Bruins aim to end Hurricanes' domination over them

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Bruins aim to end Hurricanes' domination over them

WILMINGTON, MA There arent many teams in the NHL that really have the Bruins number. The odds become even more unlikely that a team has dominated the Black and Gold if theyre not even a playoff team.

But the non-playoff Carolina Hurricanes, the same team that banished the Bruins from the playoffs four years ago, swept the Bs in their four game series during the regular season and outscored Boston by a 14-5 margin. Its those kinds of performances against mediocre teams that gave the Bruins a reputation as a team that can sometimes play down to the competition.

But the Bruins players are keenly aware of last years Canes phenomenon as they ready for their first meeting against Carolina at the RBC Center on Monday night. The tilt against the Southeast Division foe will be the first part of back-to-back games that conclude back at TD Garden against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

Its a pretty important game for us. This is a team that gave us a fair share of trouble last year and they improved their roster. Theyve won their last couple of games, so its going to be a challenge for us, said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. There are certain teams that give other teams trouble. Theyre a four-man attack team and they always have a D up on the rush.

We havent played our best against them, and theyve played some very good games against us. Its one of those things where we want to get that win against them as quick as we can so we can get the monkey off our back.

As expected Eric Staal, Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner share the team-lead with four points on the season, and the oldest Staal brother leads the Hurricanes with three goals scored on the season. The talented, young Carolina defensemen corps combined with skilled players like the Staal Brothers, Skinner and Alex Semin mean that the Bruins could be in for a long night if they start looking ahead to the Devils on Tuesday night.

Julien all but assured that wont be happening.

Their record against us last year is something were well aware of and were going into the game well-prepared, said Julien. They come at the net hard, they open up a lot and we havent been at our best against that kind of a team. We just havent been as prudent playing against a team like that. We need to take away their shots from the point and make sure we clear away any traffic from the front of the net.

There will be an extra challenge for the Bruins to do that without the services of 6-foot-5, 209-pound Adam McQuaid, a staunch stay-at-home defenseman that will miss the game vs. Carolina for personal reasons. Perhaps that will make the Bruins focus even more than last years domination of them in a convincing series of four games.

Source: Bruins preparing offer sheet for Jets D-man Jacob Trouba

Source: Bruins preparing offer sheet for Jets D-man Jacob Trouba

According to a hockey source, Don Sweeney and the Boston Bruins “are preparing an offer sheet” this week for Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba as an aggressive option to land a No. 1 defenseman after trades didn’t pan out at last weekend’s NHL Draft.

The Bruins have watched Trouba closely for some time, and clearly have an interest in the 22-year-old D-man with size, offensive abilities and a workhorse nature that’s seen him average more than 22 minutes of ice time per game since entering the league as a 19-year-old.

Trouba is coming off a six-goal, 21-point season while playing in 81 games for the Jets, and was a career-best plus-10 for Winnipeg. With Trouba, a restricted free agent, and the Jets locked into big money deals to fellow right shot D-men in Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers, the writing has been on the wall for some time that the Jets would need to give one of them up.

Now it appears the Bruins may be willing to put their money, and their assets, where their interest is, and come up with an offer sheet that totals a minimum of $47 million for Trouba’s services.

Part of that high total is crafting an offer that the Winnipeg Jets aren’t going to match, and part of that is the Bruins’ own doing while casually tossing away their own draft picks. Because they sent their 2017 third round pick to the Flyers for Zac Rinaldo and their 2017 second round pick to New Jersey for Lee Stempniak, the Bruins must put together an offer sheet with an average annual value (AAV) of at least $9.3 million that will require Boston to give up four consecutive first round picks as compensation.

The good news for the Bruins: for offer sheet purposes, AAV is determined by dividing the total compensation offered by the lesser of the length of the contract, or by five. For contracts longer than five years in term, this will result in a higher AAV than simply dividing the contract total by the number of years.

Example: a 7 year offer sheet worth $49 million total, would be considered an AAV of $9.8 million ($49 million divided by 5) for offer sheet compensation purposes. That means the Bruins could make an offer sheet to Trouba in the $7-8 million per season neighborhood on a seven year deal, a reasonable contract if Trouba turns into the No. 1 defenseman that the B’s are envisioning.

The real price for the Black and Gold would be surrendering four first round picks, but the Bruins have made five first round picks in the last two years while stockpiling their prospect cupboard. The B’s have also been hit-or-miss with their first round picks, so sacrificing a few of them for a surefire, young defenseman would theoretically be worth the price.

Clearly the offer sheet route is the product of Bruins’ frustration at being unable to broker a deal for Kevin Shattenkirk or Cam Fowler last weekend in Buffalo, and at the realization that they need a stud No. 1 defenseman in order to again be competitive in the Eastern Conference. Perhaps even the threat of an offer sheet could spur the Jets into dealing Trouba, just as the threat of an offer sheet pushed forward the trades of Dougie Hamilton and Brandon Saad last season. 

Dirty Water Media Bruins reporter James Murphy was also reporting the buzz that the B's are exploring their offer sheet option. 

Bruins go for size, defensive presence at center with Koppanen

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Bruins go for size, defensive presence at center with Koppanen

While the Bruins fourth round pick might sound eerily like Finnish fourth line center Joonas Kemppainen, the Black and Gold are hoping for much more from fifth round pick (135th overall) Joona Koppanen. The 6-foot-5, 194-pound Finnish center is obviously a big body in the middle of the ice, and already plays a responsible, smart game on the defensive side of the ice.

In keeping with the parallels to Kemppainen, Koppanen is a bit less developed on the offensive side of the game at this point in his young career as an 18-year-old.  

“I think that the draft was awesome and I’m really excited for the draft to Boston,” said Koppanen, who added “Tuukka Rask plays there” when asked what he knows about the Bruins. “My strength is to skating and I’m a good two-way forward.”

The Big Finn had nine goals and 26 points in 40 games for the junior team in Finland last season, and was shut out in seven games for Team Finland at the World Junior U-18 Championships. So he’s got some work to do developing his offensive game and getting both bigger and stronger, but the Bruins see size, strength and the work ethic to improve in Koppanen.

“He’s a big guy, and for a big guy he can really move around. He’s very good defensively and smart with his positioning. He plays hard,” said Bruins head scout Keith Gretzky. “The skill is the one area that needs to develop, and we think it’s going to do that. He was a guy that we targeted because he’s a big guy that can skate, and is good in his own end.”

One thing the Bruins focused on heading into the draft was acquiring some size at the center position, and they’ve clearly done that with 6-foot-2, 200-pound Trent Frederic and the 6-foot-5, 198-pound Koppanen.

It just remains to be seen what kind of offensive upside these gritty, tough competitors will have once they reach the pro ranks a few years from now, and that will go a long way to determining how good these picks end up being.

One thing is for sure: they must be projecting that Koppanen is better than Kemppainen, who was an absolute bust in the offensive zone.