|Don Sweeney lists center as an area Bruins might look to upgrade||05.25.16 at 12:06 pm ET|
Here’s an interesting tidbit from Wednesday’s conference call with Bruins general manager Don Sweeney and coach Claude Julien: When asked what he wanted to fix, Sweeney listed center as a position he’d like to address via free agency or trade.
At least at the NHL level, center is the one position where the Bruins seem completely set. The team has Patrice Bergeron signed through 2021-22, David Krejci signed through 2020-21, Ryan Spooner signed for another year and Noel Acciari still on his entry level contract.
“We’ve got areas that we want to address in the depth of our organization, more likely in the forward position, either on the right wing or the center and again on the back end,” Sweeney said. “But we’re exploring a bunch of different things trade-wise. It’s difficult in this league, but I think that we’re in a position with two first-round picks to either be selecting really good players or to be in the marketplace.”
In terms of organizational depth, the B’s probably could use bodies in the middle, as Providence first-liner Alexander Khokhlachev is expected to leave North America to play in the KHL. Or, if Bruins fans want, they can take Sweeney’s answer as a “saying there’s a chance” quote to attach to pipe dreams of Steven Stamkos coming to Boston. Whichever.
Some other quick takeaways from the conference call:
– Sweeney said the Bruins still hope to sign Loui Eriksson.
– New assistant coaches Bruce Cassidy and Jay Pandolfo will have specific roles. Cassidy will be on the bench, running the defense. Pandolfo, who will officially be a coach for the first time after spending the last two seasons in player development, will be the team’s “eye in the sky,” meaning he’ll work from the press level.
– The Bruins have had discussions with restricted free agent Torey Krug and intend to sign him. That shouldn’t come as breaking news, but then again the Dougie Hamilton fiasco told us that good RFA defensemen and this team are no sure thing.
– On the impact of Kevan Miller’s new contract, Sweeney answered a question about possibly trading Adam McQuaid or Dennis Seidenberg by saying that he will explore anything and everything. A non-committal answer, yes, but he certainly doesn’t sound married to the idea of keeping the defensemen he has under contract.
– Providence assistant Kevin Dean will be among the candidates Sweeney will interview for the AHL head coaching gig.
– Sweeney has not told any of the Bruins’ free agents — restricted or unrestricted — that they won’t be back yet. The GM said he might have those discussions this week.
|Ryan Spooner, John-Michael Liles won’t play vs. Devils; Loui Eriksson prepares to play center||03.28.16 at 11:13 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Ryan Spooner, John-Michael Liles and Brad Marchand all were absent from Monday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena as the Bruins prepared for Tuesday’s game against the Devils. Neither Spooner nor Liles will travel with the team to New Jersey.
Spooner did not play the third period of Saturday’s game in Toronto due to a lower-body injury that has nagged him for much of the second half of the season. Spooner, who has missed just one game this season, had 40 points in his first 56 games but has seven points in his last 19 games and one point in his last six games.
Liles missed the game altogether as a result of a lower-body injury suffered in last Thursday’s loss to the Panthers. Claude Julien said after Monday’s practice that Liles had skated earlier in the day. Marchand is ill, according to Julien, but will travel to New Jersey.
To this point, the Bruins have not made any recalls. The forward lines in practice looked as such:
While Marchand could be expected to return to his usual spot next to Patrice Bergeron, the most notable change in Boston’s lines Monday was Loui Eriksson playing center, something both Julien and Eriksson intimated was a realistic possibility for Tuesday’s game.
“[A call-up] is not the plan as we speak,” Julien said. “You saw Loui at center. Loui’s very capable of doing that and we’ll see where we go from there.”
Eriksson played center for one shift Saturday and said that he played a little center back when he played for the Stars. Eriksson is best known as a versatile left-shot wing who plays both sides and is strong in his own zone. On the season, Eriksson has won eight of the 15 faceoffs he’s taken.
“Obviously faceoffs, you have to be the guy that comes home and plays in the defensive zone,” Eriksson said. “It’s a little bit different. It’s probably going to take a few shifts to get used to, but I’ve played it before and hopefully I can do something good with it.”
|Loui Eriksson practices; Zac Rinaldo has hearing for hit, assigned to Providence||02.29.16 at 11:06 am ET|
WILMINGTON — With hours to go until the 3 p.m. trade deadline, Bruins forward Loui Eriksson participated in Monday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena.
The Bruins are still determining whether to trade Eriksson, make a last-ditch effort to sign him to a contract extension or potentially keep him past the deadline without a new contract inked. Both sides have indicated that the possibility of the B’s keeping Eriksson unsigned is real, though the guess here is that it’s a situation Boston would like to avoid.
After sending him to Providence for a two-game conditioning loan, the B’s brought Tyler Randell back up for Monday’s practice. Zac Rinaldo, who remains on waivers until noon, did not practice and was the only absence. Should he go unclaimed, the Bruins can either keep him on their roster or send him to Providence. (Update: Rinaldo has been sent to Providence, according to the AHL transactions page.)
The NHL Department of Player Safety announced Monday that Rinaldo would have a hearing for his illegal check to the head of Cedric Paquette in Sunday’s loss to the Lightning. Rinaldo has not been suspended as a member of the Bruins, though he came to Boston this summer having been suspended a total of 14 games over the course of his Flyers career.
Max Talbot, who cleared waivers Saturday, remains on the NHL roster and was on for the start of Monday’s skate, though he left the ice just a few minutes into the practice.
|Don Sweeney: Bruins have had ‘several discussions with teams’ about Loui Eriksson trade||02.28.16 at 5:25 pm ET|
Holding his pre-trade deadline media availability, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said that Loui Eriksson will “absolutely” play Sunday night against the Lightning as he continues to assess whether he will trade the unrestricted free agent to be.
As of Sunday afternoon, Sweeney and agent J.P. Barry had not resumed contract talks, with the issues of both term and money remaining holding up a potential extension for the 30-year-old. The Bruins’ most recent offer is believed to be for four years, with Eriksson preferring a longer deal.
With no deal in place, Sweeney admitted that he has had trade discussions about the player, who is currently tied for second on the Bruins with 23 goals this season.
“Loui’s a good player. He’s having a great season. He’s been very important for our success up to date and we treat it as such,” Sweeney said. “If another team — and I’ve had several discussions with teams — felt that it was equal on that side of it and the deal was the right fit, then that’s something we’d explore, but my preference has been all along to try to sign him and go from there.”
Former Jets captain Andrew Ladd, a fair comparable for Eriksson, fetched Winnipeg a first-round pick, a prospect and a conditional third-round pick from Chicago in recent days. Asked whether he had been offered a first-rounder by any teams for Eriksson, Sweeney declined comment.
The trade deadline is Monday at 3 p.m. Though it is believed the Bruins will be motivated to trade Eriksson if enough common ground is not found on a new contract by the deadline, Sweeney said that the team is still considering keeping the versatile wing for the rest of the season even if the team doesn’t sign him.
“Absolutely,” Sweeney said of potentially keeping Eriksson without a contract. “Loui’s a valuable player.”
|Loui Eriksson extension talks quiet for much of Sunday||at 3:20 pm ET|
With less than 24 hours until Monday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, the Bruins and Loui Eriksson’s agent have still yet to kick negotiations for a new contract into high gear. According to a source familiar with the negotiations, the Bruins and agent J.P. Barry had not held any talks on Sunday as of 3:20 p.m. and did not have any planned.
The source indicated, however, that should one side want to contact the other, the lines could remain open.
Eriksson is in the final year of a six-year contract that carries a $4.25 million cap hit. The 30-year-old is seeking a deal of at least five years worth between the high $5 million and high $6 million range annually. The Bruins have not offered the player more than four years and are also short of Eriksson’s desired AAV. If he doesn’t sign (or at least come close enough that the B’s would be confident they could sign him by July 1), it’s possible (if not likely) that he’ll be traded.
The 30-year-old winger took part in Sunday’s morning skate and at the moment is expected to play Sunday against the Lightning. Asked about his future with the Bruins, Eriksson politely declined comment.
“I don’t really want to talk about that right now,” Eriksson said when asked whether he was optimistic he could sign a new contract by Monday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline. “We’ll see what’s going to happen. All I can do is just play and just help the team.”
The Bruins, who enter Sunday’s game with the Lightning sitting third in the Atlantic Division with the opportunity to take over second place with a win, would take a big step back if they traded Eriksson and didn’t add to their current roster.
David Krejci, who has centered Eriksson for much of the season, admitted that he pays attention to things like the salary cap to see if his teammates can stick around.
“You kind of create some bond with the guys and you don’t like to lose any of those guys,” Krejci said. “You kind of look at how the cap is and what’s going on around the league, [like when] the trade deadline’s tomorrow. It will be interesting, but at the same time, we have to do what we have to do and you can only control what you can control. What’s going to happen with Loui, who knows, but I really like that guy on and off the ice. We’ll see what happens.”
|Source: Bruins’ most recent offer to Loui Eriksson is 4 years, sides will talk Saturday||02.26.16 at 7:47 pm ET|
Though the Bruins recently increased the term of their offer to Loui Eriksson, a source familiar with the negotiations told WEEI.com Friday afternoon that the sides are still not close on either the term or the average annual value of Eriksson’s next contract.
The source confirmed that the Bruins’ recent offer is for four years after the team initially offered him a three-year contract in December. Eriksson, who will be 31 at the start of the season, wants a longer deal. He is seeking between the high-$5 million range and the high $6-million range on his next deal, depending on the length of the contract.
Barring a surprise trade, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney and agent J.P. Barry are expected to continue discussions Saturday. Eriksson is in the final year of a contract that carries a $4.25 million cap hit.
The NHL trade deadline is Monday and the Bruins are willing to trade Eriksson if the sides haven’t made enough progress on a new contract. A trade is not a certainty in that scenario, however, as the source said that the Bruins have not indicated that they would definitely move the player if he didn’t sign by Monday.
|Brad Marchand on Loui Eriksson uncertainty: ‘We all want to contend’||02.22.16 at 1:25 pm ET|
Like a lot of current Bruins, Brad Marchand has never seen his team trade a key player at the trade deadline. It’s no secret that such could be the case this season as the Bruins weigh their options with Loui Eriksson leading up to next Monday’s trade deadline.
If the Bruins are to trade Eriksson, their best winger not named Marchand but one whose contract expires at the end of the season, they will be selling a key piece despite being in playoff position. As David Krejci said earlier this month, Bruins players don’t want to spend the stretch run — which features 23 games, 15 of which are against opponents currently in playoff position — playing meaningless games as a team that moved players and fell out of it.
Speaking Monday, Marchand avoided the subject of the Eriksson situation as much as possible, but said that he was encouraged enough by the team’s recently concluded 4-2-0 road trip that the team shouldn’t feel forced to sell.
“Right now, with the way the standings are, everybody’s very close. If we continue to play good hockey and come together and play well, then we have the opportunity to stay in a playoff spot. We all want to contend,” Marchand said. “We all believe in our team in here, but obviously whatever the management does, that’s their job. We’re not going to worry about that. We’re just going to come prepared to play every night.”
Eriksson is third on the Bruins with 21 goals this season. This is his sixth 20-goal season and second consecutive season reaching that mark with the Bruins. He is one of Claude Julien‘s most trusted players and the Bruins would go from having a chance at making noise against non-Washington teams in the Eastern Conference playoffs to a potential fringe-playoff team if they traded him for futures.
Of course, Eriksson is also in the final year of a contract that carries a cap hit of $4.25 million. He’s due a big raise from that number, with it still unknown whether the Bruins will be the team to give it to him. If Eriksson agrees soon, the team obviously won’t lose one of its best players down the stretch, which would help this season’s odds.
“That’s not up to us,” Marchand said. “Obviously Loui’s a big part of the team and he’s been playing very well lately. Every night he helps our team and that’s what we need him to do.”