|Podcast: Kirk Luedeke discusses which defensemen Bruins could select in NHL draft||06.22.16 at 4:01 pm ET|
In case you missed it, Kirk Luedeke of Red Line Report joined me this week to discuss the first round of Friday’s NHL draft. Click here for the writeup on his thoughts regarding where Boston’s 2015 selections currently stand.
Following are Luedeke’s thoughts on a number of the defensive prospects that could be available at the 14th overall pick, which the Bruins currently own along with No. 29. Red Line Report has Jake Bean as their top defenseman in the draft, while Luedeke has BCHL defensemen Dante Fabbro as his No. 1 defenseman this year.
“I don’t think there’s any clear emerging dominant defenseman this year,” Luedeke said. “There’s quality at the top of the draft. I think this draft has really good value from picks 1 to 15 or 16 depending on the order of where those players go. There might be a couple of guys that jump into that 15 or 16 that are not currently projected there. But the defensemen are a solid crop.”
Luedeke thinks there is a strong group of D in the first half of the first round and that there are enough quality forwards to push some of the defensemen down. As such, Luedeke feels that moving up would be a waste of assets.
“I don’t think that there’s any defenseman that you need to be moving up to get because I think someone good is going to fall to them,” Luedeke said.
He also noted that he doesn’t feel Kevin Shattenkirk “constitutes good enough to move 14” given that Shattenkirk is ideally not a top-pairing defenseman and only has one year left on his contract.
Here are Luedeke’s thoughts on some of the individual players:
Jakob Chychrun, LD, Sarnia (OHL), 6-foot-2, 194 pounds
“I will tell you that Jakob Chychrun has been a tad disappointing. He was the one that was projected to be ‘the guy’ entering this season. A lot of people felt he would go No. 2 overall behind Auston Matthews. That hasn’t materialized. On the plus side, he’s a big kid, he can really skate, handles the puck with confidence. On the downside, there are questions about his vision, his instincts. He didn’t have a strong Under-18 tournament, didn’t have a strong second half of the OHL season, so there are some questions. Chochrun’s sliding. I don’t he’ll slide all that far, to be honest with you, just because there are teams out there that value him, but I see Chychrun has a high-floor, low-ceiling kind of defenseman.
“He was seen as a franchise cornerstone at the beginning of the year, and he just hasn’t performed at that level. Having said that, I think he plays.”
Mikhail Sergachev, LD, Windsor (OHL), 6-foot-3, 195 pounds
“A real toolsy defender.”
Jake Bean, LD, Calgary (WHL), 6-foot-0, 165 pounds
“In Red Line Report, our No. 1 defenseman is Jake Bean, who scored 24 goals for the Calgary hitmen. He’s a left-shot defensemen and he set a franchise record for goals by a defenseman. He’s got this real wicked sneaky little wrist shot that he gets off quickly and it’s one of those seeing eye puck kind of shots where there might be a maze of people in front and it somehow just will sneak through and will handcuff goalies. They won’t see it coming and it’s by them.
“Real good passer. He’s more of an offensive defenseman at this stage of his development, but I think he kind of gets diminished a little in his defensive ability. He’s a guy that wants to work, but he’s pretty average-sized and he’s slight. During the season, he’s the kind of guy that’s going to have trouble keeping weight on, so he’ll start the season heavier and then as the grind goes on, he’ll lose weight.
“In that WHL, it’s a rugged league, and guys are bigger and stronger and more physical. I think that kind of tends to play into some of the perceptions that Bean is not good defensively, but that overshoots the fact that he’s smart, sees the ice, has good, savvy positional skills, is learning and wants to be good.
“That’s the thing about Bean: he wants to be a complete three-zone player and he doesn’t want to be pigeonholed as a single-dimension one-way threat. He understands what he needs to do, and it’s just a matter of maturing physically and continuing to learn, get good coaching and go out and work.
“At Red Line we’ve got Bean like No. 6 overall. He’s our No. 1 defenseman.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins’ 2016-17 schedule released||06.21.16 at 1:09 pm ET|
The NHL released the regular-season schedule for the 2016-17 on Tuesday. The Bruins will open the season with a three-game road trip beginning Oct. 13 in Columbus before playing in Toronto and Winnipeg. As was learned Monday, Boston’s home opener will take place on Oct. 20 against the Devils.
The Bruins’ schedule features 14 sets of back-to-backs. They don’t have any road trips lasting longer than four games, though they do have five four-game trips.
Boston will not have a Black Friday matinee, as the B’s will host the Flames at 7:30 p.m. that night. The Bruins will also play in Ottawa on Thanksgiving day.
For the complete schedule, click here.
|Podcast: Kirk Luedeke weighs in on Bruins’ 2015 picks a year later||06.21.16 at 9:35 am ET|
The great Kirk Luedeke of Red Line Report was kind enough to join me for our annual pre-draft podcast. Kirk is an expert on NHL prospects and the draft in general, so his insight is always extremely valuable as we look ahead to the draft.
Listen above for the entire conversation. Following are notes as we reviewed some of the players Boston took in last season’s draft. Check back soon for a post detailing his thoughts on players who might be fits for Boston come Friday.
– Brandon Carlo is indeed the closest of Boston’s three top-60 pick defensemen to reaching the NHL, but Luedeke notes that much of that is based on age. Luedeke doesn’t expect him to make the Bruins out of camp, but that’s “not the end of the world for him” because he has AHL eligibility.
– Jakub Zboril and Jeremy Lauzon are “a little further away” and have to go back to their junior teams if they don’t make the Bruins.
Luedeke notes that Zboril, whom the Bruins chose with the 14th overall pick last June, took a step back offensively. Issues that Luedeke had prior to the draft about Zboril’s motor have not gone away, and thus Luedeke considers next season something of a critical year for the player’s development. He notes that the Bruins have emphasized with the player that he can’t puck watch as much as he has in the past.
“There are too many nights where he’s just kind of passive and unengaged and he’ll go long stretches where he’s not really doing much and you have to really look for him. With a player who has that much talent, that’s kind of an issue.”
Added Luedeke: “When he’s playing physical and he is engaged, he is a snarly, surly, atypical European defenseman in that he will lower the boom on people. I’ve seen him fight guys and do very well because they kind of grab the tiger by the tail. He has that big, booming shot and he is capable of delivering that on-target lead pass and distributing the puck on the man advantage. All the things that you like in a defensemen — good in puck retrieval. It’s just that he hasn’t put it together. This is going to be a huge year for him.”
– Lauzon is Luedeke’s favorite of the three defensemen.
“He’s just a solid blend of the three. Not as big as shutdown as Carlo, but solid defensively, good positionally. Not as offensively gifted as Zboril when Zboril’s on top of his game, but still has a real good shot, good vision, can really move the puck. His skating’s fine — probably could stand to improve his pivots and directional change, but it’s coachable stuff. It’s not a major glaring weakness, and that’s really the thing with Lauzon: there are no glaring weaknesses in his game. … I think when you look at what makes a successful pro in this day and age, Lauzon has all those attributes.”
– Luedeke was satisfied with both Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn this season. He notes that though Senyshyn scored 45 goals in the OHL this season, the player’s 200-foot game still needs improvement before he can be considered close to a full-time NHLer. Luedeke feels Senyshyn has a small chance of a nine-game trial to begin the NHL season, but that he’ll be better served to mature with another season in the OHL.
DeBrusk, who could be sent to the AHL if the Bruins chose, impressed Luedeke with his work around the net. Luedeke notes that he’s far from a flashy player, but that he’ll be a productive one.
“He’s not flashy in the way he goes about it, and I think that’s the knock on DeBrusk. There’s this tendency for fans to want to be entertained. They want players to bring them out of their seats and be flashy and electric. I get that, and Kyle Connor was certainly that kind of forward for the University of Michigan this year. I get that it just fueled the debate of ‘Why did the Bruins take DeBrusk?’ but DeBrusk is one of those guys where he’s just kind of there and then all of a sudden he’s jumping on a puck and burying it, or he’s pulling a couple D to him and then sliding a perfect sauce pass to a wide-open teammate for a back-door tap-in. You can’t put a price tag on that. That’s just natural offense and he’s got it.
“If you’re looking to be dazzled every time DeBrusk is on the ice, you’re going to be a little disappointed. If you peel back the onion and you look closer at what he does and how he’s quietly effective — he’ll put that little burst on the puck and beat the defender in a footrace and then get the puck to the net and either score it himself or set it up for a goal by a teammate, he’s doing all the things you look for.
“I really like Jake DeBrusk. I continue to like him. I think he got a raw deal just in terms of how he was perceived because the Bruins didn’t take other people, but he couldn’t control that.”
|Panthers trade for rights to Keith Yandle||06.20.16 at 6:01 pm ET|
The Panthers traded for the rights to pending unrestricted free agent Keith Yandle Monday, according to multiple reports. That means that the top two free agent defensemen could end up off the market before July 1 hits.
Yandle is coming off a stint with the Rangers that lasted parts of two seasons after spending the first eight-plus years of his NHL career with the Coyotes. The Milton native will be 30 years old at the start of next season.
Alex Goligoski, who would probably be the best defender of an extremely weak free agent class at the position, had his rights traded by the Stars to the Coyotes last week.
|Agent: Jimmy Vesey still plans to become free agent after trade to Sabres||06.20.16 at 5:10 pm ET|
In a move that could prove to throw a monkey wrench at the Bruins’ offseason plans, the Sabres acquired the rights to left wing prospect and Hobey Baker winner Jimmy Vesey on Monday.
Buffalo sent a third-round pick to Nashville for the North Reading native. The team has until Aug. 15 to sign him to an entry-level contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
While the Sabres are obviously the favorite to end up with the player when all is said and done, agent Peter Fish told WEEI.com Monday evening that “nothing has changed” regarding Vesey’s intention to go to unrestricted free agency. ESPN’s Joe McDonald was the first to report Vesey’s camp’s intention to stay the course.
After Vesey chose against signing with the Predators, of whom he was a third-round draft pick in the 2012 draft, the Boston Herald reported that he was expected to sign with his hometown Bruins. Now, however, Vesey has the opportunity to play with 2015 second overall pick and close friend Jack Eichel should he sign with Buffalo.
|Loui Eriksson still waiting for latest Bruins contract offer||06.20.16 at 3:22 pm ET|
The Bruins and Loui Eriksson haven’t made much progress in recent days.
Eriksson’s camp had expected a new offer from the Bruins at some point last week, but as of Monday morning agent J.P. Barry still had yet to receive one. The expectation is that Barry and Bruins general manager Don Sweeney will discuss Eriksson’s future this week in Buffalo (where the draft will be held) if not sooner.
The sides have been negotiating the versatile winger’s next deal since early in the 2015-16 season. When an agreement hadn’t been reached by the season’s trade deadline, the B’s held onto the player in hopes that the team would make the playoffs and still be able to re-sign him.
Eriksson is coming off a 30-goal, 33-assist season for the Bruins. He will turn 31 on July 17.
|Bruins to host Devils in home opener on Oct. 20||06.20.16 at 12:10 pm ET|
With the NHL’s 2016-17 regular season set to be released Tuesday, teams began announcing their home openers on Monday.
The Bruins will host the Devils in their home opener on Oct. 20 at TD Garden. The season won’t begin until Oct. 12 due to the Word Cup of Hockey, which will be played from mid-September through Oct. 1 in Toronto.
The full schedule will be revealed at 1 p.m. on Tuesday.