Archive for June, 2011

Another defenseman drops off market as Joni Pitkanen returns to Hurricanes

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

The list of solid free agent defensemen gets smaller with each passing day, as the Hurricanes have retained Joni Pitkanen on a three-year deal, according to multiple reports. ESPN.com has the deal carrying a $4.5 million annual cap hit.

That makes two good blueliners to pass on the open market in the last two days, as Kevin Bieksa re-upped with the Canucks for five years and $23 million on Monday. These signings will continue to push Tomas Kaberle higher on the list of coveted free-agent defensemen, as Christian Ehrhoff, James Wisniewski and Kaberle now make up the big three amongst remaining blueliners.

Free agency begins Friday, and Peter Chiarelli has maintained that he’s been in contact with Kaberle’s agent, Rick Curran. The 33-year-old had a $4.25 million cap hit last season and should see a pay decrease. It appeared he might have made significantly less based on his performance for most of his time with the Bruins, but if supply and demand works in his favor, a team could overpay to land him.

Amstel Light inquires, and here’s hoping this is the last we hear about the Bruins’ bar tab

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

In the latest bit of nonsense to come from the Bruins’ $156,000+ bar tab from Foxwoods after winning the Stanley Cup, Amstel Light has written a letter to the Bruins (Shawn Thornton and Shane Hnidy’s names were listed) requesting they reveal which member of the B’s ordered the lone Amstel Light on the tab.

“We want to reward the Bruin who ordered the Amstel Light to recognize him for making a great decision,” the press release read.

Added the company: “If he reveals himself, Amstel Light will provide the beer for his 4th of July barbecue (or Canadian Independence Day party) and for his private celebration when he has his time with the Cup.”

The easy thing is to make jokes about Amstel Light and try to guess which player was drinking it. Here, though, all we can do is beg that this is the last we hear of the bar tab. How about dwelling on the Stanley Cup instead? By now, the joke is, well, skunked.

Montreal police to question Zdeno Chara over hit on Max Pacioretty

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

In wake of Zdeno Chara‘s March 8 hit on Max Pacioretty in Montreal, police said a criminal investigation would be tricky at the time given that many of the people they’d need to speak to had seasons to finish.

Now that the season is over, it appears that Montreal police still intend to speak to Chara about the play, which sent Pacioretty’s head into a stanchion and left Habs fans calling the cops. The investigation will be conducted to determine whether there was criminal intent on the part of Chara, who had a history with Pacioretty due to runs the Habs rookie had taken at the B’s captain and his defensive partner on Feb. 9 in Steven Kampfer.

According to CBC News, Sgt. Ian Lafreniere has indicated the investigation is near completion, but that they still need to speak to Chara.

“We haven’t met Chara, we don’t have his version of the facts, and also at the end of it, [a report is] going to be presented to a crown prosecutor, and this is the person who will decide whether there will be some accusations,” he said.

Chara, who was given an interference major and tossed from the game, was not suspended for the play, and Pacioretty missed the rest of the season with head and vertebrae injuries. Pacioretty recently expressed his frustration with the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup given that he felt the Canadiens could have beaten the B’s in the first round if they had a healthy roster, one that would have included him had the play not occurred.

The play and the different reactions led to extra attention being placed on Chara, as well as the rivalry between the two teams. Prior to the March 24 meeting between the two clubs (their first meeting since the Pacioretty incident), multiple members of the Bruins suggested the injuries to Pacioretty weren’t as bad as initially stated, suggesting embellishment on the part of the Habs. Pacioretty had tweeted from a movie theatre days after the hit, which led to some questioning his concussion, as people with severe concussions generally can’t be around bright lights. After the B’s blanked the Habs on March 24, Mark Recchi, who most famously called out the Habs, said he had done so to create a distraction, thus taking pressure off of Chara.

The report states that Chara will be questioned in the coming weeks.

Bruins lose John Weisbrod to to Flames

Monday, June 27th, 2011

John Weisbrod is officially the Bruins’ former director of pro and collegiate scouting, as he has left the B’s to move up the ladder with a new gig in Calgary. Weisbrod, who was a scout for the Stars before coming to Boston in 2006, is now the Flames’ assistant general manager/director of player personnel.

While Weisbrod did a fine job in his role with the Bruins, his best pick doesn’t even play hockey. Weisbrod was the Orlando Magic’s GM when the team had the first overall pick in 2004, and he chose Dwight Howard over Emeka Okafor.

Weisbrod will now work under Calgary GM Jay Feaster.

Defense market gets thinner as Kevin Bieksa reportedly re-ups with Canucks

Monday, June 27th, 2011

It looks like Kevin Bieksa feels that 29 other teams are just a bit too pee-wee for his liking.

According to multiple reports, the Canucks defenseman will not test the waters of unrestricted free agency, as he has agreed to a new pact with the Canucks, thus thinning the defensive free agent market.

TSN has the deal as being worth $23 million over five years, meaning the 30-year-old will carry a $4.6 million cap hit. It also reportedly includes a no-trade clause. Bieksa had a $3.75 cap hit in each of the three seasons of his previous deal. The immediate feeling here is that he got a fair deal, and that it isn’t exactly a hometown discount.

While he likely would not have been a target of the B’s in free agency, the fact that Bieksa’s name is now out of the pool means teams in need of help on the blueline will look elsewhere. That “elsewhere” is a group that includes Tomas Kaberle, Montreal’s James Wisniewski and Bieksa’s teammate, Christian Ehrhoff.

Bieksa led the Canucks with a plus-32 rating in the regular season, which put him in a tie for second behind Zdeno Chara (plus-33) for tops in the league. He  was among the Canucks who may have put themselves in a bad light during the Stanley Cup finals, as he had the dive of all dives in Game 4 when he grabbed his face to draw a high-sticking call on Mark Recchi, despite Recchi’s stick being a good distance from his face. He also joked about the Bruins’ postgame jacket, likening the tradition to something a pee-wee team would do.

Free agency opens Friday.

That’s a wrap: A look at the Bruins’ 2011 draft class

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

The Bruins’ 2011 draft is in the books Here’s a quick recap of the newest additions to the organization, along with some video:

FIRST ROUND

Ninth overall: Dougie Hamilton, D, Niagara (OHL)

Hamilton fits the cliche of the guy the team couldn’t have expected to be available when they were picking. Many figured the 6-foot-4 defenseman would be a top-5 pick, and when he was there, the B’s grabbed a well-rounded defenseman who figures to be a top-pairing blueliner in the NHL, though Peter Chiarelli figures he needs “at least” another year of seasoning before he plays in Boston. That means a third season in the OHL for Hamilton is a safe bet.

Chiarelli compares the 18-year-old Hamilton to Rob Blake, with Hamilton likening his style to Blake, Jay Bouwmeester and Brent Burns.

There shouldn’t be much pressure on a guy like Hamilton to be rushed. Given how high his ceiling is as a physical, strong-skating and offensively savvy defenseman and the fact that the B’s have good enough blue line depth, the B’s can let him continue to develop without having to rush him to the show.

SECOND ROUND

40th overall: Alex Khokhlachev, F, Windsor (OHL)

The 17-year-old Russian can play center or wing, and he scored 34 goals this past season for the Spitfires. Last season was his first in the OHL, and he led all rookies with 20 points in the playoffs.

THIRD ROUND

81st overall: Anthony Camara, LW, Saginaw (OHL)

Camara is the tough guy of the Bruins’ 2011 haul. He totaled 132 penalty minutes this past season for Saginaw, and simply plugging his name into YouTube will yield some OHL bouts of his. Camara stands at 6-foot-0 and 194 pounds. He scored eight goals and had nine assists in 2010-11. He is committed to attend Cornell.

FOURTH ROUND

121st overall: Brian Ferlin, RW, Indiana (USHL)

The first non-OHL player selected by the B’s in this draft, Ferlin scored 25 goals and chipped in 48 assists for Indiana in 2010-11. The Jacksonville native stands at 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds.

FIFTH ROUND

151st overall: Rob O’Gara, D, Milton Academy (HS)

The New York native is set to attend Yale, making it two future Ivy Leaguers chosen by the B’s in this year’s draft. He scored two goals and had seven assists for Milton Academy this past year.

SIXTH ROUND

181st overall: Lars Volden, G, Blue Jr. (Finland)

Though he played in Finland last year, Volden actually hails from Norway. The B’s have now spent sixth-round picks on goaltenders in two straight years, as they added Zane Gothberg with the 165th pick last year. Volden had a 2.46 goals against average and .907 save percentage for Blues Jr. in 2010-11.

Bruins go with goalie Lars Volden in sixth

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

The Bruins wrapped up their draft by taking goaltender Lars Volden in the sixth round (181st overall). Volden hails from Oslo, Norway and played junior hockey in Finland this past season.

Playing for Blues Jr. in Finland, the 6-foot-3, 198-pound Volden had a 2.46 goals against average and .907 save percentage. This now makes two goalies taken in the sixth round in the last two years, as the B’s tabbed Zane Gothberg in last year’s draft. The Bruins do not have a seventh-round pick.