Bruins easing Spooner into first night festivities

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Bruins easing Spooner into first night festivities

MONTREAL With Brad Marchand out for Wednesday night's game against the Canadiens -- the kind of grudge match that the resident pest usually lives for -- the door has been opened for rookie Ryan Spooner to make his NHL debut.

It wont be as a strict replacement for Marchand, however. The 21-year-old center will center a fourth line with 28-year-old rookie Jamie Tardif and 23-year-old enforcer Lane MacDermid as his two wings. Gregory Campbell, the normal fourth-line center, will slide into a left-wing position alongside Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin.

Spooner said he doesnt feel very comfortable playing wing, and that might have factored into the final decision-making for position and line combinations. But more likely, coach Claude Julien values the Bergeron line as much for their defensive contributions as he does for their offense, and Campbell is a better fit to play bigger minutes in an expanded role.

Spooner, meanwhile, is readying for his first game after a whirlwind few days that saw him called up to Boston two days ago. The 2010 second-round pick is a deft skill player who wouldnt normally be a natural fit on the fourth line, but the obvious explanation is that Julien might be picking his spots with an inexperienced line in a big game.

Spooner played at the Bell Centre against the Canadiens in an exhibition game two years ago. It wasnt a regular-season battle for first place in the Northeast Division, as Wednesday night will be, but at least it broke the ice for him.

I played a preseason game here and it was pretty nuts, said Spooner, who definitely looked a little nervous amidst all the hustle and bustle around him in the visitors dressing room at the Bell Centre on a rivalry game day. The guys have all said that its a great place to play. Im pretty nervous right now, but to play in this rink for my first game is going to be good. Its a couple of Original Six teams that have played each other a lot. Its a great rivalry.

Spooner, Dougie Hamilton, Lane MacDermid, Jamie Tardif and Chris Bourque will all be getting their first taste of the BruinsCanadiens rivalry, and some, like Hamilton and Bourque, will be expected to play meaningful roles. Montreal wonder-boy rookies Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher will also both be taking in the rivalry for the first time.

Julien - who's served as head coach of both franchises -- has a feeling for how it'll play out.

All I can say is that theyll figure it out quickly enough if they dont know whats going to happen," he said.

We have a guy in Hamilton thats been pretty calm through everything and he was in his hometown last weekend when the B's played in Toronto and that didnt seem to bother him. He should be able to handle that well. Weve got a couple of call-ups that are excited to play, and hopefully they turn that excitement into a positive situation.

Theres little Spooner can do to prepare for hopping on the NHL ice for the first time and feeling the electrical current of life rippling through the Bell Centre crowd.

But hell have a new personal best for jumbo-sized butterflies in his stomach once things get moving between the Habs and the Bruins in his first NHL game.

Report: Celtics likely to guarantee Amir Johnson’s $12M deal for next season

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Report: Celtics likely to guarantee Amir Johnson’s $12M deal for next season

The Celtics will likely guarantee the second year of Amir Johnson’s two-year, $24 million deal he signed last season, the Boston Globe reported.

Johnson, 29, a 6-9 forward, signed as a free agent last summer, averaged 7.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 79 regular season games for the Celtics and 8.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in the six-game, first-round playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks. 

Bruins, Krug agree to four-year, $21 million deal

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Bruins, Krug agree to four-year, $21 million deal

With the salary room created by buying out the final two years of veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg contract, the Bruins signed restricted free agent Torey Krug to a four-year, $21 million contract ($5.25 million cap hit) through the 2019-20 season.

The negotiations between Krug and the Bruins had been fairly quiet with GM Don Sweeney consistently stating that something would get it done and it seemed the writing was on the wall when Sami Vatanen signed a four year, $19.9 million extension with the Anaheim Ducks. The two are comparable players in size, offensive production, NHL experience and both also served in top-four roles last season while projecting to stay at that level of performance over the next four years.

The Bruins couldn’t afford to let Krug, 25, hit the open market, where another team could potentially poach Boston’s only true puck-moving D-man with an offer sheet. After signing a one-year bridge deal, Krug played in a career-high 81 games, with four goals and 44 points. His 40 assists were ninth among D-men in the NHL last season and it’s clear that Krug plays a vital role as a puck mover and power-play specialist.

Krug also stepped up in minutes last season, finishing only behind Zdeno Chara with a career-high 21:36 average of ice time and essentially serving as the B’s de facto No. 2 defenseman. The diminutive (5-foot-9) D-man did pay the price for playing such heavy minutes by undergoing shoulder surgery following the season, but Krug was expected to make a full recovery and be ready to jump into the lineup at some point during the month of October.

The signing of Krug is a big piece for Sweeney and the Bruins, who must prepare for what awaits them Friday, once the free agent market opens, and later in the month when they begin efforts to re-sign Brad Marchand to an extension. 

 

Bruins buying out veteran D-man Dennis Seidenberg

Bruins buying out veteran D-man Dennis Seidenberg

The Bruins placed veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg on waivers on Thursday for the purposes of buying the veteran defenseman out of the final two years of his contract.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Seidenberg, who turns 35 July 18, still had two years remaining on a deal that would have paid him $4 million in each of the seasons. The move will save the Black and Gold roughly $4.6 million in cap space over the next two years.

Seidenberg confirmed the contract buyout to CSNNE.com and confirmed one other thing: "I going to miss it."

The extra space should theoretically allow the Bruins to spend big money on Friday when free agency opens, but the Bruins really haven’t been the lead suitors for any of the major available players to this point.

With the way buyouts work, however, the spread over four years means that the Bruins will still be including $1.16 million cap hits from 2018-2020, and are now down another experienced D-man who was a stalwart warrior for them over the years. Seidenberg clearly lost a step after blowing out his knee in the 2013-14 season and was a minus player for the first time in Boston last season with one goal and 12 points in 61 games.

The skating speed was noticeably slower and Seidenberg had trouble keeping up with the pace even as he continued to block shots and throw opponents around in the defensive zone. Seidenberg finishes his seven seasons in Boston with 23 goals and 117 points in 401 games as a rugged top-four defenseman. He will always be cherished in Boston for his marvelous stretch en route to the Stanley Cup in 2011.

Claude Julien pairing Seidenberg with Zdeno Chara midway through their first-round series against the Montreal Canadiens changed the tide of that playoff matchup and was the combo used by the B’s for the playoffs when they again made it to the Cup Final in 2013 against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The German-born defenseman was a respected and tough veteran leader in the B’s dressing room and will be missed for his toughness and accountability whether it was good times or bad in the room.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie was the first to report that Seidenberg was being placed on waivers for the purpose of being bought out of his contract.