Archive for June, 2011

With five returning, who will be the other Bruins’ defenseman?

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

The Bruins have five of their six defensemen from the Stanley Cup finals under contract through at least next season, with Tomas Kaberle’s spot the only question mark. B’s general manager Peter Chiarelli said Thursday that the team will let Kaberle test the waters, and that if he signs elsewhere, they’ll find a replacement. That means whoever the B’s have back there next year needs to be at least somewhat offensively minded. After the power play woes of the playoffs, that’s only logical.

So who might be that last (not necessarily the sixth) defenseman be? Here are some options:

TOMAS KABERLE (free agent, Bruins)

Age: 33

2010-11 team: Maple Leafs/Bruins

2010-11 stats: 82 GP, 4 G, 43 A, 47 P, +4 (regular season)

25 GP, 0 G, 11 A, 11 P, +8 (playoffs)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 214 pounds

Pros: Outstanding passer

Cons: Poor skater, turnover-prone

The skinny: The sound of a full Garden screaming “SHOOT!” might keep Kaberle awake at night, and though there were plenty of roadbumps on the way to him becoming the solid player he was in the Cup finals, more time in Boston might make him better. Perhaps the reason he looked more like himself later in the postseason was because he was getting comfortable, but the minutes Claude Julien gave him in the playoffs suggest he won’t be worth the payday he seeks. If the B’s can get him for $3 million or less, maybe they’ll take a flier. Any more than that just isn’t sensible.

STEVEN KAMPFER (Bruins, signed through 2013)

Age: 22

2010-11 team: Bruins

2010-11 stats: 38 GP, 5 G, 5 A, 10 P, +9 (with Boston)

22 GP, 3 G, 16 A, 16 P, +10 (with Providence)

Height/weight: 5-foot-10, 188 pounds

Pros: Good skater, right-handed shot

Cons: Faded/lost spot down the stretch

The skinny: Kampfer needed very little time to settle into the NHL, and though his partner (some guy named Chara) had plenty to do with that, he showed he is capable of contributing at this level. He had as costly a 13-minute span as anyone could back on March 17, and his misplay and a penalty not only cost the Bruins the game in Nashville, but it cost Kampfer his spot in the lineup. He injured his knee while playing in the AHL late in the season, but was good enough to play again midway through the Eastern Conference finals. He did not play a game in the postseason.

If it ends up being an in-house promotion, the B’s will also give Matt Bartkowski a good look.

JAMES WISNIEWSKI (UPDATE: signed six-year, $33 million deal with Blue Jackets)

Age: 27

2010-11 team: Islanders/Canadiens

2010-11 stats: 75 GP, 10 G, 41 A, 51 P, -14  (regular season)

6 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 P, -2 (playoffs)

Height/weight: 5-foot-11, 208 pounds

Pros: Hard-nosed, crafty with the puck

Cons: Had career year in contract year, price may be high

The skinny: The Michigan native could become fast friends with Kampfer and Tim Thomas (both from Michigan), and given his tendency to get under the skin of opponents, he and Brad Marchand would probably go from being enemies to pals pretty quickly. The Red Wings have only three defensemen under contract for next season, so the idea of bringing the local boy to Detroit makes that a logical potential destination for Wisniewski. If the Red Wings are in on the 27-year-old, they won’t be alone. Wisniewski has only had one season with more than 30 points, and it was his contract year. He’ll be paid well, so the price could be too steep for the Bruins’ liking.

CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF (UPDATE: SIGNED 10-YEAR, $40 M contract with Sabres)

Age: 28

2010-11 team: Canucks

2010-11 stats: 79 GP, 14 G, 36 A, 50 P, +19 (regular season)
23 GP, 2 G, 10 A, 12 P, -13 (playoffs)

Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 200 pounds

Pros: Durable (77+ games each of last five seasons), strong on power play

Cons: Too much money, this video

The skinny: Ehroff suffered a shoulder injury against his old team in the Western Conference finals, explaining why he was less than impressive vs. the Bruins. The shoulder will not require surgery.

The German media would go nutbars at the prospect of Dennis Seidenberg, one of only two German Stanley Cup champions, to be teamed with Ehrhoff. The two are actually good friends, as they have played on national teams since they were 17 and were defensive partners at the Olympics. The issue is that the Islanders traded a fourth-round pick for his rights this week and, despite general manager Garth Snow saying they offered “well north” of Kevin Bieksa‘s five-year, $23 million pact, couldn’t get him signed. Maybe that’s because Ehrhoff wants to play for a winner, but it may also be because he’s holding out for top dollar. If it’s the latter, you can count the Bruins out. Given the financial aspect, it’s hard to imagine any circumstance in which the B’s bring him in.

_______

At the end of the day, the Bruins might have to overpay for Wisniewski, which makes one feel that if the B’s don’t get Kaberle back, they could just go with Kampfer. The 22-year-old is still progressing, and if he plays with Chara, it will be that much easier. Plus, it’s the most economical thing to do. Unless the B’s can get a deal on a veteran who brings more to the table, they might be better off hoping that, much like Adam McQuaid did this past season, Kampfer can take an opportunity and run with it.

Peter Chiarelli: Bruins letting Tomas Kaberle, Michael Ryder test market

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli spoke with the media Thursday in anticipation of the NHL’s free agency period opening Friday. The Bruins have two players set to hit unrestricted free agency in winger Michael Ryder and defenseman Tomas Kaberle. The GM said that ties have not been severed with either player, but that the B’s likely won’t be active in the early stages of free agency.

“Certainly theres no finality to our relationship,” Chiarelli said of Kaberle. “What we’ve agreed to with Tomas and his agent is that he would look into the market and we would continue to talk with him. … Let me be perfectly clear, there’s no end to the relationship because we haven’t signed him to this point.”

Chiarelli noted that if the Bruins are unable to retain Kaberle, he will look both in-house and elsewhere for his replacement on the Bruins’ blue line.

He also indicated that the B’s are taking the same approach with Ryder, and that if the players take deals with other teams, the Bruins are willing to accept that fate.

“I’m wary of the market and where it stands now,” Chiarelli said. “I said, ‘Look guys, go out there, see what’s going on and let’s continue to talk.’ The risk that we run is that they get a deal and then they can’t come back to us, and I understand that risk. That’s where those two guys stand.”

Depending on what the B’s do with Ryder, Kaberle, restricted free agent Brad Marchand and what happens with Marc Savard, the team could be in good standing with the league’s salary cap (set for $64.3 million next season). Despite the fact that they should have money to spend, allocating resources to multiple years could make things difficult for the Bruins, as both David Krejci and Tuukka Rask will see their current contracts expire after the coming season. Tyler Seguin‘s deal is up in two years, and one would have to assume all three players will see increases in pay.

“It certainly impacts it,” Chiarelli said of knowing they have future raises to give. “I’m a little wary of the market, first and foremost. The cap is high, and the cap is certainly going to come down in some shape or form, so generally speaking, I’m wary of the market and where I think it may be going.

“Two, and a close two, is that we do have guys that we warrant to re-sign, and they’re going to command raises. I’m really not in a position to go out and give a guy a big-term contract. I think thwart we can find that help elsewhere other than a big-term contract and still be in a good position to re-sign our guys as they come up the next year or two.”

The Bruins qualified restricted free agents Marchand, Andrew Bodnarchuk and Stefan Chaput. Chiarelli said that negotiations with Marchand have not yet begun.

The GM also said that the team will not re-sign defenseman Shane Hnidy, who served as a healthy scratch/depth player during the stretch run and postseason. Hnidy, 35, played three games in both the regular season and postseason.

“We’ve told Shane that we aren’t re-signing him,” Chiarelli said. “I think he’ll be a good addition somewhere else, and I told him that. Certainly I’d help him along the way for that.”

As for whether the list of Bruins’ targets may be shrinking, Chiarelli admitted that some players have been taken out of consideration in recent days. The rights of players set to hit free agency have been traded, which may factor into that.

“I have a big whiteboard in my office and I have our interest list and I have our secondary list,” he said. “Yes, there are names knocked off. Just because they’re on our interest list doesn’t mean we’re going to go off and sign them, but certainly we’re going to explore them. And I’ve crossed off names.”

One thing that came up time and time again was Chiarelli noting how “wary” of the market he was. He assessed the crop as being less than outstanding, which may be a reason why he would have reservations about making a big splash.

“I look at my board and I see the number of players and the quality of players,” he said. “And the numbers may be the same, [but] the quality is … there’s just not the high end players. Then of course you’ve got the floor of the cap and teams have to spend, so you’re going to get contracts I think that, maybe that, they’re generally higher in the unrestricted market, but I even think they’ll be that added premium because teams have to spend. … That’s why I’m a little cautious going into this market. There’s not the supply that there normally is, and I think the demand is greater because of the cap floor and teams have to spend.”

Oh, joy: More about the Amstel Light

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Everybody gets into their professions for different reasons. Regarding this field, it is true that many dream about writing things about a light beer every day.

Today’s news regarding the Bruins’ bar tab (on a lesser note, they won the Stanley Cup recently) is that the orderer of the famous Amstel Light on the $156,000+ bar tab has come forward… kind of.

Blogger Shallon Lester claims to have been at Foxwoods with the B’s and, because she didn’t fancy the $100,000 champagne that had been poured into the Cup, ordered an Amstel Light. Riveting.

So there you have it, if you believe it. Think she’ll sell the movie rights?

What does James Wisniewski trade mean to Bruins?

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

The latest shoe to kind of drop regarding the defensive free agent landscape came Wednesday, as the Canadiens have traded the rights to James Wisniewski to the Blue Jackets for a seventh-round pick.

The move suggests two things. First off, Wisniewski likely won’t be returning to the Habs after he scored seven goals and added 23 assists for 30 points following his trade from the Islanders. Second of all, the fact that the rights to the better, younger Wisniewski were worth only a seventh-rounder might mean the Bruins will be out of luck in their attempt to trade Tomas Kaberle‘s rights.

Of course, teams could simply be confident that Wisniewski wants to wait until free agency opens to pick his team, which would explain why his rights could be had for so little.

Wisniewski is a gritty blueliner who’s solid on the power play. He could conceivably be a target of the Bruins, but given that he’s coming off a career year (51 points), he may command too much for their liking.

If both Wisniewski and Christian Ehrhoff, whom the Islanders acquired the rights to on Tuesday, are signed before Friday, Kaberle could be considered the top defenseman on the open market. Woof.

Wisniewski played five-regular season games against the B’s last year, scoring a goal and adding three assists for four points and posting a minus-6 rating. He had two assists and was a minus-3 in the first round of the playoffs against Boston.

Dougie Hamilton, others to attend Bruins’ development camp

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

The Bruins announced the roster for next week/month’s (July 7-11) development camp on Wednesday. Development camp, held at Ristuccia Arena, is where the big-name draft picks can be seen on the ice for the first time in a Bruins’ sweater, and the arrival of Tyler Seguin made it an absolute zoo last year. This time around, fans will get to see the likes of defenseman Dougie Hamilton (taken ninth overall last week) and forward Alexander Khokhlachev (40th overall).

Here is the list of players attending:

Forwards: Anthony Camara, Craig Cunningham, Alexander Fallstrom, Brian Ferlin, Justin Florek, Josh Jooris, Jared Knight, Alexander Khokhlachev, Brett Olson, Tyler Randell, Eric Robinson, Ben Sexton, Ryan Spooner

Defensemen: Ryan Button, Marc Cantin, Tommy Cross, Dougie Hamilton, Robby O’Gara, Steven Spinell, Zach Trotman, David Warsofsky

Goaltenders: Zane Gothberg, Mike Hutchinson, Lars Volden

Courtesy of the Bruins, here’s the schedule of the events, which will be run by Providence coach Bruce Cassidy:

Thursday, July 7 (Wilmington, MA)
-Fitness testing at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, 9:30 a.m. ET (closed to public)
-On-ice practice, Ristuccia Arena, 1:15 p.m. ET

Friday, July 8 (Wilmington, MA)
-On-ice workouts (closed to public)

Saturday, July 9 (Wilmington, MA)
-On-ice practice, Ristuccia Arena, 10:30 a.m. ET
-On-ice workout, Ristuccia Arena, 11:45 a.m. ET

Sunday, July 10 (Wilmington, MA)
-On-ice practice, Ristuccia Arena, 10:00 a.m. ET
-On-ice scrimmage, Ristuccia Arena, 11:15 a.m. ET

Monday, July 11 (Wilmington, MA)
-On-ice workout, Ristuccia Arena, 10:00 a.m. ET
-On-ice scrimmage, Ristuccia Arena, 11:00 a.m. ET

Report: Bruins looking to trade Tomas Kaberle’s rights

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

According to a tweet from TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Bruins sent out an email Tuesday offering Tomas Kaberle‘s negotiating rights to other teams. Any team that acquired Kaberle would, as the Bruins do now, be able to negotiate with the defenseman exclusively leading up to the opening of free agency on Friday.

Kaberle, 33, is one of only two unrestricted free agents from the Bruins’ Stanley Cup champion lineup. Acquired on Feb. 18 in exchange for center Joe Colborne, a 2011 first-round pick and a 2012 second-rounder, he had one goal and eight assists for nine points in 24 regular-season games with the B’s. He and Dennis Seidenberg tied for lead among Bruins’ defenseman in postseason points with 11.

Rights to free-agents-to-be can be moved by the teams with which they last played, as the Flyers traded for the rights to goalie Ilya Bryzgalov before locking him up last week. The Canucks traded the rights to defenseman Christian Ehrhoff to the Islanders on Tuesday.

Max Pacioretty says it again: Don’t prosecute Zdeno Chara

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty has been very clear about his unhappiness with the league’s decision not to suspend Zdeno Chara for the March 8 hit that ended the rookie’s season, but he’s also been emphatic about it not going any farther.

In wake of Tuesday’s news that Montreal police still intend to question Chara for a criminal investigation, Pacioretty — who has gotten in trouble on twitter before — took to the social networking service to make it clear that he does not want Chara to be face any sort of criminal charges.

Here are two tweets from the Connecticut native on Tuesday: