New contract for Carolina's Skinner a sign of Seguin's value

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New contract for Carolina's Skinner a sign of Seguin's value

Those wanting to know what its going to take to sign Tyler Seguin when hes ready for his second contract got a glimpse of it this week with the news the Carolina Hurricanes had locked up 20-year-old Jeff Skinner for the long haul.

Skinner signed a six-year, 34.35 million contract that could wind up being very similar to Seguins second contract if the Bruins opt for a longer term pact with their budding superstar. The deal will play Skinner 4.35 million in his arbitration-eligible season in 2013-14 and 6 million per season from 2014-2019.

If Seguin got the same deal, it would make him the highest-paid forward on the Bruins, and the second-highest paid player behind only Zdeno Chara.

But its also the kind of deal that Seguin could command given the comparable track that both Skinner and Bostons young superstar have undergone over the last two years. In essence Skinner has set the bar for Seguin and agent Ian Pulver if a contract extension is to be completed before the end of next season.

Boston could opt to go the shorter deal route with Seguin, but that could end up costing them more money if the Bs center continues his rapid ascension toward being one of the games best offensive players.

Seguin has 40 goals, 49 assists and 89 points in 155 games over the last two seasons as he enters the final year of his entry level contract with the Boston Bruins, and he will be up after this season along with Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton and Tuukka Rask among others.

Skinner meanwhile has 51 goals, 56 assists and 107 points in 146 games with the Hurricanes over his first two NHL seasons. The Carolina superstars stats are slightly better overall than Seguin after two seasons with both players at 20 years old, but Skinner is coming off a disappointing 44-point sophomore campaign when he was limited to 64 games in his second season because of concussion problems. Seguin has been exceedingly healthy aside from a finger injury he played through at the end of last year.

Both forwards have one All-Star appearance under their belts and Seguin finished second in the NHL last season with a plus-34 while putting out the best individual season either player has enjoyed since breaking into the league.

The long-term and high price tag of Skinners second contract is one of the very reasons the NHL is attempting to make entry level contracts five years in length in the next collective bargaining agreement. Theres an interest among league owners to control the cost of their young assets for a longer period of time as elite young players are commanding mega-bucks four or five years into their young NHL careers.

A new CBA could change things slightly for Seguin and the Bruins, but nobody should be surprised if this is the kind of contract Bostons young scoring sensation ends up signing to stay in Boston for the foreseeable future.

Mueller aims to take advantage of opportunity in tonight's Bruins-Wings game

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Mueller aims to take advantage of opportunity in tonight's Bruins-Wings game

BRIGHTON -- Tonight’s Bruins-Red Wings game against the Red Wings should be a big chance for training-camp invite Peter Mueller as he readies to skate in a second straight exhibition game after a quiet night in the opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

The former 22-goal scorer with the Coyotes felt he was “solid” and “held his own” while not getting any shots on neta againsy Columbus. The veteran winger feels like he’s again starting to pick up the NHL pace after spending the last three years in Europe, and that’s mandatory to start making plays. 

“It was a good adjustment, but hopefully tonight I show a little more skill, a few more pucks to the net and create some more offense,” said Mueller. “I would rather play in most of the [exhibition] games, to be honest with you, and to get in-game-like scenarios and prepare yourself for each and every game. In my position I’m happy that I’m playing tonight and hopefully I can keep trying to impress the people [making decisions].”

The 26-year-old former first-round pick will be in a favorable spot, skating in a possible third-line, right-wing audition with Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey. He'll also serve as another established player in a more veteran-laden lineup Wednesday night vs. the Winged Wheels at TD Garden. With Frankie Vatrano out for the next three months, these are the kind of chances Mueller needs to knock out of the park if he wants to fend off younger competition for one of those B’s roster spots up front. 

“It definitely favors the type of game I want to play,” said Mueller, when asked about the chance to skate in a spot with Spooner and Beleskey that he would likely fill whre he to crack the NHL roster. “With two skill guys, hopefully we can create some chemistry and some offense early and obviously that helps with the flow of the game. Hopefully I can just showcase my skills and the work ethic that I’m trying to bring to the team. Overall, hopefully we have a good game tonight.”

Sean Kuraly is also playing in his second straight exhibition, and will move over to the left wing skating with Austin Czarnik and left wing Zachary Senyshyn in what amounts to a kid line for the Bruins. One would expect the same goaltending rotation in this game, with Malcolm Subban getting the first two periods and Daniel Vladar getting the game’s final 20 minutes. Here are the line combos and D-pairings according to the rushes during morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena:
 
Beleskey-Spooner-Mueller
Kuraly-Czarnik-Senyshyn
Gabrielle-Moore-Ferlin
Blidh-Acciari-Hickman
 
Grzelcyk-McQuaid
Lauzon-C. Miller
Arnesson-Casto
 
Subban
Vladar
 

Bruins' Zboril uses criticism and Twitter hate as motivation

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Bruins' Zboril uses criticism and Twitter hate as motivation

BRIGHTON -- It’s easy to see that Jakub Zboril , one of the Bruins' 2015 first-round pick, has come a long way in a year.

“I feel more comfortable,” said Zboril. “After last year, when all of the people saying something about what they didn’t like about me, it really pushed me forward. I told myself I wanted to be in better shape and so I worked really hard at it.”

The 19-year-old wasn’t in very good shape for last season's training camp after coming back from a knee injury, and that carried over into a junior season for the Saint John Sea Dogs (6 goals and 20 points in 50 games). That was a drop from his 13 goals and 33 points in 44 games prior to hearing his name called by the B’s on draft night.

Zboril was back at peak effectiveness in the playoffs for the Sea Dogs with a couple of goals and 10 points in 17 games, but the chain of events caused some to wonder if the Bruins had drafted something of a bust.

It seems ludicrous, considering Zboril is a 19-year-old talented enough to be selected 13th overall in the entire NHL draft, and even more so now that he’s showing much more in his second camp with Boston. It was some good and some bad for Zboril in his preseason debut against Columbus on Monday with a misplay leading to a goal against, but Zboril also kicked off the transition pass that helped the Bruins score their first goal of game.

“From last year I think he’s made big strides,” said assistant coach Jay Pandolfo. “He’s a young kid that’s only 19 years old, and he’s going to keep getting better. So that’s what you want. The structure in his game and the overall attitude [is better]. He was a little young last year. He’s in better shape. He’s done a lot of things that we got on him for last year, and he’s taken it and listened, he’s working hard. He’s done a good job.”

It’s a long shot for Zboril to crack the B’s roster this fall, so he’s likely headed back to Saint John for another junior hockey season after watching fellow prospect Thomas Chabot get a lot of the No. 1 D-man playing time last season. He quickly shot down any possibilities of playing in Europe rather than going back to the Quebec Major Junior League, and said there could still be plenty to learn in his final junior season.

“Right now where I am, I can just learn from myself and pushing myself,” said Zboril, of going back to junior. “What I can take from last year is that my role on the team changed, and I had to be more of a shutdown D. I had to show my defensive abilities, so I improved a lot from the year before. I think I can be more of a defensive defenseman too, so there’s that.”

Still, the so-so season last year had its impact in a positive fashion with Zboril really stepping up his game. But it’s also had its drawbacks as the Czech-born defenseman was forced to deactivate his Twitter account because of the harsh criticism and messages he was getting from hockey fans. Disappointingly, Zboril said most of it was coming from people in Boston that claim to be Bruins fans, and that it was like “people just spitting on you.”

“It was really pushing me down a lot,” said Zboril. “After some games when you know you weren’t playing really good, then you go on Twitter and you just see . . . people just spitting on you. So I had to delete it.”

Zboril said he’s much happier since getting off social media. But it’s a shame that a bright young prospect’s first impression of his future NHL city was the flaming dumpster of keyboard warriors that should forever be known as “Bruins Hockey Twitter.”