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Cam Neely knows money will still be tight with salary cap increase 12.10.14 at 5:24 pm ET
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Cam Neely discussed the NHL's salary cap increase on Wednesday. (Getty Images)

Cam Neely discussed the NHL‘s salary cap increase on Wednesday. (Getty Images)

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, “€œit’€™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.

“œBased on what we’€™re hearing, it’€™s all based upon the Canadian dollar,”€ Neely said. “œThey 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.”

Read More: Cam Neely, Carl Soderberg, Dougie Hamilton,
NHL salary cap expected to increase to $73 million range 12.08.14 at 7:58 pm ET
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Carl Soderberg

Carl Soderberg

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.

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

Read More: Carl Soderberg, Dougie Hamilton,
5 things we learned as Dougie Hamilton saves day in overtime 11.28.14 at 9:42 pm ET
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The Bruins wrapped up their homestand Friday agains the Jets. (Getty Images)

The Bruins wrapped up their homestand Friday agains the Jets. (Getty Images)

The Bruins will head to the West Coast two points richer.

It took overtime (and killing off a four-minute double-minor late in regulation and into the extra period), but Dougie Hamilton’€™s game-winner three minutes, 39 seconds into overtime gave the Bruins a 2-1 victory over the Jets Friday to wrap up a three-game home stand.

Brad Marchand was called for a four-minute high stick on Grant Clitsome with 3:30 left in regulation and the game tied, 1-1. The Bruins killed off the penalty in regulation, and the final 30 seconds to open overtime in a 4-on-3. Former Bruins farmhand Michael Hutchinson was spectacular in net for the Jets, saving 36 of the first 37 shots he faced, including a point-blank short-handed chance by Gregory Campbell with 30 seconds left in regulation.

The Bruins will also leave Boston healthier than they were to begin their three-game homestand, as Chris Kelly returned from injury Friday.

Here are four other things we learned Friday night:

SODERBERG LINE A GOOD FIT FOR LUCIC

Claude Julien said earlier this week that once David Krejci is healthy, Chris Kelly will go back to playing with Carl Soderberg and Lucic will go back to playing with Krejci. For now, however, Lucic has shown he’€™s a good fit with Boston’€™s Swedish forwards.

The trio of Soderberg between Lucic and Eriksson scored for the second straight game Friday when Lucic dropped a pass off for Soderberg at the blue line, went to the net and tipped Soderberg’€™s pass between the legs of Michael Hutchinson to tie the game at a goal apiece.

The goal was Lucic’€™s second in as many games, as he scored Boston’€™s first goal of Monday’€™s overtime loss to the Penguins. He now has five goals on the season.

Soderberg and Eriksson assisted Hamilton’s game-winner.

PASTRNAK PUTS PUCKS ON NET

After giving him just 7:53 of ice time in his NHL debut Monday, Claude Julien played David Pastrnak on Patrice Bergeron‘€™s line and the team’€™s No. 2 power play unit Friday. The result was both a glimpse of the first-rounder’€™s skill set and a lot of shots on goal.

With seven shots on goal Friday, Pastrnak landed as many pucks on net as any Bruin has in a game this season. (By my count, seven was the highest individual shot on goal total for a Bruins player entering the night, accomplished by Zdeno Chara on Oct. 18 against the Sabres and Patrice Bergeron on Nov. 6 against the Oilers.)

Pastrnak nearly had his best chance of the night at the end of a long shifts in the third period, but he couldn’€™t get a handle on the puck after taking a feed from Brad Marchand.

The Bruins began the night with Brad Marchand on the left wing of Bergeron’€™s line and Reilly Smith skating on a bottom-six line with Chris Kelly and Seth Griffith. Julien moved Smith up to replace Marchand in the third, with Marchand moving to Kelly’€™s line. Marchand took a high-sticking double-minor at 16:30 of the third period.
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Read More: Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand, Dougie Hamilton, Winnipeg Jets
Bruins not talking contract with Dougie Hamilton, Carl Soderberg yet 11.20.14 at 3:58 pm ET
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Dougie Hamilton

Dougie Hamilton

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.

Read More: Carl Soderberg, Dougie Hamilton,
Why Tuukka Rask is pleased with Dougie Hamilton after yelling at him 10.28.14 at 1:04 pm ET
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Dougie Hamilton is trying to show improvement in all areas of his game. (Getty Images)

Dougie Hamilton is trying to show improvement in all areas of his game. (Getty Images)

Dougie Hamilton is receiving praise left and right for what some might call a breakout* performance against the Maple Leafs, but it was his response to the low moment of his three-point game that might be the biggest takeaway.

Hamilton was the last line of defense as the Bruins, stuck in their zone, surrendered the Leafs’€™ lone goal of the game in the third period. The man Hamilton was covering, Richard Panik, scored with the Bruins scrambling during a delayed penalty to break up Tuukka Rask‘€™s shutout. Rask could be seen barking at Hamilton after the goal.

On Hamilton’€™s next shift, James van Riemsdyk went to the net and Hamilton manhandled him on a play that resulted in matching roughing minors. Intentionally or not, it was a good sign that Hamilton, a 6-foot-5 third-year player with no fighting majors to his name, does not want to be taken lightly around his net. Furthermore, it was a response Rask was happy to see.

“That’€™s what you have to do; you have do hold your ground and not let those guys get in there,” Rask said. “That’€™s exactly what he did. As long as it’€™s an even call, that’€™s alright.”

Shifts are usually around 45-50 seconds, sometimes more and sometimes less. Hamilton ended up being stuck on the ice for 1:37 on the shift that cost Rask what would have been his shutout of the season. During a delayed penalty call on Daniel Paille for tripping Panik, Rask had to face three shots from three different angles. A point shot squirted into the corner and was retrieved by Nazem Kadri, whose cross-ice pass to Cody Franson yielded another shot stopped by Rask. Tyler Bozak whacked the rebound across the net to Panik, who jammed it past both Rask and Hamilton, the latter of whom had been covering Panik but retreated into the net amidst the chaos.

“It was definitely my fault,” Hamilton, who had a goal and two assists in the game, said of the goal. “I was gassed and trying to playing to goalie, obviously with the shutout on the line. I apologized to him.”

Rask said Tuesday that though he reacted vocally, he didn’t mean to chew Hamilton out any more than he intended to express frustration with the overall work in front of him on the shift.

Hamilton said that on his next shift, he felt he had to “refocus and make sure I was being strong.” That ended up being subpar news for van Riemsdyk, who became the focal point of Hamilton’s aggression.

Rask wants and expects the defensemen in front of him to box players out and make them pay a price if they want to get close to the net. When that doesn’€™t happen, he isn’€™t afraid to tell them. That isn’t such a bad thing.

With Zdeno Chara out for at least a few more weeks, other players need to provide the physical presence and intimidation factor around the net. Rask will be happy to see more of that from Hamilton as he continues to round into a top defender.

“He obviously wants to be one of the best defensemen in the league, and that’€™s something he has to get better at, is the defensive side of his game,” Rask said. “He’€™s really picked up on that and gotten better, so I like it.”

*Hamilton broke out last season.

Read More: Dougie Hamilton, Tuukka Rask,
Dougie Hamilton puts up three points as Zdeno Chara-less Bruins cruise past Maple Leafs 10.25.14 at 9:50 pm ET
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Dougie Hamilton had a goal and two assists Saturday. (Getty Images)

Dougie Hamilton had a goal and two assists Saturday. (Getty Images)

The Zdeno Chara-less Bruins passed their first test with flying colors.

Dougie Hamilton had a three-point night and the Bruins played one of their better defensive games of the season in beating the Maple Leafs, 4-1, at Air Canada Centre Saturday. Tuukka Rask‘s shutout bid was broken up when Richard Panik scored during a delayed penalty at 14:27 of the third period.

Carl Soderberg opened the scoring for Boston, scoring a power play goal for his third tally of the season at 3:27 of the first period. With the assist on Soderberg’s goal, Patrice Bergeron registered his 500th career point.

That score would hold up until David Krejci went to the net hardly contested by Phil Kessel and beat Jonathan Bernier on the rebound of his own shot at 15:58 of the second.

With the Bruins killing an Adam McQuaid penalty in the third, Daniel Paille stole a puck from Dion Phaneuf in the Toronto zone and sent it to Gregory Campbell in front, who made it 3-0. Hamilton made it 4-0 just 1:38 later after outracing Jake Gardiner and another Toronto defender and fired a wrist shot over the glove of Bernier, ending the Toronto starter’€™s night.

With the win, the Bruins evened their record to 5-5-0 on the season. The B’€™s will next play Tuesday when they host the Wild at TD Garden.

Here are some notes from the game:

– Hamilton had a particularly strong game for Boston, picking up an assist in each of the first two periods before scoring in the third. Though his helper on Soderberg’€™s goal game as a result of a lucky bounce, Hamilton made a good decision to race after a missed pass from Loui Eriksson from Patrice Bergeron down low. Hamilton moved up to get the puck at the right circle, seemingly breaking his stick on the shot as the puck trickled to Bergeron, whose bid then went off Stuart Percy on its way to Soderberg on the doorstep.

– Speaking of Hamilton, it appeared that Rask was barking at the defenseman after Panik scored in front of the net. On Hamilton’€™s next shift, he was extra-physical with James van Riemsdyk when the Leafs winger went to the net. Both players were assessed roughing minors.

Dennis Seidenberg led the team with 25:59 of ice time, which was far and away tops on the team. Hamilton was second with 22:31.

– The game gave Krejci a six-game point streak. After being kept off the score sheet in his first game of the season, Krejci now has three goals and five assists for eight points over the last six contests.

– The Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid pairing was Boston’€™s third pairing to begin the season, but without Chara, everyone has to step up. That was apparent in the first period, when Krug’€™s pairing played against Phil Kessel on four of Kessel’€™s seven 5-on-5 shifts.

– Zach Trotman made his season debut, skating on the third defensive pairing with Matt Bartkowski. The lineup was as follows:

Lucic – Krejci – Griffith
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Kelly – Soderberg- Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Gagne

Seidenberg – Hamilton
Krug – McQuaid
Bartkowski – Trotman

Read More: Dougie Hamilton,
Dougie Hamilton has injury scare a day after Bruins lose Zdeno Chara for month 10.24.14 at 1:19 pm ET
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Dougie Hamilton

Dougie Hamilton

The Bruins can’€™t afford to lose another top defensemen ‘€” they’€™ve really only got two left ‘€” so things looked pretty scary in Friday’€™s practice when Dougie Hamilton appeared to be in serious pain after getting hit in the right hand with a shot.

After getting hit, Hamilton took his glove off and grimaced for a few minutes as he repeatedly shook his hand. He resumed drills, but shook his hand after each turn and repeatedly went to the bench to get checked on by a trainer.

Following the practice, Hamilton said that his hand was OK, but there was a big red mark where the puck had clearly hit him. The fact that he finished practice is a good sign that the B’€™s survived the scare.

Hamilton skated on the team’s top pairing with Dennis Seidenberg in Friday’s practice. He has been used as Zdeno Chara‘s partner this season, but Chara is out for at least a month due to a torn PCL.

The pairings in practice were as follows:

Seidenberg – Hamilton
Krug – McQuaid
Bartkowski – Trotman

 

Read More: Dougie Hamilton, Zdeno Chara,
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