BRIGHTON -- While not fully closing the door, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney indicated the B’s are moving on from all of their unrestricted free-agent veterans on the eve of free agency.
Dominic Moore, Drew Stafford and John-Michael Liles, who performed at varying levels last season, were all going to be hard-pressed to return to a Bruins club that’s skewing younger and more affordable in the salary-cap era.
Sweeney said he’s been in touch with Stafford’s agent to keep that door slightly ajar, but it looks like Moore and Liles will definitely be playing elsewhere. In fact, Sweeney said he already told Liles that the veteran defenseman doesn't figure in Boston’s plans next year.
“[We] haven’t closed out with either” Moore or Stafford, said Sweeney. “We haven’t had a lot of substantive talks with either player, and their parties. We will probably move in a different direction with both, but I’ve certainly had communication in particular with Staff’s group. I’m going to continue to do that today and tomorrow, and see where it goes. I’m just trying to balance out if we’re potentially adding somewhere else, whether or not we want to go anywhere else.”
Of the three, Moore made the most significant contribution last year. The 36-year-old played in all 82 games as the fourth-line center and finished with 11 goals and 25 points along with a plus-2 rating, and was a key asset in the areas of faceoffs and penalty killing. Liles, also 36, finished with five assists and a plus-1 rating in 36 games while also battling the after-effects of a pretty nasty concussion. He stepped up in the playoffs when injuries hit, but the B’s already have six D-men under contract while on the lookout for another top-four, left-shot blueliner via free agency or a trade.
Stafford, 31, finished with four goals and eight points to go along with a plus-8 in 18 games with the Bruins following his trade from Winnipeg, and showed versatility as well as a penchant for scoring in big moments after arriving in Boston. It’s fair to say they got their money’s worth out of the fifth-round pick they sent to Winnipeg for Stafford, even if he doesn't return.
Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while appreciating Jimmy Kimmel more with each passing day.
*Congrats to FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Kurz on his move to The Athletic. Here he details why he’ll now be covering the Sharks for them.
*Joffrey Lupul has apologized for intimating that the Toronto Maple Leafs are “cheating” when it comes to player injuries.
*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Loui Eriksson looking to bounce back with the Vancouver Canucks after a tough first year there. He’ll probably be better than he was last season, but one thing I learned about Eriksson during his time in Boston is that you’re not going to see his best unless there’s a reason for him to be at his best. Sitting in Vancouver in the middle of a comfortable, big money contract on a mediocre-to-bad hockey team isn’t exactly going to ratchet up the urgency.
*Tampa Bay defenseman prospect Mikhail Sergachev has “NHL written all over him” after a strong start to training camp with the Lightning. That’s music to management’s ears down there after they gave up Jonathan Drouin for him in the offseason.
*Nick Cotsonika chronicles the “big first step” that the NHL has made into China with an exhibition game there between the Kings and Canucks.
*This blog post pokes fun at Don LaGreca for a rant about geometry, but I agree with his overall point that the vast majority of people choose to like sports exactly because it doesn’t include these complex mathematical formulas that the fancy stats brigade is trying to introduce into the sports world with more and more force.
BRIGHTON -- Now that the preseason games have started, it was inevitable that the injuries were going to start popping up for the Bruins.
Torey Krug will be out at least three weeks after suffering a non-displaced fracture in his jaw after taking a puck to the mouth in the second period of Tuesday night’s win over the Red Wings. And both Matt Beleskey (foot contusion) and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (upper body) are considered day-to-day with injuries.
Forsbacka Karlsson tumbled head-first into the end boards in the second period Tuesday. Beleskey suffered his injury in Monday night’s win over the Canadiens in Quebec City.
The Krug injury is significant, of course, and likely to cause him to miss at least the first few games of the regular season. It’s a tough break for the puck-moving defenseman, who missed all of last year’s playoffs because of a knee injury after staying healthy for the first 81 games.
It will give the Bruins a chance to give much closer looks to younger, left-shot defensemen like Matt Grzelcyk, Robbie O’Gara, Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril. All three were ticketed to start the year in Providence.
Here is the expected lineup for tonight’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden, with Anders Bjork getting his first official look while skating right wing on a line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron: