|Cam Neely knows money will still be tight with salary cap increase||12.10.14 at 5:24 pm ET|
When the Board of Governors projected a $73 million salary cap for next season, it looked to be good and bad news for the Bruins: good because it’s higher than the current $69 million mark and bad because it isn’t even higher.
Those seemed to be Cam Neely‘s thoughts Wednesday, as the Bruins president answered a question about the anticipated bump by smiling and quipping, “it’s better than 69 [million].”
The projected cap, which is contingent on the Canadian dollar staying the same, will make it easier for the Bruins to keep their team together, but not much. The idea of adding key players in free agency will be out of the question, but then again it generally has been for a few years now, with the exception of the incentive-laden deal given two summers ago to Jarome Iginla.
Not counting Marc Savard, the Bruins have $49,897,857 committed against the cap to 10 players for next season. Dougie Hamilton and Carl Soderberg lead the list of players due for raises from their current cap hits, though Torey Krug and Reilly Smith can also expect pay bumps after playing this season for $1.4 million apiece.
“When you’re a team that spends up to the cap and you are spending to the cap and you are into LTI, there’s a lot of discussions and conversations and pencils and erasers that have to be in play,” Neely said. “Fortunately, Charlie and Mr. Jacobs give us the opportunity to spend to the cap. Until they say we’re not, we’re going to continue to try and put the best team on the ice. Having said that, it’s easy to spend money; you’ve just got to spend it properly.”
Agent J.P. Barry told WEEI.com last month he had yet to begin serious negations with the B’s regarding new deals for Hamilton and Soderberg, both of whom he represents. The holdup was due to the league not knowing where the cap would be next year, so perhaps the ball could get rolling soon with the clarity recently presented.
All that said, the $73 million figure is not set in stone.
“Based on what we’re hearing, it’s all based upon the Canadian dollar,” Neely said. “They have a pretty good idea of the revenues that are coming in. It’s just a matter of Canadian revenues and what happens with the Canadian dollar. It gives us a pretty good idea of where we’re going to end up, but if we’re going to err, we should err on the lower side.”
|NHL salary cap expected to increase to $73 million range||12.08.14 at 7:58 pm ET|
Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters Monday at the Board of Governors meeting that the NHL‘s salary cap is expected to be around $73 million next season, assuming the Canadian dollar stays the same.
Such a cap ceiling would provide a $4 million bump from what it currently is and, while still not great for the Bruins, would be helpful as they try to keep their roster together.
The B’s currently have $49,897,857 committed against the cap to 10 players (excluding Marc Savard) for next season. Dougie Hamilton, Carl Soderberg, Torey Krug and Reilly Smith will all be due raises from what they currently make. Soderberg, who currently commands a $1.008 million cap hit, will likely hit free agency as the top available center should he not re-up with the Bruins before then.
Agent J.P. Barry, who represents both Hamilton and Soderberg, told WEEI.com last month that he and the B’s were waiting for clarity regarding the salary cap before beginning serious negotiations.
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|With scoring down, Milan Lucic admits to feeling the pressure ‘a little bit’||11.25.14 at 9:53 am ET|
For Milan Lucic, it’s the small steps forward that are a sign that things are getting better.
On a line with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson, the Bruins forward charged the net and was rewarded with a pass from Eriksson that gave him a chance to put the puck into a vacated net for just his fourth goal of the season. Lucic had all the time in the world to think about how many missed chances he’s had to score this season. Instead, he put it in for arguably the easiest non-empty goal he’s ever scored.
“I saw that he saw me and I knew he’s capable of making the play,” Lucic said of Eriksson. “It was just a great play by Loui, heads up play to see me there all by myself in front of the net and for myself you saw it was a little bit of delayed I just wanted to make sure I put that one in the back of the net.”
Lucic scored just his fourth goal of the season in Boston’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Penguins Monday night at TD Garden.
“I think, all in all, we played a pretty good game,” Lucic said. “We didn’t spend too much time in our own zone and we were able to create a bunch of scoring chances. I think what got a better is we were attacking with a lot more speed off the rush and we were strong on the pucks and driving to the front of the net and trying to create chances that way. For myself just on that goal, just driving the net, stopping in front, and a great play by Carl and Loui to get me the puck there for that first goal.”
He was also in front of the net when Eriksson put a puck on net with he and Soderberg charging the crease. The puck went in off Soderberg, but the goal was disallowed when the referee ruled on replay that Soderberg shoved it in with his glove.
|Carl Soderberg, Tuukka Rask get into light altercation at Bruins morning skate||11.24.14 at 11:53 am ET|
Soderberg was in Rask’s face when Julien skated over and yelled to separate the two players. Rask is no stranger to losing his temper in practice (he’s stormed off the ice multiple times over the years), but hard feelings have never seemed to linger with the goaltender, who has long been popular among his teammates.
After the morning skate, Rask indicated that he and Soderberg were fine.
“Yeah,” Rask said with a laugh. “Something for you guys to write about.”
Julien was asked about the tussle and, predictably, said all was well.
“It wasn’t even a tussle,” Julien said. “They’ve already kissed and made up, so it’s not an issue.”
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|Bruins not talking contract with Dougie Hamilton, Carl Soderberg yet||11.20.14 at 3:58 pm ET|
Dougie’s Big Contract is on hold, for now.
Because of the uncertainty surrounding the salary cap going forward, the Bruins and agent J.P. Barry have yet to begin formal discussions on a new contract for defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who will be a restricted free agent at season’s end. Same goes for Carl Soderberg and Daniel Paille, both of whom will be unrestricted free agents this summer and are also represented by Barry.
Barry and Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli have been talking regularly, the agent told WEEI.com Thursday, but the longtime agent said he has no problem being patient as the Bruins wait and see what kind of contracts they can offer Hamilton and their other players with expiring deals.
The agent, who also represents Loui Eriksson and has a good relationship with Chiarelli, sees no reason for concern at this point, saying “I’ll know when Peter’s ready.”
Hamilton is in the midst of the final year of his entry level contract. He leads the Bruins with a 22:34 average time on ice and is tied for third on the team with 11 points (tops among B’s defensemen). Playing mostly against other team’s top players both as Zdeno Chara‘s partner and his replacement, Hamilton carries an even rating through 20 games. He is also one of two Bruins defensemen to play every game this season, with the other being Dennis Seidenberg.
The Bruins currently have $49,897,857 committed against the cap to 10 players (not counting Marc Savard) for the 2015-16 season. The cap ceiling is $69 million this season; the Bruins traded Johnny Boychuk prior to the season in order to get under it.
There was an expectation that the cap would increase by $5 million or more next season, but the New York Post reported reported earlier this month that the projected decline in the Canadian dollar might prevent the NHL Players’ Association from exercising a five-percent escalator for next season. The escalator will be voted on in June.
Asked about the future of the cap and how it impacts how the Bruins will do their business, Bruins president Cam Neely didn’t get into specifics but admitted the Bruins are doing every calculation they can.
“We’re constantly thinking about future years,” Neely said. “As much as we put a lot of time and effort and thought into the current year, we look at where our team is going to be next year and the following year, especially when you have guys that have contracts coming up or you have guys with term. You always have to look at the math.”
Historically, Chiarelli has prioritized getting new deals done for his players either before they enter their contract year or during it, with David Krejci, Marc Savard and Rich Peverley among the players he has re-upped in-season over the years.
|With wrist injury behind him, Carl Soderberg hopes to make bigger difference on faceoffs||10.31.14 at 4:33 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly split center duties on Boston’s third line, but Soderberg showed Thursday night that he can win a key draw.
Kelly has taken most of Soderberg’s faceoffs this season, particularly in the defensive zone. On Friday, Soderberg and Claude Julien revealed that was partially due to a wrist injury that made it difficult for Soderberg to take draws. Additionally, Kelly, technically the line’s left wing, has done the center’s job of providing support down low in the defensive zone.
Yet with Julien juggling his lines for Thursday’s game against the Sabres, Soderberg had no such help and proved he didn’t need it on one play. With under six minutes to play and the Bruins trailing by a goal, Soderberg drew the puck back to Dennis Seidenberg to begin the sequence that resulted in Brad Marchand‘s game-tying goal.
“It felt pretty good,” Soderberg said Friday. “I like taking faceoffs.”
Through 12 games, Soderberg has taken just 53 draws, but over a fifth of them came Thursday night in his first game of the season without Kelly as his linemate. Soderberg went 5-for-11 at the dot (45 percent), but lost all three defensive zone draws he took.
That’s where Julien says the Bruins value having Kelly on Soderberg’s line. Kelly, who has taken 133 draws this season, is a better faceoff man than Soderberg anyway, but the B’s also like to have Kelly take defensive zone faceoffs because he’ll already be low in the zone in the event that he loses the draw.
“It is a luxury when Kells is on that line that they can have two guys taking draws,” Julien said. “Sometimes Kells will take them in the D zone just for the reason that if we don’t win the draw, he’s working down low. Kells is by the far the best, as far as working down low.”
It’s expected that Kelly will return to Soderberg’s line Saturday against the Senators after playing on Patrice Bergeron‘s line in Thursday’s win over the Sabres. With Soderberg saying his wrist is feeling better, perhaps there will be a more even split on faceoffs going forward. Julien highly values having two centers on the same line, something he had on the third line for years with Kelly and Rich Peverley.
Soderberg has said in the past that he doesn’t mind when Kelly takes faceoffs for him, but he said Friday that every center on the team should strive to become as good on draws as Patrice Bergeron, arguably the best faceoff man in the league.
Back in Sweden, Soderberg said he was good at the dot, generally winning 53 or 54 percent of his faceoffs.
“But people aren’t as good as here on faceoffs,” he added. “There’s more pride here to take them, so I’m going to do my very best get over 50 percent at the end of the season.”
|Pierre McGuire on MFB: Bruins ‘going to be a ton of fun to watch’||10.09.14 at 1:52 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his first weekly appearance of the season Thursday on Middays with MFB, following Wednesday night’s Bruins opener. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
McGuire said there is reason to believe the Bruins, who opened with a 2-1 victory over the Flyers, will be able to overcome the losses of Jarome Iginla and Johnny Boychuk and put together a season similar to 2013-14, when they had the best record in the NHL before falling in the second round of the playoffs to the Canadiens.
“They have a healthy Chris Kelly, I think that makes a big difference,” McGuire said. “Carl Soderberg is a ton better, you saw that last night. I think Loui Eriksson will be a ton better this year. Dougie Hamilton, even though he had a couple of turnovers, you could see when he really amped his game up he was very good. Having Dennis Seidenberg back makes them better. Tuukka Rask is a year more mature.
“I think they’re a lot better in a lot of areas. I think they’re the best team in the Eastern Conference. I’m not changing on that; I won’t change even when we’re on Game 40, barring injuries, obviously. I think this team is extremely good.
“I like the energy of a young player like Craig Cunningham. I love the energy of Bobby Robins. They obviously got last night done without David Krejci and Gregory Campbell. This is a really good team. They’re really a good team, and they’re going to be a ton of fun to watch.”
McGuire said he saw lots of promising things from the opener.
“I thought Tuukka when he had to be was really good,” he said. “I thought Kevan Miller played a solid, physical game. I like the way Torey Krug started to jump into the rush. And I like the way that the Bruins defensemen really held the offensive blue line. And probably more importantly than anything else they’re much more aggressive offensively. I know it didn’t translate because I thought Steve Mason from Philadelphia played a great job so the scoreboard’s not indicative of that. But by and large they’re a much more aggressive offensive team, and I think that’s really important for them.”
Looking at the Eastern Conference, McGuire said the Bruins’ biggest challenge might come from the Lightning.
“I think Tampa Bay’s a very good team, and I know a lot of people are talking about them, but I would look out for the Tampa Bay Lightning. I would be a little bit nervous about them,” McGuire said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how everything translates in Pittsburgh, because it is a little bit of a different roster, it’s a different coaching philosophy going from Danny Bylsma to Mike Johnston. So we’ll see how that plays out. … I don’t know if there’s a team outside of Tampa and maybe Pittsburgh that’s going to be able to play and have enough depth to play against Boston. Boston’s just that good. Montreal’s really good, I just don’t know if they’re big enough to play against Boston when Boston’s healthy. Boston’s a really, really good team.”