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

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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.

Vatrano takes 'step in the right direction' in return to practice

Vatrano takes 'step in the right direction' in return to practice

BRIGHTON, Mass -- The Bruins lost Matt Beleskey for six weeks to a knee injury this week, and now they’re hoping to get another winger back now that 22-year-old Frank Vatrano has rejoined the Bruins at practice.

Vatrano was wearing a red no-contact jersey at Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, but his presence along with the other players at the team skate means that he’s moving closer toward a return to the B’s lineup. While initial timetables for his recovery from foot surgery had him in the early January range for returning to the Bruins lineup, it appears that he might be at least a couple of weeks ahead of that initial expectation.

Either way Vatrano is happy to be back on the ice with his teammates after the torn ligaments in his foot wiped out his training camp and the first two plus months of the regular season for him.

“It was a big step for me today. It was nice to be out there with the guys for the first time,” said Vatrano, who scored a combined 44 goals last season for Providence and Boston in a breakout season with the B’s organization. “I’ve gone through the rehab and done everything I need to do to get back playing, so now the next step is getting back on the ice with the guys. I felt great, so now it’s just waiting to hear the news when I start playing again.”

While Vatrano is still a young, relatively inexperienced player with just one full year of pro hockey under his belt, the sense from the Bruins is that he’s going to help a team that’s currently ranked 25th in the NHL in offense. Claude Julien was encouraged by seeing him out there in the red, no-contact jersey that his teammates were chirping him about, and said that his level play at last spring’s world championships should give him confidence when he jumps back into a big role with the Black and Gold.

“It’s a step in the right direction for Frank. That’s the best way for him to get to the pace of our game because it’s going to take a while when you’ve been out that long,” said Vatrano. “I think his experience at world championships last year is a real blessing in disguise because he gained a lot of confidence there. I think that’s going to help him a lot more than had he not gone.

“He played against a lot of elite players last year, and he fared really well. I think he’ll be coming in now with some confidence, and we just have to sure coming in that we give him every opportunity to succeed by using him properly, and giving him a chance to find his game.”

That certainly sounds like the Bruins are preparing for a top-6 role and maybe some power play time once the young, sharp-shooting Vatrano is back up to full speed. That should be fun to watch once he’s ready to play, and ready to again unleash that shot and release that rivals anybody else for tops on the Bruins roster. 

Spooner on trade rumors: 'I definitely want to play here'

Spooner on trade rumors: 'I definitely want to play here'

BOSTON -- Ryan Spooner has definitely heard the reports out there that he’s being shopped in trade by the Boston Bruins, and he played like a guy that didn’t want to be moved in Monday’s win over the Florida Panthers at TD Garden.

Spooner had his good skating legs, created chances for his teammates and set up the third period goal that got the B’s into overtime when he flipped a shot at the net that was tipped in by David Backes while camped out around the crease. Spooner finished with an assist and a plus-1 rating along with five shot attempts in his 14:24 of ice time, and looked much more like the energized, creative player that was at the heart of some pretty good offensive things last season.

In other words, Spooner looked much more like the talented young player that finished with 13 goals and 49 points last season while centering the third line.

“I think there were five or six games there where I felt I wasn’t playing a bad game. Then six or seven games there where it was hard to get, I guess, the ice time that I wanted,” said Spooner. “At the end of the day, I’ve been a little bit inconsistent.

“I just have to go out there and use my speed and my skill and I found that in the game here. I thought that I did that and I just need to play with that, and I should be fine.”

Multiple sources have indicated to CSN New England that the Bruins are talking about a possible Ryan Spooner deal with multiple teams including the Carolina Hurricanes, San Jose Sharks and New York Islanders. Part of it is certainly the need for the Bruins to collect a bit more goal-scoring as Monday night’s win was just the eighth time in 26 games this season that Boston’s offense has scored more than two goals.

Part of it is also, however, a challenging season for Spooner where he’s been in and out of Claude Julien’s dog house while getting dropped to the fourth line at times, and even being left off the power play a handful of times as well. He’s played out of position at left wing rather than center and has underachieved to three goals and nine points in 25 games largely played with David Krejci and David Backes.

Whatever the history and the number of potential trade scenarios, Spooner said was “fed up” with all of it in his own words as he headed into Monday night’s game, and one thing remained true above all else: He wants to stick around as a member of the Bruins.

“I try to just put it in the back of my mind. When I was 17, I went through the same thing [in junior hockey]. I definitely want to play here,” said Spooner. “I want to help out and that’s kind of where I’m at now. If I play like I did [against the Panthers], I think I’ll be fine. I just want to go out, I want to help out, and that’s kind of where I’m at right now.”

The Black and Gold are looking for a top-6 forward capable of putting the puck in the net on the trade market in any possible deal involving Spooner, but it would seem that the 23-year can control his own destiny in Boston if he starts generating offense and putting the puck in the net. Spooner did just that on Monday night while setting up a third period goal, and lo and behold the Bruins offense posted four goals after struggling to get more than two for most of the season.

That could turn into the kind of trend that keeps Spooner in Boston if he knocks out the inconsistency in his game, and instead steps on the gas pedal and brings the speed and skill that got him to the NHL in the first place.