BUFFALO Jay Pandolfo has already joked several times that hes enjoying life as a member of the NHL practice squad with the Boston Bruins.
There is, of course, no such thing as the practice squad in the NHL as there is within the NFL. The 38-year-old Pandolfo is a on a professional tryout agreement with the Bruins that was activated during NHL training camp, and has been practicing and skating with the Bruins over the last month.
He hadnt been traveling with the Black and Gold over the seasons first three weeks, but did make the trip to Buffalo this weekend with Boston getting ready for a tilt against the Sabres. The former New Jersey Devils forward still hasnt signed a contract with the Bruins as of this weekend, but Pandolfo hoped an invitation on the road trip was a good sign something might be upcoming.
Weve been talking and its been good being around the guys and getting comfortable. Theyve been honest with me right from the start, and that makes it easier as a player if you know exactly whats going on, said Pandolfo. I appreciate that theyve done that. Its made it easier for me so I can come in and be patient. They were honest with me right from the start of camp.
Perhaps theres a chance the Bruins can now sign Pandolfo to a one-year deal after moving Tim Thomas contract and 5 million cap hit to the New York Islanders. Pandolfo would certainly give the Bruins another veteran bottom-six forward capable of killing penalties should more injuries hit in Boston.
Its a pretty good bet Pandolfo will head down to Providence to play in a few games ifwhen the Bruins do officially bring him into the fold. That would likely happen before he gets pressed into NHL duty with Boston.
You can be in the best shape in the world, but being in game shape is totally different, said Pandolfo. I would think playing in Providence is something that could definitely happen, I would guess. Thats something just to get into game shape rather than getting thrown into games. Im sure thats something that will get talked about.
Either way, its been a nice experience for the former Burlington High superstar, who has been able to practice with the Bruins while settling in with his family in their Winchester home over the last month. Getting to jump into some NHL games with the Black and Gold down the line would simply end up making it the perfect situation for a local guy thats been such a good pro over the last 15 years.
It was assumed that Patrice Bergeron will be finalist for the Selke Trophy again this season, and it became official on Thursday when it was announced that Bergeron, Ryan Kesler and Anze Kopitar were the three finalists for the award given to the best defensive forward.
It would be the third straight Selke Trophy and fourth overall for Bergeron if he can take the hardware home again during the NHL Awards in June, and the ever-humble No. 37 said he was just honored to once again be nominated.
“Being named a finalist for the Selke Trophy is a tremendous honor and one I am very grateful for,” said Bergeron in a press release. “While it is an individual award, my teammates and coaches deserve a lot of credit as well. Ryan and Anze are two elite players who both had great seasons and it is a privilege to be a finalist alongside them. Thanks to all of those who voted and I look forward to the NHL Awards Show on June 22.”
The Bruins center has won the Selke Trophy three times (2012, 2014 and 2015) and has now been a Selke finalist in each of the last five seasons. His three wins are tied for the second-most in NHL history, one behind Hall of Fame Canadiens forward Bob Gainey, who is the all-time leader with four Selke Trophies. Bergeron was the Bruins’ lone representative at the All-Star Game this winter for the second straight season, and was a no-brainer as a finalist given all of his defensive qualifications.
Bergeron finished the 2015-16 regular season leading the NHL in faceoffs taken (1,978) and for the second straight season led the league in faceoffs won (1,130) while finishing a solid seventh overall with a 57.1% faceoff win rate among players taking a minimum of 500 draws.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while giving a thumbs up to “The Good Dinosaur” as quality family viewing.
*TSN Hockey Buddha Bob McKenzie breaks down the players available in the NHL draft lottery and what kind of names teams like the Boston Bruins should expect to be available with the first 14 picks.
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Greg Wyshynski talks about the World of Cup ads with the ESPN creative people that made them happen. They used the word jarring in something of a positive fashion to describe them. I would use the word “not funny” for Reg Carling, the fictional character created for the ads. If they were trying to feature the personality of NHL players in those ads, I think they missed the mark. It’s not really a big deal in the final scheme of things, but it doesn’t make for a good first step in drawing hockey fans back to the four letter network.
*Good luck to Cam Tucker, a hockey writer based out of Vancouver that appears to have been one of the latest to be downsized in our industry.
*Dennis Bernstein has some thoughts, facts, analysis and theories surrounding the Los Angeles Kings, who have a long time to think about their first-round exit from the playoffs.
*Bruce Garrioch has some info on Ottawa’s long range plan to move to a needed downtown arena and that being the blueprint for most other Canadian cities.
*Tracey Myers has a dilemma for the Blackhawks: Andrew Shaw wants to stay, but the question is whether the Blackhawks can afford him?
*PHT writer James O’Brien has Bruce Boudreau lamenting the tough Game 7 loss for the Anaheim Ducks to the Nashville Predators. The loss may cost Boudreau his job, and will see a lot of new blood in the West with Chicago, Los Angeles and Anaheim now all out of the postseason.
*For something completely different: how can you say “no” to a tour of the world’s most magnificent treehouses.
The Bruins will know a great deal more in a couple of days about their prospects for NHL Draft weekend in Buffalo this June.
The NHL will hold its annual draft lottery in Toronto on Saturday night for those teams outside the playoffs that hold first-round picks or those shrewd enough to have secured a first-rounder and still have reached the playoffs.
The Bruins will have two first-round picks regardless of what happens: they hold their own lottery-eligible selection along with the first-round pick from the San Jose Sharks sent to Boston last summer in the trade for goaltender Martin Jones. The Sharks are still alive in the postseason, so the B’s second selection will be a late first-rounder.
The Bruins were the last NHL team eliminated from playoff contention, so they hold the slimmest odds of securing the first overall pick with a 1 percent chance in the Auston Matthews sweepstakes.
It’s too bad because the kind of game-breaking talent available at the top of the draft is exactly what the Black and Gold franchise needs after trading away top-10 first-round picks in Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton the past three years.
The Bruins will have roughly the same odds for the second (1.1 percent chance) and third overall picks (1.3 percent chance) should they miss out on No. 1, but the chances are still slim at they will pick anywhere but the same exact 14th overall pick where they selected Jake DeBrusk last season. Should they get a selection in the top three, the Bruins would be looking at big-time center Matthews, and a pair of Finnish wingers in Patrick Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi, along with Matthew Tkachuk (son of Keith Tkachuk and cousin to Jimmy Hayes).
The highest rated D-man on the board is Sarnia Sting blueliner Jakob Chycrun, who is a player the Bruins would need to trade up for, a la their attempt at Noah Hanifin last year. The Bruins will have assets to potentially make that happen, but we all know how that worked out last season for Don Sweeney when a big part of “the plan” was moving up to nab one of last year’s blue chip D-men in the draft.
Hopeful Bruins fans can try their luck with the NHL Draft Lottery Simulator online, but fair warning that you won’t see the Spoked ‘B’ come up very much while hashing out the order of the top three overall picks for late June at the First Niagara Center.