|Looking at Bruins’ candidates to replace Johnny Boychuk||10.06.14 at 12:18 pm ET|
The trade of Johnny Boychuk left a tough hole to fill on the right side of the Bruins’ second defensive pairing. Not only was Boychuk a dependable player alongside Zdeno Chara on the top pairing for years, but his work in anchoring the second pairing without Chara in the postseason is what allowed the B’s to team Chara and Dennis Seidenberg with success in the 2011 and 2013 postseasons.
Prior to Saturday’s trade, Boychuk had been skating with Seidenberg on the second pairing. That leaves Seidenberg, who is still shaking the rust off after not playing since last December, without a partner. Assuming that the B’s opt to keep Dougie Hamilton alongside Chara on their top pairing and Torey Krug remains on the third pairing, here are the internal candidates to replace Boychuk:
Bartkowski is a terrific skater who makes the game exciting for both the right and wrong reasons. He was given a top-4 spot (and then had it taken away, and then had it given back, and then had it taken away, etc.) last season when Seidenberg went down, but that doesn’t mean he’s a shoo-in to return to the second pairing.
Playing Bartkowski on the second pairing would mean that Seidenberg, a left shot who plays the right side when teamed with Chara, would need to move to the right-side to accomodate the left-shooting Bartkowski. Seidenberg and Bartkowski were paired together at points prior to Seidenberg’s injury and again on Saturday night and have not looked good together. By my count, the two played were paired together for eight games last season, with Bartkowski posting an even rating in four of the games, a minus-1 in three of them and a plus-1 in one to combine for a minus-2.
It’s been a weird tenure for Bartkowski in Boston thus far. After being stolen from the Panthers in the hilarious trade that also sent Seidenberg to Boston for Byron Bitz, Craig Weller and a second-round pick, Bartkowski was the final cut on the Stanley Cup-winning 2010-11 team, spent three years in Providence, was(n’t) traded to the Flames for Jarome Iginla, started last season as the seventh defenseman and eventually was Seidenberg’s replacement.
He was sick to begin last postseason and was a scapegoat of sorts as the Bruins were upset by the Canadiens in the second round, though the Bruins taking him in and out of the lineup in that series in favor of Andrej Meszaros probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do for his confidence.
McQuaid is a solid third-pairing blueliner who is both responsible in his own and end extremely mean wherever he is on the ice. Yet to assume he can be a top-4 defenseman for a full season and postseason would be irresponsible on the part of the Bruins.
Last season was the most frustrating season of what’s been a frustrating NHL career for McQuaid. Since taking Mark Stuart‘s job during the 2010-11 season, McQuaid has dealt with injury after injury, with last year being doomed by a quad injury that limited him to just 30 games. When it became clear that he wouldn’t be able to return at any point of the postseason, McQuaid got surgery on an ankle that had been bugging him as well.
So, like Seidenberg, McQuaid is trying to regain his form after a long time out of game action (his last regular season game was Jan. 19).
If the Bruins attempt to trade for a top-six forward, McQuaid could still be a candidate to be moved. His $1.56 million cap hit would allow the B’s, who figure to have $3.1 million in cap space going into the season, to add a player who makes decent money provided they also move other assets such as draft picks (they have their first-round pick and have four second-rounders in the next two drafts) or prospects. The Bruins’ depth on D ‘ Zach Trotman is in the AHL because of it ‘ would still make them able to overcome another blueliner, albeit one outside their top-4, being moved.
If all goes well, this is the guy who eventually replaces Boychuk. Miller is a right shot and the strongest player on the Bruins under 6-foot-9. His skill set is the closest to Boychuk’s of any of the players in this group, but he has a long way to go.
Though he got some minutes with Chara and an opportunity to defend a 6-on-5 against the Penguins, the Bruins generally sheltered Miller as a rookie. As a third-pairing player, the Bruins were careful with his matchups (his -.901 CorsiRel quality of competion was the second-lowest on the team; only his partner in Krug player easier minutes). Krug was also the only player with a higher offensive zone start percentage than Miller.
Claude Julien did not shelter Boychuk last season. The B’s put him out against whatever was leftover for opponents after Chara and Patrice Bergeron‘s line discarded the team’s first line. Boychuk had a .385 CorsiRel quality of competition; only Chara (1.5) and Hamilton (.386) played tougher minutes.
This isn’t to suggest that Miller can’t handle an uptick in competition now or won’t be able to later in the season. It just means that if the Bruins are going to give him the opportunity to replace Boychuk, they can’t hide him like they did last season.
The Bruins mix and match with their pairings throughout the season, and the guess is that they’ll probably do that again as they audition Boychuk’s replacements. With three legitimate candidates, don’t assume that whoever’s teamed with Seidenberg Wednesday night will be there all season. The money here is on Miller to be the last man standing.
|Bruins react to Johnny Boychuk trade and its ‘reality check’ impact going forward||10.05.14 at 10:41 am ET|
With the season opening at home Wednesday against the Flyers, the Bruins don’t have long to be upset about the loss of one of their best teammates.
Still, even coach Claude Julien said after Saturday’s preseason finale that the team will take a little time to get over “the sting” of losing Johnny Boychuk ($3.37 million) to the harsh realities of today’s salary cap NHL.
Torey Krug, just 23, now understands just how important managing the salary cap is for each team after spending most of the summer without a contract because GM Peter Chiarelli couldn’t fit him under the cap. Krug and Reilly Smith had to wait all summer and through most of camp to sign their $1.4 million deals because the team couldn’t sign them.
“[It’s] another lesson in the business for me,” said Krug. “I learned a few things this summer for sure, and it’s always going to be part of it forever as long as this game exists and the cap situation exists in this sport, so it’s tough to see him go for sure.”
Several defensemen will have to pick up the slack for Boychuk and will have the opportunity to step right in and play a bigger role in place of the 30-year-old who was considered one of the heart-and-soul parts of the B’s Stanley Cup run in 2011 and their finals appearance in 2013.
Adam McQuaid, Matt Bartkowski and Krug all are younger than Boychuk and all likely will get chances to play alongside Dennis Seidenberg on Boston’s No. 2 D-pairing.
“I mean, it’s been like this the last few years, so it doesn’t really change anything,” Seidenberg said. “For me, it’s just trying to play wherever they put me and trying to do it well.”
“I didn’t know that — there was some talk about different things and stuff, but I was pretty much shocked,” McQuaid said in reacting Saturday. “I don’t know, I guess maybe we all just kind of had that hope in the back of our minds that somehow we could all stay. He’s a guy that’s a huge part of this team and for me a guy that always put a smile on my face every day. Always came to the rink in a good mood and was cracking jokes. I think I’ve played seven pro seasons and six have been with Johnny, so we’ve been through a lot together. He’s a guy that — I don’t think it’s really sunk in quite yet — but a guy that will be sorely missed.”
|Claude Julien: Johnny Boychuk trade ‘stings for everybody’||10.04.14 at 11:06 pm ET|
“I don’t think my thoughts differ from anybody else,” Julien said after his team’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Red Wings Saturday night. “I think we’re all disappointed to see him leave. As I mentioned, Peter [Chiarelli] eluded to that in his press conference. It stings for everybody. He was a good player, he was a good person, very well liked.
“Unfortunately our game is in that position where sometimes we’re forced to make those unpopular decisions. For a coaching staff, we’ll miss him like everybody else. But we have a job to do, and we feel we have a lot of good players here that we can certainly overcome this. And that’s just the way it goes, and part of hockey, and part of a tough day. You hope we’ll be able to turn the page here and by the time we start the season we’ll be ready to go.”
That position, of course, is a result of a salary cap squeeze, brought on – in part – with the signing of David Krejci. Now, the 30-year-old Boychuk (due $3.4 million in the final year of his three-year contract) will head to the Islanders while Julien is left to find a replacement to pair with Dennis Seidenberg.
He has several options, starting with Matt Bartkowski. Adam McQuaid, Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug will also be asked to carry a bigger load.
“I think there’s no doubt that the experience those young guys got was valuable,” Julien said. “But at the same time, we’ve got to remember that we’ve got Seidenberg, we’ve got McQuaid back in our lineup, which is two more veterans. That certainly helps that youth maybe not be so young. So those are things. But the guys that got that experience ‘ you’re talking about Bartkowski, talking about Krug, you know Dougie Hamilton. I think those things will certainly pay off for us.”
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Saturday that he traded defenseman Johnny Boychuk due to the team’s salary cap situation and because he found the return ‘ two second-round picks and a conditional third ‘ to be strong value. He did concede one point, however.
“This doesn’t make us better now, obviously,” Chiarelli said, “but it’s something that, when I look at it in a series of steps, I think we made the right move.”
Chiarelli mentioned “steps” throughout the press conference to discuss Saturday’s trade with the Islanders. When asked what his next move was, the B’s general manager said that there may be roster moves in the coming days.
Boychuk is a free agent at season’s end and figures to command big money on the open market. Chiarelli said that he did not attempt to sign Boychuk before trading him.
Moving Boychuk, while making the current roster worse, gives the team one less big name to sign before the start of next season. Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Reilly Smith will all be restricted free agents, while Carl Soderberg will be an unrestricted free agent. Though the salary cap is expected to go up from it’s current $69 million ceiling, the already have $49,897,857 against the salary cap committed to 10 players (not including Marc Savard) for the 2015-16 season.
“We’ve got a lot of people to sign,” Chiarelli said. “There’s a list of priorities and part of my job is to prioritize things. That’s a little bit of how it shakes out. I’d love to keep this team together player-to-player as long as I could if I felt it was prudent on the hockey front and the financial front. I’ve tried to keep the critical mass together and will continue to provide the right moves for the organization.”
|Bruins trade Johnny Boychuk to Islanders for draft picks||at 2:03 pm ET|
The Bruins have traded defenseman Johnny Boychuk to the Islanders for second-round picks in the 2015 and 2016 drafts and a conditional 2015 third-round pick. The B’s will get New York’s 2015 third-rounder if the Islanders trade Boychuk to an Eastern Conference team this season.
Boychuk, 30, was entering the last year of his contract. His deal carries a $3.36 million cap hit and he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
Though the return for Boychuk provides good value, the trade comes as something as a surprise given previous moves. In signing Reilly Smith and Torey Krug to one-year deals worth $1.4 million on Monday, the Bruins positioned themselves to enter the season without having to shed a contract like Boychuk’s. With Boychuk likely to command big money on the open market next summer, the Bruins had the option of keeping him for this season and better their chances of winning this season.
The trade of Boychuk leaves a hole in the team’s top-4. Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton figure to provide one of the best defensive pairings in the league, but Dennis Seidenberg is coming off a knee injury and two of the other team’s options for a spot on the second pairing — Matt Bartkowski and Kevan Miller — struggled when given key minutes last postseason. This could be a vote of confidence for both players, however, as the Bruins may believe that with another full season of NHL play, their young defensemen will be better suited to handle the NHL playoffs.
Adam McQuaid could also work his way onto the second pairing now, though injury concerns make it tough to count on him to last a full season.
After trading for Boychuk, the Islanders also swung a trade with the Blackhawks for defenseman Nick Leddy.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Peter Chiarelli: ‘I can’t sign everybody’||09.14.14 at 6:43 pm ET|
ANTIOCH, Tenn. – At the first intermission of the Bruins’ rookie game against the Lightning, general manager Peter Chiarelli discussed the team’s NHL roster and where things stand going forward.
The biggest takeaways were that David Pastrnak could begin training camp on the right wing of David Krejci‘s line, that he will not sign all of his free-agents-to-be and that he will trade a defenseman at some point. Chiarelli offered no update on the status of Torey Krug and Reilly Smith, both of whom remain unsigned with days left until camp.
With Johnny Boychuk and Carl Soderberg the biggest names entering the final years of their contracts and the Bruins having $49,897,857 against the cap committed to 10 players (not counting Marc Savard) for 2015-16, money figures to be tight going forward. The last time the Bruins had multiple players to sign and a potential cap crunch ahead, Chiarelli opted to sign all three players (Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchands, all of whom were a year away from restricted free agency) with the idea that if he had to trade one down the road, he would.
Chiarelli said he won’t go the sign-everyone route this time. The team recently signed David Krejci to a six-year, $43.5 million extension.
“I can’t sign everybody, and I’d love to sign everybody, but we can’t for the numbers that they want,” Chiarelli said. “Before, when I said we’d like to lock up guys. We still would, and we can with our cap. We make a decision on Krej, and that’s a big number. Some things you have to let play out, and we have to be a little versatile ourselves when it comes to team-building and we’re forced to do that this year.
“Am I going to try to sign all these guys? We look at all these guys, we look at different lineups going forward into the year. As the year progresses, we look and I think we’re going to take more time.”
Historically, Chiarelli has signed his key free-agents-to-be before they enter their contract’s final seasons. Boychuk knows that his future is uncertain and recently expressed that he does not want to be traded.
“I’ve always tried to get the team together signed and get them in place and give them a level of security,’ Chiarelli said. ‘I always feel that with that, they will perform. Of course, I’ve got to see the performance to get to that point. They’ve seen that we’ve tried to keep this team together as much as we can; we’ve had a lot of success with this group of guys. Around the fringes, guys have to go, but they’ve seen us try and [keep the team together], so they know our intentions are noble, so now it’s not quite ideal where we can keep the band together, so to speak.
“I think they understand that we always want to ice a Cup-winning team, and with that comes some casualties. This year, I’m looking forward to it, to a certain degree; there’s a lot of competition, there’s a lot of spots, including ‘ you don’t wish one of these D men to be traded, but we just have too many D men. At some point, I’m going to have to do it, and all the teams in the league, most of the teams in the league would like one of these defensemen.
“And I know everyone’s waiting, ‘What move will [he] make? What move will [he] make?’ Well, I have to see what’s going to happen, see who fits well with whom, but the uncertainty is something this year that is a byproduct of the cap and a successful team and locking up those guys, and eventually there’s other guys that are just going to get too expensive. I don’t cast any aspersions on them for being at that level, but that’s what it’s at.”
|Bruins’ Johnny Boychuk: ‘I don’t want to be traded at all’||09.10.14 at 2:07 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Johnny Boychuk hopes he hasn’t played his last game as a Bruin.
With the Bruins in a tight spot salary cap-wise ($3.218 million in space, assuming Marc Savard is put on long-term injured reserve), the team more or less needs to make some sort of move in order to sign Torey Krug and Reilly Smith, both of whom remain without contracts with just over a week before training camp begins.
Boychuk is a potential trade candidate because he is entering the final year of his contract and, should he reach free agency, would be worth more than the Bruins could afford. His limited no-trade clause also expired on May 31. Though he’s a key member of Boston’s blue line, Boston’s depth at defense means at least one player could be expendable.
Speaking to the local media for the first time this season, Boychuk said he isn’t focused on anything but playing for the Bruins.
“This is my family and you always want to stay with them,” he said. “It’s such a great team and organization.”
Boychuk admitted he has heard the reports of him possibly being traded, but he noted that Maple Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle was rumored to be traded to the Bruins for years before it actually happened in 2011. As such, he won’t put stock in what he hears until a move is actually made.
“It’s tough to hear, but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what anybody says,” Boychuk said. “If it happens, then you work on that part. But until it does, you can’t control it, so you’ve just got to keep playing the way that you can and you always want to stay here, but if something happens then it does. But you have no control over it. You want to stay with the guys that you grew up playing with.”
The Bruins recently signed their other top UFA-to-be in David Krejci to a six-year, $43.5 million extension. Not counting Savard, the B’s currently have $49,897,857 in cap dollars committed to just 10 players for the 2015-16 season. The cap is expected to go up from its current $69 million mark, but money figures to still be tight with Boychuk, Carl Soderberg and Dougie Hamilton among the players who will need new contracts. Boychuk said he would like a new deal with the Bruins, but wouldn’t have a problem with being unsigned into the season.
Asked what he feels like he’d be worth in a trade, Boychuk reiterated that he doesn’t want to find out.
“I don’t even know what I’m worth,” he said. “I’m just worth whatever somebody’s willing to give, I guess. But I don’t want to be traded at all.”
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
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