Mottau in limbo waiting for next NHL employer

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Mottau in limbo waiting for next NHL employer

Bruins defenseman Mike Mottau has offers from Europe, and he knows hell able to play hockey somewhere this season. But Mottau isnt quite ready to bolt away from friends and family in Massachusetts without a job to come back to in the NHL when logic and fairness finally prevail in the CBA negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA.

The 34-year-old blueliner and former Hobey Baker Award winner at Boston College never found an NHL suitor during the summer free agent frenzy, and it doesnt appear hell be returning to Boston when the NHL does resume after the Bs signed former Blue Jackets defenseman Aaron Johnson.

So instead Mottau is waiting things out while playing the role of full-time dad from his Avon home while working out on the South Shore with fellow NHL lockout victims, and hoping for a quick resolution.

Ill be around for a while, said Mottau to CSNNE.com earlier this week. Im going to wait it out and see if I can land a job once the CBA gets squared away. Europe will be an option after that.

The veteran depth players like Mottau are some of the silent victims of the lockout as NHL teams arent going to spend discretionary money on them until theyre 100-percent clear on the terms of the new CBA and salary cap structure. Veterans like Mottau, Radek Martinek, Brett Clark, Petr Sykora, Dominic Moore, Jason Arnott, Mike Knuble and Andrew Brunette are all in the same puck limbo while Donald Fehr and Gary Bettman work their magic.

From 2007-2010 Mottau was skating 20 minutes per night as a full-time defenseman for the New Jersey Devils, and had carved out a nice little niche for himself as a heady, efficient blueliner that paid attention to detail in his own end. Things went south as they so often do for NHL players when Mottau headed to Long Island for two tours of duty with the New York Islanders.

Injuries limited Mottau to 49 games over two years and a minus-22 rating, but the defenseman showed he was healthy and effective after a late season deal to his hometown Bruins last year. His steady play gave Claude Julien options in the playoffs when the ineffective Joe Corvo and injuries conspired to give the veteran blueliner a shot in the lineup.

Mottau had voiced a willingness to potentially play a role as a sixseven defenseman for the Bruins this season as that rare veteran a blueliner capable of sitting out for chunks of time and then jumping in without missing a beat at a moments notice. But now the defenseman is open to a job with any of the 30 teams with 332 NHL games played in his career including regular season and playoffs. That puts him just one more NHL campaign away from a full NHL players pension (it kicks in at 400 NHL games played) he would have easily earned three years ago if the injury bug hadnt caught up to him in Long Island.

Saturday, Aug. 27: Adding toughness Habs' priority

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Saturday, Aug. 27: Adding toughness Habs' priority

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, after a busy morning celebrating my 3-year-old’s birthday at the trampoline park. Yee-ha.

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri says that adding toughness was a big offseason priority for the Montreal Canadiens.

*There’s at least one big fan of the Edmonton Oilers trade that brought defenseman Adam Larsson from the New Jersey Devils, and that fan’s name is Mark Letestu.

*Here’s everything you need to know about the Ice Guardians movie premiering this fall that takes a long, balanced look at the NHL enforcers.

*Roberto Luongo has an alibi for the robbery in Winnipeg with one suspect getting away in goalie equipment, and it’s funny as you would expect it to be.

*CSN Washington takes a look at the New York Rangers in their season previews for the Metro Division.

*I’m not entirely sure whether this “RIP Harambe” thing is genuine or meant to be ironic by the largely millenial group that seem so enamored with it, but I think it’s just stupid. I think the same with the crying Jordan meme…also stupid.

*For something completely different: a look at how Triumph the Insult Comic Dog learned how to poop on Trump’s politics.

 

Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

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Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

Click here for the gallery.

From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Danton Heinen.

Danton Heinen exploded into a high-profile prospect for the Bruins after finishing among the NCAA’s top scoring players a couple of years ago as a freshman along with a couple of guys named Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin. 

Since then, Heinen has continued to produce offense at the University of Denver and continued to create offense that leads to points. Now, the 21-year-old Heinen will be entering the professional arena for his first full season with the Bruins and he’ll be attempting to transition from the prospect phase to a regular gig in the NHL. That’s the challenge for a talented player who appears headed into a very good opportunity in NHL training camp.

 

What happened last year

Heinen was every bit as explosive in his second season for Denver as he was in his brilliant freshman campaign. He improved on his scoring with 20 goals and 48 points in 41 games. Then Heinen signed with the Bruins at the end of his sophomore season and played in a couple of pro games in the AHL with Providence as a tune-up for this first full pro campaign with the Bruins organization. Heinen finished with two assists and a plus-1 rating in four games with the P-Bruins and showed the coaches in Providence that he was ready to play and produce with more talented players. If Heinen surprised a little bit as a breakout freshman two years ago, his sophomore follow-up in Denver last season proved to everybody that he wasn’t a fluke.

 

Questions to be answered this season

The real question surrounding Heinen is about his ceiling as an NHL player and just how good he can become as a player with the skills and playmaking abilities to be a top-six forward. He’s proven he can dominate at the collegiate level while admittedly playing with some pretty good teammates at Denver. Heinen showed at the end of the season in Providence that the pro scene might not be much different for him. At this point, Heinen simply needs to go out and prove it against the best players in the world and show that his speed, playmaking and hockey sense are all elite in the AHL or NHL. Heinen’s biggest obstacle might be his size. He'll need to survive as a targeted skill player despite not being much more than the 6-feet, 180-pound range for a forward. It’s about average for a playmaking wing in the NHL, but the hits and attention will be at a much more intense level than anything he faced in the NCAA world.

 

What they're saying

“He’s the type of player that he can play with good players because he’s got high hockey IQ and he’s got really good skill. I think anywhere you put him, he’s smart enough to figure it out. I think you’ll notice him during training camp. It will definitely be up to him, but I think he’ll push some guys.” –Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo on Heinen during last month’s development camp where Heinen soared as a performer.

 
Outlook

While Heinen still has some things he’ll need to prove before he’s a regular contributor for the Bruins, he comes into the Boston fold as an experienced player following two very good seasons at the college level. So, Heinen should be a little closer to plug-and-play for Claude Julien than some of the other young players that have come through the system in the past couple of years. Heinen will still need to flash in camp while being handed a big spot to perform with high-end veterans Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand potentially off playing in the World Cup of Hockey. Heinen also has a much greater chance of winning an NHL job sooner rather than later after the Bruins lost out on the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes and still have a top-six forward opening that somebody is going to fill. Heinen and Frank Vatrano are the two biggest favorites to fill that position, which became vacant when Loui Eriksson departed for Vancouver. Whichever winger loses that battle should be also be a strong candidate for a role on the third line, as well, barring any late veteran signings by the B’s. That set of circumstances leaves a very good situation for Heinen to potentially walk into with the Black and Gold, but he'll still have to show he’s fully capable of seizing his good fortune and good timing.