|Bruins don’t qualify Brett Connolly, making him unrestricted free agent||06.27.16 at 6:59 pm ET|
The Bruins did not extend a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Brett Connolly, meaning the former sixth overall pick will become an unrestricted free agent who can sign with any team as of Friday. The B’s also declined to qualify fellow forwards Landon Ferraro and Ben Sexton.
Boston did qualify its other eligible players in Torey Krug, Colin Miller, Joe Morrow, Chris Casto, Brian Ferlin and the KHL-bound Alexander Khokhlachev. The team could still re-sign the players it opted not to qualify.
The team could still re-sign the players it opted not to qualify, meaning a return to Boston should not be ruled out for Boston. Because Connolly made over $1 million last season ($1.025 million), his qualifying offer would have had to be 100 percent of what he made last season. As such, it is possible the Bruins declined to qualify Connolly in hopes of simply signing the player for less money.
Though he just turned 24 last month, Connolly’s 210-game NHL career has been very disappointing to this point.
After parts of four seasons with the Lightning, he was traded to the Bruins at the 2015 trade deadline in exchange for a pair of second-round picks. He broke his finger in his second practice with the Bruins and ended up getting into just five games with the B’s in that season. Last season, he scored just nine goals and added 16 goals for 25 assists in 71 games.
He scored just two goals over his final 26 games of the season, though one of them was an empty-netter.
|Former Lightning general manager lists Bruins among favorites to sign Steven Stamkos||06.27.16 at 3:28 pm ET|
Former Lightning general manager Brian Lawton said on Toronto’s TSN 1050 radio that he considers the Bruins a favorite to sign top unrestricted free agent Steven Stamkos. To watch/hear Lawton’s interview with Naylor & Landsberg, click here.
Stamkos, 26, could very well be made the highest-paid player in the NHL when he inks his next contract, presumably when free agency opens on Friday.
“Right now the top three for me — I still think there’s a very, very big chance that he could end up back in Tampa,” Lawton noted, “but I would say Toronto, Tampa, Boston would be the top three.”
Asked about pursuing Stamkos following the NHL draft on Sunday, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney intimated that he would reach out Stamkos’ agent during the NHL’s current interview period for free agents.
“We will take the temperature of whoever will help our hockey club,” Sweeney said. “If it lines up, that’s what we’d like to do. We obviously have flexibility for any particular player that we would like to go after. There’s a lot of coveted ones in the market, so we’ll make all the calls. Absolutely all the calls.”
Potentially working in the Bruins’ favor could be his relationship with coach Claude Julien, whom the B’s retained after missing the playoffs for a second straight year. Stamkos and Julien think very highly of one another, with Julien notably visiting Stamkos in the hospital when the player suffered a broken tibia in a game against the Bruins in 2013.
“I had him at the Olympic Camp and I got to know Steve the person,” Julien said after visiting Stamkos. “When you look at what he is in the league and what he’s accomplished, to have that happen to him I thought it was just important to go by and see how he was doing. It was as simple as that.
“He’s one of those players that people from all the different cities come up to watch and play and he’s one of the reasons we fill buildings and you hate to see that, from anybody’s point of view, to see a guy like that get injured that way,” Julien added.
Lawton said that the Maple Leafs would present an attractive destination for the Markham, Ontario native and that Stamkos would be able to handle the attention that would come with playing in such a market.
Tampa’s reported offer for its captain carried a cap hit of $8.5 million, a far cry from the $10.5 million annually that Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews make in Chicago.
“I don’t think that it’s just about money at all for Steven Stamkos,” Lawton said. “I think it’s important — I think that offering him, if it were in fact true, $8.5 million [per year] is — like I said, it’s not about money — but I think in some ways that’s probably a little insulting to Steven.”
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft, Stamkos has had three seasons of at least 90 points and has scored 40 goals three times in his NHL career. Since 2009-10 — his second season in the league — Stamkos’ 516 points rank fourth in the NHL behind Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Kane.
|Loui Eriksson in talks with six teams, Bruins willing to go past 4 years||06.26.16 at 10:28 pm ET|
As expected, teams have used the NHL’s free agency interview window to approach winger Loui Eriksson, who spent the last three seasons with the Bruins. As of Sunday evening, six teams had contacted Eriksson’s agent about the player.
The Bruins are interested in retaining Eriksson, but have been reluctant to sign Eriksson for anything longer than four years. That said, a source indicated to WEEI.com Sunday night that the Bruins are indeed willing to go beyond four years on a contract carrying a lesser average annual value. Eriksson’s camp believes the soon-to-be 31-year-old will receive at least five years on the open market.
Though the Bruins could still sign Eriksson prior to free agency, he’ll be free to sign wherever when he reaches unrestricted status on Friday.
“I’m sure they’ll be exploring [the interview period],” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said over the weekend. “We’re in a position where we’re going to sign a couple of players and we’ve [been interested] all along. We just don’t know whether or not we’ve found common ground. We clearly didn’t because we didn’t sign, but the discussions were good. They were positive, but it’s a balancing act and we’ll be now in discussions with other players as well.”
A left-shot wing who plays both sides, Eriksson scored 30 goals and added 33 assists for 63 points last season for the Bruins.
|Report: Ray Bourque arrested on DWI charges||06.25.16 at 5:17 pm ET|
According to WCVB, Bruins defenseman and Hockey Hall of Famer Ray Bourque was arrested Friday night on DWI charges.
WCVB’s report cited Andover police but offered little information on the specifics as of Saturday evening.
Considered one of the best defensemen of all time, Bourque played for the Bruins from 1979 through 2000 before being traded to the Avalanche. He eventually won the Stanley Cup in his second season in Colorado, the final season of his career.
Bourque captained the Bruins from 1985 until the time of his trade, sharing captain duties with Rick Middleton for the first three years.
A five-time Norris Trophy winner, Bourque scored 410 goals and added 1169 assists for 1579 points — all of which are the most ever by an NHL defenseman — in 1612 NHL games. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.
|Bruins don’t see their first-round center as a top-six forward||06.25.16 at 3:24 pm ET|
BUFFALO — The Bruins turned heads late in the first round Friday when they selected 6-foot-2 American center Trent Frederic. After the player was selected, he admitted that though he was tough customer, he had a ways to go offensively.
Modesty, right? Maybe not.
In their own words, the Bruins spent the 29th overall pick on a player whom they don’t see being a top-six forward.
“We had him in the right spot because we all liked him,” director of amateur scouting Keith Gretzky said after the draft. “That’s the one thing: he’s not going to be a top two line guy. We know that. He has some jam, he plays hard. Look at his penalty minutes. We were really fortunate to get him.”
Draft picks can be scratch tickets, but if you’re going to go off the board (as they did in this case; Frederic was considered a mid-to-late second-round pick by many), why not swing for the fences and go for the most talented guy? The most obvious candidate for such a pick was miniature right wing Alex DeBrincat, who at 5-foot-7 and 160 pounds scored 51 goals in each of his first two seasons in the OHL.
Everyone gave the Bruins flack for taking Zach Senyshyn 15th overall last year, but that move still seems more sensible than this one.
By the time the Bruins picked again at No. 49 Saturday, DeBrincat was off the board, having been drafted by the Blackhawks. The Bruins feared that if they passed on Frederic at 29, they might not get another chance at him. Though he could very well prove to be an NHL player, you’d think the Bruins would have been able to find another potential bottom sixer later.
|Don Sweeney gives Jimmy Hayes tough love (and then some)||06.25.16 at 2:20 pm ET|
BUFFALO — While it wasn’t quite the 2013 draft ripping that Peter Chiarelli gave then-Bruins forward Tyler Seguin, Don Sweeney showed Saturday that he’s not afraid to be blunt in describing one of his own players.
Sweeney didn’t hold back when asked what the future holds for Jimmy Hayes as the Dorchester native enters his second season as a Bruin. After being acquired in a trade that sent Reilly Smith to Florida, the Boston College product scored just 13 goals and buried only one puck over his final 23 games of the season.
With the Bruins’ right side in flux, Sweeney painted a clear picture of Hayes’ shortcomings and said he needs the 6-foot-5 wing to be better.
“I think Jimmy had a pretty good start to his year, but he tailed off when the team needed him most,” Sweeney said. “He should take some responsibility for that, I think. We’ve had a pretty frank discussion about it to challenge him to take his game to another level to be able to help out a younger player that he’s played a lot with in Ryan Spooner. I have to put ownership on Jimmy in terms of saying, ‘Hey. You have to take more responsibility.’
“It’s not just about finishing scoring goals; he has the capacity to do that. He gets power play time and net-front time, but to get to the hard areas of the ice with more consistency, it’s an area he needs to improve upon.
“I’m not shy in terms of — just like in my own career going back — coaches acknowledging where you had to work on. We as an organization feel like those are areas where we need to have our players be driven to get better.”
Hayes is entering the second year of a three-year contract that carries a $2.3 million cap hit.
|Bruins will likely reach out to Steven Stamkos||06.25.16 at 2:00 pm ET|
BUFFALO — Canucks general manager Jim Benning was fined by the league for talking about Steven Stamkos too early. Even with the legal interview period now open, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney still chose his words carefully when asked about this summer’s top free agent. In fact, he never even said Stamkos’ name when asked about him.
But he did indicate he’d reach out to the three-time 40-goal-scorer.
“We will take the temperature of whoever will help our hockey club,” Sweeney said with a grin. “If it lines up, that’s what we’d like to do. We obviously have flexibility for any particular player that we would like to go after. There’s a lot of coveted ones in the market, so we’ll make all the calls. Absolutely all the calls.”
Among the other top free agents who could be of interest to the Bruins is former Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo.
Sweeney wouldn’t rule out potentially touching base with former Bruins left wing Milan Lucic, but that ship has sailed. Lucic is set to hit the open market on July 1, with the Oilers among the favorites to sign the 28-year-old.