Chiarelli admits to have taken calls on Thomas

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Chiarelli admits to have taken calls on Thomas

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

BOSTON Sometimes the trades that you dont make are the best ones when a general manager looks back in the all-powerful omniscience of 2020 hindsight.

Thats certainly the case for Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli and the Boston Bruins after watching 37-year-old Tim Thomas firm his place in the pantheon of Bruins greats with one of the best goaltending seasons in the history of the NHL.

The Bs goalie was great from his first appearance of the regular season, and broke through with an epic postseason performance after never finding the secret sauce during his previous Game 7 experiences.

A .940 save percentage, a 1.98 goals against average, four shutouts, and a 16-9 overall record following a Vezina Trophy-winning season mean that years from now people will refer to 2010-11 as The Year of Tim Thomas.

But it almost didnt happen that way for Boston, or for the goalie that went into training camp with a snow white set of goalie pads and a white mask free of all Bruins logos that revealed a few hard feelings headed into the season.

That can happen when a player is dangled on the trade market as a necessary evil due to salary cap issues, and it pushed Thomas into prove people wrong mode headed into this year. Thats always a good place for Thomas to be once hed gotten over the initial vexation at being involved in trade whispers.

Chiarelli admitted on Friday morning hed taken phone calls about Tim Thomas, and sources indicated then to CSNNE.com that the most seriously interested parties were Washington and Philadelphia. The Bruins and Flyers had casually discussed a deal involving Thomas to the Flyers while the goalie was recovering from hip surgery after losing his playoff starting role to a younger goaltending model in Tuukka Rask.

But the two teams couldnt agree on fair trade value for Thomas (the Bruins wanted Jeff Carter, and the Flyers were only willing to unload Simon Gagne), though Philadelphia was the place Thomas wanted to be if he was going to be moved.

The bottom line through all of it, though, was that Thomas wanted to remain in Boston where he could reclaim his job. Thomas desire to stay in New England was the constant, and at the core was proving to everyone he was worth the 5 million salary cap tag that certainly wasnt helping the team financially.

He did that and then some in setting the NHL-record for save percentage during the regular season on his way to an expected second career Vezina Trophy and then ruled the playoffs in a way an elite goaltender truly hasnt done since Martin Brodeur during his New Jersey Devils prime.

So how heavily was Chiarelli breathing a sigh of relief that Thomas was never traded, and how close did the NHLs best running rags-to-riches come to playing in another sweater?

Not really (close)," Chiarelli. "If you can recall at the time there was a kind of a mutual agreement between myself and Tim Thomas and Bill Zito to explore a trade on the premise that Tim does not want to leave Boston. Thats really where it ended. Its really where it ended.

"There were some calls in that and they kept him in the loop at all times. He kept stressing he didnt want to leave. And I said I know. . . lets just look at this very briefly. I know there are a lot of stories that flowed from it, but I cant stress enough the fact that Tim never wanted to leave. I wouldnt be doing my job if I at least didnt look at some things, and I did. You go through those things on a number of fronts with a number of players. You just field stuff. You look at them and you talk to other teams. At the end of the day you make the decision yay or nay. And here it was nay. It was an easy nay.

One would think it will be an even easier nay for a triple crown goaltender coming off the first Vezina Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy and Stanley Cup winning season since Bernie Parents run with Broad Street Bullies in Philly.

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

Bruins go for a defensive project late with Daniel Bukac

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Bruins go for a defensive project late with Daniel Bukac

CHICAGO – The Bruins finished up their 2017 NHL Draft class with a bit of a project, but a 6-foot-5 defenseman with some great skating wheels is a pretty good way to go with a seventh round pick. The B’s nabbed Brandon Wheat Kings defenseman Daniel Bukac with the 204th pick in the draft, and admitted afterward that he’s an ultra-big bodied player that could take some time in the development process.

Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley said Boston is more than happy to be patient with Bukac given the tools that he’s working with as an 18-year-old prospect. Bukac had two goals and 17 points to go along with 38 penalty minutes in his first season in North America after coming over from the Czech Republic, and Bradley said that B’s scouts noted that he continued to improve and get comfortable as the season wore on.

"He's raw. He's a project. [He’s a] kid from the Czech Republic that played in the Western Hockey League,” said Bradley. “At the start of the year - he's come leaps and bounds with his development. Talking to the people - the coaches, the management, and the GM in Brandon, they're very excited about him coming back to Brandon. They're expecting big things from him. We look forward to seeing him in camp."

Bukac is starting to garner some good international experience after playing for the Czechs in the Under-18’s and the Ivan Hinkla Tournament, but this weekend it was all about his addition to the talented group of Bruins prospects in the hockey world.

"I'm so excited to be drafted by the Boston Bruins," said Bukac, who described himself as a solid two-way defenseman with a good first pass. "It's an awesome feeling. I'm so glad that I was drafted by Boston."

Bruins take a flier on skilled Victor Berglund in 7th round

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Bruins take a flier on skilled Victor Berglund in 7th round

CHICAGO – While the Bruins went strong two-way defenseman early in the 2017 NHL Draft, they took a shot at a more offensive-minded Swedish defenseman late with seventh-round pick of Victor Berglund.

The six-foot, 165-pound Berglund clearly has a way to go in physical development and will need to get much bigger and stronger before he’s potentially ready for the North American pro ranks, but B’s assistant GM Scott Bradley raved about the Swedish defenseman’s skill set and potential. He also noted that Boston’s entire European scouting contingent, including former B’s forward PJ Axelsson, were fully on board with taking a flier on a talented player that simply needs to develop in the Swedish hockey system.

“Our Swedish guys were on top of Berglund. They think he’s a mobile D, he’s ultra-skilled and he skates well. He’s a six-footer, but [PJ Axelsson, Svenake Svensson and Victor Nybladh] were all pounding the table for him,” said Bradley. “We went along with it and I think we might have something there. Talking to his strength coach after the fact he’s working on putting some muscle and weight on, so we look forward to seeing him at development camp.”

In 62 games at three different levels, Berglund posted five goals and 18 points last season and displayed the kind of speed, creativity and play-making that one needs from their defensemen in today’s NHL.

"I'm an offensive defenseman, who likes to play with the puck, with a great short pass," said Berglund. "I like to follow the rush up ice and want the puck."

It will be a matter of building size and strength and for Berglund to continue developing his game in Sweden for the time being, but the Bruins are certainly happy with him at the 195th pick in Saturday’s second day of the draft.