|Bruins sign Jonas Gustavsson to 1-year deal||10.04.15 at 5:43 pm ET|
The Bruins announced Sunday that they have signed goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to a one-year, one-way deal worth $700,000.
The signing comes as something of a surprise, as 26-year-old Jeremy Smith entered camp as the projected backup for Tuukka Rask. Smith, a former Predators second-round pick who split time with Malcolm Subban in Providence last season, was signed to a one-year, two-way deal worth $600,000 at the NHL level this summer. He would have to clear waivers to be sent to Providence, where Subban and Zane McIntyre are already assigned.
Gustavsson played in two games for the Bruins this preseason, stopping 42 of 45 shots he faced for a .933 save percentage. Injuries (most notably a separated shoulder0 limited the 30-year-old to seven NHL games last season, his third season with the Red Wings after playing the first three seasons of his NHL career with the Maple Leafs.
With his status uncertain late last week, Gustavsson said that he believed that even if he didn’t get a contract with Boston, he felt that he’d answered any questions in his mind as to whether he could bounce back from an injury-plagued season.
“Last year was different,” he said last week. “I had a big injury, so I missed a lot of time there and didn’t play that many games, but the last three months I was on the ice and I worked hard and practiced. I felt like my game was back to where it was before the injury.”
Teams have until 5 p.m. to set their 23-man rosters.
|Video: Zdeno Chara (upper-body injury) still skating, not taking contact||10.04.15 at 1:41 pm ET|
‘ DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) October 4, 2015
The intrigue as Zdeno Chara stepped onto the ice midway through the Bruins’ practice Sunday was short-lived. Though Chara skated lightly on one end of the ice while the B’s worked on 2-on-2 battle drills on the other, Chara was forced to the bench when the team needed the full sheet of ice after about five minutes.
His work would resume later in the day, however, as the 38-year-old defenseman returned to the ice to skate with assistant coach Doug Houda for over 40 minutes following the Bruins’ practice. Chara, who was limited to just three shifts this preseason due to an upper-body injury suffered on Sept. 24, could be a close call for Thursday’s season-opener given that he still has not taken contact and does not yet appear able to take slap shots. While the latter wouldn’t necessarily stop him from playing, he would likely need to participate in some battle drills after 10 days without contact.
‘ DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) October 4, 2015
Though it’s worth noting that the Bruins are off on Monday, Claude Julien said that Chara is close to being able to fully participate in practice.
“In his situation, we said day-to-day because his injury was not one that we could say ‘it’s going to be a week,’ which it’s been right now,” Julien said following Sunday’s practice. “We didn’t know, so you can’t go out there and say he’s out for a week and then all of a sudden, three day’s later, he’s in.
“So he’s still day-to-day. I think he’s inching closer and I think he’s getting very close to practicing with our team. Because it’s day-to-day, I don’t know if he’s going to be in tomorrow, the day after, whatever. We’re hoping that’s the case. It’s looking like it’s heading in that direction, but there’s no guarantees.
“So we don’t know. He’s still day-to-day and we look forward to having him back as soon as possible, but he’s skating, he’s feeling better every day. That’s the positive thing about Zdeno’s situation.”
If Chara is unable to play Thursday against the Jets, Adam McQuaid will be the only top-four defenseman from opening night last season to play in this season’s opener, as Dougie Hamilton is in Calgary and Dennis Seidenberg remains out as he recovers from back surgery.
|Jonas Gustavsson enters wait-and-see mode with Bruins||10.02.15 at 1:23 pm ET|
Now, the waiting game begins for Jonas Gustavsson.
After going through training camp and playing one and a half preseason games for the Bruins on a professional tryout, the 30-year-old netminder can do nothing but hope that the work he put in was good enough to earn him a contract and a spot on the bench as Tuukka Rask‘s backup.
Claude Julien said Friday morning that Gustavsson would not travel with the team for Friday’s preseason finale against the Capitals, with Rask starting and Jeremy Smith serving as backup. That means the preseason book is closed on Gustavsson, who stopped 42 of 45 shots over parts of two preseason games for a .933 save percentage.
“I’m not trying to think about it too much; I’m trying to do whatever I usually do – just practice, play games whenever I get a chance to play and have some fun,” Gustavsson said after Friday’s practice. “All the other stuff, that’s not in my hands. I guess I’m waiting, but on the other hand, at the same time, I’m just taking it day-by-day like I always do.”
Smith, a 26-year-old who was drafted in the second round by the Predators in 2007, is the favorite to win the backup job after a strong showing last season in Providence. That leaves Gustavsson, who played formerly with the Leafs and Red Wings but was limited to seven games with the Wings by injuries last season, potentially on the outside looking in.
Julien insisted Friday morning that a decision has not been made on the backup goaltender.
“There’s a lot that’s going to come into play there in that decision-making. It’s going to be a group decision,” he said. “We’re going to look at the pros and cons and everything else that goes into it. Unfortunately, that’s where it would be nice to have more preseason games and give a lot of those guys an opportunity to play even more and us assess them even longer, but that’s the way it is. Tuukka’s got to play. He’s our goaltender that we’ve got to get ready for the start of the season.”
Gustavsson’s preseason availability was limited by the birth of his first child, which cost him a preseason start that was perhaps made up when he played all of Wednesday’s game against the Rangers. Malcolm Subban (who started two preseason games) and Zane McIntyre are already back in Providence having been cut from camp.
Julien has noted that the decision the team makes for Rask’s backup will not necessarily be the team’s final decision. If the team loses confidence in the backup, as the Bruins did with Niklas Svedberg last season, they won’t hesitate to call up Subban and give him his shot. Should Smith get the first crack at the gig, such a scenario would do Gustavsson no good unless he remains unsigned.
Gustavsson saw his injuries create that situation last season in Detroit. As he battled a shoulder injury, AHL callup Petr Mrazek emerged as a starting option for the Red Wings, which made his services no longer required. If Gustavsson does happen to win a job in Boston, he intends to keep it.
“Every time you’re on the ice, you’re trying to prove yourself,” he said. “That’s what you’ve got to do, no matter if you have a contract or not. There’s always going to be competition. You can’t really take any spots for granted, no matter if you’re on a one-way or two-way or tryout or whatever it is. If you’re not going to perform over time, some younger kid or some other goalie’s going to take your spot. There’s only 60 spots in the league and there’s tons of good goalies.”
Gustavsson still considers himself one of them. He’ll have to wait to see if the Bruins agree.
|Max Talbot, Jonas Gustavsson won’t travel for preseason finale||10.02.15 at 11:31 am ET|
The Bruins will play their preseason finale Friday when they face the Capitals at the Verizon Center, but they’ll be leaving a pair of players behind.
Forward Max Talbot and backup goalie candidate Jonas Gustavsson will hang back for Friday night’s game, with Claude Julien saying that neither move is an indication of either player’s status with the team. Tuukka Rask will get the start, with Jeremy Smith backing him up.
The lines in Friday’s practice were as follows:
All seven of the Bruins’ healthy defensemen — Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow, Matt Irwin, Colin Miller and Kevan Miller — are expected to make the trip. Zdeno Chara did not practice with the B’s Friday, though he did skate again prior to the practice.
|Alexander Khokhlachev, Brian Ferlin among latest Bruins cuts||10.01.15 at 6:22 pm ET|
The Bruins announced another round of cuts Thursday evening, with Alexander Khokhlachev the biggest name among those headed to Providence.
Also released from camp were Brian Ferlin, Anton Blidh, Chris Breen, Brandon DeFazio, Ben Sexton and Tommy Cross. Breen, DeFazio and Sexton were previously cut from camp but recalled for Wednesday’s preseason game against the Rangers. Cross must first clear waivers before he can be assigned to Providence.
With Thursday’s cuts, the Bruins now have 27 players (including the injured Seth Griffith, Dennis Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara) on their roster, though goaltender Jonas Gustavsson remains in camp on a professional tryout.
Khokhlachev’s assignment to Providence is the latest step in what’s been a frustrating tenure with the Bruins. After being chosen early in the second round of the 2011 draft (40th overall), the Russian center has performed well in the AHL but has underwhelmed in pro camps. Clearly a skilled player who figures to be an NHL player before long, he raised questions about his attitude when he recently expressed his unhappiness with where he stands in the organization.
“This is my last year of my contract,” he said. “I’m 22 already. If they don’t give me the chance to play, why am I here? I will not play in Providence all my life. They told me, ‘Just wait for your chance.’ I’m still waiting for it.”
Khokhlachev, who has led Providence in points in each of the last two seasons, played just three NHL games last season. When speaking out recently, he pointed to his lack of ice time (2:53 in his last game on Nov. 24) in saying the team has not given him a chance to prove himself in the NHL.
Asked about Khokhlachev prior to the announcement of Thursday’s cuts, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said the team feels he still needs to make improvements in the AHL.
“All players are entitled to their opinion,” Sweeney said. “I feel that Alexander has a tremendous upside skill-wise. He still has a lot to learn away from the puck. He needs to go through these experiences, and he’s only 22 years old. Looking at the big picture for all our young players, they’ll determine when they’re ready to play and when they can help us at the National Hockey League level. I do believe he’s a player that can step in, and whether or not he can play up and down the lineup sort of remains to be seen.
“But we want him to continue to work hard to fill in those gaps, be it faceoffs and there are small details of the game that show up in the scoresheet each night. … There’s just little areas of the game that everybody as a young player needs to go through, experience and then come out the other side of it better. He wants to advocate for himself, so I don’t blame him for that.”
|Zdeno Chara (upper-body injury) won’t play Bruins preseason finale||10.01.15 at 10:37 am ET|
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara skated by himself again prior to Thursday’s practice as he continues to rehab an upper-body injury injury suffered in last Thursday’s preseason game against the Rangers. He did not practice afterwards and will not play in Friday’s preseason finale against the Capitals.
Chara was on the ice for at least 15 minutes, working with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides. He worked mostly on retrieving pucks, catching passes and stick handling. It does not appear Chara is ready to shoot the puck, as he abstained from shooting aside from an occasional lazy wrist shot.
Asked at Thursday’s media day availability whether he could shoot yet, Chara would only reply, “I skated today.”
The 38-year-old was adamant that his current injury is not related to any previous injuries. He lamented the timing of it and expressed his desire to return quickly.
“It’s not just the games; I hate missing practices, I hate missing skating with the guys,” Chara said. “It’s everything about it that you don’t want to do on your own. It’s a team sport. You have 20-plus guys involved, so I hate not being with them. At the same time, I know that’s the process that you have to go through. I understand the day-to-day routing for a guy who is obviously on the sideline. Hopefully I can be out there soon.”
Asked whether Chara would be available for next Thursday’s season-opener, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said he is “hopeful” that Chara will play.
“He’s made a nice progression here in the last little while,” Don Sweeney. “Injuries have their own timetable. You can put a range on it, but the player himself and where he feels today, tomorrow and where we go forward. I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’m not hopeful that [he returns soon]. Clearly I am, but he’s made good progress and we’ll continue to allow the medical and the healing piece to go forward.”
Also missing from Thursday’s skate were Alexander Khokhlachev, Anton Blidh and the players recalled for Wednesday’s game (Chris Breen, Brandon DeFazio and Ben Sexton. Sweeney said after the practice that the team has made more cuts, but did not specify which players were released from camp.
The lines and pairings were as follows:
Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Jeremy Smith, Jonas Gustavsson
|Daniel Paille takes tryout with Blackhawks’ AHL team||09.29.15 at 6:00 pm ET|
Free agent left wing Daniel Paille has signed a tryout agreement with the Rockford IceHogs, the AHL affiliate of the Blackhawks. The agreement was announced by the IceHogs Tuesday afternoon.
Paille, whom the Bruins declined to re-sign this summer in free agency, had attended the Blackhawks’ camp on a professional tryout before being released from camp Monday.
The 31-year-old Paille spent six seasons with the Bruins, winning the Stanley Cup in the 2010-11 season and scoring 10 goals in the lockout-shortened 2013 season. A first-round pick of the Sabres in 2002, he was acquired from Buffalo via trade in the 2009-10 season.
After going the whole summer without being signed, Paille spent the weeks leading up to training camp skating with his former teammates at Boston University and Ristuccia Arena.