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10 ‘players to watch’ at Bruins development camp 07.11.16 at 2:27 pm ET
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Charlie McAvoy will skate in a Bruins jersey for the first time this week. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Charlie McAvoy will skate in a Bruins jersey for the first time this week. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The worst question a Bruins fan can ask during the team’s annual development camp is a totally understandable one:

“Who looks good?”

That’s always a tough question to answer because of what the camp is: a few days of guys doing drills, seeing the city and getting to know the organization. Given that the camp is an assortment of prospects of varying degrees, it’s easy to get carried away with “who looks good” because some players are skating with kids who are either quite a bit younger than them or a lot further away in their development. For example: Is soon-to-be 24-year-old Zane McIntyre going to look good facing shots against some 18-year-old defensemen? Probably.

This camp is the athletic equivalent of a checkup, rather than an actual competition to make the NHL team. That said, it will be worth checking in with a number of Boston’s prospects when the on-ice portion of camp gets underway Tuesday. While keeping in mind that two of the team’s prospects won’t be there in Zach Senyshyn (mono) and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson (a number of reasons the team listed: school, family, travel), here are 10 players to watch this week:

Danton Heinen, Forward, Providence (AHL)

The Bruins need right wings like you read about and the left-shot forward has experience playing both sides. The B’s got him to go pro after his sophomore year at the University of Denver, so he’s a good bet to play in Providence this season unless things get dire in Boston.

A fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft, Heinen is considered a natural scorer whom prospects ace Kirk Luedeke (who knows more about these kids than the Bruins beat guys because he watches them) feels can push 30 goals at the NHL level some day. He put up 45 points (16 goals, 29 assists) in 40 games as a freshman and 48 points (20 goals, 28 assists) in 41 games as a sophomore. The Bruins aren’t overflowing with high-end right wing prospects who are relatively close to pushing for an NHL job, but Heinen is perhaps the most intriguing.

Brandon Carlo, Defenseman, Providence (AHL)

A defensive defenseman, the 6-foot-5 righty is probably the closest of all of the Bruins’ 2015 draft picks to reaching the NHL. The B’s see him becoming a better Adam McQuaid, which begs the question of how many more seasons McQuaid will spend in Boston.

Zane McIntyre, Goalie, Providence (AHL)

Last offseason, McIntyre was considered quite the get when he chose to sign with the Bruins rather than becoming a free agent. It wouldn’t have been Vesey-Level, but the 2015 Hobey Baker finalist was an in-demand prospect coming out of North Dakota. Splitting time with Malcolm Subban in Providence, McIntyre was underwhelming as a first year pro, posting an .898 save percentage over 31 games. Though this will be his seventh development camp, he’s still just 23 (24 next month) and has plenty of time to continue developing.

Jeremy Lauzon, Defenseman, Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)

While Carlo gets the hype, some observers will tell you that Lauzon, who was chosen 15 picks later, is the better prospect. He’s got good size (6-foot-2, 193 pounds) and put up 50 points (10 goals, 40 assists) in 46 games in the QMJHL last season. Luedeke says he’s a ways away from the NHL, but believes the lefty’s ceiling is sky-high.  Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, Daniel Vladar, Jake DeBrusk
Chris Kelly signs 1-year deal with Senators 07.07.16 at 3:08 pm ET
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Chris Kelly

Chris Kelly

Chris Kelly is returning to Ottawa on a one-year, $900,000 contract, the team announced Thursday.

The signing ends a tenure in Boston for Kelly that lasted parts of six seasons. Most notably, Kelly was a key contributor on the Bruins’ third line in 2011, which allowed the B’s to escape the first round against the Canadiens in a postseason that eventually saw them win the Stanley Cup.

After being acquired at the 2011 trade deadline for a second-round pick and winning with the team that season, Kelly was given an ‘A’ on his sweater and scored 20 goals in his first full season with the B’s in 2011-12. He then re-upped with Boston on a four-year contract that paid carried a $3 million average annual value, a contract that was often criticized as the player dealt with injuries and decreased offensive output as he aged into his mid-30s.

The Senators originally drafted Kelly 94th overall in the 1999 draft. He played his entire career with Ottawa prior to being moved to Boston.

Read More: Chris Kelly,
Zach Senyshyn (mono), Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson to miss Bruins’ development camp 07.06.16 at 12:52 pm ET
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Two of the Bruins’ top offensive prospects will not be in attendance next week when the team conducts its annual development camp.

Right wing Zach Senyshyn (mono) and center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (school, family and travel reasons) will both be absent. Senyshyn is best-known for being the player selected with the first of three picks (15th overall) that the Bruins received from the Flames in exchange for Dougie Hamilton at the 2015 draft. His selection was widely criticized given that he was a projected second- or third-round pick, but he helped alleviate fans’ concerns with a 45-goal performance in the OHL last season.

Goalie Zane McIntyre, meanwhile, will attend the camp for a seventh straight season. McIntyre turned pro last season, splitting time in Providence with Malcolm Subban.

Following is the roster for next week’s camp, which will be held at Ristuccia Arena for the final time before the team moves its practices to Brighton beginning in September.

Forwards: Jack Becker, Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk, Ryan Donato, Ryan Fitzgerald, Trent Frederic, Jesse Gabrielle, Danton Heinen, Cameron Hughes, Joona Koppanen, Sean Kuraly, Mark Naclerio, Oskar Steen

Defensemen: Brandon Carlo, Cameron Clarke, Matt Grzelcyk, Emil Johansson, Jeremy Lauzon, Ryan Lindgren, Charlie McAvoy, Wiley Sherman, Jakob Zboril

Goaltenders: Zane McIntyre, Malcolm Subban, Daniel Vladar, Stephen Dhillon (invite basis)

Bruins sign Riley Nash, Tim Schaller, re-sign Tommy Cross, Tyler Randell 07.01.16 at 5:47 pm ET
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Riley Nash scored nine goals for the Hurricanes last season. (Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports)

Riley Nash scored nine goals for the Hurricanes last season. (Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports)

In addition to the signings of David Backes, John-Michael Liles and Anton Khudobin, the Bruins announced Friday that they had agreed to contracts with forwards Riley Nash and Tim Schaller while also re-signing defenseman Tommy Cross and forward Tyler Randell.

Nash’s deal is a two-year pact worth $900,000 annually. Originally taken 21st overall by the Oilers, the now 27-year-old center has played all 242 games of his NHL career with the Hurricanes. Last season, he scored nine goals and added 13 assists for 22 points in 64 games.

Cross, Randell and Schaller all received one-year, two-way deals worth $600,000 at the NHL level. The 35th overall pick in the 2007 draft, Cross played the first three NHL games of his career last season and also captained the Providence Bruins.

As for Randell, the feisty winger enjoyed a hilariously strong and definitely unrepeatable 33.33 percent shooting percentage last season over his 27 games, as six of the 18 shots on goal with which he was credited went in the net. He figures to push for a job similar to the one he had last season as a fringe fourth-liner/extra forward on the NHL roster.

Schaller, 25, played 17 games for the Sabres last season, scoring one goal and adding two assists for three points. In 35 career NHL games, Schaller has two goals, three assists and five points.

 

Read More: Riley Nash, Tim Schaller, Tommy Cross, Tyler Randell
David Backes discusses Bruins contract length, fit with David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Spooner 07.01.16 at 5:23 pm ET
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David Backes feels he'll hold up over the length of his five-year deal. (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

David Backes feels he’ll hold up over the length of his five-year deal. (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

The best question on David Backes’ introductory conference call was asked by himself.

Or, at least, it was a question he recalled asking the Bruins as they went about trying to sign the former Blues captain.

“Through the process I was asking questions and didn’t want to pull myself out of being part of the Bruins, but I said, ‘You’ve got Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, who are top-tier center-icemen and are both right-handed,’” Backes said. “’You’re going to bring me in as another right-handed center men. Your top three center men are all going to be right-handed. How’s that going to work?’”

The elephant in the room that follows Backes’ signing is that someone’s either got to go or be used differently. Ryan Spooner is the Bruins’ sole left-shot center, so could Krejci be traded? Could Backes be moved to wing? Backes said that his talks with the B’s prior to signing focused “mostly” on him playing center, but he allowed for the possibility of playing right wing, as he did during the postseason for the Blues.

“If a guy like Spooner can play the third-line center and I move up to the right side with [Brad] Marchand and Bergeron, that gives us a heavy, responsible line that can put a lot of pucks in the net,” Backes said.

“If you want to call me third-line, I completely respect that,” Backes said. “Those two other guys are awesome, but I’ve got to imagine that we’re going to share a lot of responsibility and not burden one guy with all the hard ice or the heavy lifting. When you have responsible guys that can share those roles, then we can all flourish on the other side of the ice and have tons of energy to go out for the ends of games to close it out or score a late big goal.”

The number of right-shot centers presents something of a redundancy. The length of his contract, however, is what is most worrisome. Backes has stayed healthy throughout his career, but one has to wonder who he will hold up in the final two years of his deal.

“I’m 32; I’m not 52,” Backes said. “I think there’s plenty of legs and plenty of physicality and energy left in me. The terms that I’ve come to, people may have questions, but for me, I expect to still be at the top of my game for the last year and still be a contributing member for the Boston Bruins.”

Added Backes: “I don’t think the game’s getting slower. It’s a fast game, but if you start to manage the puck in the right way, you can occupy the offensive zone and do a lot of the things that teams that are heavy and control the puck and occupy the zone do, it’s not a track meet up and down the ice. With Pittsburgh winning the Cup, a team that was kind of designed on that track meet, ‘let’s go, let’s see who can skate the fastest up the ice,’ there may be a trend or a tendency to try to start to build teams like that, but you’ve also seen teams in the LA Kings and the Boston Bruins win playing that heavy game and maybe not having the fastest team, but winning every battle that you get into, being able to control the puck once you get it.”

Read More: David Backes, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Spooner
Source: Bruins final offer to Loui Eriksson was 5 years, low $5 million range 07.01.16 at 5:11 pm ET
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Loui Eriksson

Loui Eriksson

As of Thursday, the Bruins seemed all but out of the running for Loui Eriksson, with their final offer not suiting what the 30-year-old wing was confident he would get on the open market.

As it turned out, Eriksson was right.

During negotiations, Eriksson’s camp made it clear that they felt worthy of a six-year, $36-million deal. According to a source familiar with the negotiations, the Bruins’ final offer to Eriksson was for five years with a cap hit in the low $5-million range. Eriksson ended up getting six and $6 million annually from the Canucks, with the Bruins finalizing a five-year deal with the same average annual value for 32-year-old David Backes shortly after. Eriksson got nearly $30 million of his deal in signing bonus money.

Eriksson’s deal with the Canucks carries a full no-move clause in its first two years, a full no-trade clause in the next two years and a limited no-trade in the final two years. Negotiations with the Bruins never reached the point of no-trade rights because of the gap in term and dollars.

Read More: Loui Eriksson,
Lee Stempniak signs 2-year deal with Hurricanes, Zach Trotman signs with Kings, Brett Connolly to Capitals 07.01.16 at 2:28 pm ET
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Brett Connolly

Brett Connolly

Loui Eriksson wasn’t the only veteran right wing the Bruins lost in free agency on Friday, as Lee Stempniak departed on a two-year deal from the Hurricanes that will pay him an average of $2.5 million annually. Brett Connolly, whom the B’s could have kept as a restricted free agent but declined to tender a qualifying offer, signed a one-year deal with the Capitals.

Stempniak, who skated with the Bruins in their informal practices prior to training camp but chose to take a professional tryout with the Devils, scored 16 goals in 63 games for New Jersey before he was dealt to Boston for second and fourth-round picks. The Hurricanes will be Stempniak’s 10th NHL team.

The Bruins had interest in bringing back Stempniak, but ultimately spent the early hours of free agency signing fellow deadline acquisition John-Michael Liles as well as David Backes and, reportedly, goaltender Anton Khudobin.

Connolly’s departure officially ends a very disappointing stint in Boston for the Lightning’s 2010 sixth overall pick. Boston traded two second-round picks for Connolly at the 2015 trade deadline, but a broken finger limited him to five games with Boston that season and he followed it with a nine-goal 2015-16 season.

Also leaving the Bruins in unrestricted free agency was Zach Trotman, who took a one-year deal with the Kings. Matt Irwin, who played two games for the B’s last season before being banished to Providence, signed a two-year deal with Nashville.

Read More: Lee Stempniak,

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