Free agent Mottau waiting for labor settlement

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Free agent Mottau waiting for labor settlement

BOSTON Mike Mottau hasnt given up hope that hell be back with the hometown Boston Bruins next season, but hes one of many free agents waiting in limbo while a CBA is worked out between the NHL and the NHLPA.

Mottau was with Bruins teammates Shawn Thornton, Tuukka Rask and Daniel Paille taking batting practice at Fenway Park on Tuesday afternoon, and shagging fly balls in the outfield.

This would normally be the final few weeks of the offseason for NHL players before they begin skating, attending captains practices, and getting ready for training camp. But many second-tier NHL free agent veterans are still without homes: Jason Arnott, Carlo Colaiacovo, Petr Sykora, Mike Knuble, Andrew Brunette and Dominic Moore, to name a few.

The former Boston College standout is among those players who arent likely to start feeling serious free agency interest until teams know the parameters of the new CBA, and how much cap space theyll be dealing with moving forward. Mottau has already drawn interest from European teams if there is any kind of work stoppage with the NHL this season, but the veteran defenseman is hoping it doesnt come to that point.

Im waiting things out for now, said Mottau to CSNNE.com. I think once the CBA is close to being squared away things will heat up for me. Ive been contacted by a few teams in Europe, but ideally would like to stay here.

Mottau, 34, played a combined 35 games for the Bruins and Islanders last season and finished with a minus-11 rating along with a pair of assists. The South Shore native said hed be willing to play in a reserve defensemen role with the Bruins if he re-signed in his hometown. It would a perfect role for a consummate pro like Mottau, who can still play solid, smart, mistake-free hockey.

But theres been no real progress toward a deal between Mottau and the Bruins. Boston has signed both Aaron Johnson and Garnet Exelby to two-way contracts for next season while keeping a wary eye at the presently-unknown salary cap ceiling for next season.

The Bruins have five defensemen signed to one-way deals in Boston for next season and 20-year-old Dougie Hamilton is expected to get a good look at the sixth spot. But a work stoppage send Hamilton back to junior hockey, and potentially opening the door for somebody like Mottau.

Kalman: Bruins have to wait for secondary market of defensemen

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Bruins taking a chance on Clarke in the fifth round

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Bruins taking a chance on Clarke in the fifth round

The Lone Star Brahmas aren’t exactly a household name in the junior hockey world, but NAHL team did produce a player worth of a Bruins draft pick last weekend. A 20-year-old defenseman named Cameron Clarke showed his offensive skills and playmaking en route to nine goals and 50 points in 59 games last season for the Brahmas, and continued to add strength to a wiry 6-foot-1, 170-pound frame that still needs to be developed as he heads off to Ferris State University.

The Tecumseh, Michigan native was floored at the prospect of being drafted by the Bruins after he was selected in the fifth round (136th overall) at last weekend’s draft in Buffalo, and excited to see some results for all of his hard work over the last few years.

“It’s a feeling like no other. I was just sitting in there with my family and when it happened, it was just pure excitement, and to go to Boston, they’re an Original Six organization,” said Clarke, who described himself as a good-skating defenseman and a good puck-mover that models his game after Capitals D-man John Carlson. “It’s just — it’s something you dream of growing up and it’s a great feeling.

“I talked to Mr. Sullivan [Bruins Scout Keith Sullivan] I believe it was in December and I knew that they had come watch me play a couple of times so I knew that they were interested. I knew that they were a team that could be a possibility that could be picking me and I’ve always watched hockey and my dad used to be a Bruins fan growing up when he was little [he grew up in Ottawa and was a big Bobby Orr fan], so it’s a great feeling. Boston’s an Original Six franchise. It’s very special, for sure.”

Clarke will obviously take a big step in his development headed to the Ferris State hockey program next season, and the Bruins hope to continue seeing improvements in the size and strength department during his college hockey years.

“We knew there were teams that were there [ready to take him], and our guys really liked him,” said Bruins Director of Scouting Keith Gretzky. “He’s gained a lot of weight in a year-and-a-half, but we know he’s going to take some time. We’re good with that. Our guys really liked him, so we took him.”

The Clarke pick is a pretty low risk/high reward selection that was off the beaten path of the normal OHL/European junior league paths, but it remains to be seen if it will pay dividends later for selecting the over-age player.