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Looking into the ‘low mileage’ claim with Kevan Miller 05.26.16 at 3:19 pm ET
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Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 3.13.16 PMPart of the Bruins’ justification of re-signing Kevan Miller to a four-year, $10 million contract is that Miller has what Don Sweeney calls “relative low mileage.”

On paper, they’re in that maybe-kind-of-technically-correct area. Miller has still only played 180 NHL games, and Hall of Fame defenseman Denis Potvin’s theory is that it takes 300 games in the NHL before a defenseman’s development is complete.

“For a defenseman, you come into the NHL and I think the first 100 games are a freebie,” Potvin explained to back in 2014. “Guys around the league are seeing you develop; they’ve heard about you, there’s talk about first-round draft picks, that kind of thing. So you kind of get a freebie the first hundred games.

“The next hundred games, you’re starting to realize that they’re aware of you, and you’re starting to deal with the glove in the face and a little bit of backtalk, a little bit more hitting and a little more of them trying to get to you.

“The next hundred games are spent adjusting to life in the big leagues. By the time you get to 300 games, you’ve got a pretty good feel of where you belong, how you can play this game, how you fit with your own team. I think it takes that long, and we’re talking a good three years, four years before a guy can really reach his maximum.”

Here’s the thing, though: Miller, who will turn 29 in the second month of next season, is no spring chicken. And as for the mileage, it’s not like he wasn’t playing hockey while he was working his way to the NHL (163 AHL games). Furthermore, he’s spent enough seasons in the NHL (three) to suggest that staying healthy is a challenge. Best-case, he’ll hit that 300-game mark during the second year of his new contract. To say he likely won’t get worse is a safe enough assumption, but the Bruins say he’s still getting better. Common logic would suggest a player of Miller’s age might not a whole lot of untapped potential.

Miller’s contract will take up his age 29, 30, 31 and 32 seasons, years that should be considered rather harmless as far as depreciation goes. A University of British Columbia study published in 2014 found that defensemen typically perform “within 90 percent of their peak” from ages 24 to 34 years old, which is two years longer than the study found to be the case for forwards. IPOD (Incredible Pal of Deej) Ryan Lambert also took a diligent look at this, and found 32 to be the age where uh-oh time typically begins for defensemen.  Read the rest of this entry »

Don Sweeney lists center as an area Bruins might look to upgrade 05.25.16 at 12:06 pm ET
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This is just a picture of Steven Stamkos. Relax. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

This is just a picture of Steven Stamkos. Relax. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Here’s an interesting tidbit from Wednesday’s conference call with Bruins general manager Don Sweeney and coach Claude Julien: When asked what he wanted to fix, Sweeney listed center as a position he’d like to address via free agency or trade.

At least at the NHL level, center is the one position where the Bruins seem completely set. The team has Patrice Bergeron signed through 2021-22, David Krejci signed through 2020-21, Ryan Spooner signed for another year and Noel Acciari still on his entry level contract.

“We’ve got areas that we want to address in the depth of our organization, more likely in the forward position, either on the right wing or the center and again on the back end,” Sweeney said. “But we’re exploring a bunch of different things trade-wise. It’s difficult in this league, but I think that we’re in a position with two first-round picks to either be selecting really good players or to be in the marketplace.”

In terms of organizational depth, the B’s probably could use bodies in the middle, as Providence first-liner Alexander Khokhlachev is expected to leave North America to play in the KHL. Or, if Bruins fans want, they can take Sweeney’s answer as a “saying there’s a chance” quote to attach to pipe dreams of Steven Stamkos coming to Boston. Whichever.

Some other quick takeaways from the conference call:

– Sweeney said the Bruins still hope to sign Loui Eriksson.

– New assistant coaches Bruce Cassidy and Jay Pandolfo will have specific roles. Cassidy will be on the bench, running the defense. Pandolfo, who will officially be a coach for the first time after spending the last two seasons in player development, will be the team’s “eye in the sky,” meaning he’ll work from the press level.

– The Bruins have had discussions with restricted free agent Torey Krug and intend to sign him. That shouldn’t come as breaking news, but then again the Dougie Hamilton fiasco told us that good RFA defensemen and this team are no sure thing.

– On the impact of Kevan Miller’s new contract, Sweeney answered a question about possibly trading Adam McQuaid or Dennis Seidenberg by saying that he will explore anything and everything. A non-committal answer, yes, but he certainly doesn’t sound married to the idea of keeping the defensemen he has under contract.

– Providence assistant Kevin Dean will be among the candidates Sweeney will interview for the AHL head coaching gig.

– Sweeney has not told any of the Bruins’ free agents — restricted or unrestricted — that they won’t be back yet. The GM said he might have those discussions this week.

Read More: Don Sweeney, Loui Eriksson, Steven Stamkos,
Bruins still hope to re-sign Loui Eriksson 05.25.16 at 11:45 am ET
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Loui Eriksson

Loui Eriksson

The signing of Kevan Miller does not figure to impact what ends up happening with Loui Eriksson.

Speaking on a conference call Wednesday, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said that the team remains interested in retaining Eriksson, who was one of three 30-goal-scorers for Boston last season. Playing in his third season with the B’s since coming over from Dallas in the Tyler Sequin trade, Eriksson added 33 assists to his 30 goals for a total of 63 points.

“We’ve been in discussions with Loui and have a pretty good idea where they would like to be at. We’ll see whether or not we can find common ground there, but we have been having ongoing discussions on that front.

“As I’ve always said, [I] really respect him as a player. He had a fabulous year. Would love to be able to retain him.”

The Bruins offered Eriksson a four-year contract prior to the trade deadline, but Eriksson’s camp has insisted on at least five. The veteran wing will turn 31 in July.

The team floated after the trade deadline that the player was not in high demand on the trade market, an idea that Eriksson didn’t necessarily believe.

“It’s hard to tell [if teams didn’t offer the Bruins high draft picks],” Eriksson told after the season. “I don’t know. There was a lot of things going on at around that time.

“I think the type of player that I am, I think a lot of teams want that type of player. We’ll see what’s going to happen.”

Eriksson is coming off a four-year contract worth an average annual value of $4.25 million. He figures to get somewhere in the $5 million or $6 million range annually depending on term.

Bruins, Kevan Miller agree to 4-year, $10 million deal 05.24.16 at 2:55 pm ET
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Kevan Miller

Kevan Miller

The Bruins and Kevan Miller have agreed to a four-year, $10 million deal, according to his agent Peter Fish.

The 28-year-old defenseman played 71 games for the Bruins this past season, his third in the NHL, and posted a career-high 18 points (5 goals, 13 assists) while playing 19:04 per game.

Miller was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He was coming off a two-year, $1.6 million contract.

The new contract for Miller does not have any no-trade rights.

The Bruins also re-upped restricted free agent Seth Griffith with a one-year, two-way deal. The right wing was coming off his entry level contract.

Read More: Kevan Miller,
Bruce Cassidy, Jay Pandolfo promoted to NHL staff; Doug Jarvis let go by Bruins 05.24.16 at 10:43 am ET
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Jay Pandolfo will join his former coach's staff. (Kevin Hoffman/USA Today Sports)

Jay Pandolfo will join his former coach’s staff. (Kevin Hoffman/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins announced a number of moves to their coaching staff Tuesday, most notably that Bruce Cassidy and Jay Pandolfo will join the NHL team as assistant coaches, while longtime assistant coach Doug Jarvis will not be retained.

Cassidy and Pandolfo will join Joe Sacco and Bob Essensa on Claude Julien’s staff. Both Sacco’s future with the team was up in the air following the season, but the B’s have retained the former Avalanche head coach.

For Cassidy, this will be his first time serving as an NHL coach since 2006, as he was let go by the Blackhawks after serving two years an assistant. Prior to that, he was head coach of the Capitals for a season and a half.

After coaching in the OHL, Cassidy was hired by the Bruins as an assistant for Providence in the 2008-09 season. He took over for Rob Murray as head coach after the 2010-11 season. He had a 207-128-45 record in five seasons with Providence.

After retiring in 2013, Pandolfo spent two seasons working in player development with the Bruins. Last season, he served as the organization’s director of player development, working extensively with Providence players. During his NHL career, Pandolfo played for Julien-coached teams in New Jersey and Boston.

Jarvis joins Doug Houda as assistant coaches the Bruins chose to let go after missing the playoffs for two straight seasons. Houda has since caught on with the Red Wings.

Additionally, the team named Paul Whissel director of sports performance and rehab.

Brad Marchand wins gold medal with Team Canada at World Championships 05.22.16 at 7:50 pm ET
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Brad Marchand and Team Canada earned a gold medal in the 2016 IIHF World Championships Sunday, with Canada defeating Finland in the tournament’s championship in Russia.

Marchand had an assist on Canada’s second goal (an empty-netter) and had four goals and three assists for seven points over 10 games in the tournament. His biggest goal of the tournament came in Canada’s semifinal win over Team USA on Saturday.

Team USA, of which Bruins left wing Frank Vatrano was a member, lost to Russia in the bronze medal game Sunday. Vatrano finished the tournament with three goals and five assists for eight points in 10 games.

Brad Marchand, Frank Vatrano to meet in World Championships semis 05.19.16 at 9:36 pm ET
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Brad Marchand and Frank Vatrano will meet in the IIHF World Championship semifinals Saturday, with the Bruins left wings representing Canada and the United States, respectively.

Marchand has three goals and a pair of assists for five points through eight games for Team Canada, while Vatrano has a goal and five assists for six points. Vatrano also has 24 shots on goal in the tournament.

The other semifinal game will be played between Finland and the tournament’s host country of Russia. The USA-Canada game will be played at 8:15 p.m. local time.

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