Changing on the Fly: Cleaning out roster cabinet

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Changing on the Fly: Cleaning out roster cabinet

The nucleus of the Bruins is expected to be the same heading into next season after a one-and-done playoff showing against the Caps last week.

But that doesnt mean there wont be roster-tweaking and player changes for the Bs after a long summer away from the rink. Ten Bruins players will be approaching free agency on July 1 if you want to include Marty Turco in the mix -- and some of the names on the list were key performers during their Stanley Cup run.

Ive got to look at our roster and obviously we have some guys that are unsigned: Benoit Pouliot, Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, Joe Corvo, the two additions three additions, sorry. So, we obviously have some guys to consider whether we sign them or not, said Peter Chiarelli. From the makeover perspective, certainly were not going to do anything to makeover this team. You hear me talk about the parity in this league and our first round loss in seven games this year can be another Stanley Cup Final next year its that close.

"You saw the number of teams in the West you kind of see the new four teams in the West and you see some different teams in the East so you just have to be prepared. Id like to maybe look at a forward to bolster our top nine, doesnt mean Im going to look at signing Pouliot. It doesnt mean were not going to consider Caron up there. I just want to look at the trade market and the free agent market.

Chris Kelly is the name at the top of the wanted free agent list after potting a career-high 20 goals during the regular season. The perfect 18-0-0 record when Kelly scored a goal this year tells you all about the importance of secondary scoring on the Bruins, and the gritty centers nightly impact on wins and losses. The 31-year Kelly picked the perfect time for a career year, and should attract interest around the league if he gets to July without a new contract.

Kelly said he loves Boston and has voiced a strong desire to return, but thats been the lament of many an athlete on their way out of town.

Playoff-caliber teams will look at the third line center as the exact sort of leadershipintangibles guy that could help put them over the top as he did with the Bruins last year. Peter Chiarelli might have to pay more than anticipated to keep Kelly in Black and Gold moving forward, and that might be difficult given the salary cap uncertainty headed into next year.

Kelly has come in and done a great job for us, said Bruins President Cam Neely. Hes got great character. Hes shown some very good leadership qualities that are also very important.

Kelly is the most likely unrestricted free agent to return, however.

Restricted free agents Tuukka Rask and Benoit Pouliot are likely to return to Boston next season with Rask a certified lock and Pouliot a good candidate as long as he brings along the same bargain basement price tag as last season.

Fourth liners Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille might return if the circumstance (ahemthe money) is right, but theres no denying simple facts: the fourth line didnt have a very good season for the Bruins and got dominated by the Mike Knuble, Joel Ward and Keith Aucoin fourth line of Washington during the playoffs.

It might be time for both players to cash in on the cachet of their Stanley Cup experience elsewhere. Likewise it might be best for the Bruins to bring in younger, hungrier players ready to breathe fire on Bostons fourth line.

It was telling that Shawn Thornton was taken care of during the regular season with a contract extension while his fellow Merlot linemates were not.

Local product Mike Mottau makes a lot of sense for the Bruins as their extra defenseman given his understanding of the system and veteran willingness to play in a reserve role.

Id welcome it a lot more after being able to get into the lineup and know that I could have some success here. Its a good group of guys that work with each other," Mottau said. "I know I could have success here because it plays to some of my strengths: hockey intellect and decision-making. I know I could be inserted into the lineup and play, and add value. I would totally welcome that.

Its really ultimately up to them to see where I fit within the organization. Well have a conversation and see where it takes us.

But it would be surprising to see Greg Zanon return to the Bruins after inconsistent work through the regular season and playoffs. It would also be jaw-droppingly stupefying to see Joe Corvo return after a season with the Bruins that defined the term short money mistake.

So the Bruins have some work to do on the defensive side of the ice whether its Dougie Hamilton joining the NHL ranks as a teen-ager, or a free agent singing that could answer Bostons power play and puck-moving issues.

There may be some new faces in the Bruins fold next season, but thats not necessarily a bad thing coming off such a disappointing finish.

Sunday, Jan. 22: Jimmy Vesey's rookie wall

Sunday, Jan. 22: Jimmy Vesey's rookie wall

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while proud of my wife and daughter for taking part in the Women’s March on Saturday.

*The day-to-day NHL grind may be getting to Jimmy Vesey a bit, and causing him to hit a bit of a rookie wall after his Harvard career.

*Alex Radulov has gone from being an NHL headache to being an impact playmaker for the Canadiens in a quick pivot for the Russian player.

*Melrose native Conor Sheary seems to have found a home for himself on the Pittsburgh Penguins skating on a line with a guy named Sidney Crosby.

*The Chicago Blackhawks are always looking to improve, and they’ve reportedly kicked the tires on Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar with Detroit.

*St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is nearing another coaching milestone in what’s been a long, distinguished career behind the bench.

*P.K. Subban is slowly approaching a return to the Nashville Predators lineup from injury, and the Preds need him as soon as possible.

*For something completely different: Greg Poppovich hits the nail on the head here, and it never ceases to amaze me that he’s such a smart, well-versed human being.

 

Saturday, Jan. 21: McKenzie on Julien's job security

Saturday, Jan. 21: McKenzie on Julien's job security

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while proud of my wife and daughter participating in today’s Women’s March.

*This is from a few days ago, but Bob McKenzie weighing in on the prospects for Claude Julien and his job security is always worth checking out.  

*The New York Rangers have themselves a rookie named Pavel that’s doing a pretty darned good job for the Blueshirts.

*What should the St. Louis Blues do with Kevin Shattenkirk as the trade deadline approaches and the seven-year, $49 million contract waiting for him in free agency is pretty daunting?

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Allen has a list of underperforming NHL stars, including Jamie Benn and Jonathan Toews, that may have been impacted by the World Cup of Hockey. Certainly Patrice Bergeron could have made this list as well.

*Blackhawks backup goalie Scott Darling may be earning some more playing time after the way he performed against the Bruins, according to Pro Hockey Talk.

*Good news with Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson set to return to the team in a couple of weeks after tending to his wife in a battle against cancer.

*The struggles of Anthony Duclair with the Arizona Coyotes mirror the team’s issues this season as well. It’s interesting that Duclair has popped up in trade rumors with the Desert Dogs this season.

*For something completely different: the final Wolverine movie with Hugh Jackman is going to be extremely emotional with its characters.