20

*Including 17-year contract to Ilya Kovalchuk, which has been rejected by the NHL but could still be agreed to if revised.

Given the fact that the Bruins have 20 players potentially getting NHL salaries (McQauid is on a two-way deal for the first year of his contract), they are close enough to a 22-man roster that their woes could be settled by only unloading one contract and signing Wheeler and Seguin with the money saved. Obviously, training camp will also have a lot to do with it, but numbers-wise, this works.

Whether or not it’s as simple as that remains to be seen. Chiarelli has long come with the reputation of being cap-savvy, so one would think the general manager has something up his sleeve. Either way, the Bruins may be a move away from solving their problems. The same can’t be said for the Blackhawks, who appear to be in the worst shape.

Not only have the defending Stanley Cup champions made multiple deals — sending Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg, and restricted free agent Andrew Ladd packing – in the name of cost-cutting, but they are still more than $1 million over the cap and have only 17 players on their roster. All of this while goaltender Antti Niemmi still doesn’t have a contract.

The Bruins have it bad when it comes to the salary cap, and nobody will forget it until a resolution is reached. They are not alone, however, and they certainly aren’t the worst off.