Haggerty: Seguin, Marchand signings show progress

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Haggerty: Seguin, Marchand signings show progress

Oh, what a difference seven years can make.

When the Bruins last faced a looming lockout, their general manager at the time, Mike OConnell, felt the best course of action was to allow a solid nucleus to dissolve in free agency. Playmaking center Michael Nylander, in-his-prime puck-moving defenseman Sergei Gonchar, prototype power forward Mike Knuble and Mr. Versatility Brian Rolston were all allowed to leave Boston heading into the lockout.

OConnell and the Bruins had a belief that the NHL lockout landscape would create a bountiful free agent class in a buyers market, but a few things tripped them up. Chief among those tripping points was a 24 percent salary rollback for the players that OConnell and Harry Sinden didnt foresee in those bitter CBA negotiations.

That serious free agency misread led to overpayment for cooked free agent veterans like Brian Leetch and Alex Zhamnov, and within two seasons the Bruins franchise was in a free fall after dealing franchise player Joe Thornton.

It wouldnt be hyperbole to say that the Bruins front office had the worst strategy coming out of the last lockout.

Its amazing how things have changed.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli is determined to keep his core of Bruins players together that won a Stanley Cup two years ago, and has re-signed young forwards Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin to multi-year deals over the last week. Marchand inked a four-year, 18 million extension at the end of last week that will keep him in Boston through the 2016-17 season, and Seguin signed a six-year, 34.5 million that will keep in Boston through the 2018-19 campaign.

I think thats where I am right now in my career. I feel like Ive settled in a bit here in Boston over two years. I dont think my age is a factor. I want to be a leader, even at the age of 20, said Seguin. Getting situated with the boys and learning everybody and getting to know everyone in the organization, I feel I can step into those leadership roles and step into those shoes.

Whether its new guys or just giving a good example out there on the ice, thats what I want to do.

Seguin will be earn an average of 5.75 million per season that will make him the highest paid forward on the Bruins roster, and put him in the same neighborhood as the contracts signed by Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner and Edmonton Oilers Taylor Hall last month.

Chiarelli has worked tirelessly to make sure that history wont repeat itself in Boston around this lockout even if he wasnt a primary witness to the botched roster strategy. He also wont be held hostage by the unknown CBA that will be in place over the next few months, and the conditions that might make it necessary for him to make trades under a lowered salary cap.

Chiarelli also took some issue with past reputations for penny-pinching within the walls of the Bruins ownership offices. It might have simply come down to a former Bs front office contingent -- one that helped lead the Bruins to more than 20 straight playoff appearances -- that made some major miscalculations in the end with the franchise paying the price.

You have to look at what our projected payroll and projected layout will be after this year to gauge the money thats being spent, said Chiarelli. But your point about the frugality of the Jacobs family? I hadnt been part of that and I dont know if it really ever existed. I take you for your word that that was the reputation. But I do know that when I came in here that -- Id seen past payrolls here -- the payroll was fairly high.

"We want to be prudent and we want to be fiscally responsible when we make these decisions. I think weve shown that we generally have been and will continue to try to be, but we also want to win. We want to put the best team on the ice for our fans. I think before you can characterize us as lofty, lofty spenders -- and were obviously in the top quartile over the course of my tenure here -- it does show commitment on the part of our ownership and a willingness to win. Were going to continue to do it that way, but in a responsible way. Its about making smart decisions."

Clearly both Marchand and Seguin had motives to get deals done before potentially unfriendly CBA conditions become a reality, and No. 19 is the future of the Boston Bruins franchise. Hes just scratching the surface of his greatness after leading the Bruins in goals, and points in his second NHL season, and he talked on Tuesday about beginning a life in Boston.

Chiarelli had plenty on his plate with Marchand, Seguin, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Tuukka Rask and Andrew Ference all facing free agency after this upcoming season, and perhaps even greater headaches ahead if the players are fighting for less money. The Bruins general manager now has two of those major deals taken care of before the next NHL season eventually gets underway.

Lucic should be similarly signed if both sides can find something in the 5.5 million-per-season range to lock up a vital power forward piece in the Black and Gold attack.

As if the Stanley Cup championship and the four Northeast Division titles in the last five seasons didnt separate Chiarelli and Co. enough from the business as usual that had transpired on Causeway Street prior to their arrival, the Bruins pre-lockout strategy this time around is 180 degrees different.

It would appear this B's regime is determined not to repeat history, and that's a very good thing.

Its also another sign that the Black and Gold will be headed in the proper direction once the NHL comes to its senses and starts playing the games that everybody will be pining for over the next few months.

Talking Points from the Bruins OT winner

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Talking Points from the Bruins OT winner

GOLD STAR: Solid night’s work from Ryan Spooner, who finished with the OT game-winning strike and was solid throughout the game as the de facto No. 1 center. He had four shots on net, six generated shot attempts and won 12-of-19 face offs as he continues to improve in that area while training camp rolls along. Spooner is trying to hold onto the No. 3 center spot in the lineup despite the addition of David Backes via free agency, and Friday night’s big boy performance with speed, playmaking and skill showed exactly what his potential can be when he puts it all together. It was also a nice little bounce-back from an up-and-down game on Wednesday night against the same Detroit team when he struggled in the face off circle and was part of a team-wide malaise.

BLACK EYE: It wasn’t necessarily a bad night for Brian Ferlin, but it was more of the invisible variety with just a registered hit and one face-off taken in 13 minutes of ice time. The forward earned some NHL time with the Bruins a couple of years, has battled concussion woes over the last year plus and is trying to push his way back into the crowded forward picture during this training camp. While he certainly showed some toughness and skill around the net a couple of years and didn’t seem shy about going there on Friday night, the results just weren’t there and Ferlin didn’t have much of a presence in the game. In general it was a pretty decent performance for the Bruins, so Ferlin’s game was quiet more than problematic.

TURNING POINT: Credit the Bruins coaching staff for switching up the lines in the third period, and that sparked the offense a bit after zero goals through the first 40 minutes against Detroit. Zach Senyshyn was moved with Danton Heinen and Riley Nash, and they became a threat in the third period before Heinen broke through for the game-tying goal from his knees. That score allowed the B’s to push things into overtime, and then Spooner made it a quick extra session by snapping home a shot from the slot after a good effort from Joe Morrow down low. It all was made possible by the adjustment to the lines that took place between the second and the third periods.

HONORABLE MENTION: Joe Morrow is battling to hold onto his NHL roster spot with the Bruins, and that is absolutely underscored by the news that Christian Ehrhoff is being brought to Boston on a PTO. So it was expected that the young D-man would come out with something a little extra after a mediocre performance in his preseason debut, and the left shot D-man was an impact player in the win for the Black and Gold. Morrow dropped the gloves with young tough guy Givani Smith in the second period as part of a B’s group that played with a little bit of an edge on Friday night, and then he won a battle down low in overtime to set up the Ryan Spooner game-winner. Morrow had two hits, two shot attempts, the assist and the fight in 19:48 of ice time, and showed that he’s ready to battle in camp to hold onto his spot.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2 – the number of goals in two preseason games thus far for Danton Heinen, who scored important game-tying goals in both instances in the shootout loss to the Blue Jackets and Friday night’s overtime win against the Wings.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “The compete level, especially when he got down 4-0 [on Wednesday night], I don’t think it was high enough. So we talked about it, and we expect a better effort for sure.” –Ryan Spooner on Friday morning prior to going out and snatching the win away from the Red Wings in Detroit with an OT game-winner. 

Ehrhoff signs a PTO with the B's after World Cup

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Ehrhoff signs a PTO with the B's after World Cup

The Bruins will add another veteran defenseman to their training camp group fresh off the World Cup of Hockey as German D-man Christian Ehrhoff is headed to Boston on a PTO (professional tryout agreement). CSN has confirmed that Ehrhoff has indeed agreed to a PTO with the Bruins, and he'll report to the team sometime this weekend.

The 34-year-old Ehrhoff had three assists in six World Cup games for Team Europe, and had two goals and 10 points in 48 games for the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks last season while clearly starting to slow down a bit. He’s clearly no longer the player that averaged 14 goals and 47 points for the Vancouver Canucks from 2009-2011, and is another left-shot defenseman to add to a team that already has Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug.

But it behooved the Bruins to bring in at least one “name” veteran D-man on a tryout basis during this training camp with so many needs for upgrades on the back end, and with a host of young players that might not be ready for prime time. This might also be a warning sign for young veteran Joe Morrow, a left shot D-man that has struggled a bit in training camp after coming off an erratic first full season at the NHL level.

Clearly the Bruins need more than Ehrhoff, however, even if he’s somehow re-energized with the Bruins after playing pretty well in the World Cup. The Kings were down enough on his game to put him through waivers last season, but he was a top-4 defenseman for the previous eight seasons for San Jose, Vancouver, Buffalo and Pittsburgh prior to getting bounced around between the Kings and Blackhawks last season.

The added bonus with taking a look at Ehrhoff is that there’s no risk associated with a PTO, and the Bruins can simply walk away with no cost if the B’s coaching staff decides he’s not a good fit for the group in Boston. On the other hand, bringing in a Kris Russell-type would cost a great deal in terms of money and term in a free agent contract, and it might not benefit the Black and Gold club in the end result.