|Alexander Khokhlachev hungry for any spot with Bruins||09.18.14 at 10:56 pm ET|
Peter Chiarelli said Thursday that there are four forward spots open this training camp, though he wouldn’t specify which. In reality, there’s uncertainty in more places than that on Boston’s forward lines.
Jarome Iginla’s old spot on David Krejci‘s line is the only top-six position up for grabs. On the bottom two lines, however, Carl Soderberg centering the third line looks to be the only certainty. A gaggle of forwards are competing for the wing spots, while the fourth line is one big question mark with numerous potential answers.
That’s where Alexander Khokhlachev comes in.
Gregory Campbell has centered the fourth line for the last four seasons, but that may change. The Bruins have a pair of NHL centers knocking on the NHL‘s door, and the team has considered moving Campbell to wing if either one wins the fourth-line center.
One of those player is Ryan Spooner. The other is Khokhlachev, who was chosen in the second round in 2011, a year after Spooner. Both players stand at 5-foot-11, but Khokhlachev is thicker, having bulked up to 189 pounds this offseason (Spooner is listed at 181 pounds).
Spooner has more AHL experience, but Khokhlachev hopes that after putting up 57 points (21 goals, 36 assists) in 65 games last season in his first full campaign with Providence, he’s ready for the NHL.
There are two questions with the left-shooting 21-year-old. One is whether he could play wing if need be ‘ he did at points of a 26-game stint in the KHL during the lockout ‘ and the other is whether he would make sense as a fourth-liner at either position.
“Sure, why not? I’m not just a skill guy,” Khokhlachev said Thursday. “For sure, I like to score goals and get points and help my team win, but if this year they put me on the fourth line and want me [play a different role], I’m still a young guy and I develop my game pretty much every day, so I don’t care where they put me. It doesn’t matter for me. I will be happy.”
Campbell is out with a mid-core injury to begin training camp, so the Bruins will be able to get longer looks at Khokhlachev and Spooner, something that Chiarelli sees as a silver lining to having players missing.
“Those guys both tested well and ran well, and they both had real good seasons last year,” Chiarelli said of Spooner and Khokhlachev. “You’ll probably see some of the guys higher up on the depth chart for centers, and you might see them on the wing at some point.”
Khokhlachev said he didn’t do anything differently this offseason to prepare for being a wing, but he’s more than willing to play the position if that’s the opportunity given to him. His priority is being in the NHL.
“It doesn’t matter where they put me. Coaches, management, they know better,” he said. “For now, I don’t really care. I just want to make the team. Wherever they put me, I’ll be happy with that and enjoy it.”
Lucic is recovering from wrist surgery and had said earlier this week that he would be taking it slow in training camp. Chiarelli confirmed as much, saying that Lucic is ‘a little slow’ to begin camp.
Campbell will not be on the ice when practices begin Friday due to what Chiarelli called ‘some minor mid-core stuff.’
Arnesson, meanwhile, was given Monday’s rookie practice off before leaving Tuesday’s rookie game with a tweaked groin. Chiarelli said Thursday that Arnesson ‘won’t be skating for a little bit.’
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Daniel Paille suited for whatever role awaits him with Bruins||08.12.14 at 10:40 pm ET|
When the Beatles broke up, it wasn’t Paul McCartney or John Lennon who went on to make the best album outside the group (in my opinion), but rather George Harrison. Paul and John were obviously the bigger names throughout the Fab Four’s tenure, but Harrison, who had come an extremely long way as a guitarist and songwriter over the years, was primed for success.
Think of the breakup of the Merlot Line as being similar. Shawn Thornton is the biggest name (he’s in the movies, you know) and Gregory Campbell is known across the continent for killing a penalty on a broken leg, but Daniel Paille seems destined to have the strongest post-Merlot career.
Why? Because the opportunity is now there. If the Bruins embrace the trend of speedier and more skilled fourth line, Paille can handle it. If they want to move him up to the third line, he should be able to hang with the increased competition.
Paille, a former first-round pick of the Sabres who found his nitch in the NHL as a fourth-liner and penalty killer with the Bruins, possesses the speed that would allow him to fit on a quicker fourth line. Though there’s probably a shorthanded breakaway on which he didn’t score for every goal he’s scored in his career, Paille might remain a solid fit on the fourth line as it moves away from grit to skill. Ryan Spooner could take over as the line’s center, as the team is entertaining the idea of moving Campbell to the wing.
“The game is changing where there is a lot of skill on fourth lines,” Paille said this week. “Guys that used to be top-two line guys end up being fourth line when you look at [Brad] Richards and [Daniel] Briere. It’s becoming more of a challenge to play against. In my role, being fourth line typically, I have to be that much better.”
Of course, that’s not the only path Paille might take this season. With Loui Eriksson set to move up from the third line to the first line, Paille, who played left wing on the Merlot Line with Campbell and Thornton, is one of the candidates who figure to compete for the vacant third line right wing spot.
Paille figures to compete with a group of young wingers for that job. With the exception of Craig Cunningham and 2014 first-round pick David Pastrnak, all of those players – Matt Fraser, Spooner, Alexander Khokhlachev, Justin Florek ‘ are left shots.
Should he be moved up to play on Carl Soderberg’s line, Paille is confident he’d be able to handle more minutes and tougher competition.
“I know my role here on the team, and I have no complaints playing on the fourth line,” Paille said. “If I get to play that third line role, no complaints there either. I’m going to try to live up to the challenge if I’m able to do that, but if not, I’m going to keep working the way I need to and be prepared for the team.”
|Gregory Campbell cool with potential move to wing||08.06.14 at 8:19 pm ET|
LOWELL – Though he tossed the first pitch prior to Wednesday’s Spinner’s game, Gregory Campbell will not be a pitcher next season. From there, it gets tougher to narrow down which position he’ll play.
Campbell, who has centered Boston’s fourth line since the B’s acquired the former second-round pick in a trade with the Panthers prior to the 2010-11 season, is due to see plenty of change in the coming season. For starters, Shawn Thornton is gone. Daniel Paille may move up to replace Loui Eriksson on the third line. Plus, with Ryan Spooner and Alexander Khokhlachev knocking on the NHL‘s door, Campbell may be moved to wing. Peter Chiarelli said the possibility has been discussed and that the team feels he’d be able to handle it.
Discussing the possibility of the position switch for the first time, Campbell told WEEI.com he would put up no fight if moved to the wing.
“I’ve been a center for the last four years, but I’m not going to [demand anything]. I want to be in a spot where I can complement other guys,” Campbell said. “If they throw me with whoever it is and I have to play wing and we’re a successful line, then so be it. That’s where I want to be. I have played center for a long time, so it may take me a few games, but I’m sure I can do it.”
The position wouldn’t be completely new for Campbell. He played some wing over the course of his five-season tenure with the Panthers, and he’s confident he’d be able to swing it.
“I played wing in Florida for a while in different seasons,” he said. “I think the last season I was in Florida I was actually a winger, so I’m comfortable with doing that. Obviously I haven’t played wing in some time now, but it’s a position that I think is easy to adapt to. It’s not necessary an easy position to play, but the responsibilities are a little different and I’m used to those responsibilities and would welcome the challenge.”
The Bruins are no strangers to moving veteran centers to the wing. Just last season, Chris Kelly was moved to left wing to accommodate Carl Soderberg. In 2011, the B’s traded for Rich Peverley and made him a wing on Kelly’s line.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Bruins considering moving Gregory Campbell to wing so Ryan Spooner or Alexander Khokhlachev can play||07.13.14 at 1:36 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins learned this season that Carl Soderberg was too good at center to play out of position on the wing, so they moved their third-line center, Chris Kelly, to left wing and saw that trio with Loui Eriksson become a superb third line.
General manager Peter Chiarelli said Sunday that the team has discussed moving Campbell out of his natural center position to allow one of the young centers to play in the NHL.
The team has been hesitant to move Spooner or Khokhlachev to the wing because they feel the players are better suited for the middle.
“When you move someone to the wing it’s the board work, and that’s what’s really tough,” Chiarelli said. ‘It’s almost like pick your poison a little bit with the young guys, but those two players both have really good sticks and they’re smart, so body position and timing, getting pucks out of the boards, that’s the trickiest part when you move from center to wing, and then standing start.”
Campbell is tougher than both Spooner and Khokhlachev, so he’s more of a sure thing to be able to handle the board work and required battling that comes with playing on the wing.
Such a move would certainly be very Bruins of the Bruins. Claude Julien loves having multiple centers on a line, as it gives him multiple players who can effectively take draws and give the Bruins possession. It’s part of the reason Rich Peverley, a center who was used primarily at wing in his Bruins career, was such a valuable asset in his Boston days.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Gregory Campbell nominated for Masterton||04.05.14 at 12:49 pm ET|
Bruins forward Gregory Campbell was named the Bruins’ nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The Masterton is give to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
Campbell was selected as the Bruins’ nominee by the Boston chapter of the Pro Hockey Writers Association. The nomination comes after he returned from a broken leg suffered in Game 3 off the Eastern Conference finals against the Penguins. Campbell finished his shift on the penalty kill after blocking an Evgeni Malkin shot and, after missing the remainder of the postseason, has played in every game this season.
“I guess I’m very thankful for the recognition of what it takes to come back from an injury,” Campbell said Saturday morning. “It’s not an easy thing and it’s something that we all sign up for when we play hockey is the risk of having an injury. But having said that, when I look at the list of past and present nominees and winners, there’s been a lot of inspiring and courageous people that have been nominated and won this award.
“I feel like there’s been far greater challenges that these guys have overcome, so a broken leg to me isn’t much. So, I guess in that sense, I don’t think I’m really deserving of the award. I’m very grateful for the nomination, like I said, there’s a whole long list of people that have shown a lot of courage over the years. I’ll take it and move on.”
Campbell has seven goals and 12 assists this season for 19 points and a plus-1 rating.
|Bruins teammates weigh in on Andrej Meszaros trade, Thomas Vanek to Canadiens trade||03.05.14 at 4:50 pm ET|
The trade deadline came and went Wednesday, with defenseman Andrej Meszaros the biggest name acquired by the B’s. After the trade deadline, a couple of his new Bruins teammates weighed in on the acquisition.
Chris Kelly knows Meszaros well, as the two were teammates in Ottawa. Kelly said that the 30-year-old Slovakia native uses his 6-foot-2, 220-pound body well.
” ‘Mez skates extremely well, he’s got a great shot and he’s a big body,” Kelly said. “He’s a left-handed shot. I think that’s what Peter [Chiarelli] was saying, you guys were telling me, that they wanted some depth on the back end and I think he fills that.”
Added Kelly: “He’s a big, big guy. You’ll see. He’s a big strong guy. You know all those Slovaks, they’re big men.”
Kelly added that Meszaros will fit in well with the team, saying that the Bruins have had “more difficult guys come into our room in the past.” Read the rest of this entry »
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