Bruins cap picture clearer after Kelly, Campbell signings

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Bruins cap picture clearer after Kelly, Campbell signings

The financial picture is clearing up for the Bruins with two big pieces now in place with price tags of 3 million (Chris Kelly) and (Gregory Campbell) 1.6 million for the next three years.

Its difficult to envision Kelly getting much more than 3 million per season and a term of four years from a group of NHL teams that view him as a third line center on a good playoff team, so the 31-year-old received a good, fair deal from the Bruins. Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli both have an extremely high level of trust in the two-way center, but its also fair to assume he could hit 20 goals and finish high in the plusminus rankings playing with a talented group around him in Boston.

Even if 2011-12 ends up serving as a career year for Kelly, hes invaluable to Boston for his leadership, professionalism and the Bergeron-like skill set that he brings to the table nightly.

Campbell might have earned something a little richer than one might have expected as a fourth line center. But he centered the best fourth line in hockey when the Bruins won the Cup, and Chiarelli is spending 4 million combined for Campbell, Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton over the next two years.

The salary cap for the 2012-13 season isnt yet known and wont be finalized until the CBA is ratified by the NHL and the NHLPA. But it would have been 70.3 million if the new CBA is modeled after the current agreement that expires in September, and the Bruins are currently at 64.9 million, according to capgeek.com.

The 64.9 million includes the 5 million cap hit for Tim Thomas and the 4.007 million cap hit for Marc Savard, and both could be off the Bs books by the time next season rolls around.

That leaves roughly 5 million in cap space -- or 14 million if they can clear Thomas off the ledger and place Savard on long term injured reserve with his debilitating post-concussion syndrome -- with the Bruins still looking to address restricted free agents Tuukka Rask and Benoit Pouliot as well secure at least one more top-nine forward to the mix. The Bruins also need one more defenseman to fill into the vacant spot left by Joe Corvo, and a 1.494 cap hit for Dougie Hamilton should the 18-year-old prove hes ready to play in Boston next season.

So the Bruins dont appear to be in dire straits from a salary cap perspective in terms of fielding the team that Chiarelli and Julien feel comfortable with. But it also doesnt appear that theres room for an 8 million per year player like Zach Parise or Rick Nash unless some wheeling and dealing goes down this summer.

That goes doubly so for a team that will have Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin, Nathan Horton and Andrew Ference all up for new contracts after the 2012-13 hockey season is over.

Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

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Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while in disbelief mode that the summer is almost over.

*Good piece on the remainders of the Hartford Whalers organization in Connecticut trying to keep the dream alive for the Whale.

*Tyler Seguin sits down for a podcast this week that I freely admit I did not have the time to listen to. I wonder if Boston even rated a mention in the conversation?

*Rating the top NHL contracts, according to the fancy stats hockey analysts, sounds like an interesting exercise.

*Tracey Myers has Duncan Keith bowing out of the World Cup of Hockey while recovering from an injury, and getting replaced by Jay Boumeester.

*The “Da Beauty” Hockey League has kept players like Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan McDonagh and David Backes in hockey shape this summer while slowly getting ready for the season.

*The Arizona Coyotes make a historic hire by naming Dawn Braid as skating coach, making her the first female coach in the NHL.

*For something completely different: FOH (Friend of Haggs) Rich Shirtenlieb guested on the #DORK podcast this week, and it sounds like he didn’t love “Stranger Things.” At the very least he liked “Preacher” better. I thought Preacher was entertaining, but I didn’t even think it was in the same stratosphere as Stranger Things. Rich also has me wanting to watch “It Follows” now, however, after his endorsement.

 

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

It’s no secret Bruins fans are getting fed up with a hockey team in decline, one that’s missed the playoffs each of the last two years. Now there are numbers to prove it.

Channel Media and Market Research, Inc. came out with its annual New England Sports survey,  tabulating responses from over 14,600 polled, and, according to the numbers, the Bruins are dropping in popularity, fan support and faith in the current management group.

The B’s are holding somewhat steady with 16 percent of voters listing them as their “favorite sports team” behind the Patriots (46 percent) and Red Sox (29 percent) while ahead of the Celtics and Revolution. Claude Julien also ranked ahead of John Farrell among the big four teams in the “coaches/manages most admired” category.

But after sitting at a relative high of ranking at 27 percent for “ownership performance” in 2014 -- they year after their trip to the Cup Finals against the Blackhawks -- the Bruins now rank dead last in that category at 2 percent, behind the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and even the Revolution. Ouch, babe.

Also sitting at a lowly 2 percent is Bruins president Cam Neely in the “leadership performance” category. In "management performance," Neely has dropped from a solid 49 percent in 2014 to just 16 percent in this summer’s survey.

So B’s fans are clearly upset with a team that traded away Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and has featured a decimated defense corps for each of the last two seasons. But do the B’s fans think that things are getting any better with prospects coming down the pipeline?

Not really.

In the “which team has done the best job making its product better.” category, the Patriots (35 percent) and Red Sox (31 percent) were resting at the top, with the Celtics (27 percent) a respectable third. The Bruins limped in at just 4 percent with a fan base that very clearly sees that, on paper, this upcoming season’s club doesn’t appear to be much better than last year's.

On top of that, only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the Bruins have gotten better over the last year, and 52 percent believe they’ve just gotten worse. A lowly 3 percent of those surveyed think the Bruins have the best chance of the five teams to bring a world championship back to Boston; the Patriots (79 percent), Red Sox (11 percent) and Celtics (5 percent) all ranked higher.

Finally, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Jimmy Hayes were at the top of the list of the Boston athletes “who did not meet expectations” last season. None of that is a surprise, given the state of Boston’s defense along with Hayes’ subpar season.

The good news for the Bruins: They still have a passionate fan base. But they need to start reversing course immediately before they do lasting damage to the B’s brand.