Entry level contracts shouldn't be holding CBA talks up

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Entry level contracts shouldn't be holding CBA talks up

While the NHL and NHLPA are engaged in an epic game of shut up thats lasted almost a week, heres an interesting wrinkle on one of the player contract rights thats suddenly become a big bone of contention: Some NHL executives are actually surprised the players association hasnt jumped all over the two-year entry level as something that could become a potential boon to young NHL players.

Its been widely assumed that dropping the majority of entry-level contracts from three years to two years in the next CBA would wrangle down the skyrocketing second contracts NHL superstars like Taylor Hall (seven years and 42 million) and Tyler Seguin (six years and 34.5 million) have secured at precocious young ages.

Both forwards signed their pimped out second contracts just prior to the Sept. 15 work stoppage, and it was seen as both players getting deals done that might well become extinct in the brave new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

But there are some NHL minds that think the two year entry level idea is something that serves the players as much if not more than it does the league.

I was actually surprised to see that one in the leagues proposal, and surprised it hasnt been received more favorably, said one league source. Think about it: the money teams are going to save by lopping off the third year in the entry level contracts isnt going to amount to a considerable sum. Most of those entry-level deals are for short money.

But for players like Seguin or Hall its going to get them to bigger dollar numbers more quickly. Rather than waiting for their fourth year in the league to really cash in, theyll be doing it a year earlier provided theyve shown they can play in the first two years.

Since both Hall and Seguin and Jeff Skinner to name a third signed their deals before their third NHL season, the argument that two seasons isnt enough time for players to establish lofty dollar values doesnt seem to hold water. Some NHL players dont develop until the third year of their entry-level deal, but those select skaters are actually in the minority when looking at big RFA contract extensions over the last few years.

Above and beyond the NHLs bright lights getting paid even earlier in their careers, a two-year entry level system would also make North America more attractive to European players looking to dip their toe in the waters. The Bruins had held the rights to Swedish import Carl Soderberg since trading Hannu Toivonens rights to the St. Louis Blues in 2007, but the enigmatic Swede has resisted all invitations for an NHL tryout.

Who knows?

Perhaps a smaller commitment of two years rather than three would entice some of the more sheepish foreign hockey imports like Soderberg that are currently shying away from North America.

Its certainly much more conducive to attracting players from Europe and Russia than switching to a five-year entry level contract that would tether them down for a half-decade.

Dropping to a two-year entry level system under the proposed player contract rights being offered by the NHL could result in a few more holdouts given the lessening of arbitration rights and a potential unrestricted free agent finish line pushed to 28 years old. Thats a potential downside when players have no other recourse, but the NHL owners will always pay money to protect the best, young, exciting talent on their respective teams. Players will also have the threat of offer sheets in the restricted free agency despite the fact many NHL GMs seem deathly allergic to the mere thought of them.

Even if the NHL CBA crafters believe that a two-year entry level system will bring back the traditionally modest second contracts to the NHL, the high number of players achieving stardom at 18 or 19 years old completely flies in the face of that theory.

It will be interesting to see how things play out, but dont be surprised if the NHLPA is remarkably compliant on the two-year entry level deal portion over the player contract rights theyre currently talking about.

Or not talking about as the case may be.

Should the Bruins look to trade Tuukka Rask or Zdeno Chara?

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Should the Bruins look to trade Tuukka Rask or Zdeno Chara?

Joe Haggerty and Jimmy Murphy bring you Episode 15 of "The Great American Hockey Show" podcast with special guests Mike Giardi and Michael Felger.

Topics include whether the team should look to trade goaltender Tuukka Rask and/or captain Zdeno Chara, the current state of the team, and mistakes made by upper management recently.

Plus, we get some background information on Felger, including whether he thought he would ever be in the position he is in the Boston sports landscape.

Which players fill Celtics Top 5 draft needs?

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Which players fill Celtics Top 5 draft needs?

BOSTON – When it comes to the NBA Draft, nobody has the flexibility to address a need the way the Celtics can this year.
 
If you are a draft-eligible player expected to be among the 60 names called next month, you are within the Celtics’ reach of being drafted.
 
That’s what having eight draft picks (three in the first round and five in the second) can do for you.
 
And while the Celtics have lots of needs, here’s a look at five specifically that they can address through the draft, and the best players to fill those voids.
 
5. Undervalued talent: Marquese Chriss
Getting players whose talent exceeds where they are drafted is certainly something the Celtics would love to do in a year when they have so many picks. Marquese Chriss of Washington could be that player. He’s a 6-9 forward who in this small-ball era in the NBA, can play both forward positions and have a matchup advantage at both spots. He’s targeted to be selected in the middle of the first round which makes him a prime target of the Celtics who could tab him with their second, first-round selection which will be the 16th overall pick.
 
 
4. Rim Protection
You have to give the Celtics props for having a defense that ranked 4th in the NBA despite no legit rim protector other than 6-9 Amir Johnson. As good as Johnson was, the Celtics need to add at least another player or two with rim protection as their strength. Enter Michigan State’s Deyonta Davis. He’s limited offensively in terms of what he can do, but his knack for blocking/altering shots, lateral quickness, vertical leap and overall strength makes him a force in the middle. He too is a player Boston has to give some thought to selecting if he’s still on the board (he’s considered a possible late-lottery pick) when it’s time for the Celtics to choose at No. 16.
 
 
3. Defensive versatility
One of the reasons Boston’s defense was so good this season was because of its ability to make defensive switches and it not create huge mismatches. Having players with the talent and skill to defend multiple positions will remain something the Celtics will also value on draft night. That’s why Jaylen Brown of Cal could be in the mix depending on where the pick Boston gets from Brooklyn, eventually falls. If it’s outside of the top-4, Brown becomes a viable possibility. He gets props for his strength and ability to use it as a means of scoring. But NBA teams are just as excited about his potential as a defender, already possessing an NBA-ready body with the tools to potentially defend all three perimeter positions.
 
2. Wing scoring
The Celtics ranked 11th in 3-pointers taken per game (26.1) but only 28th in 3-point percentage (.335) which shows that they were getting plenty of long-range shots but unable to make them with any consistency. Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield could change all that. He was hands-down the best shooter in college basketball this past season. And with him being a senior, he’s more likely to come in and make an immediate impact than many of his younger draft brethren who are judged more on potential than proven work. If the Celtics wind up with a top-3 pick, Hield would be a bit of a stretch. But if Boston is on the clock with the No. 4, 5 or 6th pick, he should be on their short list of possible targets.
 
 
1. Superstar potential
The best shot Boston has of landing that superstar they’ve longed for, is to land the top overall pick. And with that pick, there’s a growing consensus that Duke’s Brandon Ingram should be that guy rather than LSU’s Ben Simmons. Ingram has a game that in many ways is reminiscent to a young Kevin Durant. But at this stage, Ingram is a better 3-point shooter (he shot 41 percent on 3s in his lone season at Duke) which is one of the many areas Boston could use a boost through the draft.
 
 

Ainge: McHale's clothesline on Rambis was 'sweet'

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Ainge: McHale's clothesline on Rambis was 'sweet'

If you know anything about basketball in the 1980s and early 1990s, you know it was a physical game. And in the playoffs, that physicality multiplied.

The Boston Celtics were no exception to that. There are countless highlights of Celtics players getting into it with their opponents, but perhaps the most famous incident was when Kevin McHale clothelined the Lakers' Kurt Rambis in Game 4 of the 1984 NBA Finals.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was a member of that team, and discussed that play on Thursday morning with the guys from the Toucher and Rich Show.

“I remember that we were at shootaround the morning of the Kevin McHale / Kurt Rambis clothesline incident,” Ainge said. “They had just beat us by 30 . . . it was Hollywood showtime Lakers all the way and we were humiliated. We came to practice the next day and we had some guys chirping about that, like, ‘We have to take some hard fouls. We cannot let these guys fast break over us and dunk on us in transition. We have to take some hard fouls.’ And I said to the whole team, I like screamed at them, I said, ‘Hey listen, I’m booed in every arena in this league because I’m the only guy who takes hard fouls. I need some of you guys to take some hard fouls. And sure enough Kevin clothelined Kurt Rambis and that was sweet.”