Nathan Horton missed the final 36 games of the regular season with a concussion, and it was clear the Bruins missed him offensively in a big, big way.
Boston was never truly the same without their top line right winger, and finished with an 18-16-2 record after his Jan. 21 concussion suffered against the Flyers. The Bruins averaged only 2.67 goals per game during that span of 36 games and never truly recovered their dominant level of play achieved with Horton in November and December.
So it can only be taken as good news Horton is coming along well in his recovery from a concussion during the offseason. Horton was shut down at the start of the playoffs when his post-concussion symptoms hadnt completely subsided after the blind side hit from Tom Sestito.
But the Bruins ended the playoffs with Bs general manager Peter Chiarelli voicing expectation that Bostons Game 7 playoff hero would be ready to go for September training camp.
Hortons agent, Paul Krepelka, told CSNNE.com that the goal-scoring forward is still on track for a healthy start to next season with three more full months of rest and recovery still in front of him.
Nathan is coming along, wrote Krepelka in a text message while keeping tabs with his client this offseason. We would hope he is good to go at the start of training camp.
With Rich Peverley forced to take Hortons spot alongside Milan Lucic and David Krejci during the playoffs, it effectively weakened both the first and third line for a team that had succeeded with depth during last years Cup run.
A healthy Horton could make all the difference for the Bruins in a free agent contract year where the 27-year-old will be motivated to prove hes healthy and ready to resume his productive combination of power and skill.
BUFFALO – A year ago Don Sweeney traded away one of his talented young players for pennies on the dollar when he shipped Dougie Hamilton to Calgary for three draft picks, and it would appear he’s learned from that experience. While the Bruins general manager admitted he was desperately in search of some defensemen help this weekend, Sweeney said the prices were too high to get a deal done on Friday night at the First Niagara Center.
A source indicated to CSNNE.com earlier on Friday that All-Star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk would end up with “the Bruins, Flyers or Rangers” this season, but it sure sounded like the St. Louis Blues were pricing themselves out of making any deals. According to Sweeney, other team’s managers were asking him to include both of his 2016 first round picks and more to swing a deal for a defenseman, and that young right wing David Pastrnak’s name kept coming up in these discussions.
That was far too steep an asking price in the rightful minds of Sweeney and Bruins management, so there were no defensemen that ended up getting moved on Friday night. Unfortunately, other NHL teams will keep asking about the emerging Pastrnak knowing full well that the Bruins are in a desperate position to repair their personnel on the back end.
“In all honesty it would have taken both first rounders and then some…the acquisition cost was high. We want to continue to improve our hockey club with whatever we have to do, but it’s not unlike last year when it would have taken all three first rounders [to get a deal done]. There’s a balancing act there,” said Sweeney. “There was not a lot that moved around today. People have been laying foundation [for trades] for quite some time, but there are players that we’re just not comfortable putting into deals. I’m going to defend that. I’ll be honest with you that I just am.
“We’ve taken a position where we’re going to build this the right way. We want to be competitive and improve our team, and we’ll be active in the free agent market to fill holes while allowing our young players to push through. But I wasn’t trading David Pastrnak. We’ve been criticized, and rightfully so at times, for being impatient with our younger, skilled players. This represents a good opportunity that we don’t want to do that.”
Instead the Bruins selected Charlie McAvoy and Trent Frederic with the 14th and 29th overall picks in the first round, and they’ll start at the drawing board on Saturday while hoping to build toward a deal for a top-4 “transitional defenseman.” They’ll also do it knowing they made the right call in protecting the 14th pick where they selected a future transitional defenseman that will perhaps be a younger, cheaper version of Shattenkirk three years down the road.
Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs
BUFFALO – The Bruins went off the board to make their second choice in the first round, and selected big, gritty center Trent Frederic from the U.S. National Team Development Program. Frederic was ranked 47th among North American skaters by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau, and is ultimately viewed as a solid bottom-six two-way center with limited offensive ability.
A nice Bruins-style player to be sure, but also the kind of player that can easily be picked in the second, or third, round rather than with the 29thpick in the first round. It’s pretty clear the B’s were hoping to package up the 29th pick along with a prospect to acquire a top-4 defenseman, and that they didn’t have many designs on actually choosing a player.
That led to a surprised Frederic, who was happy to be a first round pick if not a little blown away by his good NHL fortune.
“I guess I was a little surprised. If you could hear my whole family's reaction then you get the gist of it,” said Frederic, who listed David Backes and Justin Abdelkader as the NHL players he most models his game after in his career. “They were pumped, and I am pumped. As a player I’m a two-way physical player that’s good with the puck.
“I’ve had some tournaments in Boston, and some family vacations there. I visited Boston University when I thought about going there, and I’ve been to Fenway Park and TD Garden. It’s one of my favorite cities.”
The Frederic pick might have been off the beaten path a bit, but it was a pretty special selection for a number of other reasons: Frederic was the record-setting 12th US-born player taken in the first round, and the fifth player taken in the 2016 first round from the St. Louis area. The Bruins have to hope that he develops into a more dangerous, effective player during his college hockey days at Wisconsin, and that he feels a little less like the Bruins reaching for players in the first round for the second draft in a row.
Photo via Joe Haggerty
Tweet hunters dug up an old message from a Charlie McAvoy proclaiming his hatred for the Boston Bruins. McAvoy, of course, was drafted 14th by the Bruins in the 2016 NHL Draft.
The tweet read, "I hate the bruins so much" before it was quickly deleted.
I'm sure this will go over well for Bruins fans, even though you really can't blame McAvoy. He was just 15 at the time and a fan of the Rangers, who went down 3-0 in the playoffs against the Bruins.
As fans, we can all relate to that feeling.