|Bruins-Sabres Live Blog: Sabres leading, 5-0, in third||02.08.12 at 7:17 pm ET|
|Blue Jackets sign James Wisniewski||07.01.11 at 11:43 am ET|
Tomas Kaberle’s biggest competition on the free agent market never even made it to unrestricted free agency. The Blue Jackets inked defenseman James Wisniewski to a six-year, $33 million pact Friday morning, less than an hour before free agency was set to open.
The pact will command an annual cap hit of $5.5 million, and leaves Tomas Kaberle and Ed Jovanovski as the top free agent defensemen. The Bruins are letting Kaberle test the market to see what he can get, but do not consider themselves out of the running for the 33-year-old.
Of course, with Wisniewski and Christian Ehrhoff (Sabres) signed, any team in need of a puck-moving defenseman must now put Kaberle atop their list. Kaberle disappointed in his time with the B’s, as turnovers and cuts in his icetime suggested, but he finished the postseason tied with Dennis Seidenberg for the most points (11) amongst Bruins’ defensemen.
Wisniewski finished last season with the Canadiens after being acquired during the season from the Islanders. The Habs sent his rights to Columbus this week in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick, but since the 27-year-old signed with the team, the Blue Jackets will instead send a fifth-rounder to Montreal.
|With five returning, who will be the other Bruins’ defenseman?||06.30.11 at 2:34 pm ET|
The Bruins have five of their six defensemen from the Stanley Cup finals under contract through at least next season, with Tomas Kaberle’s spot the only question mark. B’s general manager Peter Chiarelli said Thursday that the team will let Kaberle test the waters, and that if he signs elsewhere, they’ll find a replacement. That means whoever the B’s have back there next year needs to be at least somewhat offensively minded. After the power play woes of the playoffs, that’s only logical.
So who might be that last (not necessarily the sixth) defenseman be? Here are some options:
TOMAS KABERLE (free agent, Bruins)
2010-11 team: Maple Leafs/Bruins
2010-11 stats: 82 GP, 4 G, 43 A, 47 P, +4 (regular season)
25 GP, 0 G, 11 A, 11 P, +8 (playoffs)
Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 214 pounds
Pros: Outstanding passer
Cons: Poor skater, turnover-prone
The skinny: The sound of a full Garden screaming “SHOOT!” might keep Kaberle awake at night, and though there were plenty of roadbumps on the way to him becoming the solid player he was in the Cup finals, more time in Boston might make him better. Perhaps the reason he looked more like himself later in the postseason was because he was getting comfortable, but the minutes Claude Julien gave him in the playoffs suggest he won’t be worth the payday he seeks. If the B’s can get him for $3 million or less, maybe they’ll take a flier. Any more than that just isn’t sensible.
STEVEN KAMPFER (Bruins, signed through 2013)
2010-11 team: Bruins
2010-11 stats: 38 GP, 5 G, 5 A, 10 P, +9 (with Boston)
22 GP, 3 G, 16 A, 16 P, +10 (with Providence)
Height/weight: 5-foot-10, 188 pounds
Pros: Good skater, right-handed shot
Cons: Faded/lost spot down the stretch
The skinny: Kampfer needed very little time to settle into the NHL, and though his partner (some guy named Chara) had plenty to do with that, he showed he is capable of contributing at this level. He had as costly a 13-minute span as anyone could back on March 17, and his misplay and a penalty not only cost the Bruins the game in Nashville, but it cost Kampfer his spot in the lineup. He injured his knee while playing in the AHL late in the season, but was good enough to play again midway through the Eastern Conference finals. He did not play a game in the postseason.
If it ends up being an in-house promotion, the B’s will also give Matt Bartkowski a good look.
JAMES WISNIEWSKI (UPDATE: signed six-year, $33 million deal with Blue Jackets)
2010-11 team: Islanders/Canadiens
2010-11 stats: 75 GP, 10 G, 41 A, 51 P, -14 (regular season)
6 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 P, -2 (playoffs)
Height/weight: 5-foot-11, 208 pounds
Pros: Hard-nosed, crafty with the puck
Cons: Had career year in contract year, price may be high
The skinny: The Michigan native could become fast friends with Kampfer and Tim Thomas (both from Michigan), and given his tendency to get under the skin of opponents, he and Brad Marchand would probably go from being enemies to pals pretty quickly. The Red Wings have only three defensemen under contract for next season, so the idea of bringing the local boy to Detroit makes that a logical potential destination for Wisniewski. If the Red Wings are in on the 27-year-old, they won’t be alone. Wisniewski has only had one season with more than 30 points, and it was his contract year. He’ll be paid well, so the price could be too steep for the Bruins’ liking.
CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF (UPDATE: SIGNED 10-YEAR, $40 M contract with Sabres)
2010-11 team: Canucks
2010-11 stats: 79 GP, 14 G, 36 A, 50 P, +19 (regular season)
23 GP, 2 G, 10 A, 12 P, -13 (playoffs)
Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 200 pounds
Pros: Durable (77+ games each of last five seasons), strong on power play
Cons: Too much money, this video
The skinny: Ehroff suffered a shoulder injury against his old team in the Western Conference finals, explaining why he was less than impressive vs. the Bruins. The shoulder will not require surgery.
The German media would go nutbars at the prospect of Dennis Seidenberg, one of only two German Stanley Cup champions, to be teamed with Ehrhoff. The two are actually good friends, as they have played on national teams since they were 17 and were defensive partners at the Olympics. The issue is that the Islanders traded a fourth-round pick for his rights this week and, despite general manager Garth Snow saying they offered “well north” of Kevin Bieksa‘s five-year, $23 million pact, couldn’t get him signed. Maybe that’s because Ehrhoff wants to play for a winner, but it may also be because he’s holding out for top dollar. If it’s the latter, you can count the Bruins out. Given the financial aspect, it’s hard to imagine any circumstance in which the B’s bring him in.
At the end of the day, the Bruins might have to overpay for Wisniewski, which makes one feel that if the B’s don’t get Kaberle back, they could just go with Kampfer. The 22-year-old is still progressing, and if he plays with Chara, it will be that much easier. Plus, it’s the most economical thing to do. Unless the B’s can get a deal on a veteran who brings more to the table, they might be better off hoping that, much like Adam McQuaid did this past season, Kampfer can take an opportunity and run with it.
|Report: Bruins looking to trade Tomas Kaberle’s rights||06.28.11 at 10:38 pm ET|
According to a tweet from TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Bruins sent out an email Tuesday offering Tomas Kaberle‘s negotiating rights to other teams. Any team that acquired Kaberle would, as the Bruins do now, be able to negotiate with the defenseman exclusively leading up to the opening of free agency on Friday.
Kaberle, 33, is one of only two unrestricted free agents from the Bruins’ Stanley Cup champion lineup. Acquired on Feb. 18 in exchange for center Joe Colborne, a 2011 first-round pick and a 2012 second-rounder, he had one goal and eight assists for nine points in 24 regular-season games with the B’s. He and Dennis Seidenberg tied for lead among Bruins’ defenseman in postseason points with 11.
Rights to free-agents-to-be can be moved by the teams with which they last played, as the Flyers traded for the rights to goalie Ilya Bryzgalov before locking him up last week. The Canucks traded the rights to defenseman Christian Ehrhoff to the Islanders on Tuesday.
|Dennis Seidenberg doesn’t feel disrespected by Dirk Nowitzki, hopes to be second German to win Cup||06.03.11 at 8:35 pm ET|
VANCOUVER – The Bruins and Canucks were scoreless during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals when an interesting video was played on the video board at Rogers Arena. It was Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki, who had two messages, the first of which was “Go Canucks.” From there, he gave a shout-out to defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, whom he called “my boy ‘Hoff.”
The connection was easy to make right off the bat. Both Nowitzki and Ehrhoff hail from Germany, and with both playing in the finals of their respective sports, it is an exciting time. Yet in endorsing one side of this matchup, Nowitzki may have slighted another German player in Bruins’ defenseman Dennis Seidenberg.
“I talked to a German reporter, I talked to Dirk,” Seidenberg said Friday at the University of Vancouver. “The Dallas Mavericks’ trainer is either a Vancouver fan or from Vancouver, I’m not sure. He always keeps him up to date, tells him stories. I guess that’s the reason he’s cheering for them.”
If Nowitzki is a fan of German hockey players, he’s in a win-win scenario. Because both Ehrhoff and Seidenberg are in the series, one will become the second German player in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup. Prior to this series, only defenseman Uwe Krupp has won the Cup, which he did in 1996 as a member of the Avalanche. In that series, Krupp scored the Cup-clinching goal in triple overtime of Game 4 against the Panthers.
“There’s going to be a second German Stanley Cup champion after Uwe Krupp,” Ehrhoff said with a smile earlier this week. “That’s definitely very special for German hockey. Hopefully it’s going to be me.”
Ehrhoff and Seidenberg know both each other and Krupp very well. The two have played together on national teams since they were 17, and they were defensive partners in the Olympics last year under Krupp, the head coach of the national team.
Seidenberg said Krupp had wished him and Ehrhoff luck prior to the series. No. 44 has been perhaps the Bruins’ best defenseman throughout the playoffs, though it would take a lot for him to be able to top Krupp’s game-winner against John Vanbiesbrouck. Seidenberg remembers when Krupp became the first German player to win the Cup, even if he didn’t catch it live.
“I was sleeping, but I watched it the next day, and I remember histshot from the point,” Seidenberg said with a laugh. “I remember the goal. It was pretty big back then, so it was exciting.”
Though Ehrhoff and Seidenberg haven’t been in much contact with one another as they battle for the Stanley Cup, they are close with one another and have tried to see one another for dinner or coffee when their teams have met in past regular seasons.
“We’ve known each other since the Under-18 national team,” Ehrhoff said. “We like each other, we understand each other well off the ice, but right now we’re not really talking. It has to wait until after.”
Both players noted that there is a heightened interest in North American sports in Germany at the moment given that Nowitzki, Seidenberg and Ehrhoff all have a shot at a title. Ehrhoff said he’s spent plenty of time in interviews with radio stations back in Germany, and relatives of both defenseman have travelled or will travel to see it in person.
Either way, Germany will get its second Stanley Cup champion, but don’t expect either player to be happy with seeing the other guy do it.
|Manny Malhotra absent from Canucks practice||05.31.11 at 2:52 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Canucks held their practice on Tuesday at Rogers Arena, part of the Stanley Cup finals media day. Center Manny Malhotra (eye), who was recently cleared for contact participated in Monday’s scrimmage, was not on the ice. According to a tweet from Vancouver Province Canucks writer Ben Kuzma, Malhotra missed the skate due to an eye appointment.
Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, meanwhile, was once again on the ice for practice. He missed Games 4 and 5 of the Western Conference finals due to an upper body injury and is considered day-to-day. He was also on the ice Monday and said he feels good to go.