Mike from Attleboro: Goodbye, Columbus, and take Nash with you

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Mike from Attleboro: Goodbye, Columbus, and take Nash with you

Mike from Attleboro -- the leading contributor to Michael Felger's old mailbag and one of Felger's favorite callers to his radio show -- is now contributing occasional pieces to CSNNE.com. Today he gives his take on the Rick Nash-to-Boston rumors.

If youre a diehard Bruins fan, the weeks since their untimely playoff demise have not been easy ones. We've had to witness an eminently winnable Eastern Conference get narrowed down to two less-than-imposing contenders: The New York Rangers, who are just about ready for the glue factory after coach John Tortorella has been riding them like its the last furlong, and the New Jersey Devils, who are a game away from the finals despite Martin Brodeur allowing more charity goals than a United Way fundraiser.

To make matters worse, the LA Kings stampeded through the Western Conference in the exact same fashion our Bruins did last year: With grinding, villainous 5-on-5 play, stellar goaltending from Mike Quick (a.k.a. Vezina Smythe), and little to no contributions from the PP unit . . . and never once have they had to hear the phrase turnover by Kaberle.

In short, a very familiar case of the what might have beens has set in.

So what better way to recover than with the chicken soup of vanquished teams: The absurd offseason trade rumor.

When rumors of a big trade start to crop up, two things come to mind immediately. The first reaction is that it will never happen because we are hearing rumors about it. The second is what the motivation is for the rumors to be out there in the first place.

The origins of the Rick Nash-to-the-Bruins rumors seem to stem from nothing more than Nash listing the Bruins as a team he would approve a trade to and Columbus play-by-play man Jeff Rimmer reporting the Bs were preparing a major offer. Could the Bruins be making an offer? Sure, and I hope Peter Chiarelli does his job and investigates all possibilities thoroughly. But to me this feels like an early attempt by the Blue Jackets to stir up the market for Nash. And honestly, its a market I want zero part of.

Lets get down to the bare facts. Rick Nash will be 28, has a 7.8 million cap hit for the next four years and had his goals and points in decline for the past four seasons. He hasnt been a 40-goal scorer since 2009 and just managed 30 last season. This is not a player I mortgage a franchise for.

According to CSNNEs Joe Haggerty, the Blue Jackets are looking for. a package of Seguin or Lucic and Doug Hamilton. Peter Chiarelli is a lot of things but the State of Rhode Island he isnt. Sorry, Columbus.

Here are some more facts: Last season, Milan Lucic had four fewer goals and two more total points than Nash. Lucic will be 24 next season, can play in Claudes system, is far more difficult to play against than Rick Nash, is a better passer than Nash, and costs half as much against the cap. I wouldnt trade Lucic for Rick Nash straight up. And no, I havent been drinking.

Look at what happened to Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovy lit up the stat sheet on a bad Atlanta team. Pop him into New Jersey and force him to say defense in Russian and hes a minus-26, his scoring drops off and the Devils flounder. I will be more than content to watch desperate GMs like Torontos Brian Burke drive up the bidding on a player with four career playoff games while the Bruins explore other options.

What options you might ask? Here are two that would turn Bruins fans Fifty Shades of Black and Gold: Shane Doan and Jerome Iginla.

Doan will be 36 and is a pending free agent, so all he would cost is money. Iginla will be 35, is a pending free agent and would require far less in a deal than Nash. Both players ooze playoff caliber gameplay. They are tough, gritty, pains in the butt who not only go to dirty areas to score, they make even more of a mess while there. They both are right wings and would fit in perfectly on the first line opposite Lucic. They would also allow Nathan Horton to take his time coming back. Doan is good for at least 20 goals and 50 points and Iginla is a 50-goal scorer who hasnt scored less than 30 in 11 years. Most importantly, both Doan and Iginla are real captains. They are the consummate teammates and leaders. Doan and Iginla have been on bad teams and carried them like luggage into the postseason. Captain Nash packs his luggage and asks for a deal.

As thankful as I am for the opportunity to talk about the Bruins during the offseason, I will celebrate wildly if the Bruins dont get suckered into overpaying for Nash. Were talking confetti and fireworks people and something tells me that after tonight, Ill be able to get a good deal on party supplies from the Rangers.

Haggerty: Bruins putting a lot of their hopes in one roster fix

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Haggerty: Bruins putting a lot of their hopes in one roster fix

The improvement plan has become as clear as it’s going to be for the Bruins this offseason.

With Bruins general manager Don Sweeney locking up Kevan Miller to a four-year, $10 million deal this week and vowing to sign Torey Krug as well, the Bruins defensemen corps is going to look awfully similar to last season’s misbegotten group.

Almost identical, it would seem.

Sure, Sweeney said on Wednesday that the Bruins are actively seeking out “a transitional defenseman” that’s presumably a little better than 35-year-old journeyman John-Michael Liles, and can be paired with Zdeno Chara as a top duo for next season. It’s the No. 1 priority on the Bruins offseason shopping list just as it was last season once they shipped Dougie Hamilton to Calgary for draft picks and were instead saddled with a fearsome, crippling black hole at the top of their organizational D-man charts.

The trade market has been set to a degree by the Erik Gudbranson trade from the Florida Panthers to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night with Jim Benning giving up a Grade-A center prospect in Jared McCann, a second-round pick and a fourth-round pick in exchange for the 24-year-old top-four defenseman. Per a hockey source with knowledge of the situation, the Bruins were not involved in any talks for the towering Gudbranso. It sounded like the Panthers and Canucks were pretty locked in with each other on making a deal.

That’s an unfortunate product of Boston not being able to match up with the available center prospect that might have interested Florida and having dealt some of those 2016 draft picks on fruitless deadline rental deals for Lee Stempniak and Liles.

So, how difficult will it be to land Kevin Shattenkirk, or Jacob Trouba, or Sami Vatanen, or Tyson Barrie, or any other mobile blueliner able to play big minutes, move pucks and survive against the other team’s best offensive players while being sheltered defensively by Zdeno Chara?

“Time will tell on that one, you know? Either through free agency or through acquisition, it’s a matter of finding a trading partner or finding a match in the marketplace. We’re going to be aggressive,” said Sweeney. “We certainly have identified, we had our pro meetings … I’m not going to give my whole plan out to you today. But we have areas that we want to address in the depth of our organization more likely in the forward position, either on the right wing or the center, or again on the backend. We’re exploring a bunch of different things trade-wise. It’s difficult in this league, but I think that we’re in the position with two first-round picks to be either selecting really good players or to be in the marketplace.”

The Bruins had better hope it’s a miracle-working puck-mover that they bring to Boston because otherwise they are on course for bringing back the same old sorry usual suspects from last season. Miller and Adam McQuaid will be taking up a combined $5.25 million on the salary cap, Krug will have a salary in the range of $5 million per season after watching the B’s largesse in the Miller deal and both Chara and Seidenberg will trudge on as proud, aging warriors well on the back end of their careers after outstanding service in Boston.

That means many defenders, including Joe Morrow and Colin Miller, return. Defense was the clear weakness on the team, which finished 19th in the NHL after being in the bottom third of the league pretty much all season. It was inarguably the worst defensive group of Claude Julien’s 10-year tenure with the Bruins and had major difficulties in all areas ranging from tape-to-tape passes, to coverage breakdowns and good, old-fashioned lost battles in all of the danger areas.

So, with the plan to add one high-caliber “transitional defenseman” already laid out, it’s clear the B’s belief is that will be enough to substantially improve things on the ice.

At least that’s the theory before the bullets start flying next season and Sweeney gave a few perfunctory lines about the team improving in every area.  

“This is a results-oriented business, so we have to get better in areas. We have to improve our roster. I’ve said all along that we need to continue to improve our roster. We’ll be in the marketplace in every different way, shape, or form to try and acquire players that will continue to help us do so,” said Sweeney. “Talking with Claude and going over the time he spent with Butch [Cassidy], through my dealings with Butch, and realizing the development of a lot of the players that have been a part of our roster and success is the transition game and stuff that Butch has brought to the table.

“[It’s] how he saw the game, how he expects players to play and move pucks and work on it every day, is an area that I think he’s going to be an addition to our [coaching] staff and how he sees the game. I think I identified that if Butch was playing in this day and age now, he’d be a very welcome addition to our roster.”

So that’s the plan, folks. The big move of the summer is getting a defenseman they badly need, filling in a few roster spots, signing a good deal of their own players and then hoping for a better result next time around.

Isn’t there some kind of line about insanity and expecting different results with the same cast of characters year in and year out? 

 

Thursday, May 26: Will going with Fleury haunt Penguins?

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Thursday, May 26: Will going with Fleury haunt Penguins?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while still laughing at the #TeamFrich movement.

*Dave Lozo says that the decision by Mike Sullivan to play Marc-Andre Fleury could still come back to haunt the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Miracle on Ice goaltender Jim Craig marvels at the evolution of USA Hockey from the Miracle days to the current system that just keeps on producing top talent.

*Mike from Woburn hates the Kevan Miller contract almost as much as I do.

*Speaking of the Kevin Miller deal, here’s a scenario where the big overpay for Miller might help them land another talented young player.

*In other hockey news, the Vancouver Canucks landed legitimate top-4 defenseman Erik Gudbranson while the ink was drying on the Kevan Miller contract.

*Chris Phillips is expected to announce his retirement from the Ottawa Senators after a long career in Ottawa as a defensive warrior.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough says some tough decisions await the St. Louis Blues after dropping the conference finals to the San Jose Sharks.

*The San Jose media has decreed that it was worth spending a first-round pick for Martin Jones after he helped carry them to the Cup Final. For the Bruins it means that their first round pick will be No. 29 or No. 30 in the first round, so whoop-de-do for that.

*For something completely different: 21 scientists say that Tom Brady is right and the NFL is wrong about Deflategate.