|Pastrnak watch: Getting his reps at center||09.12.14 at 8:58 pm ET|
ANTIOCH, Tenn. — Welcome to the first installment of “Pastrnak Watch,” in which we’ll sporadically provide updates on David Pastrnak’s push for a roster spot this training camp.
In Friday’s practice, which was the first for Bruins prospects since they arrived in Nashville for a five-day stay and rookie tournament, Pastrnak played all center.
Pastrnak doesn’t play center for Sodertalje SK in Sweden, though he’s played it a bit this summer for the Czech Republic Under-20 team. There’s no shot he’d be a center this season for the Bruins (the need is at right wing, the position he plays in Sweden), but Pastrnak said after the practice that playing center helps him round out his game, as it comes with more defensive responsibilities.
The 18-year-old centered a few different lines, as he skated with Seth Griffith and Anthony Camara early, and Brian Ferlin and Camara later, while also working on the power play with Camara, Griffith, Lindblad and Chris Casto.
“I think you’ll probably see him play both the center and the wing during this rookie camp; I think that’s the plan,” Providence Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the practice. “I’m kind of going off management where they slotted him in at center, so that’s where he’ll play.
“I think they’ll probably move him around, but you’ve got to do more as a centerman away from the puck, and I think it will be good for him to show the people he needs to show what he’s got in that area of the game. Like most young guys, I think he’ll struggle a little bit early on. It’s normal to want to get going on offense and get ahead of the puck and learning to play below the puck is always a challenge for a centerman. Hopefully, he catches on quick and it works out well for him. And hopefully he has the puck a lot and he doesn’t have to worry about it.”
All in all, Pastrnak looked like he fit in well with the group of NHL hopefuls. He pulled off a successful deke to score on Malcolm Subban early on during drills, but Subban answered back by gloving a wrist shot on Pastrnak’s next turn. Subban also stopped a pair of Pastrnak one-timers.
Pastrnak is wearing No. 88. During 3-on-3 drills, he put in strong work behind the net to steal the puck from a bigger defender. He also tried to pull off too fancy a spin move on Kevin Sullivan high in the zone and lost the puck. Pastrnak and the B’s rookies will face off against Panthers prospects at 2 p.m. Saturday.
More to come on Pastrnak (bigger piece Saturday in addition to these updates throughout camp).
|Bruins prospects take the ice ahead of tournament (and a quick Vince Gill story)||09.12.14 at 7:23 pm ET|
ANTIOCH, Tenn. — Bruins prospects have kicked of their stay in Tennessee with a practice at the just-opened Ford Ice Center.
The B’s youngsters will play three games as part of a four-team rookie tournament. They’ll play prospects from the Panthers on Saturday, Lightning Sunday and Predators Tuesday. The roster is as follows:
FORWARDS: Andrew Aamon*, Spencer Asuchak*, Anthony Camara, Mitchell Dempsey, Alex Fallstrom, Brian Ferlin, Seth Griffith, Cory Kane*, Dawson Leedahl*, Matt Lindblad, Pastrnak, Ben Sexton, Kevin Sullivan*.
DEFENSEMEN: Linus Arnesson, Bryce Aneloski*, Mickael Beauregard*, Chris Casto, Lee Moffie*, Frankie Simonelli*, Mike Young*.
GOALTENDERS: Adam Morrison, Malcolm Subban
*Aamon, Aneloski, Asuchak, Beauregard, Leedahl, Moffie, Simonelli, Sullivan and Young are in rookie camp on a tryout basis.
Prior to the practice, a big ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the Ford Ice Center, which will serve as the Predators’ practice facility. Among those present for the ceremony was none other than country legend and elite in-concert storyteller Vince Gill.
My dad and I go to see Gill whenever he’s in Boston, so I assumed he would be friendly enough to tolerate some punk coming up to him and saying “my father go to see you whenever you’re in Boston.” Not only was he super-friendly, but he shared that he actually grew up a Bruins fan because the Bruins’ minor-league team, the Oklahoma City Blazers, were the closest team to his hometown of Norman, Okla.
Gill said he’s never gotten a chance to go to an actual Bruins game over the years and has since adopted the Predators as his team, but said he went to tons of Blazers games as a kid, with Wayne Cashman among the Bruins he saw.
|Bruins’ Johnny Boychuk: ‘I don’t want to be traded at all’||09.10.14 at 2:07 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Johnny Boychuk hopes he hasn’t played his last game as a Bruin.
With the Bruins in a tight spot salary cap-wise ($3.218 million in space, assuming Marc Savard is put on long-term injured reserve), the team more or less needs to make some sort of move in order to sign Torey Krug and Reilly Smith, both of whom remain without contracts with just over a week before training camp begins.
Boychuk is a potential trade candidate because he is entering the final year of his contract and, should he reach free agency, would be worth more than the Bruins could afford. His limited no-trade clause also expired on May 31. Though he’s a key member of Boston’s blue line, Boston’s depth at defense means at least one player could be expendable.
Speaking to the local media for the first time this season, Boychuk said he isn’t focused on anything but playing for the Bruins.
“This is my family and you always want to stay with them,” he said. “It’s such a great team and organization.”
Boychuk admitted he has heard the reports of him possibly being traded, but he noted that Maple Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle was rumored to be traded to the Bruins for years before it actually happened in 2011. As such, he won’t put stock in what he hears until a move is actually made.
“It’s tough to hear, but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what anybody says,” Boychuk said. “If it happens, then you work on that part. But until it does, you can’t control it, so you’ve just got to keep playing the way that you can and you always want to stay here, but if something happens then it does. But you have no control over it. You want to stay with the guys that you grew up playing with.”
The Bruins recently signed their other top UFA-to-be in David Krejci to a six-year, $43.5 million extension. Not counting Savard, the B’s currently have $49,897,857 in cap dollars committed to just 10 players for the 2015-16 season. The cap is expected to go up from its current $69 million mark, but money figures to still be tight with Boychuk, Carl Soderberg and Dougie Hamilton among the players who will need new contracts. Boychuk said he would like a new deal with the Bruins, but wouldn’t have a problem with being unsigned into the season.
Asked what he feels like he’d be worth in a trade, Boychuk reiterated that he doesn’t want to find out.
“I don’t even know what I’m worth,” he said. “I’m just worth whatever somebody’s willing to give, I guess. But I don’t want to be traded at all.”
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Brad Marchand knows what Reilly Smith and Torey Krug are experiencing||09.09.14 at 5:15 pm ET|
WILMINGTON – If anyone knows what it feels like to be Torey Krug or Reilly Smith right now, it’s Brad Marchand.
The fall after the B’s won the Cup in 2011, Marchand, a restricted free agent, remained unsigned up until two days before training camp began. The sides avoided a holdout by striking a two-year, $5 million deal.
With training camp opening next week, both Krug and Smith remain without contracts. Marchand can remember the feeling of being days out of training camp and trying to agree to a new deal.
“It’s tough,” he said Tuesday. “They want to be here and we’d love to have them here. I don’t know what’s happening with the negotiations, but it is a frustrating time for both sides.
“You want to be with the guys and skating and have all that stuff behind you, because at the end of the day you love the game and you don’t want to be missing out on this stuff. Hopefully it will get done soon, and I’m sure it will.”
In the cases Krug and Smith, the circumstances are different than Marchand’s was. For one, Krug and Smith are entry level free agents and therefore don’t have any leverage. The biggest thing at play here, however, is the fact that cap space is tight.
Boston has only $3.218 million to sign both players for the coming season. A trade is expected at some point, but until the B’s do anything, forcing both players to take less than they’re worth is the team’s only move.
Training camp holdouts happen in the NHL (Drew Doughty in 2011 among them) and both P.K. Subban and Ryan O’Reilly were restricted free agents who missed games in the lockout-shortened 2013 season before eventually signing with their teams.
For his own sake, Marchand doesn’t want to see Smith, the right wing on Boston’s second line, sit out into the season. He’d rather have Smith in camp so prepare for the season with Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.
“It would be good,” Marchand said of Smith’s situation resolving itself sooner rather than later. “It’s always good to have as much time in training camp to play with your line, but that’s not something I can control.”
And if Smith remains unsigned for a long time?
“Me and Bergy will just go out and have fun by ourselves, I guess.”
|David Krejci says he wants to finish his career in Czech Republic||09.08.14 at 6:35 pm ET|
Bruins center David Krejci met with the media Monday afternoon to discuss the six-year, $43.5 million contract he signed with the team last week, and in doing so implied that it might be his last NHL contract.
The deal, which begins in the 2015-16 season, will take Krejci until he is 35 years of age. Asked whether he planned to play past then, Krejci indicated that he did, but that he would like to play in the Czech Republic.
“I want to win, and I really hope, I think we have the team to make a run, not just one year but the next few years,” Krejci said, “and in seven years from now, if we’ll have what we’re trying to achieve then it’s going to be an easier decision to go back home.
“I’ve always wanted to finish my career back home in my hometown,” he added. “That would be a way easier decision, but if not then I would have to think twice about my next move. That’s the reason why I signed here. I believe we can win not once, but more times.”
Krejci has spent his entire professional career with the Bruins since they drafted him in the second round of the 2004 draft.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Zdeno Chara admits 2 of his fingers were broken vs. Canadiens||09.08.14 at 12:49 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Zdeno Chara was careful to not go into detail regarding a hand injury believed to be a broken finger when the Bruins were eliminated by the Canadiens in the second round, even asking his agent to not comment on his injury back in May. On Monday, the Bruins captain finally confirmed that, as suspected, his shooting hand was in rough shape as the series wore on.
Chara said he did not have surgery, but admitted that both the ring finger and the pinky of his left hand were broken. Chara said Monday that the bone in his pinky was sticking out of his skin at the time of the injury and that he no longer has feeling in either finger, though he now can grip his stick normally again.
Though breaking two fingers isn’t the most gruesome hockey injury, it’s a much bigger deal than it sounds, especially considering the pinky was one of them. Without the use of the pinky a player can’t grip his stick, or much of anything for that matter.
That explains why Chara was so visibly weak on his stick, particularly late in the series. It also explains why he wasn’t shooting; Chara had just one shot on goal in Game 6 and none in Game 7.
That makes two consecutive postseasons in which Chara was hindered in a significant way in the Bruins’ final games. Chara had a hip injury that worsened over the course of the 2013 Stanley Cup finals, with the Blackhawks taking advantage of the weakened blueliner for the game-tying goal in their Cup-clinching Game 6 victory.
Chara has been in town practicing with his teammates since last week.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|David Warsofsky deserves chance somewhere in NHL||09.07.14 at 9:33 am ET|
Being NHL-ready and stuck in the AHL because of organizational depth is tough, but sometimes there’s a solution.
If it were another player, it would be logical to thank the organization for the chance and respectfully ask the team to explore trade options, but it’s more complicated than that with David Warsofsky.
The chances of him cracking Boston’s lineup as long as Torey Krug is around and healthy are remote, but the Marshfield native grew up a Bruins fan and has family here, so the idea of parting with the organization isn’t as appetizing.
“I’ve got a big family around here, and everybody loves coming to the games, so that’s obviously easy for them,” Warsofsky said this week as he attended each of the Bruins’ semi-formal practices at Ristuccia Arena. “At the end of the day, it is a business, so I think wherever hockey takes me, that’s where it is. Right now it’s Boston, so I’m pretty happy with that.”
Warsofsky, who played at Cushing Academy before heading to Boston University for three years, has spent three seasons (parts of four) in Providence since being acquired from the Blues in 2010 for Vladimir Sobotka. In Providence, he’s played his game — that of an undersized puck-moving defenseman – and last season put up 32 points in 56 regular-season games and added nine more in 12 postseason games.
He also held his own in six games last season for Boston, contributing offensively by scoring his first NHL goal in his fourth game on Dec. 28 against Ottawa and assisting on a Chris Kelly goal against the Senators on Feb. 8.
“Obviously to get a couple games in and get that confidence that you can play at that level is obviously good,” he said. “In my head I obviously thought I could play at that level, but the reassurance of coming up here and playing well definitely helped a lot too.”
This offseason, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said he considers Warsofsky to be in the group of nine NHL defensemen he feels the Bruins possess. He’s probably right, but as long as Torey Krug is in town and healthy, none of us can be sure.
Both players possess similar size (Krug is listed at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, Warsofsky is listed as being the same height and 10 pounds lighter). They’re both strong skaters and power play assets. Warsofsky, at 24 years of age, is less than a year older than Krug.
With all the defensemen the Bruins have, there isn’t room for that redundancy. Krug has spent the majority of his Bruins career as the team’s No. 5/6 defenseman in addition to his power play responsibilities. Warsofsky isn’t going to leapfrog him.
“It is a tough situation with all the defensemen they have here, and obviously Torey and me play a similar type of game,” Warsofsky said. “I’m just focusing on myself right now, [which] is all I can really do; control what I can control and I’ll see what happens [in training camp].”
So again, a player in Warsofsky’s position might look for opportunities elsewhere, much like how the Bruins have looked at trade options to give Jordan Caron an opportunity to be in an NHL lineup every night. As a restricted free agent this summer, Warsofsky could have tried to leverage his way to another team, but instead happily signed a one-year, two-way deal to stay with the B’s.
“Obviously I wanted to come back to the Bruins,” he said. “This is my hometown and I want to play for the Bruins for a long time.”
Whether that happens remains to be seen. The Bruins need to make some sort of trade in order to free up space if they want to give Krug and Reilly Smith, both unsigned entry level free agents, respectable contracts. Trading Warsofsky wouldn’t solve any of the team’s cap woes, but including him in a trade would both yield a better return and finally give Warsofsky the opportunity he seems to deserve.
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