Hagg Bag mailbag: Down the stretch they come

Hagg Bag mailbag: Down the stretch they come

With the Stanley Cup playoff sprint upon us and a weekend of rest now over for the Bruins, it felt like the proper time to again crack open the Hagg Bag mailbag. Things are looking good for the Bruins getting into the playoffs for the first time in three seasons, but they still need to finish up strong in their final 11 games of the season with a whopping eight of them taking place at TD Garden.  

As always these are real questions from real Bruins fans and followers sent to my twitter account using the #HaggBag hash tag, emails sent to my jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com email account and messages sent to my CSN Facebook fan page. Now on to the bag:

Joe, 

I must admit, I was tired of your constant calls for Claude to be fired. I mocked them. I was wrong. They seem to be a different team now, and I don't think they're ready to grab another Cup, they're at least going to make a playoff run. Sorry I doubted you! It'll be good fun when my wife gets to see the B's for the first ever time in person two weeks from now in Vancouver!

--Greg Hopper (Message via CSN Facebook page)

JH: I must admit, I don’t ever get tired of being told that I was right! Seriously, it was just a matter of giving an informed opinion. Believe it or not, sometimes the people that cover teams on a daily basis actually know what they’re taking about when they have a strong opinion, or hot take, on the individuals around that team. Hope you had a good time in Vancouver watching Brad Marchand celebrate his return to Vancouver with a third period hat trick.  

What in sweet Jesus is Jimmy Hayes still doing on the ice?

--Mike Silvey (@silvercreek20)

JH: In his last five games that he’s dressed for, the grand summation of Jimmy Hayes’ contribution has been one shot on goal. One shot on goal. I admit that I think Jimmy has actually played better since the coaching change and you can’t teach somebody to be 6-foot-5 and 215-pounds, but he shouldn’t be suiting up for the playoffs if he can’t find a way to be a little more involved with the action. 

Joe, who is the B's top scorer in the minors that we could see by the end of the season or next year? Or college...?

--Big Wally (@BostonWest80111)

JH: Well, their top player for most of the season had been Peter Cehlarik and he was just shipped back to Providence last weekend. Players like Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen have been okay in their first pro seasons, but not up to the levels where they could jump in and give the Bruins what they need at the NHL level. 

As far as college goes, Anders Bjork, Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson are the lead candidates to turn pro this spring. If I were the Bruins, I would send both McAvoy and Forsbacka-Karlsson to Providence -- if they turn pro -- and allow them both experience the AHL playoffs just as Brandon Carlo did at the end of last season before jumping to the NHL. I’m not sure you want to drop either of those players into the NHL playoff pressure cooker that will be fully in effect from now until the end of the regular season. 

Bjork might be a bit of a different story if/when he signs because he might be able to help the Bruins immediately on the wing after scoring 19 goals and 47 points in 36 games for Notre Dame as one of the best players in college hockey this season. 

Love the nerdiness. I like Iron Fist, think people are harsh, but it is my least favorite marvel Netflix show so far

--Michael Butron (@b00ch)

JH: I like Iron Fist more than Jessica Jones, but I think Finn Jones was a major misstep as Danny Rand in the casting department. He is totally exposed in the fight scenes and doesn’t have a great deal of charisma. I actually liked the character of Colleen Wing much more, just like I liked Patsy Walker (Hellcat) more than Jessica Jones in the other series. 

Here’s my order of Netflix Marvel series: 

1.       Daredevil Season 1

2.       Daredevil Season 2

3.       Luke Cage

4.       Iron Fist

5.       Jessica Jones

When are the B's planning on making Cassidy the head coach and remove his interim status, or are they actually shopping around?

--Christian (@Castil8Bruin)

JH: At this point, I don’t think they’re shopping around until the season is over and there’s no reason to even go shopping right now. If the Bruins finish strong and get into the playoffs then I think it’s a slam dunk Cassidy gets the gig, and that looks like a near certainty at this point. 

If something disastrous happens down the stretch and the Bruins fall apart like they did in each of the last two seasons, then that would be a different story. If that were to happen I could see Boston University head coach Dave Quinn or Providence College coach Nate Leaman getting a long look from Don Sweeney, but I think there are too many pros with Cassidy: Past working history with Sweeney, a rapport and respect level with the young players, a style that meshes with what both Sweeney and Cam Neely want in their Bruins teams and, oh yeah, the extraordinary results in the first 16 games since the coaching change. 

Could Sweeney make it official once the Bruins clinch a playoff berth? He certainly could, but it would seem a deliberate guy like Sweeney is going to think things through before making any big moves with the organization. Just think about how long it took Sweeney to make the move with Claude Julien in the first place when it was so sorely needed for this team.  

What will the B's look like next season? Who's coming and who's gone?

--Alan (@AlanMM63)

JH: It’s tough to tell at this point. I’d expect either Adam McQuaid or Kevan Miller to be taken in the NHL expansion draft by Vegas, and Charlie McAvoy to replace whichever one of those players departs from the right side. I’d also expect that none of the UFA’s (Drew Stafford, John-Michael Liles and Dominic Moore) will be coming back based on the salary cap, and the Bruins continuing to move in the direction of youth. 

Depending on what happens down the stretch and into the playoffs, the Bruins may revisit dealing Matt Beleskey in the summer as they look for ways to save money that will go toward new contracts for guys like Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak. Because let’s face it, the Bruins need to do whatever is necessary to make room for Pastrnak’s second NHL contract after putting together a 30-goal season as a 20-year-old player.  

Is Julien back or what? Two defensive lines. Two RW on the second line and two LW on the third line. Who will give the puck to Vatrano? And Hayes is still playing. Back to reality I guess.

--Bryan Lapointe (Message via CSN Facebook page) 

JH: The Bruins have 12-of-16 games since the coaching change, and they’ve averaged 3.88 goals per game since Cassidy took over. They’re also comfortably in a playoff spot at this point. I know there’s a danger of getting too comfortable, but c’mon man…this is complaining just to complain right now. Just enjoy that the Bruins are once again putting a good product on the ice and that we’ll all have playoff hockey in the spring. I think that will be a nice change for the better after the last couple of seasons, don’t you think? 

Will Noel Acciari get another call up before the season ends? He's also due for a new contract at season's end, correct?

--Matt McGuirk (@matt_mcguirk)

JH: I wish I had posted the mailbag on Saturday and predicted a call-up for Acciari on Sunday morning. That would have made me look wicked smaht. Acciari is a restricted free agent after the season is over, but I’d expect him to return to the Bruins given his ability to contribute as a hard-nosed, energy guy on the fourth line when he’s needed. He’s a good New England kid and a hard worker, so he’s going to be okay either way. 

I have to say, you were right about Claude Julien........which line Stafford gone to play?

--Dan Cormier (Message via CSN Facebook page)

JH: So let’s end the Hagg Bag mailbag as we began it. Like I said, I never get tired of being told how right I am. I just hope we get to see the Bruins and their old, beloved coach face each other down in this spring’s playoffs as it should be. See you next time hopefully for a mailbag gearing up just ahead of the playoffs. 

Morning Skate: Tempered expectations for Bolts' rookie Sergachev

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Morning Skate: Tempered expectations for Bolts' rookie Sergachev

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while simply shaking my head at David Price. What a typically soft, boorish ballplayer not meant for a big market where more is expected of those wearing the Red Sox uniform.

*There are tempered expectations for rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev as he gets things going with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

*Keith Yandle believes that Dale Tallon being back in charge of the Florida Panthers is going to bring unity and solidarity to the Panthers once again.

*Kevin Shattenkirk believes that the New York Rangers are right on the cusp of challenging for a Stanley Cup title.

*Here 20 thoughts from the just-concluded Chicago Blackhawks prospect camp, where there’s some pretty strong, young talent.

*Even as the highest-paid player in the NHL, Connor McDavid is underpaid for what he brings to the table, says Ron MacLean.

*Interesting look at the Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog situation in Colorado, where both players have watched their performance fall off a bit. This is why I’d be very nervous about giving up the farm to trade for either of these players if I’m the Bruins. The jury is out on whether they’re in decline as players, or if it’s simply the mess in Colorado getting them down.  

*For something completely different: What a sweet interaction between "Wonder Woman" Gal Gadot and a young, emotional fan all decked out in WW gear.  

 

Spooner, Bruins nearly $2 million apart in arbitration figures

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Spooner, Bruins nearly $2 million apart in arbitration figures

The figures and briefs are in for the Bruins and Ryan Spooner for their arbitration hearing Wednesday, but both sides are still hoping that a deal can be reached prior to it. The Bruins have submitted a one-year contract offer for $2 million. Spooner’s camp countered with $3.85 million, creating a sizeable gap of almost $2 million between the two.

Spooner, 25, has averaged 12 goals and 44 points the past two seasons with the B’s, including 35 power-play points while working the half-wall for a Boston PP that’s been ranked seventh overall two seasons in a row.

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Spooner is coming off a two-year contract worth $1.95 million and his is a complicated situation for the Black and Gold. Spooner holds significant value as a trade piece and has been an important part of a very effective power play, but he also finished the playoffs as a healthy scratch after going quietly the past few months of the season.

Spooner was one of the major pieces discussed in trade talks with the Minnesota Wild around the draft prior to the Wild shipping Marco Scandella to the Buffalo Sabres and he's been involved in trade discussions with several teams the past couple of years.

The Bruins have prospect Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson waiting in the wings if/when the B’s decided to spin Spooner to another team, but they also enjoy his speed and playmaking when he’s on his game. There’s clearly a scenario where the Bruins start the season with Spooner installed as their third-line center and perhaps explore more trade discussions while seeing if a full season under Bruce Cassidy can unlock his significant offensive potential.

If that's still in the plan, they’d be wise to come to an agreement and avoid the hearing Wednesday where they’d ostensibly be bad-mouthing a player they’d want back on their team. The Bruins have the right to walk away from Spooner should he be awarded the full $3.85 million by the arbiter. Still, it’s hard to believe they’d do that given that he’s a homegrown asset with trade value.

The feeling at this address is that there’s a deal to be made between the two sides for something around the $3 million mark. That’s something that would be worthwhile for the Bruins if they have any designs on continuing on with Spooner.