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.

Dupont on Backes: B's won't have any problem with this deal

Dupont on Backes: B's won't have any problem with this deal

Kevin Paul Dupont joins Sports Tonight to discuss the Bruins signing former St. Louis Blue David Backes to a 5-year, $30 million deal.

Bruins make official free agent signings of Liles, Nash, Khudobin

Bruins make official free agent signings of Liles, Nash, Khudobin

The Bruins made a number of signings official on the first day of NHL free agency on Friday along with the big prize in hard-hitting, productive center David Backes.

Backup goaltender Anton Khudobin signed a two-year deal worth $1.2 million per season to return as a goaltending tandem with Tuukka Rask as they were back in a highly successful 2012-13 NHL season.

Hustling, grinding fourth line forward Riley Nash was signed to a two-year, $1.8 million contract with the Bruins as well, and had nine goals and 22 points in 64 games for the Carolina Hurricanes last season in an energy forward role. In his five-year NHL career, Nash has played in 242 games, amassing 31 goals and 50 assists for 81 points with 69 penalty minutes, including a career-high 10 goals a couple of years ago with the Hurricanes.

The 36-year-old John-Michael Liles signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Bruins after arriving from Carolina at the NHL trade deadline last spring. Liles appeared in 17 games and notched six assists along with a minus-6 rating for the Bruins in 2015-16 after being acquired for Anthony Camara, a 2016 third-round pick and a 2017 fifth-round pick on February 29, 2016. Prior to joining up with Boston, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Liles played in all 64 games for Carolina, recording six goals and nine assists for 15 points with 16 penalty minutes.

“We went out to identify a primary target in David Backes as a center, right wing candidate. He provides depth and balance to our lineup, as did Riley Nash. And Anton Khudobin addressed an area that we seemed to have chased for a little while and possibly with Malcolm’s [Subban] injury we needed to address that for the next couple of seasons. John-Michael Liles is a player that we acquired last year that really added a lot to the mobility and the transition game and we’re excited about bringing him back,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney. “Tim Schaller was a local boy at Providence College that we went out and identified another size, strength, left-shot, penalty kill and continued to add depth. Tyler Randell emerged last year was on our roster all year long, contributed and was a real hard-nosed player, sticks up for his teammates, was able to contribute goals, albeit not necessarily in the lineup every night, bringing balance. And Tommy Cross and the leadership qualities he brings to Providence for younger players to continue to develop.

“He found himself playing in NHL games, acquainted himself very well, just a real quality person across the board. So I think the overall philosophy of today and going into the free agent period was to address some needs and we did that. But we’ve created what I think is a real internal competition for our younger players to step up and emerge around what I think we’ve added to the core group of our players. They should be excited about this opportunity.”

Tommy Cross, Tyler Randell and Tim Schaller all signed one-year, two-way deals with the Bruins for an NHL value of $600,000, but are all expected to play the bulk of the season at the AHL level barring anything unexpected. 

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs

Backes: Most of the talk has me playing center for Bruins

Backes: Most of the talk has me playing center for Bruins

David Backes on the Felger and Mazz show on 98.5 The Sports Hub, and simulcast on CSN, tells fill-in hosts Jim Murray and Greg Dickerson there has also been some discussion with the Bruins of putting him on the wing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

Watch the video above for more.