Kampfer, McQuaid practice, close to returning

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Kampfer, McQuaid practice, close to returning

WILMINGTON The Bruins are a little banged up just five games into the new season, but they look like theyll be getting some reinforcements in the near future. Both Adam McQuaid who missed the Blackhawks game with a neck injury and Steve Kampfer who has missed all five Bs games with a sprained left MCL were back on the practice ice at Ristuccia Arena Monday morning, giving Boston eight defensemen.

McQuaids appearance on the ice seems to indicate that it was a neck injury rather than a concussion after he tumbled head-first into the boards against the Hurricanes last week, and coach Claude Julien said the towering blueliner was a possibility to play Tuesday night in the TD Garden rematch against Carolina if he can pass through some final tests Tuesday morning.

McQuaid made it through the biking and exertion tests previously, and Julien said itll be a well see about playing Tuesday.

You never want to miss too much time, said McQuaid, who indicated he skated on Sunday as well. But were just kind of evaluating things. Im feeling better each day; well see how the day progresses and then see how tomorrow goes.

I went through a similar situation before in last years Flyers series, so its one of those things where were just going day-by-day and see how it goes. Its been frustrating how the season has unfolded so far. Coming back after being sick for the first game, I still wasnt really feeling 100 percent like myself. So hopefully Im able to come back fully healthy this time around.

Kampfer, on the other hand, might need a few practices to get his conditioning back up to par and make sure hes ready for game action and that starts with the young blueliner likely getting cleared contact Tuesday morning. He looked as good as cleared for contact at the end of Mondays practice when he collided violently with Milan Lucic while the big power forward was carrying the puck with his head down.

I guess we were supposed to wait until tomorrow, said Kampfer with a laugh. But I guess it was good like that to get hit without expecting it. It kind of eases the mind to know you get hit and it didnt hurt anything.

Lucic skated away with everything pretty much intact, and Kampfer was okay after resting on one knee for a few seconds while making sure everything was in one piece. Kampfer assured after practice that he was pain-free in the left knee, and hes been attempting visualization exercises with the Bs training staff to help him pick up at the high level he was playing at just prior to the knee injury.

Im encouraged by how much Ive done in the first couple of games and how I feel walking and skating. It was a lot worse last season, said Kampfer. To feel as good as I do know is very encouraging. I still have to do a couple more things, get a couple more practices in and then well make that decision as we go.

The bottom line is this: Both McQuaid and Kampfer will be on the Bruins once they regain their health. It seems more likely that Matt Bartkowski is going to head back to Providence where he can get some playing time and build up confidence in his game. When asked about the defensemen on Saturday night, Claude Julien was specific in pointing out that he felt the five main defensemen were excellent against the Blackhawks while Bartkowski had a tough time getting out on the ice.

I would say five defensemen because Bartkowski only got out there for five minutes, said Julien. Bart was put in a tough position where he hadnt gotten much ice because of the situations, and then couldnt really put him into a close game in the third period. We feel it was judicious to use him there. Youre going to run into those situations where youre going to need to use the defensemen a little bit more.

We could handle it. We had two days before the next game and I thought they did a great job. Chara blocking those shots in the end. Johnny Boychuk blocking that one shot after getting run in the corner from behind. Then he goes down the ice and makes a big play on the game-tying goal. We really want our defensemen to be more proactive about getting down the ice and being part of the offense, and Boychuk was able to do that.

The need for offense is something stressed up and down the defensemen roster, and perhaps another reason why Kampfer should have the inside track on a roster spot once bodies start getting fully healed over the next few days.

Sweeney: Bruins head to market seeking 'transitional defenseman'

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Sweeney: Bruins head to market seeking 'transitional defenseman'

BOSTON -- This isn't exactly a state secret: The Bruins are on the lookout for a puck-moving, top-pairing defenseman who can help their transition game, and aid them in more easily breaking the puck out of their own zone.

The B's basically had two top-4 defensemen on their roster last season -- Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara were the only two on the Boston roster who topped 20 minutes of ice time per game -- and tried to fill in the blanks with Kevan Miller, Adam McQuaid, Dennis Seidenberg and several other young blueliners. Their success, or lack thereof, is reflected in the fact they finished 19th in the league in goals allowed.

So general manager Don Sweeney said during a Wednesday conference call with reporters that the team is in search of a “transitional” defenseman, and will do whatever is necessary to acquire one.

In Sweeney's words, the Bruins will be “aggressive” and pursue improving the hockey club “in any way, shape or form".

There are plenty of signs that Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk could figure prominently in Boston’s trade pursuits this summer, and free agents Keith Yandle and Alex Goligoski would be immediate upgrades in the “transitional defenseman” department. But the Bruins were also on a mission to get a “transitional defenseman” last season as well, and came up empty (aside from early season flameout Matt Irwin and 35-year-old journeyman John-Michael Liles acquired at the trade deadline).

They had grand plans to trade up in the first round of last year's draft and nab Boston College's Noah Hanifin. But -- after dealing Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames for three 2016 draft picks -- they were unable to move into position to draft Hanifan.

So it’s clear that making efforts to land that elusive defenseman, and actually closing the deal, are two extremely different things.

Toward that end, Sweeney also talked about looking for defensive help from within the organization. 

“We’ve had talks with (Krug, a restricted free agent) and we’ll find, whatever term that ends up being . . . we’ll find a contract for him," said Sweeney. "But we’re looking for balance. We’re also looking for players like Colin Miller to take the next step. We’ve got younger players that will hopefully push, and that’s what you want.

“You want the depth of the organization to be there for the younger players to push somebody out because they’re ready to play . . . (young players such as) [Matt] Grzelcyk and [Rob] O’Gara. And [I] just came back from seeing [Jeremy] Lauzon play. You know [we're] very excited about the trajectory of that player and the possibility (of his making the NHL roster) down the road, depending on what his development curve looks like and when he gets in here and [starts] playing against the men.

“We’ve got pieces in place that will hopefully push the group that we currently have and that’s what you want. You want that internal competition that players feel like they better perform."

But, he added, "we’re also looking outside the marketplace because we need to continue to transition the puck better.”

Wednesday, May 25: Are you #TeamHaggs or #TeamFrich?

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Wednesday, May 25: Are you #TeamHaggs or #TeamFrich?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wrapping my brain around exactly what the heck the Bruins are doing.

-- In the shameless self-promotion department: Fred Toucher and yours truly did battle this morning over the $10 million contract that the Bruins handed out to Kevan Miller. Are you #TeamHaggs or #TeamFrich?

-- What do the Dallas Stars need in the 2016 NHL Draft, with the combine and draft both coming up just weeks away.

-- A nice tribute from Hockey Night in Canada to the Tragically Hip as their front man battles through terminal brain cancer.

-- Damien Cox puts together his Team Canada list for the World Cup of hockey. Check out Brad Marchand's line: He plays left wing with Jonathan Toews and Tyler Seguin. That would be very fun to watch.

-- With the Bruins signing Kevan Miller to a bloated four-year, $10 million contract, similar defensemen like Eric Gryba will be lining up at the trough.

-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Kurz weighs in on the Sharks run to within one win of the Stanley Cup Final, and what a player like Joe Pavelski has meant to them in the postseason.

-- For something completely different: It sounds like things are getting a little strange with Marco Rubio.

Haggs and Fred Toucher debate signing of Kevan Miller

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Haggs and Fred Toucher debate signing of Kevan Miller

Fred Toucher and Joe Haggerty disagree about the new deal the Boston Bruins gave Kevan Miller and got in a heated debate Wednesday morning on Toucher & Rich.

Haggerty says the Bruins would be better off with "players on entry level deals" over Miller for the money he'll received.

Miller signed a four-year deal worth $10 million on Monday.

As for Toucher? Watch the video above for his response. Then comment below with your thoughts on the deal.