Boston Bruins

Backes missing from Bruins' morning skate in Toronto

Backes missing from Bruins' morning skate in Toronto

TORONTO – While Patrice Bergeron looked perfectly healthy and spry getting through morning skate at the Air Canada Centre ahead of tonight’s big game vs. the Maple Leafs, it was another member of that line missing from the ice. 

David Backes was missing from the ice during morning skate. Instead, it was Jimmy Hayes skating on the right side with Bergeron and Brad Marchand while it looked like Noel Acciari was going to draw back in on the fourth line as well.

 

Bruce Cassidy said Backes "was a little under the weather" this morning, so he'll be a game-time decision. Cassidy also said he expects the 32-year-old to play tonight, so he'd obviously replace Hayes up front if he's able to suit up. 

There was some question as to Bergeron's availability after he missed practice on Sunday, but he was a full participant in morning skate. 

We’ll update when we get word on an update for Backes, and whether it’s got anything to do with the knee issue from the Calgary road win.

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings vs. Toronto based on morning skate:

Marchand-Bergeron-Hayes

Beleskey-Krejci-Pastrnak

Vatrano-Spooner-Stafford

Moore-Nash-Acciari

 
Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

C. Miller-K. Miller


Rask
 

Hagg Bag mailbag: Late summer edition with hockey almost here

bruins_david_pastrnak_012417.jpg

Hagg Bag mailbag: Late summer edition with hockey almost here

NHL training camp is less than a month away, and the last vestiges of the hockey offseason are coming to a close. Pretty soon NHL players will be back in their hockey cities of employment, and informal captain’s practices will begin in earnest. In about six weeks from now, there will be hockey again on the sports calendar. For now we’ll have to settle for digging down deep into the late summer Hagg Bag mailbag for all sorts of questions, and hopefully some answers too. 

As always these are real questions from real fans sent to my twitter account using the #HaggBag hash tag, real emails to my jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com account and real messages to my CSN Facebook page. So without further ado, on to the bag: 

 

Why would any youngster wanna sign long term here…it's only a place for AVG players to get big? Krejci...Belesky.....Backes....Rask....Krug

--Dean Goodman (@bostonbees)

JH: So Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand are average players? I’m pretty sure Zdeno Chara is going into the Hockey Hall of Fame when he finally hangs his skates up like 12 years from now, and Bergeron has an okay chance if he keeps producing, maybe wins another Cup and adds another Selke or two to his trophy case. 

Part of the reason that David Pastrnak put up such big numbers last season was playing right wing alongside No. 37 and No. 63, and he also did a fair amount of offensive damage skating alongside Krejci as well. You don’t score 34 goals and 70 points as a 20-year-old because you’ve got a bunch of average players around you. So that along with it being a very strong NHL market, a great city and an organization that’s again on the rise would probably count as some pretty good reasons why a guy like Pastrnak would sign with the Bruins long term. 

Clearly the Bruins have a ways to go before they truly prove they are a good fit for elite young players after things fizzled with Phil Kessel, Dougie Hamilton and Tyler Seguin over the last 10 years. But that starts with the Bruins treating No. 88 well in these negotiations, making him happy going into the coming season and then making certain they’ve sent a good message to guys like Charlie McAvoy that the Bruins are a good long term home for prominent young guys. 

I’ll let you in on a little secret: The coaching change made last season will go a long way toward making all of that happen. Claude Julien at least played some part in the exodus of both Kessel and Hamilton, and he also never really gave Seguin a chance at center before the Bruins shipped him to Dallas four years ago. 

 

People who say Pasta hasn't earned anything, should take up another sport! Clueless idiot

--Dan Bruin Mainville (@Buzzard2002)

JH: On the one hand, I’m sure the Bruins would like to see another elite level season from Pastrnak before they’d sign him to a massive, long term deal. That would be the ideal situation from a Black and Gold perspective. But you can’t fully control the market if a player doesn’t want to sign a contract early in the process, and sometimes you have to pay the going rate on the market for a player that’s earned it. Pastrnak has at least earned something close to Leon Draisaitl if the Bruins are being fair about it. Not many players in NHL history have had a season where they put up 34 goals and 70 points before they were even 21 year old. Couple that with Pastrnak’s cachet as a former first round pick and the fact he was the youngest guy in the NHL during his rookie season, and add in a little pinch of good, old-fashioned hard work as he truly bought into the B’s program last season to help prompt that big year. All of that adds up to Pastrnak earning something substantial for a second contract, and a potentially great career that might just be starting up in Boston. 

The electric talent is certainly there for Pastrnak, and I wouldn’t feel too leery about something a big deal with him if I were the Black and Gold. He’s the real deal. In that sense, Dan, I don’t get people bagging on Pasta either. The kid has been a phenom since the very beginning, and those kinds of players get paid early in their careers. 

 

Waiting for Haggs review of The Defenders @netflix

--Brian Cain (@BrianCain9)

JH: I’m up in Maine on vacation this week and I binged the crap out of it over the last few days. My review is that it’s the best of the Marvel/Netflix series thus far and really does justice to all of the main characters. It’s funny, action-packed and the stuff where all four characters are together is awesome. My only complaint might be Sigourney Weaver as the Big Bad. She brought gravitas and legitimacy to the whole thing given her presence and resume, but she really didn’t do a whole heck of a lot at all in her role. I won’t give anything away, but I felt like her whole role in the grand scheme of things was a bit anti-climactic. I expected more. So perhaps the “bad guy” didn’t truly live up to what Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage were bringing to the table, but I was able to overlook it because of the way things were set up. The other lead members of the HAND were good enough for me to enjoy it all. But the Defenders was a great big step back up from the Iron Fist series, and makes me think they really rushed that one along to get to this. I guess all the Big Bads can’t be as good as Vincent D’Onofrio was playing the Kingpin either.  

 

Are you saying that you wouldn't move [Pastrnak] in any deal? My guess is that Sweens is listening to offers.

--Jeff Gold (@jgold2004)

JH: I don’t think Don Sweeney is listening to offers at all right now. As I wrote, if the Bruins could get a player like Zach Werenski in exchange for Pastrnak then I would certainly think about it. But the problem is that the Bruins are going to have to play that player the same kind of contract they’re currently balking at with Pastrnak, or another team isn’t going to be willing to move that elite young player if they’ve already locked him up to a team-friendly deal. 

The problem with the Bruins trading Pastrnak is that they’re not going to get equal value in return, and they also have zero ability to recreate his speed, skill and game-breaking ability with anything they have in their organization. This is part of the problem with skipping out on elite offensive talent like Alex Debrincat and Kailor Yamomoto in each of the last two first rounds. They have solid two-way talent as a result of the players they did pick, but they don’t have much in the way of game-breaking forwards coming through their system right now. 

So given all of that, I wouldn’t be even partially listening to trade offers for Pastrnak unless I really, truly thought there was no way I could sign him. The Bruins have the cap space and the desire to get it done. They just have to loosen the purse strings a bit. 

 

Felger is an idiot and Mazz doesn't know hockey. B's defense will be OK. They will have too many holes at wing if they trade pasta for a D-man

--Matias Hallichuk (@mhall3333)

JH: C’mon, you don’t get cover stories written about you in the Boston Globe magazine if you’re an idiot. Mazz knows hockey is played on a frozen surface, so that’s a good start. Seriously, the fact those two moved you to write a message to me is proof that they’re doing their jobs very, very well. 

As for your point, I totally agree. They can’t replace Pastrnak and that’s why they can’t trade him. He’s literally their future at the forward position for the next 10 years, just as Charlie McAvoy is the face of the D-men for the next decade as well. 

Besides, they need to see what they have in guys like Jakob Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon and Urho Vaakanainen before they decide to give up the farm for a young, left shot D-man to potentially pair with McAvoy moving forward. I actually think the defense is going to be okay this season as well, though I would caution anybody getting too far ahead of themselves with two young guys like McAvoy and Brandon Carlo playing substantial roles this season. There will definitely be some ups and downs as those young guys experience the growing pains of being inexperienced D-men in the NHL, but a couple of years from now the Bruins will have one of the best defensemen corps in the entire league. That’s an absolute fact. 

 

Dear Joe, 

If Sweeney doesn't make any more moves this offseason, what do you see the lineup looking like with so many young players? 

I can see a lineup of 63-37-42, Bjork-46-88, 72-51-JFK, and 39-20-55 for the forwards. I'm not sure how Spooner vs. JFK would sort out, or about where talented players like Agostino, Heinen, and DeBrusk would fit in (do you think they would be in the opening night lineup or in Providence, and if they were called up, where would they fit?). 

Same question for "grittier" players like Kuraly and Schaller. For the defense, I think Chara-McAvoy and Krug-Carlo pairings would be great, but the bottom pairing could be in trouble. A more probable and balanced blue line would be 33-25, 86-73 (I think Miller played pretty well on his offside), and 47-54. For the 7th d-man, I'd guess either O'Gara or Grzelcyk (maybe even Zboril if he's developed enough). 

Hopefully Khudobin is confident enough to be a good backup and give Rask rest, but if he isn't, who do you see replacing him between Subban and McIntyre? 

Unrelated, but Vision vs. Doctor Strange for most powerful Avenger? I think Black Panther is the coolest, though. 

Thanks, 

Jon 

JH: Thanks Jon. Here are my forward lines and D-pairings based on what we know right now:

Marchand-Bergeron-Heinen/DeBrusk

Bjork-Krejci-Pastrnak

Vatrano-Spooner-Backes

Beleskey-Kuraly-Nash

Acciari

 

Chara-Carlo

K. Miller-McAvoy

Krug-McQuaid 

Postma 

I really think a couple of young guys will get every opportunity to win key forward spots, and Kenny Agostino is a backup play in case all of Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen and Zach Senyshyn aren’t ready to go out of training camp. As far as the defense goes, I think it’s a lock that Brandon Carlo and Zdeno Chara will reprise as Boston’s shutdown pair after they were so good last season. I also agree that Kevin Miller gets the first crack with McAvoy while playing on his off side, but I wouldn’t rule out the coaching staff getting a look at Krug-McAvoy as well. I’m not sure they can survive together defensively, but they could certainly move a lot of pucks and create a ton of transition offense. 

 

Won’t take much time, but why is Krejci so neglected by the Bruins organization? I seem to think that he did not get along with Julien. Is that true? Once he got something going with [Loui] Eriksson, they traded him. What the heck?!

--Eric Christian (Message via CSN Facebook page)

JH: Hey Eric. Well, they didn’t trade Loui Eriksson. He left in free agency when the Bruins weren’t about to sign him to a Bad Idea Jeans contract of six years for big money. Krejci is also the highest paid player on the team, so I would really hesitate to say he’s been neglected by the Bruins. How about looking at it this way? As the highest paid veteran forward on the team, he should be able to make players better around him rather than pouting if he doesn’t have highly paid veteran wingers on either side of him. Krejci matched a career-high 23 goals last season and did some okay things, but he didn’t have a great year that ended with him unable to play in final few games of the postseason. 

The Czech center needs to have a big season this coming year after being fully healthy this past summer after rehabbing from hip surgery last year. The Bruins are paying him like one of the best forwards on the team and now it’s time for him to live up to his end of the bargain as a frontline center no matter which wingers he’s playing with. He could potentially have a couple of really good, young ones in Pastrnak and Anders Bjork if everything works out in training camp. 

Well, that’s all this time around until the next Hagg Bag…

Bean: Bruins putting themselves at risk of Pastrnak offer sheet

Bean: Bruins putting themselves at risk of Pastrnak offer sheet

I hate articles about offer sheets. Most of them are idiotic. This puts me in a pickle, as I am an idiot. 

Yet here we are, nearly two months into David Pastrnak’s restricted free agency. Don Sweeney and J.P. Barry are in their latest blinking contest (Barry represents Dougie Hamilton and Loui Eriksson, among other Bruins to depart in recent years) and one of the best young right wings in the world doesn’t have his second contract. As of late Sunday evening, the sides were still not close to an agreement. 

MORE ON PASTRNAK

Despite my hatred of offer sheet chatter, the Bruins, who traded Hamilton out of fear of an offer sheet before he could even be offer-sheeted, are actually vulnerable in this case. It isn't likely because it never is, but if I were another team, I’d be thinking about it. 

First, an explanation of why I hate talk of offer sheets: 

Because. Offer sheets. Don’t. Freaking. Happen. 

Why don’t they happen? Because they’re harmful to both the team that loses the player and to the team that does the poaching. And to the other 29 teams, for that matter. 

Teams don’t offer-sheet a player unless they’re nearly positive their offer won’t be matched. If they sign a player to an above-market deal, it creates inflation regardless of who gets the player, as that player’s contract becomes a comp for similar players across the league. In other words, if you sign an 18-goal scorer for $6 million a year because you really want him, have fun trying to sign anybody who matches or exceeds that production in future seasons.

There’s also the stuff about GMs not wanting to piss each other off, but it’s mainly the inflation thing because, as in life, everything comes down to money. 

There hasn’t been an offer sheet since the Flames’ idiotic attempt at signing (and then immediately losing because they didn’t understand the CBA) Ryan O’Reilly in 2013. The Flyers signed Shea Weber to a 14-year offer sheet in 2012, but that was matched by Nashville.

Another reason why I hate articles about offer sheets: Because its authors (definitely myself included once upon a time) often don’t understand RFA compensation. The draft picks awarded to victimized teams are done based not on the actual cap hit/average annual value of the deal, but of the deal’s total money divided by years or five, whichever is smallest. 

So when you see charts such as this one … 


… it doesn’t mean that you can sign a player to a seven-year, $7.8 million deal and only have to surrender a first, a second and a third. That contract would contain $54.6 million in total dollars, and since five is fewer than seven, the total money would be divided by five. That would make the number $10.9 million, which would cost a team four first-round picks. 

If you understood all that, I offer both congratulations and my apologies, but here’s where the part about the Bruins being vulnerable comes in: A longer deal would carry a higher cap hit because it buys out years of free agency; a shorter deal would carry a lower cap hit because it gets Pastrnak to his next big raise even sooner. If a team signs Pastrnak to an offer sheet that splits the difference, the Bruins get the worst of both worlds. 

One potential offer sheet that would likely frustrate the hell out of the B’s: A five-year deal at $7.8 million per. 

That contract would screw the Bruins whether they match or not. If they walk away, they get just a first, second and third-round pick for a goal-scorer who drives goalies to drink but is barely old enough to legally drink himself. 

Matching would stink as well, as that cap hit would not suit the term well. The Oilers gave Leon Draisaitl $8.5 million a year on his recently signed contract, but they did so because they were able to lock him up for eight years. That means that the Oilers will have their star forward signed through his age 30 season, buying out years of unrestricted free agency without having to give him another raise during his prime. 

A five-year deal would mean Pastrnak would be an unrestricted free agent at his deal’s conclusion. The Bruins would have paid the high cap hit that comes with a seven-or-eight-year deal, only to have to give him a raise again -- or lose him for nothing -- when he’s 26. If Pastrnak improves upon (or even maintains) what he was last season and the cap keeps going up, the AAV on his third contract in such a scenario could surpass $10 million. Plus, a seven or eight-year deal at that point would mean signing him into his mid-30s and risking diminishing returns. A five-year, $39 million contract right now would carry all the bad of the Draisaitl deal (the AAV) without enough of the good (the years). 

So is there actually a team that could put Sweeney and Co. in such a tight spot? The answer is an emphatic “yeah, kind of.”

Teams that have the picks required to sign Pastrnak to such a contract and the cap space to fit such a deal this coming season are the Blue Jackets, Hurricanes, Canadiens, Jets, Avalanche and Devils. You need your original picks in order to sign a player to an offer sheet.

The NHL allows teams to go over the salary cap by 10 percent of the upper limit in the offseason (so $7.5 million this summer), meaning a number of additional teams could theoretically sign Pastrnak to that deal and figure out their cap situation later. Those teams are the Islanders, Rangers, Lightning, Penguins, Ducks, Flyers, Predators, Kings and Canucks. 

Where the Bruins are fortunate is the fact that teams that would figure to be logical suitors for Pastrnak -- ones like the Sabres and the Flames -- don’t have the draft picks. In the Flames’ case, they’d need to reacquire their first and second-round picks from the Islanders to even send the papers Pastrnak’s way. 

Clearly, the fear of an offer sheet hasn’t scared the Bruins with Pastrnak the way it did with Hamilton. If it had, he’d either be signed or traded by now. With teams mostly done with their offseasons, the Bruins may not be likely to see their 21-year-old scorer offer-sheeted, but they’re certainly leaving themselves exposed. With over $10 million in cap space, the Bruins could afford to match any offer to Pastrnak, but they shouldn't want another team dictating what kind of contract they give to one of their best players. 

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