Archive for June, 2012

Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight eyeing spot in Boston

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

WILMINGTON – Dougie Hamilton has made headlines as the player most likely to make it to Boston for the 2012-13 season out of the development camp this week. While he has the best shot at making the NHL roster, there are a few others that are probably not as far off as one would think.

Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight, who were both selected in the second round of the 2010 draft (Knight was taken 32nd overall, Spooner was taken 45th overall), are among the next tier of prospects who have a shot grabbing the 12th forward spot in Boston.

While the Bruins currently have 11 healthy forwards on the roster (12 if Nathan Horton can return in time for the start of the next season), there is a chance that Spooner or Knight impresses the coaching staff enough to earn the final spot on the roster. However, they would have to beat out any veteran free agents that the team signs along with any AHL player in line to make the jump to the next level, such as newly acquired Chris Bourque, or Carter Camper.

“Yeah, it’s going to be hard for them,’€ said Peter Chiarelli on Friday. “What we told them going into this camp is that you’re going to have an opportunity to make the team. There’s obviously some that are more likely than others to have that opportunity, but what we’ve done in the past and what we will do in the future is that, if they knock our socks off, we will find room for them.”

The tough task ahead to make the roster does not deter Knight, who said he is shooting to make the NHL club.

‘€œI’€™m not going to go into camp thinking I’€™m just going to get sent down to Providence,’€ Knight said. ‘€œI think if I put in a lot of work these next seven or eight weeks I can give myself a chance. You never know with injuries or trades or things like that ‘€¦ That is out of my control though. I’€™m just coming to camp ready to play.’€

Spooner also said that he would try his best to make the NHL team, but that right now he is just focused on improving his attention to detail.

‘€œHopefully one day I can make it to the National Hockey League,’€ Spooner said. ‘€œRight now I am just focusing on doing all the little things that are going to get me there.

‘€œI think skill-wise I could keep up. But I think the little things, like I said, my strength, how to adjust to that type of game, [I need to improve on].’€ (more…)

Tommy Cross: A development camp legend

Friday, June 29th, 2012

WILMINGTON — A few years before Matt Grzelcyk was drafted, the Charlestown native went to Ristuccia Arena to watch the Bruins run their development camp. One of the players he watched at the camp was 2007 second-round pick Tommy Cross.

Cross, who just capped off a four-year career at Boston College with his second NCAA championship and third Beanpot title, has been a constant at the Bruins development camp. He hasn’t always been able to participate (he’s had three major knee surgeries), but he’s been there since the camp started.

Cross made his first appearance at the first camp in 2007, when the team was evaluating the then-17-year-old alongside players such as David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Tuukka Rask and Adam McQuaid. Now, the 22-year-old Cross is the veteran of the camp, playing alongside younger prospects such as Dougie Hamiton, Malcolm Subban, Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner.

But while the players changed around him, the development camp has been a familiar experience for the Westminster, Conn. native.

‘€œ[It is the] same as usual,’€ Cross said. ‘€œIt is a really good learning experience. You can still take a lot out of these camps no matter how many times you come here.

‘€œYou know what to expect. They change it up every year obviously. They kind of keep you on your toes. But you know the staff pretty well. You know some of the other players.’€

As the veteran member of the camp, the former BC captain has become a leader among the Bruins’€™ prospects, especially those who are here for the first time. One player who is at his first development camp is goaltender Parker Milner, who won a national championship alongside Cross last season.

‘€œTommy is intense,’€ Milner said. ‘€œWhether it is the first practice here or the national championship, he is going to be intense. But he looks good out there. I think he is ready to make the jump and his leadership is next to none.’€

This will be Cross’€™ final development camp, as he is expected to play next season with the Providence Bruins. Cross played two games with Providence last season, using the experience to get better acclimated to professional game as opposed to the college game.

‘€œThe guys in the AHL are obviously older,’€ Cross said. ‘€œIt is a little bit more of a controlled style. I think college hockey is a great place for learning though, and I prepared myself for the next level and the AHL is kind of like a new system.’€

Peter Chiarelli: Tuukka Rask ‘wants to prove to me that he is a No. 1 goalie’

Friday, June 29th, 2012

WILMINGTON — Speaking between sessions at Friday’s development camp, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli confirmed the team’s agreement in principle with goaltender Tuukka Rask on a one-year, $3.5 million deal. For bookkeeping purposes, the team will not register the deal until Sunday, the first day of free agency. Rask would have become a restricted free agent Sunday, and he will be one at the end of his upcoming deal.

While Rask only agreed to terms on a one-year contract worth $3.5 million, he certainly plans to be in Boston past next season. According to the general manager, Rask agreed to the one-year deal so he could prove that he is worth a long-term contract.

‘€œHe wants to prove that he is the No. 1 goalie for the Bruins for a long time,’€ Chiarelli said. ‘€œThis was the easiest way to set the stage for that. Tuukka has been a really good goalie for us, but for one year he hasn’€™t been the number one goalie. The stage is set for him and we will see where it takes us.’€

The contract, which is less money and less years than that of comparable goalies Ondrej Pavelec (five years, $19.5 million) and Cory Schneider (three years, $12 million), prevents Rask from testing the market as a restricted free agent.

‘€œHe could have went out and tried to do [arbitration], or tested free agency, and he is not,’€ Chiarelli said. ‘€œHe wants to be a member of the Boston Bruins for a long time and I like to hear that. I know you hear that often when you sign guys, but Tuukka throughout since he has been here, he has started here, and he has been patient.

‘€œHe has worked in Providence and he has worked as a backup. He is following the steps. I like that. I like that he wants to prove to me that he is a number one goalie.’€

Rask, who has a .926 save percentage and a 2.20 goals against average in 102 games with the Bruins, spent the past two seasons backing up Tim Thomas. However, with Thomas likely to sit out next season, Rask will be thrust into the starting role, something that Chiarelli thinks he is capable of handling.

‘€œWe saw [good performance from Rask] for a large portion of [2009-10],’€ Chiarelli said. ‘€œHe’s coming back earlier to train. I guess the proof is in the pudding at the end of the day, but $3.5 million isn’t chump change. He’s shown to me that he’s ready to take that next step.’€

Peter Chiarelli expects Bruins to ‘be quiet’ early in free agency

Friday, June 29th, 2012

WILMINGTON — Bruins general Peter Chiarelli said Friday that he does not expect the team to make a splash on the first day of free agency Sunday.

“My gut is telling me that we’ll be quiet,” Chiarelli said. “That’s my gut. Now, if you at how we’ve built the team over the years, but for my first year and when we signed [Michael] Ryder, we haven’t really gone out and hit a couple of home runs on July 1. Maybe I look at the trade market after July 1, but my gut is I’ll probably be quiet.”

The Bruins, who have already re-signed unrestricted free agents Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell this summer, will return the vast majority of their 2011-12 roster next season. Wing Jordan Caron will likely take on a bigger role while defenseman Dougie Hamilton stands strong chance at making the team.

Bruins sign Alexander Khokhlachev as he prepares for KHL

Friday, June 29th, 2012

WILMINGTON — Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli shed light on 2011 second-round pick Alexander Khokhlachev‘s situation Friday, confirming that the Russian forward will play in the KHL next season but noting that the Bruins have agreed with him on an entry level deal, allowing them to retain his rights. The deal will not be registered with the league until Sunday.

Khokhlachev, 18, will play one season in the KHL for Moscow Spartak (where his father is the general manager) before returning to North America to turn pro in the 2013-14 season.

“The plan is now for him to play in Russia,” Chiarelli said. “He’ll attend our camp, and then he’ll go back for the Russian team — his father is the [general] manager there. After one year, he’s under our [control]. He wants to be an NHL player, and he’s making strides towards that.”

Khokhlachev’s season with the Windsor Spitfires [OHL] was cut short by a lacerated kidney last season, an injury from which he still hasn’t fully recovered. He’s taking part in this week’s development camp, but is not taking contact.

The 5-foot-10 forward had 34 goals in 67 games in his draft year before adding 25 more in 56 games this past season. There may be more room for growth against higher competition in the KHL, something “Koko,” as he is called, looks forward to.

“I will be playing with men,” Khokhlachev said. “It’s not junior hockey. It’s a lot of guys who have played in the NHL before, so it’s a really good league, the second[-best] league in the world. ‘€¦ In OHL, I play against [younger] guys, and in [the KHL] I’ll play against men.”

Said Chiarelli: “If you have an hour, I could go through all the positives and negatives of both,” Chiarelli said. “What we decided with Koko was that it’s a unique set of circumstances with his dad being the manager there and saying, ‘Look, it’s one year and then back to North America.’ He felt it was right for him, and at the end of the day we went along with him on this. We’re going to support him on it.”

Khokhlachev’s English was very limited when he was first drafted by the B’s last summer, but he seems to have a much better handle on the language after another year of lessons. He said Friday that he’ll be able to continue practicing his English in Russia, as his KHL team will have an American goaltender and a Canadian defenseman.

Reaction to the Tuukka Rask deal

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

With the Bruins and Tuukka Rask reportedly agreeing in principle to a one-year, $3.5 million deal, several points can be drawn. Here’s some quick analysis of the signing.

- Given that Rask has never started the majority of the regular-season games in any season in his NHL career, this deal is a smart one for the B’s. It allows Rask, who was limited to just 22 starts last season due to being Tim Thomas‘ backup and later being injured, to prove to the Bruins that he’s an elite starting goaltender before they pay him as such.

The most starts Rask has had in a single season was 39 back in the 2009-10 season, when he led the NHL with a 1.97 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage. He had 27 starts in the 2010-11 season before last season’s 22.

- Rask, who would have been a restricted free agent this Sunday (the first day of free agency), will be a restricted free agent again at the end of this deal. A player needs to either be 27 years of age or to have played seven seasons in the league in order to be an unrestricted free agent, and the now-25-year-old Rask will be neither next July 1. That means that there’s no possibility that Rask can put together a mammoth season and bolt next summer without the Bruins getting anything return. If Rask ends up getting big money out of this move, it will come from the Bruins unless they trade him or see him signed away via an offer sheet. The latter scenario would be as rare as it gets, so don’t count on him going anywhere.

- Malcolm Subban doesn’t have anything to do with this. The 18-year-old OHL goaltender and 2012 24th overall pick is still years and years away from being an NHL goaltender, so there’s no chance that the B’s gave Rask one year with the idea of replacing him with Subban in 2013.

- While the one-year deal isn’t a major shock for reasons listed above, the $3.5 million total could be a bargain for the Bruins. It’s a big raise for Rask, who carried a $1.25 million cap hit over the course of his recently expired two-year, $2.5 million deal, but the guess here was that Rask’s next deal would end up getting a deal somewhere around $4 million range. If he puts together a brilliant season for the B’s, he could end up getting paid much more than that each year in his next deal. With Thomas’ deal expired by then (if they don’t trade him), the B’s will have that space against the cap to commit to Rask.

- Speaking of next deals, Peter Chiarelli is going to have a lot of work to do over the course of the next year. Nathan Horton, Andrew Ference and Anton Khudobin will be unrestricted free agents next summer, while Rask, Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand and Jordan Caron will all be restricted.

Bruins reportedly give Tuukka Rask one-year deal

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie (via twitter), the Bruins and goaltender Tuukka Rask have agreed to terms on a one-year, $3.5 million deal. Rask was set to become a restricted free agent on Sunday, the opening of free agency.

Last season, Rask was limited to 22 starts due to an abdomen/groin injury suffered in March. He posted an 11-8-3 record with a 2.05 goals-against average and .929 save percentage. He is expected to be the team’s No. 1 goalie next season, with Anton Khudobin serving as the backup.

In order to be an unrestricted free agent, a player must be either 27 years of age or have played seven years in the league. Rask, 25, will not have met either of those benchmarks, so he will be a restricted free agent again following the coming season.