Bruins sign Pouliot to a one-year deal

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Bruins sign Pouliot to a one-year deal

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON The Bruins made their big move on the first day of free agency and it was a pretty far cry from the 18 million contract bomb dropped by the Florida Panthers on multiple players in a frenzied day of spending.Instead the Bruins waved goodbye to Michael Ryder as he signed a two-year deal with the Dallas Stars, and the Bs inked former Montreal Canadiens winger Benoit Pouliot to a one-year deal along with resigning goaltender Anton Khudobin and center Trent Whitfield to two-year deals. The Pouliot deal will pay the 6-foot-3, 199-pound winger 1.1 million for his year of service while Khudobin will have a one-way deal with the Bruins in the second year of his contract with Boston.Clearly the Pouliot deal is the biggest impact for the Boston hockey club at the conclusion of the first day of NHL free agency, but it was a relatively small deal in the grand scheme of things during a frenzied day of wild signings and mad spending. Pouliot was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2005 NHL Draft with a "potential" tag that's traveled around with him from the Minnesota Wild to the Montreal Canadiens before his arrival in Boston. It also caused NESN's Jack Edwards to rip into Pouliot during Game 3 of the playoff season as he famously called the 24-year-old "one of the biggest disappointments in the NHL" after a particularly brutal exchange between Montreal and Boston. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli admitted that Pouliot has underachieved a bit in his first two NHL stops, but also believes that Boston's strong leadership can help push the winger's development in Black and Gold.In many ways the size and offensive skills would seem to scream out a Blake Wheeler-type in the making with the Bruins, but Boston is clearly hoping that he can bring a little more production with him. Scoring a few goals and utilizing his big NHL body will be prime orders of business next season for Pouliot. "Pouliot is maybe someone whos underachieved but has a real good skill package and size package and...you know he has to be pushed. I think we have a strong group that can push him and I told Benoit Pouliot that," said Chiarelli. "So you know theres, hes only, I think hes 25 at the start of the seasonand hes still relatively young. So we hope that he could buy into what were selling. I like his size, I like his skating, I like his shot." Pouliot has averaged 15 goals per season over the last two years, and had a pretty solid half-season as a top-six forward for the Habs after his trade away from the Wild. But Pouliot never truly found a home playing for Jacques Martin last season and found himself a healthy scratch after a cheap head shot on that Johnny Boychuk in the first round of the playoffs. The Boychuk hit combined with the David Krejci brawl during one of the final regular season meetings between Boston and Montreal reveal some bad blood with Pouliot -- but it's nothing that hockey players can't get over quickly when they're suddenly wearing the same laundry. "I think you could maybe name five players, at least, on each team in the Northeast Division that might have been disliked by our players, but Id say most of them would fit into a team when they come to Boston," said Chiarelli, who added that Pouliot can play either wing position with the versatility that Boston really likes in their forwards. "Its a different dynamic when they come over and are in your locker room. So you know, the due diligence we did on Benoit is that hes well-liked, and you know, among other things, thats what I can tell you. And for that reason, I feel hell fit in well with our team."Pouliot referenced his time playing as a top-six forward for the Habs during the 2009-10 season as the high water mark of his NHL career to date, and believes that he can fulfull some of his promise if he's given consistent linemates along with a chance to hone his offense. He'll have to do much better than 15 goals scored if he's hoping to catch on with one of Boston's top forward combos, however. "I can do more. This year was a tough year in Montreal. I'mnot saying that I didnt really get the chance that I should have, but sometimes you want to be on the top two lines. You want to be a power player, especially when youre playing well," said Pouliot. "At times I was playing well and sometimes its the coachs decision. You cant really do anything about it, you just have to keep playing. Its just a thing about being consistent every night, being good, playing good, in practice and in games. Its just a thing about, my game...the game is fine. But its just being able to compete every night and every time you step on the ice."On the defensive side of things, Chiarelli continues to hold conversations with Tomas Kaberle along with several other free agent defenseman -- a group of players that could include names like Anton Babchuk, Cam Barker, Ian White and other second tier blueliners still looking for NHL work. It would appear the Kaberle conversation will be ongoing as they look to spark a little interest as the biggest free agent name still on the defensemen board. Many other veteran blueliners with Kaberle's resume have commanded four or five year deals on the market over the last week, but the Bruins appear hesitant to go there with the 33-year-old blueliner. "Well, one of the risks that were aware of is, when you get in the open market -- as much as you talk about having last crack -- sometimes it doesnt happen. Thats been discussed between myself and Tomas agent," said Chiarelli. "So if it doesnt happen then thats a risk that I was prepared to take but well see where it goes."

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

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

The Coyotes have hired former player Craig Cunningham as a pro scout, keeping the 26-year-old in hockey after a cardiac episode ended his playing career this season. 

Drafted by the Bruins in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Cunningham played 34 games for Boston over parts of two seasons before he was waived and claimed by Arizona. He totaled 19 games for the Coyotes, but served as captain of the Tucson Roadrunners, the team’s AHL affiliate. 

Cunningham was hospitalized after he collapsed during pregame warmups on Nov. 19. He was kept alive by continual CPR, but had his lower left leg amputated the next months due to an infection from the episode. 

Known as a high-character player who was popular with his teammates, Cunningham’s transition to scouting lets him further his career after a scary break. 

"I'm very excited to begin the next chapter of my life with the Coyotes," Cunningham said in a statement released by the team. "I'm very grateful to John Chayka, Dave Tippett, the Coyotes and Roadrunners organizations, and all of the great fans across Arizona for the incredible support I've received over the past year. I'm looking forward to helping the Coyotes and I can't wait to get started in my new role."

Said Chayka, the team’s general manager: ”We're thrilled to have Craig join our hockey operations department as a pro scout. Craig was a smart, hard-working player with an incredible passion for the game. We're confident that he will bring those same qualities to the Coyotes in his new role and that he will be an invaluable asset to our organization. We look forward to Craig helping us in several areas and are excited that he is staying with the club."
 

Morning Skate: Overreacting to the Oilers' window

Morning Skate: Overreacting to the Oilers' window

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while really enjoying what the CW does season in and season out with the Flash.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Don Brennan says that the Senators fans not showing up for Game 6 is their way of sticking it to Sens owner Eugene Melnyk.

*The talk is turning to the next captain of the Buffalo Sabres, and what they can do to help open up communication up and down the roster.  

*A guy that wore a Habs toque on his twitter avatar writes a glowing, praise-filled article about the performance of PK Subban during these Stanley Cup playoffs. He’s undoubtedly been good, but he just might have been wearing his Montreal Canadiens footie pajamas when he wrote this one, and rattling his fist at Habs management all the while.

*Interesting piece by Jason Gregor about the “window to win” for the Edmonton Oilers, and an odd notion that the window will close when Connor McDavid has moved out of his entry level contract. I’d say that’s kind of ludicrous.

*The Colorado Avalanche coaching staff has been let go after last year’s dreadful season, and that’s too bad for a really good guy in former Providence College head coach Tim Army. I’m sure he won’t be out of work long.

*Colin White made his Stanley Cup playoff and NHL debut for the Ottawa Senators in Game 6, and helped push Ottawa to a Game 7. It will be interesting to watch the Massachusetts native and former Boston College standout develop with the Senators as White was one of the players that the Bruins skipped over to instead draft Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft. The others, Mathew Barzal, Travis Konecny and Kyle Connor, are all either in the NHL or knocking on the door as well, and it’s going to be a challenging road for both of Boston’s forward prospects to live up the justification of the B’s drafting them first. Granted DeBrusk and Senyshyn are also both doing their thing for the P-Bruins as they push into the conference finals of the Calder Cup playoffs, and they’re both bright prospects in their own right. It’s going to take years to determine the rights and wrongs of that first round, but White getting into the lineup for the Senators is proof of just how high that organization is on him.

*Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan says that Sidney Crosby handled the targeted abuse well from the Senators in a Game 6 loss that will push to a Game 7 between the Penguins and the Senators.

*For something completely different: A great message from Brookline homey and former Sox GM wonder boy Theo Epstein in his commencement address to Yale University.