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Looking at Bruins’ candidates to replace Johnny Boychuk 10.06.14 at 12:18 pm ET
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Kevan Miller may be the eventual replacement for Johnny Boychuk. (Getty Images)

Kevan Miller may be the eventual replacement for Johnny Boychuk. (Getty Images)

The trade of Johnny Boychuk left a tough hole to fill on the right side of the Bruins’ second defensive pairing. Not only was Boychuk a dependable player alongside Zdeno Chara on the top pairing for years, but his work in anchoring the second pairing without Chara in the postseason is what allowed the B’s to team Chara and Dennis Seidenberg with success in the 2011 and 2013 postseasons.

Prior to Saturday’s trade, Boychuk had been skating with Seidenberg on the second pairing. That leaves Seidenberg, who is still shaking the rust off after not playing since last December, without a partner. Assuming that the B’s opt to keep Dougie Hamilton alongside Chara on their top pairing and Torey Krug remains on the third pairing, here are the internal candidates to replace Boychuk:

MATT BARTKOWSKI

Bartkowski is a terrific skater who makes the game exciting for both the right and wrong reasons. He was given a top-4 spot (and then had it taken away, and then had it given back, and then had it taken away, etc.) last season when Seidenberg went down, but that doesn’t mean he’s a shoo-in to return to the second pairing.

Playing Bartkowski on the second pairing would mean that Seidenberg, a left shot who plays the right side when teamed with Chara, would need to move to the right-side to accomodate the left-shooting Bartkowski. Seidenberg and Bartkowski were paired together at points prior to Seidenberg’s injury and again on Saturday night and have not looked good together. By my count, the two played were paired together for eight games last season, with Bartkowski posting an even rating in four of the games, a minus-1 in three of them and a plus-1 in one to combine for a minus-2.

It’s been a weird tenure for Bartkowski in Boston thus far. After being stolen from the Panthers in the hilarious trade that also sent Seidenberg to Boston for Byron Bitz, Craig Weller and a second-round pick, Bartkowski was the final cut on the Stanley Cup-winning 2010-11 team, spent three years in Providence, was(n’t) traded to the Flames for Jarome Iginla, started last season as the seventh defenseman and eventually was Seidenberg’s replacement.

He was sick to begin last postseason and was a scapegoat of sorts as the Bruins were upset by the Canadiens in the second round, though the Bruins taking him in and out of the lineup in that series in favor of Andrej Meszaros probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do for his confidence.

ADAM MCQUAID

McQuaid is a solid third-pairing blueliner who is both responsible in his own and end extremely mean wherever he is on the ice. Yet to assume he can be a top-4 defenseman for a full season and postseason would be irresponsible on the part of the Bruins.

Last season was the most frustrating season of what’€™s been a frustrating NHL career for McQuaid. Since taking Mark Stuart‘€™s job during the 2010-11 season, McQuaid has dealt with injury after injury, with last year being doomed by a quad injury that limited him to just 30 games. When it became clear that he wouldn’€™t be able to return at any point of the postseason, McQuaid got surgery on an ankle that had been bugging him as well.

So, like Seidenberg, McQuaid is trying to regain his form after a long time out of game action (his last regular season game was Jan. 19).

If the Bruins attempt to trade for a top-six forward, McQuaid could still be a candidate to be moved. His $1.56 million cap hit would allow the B’€™s, who figure to have $3.1 million in cap space going into the season, to add a player who makes decent money provided they also move other assets such as draft picks (they have their first-round pick and have four second-rounders in the next two drafts) or prospects. The Bruins’€™ depth on D ‘€” Zach Trotman is in the AHL because of it ‘€” would still make them able to overcome another blueliner, albeit one outside their top-4, being moved.

KEVAN MILLER

If all goes well, this is the guy who eventually replaces Boychuk. Miller is a right shot and the strongest player on the Bruins under 6-foot-9. His skill set is the closest to Boychuk’s of any of the players in this group, but he has a long way to go.

Though he got some minutes with Chara and an opportunity to defend a 6-on-5 against the Penguins, the Bruins generally sheltered Miller as a rookie. As a third-pairing player, the Bruins were careful with his matchups (his -.901 CorsiRel quality of competion was the second-lowest on the team; only his partner in Krug player easier minutes). Krug was also the only player with a higher offensive zone start percentage than Miller.

Claude Julien did not shelter Boychuk last season. The B’s put him out against whatever was leftover for opponents after Chara and Patrice Bergeron‘s line discarded the team’s first line. Boychuk had a .385 CorsiRel quality of competition; only Chara (1.5) and Hamilton (.386) played tougher minutes.

This isn’t to suggest that Miller can’t handle an uptick in competition now or won’t be able to later in the season. It just means that if the Bruins are going to give him the opportunity to replace Boychuk, they can’t hide him like they did last season.

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The Bruins mix and match with their pairings throughout the season, and the guess is that they’€™ll probably do that again as they audition Boychuk’€™s replacements. With three legitimate candidates, don’€™t assume that whoever’€™s teamed with Seidenberg Wednesday night will be there all season. The money here is on Miller to be the last man standing.

Read More: Adam McQuaid, Johnny Boychuk, Kevan Miller, Matt Bartkowski
Report: Jordan Caron, David Warsofsky, Craig Cunningham clear waivers 10.05.14 at 4:13 pm ET
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According to Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada, forward Jack Skille was the only player on waivers to get claimed Sunday, meaning that Bruins Jordan Caron, David Warsofsky and Craig Cunningham all cleared.

Warsofsky will be assigned to Providence, while Caron and Cunningham will remain with the Bruins. The B’€™s waived Caron and Cunningham so that they would have the flexibility to send the players up and down between the NHL and AHL early in the season.

All three players can now go up and down between Boston and Providence for the next 30 days without risking waivers, unless they play in 10 NHL games in that span.

Bruins drop preseason finale to Red Wings 10.04.14 at 8:22 pm ET
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Patrice Bergeron had a hat trick Saturday night at TD Garden as the Bruins lost to the Red Wings, 4-3, in a shootout in their preseason finale.

David Krejci left the game after two shifts in the second period, returned for a third five minutes later before leaving the game for good. Following the game, Claude Julien said that Krejci had a “very, very minor” issue that would not be a factor going forward.

Bergeron scored all three of Boston’€™s goals, tying the game at one in the first period, burying a rebound of a Dougie Hamilton shot at 3:14 of the third period and finishing off a nice play by Carl Soderberg at 10:46 of the period.

Detroit got goals from Riley Sheahan, Xavier Ouellet and Andrej Nestrasil.

Both Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak dressed for the B’€™s, playing for the second time in as many nights. Pastrnak, who was skating on a line with Spooner and Carl Soderberg, had a great scoring chance with just over a minute to play, but had a pair of shots stopped by Petr Mrazek.

Tuukka Rask was in net for the Bruins, who will open the regular season Wednesday when they host the Flyers at the Garden.

Peter Chiarelli: Johnny Boychuk trade ‘doesn’t make us better now, obviously’ 10.04.14 at 5:14 pm ET
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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Saturday that he traded defenseman Johnny Boychuk due to the team’€™s salary cap situation and because he found the return ‘€” two second-round picks and a conditional third ‘€” to be strong value. He did concede one point, however.

“This doesn’€™t make us better now, obviously,” Chiarelli said, “but it’€™s something that, when I look at it in a series of steps, I think we made the right move.”

Chiarelli mentioned “steps” throughout the press conference to discuss Saturday’€™s trade with the Islanders. When asked what his next move was, the B’€™s general manager said that there may be roster moves in the coming days.

Boychuk is a free agent at season’€™s end and figures to command big money on the open market. Chiarelli said that he did not attempt to sign Boychuk before trading him.

Moving Boychuk, while making the current roster worse, gives the team one less big name to sign before the start of next season. Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Reilly Smith will all be restricted free agents, while Carl Soderberg will be an unrestricted free agent. Though the salary cap is expected to go up from it’€™s current $69 million ceiling, the already have $49,897,857 against the salary cap committed to 10 players (not including Marc Savard) for the 2015-16 season.

“We’€™ve got a lot of people to sign,” Chiarelli said. “There’€™s a list of priorities and part of my job is to prioritize things. That’€™s a little bit of how it shakes out. I’€™d love to keep this team together player-to-player as long as I could if I felt it was prudent on the hockey front and the financial front. I’€™ve tried to keep the critical mass together and will continue to provide the right moves for the organization.”

Read More: Johnny Boychuk, Peter Chiarelli,
Bruins trade Johnny Boychuk to Islanders for draft picks 10.04.14 at 2:03 pm ET
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The Bruins have traded defenseman Johnny Boychuk to the Islanders for second-round picks in the 2015 and 2016 drafts and a conditional 2015 third-round pick. The B’s will get New York’s 2015 third-rounder if the Islanders trade Boychuk to an Eastern Conference team this season.

Boychuk, 30, was entering the last year of his contract. His deal carries a $3.36 million cap hit and he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

Though the return for Boychuk provides good value, the trade comes as something as a surprise given previous moves. In signing Reilly Smith and Torey Krug to one-year deals worth $1.4 million on Monday, the Bruins positioned themselves to enter the season without having to shed a contract like Boychuk’s. With Boychuk likely to command big money on the open market next summer, the Bruins had the option of keeping him for this season and better their chances of winning this season.

The trade of Boychuk leaves a hole in the team’s top-4. Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton figure to provide  one of the best defensive pairings in the league, but Dennis Seidenberg is coming off a knee injury and two of the other team’s options for a spot on the second pairing — Matt Bartkowski and Kevan Miller — struggled when given key minutes last postseason. This could be a vote of confidence for both players, however, as the Bruins may believe that with another full season of NHL play, their young defensemen will be better suited to handle the NHL playoffs.

Adam McQuaid could also work his way onto the second pairing now, though injury concerns make it tough to count on him to last a full season.

After trading for Boychuk, the Islanders also swung a trade with the Blackhawks for defenseman Nick Leddy.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Johnny Boychuk,
Bruins place Jordan Caron, David Warsofsky and Craig Cunningham on waivers 10.04.14 at 1:29 pm ET
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Jordan Caron

Jordan Caron

The Bruins placed Jordan Caron, David Warsofsky and Craig Cunningham on waivers Saturday.

Teams will now have 24 hours to claim the players. The Bruins noted in a press release that Warsofsky was waived with the intention of being sent to Providence.

The most notable name of the bunch is Jordan Caron, the team’€™s first-round pick in 2009. In 123 regular-season games, Caron has 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points. He also has played in nine postseason games, with one goal.

Warsofsky, a native of Marshfield who played college hockey at Boston University, is a decent candidate to be claimed by another team, as he is an NHL-ready defenseman whose offensive play makes him a valuable power play asset. He told WEEI.com this week that though he wants to remain in the Bruins’€™ organization, his goal is to be an NHL player.

“If I’€™€™m going to be in the AHL, I’€™€™d rather be in Providence than any other city,” Warsofsky said. “€œ€œI’€™€™m comfortable down there with the coaching staff, the organization and the way they play. It’€™€™s a great city to be in if I am in the AHL, but obviously my goal is to play in the NHL, so the first opportunity, I want it to be here, but if it is somewhere else, it’€™€™s part of the business.”€

Cunningham was vying for a job as a fourth-line center or 13th forward after playing the last three seasons in Providence.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Craig Cunningham, David Warsofsky, Jordan Caron,
David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner to play in preseason finale for Bruins 10.04.14 at 11:10 am ET
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David Pastrnak

David Pastrnak

Both David Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner will be in the Bruins’€™ lineup in Saturday’€™s preseason finale against the Red Wings.

Pastrnak made his preseason debut Friday night after missing the team’€™s first five preseason games due to a shoulder injury suffered in the second practice of training camp. The 2014 first-round pick is trying to push for a roster spot in Boston, but his lack of a training camp could make it more likely that the B’€™s either start him in the AHL or return him to his pro team in Sweden.

The Bruins could also either return the player to Sweden or keep him for up to nine games into the season before either returning him or keeping him in Boston. For 18 and 19-year-old players, entry level contracts to not begin until a 10th game is played. If he is sent to the AHL, his contract will slide to the next season, meaning he could play a full year at the AHL, and years wouldn’t start being burned off his three-year deal until he plays in the NHL the next season.

Spooner, meanwhile, played left wing Friday night and had two goals and an assist for the B’€™s. With the Bruins’€™ depth chart crowded down the middle and Spooner having struggled with the defensive responsibilities of center, the team is at long last giving the 2010 second-round pick a good look on the left wing.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner,
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