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With five returning, who will be the other Bruins’ defenseman? 06.30.11 at 2:34 pm ET
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The Bruins have five of their six defensemen from the Stanley Cup finals under contract through at least next season, with Tomas Kaberle’s spot the only question mark. B’s general manager Peter Chiarelli said Thursday that the team will let Kaberle test the waters, and that if he signs elsewhere, they’ll find a replacement. That means whoever the B’s have back there next year needs to be at least somewhat offensively minded. After the power play woes of the playoffs, that’s only logical.

So who might be that last (not necessarily the sixth) defenseman be? Here are some options:

TOMAS KABERLE (free agent, Bruins)

Age: 33

2010-11 team: Maple Leafs/Bruins

2010-11 stats: 82 GP, 4 G, 43 A, 47 P, +4 (regular season)

25 GP, 0 G, 11 A, 11 P, +8 (playoffs)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 214 pounds

Pros: Outstanding passer

Cons: Poor skater, turnover-prone

The skinny: The sound of a full Garden screaming “SHOOT!” might keep Kaberle awake at night, and though there were plenty of roadbumps on the way to him becoming the solid player he was in the Cup finals, more time in Boston might make him better. Perhaps the reason he looked more like himself later in the postseason was because he was getting comfortable, but the minutes Claude Julien gave him in the playoffs suggest he won’t be worth the payday he seeks. If the B’s can get him for $3 million or less, maybe they’ll take a flier. Any more than that just isn’t sensible.

STEVEN KAMPFER (Bruins, signed through 2013)

Age: 22

2010-11 team: Bruins

2010-11 stats: 38 GP, 5 G, 5 A, 10 P, +9 (with Boston)

22 GP, 3 G, 16 A, 16 P, +10 (with Providence)

Height/weight: 5-foot-10, 188 pounds

Pros: Good skater, right-handed shot

Cons: Faded/lost spot down the stretch

The skinny: Kampfer needed very little time to settle into the NHL, and though his partner (some guy named Chara) had plenty to do with that, he showed he is capable of contributing at this level. He had as costly a 13-minute span as anyone could back on March 17, and his misplay and a penalty not only cost the Bruins the game in Nashville, but it cost Kampfer his spot in the lineup. He injured his knee while playing in the AHL late in the season, but was good enough to play again midway through the Eastern Conference finals. He did not play a game in the postseason.

If it ends up being an in-house promotion, the B’s will also give Matt Bartkowski a good look.

JAMES WISNIEWSKI (UPDATE: signed six-year, $33 million deal with Blue Jackets)

Age: 27

2010-11 team: Islanders/Canadiens

2010-11 stats: 75 GP, 10 G, 41 A, 51 P, -14  (regular season)

6 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 P, -2 (playoffs)

Height/weight: 5-foot-11, 208 pounds

Pros: Hard-nosed, crafty with the puck

Cons: Had career year in contract year, price may be high

The skinny: The Michigan native could become fast friends with Kampfer and Tim Thomas (both from Michigan), and given his tendency to get under the skin of opponents, he and Brad Marchand would probably go from being enemies to pals pretty quickly. The Red Wings have only three defensemen under contract for next season, so the idea of bringing the local boy to Detroit makes that a logical potential destination for Wisniewski. If the Red Wings are in on the 27-year-old, they won’t be alone. Wisniewski has only had one season with more than 30 points, and it was his contract year. He’ll be paid well, so the price could be too steep for the Bruins’ liking.

CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF (UPDATE: SIGNED 10-YEAR, $40 M contract with Sabres)

Age: 28

2010-11 team: Canucks

2010-11 stats: 79 GP, 14 G, 36 A, 50 P, +19 (regular season)
23 GP, 2 G, 10 A, 12 P, -13 (playoffs)

Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 200 pounds

Pros: Durable (77+ games each of last five seasons), strong on power play

Cons: Too much money, this video

The skinny: Ehroff suffered a shoulder injury against his old team in the Western Conference finals, explaining why he was less than impressive vs. the Bruins. The shoulder will not require surgery.

The German media would go nutbars at the prospect of Dennis Seidenberg, one of only two German Stanley Cup champions, to be teamed with Ehrhoff. The two are actually good friends, as they have played on national teams since they were 17 and were defensive partners at the Olympics. The issue is that the Islanders traded a fourth-round pick for his rights this week and, despite general manager Garth Snow saying they offered “well north” of Kevin Bieksa‘s five-year, $23 million pact, couldn’t get him signed. Maybe that’s because Ehrhoff wants to play for a winner, but it may also be because he’s holding out for top dollar. If it’s the latter, you can count the Bruins out. Given the financial aspect, it’s hard to imagine any circumstance in which the B’s bring him in.

_______

At the end of the day, the Bruins might have to overpay for Wisniewski, which makes one feel that if the B’s don’t get Kaberle back, they could just go with Kampfer. The 22-year-old is still progressing, and if he plays with Chara, it will be that much easier. Plus, it’s the most economical thing to do. Unless the B’s can get a deal on a veteran who brings more to the table, they might be better off hoping that, much like Adam McQuaid did this past season, Kampfer can take an opportunity and run with it.

Read More: 2011 NHL Free Agency, Christian Ehrhoff, James Wisniewski, Peter Chiarelli
Peter Chiarelli: Bruins letting Tomas Kaberle, Michael Ryder test market at 12:42 pm ET
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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli spoke with the media Thursday in anticipation of the NHL’s free agency period opening Friday. The Bruins have two players set to hit unrestricted free agency in winger Michael Ryder and defenseman Tomas Kaberle. The GM said that ties have not been severed with either player, but that the B’s likely won’t be active in the early stages of free agency.

“Certainly theres no finality to our relationship,” Chiarelli said of Kaberle. “What we’ve agreed to with Tomas and his agent is that he would look into the market and we would continue to talk with him. ‘€¦ Let me be perfectly clear, there’s no end to the relationship because we haven’t signed him to this point.”

Chiarelli noted that if the Bruins are unable to retain Kaberle, he will look both in-house and elsewhere for his replacement on the Bruins’ blue line.

He also indicated that the B’s are taking the same approach with Ryder, and that if the players take deals with other teams, the Bruins are willing to accept that fate.

“I’m wary of the market and where it stands now,” Chiarelli said. “I said, ‘Look guys, go out there, see what’s going on and let’s continue to talk.’ The risk that we run is that they get a deal and then they can’t come back to us, and I understand that risk. That’s where those two guys stand.”

Depending on what the B’s do with Ryder, Kaberle, restricted free agent Brad Marchand and what happens with Marc Savard, the team could be in good standing with the league’s salary cap (set for $64.3 million next season). Despite the fact that they should have money to spend, allocating resources to multiple years could make things difficult for the Bruins, as both David Krejci and Tuukka Rask will see their current contracts expire after the coming season. Tyler Seguin‘s deal is up in two years, and one would have to assume all three players will see increases in pay.

“It certainly impacts it,” Chiarelli said of knowing they have future raises to give. “I’m a little wary of the market, first and foremost. The cap is high, and the cap is certainly going to come down in some shape or form, so generally speaking, I’m wary of the market and where I think it may be going.

“Two, and a close two, is that we do have guys that we warrant to re-sign, and they’re going to command raises. I’m really not in a position to go out and give a guy a big-term contract. I think thwart we can find that help elsewhere other than a big-term contract and still be in a good position to re-sign our guys as they come up the next year or two.”

The Bruins qualified restricted free agents Marchand, Andrew Bodnarchuk and Stefan Chaput. Chiarelli said that negotiations with Marchand have not yet begun.

The GM also said that the team will not re-sign defenseman Shane Hnidy, who served as a healthy scratch/depth player during the stretch run and postseason. Hnidy, 35, played three games in both the regular season and postseason.

“We’ve told Shane that we aren’t re-signing him,” Chiarelli said. “I think he’ll be a good addition somewhere else, and I told him that. Certainly I’d help him along the way for that.”

As for whether the list of Bruins’ targets may be shrinking, Chiarelli admitted that some players have been taken out of consideration in recent days. The rights of players set to hit free agency have been traded, which may factor into that.

“I have a big whiteboard in my office and I have our interest list and I have our secondary list,” he said. “Yes, there are names knocked off. Just because they’€™re on our interest list doesn’€™t mean we’€™re going to go off and sign them, but certainly we’€™re going to explore them. And I’€™ve crossed off names.”

One thing that came up time and time again was Chiarelli noting how “wary” of the market he was. He assessed the crop as being less than outstanding, which may be a reason why he would have reservations about making a big splash.

“I look at my board and I see the number of players and the quality of players,” he said. “And the numbers may be the same, [but] the quality is … there’€™s just not the high end players. Then of course you’€™ve got the floor of the cap and teams have to spend, so you’€™re going to get contracts I think that, maybe that, they’€™re generally higher in the unrestricted market, but I even think they’€™ll be that added premium because teams have to spend. … That’€™s why I’€™m a little cautious going into this market. There’€™s not the supply that there normally is, and I think the demand is greater because of the cap floor and teams have to spend.”

Read More: Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Marc Savard, Michael Ryder
Bruce Cassidy named head coach of P-Bruins 06.25.11 at 11:18 am ET
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Bruce Cassidy was named the head coach of the Providence Bruins, the B’s minor-league affiliate in the American Hockey League, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli announced Saturday morning.

Cassidy has some experience as a head coach at all levels of the professional game. He was head coach of the Capitals starting in 2002-03 and compiled a 47-45-9-6 record in parts of two seasons in Washington while leading the team to a playoff berth in his first year. Previous to that, he had spent one season as an AHL head coach, leading Grand Rapids to a 42-27-11-0 record in 2001-02 before moving on to the Caps. He had also headed teams in both the IHL and ECHL.

Cassidy had worked as an assistant for the P-Bruins for the past three seasons under Rob Murray, who was let go after the team failed to make the postseason for the second straight season. During those three years, the team had garnered a record of 117-103-10-10.

Read More: Bruce Cassidy, Peter Chiarelli, Rob Murray,
Peter Chiarelli says Dougie Hamilton is ‘at least a year away’ 06.24.11 at 11:41 pm ET
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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Friday night that he does not expect defenseman Dougie Hamilton, whom the team chose with the ninth overall pick in the NHL draft, to play in the NHL next season. If the 18-year-old doesn’t make the Bruins, he will return to Niagara for another season in the OHL.

“I’€™d say he needs a little more development,” Chiarelli said of the 6-foot-4, 187-pound blueliner. “He’€™s still fairly skinny. He has to be stronger, but you never know. You never know how he’€™ll have his summer, but my guess is that he’€™s at least a year away.”

The Bruins did not bring Hamilton in for a workout, and it was a surprise to the team that he was available with the ninth pick. Hamilton was ranked the No. 4 North American skater by Central Scouting.

“We basically said that we don’€™t have to bring this fellow in,” Chiarelli said. “If he’€™s there, it’€™s a no-brainer so we didn’€™t have to see anything extra on him. That’€™s how strongly we feel about him.”

If the Bruins are assuming that Hamilton will be in Niagara, and not in Boston, next season, this pick should not impact how the team approaches Tomas Kaberle this offseason. The team has had talks with Kaberle’s agent, and if the B’s are to retain him on a three-year deal, Hamilton could still come in for the 2012-13 and have a spot open if Johnny Boychuk, who is in the last year of his deal, does not return. Andrew Ference‘s deal is up in two seasons, so the Bruins are set to see a couple of defensemen’s contracts expire over the next couple of years.

While picking Hamilton doesn’t hurt any of those guys directly right now, it could eventually make things tough for the Steven Kampfers and Matt Bartkowskis of the world.

Read More: Dougie Hamilton, Peter Chiarelli,
Peter Chiarelli says Bruins have qualified Brad Marchand at 7:21 pm ET
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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli told reporters in Minnesota Friday that the team has qualified restricted free agent Brad Marchand, meaning the team has retained negotiating rights with the 23-year-old and can match any offer sheet that another club may sign him to.

Should Marchand sign an offer sheet with another team, the Bruins will have seven days to either keep Marchand under those terms or see him walk. The Bruins would receive draft pick compensation if they were to lose Marchand, but given his importance to the club and how much cap space the B’s have, the chances of him not returning are extremely slim.

As a rookie Marchand scored 21 goals and 20 assists for 40 points in the regular season. He scored 11 goals in the playoffs, including two in the Bruins’ Game 7 win over the Canucks in the Stanley Cup finals.

Read More: Brad Marchand, Peter Chiarelli,
Peter Chiarelli doesn’t expect ‘magic’ in draft 06.23.11 at 8:39 pm ET
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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Thursday in Minnesota that he does not expect the team to do anything crazy movement-wise with the ninth overall pick in Friday’s draft. The team holds a top-10 pick for the second consecutive year thanks to the Phil Kessel trade. After selecting Tyler Seguin a season ago with the second overall pick, Chiarelli said he doesn’t envision the team picking that high again.

“I don’€™t think there will be any magic for us tomorrow,” Chiarelli said. “We’€™re picking nine, I’€™d say there’€™s, maybe after three or four, there’€™s a real good group of another eight, and there’€™s a good batch of defenseman, there’€™s a good batch of wingers and there’€™s a good batch of centermen. So we’€™re pretty content where we are and we’€™ll see where it goes. Oftentimes, players that you have ranked below your group go in and really good players drop and go last.”

Chiarelli said he doesn’t expect the player they take with the ninth pick to crack the lineup as a rookie, but noted that there’s always the possibility that an NHL-ready prospect could fall, a la Cam Fowler a season ago.

“You never say never about a player being able to play that’€™s drafted that low,” he said. “My guess is [the player won't make the team], to say no, just my knowledge of the players that I think will be available. There may be one that can play that may drop to us but that’€™s, you know, that would be a huge bonus and it’€™s just more about getting the right player and starting to develop him.”

The Bruins also have a high second-round pick, as they’ll choose 40th overall with Minnesota’s selection.

“I think it’€™s a fairly deep draft,” Chiarelli said. “… There’€™s no definitive number one and that runs deep through the first five or six I think. And you know I’€™d say it’€™s a good round and a half as far as guys that you’€™re excited to get these players, guys that you really feel strong with playing and maybe turning into something. I think it’€™s a good round and a half.”

The Bruins’ GM has spoken to the agent for Tomas Kaberle, but has not spoken with Michael Ryder’s agent. Kaberle and Ryder are both unrestricted free agents. He did confirm that Tuukka Rask will be getting knee surgery and that Milan Lucic will have his nose reset this offseason.

Read More: Peter Chiarelli,
Peter Chiarelli happy he didn’t trade Tim Thomas 06.17.11 at 1:19 pm ET
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Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was a popular guy last offseason, as he was brought up in trade rumors, some of which were falsely reported. Though the goalie was never going to Philadelphia in exchange for Simon Gagne, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Friday at TD Garden that he did have talks with other teams about Thomas, who was coming off hip surgery, had lost his starting job to Tuukka Rask and at the time had three years of a $5 million annual cap hit left on his deal.

“At the time there was kind of a mutually agreement between myself and Tim and Bill Zito, Tim’€™s agent, just to explore it and on the premise that Tim does not want to leave Boston,” Chiarelli said of trading Thomas. “And that’€™s really where it ended. It’€™s really where it ended. And there was some calls in that and they kept him in the loop at all times and he kept stressing he didn’€™t want to leave. I said ‘I know, let’€™s just look at this very briefly.’ And I know there are a lot of stories that flowed from it, but I can’€™t stress enough the fact that Tim never wanted to leave.

“I wouldn’€™t be doing my job if I at least didn’€™t look at some things, and I did. You go through those things, on a number of fronts on a number of fronts, on a number of players. You just field stuff, you look at them, you talk to other teams. And at the end of the day you make the decision yay or nay. And here it was nay. And it was an easy nay.”

Thomas ended up reclaiming the starting job, turning in a shutout in his first start of the season Oct. 10 in Prague against the Coyotes. He ended up allowing just three goals in six starts in October, and even after leveling out was still dominant throughout a season that will undoubtedly earn him his second Vezina trophy in Vegas next week. His .938 save percentage is the best for a goalie in a single season since the stat has been recorded.

Thomas was also named the Conn Smythe trophy winner after the Stanley Cup finals concluded. The award is given to the player most valuable to his team during the playoffs, and Thomas clearly proved that by allowing just eight goals in the seven-game series vs. the Canucks.

Thomas, 37, has two years with a $5 million cap hit left on his contract.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Peter Chiarelli, Stanley Cup Finals, Tim Thomas
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