Haggerty: Hartnell deal could provide blueprint for Lucic

747879.jpg

Haggerty: Hartnell deal could provide blueprint for Lucic

There will be plenty of good, old-fashioned contract-watchin by the Bruins this season. Its crucial that general manager Peter Chiarelli and the rest of the front office track the potential free agent market under new CBA conditions since a bevy of its own players are entering some level of free agency after this year is over.

Labor talks between the NHL and the NHLPA could go in a few different directions, but lets assume the new CBA is something similar to the current agreement that expires on Sept. 15, and the contracts of Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask and Nathan Horton all expire at the same time.

Under those circumstances, the six-year, 28.5 million contract agreed to by Scott Hartnell and the Philadelphia Flyers might be of particular interest to Lucic and the Bs brass. Hartnell agreed to long-term, guaranteed money on Monday and a limited no-trade clause to remain in Philly on the heels of first NHL All-Star season at the age of 30 years old.

Hes a big, active body with deceptive offensive abilities, and always seems to be in the middle of everything for the Flyers.

Lucic is six years younger and a restricted free agent rather than a player headed for unrestricted free agency like Hartnell would have been after this season. So a side-by-side comparison between Lucic and Hartnell is out with each player in a different spot bargaining-wise under the current CBA parameters. But the six-year, 27 million handed out to Montreal forward Max Pacioretty certainly would be a fair comparable to Lucic given his current contractual situation and a bar for the bare minimum he could expect in his next deal with Boston.

Both Lucic and Hartnell play a hybrid power forward game that mixes offensive production with varying degrees of nastiness. Lucic is a more fearsome fighter dealing in intimidation while Hartnell is more of rabble-rousing aggravator, but the Philly forward is also coming off a 37-goal, 67-point campaign that registers as his best NHL season.

Hartnell has averaged 25 goals a year over the last seven years in the NHL after originally being the No. 6 overall pick in the 2000 draft. He is also clearly one of the leaders in the Philadelphia dressing room.
Theres more of a long term body of work for Hartnell while Lucic is still growing into the vast potential within his 6-foot-3, 235-pound frame. But Lucic has also averaged 28 goals and 61.5 points over the last two seasons and is due for a healthy raise over the 4.083 million annual salary hes made over the last three seasons.

Its conceivable that a contract similar to Hartnells 28.5 million and 4.75 million cap hit would be in the cards for Lucic if he wanted to sign something that would assure hed be a member of the Bruins for the long haul. In all likelihood Lucic will agree to a short-term contract extension for two or three years as a restricted free agent and bank on a few more banner seasons before commanding a large extension for a higher average annual value.
But perhaps this is the perfect time for both the Bruins and Lucic to meet in the middle with something in the neighborhood of the six years and 28.5 million before this season is over.

An unrestricted Lucic on the free agent market would easily command upwards of 5 million per season in average annual value given his body of hard work, his solid reputation and the unique skills he brings to the table as he enters his prime years.

But somewhere along the line some of the current core of Bruins players as others like Patrice Bergeron and Johnny Boychuk have done before them will have to take a Black and Gold discount if they hope to keep their nucleus together.

A contract similar to Hartnells deal is a way Lucic could guarantee that his future remains in his second home city of Boston when it appears that change might be inevitable at the end of this upcoming year no matter what happens. Its a way that a Bruins team bumping up against the salary cap could keep the band together well beyond this upcoming season.

Its something to think about as anonymous NHL agents hammer Hartnell for doing what was best for him, and taking less money to remain in Philly presumably for the rest of his career in a spot he enjoys.

Thats something there really is no price tag for, after all.

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

It’s no secret Bruins fans are getting fed up with a hockey team in decline, one that’s missed the playoffs each of the last two years. Now there are numbers to prove it.

Channel Media and Market Research, Inc. came out with its annual New England Sports survey,  tabulating responses from over 14,600 polled, and, according to the numbers, the Bruins are dropping in popularity, fan support and faith in the current management group.

The B’s are holding somewhat steady with 16 percent of voters listing them as their “favorite sports team” behind the Patriots (46 percent) and Red Sox (29 percent) while ahead of the Celtics and Revolution. Claude Julien also ranked ahead of John Farrell among the big four teams in the “coaches/manages most admired” category.

But after sitting at a relative high of ranking at 27 percent for “ownership performance” in 2014 -- they year after their trip to the Cup Finals against the Blackhawks -- the Bruins now rank dead last in that category at 2 percent, behind the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and even the Revolution. Ouch, babe.

Also sitting at a lowly 2 percent is Bruins president Cam Neely in the “leadership performance” category. In "management performance," Neely has dropped from a solid 49 percent in 2014 to just 16 percent in this summer’s survey.

So B’s fans are clearly upset with a team that traded away Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and has featured a decimated defense corps for each of the last two seasons. But do the B’s fans think that things are getting any better with prospects coming down the pipeline?

Not really.

In the “which team has done the best job making its product better.” category, the Patriots (35 percent) and Red Sox (31 percent) were resting at the top, with the Celtics (27 percent) a respectable third. The Bruins limped in at just 4 percent with a fan base that very clearly sees that, on paper, this upcoming season’s club doesn’t appear to be much better than last year's.

On top of that, only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the Bruins have gotten better over the last year, and 52 percent believe they’ve just gotten worse. A lowly 3 percent of those surveyed think the Bruins have the best chance of the five teams to bring a world championship back to Boston; the Patriots (79 percent), Red Sox (11 percent) and Celtics (5 percent) all ranked higher.

Finally, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Jimmy Hayes were at the top of the list of the Boston athletes “who did not meet expectations” last season. None of that is a surprise, given the state of Boston’s defense along with Hayes’ subpar season.

The good news for the Bruins: They still have a passionate fan base. But they need to start reversing course immediately before they do lasting damage to the B’s brand.

Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

cp-morning-skate.jpg

Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading with the Olympics coming to a close . . .
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke sorts through the aftermath for the Bruins after losing out on Jimmy Vesey

-- Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland gave an interview where he said the Red Wings aren’t Stanley Cup contenders this season. 

-- Related to Holland’s comments, some of the media in Detroit aren’t taking the dose of reality all that well

-- It’s a big season for New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, who will be starring for Team USA on the World Cup team. 

 -- PHT writer Cam Tucker says the Buffalo Sabres still have a strong group of forwards even without Jimmy Vesey.

-- Jamie Benn is giving everything to his Dallas Stars team, and that means that the World Cup of Hockey is taking a backseat
 
-- The Colorado Avalanche are nearing the end of their head coaching search as they look for their replacement for Patrick Roy.
 
-- For something completely different: NBC is making the argument that millenials watched the Olympics, but just not on the traditional formats