|Oilers officially hire Keith Gretzky away from Bruins||08.02.16 at 3:30 pm ET|
The Oilers announced Tuesday that they have hired Bruins director of amateur scouting Keith Gretzky as an assistant general manager. Gretzky joins his former boss in Peter Chiarelli by making such a jump.
Gretzky, whose older brother goes by “Wayne,” oversaw the Bruins’ last three drafts after being given the position in August of 2013. He had replaced Wayne Smith, whom Chiarelli fired after years of unproductive drafting outside of sure-things Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton.
While the Bruins drafted extremely poorly with Smith, they’ve fared better since. Gretzky’s first draft saw them select David Pastrnak late in the first round, and though two of the team’s first-round choices were criticized in the 2015 draft, the trio Boston landed in the second round (Brandon Carlo, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson and Jeremy Lauzon) represent a strong group of prospects.
It is not yet clear who will replace Gretzky. Scott Fitzgerald currently serves as the team’s assistant director of amateur scouting.
|Milan Lucic open to reuniting with Peter Chiarelli with Oilers||06.23.16 at 8:29 pm ET|
BUFFALO — With Milan Lucic headed for free agency, one potential fit that’s been thrown around is the Oilers. Why? Because there’s a guy who works there who already has experience paying Lucic a lot of money.
So would Lucic, who spent last season with the Kings but could not come to terms on an extension, be interested in reuniting with Peter Chiarelli in Edmonton?
“I’m open to them,” Lucic told WEEI.com Thursday. “Open to all my options heading into July 1.”
Lucic, who spent the first eight years of his career in Boston, was traded to the Kings prior to last year’s draft in exchange for the 13th overall pick, Martin Jones and Colin Miller. He had 20 goals and 35 assists for 55 points over 81 games in his lone season in Los Angeles.
BUFFALO — In rewatching Edmonton president of hockey operations Peter Chiarelli’s availability with reporters from Thursday morning, it was hard not to notice a point he made regarding his own team’s issues that applies to the Bruins.
A reporter asked Chiarelli about trading for a No. 1 defenseman. Chiarelli shed light on such a pursuit by noting something that fans in every market probably don’t consider often enough.
“Over the years, we’ve had discussions with teams I’ve been with, like, how many true No. 1 D are there? Maybe there’s 12,” Chiarelli said. “So there’s 30 teams and there’s 12 No. 1 D, so to think that you’re going to get a No. 1 D, it’s tough.”
While one of Chiarelli’s biggest blunders in Boston involved losing a top-pairing defenseman (Johnny Boychuk), the point he raises is correct. Look around the league. Keith Yandle isn’t a No. 1 defenseman and just god paid $6.35 million annually on a seven-year deal. Alex Goligoski isn’t a No. 1 (on a good team, anyway) and he got $5.45 million a year over five years. Kevin Shattenkirk, a top-four guy who would play big minutes in Boston but is far from a stud, might get traded for a haul. Food for thought.
Watch the video of Chiarelli’s press conference here, courtesy of TSN.
|Don Sweeney says ‘highly unlikely’ Bruins bring back Carl Soderberg, offers ‘no comment’ on Dougie Hamilton||06.19.15 at 11:34 am ET|
Carl Soderberg appears to be the latest casualty of the Bruins’ salary cap crunch.
The 29-year-old center had 13 goals and 31 assists this year while playing in all 82 games, playing out the final year of a three-year, $3 million contract. Soderberg will be looking for a big pay day as an unrestricted free agent.
The Bruins have just 16 players signed on their current roster and project to have $6.531 million in cap space remaining. Don Sweeney, preparing for his first NHL draft as general manager, knows he’s up against it.
“We’re trying to plan for every circumstance that may exist,” Sweeney said on a conference call Friday with reporters. “Carl was a very important part of our team this year. In a perfect world, we would be able to retain Carl. It’s highly unlikely at this point in time that that will be happening relative to our overall situation.”
With that eventuality in mind, the Bruins signed forward Joonas Kemppainen on May 21 to a one-year, two-way contract which would be worth a cap figure of $700,000 at the NHL level.
The 27-year-old played 59 games for Oulun Karpat in the Finnish Elite League during the 2014-15 season and recorded 11 goals, 21 assists and a plus-15 rating. In 19 playoff games for Karpat this year, the forward potted 10 goals and 14 assists for 24 points with a plus-14 rating. Kemppainen also competed in this year’s IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship where he ranked third on the Finnish team in goals (three), second in assists (six) and second in points (nine) in eight games played.
“I think Joonas represents a player of similar nature, similar skill set. He’s a big strong player,” Sweeney said. “He’s responsible. He’s 27 years old so he’s been through the pro ranks and he’s ready for it. He’s got some heaviness to his game. Look at his offensive production, it was pretty darned good this year in particular but really the last couple of year, he’s been very, very consistent and he rolled that right over to world championship, where again he was both very reliable, accountable as a two-player but also produced offensively, which is huge, huge for us.”
|Cam Neely mum on final say, seeks better president-GM communication with Don Sweeney||05.20.15 at 3:36 pm ET|
After the Bruins introduced Don Sweeney as the team’s next general manager, Neely stressed the importance of communication in the front office, prompting a question as to whether he felt he and Chiarelli communicated as well as they would have liked.
“The communication could have been better,” Neely answered.
Chiarelli was the GM before Neely was president, but Chiarelli’s success prevented Neely from picking his own guy until the Bruins missed the playoffs this season.
Given that Sweeney is both a former teammate of Neely’s and the general manager of Neely’s choosing, the working relationship between he and Neely figures to be better. He claimed that his friendship with Sweeney did not take priority over the qualifications of other candidates.
“I’ve been president of the Bruins since 2010,” Neely said. “I have not hired a friend.”
Neely repeatedly deflected questions about who gets final say on player personnel, but noted he doesn’t want to do his general manager’s job.
“I’ve made it very clear: I’m not a GM. I don’t want to be a GM,” Neely said. “I want the GM to do the job, but I want to know what’s going on. I don’t know how much more clear I can be with that. If the GM wants to push and fight and say ‘This is the right thing,’ then I’ll sit down and listen. I want to have conversations. My door is always open.”
Neely was then asked who’s responsible for the moves the team makes, whether good or bad. He said that the president should take responsibility, but still avoided whether he makes the final decision. Asked who makes the call when the hockey operations department is split on a decision, he responded “tie goes to the runner.”
“Then who’s the runner?” multiple media members asked.
“Ultimately, if Don feels strongly about something, I’ve got to allow him to do his job,” Neely said, “but if I feel strongly about something then I’ll let him know. But this total autonomy thing, since I became president in 2010, it’s been [considered] a big deal, and I don’t get it. I really don’t.”
The Bruins fired Chiarelli on April 15. He has since taken over the Oilers as team president and GM. Because he had term on his contract that the Bruins would pay had he not found work elsewhere, the Bruins can seek draft pick compensation from the Oilers. Neely confirmed the Bruins are seeking a pick from the Oilers, which would be a second-round pick in one of the next three drafts. The Oilers get to pick which year they give up the pick, making it unlikely that they’ll part with the third pick of the second round in this June’s draft.
|Don Sweeney has been Bruins’ acting GM this offseason||05.09.15 at 1:52 pm ET|
The Bruins don’t have a general manager yet, but the signs continue to point toward Don Sweeney eventually getting the gig.
In fact, indications are that Sweeney is doing the heavy lifting in the Bruins’ front office as they begin the offseason. Sweeney has been the team’s acting GM recently, a source familiar with the situation told WEEI.com Saturday.
That’s not an official title, nor is it a certainty that it will become one, but it does indicate who is making the calls for the B’s as they look to improve their team from this season’s disappointing finish.
The Bruins have been without an official GM since firing Peter Chiarelli on April 15. Sweeney has picked up Chiarelli’s responsibilities for now, though everything funnels through team president Cam Neely.
This comes following a Boston Herald report that Sweeney had a lengthy meeting with Claude Julien on Friday. The Herald’s Stephen Harris deduced from that development that Sweeney could plan on keeping Julien around as head coach if and when Sweeney gets the GM job.
It is unknown where the Bruins are in the interview process as they seek Chiarelli’s replacement. ESPN’s Joe McDonald reported on May 3 that the team was entering its second round of interviews and that Sweeney remained in the mix. Jeff Gorton, a potential candidate, has not yet been allowed to interview with the Bruins, as Rangers GM Glen Sather won’t let teams talk to his assistant GM until New York is eliminated from the playoffs. The Capitals hold a 3-2 series lead over the Rangers in the second round, but Sather hinted to the New York Post earlier in the week that he still might not let teams talk to Gorton this offseason at all.
Sweeney has been in the Bruins’ hockey operations department since 2006 and was named one of Chiarelli’s assistant general managers prior to their Stanley Cup-winning 2010-11 season. Prior to his time in Boston’s front office, Sweeney enjoyed a lengthy NHL career in which he played 1,052 regular-season games and 103 playoff games for the Bruins before playing his final season with the Stars.
The fact that he’s acting as the team’s GM for now shouldn’t come as a major surprise. Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe wrote the day that Chiarelli was fired that Sweeney would get the job. Furthermore, Sweeney is one of two Bruins assistant GMs and is longer-tenured in that role than Scott Bradley, who was named one of Chiarelli’s assistants last offseason.
|Peter Chiarelli joins Oilers as president of hockey operations and general manager||04.24.15 at 5:00 pm ET|
Former Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli was named president of hockey operations and general manager of the Oilers Friday.
Chiarelli enters a team with a number of highly skilled young forwards in Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, Jordan Eberle and Leon Draisaitl. Generational talent Connor McDavid will be added to that group with the first overall pick in June’s draft.
As such, Chiarelli was asked early in the press conference about the Bruins’ 2013 trade of Tyler Seguin to Dallas. Since the trade, Seguin has blossomed into one of the league’s best scorers.
“That was a trade that had underlying reasons hat I won’t get into, but he’s a terrific player, he was our leading scorer and that’s what I’ll say about that one’ Chiarelli responded.
“In this business, you can’t be afraid to make trades. The way that the parity is developing, the way that the cap is closing in, the margins are really small. Those are ways to improve your team. I’m not afraid of doing it, but it has to be the right moment.
“There are some very good young players on this team. Doesn’t mean I’m going to trade any of them, but those are deals that you have to be willing to make. They have to be well-measured. You have to be well-informed.
“That deal, obviously he’s a very good player and there were reasons for doing it.”
Chiarelli said earlier in the press conference that he feels he can get more out of Edmonton’s young players.
“They play fast,” Chiarelli said. “I’d like to see them play a little harder.”