|Road trip could determine whether Bruins buy or sell||02.10.16 at 2:55 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins will spend the next 11 days on the road as the clock continues to tick toward the Feb. 29 trade deadline. How the Bruins fare on this trip could very well influence the path Don Sweeney and Cam Neely ultimately choose for this team.
Right now, the Bruins are tied for the second-most points in the Atlantic Division, making them a No. 2 seed at best and a wild card at worst. Non-playoff teams such as Montreal, Ottawa and New Jersey are picking up steam as they try to find their way into the top eight.
We already know this team isn’t going to win the Stanley Cup. Last season, they chose not to sell on Carl Sodeberg because the general manager was trying to save his job. That concern isn’t there this season. Sweeney is prepared to move Eriksson if he feels he has to.
The Bruins shouldn’t be buyers (not of any sort of glossy rental, anyway), but if things go badly enough — a disastrous road trip, an injury or two, etc. — the tough decision of what to do with this team might become a little easier. The players don’t want to see that happen.
“You always want to prove that you’re a playoff team and that you’re capable of winning hockey games,” Torey Krug said. “If you don’t do that, then the GM has to do what he has to do. It’s his job to make sure that the team’s getting better. For us, we’re trying to prove that we can win hockey games and we can take a step and go for a run.”
The Bruins are 16-5-3 on the road this season, so there isn’t too much reason to believe that they will fall apart here. If they did, they wouldn’t be faced with the issues they faced last season (Peter Chiarelli trying to keep his job) that prevented them from moving Soderberg. In addition to Eriksson, the Bruins have Kevan Miller, Max Talbot and Jonas Gustavsson as unrestricted free-agents to be. Krug, Brett Connolly, Tyler Randell, Landon Ferraro, Joe Morrow, Zach Trotman and Colin Miller will all be restricted.
If the Bruins were to sell, they’d be wise to do so with the intention of getting young, cheap players. They should prefer players to picks after stockpiling first-and-second-rounders in 2015 and 2016 drafts. The idea of the team moving Eriksson for a young top-four defenseman is a pipe dream given that teams now place a gigantic emphasis on having good, young controllable players.
The market has yet to be truly set for this trade deadline, but consider this: Twenty three of the 30 teams in the league are either in a playoff spot (16 teams have to be, duh) or within four points of one. The Bruins are among a large list of teams that’s vying for the postseason. If they are to ever change their minds, they might find themselves in quite the seller’s market.
Should they hope for that? As has been written plenty in this space, the Bruins shouldn’t be afraid of an honest rebuild if it comes to that. The issue there is that they want to make the playoffs, yet if they trade Eriksson, they’re going to be taking enough of a step back anyway given that they already have major depth issues on the right side.
As for the possibility of adding, last season’s Connolly trade hasn’t turned into goals (not for Connolly at least, though it has for Brad Marchand), but a hockey trade like that — flipping some of the picks they have for a young player should one be available — is a decent template. If a trade for a young player that could help more next season than this season is there, it would be an avenue worth pursuing.
Nobody likes lost seasons, but if you come away with something to show for it — more developed players, added pieces — it can be worth it.
|Update: Bruins haven’t made offer to Loui Eriksson since Christmas||02.01.16 at 4:03 pm ET|
It’s plausible that some truth serum would get Claude Julien to reveal that Loui Eriksson is one of his favorite players. Eriksson drives possession, scores goals and plays both the power play and penalty kill exceptionally. He’s not a shiny player, but he’s a coach like Julien’s kind of player.
So, with Eriksson unsigned and a possibility to be traded if the sides aren’t close on a contract by late February, how would Julien feel about such a player being traded while the Bruins are trying to make the playoffs?
“That depends,” Julien said. “Do you get something in return? Is that something in return something that would help our team? We don’t know that, so I can’t answer that and I don’t think that question is a good thing for me to answer because who knows if he’s going [and] who knows what we’d get back? I can’t answer it until something happens. Hopefully nothing.”
Eriksson, 30, is second on the Bruins in points this season and is on pace for 25 goals. According to a source, the Bruins and Eriksson’s camp discussed the player’s market a while back but the Bruins have yet to make a contract proposal to Eriksson.
UPDATE: Though recent talks have yielded no contract proposals, it has come to light that the Bruins did indeed make Eriksson an initial offer before Christmas. Eriksson’s camp found both the average annual value and the term of the contract to be too low to negotiate off of, however. According to the source, the offer was made “more to simply get things initiated.”
While the sides did not negotiate off that proposal, the Bruins and agent J.P. Barry later began having general conversations about the player’s market and his comps. It is in these conversations that the Bruins have yet to make an offer. As it currently stands, Eriksson’s camp is waiting for the Bruins to engage in more serious negotiations.
The player has a partial no-trade clause that allows him to submit a list of 14 teams to which he would accept a trade. Eriksson did so prior to the season.
“I’d like to keep Loui, period, just like the guys that have left us, I would have loved to have kept,” Julien said. “As a coach, would I like to have Looch? Would I like to have those other guys? Hamilton? Sure, [but] we couldn’t keep them for different reasons. You get some good players that end up leaving for reasons that we can’t control, so you’ve got to have the confidence in your upper management that they’re going to make the right decision. I can’t do anything about it. I can only coach what I have right now. I enjoy having him. I think he’s a great player and we’ll see where it goes from there.”
|Eriksson-Bergeron-Pastrnak an intriguing option for Bruins||01.07.16 at 11:29 pm ET|
It looks like the Bruins are going to use David Pastrnak the right way.
After recalling the 19-year-old scorer from Providence, the Bruins skated Pastrnak on the right wing of Patrice Bergeron‘s line in Thursday’s practice. Loui Eriksson was at left wing, as Brad Marchand will serve the final game of his three-game suspension Friday night.
The line is extremely intriguing. Playing Pastrnak on Bergeron’s line has always seemed to make sense (see: Tyler Seguin‘s 29-goal 2011-12 season), but “the Bergeron line” usually means “the Bergeron and Marchand line.” Bergeron and Marchand have pretty much been a package deal since midway through the 2010-11 season, and for good reason. They’re among the best duos in the NHL.
Yet having Eriksson at left wing could have an interesting impact on Pastrnak. Both Eriksson and Marchand are scorers — they have 15 and 14 goals, respectively — but Marchand is more of an electric player with the puck on his stick than Eriksson. Bergeron, a very good scorer in his own right with 15 goals, can pretty much just dish to Marchand, count to three and be part of a scoring chance.
Eriksson does a lot of things, but he isn’t the skater or offensively ambitious player that Marchand is. With the exception of the 2011-12 season, when Seguin scored 29 goals, Marchand has always scored more goals than his line’s right wing.
Having Eriksson on the line could open up the door for the Bergeron line’s right wing to be more of a scorer.
“Brad creates a lot by having the puck and by me trying to send him with his speed,” Bergeron said. “I think Loui’s more territorial and possession and kind of slowing the play down a little bit more. They’re different in their own rights.
“Me being a righty, my tendency is to go to my left side a little bit more, so maybe my righties are not as happy with me, but we’re trying to use both sides. Brad’s got the puck a little bit more than Loui would. Loui likes to kind of send it and chip it and dump it a little bit more.”
Speaking after Thursday’s practice, Pastrnak seemed thrilled by the idea of playing with Bergeron. After not playing since Oct. 31 due to a foot injury and a lengthy rehab tour that took him to Finland for the World Junior Championships, he was probably just relieved to be back with the B’s.
Skating with both Eriksson and Bergeron will be a new experience for the young forward, but based on what Bergeron would want in a right wing on a line with Eriksson, Pastrnak sounds like a good fit.
“I think the righty needs to go a little bit more and use his speed more and try to [have] us find him,” Bergeron said.
Brett Connolly, who has spent a lot of time on the right wing of Bergeron’s line this season, has had both Marchand and Eriksson as his left wing.
“Obviously Marchy’s more gritty, in your face,” Connolly said. “Loui’s more [about] using his hockey sense to make some plays. He seems to always be in the right areas. Two good players. Two smart players.”
If Eriksson’s presence allows for more facilitating, Pastrnak could be beneficiary for at least a game. One would think Marchand and Bergeron would be reunited once Marchand’s suspension is up, but for now Claude Julien has an interesting line at his disposal.
|5 things we learned: Very good player Loui Eriksson’s hat trick leads Bruins past Wild||11.19.15 at 9:40 pm ET|
In a season that’s featured plenty of bad, no Bruins player has been as good as Loui Eriksson. The 30-year-old provided another reminder on Thursday night.
Eriksson picked up his first hat trick as a Bruin as he scored Boston’s second, third and fourth goals in a 4-2 win over the Wild. It took Eriksson only 16:37 to score his three goals.
While it was Eriksson’s first three-goal showing with the B’s, it was also his third multi-goal performance in 18 games this season. Eriksson now leads the Bruins with nine goals on the season, one ahead of linemate David Krejci‘s eight.
With Thursday’s performance, it’s probably worth noting again that Eriksson is in the final year of a contract that carries a $4.25 million cap hit. Teams don’t get better by losing their best players, so the Bruins would be wise to do their best to try and retain the player.
Here are four more things we learned Thursday night:
HIT ENDS VATRANO’S NIGHT
Rookie callup Frank Vatrano went hard into the endboards on his first shift of the second period and did not return to the game. Vatrano went turned at the last second as he was set to absorb a hit from Nate Prosser, resulting in him appearing to hit the boards with his right shoulder taking the brunt of the impact. Claude Julien told reporters following the game that Vatrano had an upper-body injury.
Vatrano had taken warmups with David Krejci and Loui Eriksson, but he also saw time with Ryan Spooner and Brett Connolly in the first period, taking only four shifts in the first 20 minutes.
If Vatrano is to miss any time, the Bruins would likely have to recall Max Talbot from Providence, as they currently have only 12 forwards on their roster and Providence forwards Alexander Khokhlachev, Seth Griffith and Brian Ferlin are injured.
PK STEPS UP
The Bruins did a very un-Bruins thing Thursday by killing penalties successfully.
After entering the night with the worst penalty kill in the league, the B’s managed to kill off all three of Minnesota’s power plays, including a Brad Marchand hooking penalty at 15:53 of the third period that saw the Wild pull Devan Dubnyk and go 6-on-4.
By going 3-for-3 on the PK, the Bruins killed off all their penalties in a game for just the third time this season, not counting the season-opener in which the Jets never went on the power play.
BELESKEY DROPS THE GLOVES
Matt Beleskey hasn’t been a standout player to this point with the B’s, but it’s certainly not for lack of effort. Beleskey works hard and he plays as physical a game he can, as is evidenced by the fact that he leads the team in hits (which, to remind everyone, is the worst and dumbest stat in sports because it’s an anti-possession stat, but I digress).
On Thursday, Beleskey’s toughness was tested in his first fight with the Bruins. The former Duck passed with flying colors, pounding Brett Bulmer to the ice in short order 5:34 into the game. Beleskey had drawn a tripping penalty on Bulmer earlier in the period.
BRUINS SWITCH MILLERS
Kevan Miller sat out with an upper-body injury Thursday, allowing Colin Miller to re-enter the lineup after a two game stint in the press box.
Miller had an up-and-down night, as he started the rush that resulted in Eriksson’s third goal but also played a part in a goal against. He didn’t catch a pass from Zdeno Chara at the Bruins’ blue line in the second period, resulting in a turnover. That led to Nino Niederreiter feeding Mikko Koivu, whose shot yielded a rebound that Jason Zucker buried past Jonas Gustavsson just over five minutes into the second period for Minnesota’s first goal.
|Claude Julien ‘disappointed’ by no-goal ruling, but says he won’t hesitate to use challenge in future||10.10.15 at 11:24 pm ET|
Goalie interference? Uh, okay… pic.twitter.com/KpkX8qykna
‘ Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) October 11, 2015
The play and review seemed pretty straightforward. The refs waved off a Loui Eriksson goal because Patrice Bergeron made contact with Carey Price. However, Bergeron was clearly pushed into Price by Alexei Emelin, meaning the goal should have been allowed.
It was understandable that the refs missed it in real time; hockey is a fast game and sometimes you just don’t catch that push. But once Julien decided to use his challenge, it seemed like a pretty safe bet that the no-goal call would be overturned.
Instead, the refs upheld the call on the ice. Why they upheld it remains a mystery, with the league’s official statement saying simply that the review “confirmed that Boston’s Patrice Bergeron made incidental contact with Montreal goaltender Carey Price before the puck crossed the goal line, preventing Price from doing his job in the crease.” No mention of Emelin’s shove. No mention of the fact that Bergeron actually made an effort to stay out of the crease while getting pushed.
Julien said he was “disappointed” with the call and didn’t understand why it wasn’t a goal.
“I really felt, and I looked at it in between periods, and I said how can that not be a goal when the guy has both feet outside the blue paint and is doing everything he can to stay out of his way and is really trying to fight off the guy trying to push him in,” Julien said. “So, I thought that warranted obviously a goal, but for some reason they saw it some other way.”
Goalie interference plays are one of two things coaches can challenge (with goals scored on a potential offsides being the other), and Julien said it’s his understanding that whether or not a player was pushed into the goalie is part of what can be reviewed, which would rule out the possibility that the refs could only look at Bergeron’s contact with Price and not how he got there.
Bergeron couldn’t make sense of the ruling either, as he also thought that being pushed into Price should’ve negated the interference.
“That was my understanding of the rule,” Bergeron said. “They thought otherwise and we can’t really control that, I guess. … It happens fast, so I guess I understood that maybe he thought that I pushed into the goalie. But then on the replay, I thought it was clear that I got pushed into him. My understanding was that if I get pushed into the goalie and I’m working hard to get out of there, it’s fine.”
Julien said that despite the fact that this challenge didn’t go the way he expected, he wouldn’t hesitate to challenge a similar situation in the future.
“That’s a thing you’ve got to be careful of — you can’t [be discouraged],” Julien said. “In our minds, the people that looked at it in the first place all felt it should have been a goal, and I went back to my office in between periods and I felt it should have been a goal. But if you’re afraid to call those then you may miss an opportunity to either get a goal called for you or the other way around, a goal rescinded from what you think was interference.”
The disallowed goal certainly isn’t the reason the Bruins lost Saturday. More turnovers, more defensive mistakes and an inability to get the puck out of their own zone had a lot more to do with Saturday night’s 4-2 loss than that one call. But there’s no denying that it was a turning point of sorts, especially since the Canadiens scored just over a minute later to make it 3-0.
|Bruins will experiment with Loui Eriksson, Jimmy Hayes as potential left wings||09.17.15 at 2:37 pm ET|
Loui Eriksson will have a new line as he takes on life without Carl Soderberg. There’s also a good chance he’ll have a new (old) position.
A left-shot right wing, Eriksson may see quite a bit of time at left wing due to a large group of right wings that includes Eriksson, David Pastrnak, Brett Connolly and Jimmy Hayes. The same goes for Hayes, a right shot who can play left wing.
Both Eriksson and Hayes have experience playing the left side, though both are years removed from doing it. Eriksson was used at left wing during his time with the Stars, while Hayes played left wing a couple years back in Chicago.
Don Sweeney said Thursday that the team will experiment with both players in training camp as it tries to find line combinations.
“We’re excited with Loui having the versatility that he does to play both positions,” Sweeney said. ‘Clearly, the production was back for him last year. We need to have that with him, so we need to put him in situations with other guys, and we’re going to play around with the combination piece of that. I think Jimmy Hayes will probably play both sides. We’re going to experiment a little bit with guys at different positions.”
It’s likely at least one of Eriksson or Hayes will be a left wing this season. There’s something of a dropoff at the position after Brad Marchand and Matt Beleskey, though center Chris Kelly could play there if he doesn’t center the fourth line.
|Report: Bruins shopping Dennis Seidenberg, Loui Eriksson||02.18.15 at 8:25 am ET|
Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported Tuesday night that the Bruins are considering trading defenseman Dennis Seidenberg and right wing Loui Eriksson prior to the March 2 trade deadline, but a source with knowledge of the situation told WEEI.com Wednesday that the B’s haven’t talked to either player about potentially waiving their no-trade clauses.
“Nothing but rumors,” the source said of Kypreos’ report.
Kypreos said the motivation behind trading both players is to free up cap space for a potential addition this season or to have more space in the offseason when they have to re-sign a number of players.
“They still want to add a depth forward, a guy that can give them a bit of a presence, so what does that mean? They’ve got to still move some salary out and the name I’m hearing now is Dennis Seidenberg,” Kypreos said. “He’s been a great guy for them the last few years, really solidified himself there with Chara the last few years as a pair, but he still has $12 million to go on a contract, and he’s not that well. Something’s got to give, maybe they’ve got to move him out before they can move someone else.”
Kypreos went on to say that Eriksson’s name is “out there” in trade discussions as well.
Seidenberg, 33, is in the first year of a four-year, $16 million deal, while the 29-year-old Eriksson is signed through next season at a $4.25 million cap hit.
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