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Peter Chiarelli says Bruins still in contact with Tomas Kaberle 07.01.11 at 6:02 pm ET
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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said in a conference call Friday that he has remained in contact with Tomas Kaberle‘s camp about potentially bringing the free agent defenseman back to Boston.

“I’ve had a few discussions today with him, and that’s where I’ll leave it, but I have had a couple discussions,” Chiarelli said. “Again, I’m not ruling out re-signing Tomas.”

While Michael Ryder left the team to take a two-year deal in Dallas, Kaberle has remained on the market despite being the top defenseman available. Christian Ehrhoff and James Wisniewski signed with the Sabres and Blue Jackets, respectively, before free agency opened, while Ed Jovanovski took a deal to go back to Florida Friday.

Chiarelli told both Kaberle and Ryder prior to free agency to test the market, and that they would keep in contact. Chiarelli said that if Kaberle accepts a deal elsewhere without consulting the B’s, he is prepared for such a scenario.

As for whether there could be another signing in the immediate future, Chiarelli didn’t see anything coming in the next however many hours.

“We’re still talking to a couple players,” Chiarelli, who later clarified his statement to say Kaberle was one of them, said. “I don’t see anything imminent in the next evening or day, but that’s about all I can tell you right now.”

Read More: Peter Chiarelli, Tomas Kaberle,
Peter Chiarelli: Benoit Pouliot ‘has to be pushed’ 07.01.11 at 5:53 pm ET
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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli spoke to the media Friday to discuss the movement of a couple of former Montreal wingers. The B’s saw Michael Ryder sign with the Stars on the opening day of free agency, and after the former Bruins winger took a two-year, $7 million deal in Dallas, the B’s inked former Habs winger Benoit Pouliot to a one-year, $1.1 million deal. The team also announced the signings of third goaltender Anton Khudobin and center Trent Whitfield, both of whom recieved two-year deals and will almost certainly start the season in Providence.

Pouliot was the fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft by Minnesota, but has scored only 35 goals in 183 career games.

“Maybe someone who has underachieved, but has a real good skill package and size package,” Chiarelli said of Pouliot. “He has to be pushed. I think we have a strong group that can push him, and I told Benoit that. He’s only 25, and he’s still relatively young. We hope that he can buy into what we’re selling. I like his size, I like his skating, I like his shot.”

The GM said Pouliot can play different forward positions, but that “he’s got to earn his spot” on the Bruins. Pouliot was a healthy scratch in the last four games of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals and the Habs decided against tendering him after the season, allowing him to hit the open market.

“There was due diligence [before signing him],” Chiarelli said. “A lot of due diligence. ‘€¦ I don’t know the circumstances behind [Montreal] not tendering him. He was available. He’s a guy that had showed some promise and that our scouts and myself, I like him as a player. ‘€¦ We were happy with the due diligence we did.”

Read More: Benoit Pouliot,
Bruins sign Benoit Pouliot 07.01.11 at 4:24 pm ET
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According to RDS, the Bruins have signed free agent left wing Benoit Pouliot to a one-year, $1.1 million deal. The news came shortly afetr the Stars announced they had signed former B’s winger Michael Ryder.

Pouliot is one of the more notable recent high first-round picks to not find stardom in the NHL. Chosen fourth overall by the Wild in 2005, he never had a 10-goal-season with the team before being traded to Montreal in 2009. He spent the last two seasons with the Canadiens, but fell out of favor towards the end of his tenure. He was a healthy scratch in the last four games of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals vs. the Bruins.

In 183 NHL games, Pouliot has scored 35 goals and added 37 assists for 72 career points.

Read More: Benoit Pouliot,
Stars sign Michael Ryder 07.01.11 at 3:53 pm ET
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The Dallas Stars announced they have signed free agent winger Michael Ryder. The Newfoundland native played the last three seasons with the Bruins, scoring 63 regular-season goals over the span and winning the Stanley Cup last month.

The deal is for two years and $7 million, meaning Ryder will have a salary cap it of $3.5 million each year. Ryder is coming off a three-year, $12 million pact with the Bruins signed on July 1 of 2008.

After breaking into the league with the Canadiens, Ryder left Montreal for Boston and scored 27 goals in his debut season with Boston. He followed with 18 goals in each of the next two seasons, but developed a reputation as a big-game player due to his increased production in the postseason. Ryder had eight goals and nine assists in the postseason last year for the Bruins.

Tomas Kaberle is now the only Bruin from the Stanley Cup finals lineup left on the open market.

Blue Jackets sign James Wisniewski 07.01.11 at 11:43 am ET
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Tomas Kaberle’s biggest competition on the free agent market never even made it to unrestricted free agency. The Blue Jackets inked defenseman James Wisniewski to a six-year, $33 million pact Friday morning, less than an hour before free agency was set to open.

The pact will command an annual cap hit of $5.5 million, and leaves Tomas Kaberle and Ed Jovanovski as the top free agent defensemen. The Bruins are letting Kaberle test the market to see what he can get, but do not consider themselves out of the running for the 33-year-old.

Of course, with Wisniewski and Christian Ehrhoff (Sabres) signed, any team in need of a puck-moving defenseman must now put Kaberle atop their list. Kaberle disappointed in his time with the B’s, as turnovers and cuts in his icetime suggested, but he finished the postseason tied with Dennis Seidenberg for the most points (11) amongst Bruins’ defensemen.

Wisniewski finished last season with the Canadiens after being acquired during the season from the Islanders. The Habs sent his rights to Columbus this week in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick, but since the 27-year-old signed with the team, the Blue Jackets will instead send a fifth-rounder to Montreal.

Read More: 2011 NHL Free Agency, Christian Ehrhoff, James Wisniewski, Tomas Kaberle
With five returning, who will be the other Bruins’ defenseman? 06.30.11 at 2:34 pm ET
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The Bruins have five of their six defensemen from the Stanley Cup finals under contract through at least next season, with Tomas Kaberle’s spot the only question mark. B’s general manager Peter Chiarelli said Thursday that the team will let Kaberle test the waters, and that if he signs elsewhere, they’ll find a replacement. That means whoever the B’s have back there next year needs to be at least somewhat offensively minded. After the power play woes of the playoffs, that’s only logical.

So who might be that last (not necessarily the sixth) defenseman be? Here are some options:

TOMAS KABERLE (free agent, Bruins)

Age: 33

2010-11 team: Maple Leafs/Bruins

2010-11 stats: 82 GP, 4 G, 43 A, 47 P, +4 (regular season)

25 GP, 0 G, 11 A, 11 P, +8 (playoffs)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 214 pounds

Pros: Outstanding passer

Cons: Poor skater, turnover-prone

The skinny: The sound of a full Garden screaming “SHOOT!” might keep Kaberle awake at night, and though there were plenty of roadbumps on the way to him becoming the solid player he was in the Cup finals, more time in Boston might make him better. Perhaps the reason he looked more like himself later in the postseason was because he was getting comfortable, but the minutes Claude Julien gave him in the playoffs suggest he won’t be worth the payday he seeks. If the B’s can get him for $3 million or less, maybe they’ll take a flier. Any more than that just isn’t sensible.

STEVEN KAMPFER (Bruins, signed through 2013)

Age: 22

2010-11 team: Bruins

2010-11 stats: 38 GP, 5 G, 5 A, 10 P, +9 (with Boston)

22 GP, 3 G, 16 A, 16 P, +10 (with Providence)

Height/weight: 5-foot-10, 188 pounds

Pros: Good skater, right-handed shot

Cons: Faded/lost spot down the stretch

The skinny: Kampfer needed very little time to settle into the NHL, and though his partner (some guy named Chara) had plenty to do with that, he showed he is capable of contributing at this level. He had as costly a 13-minute span as anyone could back on March 17, and his misplay and a penalty not only cost the Bruins the game in Nashville, but it cost Kampfer his spot in the lineup. He injured his knee while playing in the AHL late in the season, but was good enough to play again midway through the Eastern Conference finals. He did not play a game in the postseason.

If it ends up being an in-house promotion, the B’s will also give Matt Bartkowski a good look.

JAMES WISNIEWSKI (UPDATE: signed six-year, $33 million deal with Blue Jackets)

Age: 27

2010-11 team: Islanders/Canadiens

2010-11 stats: 75 GP, 10 G, 41 A, 51 P, -14  (regular season)

6 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 P, -2 (playoffs)

Height/weight: 5-foot-11, 208 pounds

Pros: Hard-nosed, crafty with the puck

Cons: Had career year in contract year, price may be high

The skinny: The Michigan native could become fast friends with Kampfer and Tim Thomas (both from Michigan), and given his tendency to get under the skin of opponents, he and Brad Marchand would probably go from being enemies to pals pretty quickly. The Red Wings have only three defensemen under contract for next season, so the idea of bringing the local boy to Detroit makes that a logical potential destination for Wisniewski. If the Red Wings are in on the 27-year-old, they won’t be alone. Wisniewski has only had one season with more than 30 points, and it was his contract year. He’ll be paid well, so the price could be too steep for the Bruins’ liking.

CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF (UPDATE: SIGNED 10-YEAR, $40 M contract with Sabres)

Age: 28

2010-11 team: Canucks

2010-11 stats: 79 GP, 14 G, 36 A, 50 P, +19 (regular season)
23 GP, 2 G, 10 A, 12 P, -13 (playoffs)

Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 200 pounds

Pros: Durable (77+ games each of last five seasons), strong on power play

Cons: Too much money, this video

The skinny: Ehroff suffered a shoulder injury against his old team in the Western Conference finals, explaining why he was less than impressive vs. the Bruins. The shoulder will not require surgery.

The German media would go nutbars at the prospect of Dennis Seidenberg, one of only two German Stanley Cup champions, to be teamed with Ehrhoff. The two are actually good friends, as they have played on national teams since they were 17 and were defensive partners at the Olympics. The issue is that the Islanders traded a fourth-round pick for his rights this week and, despite general manager Garth Snow saying they offered “well north” of Kevin Bieksa‘s five-year, $23 million pact, couldn’t get him signed. Maybe that’s because Ehrhoff wants to play for a winner, but it may also be because he’s holding out for top dollar. If it’s the latter, you can count the Bruins out. Given the financial aspect, it’s hard to imagine any circumstance in which the B’s bring him in.

_______

At the end of the day, the Bruins might have to overpay for Wisniewski, which makes one feel that if the B’s don’t get Kaberle back, they could just go with Kampfer. The 22-year-old is still progressing, and if he plays with Chara, it will be that much easier. Plus, it’s the most economical thing to do. Unless the B’s can get a deal on a veteran who brings more to the table, they might be better off hoping that, much like Adam McQuaid did this past season, Kampfer can take an opportunity and run with it.

Read More: 2011 NHL Free Agency, Christian Ehrhoff, James Wisniewski, Peter Chiarelli
Peter Chiarelli: Bruins letting Tomas Kaberle, Michael Ryder test market 06.30.11 at 12:42 pm ET
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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli spoke with the media Thursday in anticipation of the NHL’s free agency period opening Friday. The Bruins have two players set to hit unrestricted free agency in winger Michael Ryder and defenseman Tomas Kaberle. The GM said that ties have not been severed with either player, but that the B’s likely won’t be active in the early stages of free agency.

“Certainly theres no finality to our relationship,” Chiarelli said of Kaberle. “What we’ve agreed to with Tomas and his agent is that he would look into the market and we would continue to talk with him. ‘€¦ Let me be perfectly clear, there’s no end to the relationship because we haven’t signed him to this point.”

Chiarelli noted that if the Bruins are unable to retain Kaberle, he will look both in-house and elsewhere for his replacement on the Bruins’ blue line.

He also indicated that the B’s are taking the same approach with Ryder, and that if the players take deals with other teams, the Bruins are willing to accept that fate.

“I’m wary of the market and where it stands now,” Chiarelli said. “I said, ‘Look guys, go out there, see what’s going on and let’s continue to talk.’ The risk that we run is that they get a deal and then they can’t come back to us, and I understand that risk. That’s where those two guys stand.”

Depending on what the B’s do with Ryder, Kaberle, restricted free agent Brad Marchand and what happens with Marc Savard, the team could be in good standing with the league’s salary cap (set for $64.3 million next season). Despite the fact that they should have money to spend, allocating resources to multiple years could make things difficult for the Bruins, as both David Krejci and Tuukka Rask will see their current contracts expire after the coming season. Tyler Seguin‘s deal is up in two years, and one would have to assume all three players will see increases in pay.

“It certainly impacts it,” Chiarelli said of knowing they have future raises to give. “I’m a little wary of the market, first and foremost. The cap is high, and the cap is certainly going to come down in some shape or form, so generally speaking, I’m wary of the market and where I think it may be going.

“Two, and a close two, is that we do have guys that we warrant to re-sign, and they’re going to command raises. I’m really not in a position to go out and give a guy a big-term contract. I think thwart we can find that help elsewhere other than a big-term contract and still be in a good position to re-sign our guys as they come up the next year or two.”

The Bruins qualified restricted free agents Marchand, Andrew Bodnarchuk and Stefan Chaput. Chiarelli said that negotiations with Marchand have not yet begun.

The GM also said that the team will not re-sign defenseman Shane Hnidy, who served as a healthy scratch/depth player during the stretch run and postseason. Hnidy, 35, played three games in both the regular season and postseason.

“We’ve told Shane that we aren’t re-signing him,” Chiarelli said. “I think he’ll be a good addition somewhere else, and I told him that. Certainly I’d help him along the way for that.”

As for whether the list of Bruins’ targets may be shrinking, Chiarelli admitted that some players have been taken out of consideration in recent days. The rights of players set to hit free agency have been traded, which may factor into that.

“I have a big whiteboard in my office and I have our interest list and I have our secondary list,” he said. “Yes, there are names knocked off. Just because they’€™re on our interest list doesn’€™t mean we’€™re going to go off and sign them, but certainly we’€™re going to explore them. And I’€™ve crossed off names.”

One thing that came up time and time again was Chiarelli noting how “wary” of the market he was. He assessed the crop as being less than outstanding, which may be a reason why he would have reservations about making a big splash.

“I look at my board and I see the number of players and the quality of players,” he said. “And the numbers may be the same, [but] the quality is … there’€™s just not the high end players. Then of course you’€™ve got the floor of the cap and teams have to spend, so you’€™re going to get contracts I think that, maybe that, they’€™re generally higher in the unrestricted market, but I even think they’€™ll be that added premium because teams have to spend. … That’€™s why I’€™m a little cautious going into this market. There’€™s not the supply that there normally is, and I think the demand is greater because of the cap floor and teams have to spend.”

Read More: Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Marc Savard, Michael Ryder
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