Chiarelli: Marchand is "the full package"

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Chiarelli: Marchand is "the full package"

We all know somebody like him: The guy who you love when he's on your team, but hate when he's on the opposing team.

He'll brag. He'll talk trash. He'll do whatever he can to get under your skin, and even though you know he's doing it on purpose, you can't help but let it get to you.

Meet Brad Marchand.

Bruins fans love him, his teammates love him, and now we know his GM loves him too. The rest of the NHL world? Probably not so much. Marchand and the B's agreed upon a four-year, 18 million dollar contract on Friday, locking up the pesky yet productive left winger through the 2016-17 season.

For Peter Chiarelli, signing Marchand to another extension (he signed a two-year extension last year) means keeping a player the team views as a main part of its core for years to come.

"His style of play, his persona, his timely goals and his amount of goals obviously bring a great component to the Bruins and the Bruins organization," Chiarelli said on Friday. "It's nice too when you can sign a player like Brad who has worked his way up through the organization and plays the way that we all enjoy watching him play, and that the general manager enjoys watching him play. An in-your-face game, he sacrifices his body, and he's really coming into his own as an offensive player."

He sure is. In Marchand's second full season with the B's, the 59, 183-pound native of Nova Scotia registered NHL career highs in goals, assists and points, recording 28-27=55 totals, along with 87 penalty minutes in 76 games. His 28 goals ranked second on the Bruins, behind Tyler Seguins 29 tallies, and his plus-31 rating ranked fifth in the league.

You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who envisioned numbers like that out of Marchand just a couple years ago. Well, anyone aside from Marchand.

"From the start I remember him from his first camp saying that he expected to make the team," Chiarelli said. "I was a little shocked at that comment. I liked the braggadocio, I liked the confidence. So that was my first impression of Brad."

As it turned out, Marchand also walked the walk. In his first full season with the B's he played in 77 games, notching 21-20=41 totals and 51 penalty minutes. He finished the season tied for third in the league with five shorthanded goals and recorded the second highest plusminus rating among NHL rookies with plus-25.

Marchand has had to balance using his skills as an agitator with his skills as a scorer something that he's had trouble with at times. Chiarelli doesn't want Marchand to try to be a new player now that he has a shiny new deal. He signed him to be the player that he always has been with Boston.

"I like the whole package," Chiarelli said. "He went through some stuff last year with a couple of incidents and through the disciplinary process where we were in a couple of philosophical discussions with that office. So I think, and I think Brad recognizes and you'll have to talk to him about it but I think he recognizes that part of his game as being a valuable part of his game. And he's a smart enough player that as you get older and learn the ropes a little bit more you can tweak your game a little bit. And I think the last year in the NHL he had a really good year last year, but I know that he had some struggles with playing his game. So he will continue to draw that fine line. He's certainly aware of it and that the line has bloomed a bit. So, I like the whole package."

Marchand wasn't available for comment in regards to his new extension. He's out hunting moose with his father in Newfoundland, Canada.

Poor moose. Getting shot at is one thing, but getting shot at by Marchand? Talk about added insult to injury. Just ask 29 teams in the NHL.

Morning Skate: Another setback for Flyers top pick Nolan Patrick

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Morning Skate: Another setback for Flyers top pick Nolan Patrick

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wondering what Melissa McCarthy is going to do now that Spicey is gone.

*The debut for Philadelphia Flyers top pick Nolan Patrick has been scratched due to “an infection in his face.” Boy, this kid can’t get healthy, can he?

*Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill is 100 percent sure that the Winged Wheels will be making a return to the playoffs this season.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough has hope returning to the city of Houston that they might get an NHL franchise one of these days.

*Travis Yost delves into shooting percentage and some of the nuances when properly trying to break it down statistically.

*There are new season ticket charges for Habs fans in Montreal, and boy are they pissed off about it. Feels like the kind of thing that could push them to riot in the streets or flood 911 emergency lines if the Canadiens aren’t too careful about it.

*Young Blues defenseman Colton Parayko signs a five-year deal with St. Louis to avoid salary arbitration while the D-man taken exactly one pick before him by the Bruins in the draft, Matt Grzelcyk, is going to be hard-pressed to move past the AHL level this season.

*For something completely different: What would Ivan Drago have been doing with his life after his showdown with Rocky in Mother Russia?

 

 

Vaakanainen lives up to skating reputation in first camp with Bruins

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Vaakanainen lives up to skating reputation in first camp with Bruins

Urho Vaakanainen was billed as a smooth-skating, solid defenseman when the Bruins selected him in the middle of the first round in last month’s draft.

That’s exactly what the 18-year-old D-man put on display at his first chance to participate in Bruins Development Camp earlier this month as one of the younger players taking his first paces with the B’s organization.

Vaakanainen skated with ease and smoothness and didn’t have much in the way of panic when he was breaking the puck out of the zone during workouts. To be sure, it was clear that many of the tools are there for the Finnish prospect. Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley had likened him to Hall of Famer Paul Coffey for his skating ability in the days after he was drafted last month in Chicago, and Bruins player development coordinator Jamie Langenbrunner used the equally impressive Devils player comparison of Scott Niedermayer when discussing Boston’s top pick.

The bottom line is that Vaakanainen would appear to be well-suited to an evolving hockey league where the skating game is arguably the most important quality and it’s pretty much a prerequisite for success if you’re going to be a D-man in the NHL.

“I think it’s the effortlessness that he skates with, it’s smooth," Langenbrunner said. "I think Scott [Bradley] had mentioned to me yesterday, Scott Niedermayer. That’s obviously high praise with a guy that is effortless and can skate

"[All] around the rink,” said Langenbrunner. “He seems to have a little bit of those tendencies that kind of floats on his skates a little bit. That’s something that I don’t believe you can really teach. Some guys have that and some guys, it’s a little more work.

“You’re talking about a 17-year-old kid that played in the Finnish Elite League. For him to put up huge offensive numbers, I think would be pretty tough. I think now, going into his second year there is a little more confidence. Obviously, you hear more growth. You’ll see maybe a little more of an uptick there. He’s a smooth skater. He sees the ice well, he’s got good size, and he can make plays. So, I think as the confidence grows, numbers will grow just if you’re making the right plays over and over again.”

Clearly, there is some polish still to come to Vaakanainen’s offensive game after watching him in drills with his fellow prospects at development camp. That’s reflected in the two goals and six points in 41 games for JYP in the Finnish Elite League last season as well, a level of production that caused some to question just how top-end he’ll be offensively in the NHL when he does mature into his 6-foot, 183-pound body.

Vaakanainen showed a decent, accurate shot from the point and some solid instincts when it comes to making plays with the puck, but it’s also clear he doesn’t have quite the same level of pure offensive as Charlie McAvoy. The good stick, solid defensive instincts and strength for his size were all there as advertised. The skating game will cover up a lot of the things that Vaakanainen still needs to work on.

Some of the young player’s lessons can be learned and improved with greater offensive experience afforded him when he returns to Finland for the upcoming season. Some of that may mean a modestly effective offensive player in Vaakanainen once he’s met his NHL potential. It’s simply too early to tell and a lot could be learned based on his level of improvement in Europe this season and the preview everybody will get when he plays in the World Juniors for Team Finland around the holidays.  

For his part, Vaakanainen had a great week at development camp learning the streets of Boston, meeting his fellow Bruins prospects and officially making a good first impression in his first action as a first-round pick.

“As the camp went on you felt so much better and relaxed, and I had so much fun,” said Vaakanainen, who actually stayed with Langenbrunner and his family at his house after the draft. “You’ll learn new things and you get to know all the new people that are in the Bruins organization. It’s going to help me in the future to know everybody.

“I think maybe they want to see more of my offensive game because there hasn’t been so much of that the last couple of years. The role might be bigger now and more offensive, so it’s coming. Of course, you have to work hard for that, but when you play more minutes it absolutely helps to get more comfortable with what you’re doing.”

The bottom line with this pick hasn’t really changed even as Vaakanainen showed what he could do in a week of practices at Warrior Ice Arena. The Finnish teenager is a fine D-man prospect who looks like he’ll going to enjoy a solid 10-year career once he actually cracks the NHL roster and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The one thing we’ll all see over the next few years is whether or not the Bruins could have done better for themselves with the No. 18 pick in a draft class with an admittedly shallow talent pool as compared to the past couple of seasons.