|Three questions for Bruins fans heading into the draft||06.24.16 at 1:19 pm ET|
BUFFALO — With the draft now hours away, all is quiet on the Bruins’ front. As we learned a year ago, that doesn’t mean that some absolutely bonkers stuff is out of the question. So, crazy season about to begin in the NHL, here are three questions for Bruins fans:
|What stats say about Bruins’ potential trade targets||06.24.16 at 11:34 am ET|
BUFFALO — Don Sweeney is trying to trade for a defenseman. There’s also a pretty good chance he’s trying to trade a defenseman, as he said Thursday that he has had discussions with teams about moving current roster players for draft picks.
To put on our speculation caps, the question of whom Sweeney might be interested in trading would seem obvious enough. If he can move Dennis Seidenberg’s contract (two more years at a $4 million cap hit) for anything, he should (and likely would) do it. Adam McQuaid (three more years at $2.75 million annually) is also a player the team should consider moving given the redundancy presented by this offseason’s signing of fellow third-pairing righty Kevan Miller.
The more important question is whom the Bruins might target as far as acquiring a big-name defenseman goes, and two names that have picked up steam throughout the league in trade talks are Kevin Shattenkirk and Cam Fowler. Shattenkirk is 27 with one more year on his contract ($4.25 million cap hit) before becoming an unrestricted free agent and Fowler is 24 with two more years left at $4 million against the cap before reaching UFA status.
Both players are top-four guys, though neither should be mistaken for a No. 1 defenseman. Shattenkirk is a righty, while Fowler is a lefty. At the NHL level at least, the Bruins’ bigger need is for a left-shot defenseman (they often can play both sides; righties typically can’t play the left side), thought needs could change if the Bruins were to deal one of their current D. Here’s an Own The Puck breakdown of each player’s attributes:
|Milan Lucic open to reuniting with Peter Chiarelli with Oilers||06.23.16 at 8:29 pm ET|
BUFFALO — With Milan Lucic headed for free agency, one potential fit that’s been thrown around is the Oilers. Why? Because there’s a guy who works there who already has experience paying Lucic a lot of money.
So would Lucic, who spent last season with the Kings but could not come to terms on an extension, be interested in reuniting with Peter Chiarelli in Edmonton?
“I’m open to them,” Lucic told WEEI.com Thursday. “Open to all my options heading into July 1.”
Lucic, who spent the first eight years of his career in Boston, was traded to the Kings prior to last year’s draft in exchange for the 13th overall pick, Martin Jones and Colin Miller. He had 20 goals and 35 assists for 55 points over 81 games in his lone season in Los Angeles.
|Free agency looks likely for Loui Eriksson; Bruins to take ‘one more stab at it’||06.23.16 at 7:52 pm ET|
BUFFALO — Don Sweeney has long been hopeful that he and super agent J.P. Barry would be able to bridge the gap and get a new contract done for veteran right wing Loui Eriksson.
With two days left until Eriksson will be free to interview with other teams and over a week until he’ll become an unrestricted free agent, Sweeney didn’t appear to be in a very hopeful state.
“It may not happen,” Sweeney said of an extension.
“I’m going to have a conversation again with J.P. and see if things have changed and take one more stab at it to see if he thinks the internal landscape is as green as we think it is as opposed to what the outside may look like,” Sweeney said. “Obviously he’s on the cusp of maybe exploring things.”
Term has long been a stumbling block between the two sides. The Bruins have been unwilling to go beyond four years on a contract for Eriksson, who will turn 31 next month.
In other free agency news, the Bruins will not bring back Jonas Gustavsson. Zach Trotman will go to market, while the team has had contact with Lee Stempniak and John-Michael Liles.
|Peter Chiarelli puts idea of getting a No. 1 defenseman in perspective||06.23.16 at 3:19 pm ET|
BUFFALO — In rewatching Edmonton president of hockey operations Peter Chiarelli’s availability with reporters from Thursday morning, it was hard not to notice a point he made regarding his own team’s issues that applies to the Bruins.
A reporter asked Chiarelli about trading for a No. 1 defenseman. Chiarelli shed light on such a pursuit by noting something that fans in every market probably don’t consider often enough.
“Over the years, we’ve had discussions with teams I’ve been with, like, how many true No. 1 D are there? Maybe there’s 12,” Chiarelli said. “So there’s 30 teams and there’s 12 No. 1 D, so to think that you’re going to get a No. 1 D, it’s tough.”
While one of Chiarelli’s biggest blunders in Boston involved losing a top-pairing defenseman (Johnny Boychuk), the point he raises is correct. Look around the league. Keith Yandle isn’t a No. 1 defenseman and just god paid $6.35 million annually on a seven-year deal. Alex Goligoski isn’t a No. 1 (on a good team, anyway) and he got $5.45 million a year over five years. Kevin Shattenkirk, a top-four guy who would play big minutes in Boston but is far from a stud, might get traded for a haul. Food for thought.
Watch the video of Chiarelli’s press conference here, courtesy of TSN.
|Jack Eichel wants Jimmy Vesey in Buffalo, but understands Bruins are probably ‘in the back of his mind’||06.23.16 at 1:25 pm ET|
BUFFALO — When the Sabres sent a third-round pick to the Predators for the rights to North Reading native and stud left wing prospect Jimmy Vesey, their hope was obvious: Vesey would pass up his promise to go to unrestricted free agency and instead team with fellow Massachusetts native and Jack Eichel to solidify a young offensive nucleus in Buffalo.
The promise hasn’t changed, however. Vesey’s camp said the day of the trade that the player would still go to free agency on Aug. 15. Should that hold true, all the Sabres have is time to sell him on their plan so that when all is said and done, Buffalo is the player’s choice in free agency.
Fortunately for the Sabres, they have one of the most talented young players in the league as a recruiting tool. Yet while Eichel put in his sales pitch soon after Monday’s trade (the two work out together every day), he doesn’t expect any good news before Aug. 15.
“I don’t think in his mind anything has changed,” Eichel told WEEI.com Thursday. “I think he’s still going to wait until free agency, but it’s nice to have him part of the organization, I guess. It would be great if he came to the Sabres, but he’s going to do whatever’s best for him at that point.”
Furthermore, the 2015 second overall pick is aware of the looming threat on Causeway Street. Shortly after Vesey announced his intentions to not sign with the Predators and instead head for free agency, chatter began (and a Boston Herald report outwardly said) that Vesey had his sights set on signing with the hometown Bruins.
Though Eichel thinks Vesey would make a hell of a Sabre, he can recognize that the Bruins might represent a threat to his teams odds of landing the player.
“I mean, he grows up in Boston watching the Bruins and obviously I think that’s got to be in the back of his mind,” Eichel said. “He went to school in Boston at Harvard, so he’s comfortable and familiar with that area. If that’s his preference and that’s what he wants to do, then I’m sure he’ll do it. But I’m sure he has options and a lot of things going through his head, so I know he’ll just take his time and make his decision. [I wish him] all the best.”
Eichel, who played with Vesey for Team USA at last year’s World Championships and is currently playing in a summer league with Vesey, was modest in expressing how much influence his recommendation will have with Vesey. He noted that Vesey will take advantage of his options as a free agency and consider his own preferences and those of his family and agents.
“Obviously he’s a great player, he’s a good kid,” Eichel said. “He’d bring a lot to the [Sabres]. Any time you can get good players, it’s always good. If he comes to Buffalo, I know he’ll enjoy it. It’s a great city to play for, [but] I think at the end of the day he’ll make whatever decision is best for him.”
|Anze Kopitar beats out Patrice Bergeron for Selke, somehow||06.22.16 at 8:27 pm ET|
The Kings cleaned up at the NHL Awards Wednesday night, with “cleaning up” meaning “won awards they probably shouldn’t have won.”
Moments after Drew Doughty beat out Erik Karlsson for the Norris Trophy (an award with which Karlsson should have run away), Anze Kopitar was awarded the Selke Trophy to deny Patrice Bergeron his third-straight win.
Statistically speaking, Bergeron figured to be the favorite to win the Selke, which is given to the league’s top two-way forward. The Boston center had 32 goals to Kopitar’s 25 and though Kopitar had more assists (49 to 36) and points (74 to 68), defensive and possession metrics heavily fell in Bergeron’s favor. Bergeron’s Corsi Relative of 20.4 was vastly superior to Kopitar’s 2.4 mark.
Bergeron also led the league with 1,130 faceoff wins to Kopitar’s 950 despite Kopitar playing one more regular-season game. Bergeron won 57.1 percent of his draws, with Kopitar winning 53.5 percent.
Despite Bergeron’s statistical advantages, Kopitar received 31 more first-place votes by Pro Hockey Writers Association members than Bergeron, who finished second. Bergeron has now finished first or second in Selke voting in five straight seasons. Had he won Wednesday, he would have tied Bob Gainey for the most career Selke wins (four) and become the second player in league history (Pavel Datsyuk) to win three straight.
The voting breakdown was as follows: