Haggerty: Don't expect Bruins to make Nash, Parise splash


Haggerty: Don't expect Bruins to make Nash, Parise splash

Those dreaming of a scenario where the Bruins shake up their roster with a big name free agent acquisition might be in store for a disappointment. Those happy keeping together a roster that hoisted the Stanley Cup over their head a year ago today will be much, much happier.

Watching the Bs struggle to total 13 goals in seven playoff games left many with the notion that Boston needed a significant offensive upgrade. Potential franchise players like Ryan Suter, Zach Parise and Rick Nash will be available via free agency or trade to the highest bidder this summer, and all three would be significant offensive upgrades both five-on-five and on the power play.

But theres little to no chance that any of them come to Boston.

There are a number of stumbling blocks that will ultimately act as impediments to Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli pulling off such a roster-shaking maneuver, but the bottom line is that its not bloody likely.

Instead, it appears Boston will move ahead with nearly the same cast of characters aside from erstwhile goaltender Tim Thomas -- that won the Cup exactly one year ago, and finished second in the NHL last season with 3.2 goals per game.

For Chiarelli thats not such a bad thing at all.

You have to avoid making rash judgments," Chiarelli said. "You have to view the season as a whole and look at injuries to players. You shouldnt react solely on a playoff series, but you cant ignore it either. There are areas we have to improve, but generally I like the experience of the team. I like what weve been through. We won the Cup because of the way we responded to defeat the year before, and well do that again.

Were not going to dismantle the team. Its a good team. Its a really good team. But weve got some areas where there will be question marks. As much as Im confident in Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin in net they have to prove it. Thats an area where well be a question mark. I dont want to put too much emphasis on the power play because were slicing it and dicing it behind the scenes. But there needs to be an improvement there. I know there will be. LA won this year without a good power play, but it needs to be better because you need those timely goals.

Whats the first -- and most obvious -- road block to the Bruins adding a big name to the current mix?

How about the players own preference for where theyll be playing?

Nash would actually make the most sense for the Bruins given that Boston is one of his preferred destinations, but the trade asking price demanded by Columbus (some combination of Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton) is far too rich.

So the chances of winning the Nash sweepstakes seem remote for the Bruins. As long as the Flyers appear willing to give up a player like James van Riemsdyk the high price for Nash doesnt appear to be changing anytime soon.

Both Parise and Suter would seem to be perfect players for the Bruins because all theyll cost is more of Jeremy Jacobs money.

Parise has scored 30-plus goals in each of his last five healthy seasons and led his New Jersey Devils to the Stanley Cup Finals. Suter quarterbacked the top-ranked Nashville Predators power play and would be the perfect No. 2 defenseman to pair with Zdeno Chara.

But both players are unrestricted free agents, and appear to have their own plans after earning that right.

Parises hometown team, the Minnesota Wild, is going to push hard for the dynamic US-born forward and the Detroit Red Wings are already clearing the decks for at least one if not both of the 7-8 million per players.

That doesnt sound like Boston is prominent in their thoughts or desires, and thats kind of important.

With the cap going up 10-percent for the summer after July 1 the Bruins do have the cap flexibility should the right player drop into their laps.

Everyone wants to try and read between the lines. Weve done our homework and we know what and who we like in free agency if we do decide to do that depending on where the market is, said Chiarelli. If something comes up then well definitely look at it, but Im really happy with what weve got right now.

But Chiarelli would also be forced to disrupt a team structure thats built the Bruins into a perennial contender in the wide open Eastern Conference.

Bs players like Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Chris Kelly, Gregory Campbell, Rich Peverley, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci eschewed free agency to remain with Boston at a discounted price.

Bringing in a top dollar free agent that would immediately vault past Chara as the highest paid player on the Bruins sends the kind of message Chiarelli doesnt appear comfortable sounding off.

When we get going in free agency we have the ability to acquire that 7-8 million player and carry that player during the season, said Chiarelli. With the egalitarian approach that weve taken to building this team and youve heard me say this on a number of occasions we always say this player took less and that player took less. Thats always true. We talked about two the other day in Gregory Campbell and Chris Kelly, but theres Rich Peverley, Johnny Boychuk and David Krejci.

Theres always a risk going to market, but if guys like that go to the free agent market theyre going to make more money. Its going to be hard for me to digest and facilitate the assimilation of that 7-8 million player into our lineup assuming that theyre going to get major, major dollars. Thats going to be hard. Philosophically it would be very hard to parachute a player like Parise, Suter or Nash into our group.

Theres also the long term concerns if the Bruins cracked open the vault and tossed out ridiculous cash for a top drawer player.

Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin and Nathan Horton all hit free agency after the 2012-13 season and will command a healthy chunk of player salary as the Bruins attempt to keep their Black and Gold band together.

For all of the reasons above, Chiarelli sounds much more willing to bypass the sexy NHL free agent names for something a little steadier and more familiar.

Mark Recchi isnt walking through the Bruins doors, but theyre looking to find the next best thing for a young Bs team that could still use tough veteran leadership and grit.

If were going to add somebody I would rather add a piece like a Mark Recchi. Those guys are hard to come by, said Chiarelli. They wouldnt be exactly like Rex, but those kinds of guys are out there via trade or free agency.

We have guys that are growing into that kind of leader, but hes a Hall of Fame player. We talked about the quality of chances and getting into those scoring areas that was lacking during the playoffs and hes a guy that epitomized that. He gets to those areas and other guys will follow that. Our guys will do it and theyll have learned from that Washington series that its required. But thats something you miss when Rex isnt around.

The young Bruins players did a commendable job of following Recchis lead into the danger areas en route to winning the Cup last year, but that was clearly something missing from this years short postseason trip.

A veteran NHL forward with cachet and leadership similar to Recchi would be the perfect fit in Chiarellis eyes, and there are some possibilities. Phoenix Coyotes forwards Shane Doan and Ray Whitney led their team to the Western Conference Finals, and will both be free agents after July 1.

Jarome Iginla moves closer to being traded from the mess in Calgary every single day, and is in the final year of a contract that pays him 7 million per season. A one-year investment in a player like Iginla with the possibility of extending him at a lower price beyond that makes much more sense.

Ryan Smyth has many of the same intangibles that Recchi brought to the table if he can be pried away from the Western Conference where hes made his home for an 18-year career aside from 18 games with the New York Islanders after a deadline deal in 2006-07.

There may be more names on Bostons list once the trade chatter kicks up around the NHL Draft next week, but it doesnt appear that any of those names will be Nash, Parise or Suter.

Injuries have created a muddled picture with Bruins goaltenders

Injuries have created a muddled picture with Bruins goaltenders

It’s hard to believe that it’s already come to this, but it might just be Malcolm Subban between the pipes for the Bruins on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Wild, and perhaps again on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

The 22-year-old Subban has been pulled from two ineffective starts for the P-Bruins in four AHL starts this season (.846 save percentage and a 4.50 goals against average in four games) while coming back from last year’s fractured larynx injury. He's also a player the organization was uncertain enough about that they signed veteran backup Anton Khudobin to a two-year deal on the July 1 open of NHL free agency.

Subban attributed his start to a slow opening few weeks with a new P-Bruins roster of players, but that hasn’t stopped fellow P-Bruins goalie Zane McIntyre from putting up excellent numbers between the pipes in the early going.

But Khudobin went down with an injury mere minutes into Monday morning’s Bruins practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and Tuukka Rask been battling a nagging leg injury since the season opening win against the Blue Jackets.

So Subban was the last goalie standing on Monday as an emergency recall from Providence, and could be in line to play Tuesday night against the Wild if the Bruins medical staff can’t perform some Mr. Miyagi-style healing techniques on Rask or Khudobin.

“Khudobin got injured and couldn’t practice with us, but I haven’t heard anything yet [on an update],” said Julien following practice. “This is hockey. We deal with it on daily basis with the injuries. We wait for the news and then it’s about doing your job as it’s required. If we have to make some adjustments and have to have some different personnel, then we’ll deal with it when we have more of an update. Tuukka is still day-to-day, so nothing is changed there.

“We’re in a situation here where we’ll see what happens, and if [Subban] needs to go in goal then he’ll go in goal. It’s as simple as that. As a coach, there’s one thing that worries me and that’s ‘stop the puck.’ I’m not a goalie coach, so I’m just demanding on making the saves.”

Subban, of course, hasn’t been making the saves down in Providence early in the going there this season, and is entering the stage of his career where he needs to begin showing signs of being a potential No. 1 guy at the NHL level.

Fellow goalies from the 2012 NHL draft class like Andrei Vasilevskiy, Joonas Korpisalo, Matt Murray, Connor Hellebuyck and Frederik Andersen have all begun making their mark in the league, and Subban was selected higher than all of them except for Tampa’s Vasilevskiy. So in the final year of his entry level deal it’s high time for the 22-year-old to begin showing signs he can play in the league, whether it’s in Boston or elsewhere.

He admitted on Monday he might have been putting too much pressure on himself down in Providence while watching the injury issues play out with Tuukka Rask in Boston.

Subban was worried about the big picture of stringing together saves so he was the guy called up if the Bruins needed a goalie, and instead should have been focusing more on the present opponents at the AHL level.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself. I think anybody that knows me well knows that. I don’t like to let in goals no matter what happens, whether it’s breakdowns or not it’s my job [to stop the puck]. If there were no breakdowns then you wouldn’t need a goaltender,” said Subban. “I want to make every save and get a shutout every game. I think the biggest thing is just relaxing and playing, and knowing that it’s okay to let a goal in every once in a while.

“So I think in my position right now I’m supposed to be playing really well down there, and I think that go in my head a little bit. I was trying to get a shutout every game rather than going game-by-game and shot-by-shot. I was overthinking it too much. But collectively as a team we’re a new team and we were trying to get the chemistry together, and once we do that the D-zone will be better and the offensive zone game will come.”

If Subban does indeed get the emergency start on Tuesday night against the Wild, the Bruins just have to hope that it’s a better outing than getting pulled in his NHL debut against the Blues two seasons ago after allowing three goals on three straight shots to start the second period. They also have to hope that Rask or Khudobin get well quick given Boston’s shaky situation on defense in front of the goaltender, and the stretch they’re in of playing six straight opponents that qualified for last spring’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

If not then watch out below because every hockey person knows there’s no quicker way for a hockey club to really begin imploding than if the goaltending starts to become a major problem whether it’s because of injury, inconsistent performance or simply because of being a straight-up sieve.

McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup


McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It was a bitter pill for Adam McQuaid to sit out the first five games of this season, but it looks like the veteran Bruins stay-at-home defenseman is nearing a return to the lineup. McQuaid was cleared to potentially play in Saturday’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens after an upper body injury kept him shelved for the team’s first four games, and could be approaching a return in the next few days as Claude Julien mulls a number of possible lineup changes.

“It was obviously frustrating, but I’m where I’m at now and trying to move on from it. Looking forward to getting back into the lineup hopefully as soon as possible here,” said the 30-year-old McQuaid, who had a goal and nine points in 64 games for the Black and Gold last season. “The excitement level is high for me, and it is for everybody after a loss when you’re looking forward to getting back out there.

“It would have been nice to have started the season with the guys, but you can’t change that now. I’ve had some good practices, and I’m just trying to my game as simple as possible, and take it as it comes. Obviously guys have played some games and it’s been a couple of weeks for me, so I’ll just have to keep my game simple.”

The B’s bench boss indicated it was only a matter of time before McQuaid makes his 2016-17 regular season debut, but that he’s got plenty of things to decide prior to dropping the puck against the Wild.

“[McQuaid] was cleared last game. I haven’t made any decisions based for [Tuesday night vs. Minnesota]. There’s a lot of things that are up in the air, and I’ve just go to juggle those things,” said Julien. “Who knows? Hopefully tomorrow morning I’ve got a better picture [of injury situation], and if not then it will be game-time decisions. I wish I could have a better answer [on if McQuaid will play], but I’ve got no answers right now.”

With Colin Miller (minus-4), Joe Morrow, Torey Krug (a rough minus-3 against Montreal) and John-Michael Liles all minus players after the first five games of the season, there are ample options for Julien on which potential blueliner to bump up to the press box. McQuaid is just happy he’s getting closer to a return while skating with 23-year-old Rob O’Gara at practice, and he can get back to helping a B’s team that’s smack dab in the middle (ranked 15th allowing 3.0 goals per game) of the NHL for team defense this season.