Chiarelli looking to add winger

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Chiarelli looking to add winger

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli saw enough of his third and fourth lines getting pounded around by the bottom-six likes of Mike Knuble, Joel Ward, Jason Chimera and Jay Beagle during their playoff series vs. the Capitals to detect an area of roster-building that might need to be addressed.

While it may not result in the addition of Zach Parise or Rich Nash as some waving Black and Gold pompoms would certainly be clamoring for, Chiarelli said that changes should be expected for a current roster of players that couldnt get out of the first round this season.

The Bruins have a bevy of young players ready to contribute as soon as next season: Ryan Spooner, Jared Knight and Dougie Hamilton are the biggest names that could be ready to inject some youth and enthusiasm. Chiarelli isnt going to touch those players as they develop naturally within Bostons system, but some turnover appears to be a certainty on the big Bs roster.

Youve seen some guys that are going to challenge but on the major change front, Im not looking at doing anything on that front, said Chiarelli. But I would like to add some pieces.

While the Bs GM made certain to assure that it didnt mean the end of days in a Bruins uniform for players like Benoit Pouliot or Jordan Caron, Chiarelli said a top-nine winger is at the top of his offseason shopping cart. It isnt necessarily a player to replace Nathan Horton that Chiarelli is looking for, but instead a more effective, offensively dangerous piece that plays a little heavier a la Michael Ryder two years ago.

We obviously have some guys to consider whether we sign them or not. From the makeover perspective, certainly were not going to do anything to makeover this team, said Chiarelli. You hear me talk about the parity in this league and our first round loss in seven games this year could be another Stanley Cup Final appearance 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 not 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.

There are no names at the forefront so soon after the season has concluded to put at the top of Chiarellis shopping list, but theres little doubting that changes are coming for the soon-to-be-no-longer reigning Cup champion Boston Bruins.

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

This probably won’t come as a complete shock to those watching the way things have played out with him this season, but the Bruins have engaged in discussions with multiple teams about a Ryan Spooner trade, per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. 

The 23-year-old Spooner was mentioned casually a few months ago as possible fodder in a Jacob Trouba deal with the Winnipeg Jets, but that deal never really materialized prior to the Jets signing their young, frontline D-man to a two-year deal. The Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and San Jose Sharks have all expressed interest in Spooner, per one hockey source, as it appears that things simply aren’t going to work out for him in Boston. 

It’s been a challenging year for Spooner with pedestrian numbers of three goals and eight points in 24 games, but there are plenty of mitigating circumstances behind the slow start. Spooner has been pushed into playing left wing for the bulk of the season rather than his natural, preferred center position, and he’s been dropped to the fourth line by Claude Julien over the last few weeks. At times he’s also been pulled from the Bruins power play where he racked up six goals and 17 points working off the half-wall last season.  

Julien talked about the former second round pick in frank terms after this week’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes, which featured a Spooner snipe to the top corner during a successful shootout for the Black and Gold. 

“I think at times that [David Krejci] line goes quiet, other times it’s better. We’ve tried different guys on the left side right now and one [Spooner] might give them speed but doesn’t win as many battles,” said Julien of his search for stability at left wing alongside Krejci and David Backes. “The other way [with Tim Schaller] guys are a little harder right now, and they spend more time in the O-zone. So we’re really trying hard to find the right balance there.”

Trade talks have increased the past few weeks because A) the situation has worsened recently with Spooner’s prolonged stint as a miscast fourth line winger and B) the speedy, skilled forward will most likely be a man without a spot when 22-year-old left winger Frank Vatrano returns sometime around the mid-December range. 

According to one source, the Bruins are asking for a “top six forward” in exchange for a package including Spooner, and it’s a lead pipe certainty they’re looking for some goal-scoring given their 24th ranked offense this season. That represents a bit of an organizational sea change after the Bruins searched low and high for a top-4 defenseman in trade over the summer. The emergence of 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, and the Boston defense’s performance across the board, has lowered the Black and Gold’s priority list need to trade for a D-man. 

The Bruins have scored two goals or fewer in 18 of their 25 games this season and badly need somebody that can put the puck in the net from one of the wing positions. Unfortunately for the Bruins, there aren’t a lot of top-6 forwards readily available that could make an immediate impact. It’s highly doubtful any team is going to fork one over for an asset like Spooner that’s been downgraded due to the way he’s been utilized by the Bruins this season. He hasn't played with the same creativity or confidence this season after posting 13 goals and 49 points as their third line center last season. 

So it remains to be seen what the Bruins will get for Spooner after they offered him and a draft pick to Buffalo for rental forward Chris Stewart a couple of years ago. That was a deal Sabres GM Tim Murray turned down before trading Stewart for considerably less at the trade deadline.

The bottom line: the Bruins are working the phones discussing possible Spooner deals, and it feels like there is some motivation from B’s management to move a player that doesn’t seem like he'll ever be a proper fit in Julien’s system. 

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling at the Bruins setting a franchise record this season for fewest practices in a regular season. Thanks compacted schedule due to the World Cup!

*Pavel Zacha is adjusting to life as a rookie in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, and things are getting better as they go along.

*Manitoba Moose players relive their favorite Star Wars moments prior to the team holding their Star Wars Night.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman sits down with new Florida Panthers head coach Tom Rowe to discuss the massive changes in that organization with the firing of Gerard Gallant.

*Good for Anders Nilson putting a rainbow decal on the back of his goalie to mask to support some gay friends that have faced public resistance in their lives.

*Bruce Garrioch has his weekly NHL notes with several players, including Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, potentially on the trade block if anybody wants them.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson suffering a broken leg that will keep him out 6-8 weeks.

*There was no blood for the Vancouver Canucks fans, but there was still plenty of drama in a win over the Maple Leafs.

*For something completely different: The World Baseball Classic works for everybody except for Major League Baseball, and that would appear to be a problem.