Haggerty: Bourque could give B's organizational depth

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Haggerty: Bourque could give B's organizational depth

The Bruins pulled off a move on Memorial Day weekend.

It probably wasnt the hockey trade anybody was pining for, but it was the kind of low riskpotentially high reward move that has become as big a part of the Peter Chiarelli Era as collecting a seemingly endless army of ex-Senators players.

The Bruins dealt restricted free agent Zach Hamill to the Washington Senators for unrestricted free agent Chris Bourque. They have more than a month to come to terms with the Bs Hall of Famers oldest son.

The deal can be looked at from two different directions: They unloaded something they clearly no longer wanted or valued, and they have potentially added some good depth on the cusp of the NHL. Lets start off with the fact that any Bourque progeny skating around an NHL rink in a Black and Gold Bruins sweater is all kinds of right.

The most electricity running through the Beanpot Final in recent years was when Bourque scored the game-winning goal to win it for Boston University in the House that Ray Built. The Bruins have again become beloved in the city of Boston, and part of that comes from the organizations new-found willingness to give the favored sons of Massachusetts a chance to play for their boyhood favorites.

Whether Mike Mottau re-signs with the Bruins or goes elsewhere, the South Shore native has a big smile on his face after living out his lifelong dream of donning the Bs sweater. Theres no doubt Bourque has dreamed of skating for the Bruins after growing up in Boston watching his father carve out a Hall of Fame career with them.

But beyond that the kid can also give them some needed organizational depth.

The 26-year-old Bourque has proven everything possible at the AHL level, and is coming off a 93-point season where he registered 27 goals and 66 assists.

Hes scored 20 plus goals in every single full AHL season and has experienced a season in Europe with the KHL and Swiss League.

In 33 NHL games, however, Bourque has managed only one goal and three assists along with a minus-6 during cups of coffee with the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins. The left winger would appear destined to compete for a third line spot with the Bruins, and has the kind of speed and playmaking ability that should work in the NHL if theres enough strength in his 5-foot-8, 180-pound body.

If injuries crop up for the Bruins as they did last season and Bourque doesnt make the team out of camp, theres a capable offensive player in Providence that can step in the breach. Thats something the Bruins didnt have last season, and sorely needed when Nathan Horton went down with a concussion.

On the other side of the coin, Hamill was a bust for the Bruins. Theres no other way to put it when Hamill never developed into the playmaking center that Boston imagined he would become after selecting him eighth overall in the 2007 NHL Draft. He was selected one pick before Logan Couture by the San Jose Sharks, and the different development tracks experienced by the two players is stunning.

In 20 games with the Bruins he managed four assists and a plus-5, but never showed enough strength to handle the banging, bruising NHL. The 24-year-old also never topped 14 goals or 44 points in the AHL, and couldnt consistently harness the passing and playmaking that everyone saw in flashes from the young pivot. The final straw came last season during a 16-game run with the Bruins as Hamill played up and down the lineup. He showed some promise early, but once again sunk into a stretch of ineffectiveness and inconsistency. His final game with the Bruins came against the Pittsburgh Penguins: the lasting image of Hamill will be him getting buried in front of the net late in the third period with a chance to tie a one-goal game.

Its a play that showed Hamill getting to the right place at the right time to make a play, but not having enough strength to hold his ground when it came to finishing things off at the NHL level. There wasnt much interest in Hamill within the trade market, so it was more a change of scenery for a player that reminded the Bruins organization of a rare first round bungle by the Bs scouting department.

Marchand: 'No place I'd rather play' than Boston

Marchand: 'No place I'd rather play' than Boston

The Bruins made it official on Monday -- mere minutes after the news had broken -- as they clearly couldn’t wait to announce an eight year, $49 million contract extension for Brad Marchand. who is finishing up his Team Canada gig at the World Cup of Hockey.

PROFILE: Joe Haggerty's preseason look at Brad Marchand

The deal averages $6.125 million per season, broken up between actual salary and signing bonus money. The Bruins were most definitely given a hometown discount by an elite player who snapped home a career-high 37 goals and 60 points last season, the most goals scored by a Bruins player since Glenn Murray in 2002-03. And everybody knows goal scorers get paid in the NHL, even if Marchand won’t be expected to score quite that many every year.

Marchand, 28, has also been the second-leading scorer in the entire World Cup of Hockey tournament, behind only Sidney Crosby, and continues to raise his profile in the NHL world beyond his customary agitator role. The “Nose Face Killah” could have waited for until free agency if he'd wanted to pick up every last nickel on the table, but it’s very clear he’s invested in the team that drafted and developed him, and with which he won a Cup five years ago.

"This is an extremely exciting day for me and my family," said Marchand, who now has a full no-move clause for the first five years of his next contract. "I would like to thank the Jacobs family, [president] Cam Neely, [general manager] Don Sweeney, [coach] Claude Julien, the coaching staff, my teammates and our fans for their continued support and belief in me. I have been a Bruin since the start of my pro career and there is no place I would rather play. I look forward to doing everything I can to help our team achieve success and bring the Stanley Cup back to Boston."

Marchand has been among the team’s leading scorers since joining the league in 2010-11, has been the NHL’s most dangerous penalty killer over the last five years, and pairs with Patrice Bergeron to anchor the top line. He’s also become much more of a leader in the last few seasons as other character veterans have been peeled away from the core group, and a hometown discount proves it one of the most meaningful ways possible.

It was clear Marchand was invested in the Bruins when he helped recruit free agent David Backes with phone calls this summer, and he was also present for the recruiting pitch to Jimmy Vesey at Warrior Ice Arena last month.

The Bruins players at training camp were happy to hear No. 63 was going to be in Boston for the long haul.

“Marchy is Marchy. I think everybody kind of knows what that means,” said Kevan Miller. “He’s been great for our organization and great for the fans and for this city. He’s been all in since Day One, and he’s been a guy that I looked up to.”

While the Bruins have confirmed the contract, Sweeney won't weigh in until later today. But one would expect there will be an appreciation for the skill of the player, and Marchand’s commitment to the organization after accepting less than he could have gotten on the open market.

Monday, Sept. 26: So what happens if Canada loses World Cup final?

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Monday, Sept. 26: So what happens if Canada loses World Cup final?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while finding it hard to believe that it’s game day for the Boston Bruins. Summer is officially O-V-A.
 
-- The Montreal media is starting to get on board with this tougher, grittier version of the Habs, along with a healthy Carey Price.
 
-- Pierre McGuire sits in with Ottawa’s TSN sports radio station and talks Team Europe in the World Cup, as well as a number of other things.

-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Zeisberger is already openly wondering what would happen in Canada if they lose to Team Europe in the best-of-three final to the World Cup.

-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Puck Daddy Greg Wyshynski asks Brad Marchand if a part of him has thought about playing with Sidney Crosby on the Penguins if he hits free agency. Bells, alarms and whistles should be going off on Causeway Street to give No. 63 whatever he wants at this point. In case you missed it, I talked about the danger of Crosby trying to woo his Nova Scotian buddy to Pittsburgh last week.
 
-- PHT writer James O’Brien says it sounds like the St. Louis Blues are going to play a more aggressive brand of hockey this season.
 
-- For something completely different: Forbes Magazine says Pete Carroll, not Bill Belichick, should be considered the NFL’s foremost cheater.