Bruins notes: Wheeler, Stuart thriving in Atlanta

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Bruins notes: Wheeler, Stuart thriving in Atlanta

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON While those in Boston have focused on the newcomers that arrived on the Bruins roster at the trade deadline at the end of February, Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart have done very well for themselves with the Atlanta Thrashers.

Stuart was reunited with former Bruins associate head coach Craig Ramsay in Atlanta, and signed to a multi-year contract extension with a Thrashers team in need of some physical play around the net. Meanwhile Wheeler has put up 13 points (8 goals, 5 assists) in 16 games with Atlanta since the trade, and flourished with plenty of ice time along with the first power play unit and PK teams.

They were good players for us, but they appear to be doing well, said Claude Julien.

Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton and Stuart developed a close friendship while both living in Charlestown over the last few years, and the Bs tough guy was looking forward to seeing the former Bruins first round pick.

Stuey was here as long as Id been here, and wed become really good friends, said Thornton. Itll be a lot different seeing him in that uniform, but Ive heard that theyre doing really well down there.

While Krejci was also excited to see his former longtime linemate in Wheeler coming back to Boston for the first time, the playmaking center honestly said he didnt care much whether Bruins fans gave them an ovation.

I dont care, said Krejci. Itd be nice for them, but well see what happens.

Wheeler is definitely having fun and making the most of it. Thats what he told me when I talked to him. Hes scoring goals and its good to see him doing that, said Krejci. Hes my friend, but once were out on the ice there are no friends. We all get used to it. Its weird, but now its just another game.

Bruins coach Claude Julien was noncommittal about whether Shane Hnidy would play against Atlanta on Saturday afternoon, but the veteran defenseman said hes ready to go and is hoping to get in more than one or two appearances before the season is over.

Hnidy hasnt played all season after undergoing rotator cuff surgery, and needs some ice time to knock the rust off.

Julien said there was a good chance Hnidy would be suiting up for the Black and Gold on Saturday.

Its been a while and I just want to get in for a game. I havent heard anything about it, but Im going to prepare as if Im playing and whatever happens then well deal with it, said Hnidy. When youre away from the game and questioning your future like I was, its a job to be back in any situation you can find.

Im going to need more than one or two games. I know we have five left, but I dont know whether Ill be playing in all of them or not.

Zdeno Chara took part in the team photograph portion of Fridays practice at TD Garden, but didnt take part in any of the on ice drills after the Bs defenseman missed portions of Thursday nights game against the Maple Leafs. Claude Julien said that Chara would be in the lineup Saturday against the Thrashers.

He had a day off, but hell be in tomorrow, said Julien.

Shawn Thornton didnt know whether hed be medically cleared to play against the Thrashers on Saturday afternoon, and said it would be 7-8 days before the stitches were likely to come out of his forehead.

Bruins Director of Hockey Administration and college hockey scout Ryan Nadeau was dressed in Marc Savards uniform to take his spot in the team picture on Friday morning at TD Garden. Savards head will be photo-shopped onto the body while the picture is going through the post-production process as the Bs center continues to battle post-concussion syndrome symptoms at home in Canada.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right. 
 

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.