Haggerty: Lucic trade rumors literally make zero sense

633788.jpg

Haggerty: Lucic trade rumors literally make zero sense

While its always difficult to guarantee 100-percent truth from any statement made by an NHL general manager while wheeling and dealing is going on in the summertime, theres always some worth in taking words at face value.

So what to make of an ESPNBoston.com report that both David Krejci and Milan Lucic arent being made available by the Bruins via trade talks despite Boston kicking the tires on a potential Bobby Ryan deal?

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has been 100-percent consistent in summer statements that hes not disbanding the current team and his desire is to keep the current nucleus of Bruins players together.

That could change if the right deal came along, of course, and this humble hockey writer isnt 100-percent convinced that weve heard the last about rumors involving Krejci.

But one player that absolutely 100-percent wont be dealt is Bs power forward Milan Lucic and with good reason.

Actually, there are many reasons given that Lucic has averaged 28 goals scored and 128 penalty minutes over the last two years.
Theres been a surprising sentiment in some corners of Boston that Lucic has been on a downward trend over the last few seasons, and perhaps the Bruins would be correct in dealing the 24-year-old hulking forward away.

There are accusations perhaps he is moving away from his games bread and butter as the leagues foremost battering ram. Some think hes moved away from the intimidating and bruising game that allowed Lucic to storm on the NHL scene five years ago as a 19-year-old rookie.

But much of that couldnt be further from the hockey truth.

While its true Lucic has struggled mightily in the playoffs over the last two seasons with only five goals and 15 points in 32 postseason games, thats no reason to give up on a player just entering his prime.

Lucic had arguably his best and most consistent season with the Bruins last year while avoiding the prolonged slumps and bouts of invisibility that have plagued his still-developing game in the past.

Lucic had the second-most registered hits (201) of his career last season and the most since his breakout second NHL season in 2008-09. Above and beyond that he scares the bejesus out of his opponents: the prototypical power forward was voted by his fellow NHL peers as the toughest player in the NHL last season.

He also ostensibly wrecked the Buffalo Sabres entire season with his own brand of nasty when he trucked goalie Ryan Miller during a game in November. Lucic is perhaps the biggest factor in the Northeast Division muscling up program thats taking place this offseason in Buffalo and Montreal.

So Bostons opponents are specifically game-planning against a player thats lost his hockey bloodlust overt he last two years?

Not likely.

Lucic also had nine fights last year with assorted NHL tough customers like Brandon Prust and Matt Carkner on top of the customary crushing body checks in the corner. His demolition job on Prust in front of both benches at Madison Square Garden was perhaps the perfect Exhibit A of what Lucic consistently brings to the table as expectations seem to be rising to ridiculous proportions for No. 17.
That physicality literally changes games and alters the way defenseman tiptoe into the corner to retrieve pucks with the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Lucic bearing down on them.

But its not just anecdotal when it comes to Lucic.

Through the 2011-12 NHL season only Lucic, Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds, Corey Perry, and David Clarkson both scored more than 25 goals and racked up more than 100 penalty minutes in the ultimate show of snarling might and offensive magic.

Lucic, Hartnell and Perry are the only players to reach that rarified level over each of the last two seasons, and consistently bring that rare powerskill combination to the fore.

If that doesnt illustrate the rare skill set Lucic brings to the table then its likely that nothing ever will.

Especially for those that are so hung up on some lackluster playoff games over the last two years that theyre ready to discard a dominant player the other 29 NHL teams would literally salivate over if placed on the trade market.

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.