Potential Bruins' trade targets

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Potential Bruins' trade targets

BOSTON -- Despite recent Chicken Little reactions for a Bruins hockey team thats been under .500 since a rematch against the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 8, the Bs dont have many roster holes.

Thats always subject to change, of course, and the nagging concussion issue holding Nathan Horton out of the lineup could alter Bostons course significantly at the upcoming trade deadline.

But the Bruins arent planning on any major moves this season. Theyd like to ideally have any new additions in place just before they embark on an 11-day road trip starting next week just as they had Tomas Kaberle, Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley on board for a six-game road trip through Western Canada in late February last season.

For those with short memories the Bruins went a perfect 6-0-0 on that road trip with their newly acquired players and really gelled as a unit while away from the friendly confines at TD Garden.

The Bruins are hoping for lightning to strike twice in terms of making complementary depth moves and affording their team a chance to bond on a road trip St. Louis, Winnipeg, Buffalo and Ottawa among other stops.

So what are the Bruins looking for?

Listening to Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli tell it, the Bs are looking in a couple of very specific areas for potential upgrades.

Id like to add a defenseman and a forward, without subtracting anything, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli told 98.5 The Sports Hubs Toucher and Rich earlier this week. Right now the market is very, very slow. Races are so tight. I say this every year, but it seems slower this year. The gaps between the 12-13 spots for the playoffs are small.

Its been tough sledding this year, I know we have 2-3 weeks, but well see how it goes.

The players would most likely be brought in as depthcompetition for the spots currently filled by Benoit Pouliot and Joe Corvo on Bostons roster.

Pouliot has a slew of game-winning goals and the sweetest 1-on-1 offensive move pulled off this year by a Bruins player, but hes been inconsistent. Theres also the fear that Pouliot is just one bad penalty waiting to happen in the postseason. Stressing the point with his own play Pouliot has two assists and a zero plusminus rating in his last 13 games, and has been something akin to invisible. Meanwhile Corvo has been exactly the defensive liability the Bruins assumed they might be getting headed into the season. The problem: Corvo hasnt provided the kind of offense to offset his D-zone shortcomings. Corvo's heavy shot and puck-moving capabilities have been spotty through the season, and hasn't brought goal-producing acumen like B's management had hoped for. He's on pace for five goals scored -- a figure that would be his lowest total in the NHL since his rookie season with the Los Angeles Kings in 2002-03.

So the Bruins are first and foremost in the market for a defenseman to give Claude Julien options where he doesnt currently have them. With those two positions as the most pressing to fill assuming Horton is going to be fine headed into the playoffs there are interesting options. One thing that wont be a problem: cap space. According to capgeek.com the Bruins could take on roughly 14 million in cap space at the trade deadline if they move Marc Savard to long term injured reserve in exchange for the cap relief.

Here are the most likely trade targets for the Bruins:

Tuomo Ruutu The roughneck forward is exactly the kind of skillsandpaper player the Bruins love for their third line roles, and hed fit in perfectly with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley. The Bruins are interested in Ruutu and have several former Hurricanes players on the Bs that have given their recommendation on the scrappy Finn. Unfortunately two major stumbling blocks stand in the way: it appears Carolina is going to sign him to an extension just as theyd done with Tim Gleason. The price for Ruutu is a first-round pick plus some kind of prospect.

Ray Whitney the crafty forward has been in Bostons sights before at the trade deadline, but he seems to be a veteran intent on carefully picking his landing spot. Who can forget the Los Angeles Kings trade that was blown up because Whitney started demanding a three-year extension before agreeing to go there? Whitney is still a crafty playmaker and a guy that could certainly give the Bruins an offensive shot in the arm, but hes got some very serious no-trade provisions that would have to be worked through. Hes also proven in the past that hell attempt to leverage any potential deadline deals into something financially beneficial for him as well. The Bruins wouldnt be looking to make any contract guarantees until they see what kind of fit an impending free agent like Whitney would be with their team. Indications are that San Jose and the New York Rangers are also interested, but the Coyotes are also right in the thick of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Whitney wont move as long as the Desert Dogs have a chance at the postseason. A pick andor a prospect would be the going rate for Whitney as it was two years ago.

Shane Doan The Coyotes Captains name has been kicked around as available given the possibility that Phoenix could be relocated to Seattle or some other willing NHL wannabee market next year but dont bet on Doan going anywhere. Doan will want to ride off into the sunset with the Coyotes franchise, and once again no move is going to be made as long as Phoenix is perilously close to the playoff bubble.

Jeff CarterRick Nash The Bruins have had scouts at the Blue Jackets home games and presumably its because they are one of the few franchises that will undoubtedly be sellers at the trade deadline. The Bs have discussed Jeff Carter in the past dating back to a one-for-one trade possibility for Phil Kessel back when both players were just starting out, and Nash is obviously a special player that would require a high cost in players and picks. Either player would require the Bruins to move an affordable young asset on their team or a prospectpick package that would hurt (Dougie Hamilton) the long-term health of the franchise.

Ryan Smyth the blood-and-guts Edmonton Oilers forward is the exact kind of veteran presence that could give the Bruins a facsimile of the skill set and net-front presence that Mark Recchi brought to the table. Smyth is said to be hesitant to waive his no-trade clause this month, but the Bruins are definitely interested in the aging hockey player. It would likely cost the Bruins a high draft pick to bring on Smyth, who also commands a cap hit over 6 million.

Jarome Iginla the Flames Captain has a no-trade clause and says hes sticking it out with the Calgary Flames. Iginla would fit in perfectly with the Bruins temperament and style if he did decide to relocate anywhere for a playoff push, and came away impressed with Zdeno Charas leadership skills after the defenseman barked at the Flames superstar during the third period the NHL All-Star game. Iginla would cost the Bruins a first-round pick and a talented young player if he were available and it truly appears that hes staying put in Calgary.

David Jones Hes cheap, hes having a down year and hes on a team in the Colorado Avalanche that might just be waving the white flag on the season. The Bruins would catch plenty of flack if Jones was their big deadline move, but the guy did score 27 goals last season, right? Thats got to count for something.

Bobby RyanRyan Getzlaf Another pair of marquee name forwards from a lost Anaheim hockey bunch that couldnt put it together despite a good collection of hockey talent. Ryan was already kicked around once this season as a trade target just prior to Bruce Boudreau taking over as the Ducks head coach, but he may truly be gone by the trade deadline. There are warning bells when a player like Ryan doesnt seem to take well to the coaching staff entrenched in place. But the cost would be prohibitively too high for the Bruins in terms of a contract extension and the roster spot hed hold on the team. Getzlaf was a physical beast at his best, but it looks like hes slowing down in a major way. If thats the case the Bruins wouldnt be trading for a player well on the way to the back nine of his career. Both players would require draft picks, a young nucleus of NHL caliber talent, prospects and anything else the Bruins could provide.If Anaheim getshot enough to dealeither of these two high-profile forwards, they'll get a high return on the investment.

Hal Gill Its not going to happen and hes not the kind of defenseman the Bruins are in the market for, but the 6-foot-7 blueliner is going to help somebody with his interior strength, toughness and leadership capabilities in the dressing room.

Johnny Oduya The 3.5 million cap hit would turn off some teams, but hes the kind of veteran defenseman that could fit into the Boston mold nicely after years of experience in the New Jersey system.

Ryan SuterShea Weber The proverbial home run target for the Bruins if they truly decide to go for it during the trade deadline, but it will cost them dearly in prospects, young NHL roster talent and draft picks. Suter is a little less hyped for his defenseman skill set, but hes a highly capable two-way defenseman that would finally give the Bruins the complement to Zdeno Chara that theyve always been looking for. Weber is a little flashier and a little more of a household name, and the thought of Weber and Chara blasting away from the point spots with this 105-mph and higher slapshots is patently unfair to everybody else. Its a two-man race for the Norris Trophy between Chara and Weber, so that lets people know all they need to about the Nashville defenseman. The cost for either player would be more than the Bruins are hoping to spend, but theyd be worth it provided they were willing to discuss locking things in on a long term deal.

Lubomir VisnovskyNicklas GrossmanPavel Kubina A trio of veteran defensemen on mid-level or bad hockey teams capable of handling themselves offensively while adding something to their teams transition game. There are at least five additional defensemen that could be added hereif the B's make asimple depth move.None of the aforementioned players would cause the Bruins to wholly compromise their large storage closet of salary cap space heading into the deadline, and all would be an upgrade over Joe Corvo over the final few months.

Krug out 6 months, Krejci 5 months after surgery

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Krug out 6 months, Krejci 5 months after surgery

It sounds like the Bruins will be without puck-moving defenseman Torey Krug at the very outset of next season.

Krug (right shoulder), Matt Beleskey (left hand) and David Krejci (left hip) all underwent successful surgeries in mid-to-late April for injuries sustained over the wear and tear of NHL duty last season and both Krug and Krejci are now facing recovery times on the long end of things. 

Krejci’s rehab and recovery is initially set for five months after undergoing surgery with renowned hip surgeon Dr. Bryan Kelly on April 25, but the hope is that the 30-year-old playmaking center will be ready for the start of the regular season.

It’s the same rough timetable Krejci faced following hip surgery on his right side after the 2008-09 season and, seven years ago, the center was able to start the season on time.

Krug is up for what’s expected to be a long-term new contract after July 1, and will be out six months after undergoing shoulder surgery with Bruins team doctor Peter Asnis on April 21. That means there’s a good chance the 5-foot-8, 180-pound Krug will miss the preseason and be out the first few weeks of the preseason at the very least. 

Shoulder injuries are also always a bit of a concern for NHL defensemen considering all of the pounding those players absorb on a nightly basis, and that goes doubly so for a smaller blueliner (5-9, 186) such as Krug.

Any absence at all is tough news for the B’s considering Krug was second on the Bruins in ice time (21:37) among defensemen this season, and led all Bruins blueliners with 44 points last season in a challenging year for a clearly undermanned D-corps.

Beleskey is expected to undergo a six-week rehab after his April 14 surgery with Dr. Matthew Leibman at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.  

Tuesday, May 3: Stamkos, Subban as 10-year-old teammates

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Tuesday, May 3: Stamkos, Subban as 10-year-old teammates

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while starting to actually feel badly for the Republican Party.

*Lukas Head revisits an old photo taken with Steven Stamkos and PK Subban when all three were youth hockey players together.

*A disappointed Brooks Orpik gets emotional when discussing his playoff suspension. Maybe he should stop lining up guys for predatory hits if he doesn’t want to be suspended. His track record, and unwillingness to answer the bell for his actions, is well-chronicled.

*Barry Trotz hints that the Pittsburgh Penguins received preferential treatment in the aforementioned Brooks Orpik suspension.

*A heartwarming story of the San Jose Sharks saving the black cat that somehow jumped on the ice at the Shark Tank prior to Game 1 of their playoff series.

*Congratulations to the inspirational Travis Roy, who was inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame last weekend.

*Bob Hartley is fired by the Calgary Flames. Could it be that it was done to make room for Bruce Boudreau, asks Puck Daddy?

*Former Bruins enforcer PJ Stock did some kind of FaceTime television hit with Rogers Sportsnet to make some playoff predictions.

*For something completely different: Jerry Thornton has a number of local Boston businesses banning Roger Goodell from their premises.

 

 

Youth needs to be served

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Youth needs to be served

This is the second in a five-part series about the breakdowns that doomed the team this season, and what must change for the Black and Gold to once again get moving in the right direction. 

In the days after the Bruins' regular-season demise, it was striking to hear Don Sweeney speak about the development path of David Pastrnak.

The Bruins general manager paid the second-year forward perfunctory compliments about the prodigious skill set that made him a first-round draft choice. Pastrnak -- in spite of getting almost no power-play time, even though he's one of the most gifted offensive players on the roster -- scored five more goals and roughly the same number of points in about the same number of games as he did in his rookie year, despite suffering a fractured foot in the first month and then competing in the World Junior tourney around the holidays. He also gained steam at the end of the season, scoring goals in three of the final four games while the rest of his teammates struggled.

But Pastrnak, one of the youngest players in the NHL at age 19, struggled with puck management and turnovers, and had some rough nights as a teenager making his way in a rough-and-tumble man’s league. He's still on the learning curve, something Sweeney readily acknowledges.

“The impatience about putting players [at the NHL level] before they’re ready, it shows up at times,” said Sweeney, who invoked Pastrnak’s name while answering a question about the potential NHL readiness of promising young B's prospect Danton Heinen. “It absolutely does. We’re talking about David Pastrnak, who leads the league in giveaways per 60 minutes. He’s a tremendous talent and a tremendous young man with tremendous character, and he wants to get better and needs to get stronger.

“At times it’s unfair to [coach Claude Julien] that people will be like ‘Ah, there’s Pastrnak not out there on the ice in this situation.’ But [Julien's] the same guy that put [Pastrnak] out there (in a crucial late-season game against the Red Wings with the Bruins leading 5-1) and he makes a bad mistake and they score . . .

"That’s a bit of give-and-take that everybody has to understand with our younger players. You have to hope that they’re ready for it. [We've] done it properly (in the past) . . . [Brad Marchand] started on the fourth line and worked his way up.

"David has been up and down a little bit. That’s the piece where we need to have some depth, and we’re in a transition to get there.”

Sweeney's mention of Marchand illustrates the Bruins' problem. When Marchand broke in, the Bruins were a talented Stanley Cup contender. His first full season was 2010-11, the year Boston won the Cup. The B's could afford to slowly develop him. letting him get his feet wet in low-pressure situations before asking more of him.

That's not the case today. The Bruins no longer have that kind of quality roster depth, and won't anytime soon unless a lot of these prospects come through. That means young players like Pastrnak are forced into bigger roles they might not be ready for.

And that strikes right at the heart of Boston’s development missteps from last season.  

Some of it was organizational. It seemed pretty clear by the end of the season that Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow and Brett Connolly aren’t going to develop into core players in Boston. That's just the way it is in a results-oriented business like the NHL. It doesn’t necessarily reflect poorly on the coaching staff’s work, as great coaching can’t magically turn a borderline NHL player into something he’s not.

But while the coaches handled Pastrnak well, they failed at times with Frank Vatrano and Colin Miller. Both showed flashes of NHL ability throughout the season, but spoke of losing their confidence based on their erratic usage patterns. The two of them needed stints in the American Hockey League to get their respective grooves back.

In particular, the electric Vatrano should have been back up with the B's weeks sooner than he was. The Bruins were struggling to score goals and he was rifling them home at a goal-per-game pace in Providence. As soon as he returned to Boston, he posted four points in his five games.

With Julien returning and the Bruins intent on introducing more young talent to the lineup, the transition into the NHL needs to be streamlined.

Given how much of a priority it is for Sweeney, there's no reason to think the process won't be improved.

The hope is that the next crop of B’s prospects will yield results. First-round picks from other organizations, like Morrow and Connolly, mostly fizzled last season, but Boston’s own crop of young players -- Heinen, Brandon Carlo, Austin Czarnik, Noel Acciari -- should augment the contributions of newcomers like Vatrano and Miller. And while most of last year's first-round selections (Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk and Zachary Senyshyn) are probably still more than a year away, the feeling is there'll be a promising return from that batch of draftees. In addition, the Bruins have another two first-round picks this year.

Upper management makes the point that the present situation began developing in the final years of Peter Chiarelli's watch. With singular exceptions like Marchand the team was unable to develop its own talent, which led to overpaying veterans to stay competitive, which led to severe salary-cap issues, which led to the decay of the franchise we've witnessed over the last two seasons. 

"I think for a period of time we stopped being in an invest mode (and instead ran) with the guys we had," said owner Jeremy Jacobs. "You pay a price in this game if you’re not constantly investing in the next generation.”

Now, however, it's time to stop the finger-pointing and begin the rebuild in earnest. To their credit, the Bruins say they're doing just that.

“I think we did take a step back this year for that very purpose,” said Jacobs. 

Investing in youth is simply the way of the salary-cap world, for the Bruins and everybody else in the NHL. It will have to mean patience and longer leashes for young players under Julien.

“The younger players that we’ve drafted and recently signed and are going to develop are a big part of [the future], as long as they’re good enough players," said Sweeney. "We expect them to be. But when . . . you put them in your lineup is important . . . 

"This ownership is very, very supportive of what we need to do. It’s just, ‘Get it done.’ So that’s why the chair is warm [for everybody].”

While Julien clearly did play a role in the emergence of Marchand, David Krejci and Milan Lucic as NHL stars, developing young players has never been one of his coaching strengths. He certainly bears some responsibility for elite young talents like Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton not lasting in Boston. The warmth of his chair will depend largely on the development of the new crop of youngsters. That will be doubly so if Providence Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy ends up getting a job as an assistant in Boston next season, and gets a chance to work with the young players he’s helped develop at the AHL level.

The bottom line is this for the Bruins: They need the best draft-and-development season they’ve had in quite a while if things are going to significantly change for the better on Causeway Street.