|Slide to the left: Chris Kelly ready for another season of mixing and matching||09.22.15 at 1:25 pm ET|
“I didn’t play center until I got to the NHL,” the veteran forward said. “They ask, ‘Can you play center?’ and you say, ‘Absolutely.’”
Kelly, who was drafted as a left wing, was moved to center because he was on a line of three wingers: himself, Brian McGrattan and Vaclav Varada.
Ten years later, Kelly’s situation has been reversed: He’s a longtime center who has spent ample time at wing on a line full of pivots. Entering this season, he figures to find himself on a line with at least one other center again. Where he plays, however, is up in the air.
Kelly says he has never played a traditional left wing in the NHL. When he was moved back to left wing in Ottawa, he was playing with a very similar player in Antoine Vermette. The two shared center responsibilities, something that came in handy when Kelly was given a similar task with Carl Soderberg. Though Soderberg was the de facto center on his line with Kelly and Loui Eriksson, Kelly often helped out with draws and took on the center’s responsibilities in the defensive zone.
So far in training camp, Kelly has gotten reps at both left wing and center. If the B’s use him as a left wing, he could be an option for Ryan Spooner’s line, which would allow him to aid Spooner the way he did with Soderberg. So far, however, Spooner has played exclusively with Jimmy Hayes on the left and Brett Connolly on the right. It’s the one line that has gone unchanged thus far in training camp.
Kelly could also center the fourth line, something he did down the stretch last season. Such a scenario could see another center moved to wing in Max Talbot. Julien enjoys playing Kelly with other centers and Kelly likes skating with other pivots, whether it’s helping them with defensive responsibilities or giving his line another option on faceoffs.
“It’s a lot easier to go from center to wing than from wing to center,” Kelly said. “It’s a different game and I think, at the end of the day, if things can be made easier for everyone, that’s what you want to do. The less working you have to do out there and thinking and just reacting, I think it makes everyone that much better.”
Because Kelly’s $3 million cap hit is high for a forward who doesn’t score many goals (he had seven in 80 games last season), he’s an easy target for casual hockey observers. Even if he winds up being a fourth-liner this season, Julien knows what he’s getting no matter where Kelly lines up.
“Yes, he’s not that top-line player that scores goals and everything, but [for] a team to succeed, [it] needs a little bit of everything,” Julien said. “He’s certainly got some versatility, where he can play either position.”
With Kelly set to turn 35 in November, he’s seen plenty in his time in the NHL. As far as mixing and matching positions goes, this coming season could be more of the same.
|Chris Kelly glad he wasn’t among Bruins traded (and one last Carl Soderberg story)||09.03.15 at 4:06 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — If someone were to tell you the Bruins would be trading three forwards this offseason, it would be reasonable to figure Chris Kelly would be one of them.
He isn’t a bad player — contrary to what folks who listen to talk radio more than they listen to games will tell you, he’s a fine bottom-sixer who could once again perform well in a contract year — but if the Bruins wanted to cut costs, trading his $3 million cap hit would be a viable option.
Really, the Bruins could still trade Kelly if they want to sign another free agent (Cody Franson remains unsigned), but for now it appears Kelly will play out the final year of his four-year contract. That’s the way he wants it.
“I’m happy to be back, obviously,” Kelly said after Thursday’s informal skate at Ristuccia Arena. “Boston’s a great place. We’ve got a great team. We’re excited to start up. You hit that point where you just want camp to start and you want some games to come and then the season to start. I think we’re all anxious to get rolling again.”
Kelly submitted his list of eight teams to which he’d accept a deal this offseason. It is unknown whether Don Sweeney tried aggressively to move him over the summer; Kelly said he tried not to think about the possibility.
“Wondering does you nothing,” he said. “Moves can happen to anyone at any time. I think management’s job is to make your team better, and they’re going to make the moves that they feel are going to make the team better. Me wondering at home isn’t going to serve anyone any good.”
Kelly, who turns 35 in November, would figure to center the fourth line this season. He scored just seven goals in 80 games last season, and though he did light the lamp 20 times in the last time he was in a contract year (2011-12), it’s unlikely he could return to that production given that he could end up playing with Zac Rinaldo.
Soderberg strikes one last time
Thanks to Kelly, we can add one last bit to the legend of Carl Soderberg’s three years in Boston.
Soderberg, a native of Sweden who’s fluent in English, is as nice a guy as you’ll meet, but he also has a really dry sense of humor. His quirks showed throughout his time as a Bruin.
He once ended a very short media session in the 2013 playoffs by announcing he had to take a shower. Another time he said he couldn’t talk because he was going to go buy a car, and, when asked the next day how he fared, was stone-faced in responding, ‘I don’t have a car.’ When Matt Bartkowski asked the sharp-dressed Soderberg after one practice if he was going to church, Soderberg had no reaction.
The Bruins traded Soderberg’s rights to the Avalanche prior to the draft, with Soderberg promptly cashing in with a five-year, $23.75 million deal.
“Good for Carl for getting rewarded for his play,” Kelly said Thursday. “He’s another guy who was a great teammate and a friend.”
When Kelly texted his linemate of two seasons to congratulate him on the new deal, perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that Soderberg did not respond for some reason.
“I think Carl changed his number quite quick because I sent him a note,” Kelly said with a grin. “Otherwise, he just forgot about all his old teammates, because I sent him a note to congratulate him and I don’t know.”
Soderberg and Kelly complemented one another well. When jokingly asked if he’d be able to carry on without Soderberg, Kelly responded, “Will Carl be able to carry on?”
The Avalanche are in town on Nov. 12.
|Don Sweeney has lists from all Bruins with partial no-trade clauses; Loui Eriksson lost full-no trade when B’s missed playoffs||06.25.15 at 3:20 pm ET|
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Bruins general manager Don Sweeney doesn’t feel the need to make trades this weekend, but he’s more than prepared to.
Sweeney revealed during Thursday’s pre-draft availability that he has collected the proper lists from each Bruins player with a partial no-trade clause. Such lists, which vary in number of teams, reveal teams to which a player would accept a trade.
“Absolutely. I have every list,” Sweeney said.
Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Loui Eriksson, Chris Kelly and Dennis Seidenberg are Boston’s players with no-trade clauses, with Lucic, Marchand, Kelly and Eriksson having lists. David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask have no-movement clauses for the foreseeable future, with Krejci’s and Rask’s statuses changing to no-trades over time.
Eriksson waived his no-trade clause to come to the Bruins from Dallas two years ago, but his no-trade was preserved in writing at the time, which means he still has his no-trade rights.
According to sources, Eriksson had a full no-trade, but when the Bruins missed the playoffs last season, it reverted to a 14-team list. Lucic has a 15-team list, while Kelly can approve a trade to up to eight teams. Seidenberg has a full no-trade until Dec. 30, 2016, after which it will become an eight-team list. Seidenberg has said that he would waive his no-trade clause to facilitate a deal if Boston tried moving him.
The size of Marchand’s list is currently unknown. Because he is 27, he will become qualified for no-trade rights on July 1, if that is indeed when they kick in. Players cannot have no-trade rights unless they are old enough (or have enough NHL service) to qualify for unrestricted free agency status. Marchand still has two more years on a cap friendly deal ($4.5 million cap hit), so the idea of him being traded would figure to be a moot point. Of the aforementioned group of players, he is the biggest no-brainer to keep.
At some point this offseason, the Bruins will turn to the trade market in an effort to clear salary cap space. The Bruins have $59,841,667 committed to 15 players for next season, with the upper limit of the salary cap set at $71.4 million this week. Boston still needs to sign restricted free agents Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Spooner and Brett Connolly to new contracts. Don Sweeney has also expressed an interesting in re-signing unrestricted free agent Adam McQuaid.
Sweeney said that he does not necessarily feel a need to swing his deals before the draft begins Friday.
“I think every situation is different,” Sweeney said. “You could look at getting past the draft and getting past free agency as teams say, ‘OK, well I missed that first wave; there will be another wave of player movement opportunity.’ I think just everybody is looking to explore whatever they can at this particular time because the opportunity presents itself on a bunch of different levels.”
|Bruins lament failure of season||04.11.15 at 11:34 pm ET|
TAMPA, Fla. — The Bruins never gained traction this season and now it’s over. Though injuries and the team’s coaches/management will be blamed for the team’s demise, the team’s motor was seemingly busted all season.
“When you don’t make the playoffs, you’ve failed,” Claude Julien said after the Bruins finished ninth in the Eastern Conference.
For all the team’s inconsistency this season, the Bruins were in control of a playoff spot entering the final week of the season. Boston sat third in the Atlantic Division entering their season-ending three-game road trip, but regulation losses in Washington and Florida left the Bruins needing teams like the Senators and Penguins to lose in order for Boston to get in.
That didn’t happen and the Bruins got what was coming.
“I really don’t have an answer,” Chris Kelly said. “You’d think at the most critical time, we’d be playing our best hockey, and that wasn’t the case. It was in our hands and we let it get away. This is ultimately what happens.”
Kelly and other leaders called out the team at multiple points in an effort to return to the success of seasons past, but their efforts rarely took.
“I mean, you talk about it all the time. You talk about, ‘We need to have everybody going. We need to do this, we need to do that,’ and at the end of the day I just think a lot of it is mental,” Tuukka Rask said. “We never really got to that comfort zone. It seemed like we were nervous a lot of times out there and just couldn’t overcome that as a team. It’s frustrating, but I really don’t know why that happened.”
Now, the Bruins will not play postseason hockey for the first time since 2006-07.
“We could have been better. We could have been more consistent throughout the year,” Zdeno Chara said. “It’s been a tough year for us all around. I think everybody could have been better.”
|Chris Kelly on looming line choices: ‘We’ve got a great problem to have’||04.05.15 at 10:27 am ET|
Chris Kelly is hardly worried about the looming decisions that will have to be made to determine who will play and who won’t come playoff time.
Kelly moved from his left wing spot and centered a line Saturday that had Max Talbot on left wing and newcomer Brett Connolly on the right. This left out Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille. The way Kelly sees it, there are five players trying to make Claude Julien‘s job as difficult as possible with competition in the last week.
“Competition, that’s why we all play. Competition is good, and it makes everyone better, I think. We’ve got a great problem to have, good players that can play in the lineup, and I think every guy is trying to make it difficult on him to make those tough decisions,” Kelly said. “Ultimately, you want to go out there and play your best hockey and help the team.”
Connolly played in just his second game with the Bruins since returning from a broken finger in his second practice with the Bruins and was relieved to finally contribute. Kelly said he was happy from what he saw from his line during a 2-1 shootout win over the Maple Leafs Saturday.
“We had some pretty good chances,” Kelly said. “I think all three of us, our feet were moving, and we weren’t in our end too often, so it was good. A bounce here, a bounce there, maybe we would’ve been able to get one.”
Julien insisted after the game that what he’s trying to do is more about keeping everyone fresh than holding an audition for the fourth line in the final week. Read the rest of this entry »
|Antoine Vermette unsure of what trade deadline holds, but Chris Kelly wants him on Bruins||02.28.15 at 9:01 pm ET|
Antoine Vermette knows he just played his last game as an Arizona Coyote. It can’t be easy to not know what, or rather where, is next.
“I don’t know what I’m thinking,” he said after the Bruins beat the Coyotes Saturday. “It’s obviously a strange position, and it’s not a fun one. It’s not the way you see it. As a group here, it’s not the position you want to be in. It’s a little strange, to say the least.
“You’ve got to take it as a man, and it’s part of the game, unfortunately. It’s not easy.”
The veteran center is expected to be moved before Monday’s trade deadline, and though the asking price is high (reportedly a first-round pick), the Bruins are among the teams believed to be in on the 32-year-old free agent to be.
Vermette had no shots on goal and was a minus-1 on the day Saturday. He was matched up early against Patrice Bergeron‘s line and struggled.
Among the reasons why the B’s might be interested in Vermette is the Ottawa connection with Peter Chiarelli. Vermette played for the Senators from 2003-2009 and was a linemate of Chris Kelly‘s for three seasons.
Having been traded before, Kelly could understand Vermette’s postgame mood.
“Obviously it’s a difficult time. You guys love it, but it’s tough, especially for guys with families, to uproot midseason and things like that, but I played with Vermy for a few years in Ottawa and we’re still good friends,” Kelly said.
“He’s a great player. He plays every key position, he plays power play, kills penalties, last minute [whether] you’re up or down, he’s out there. Just a quality guy. He’s been around a long time, and any team that gets him, they’re going to be extremely happy with what they get.”
Asked whether he would like the Bruins to be that team, Kelly voiced his support for a potential Vermette acquisition.
“Yeah. Yeah, why not?” Kelly said. “I think if we have that opportunity and he comes, it would be great to see him and play with him again. We had a lot of great memories. We played together quite often in Ottawa and it was fun.”
|Chris Kelly nears return from upper-body injury||11.26.14 at 1:04 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Chris Kelly was back practicing with the Bruins Wednesday after missing the previous two games with an upper-body injury suffered in last Friday’s shootout win over the Blue Jackets.
Kelly said the injury was not related to last season’s back issues and was also not a head injury. When asked specifically what it was, he said “hurt feelings.”
The veteran center also noted that the injury did not occur on a specific play. He hopes to return to the lineup Friday against the Jets.
“I think we thought it was better to be on the cautious side of things,” Kelly said. “I think it’s exactly kind of what we thought. So I felt good today and and we’ll see how it feels tomorrow.”
Kelly took contact and centered a fourth line with a rotating cast of wingers in Seth Griffith, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser on Wednesday.
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