Haggerty: Hartnell deal could provide blueprint for Lucic

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Haggerty: Hartnell deal could provide blueprint for Lucic

There will be plenty of good, old-fashioned contract-watchin by the Bruins this season. Its crucial that general manager Peter Chiarelli and the rest of the front office track the potential free agent market under new CBA conditions since a bevy of its own players are entering some level of free agency after this year is over.

Labor talks between the NHL and the NHLPA could go in a few different directions, but lets assume the new CBA is something similar to the current agreement that expires on Sept. 15, and the contracts of Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask and Nathan Horton all expire at the same time.

Under those circumstances, the six-year, 28.5 million contract agreed to by Scott Hartnell and the Philadelphia Flyers might be of particular interest to Lucic and the Bs brass. Hartnell agreed to long-term, guaranteed money on Monday and a limited no-trade clause to remain in Philly on the heels of first NHL All-Star season at the age of 30 years old.

Hes a big, active body with deceptive offensive abilities, and always seems to be in the middle of everything for the Flyers.

Lucic is six years younger and a restricted free agent rather than a player headed for unrestricted free agency like Hartnell would have been after this season. So a side-by-side comparison between Lucic and Hartnell is out with each player in a different spot bargaining-wise under the current CBA parameters. But the six-year, 27 million handed out to Montreal forward Max Pacioretty certainly would be a fair comparable to Lucic given his current contractual situation and a bar for the bare minimum he could expect in his next deal with Boston.

Both Lucic and Hartnell play a hybrid power forward game that mixes offensive production with varying degrees of nastiness. Lucic is a more fearsome fighter dealing in intimidation while Hartnell is more of rabble-rousing aggravator, but the Philly forward is also coming off a 37-goal, 67-point campaign that registers as his best NHL season.

Hartnell has averaged 25 goals a year over the last seven years in the NHL after originally being the No. 6 overall pick in the 2000 draft. He is also clearly one of the leaders in the Philadelphia dressing room.
Theres more of a long term body of work for Hartnell while Lucic is still growing into the vast potential within his 6-foot-3, 235-pound frame. But Lucic has also averaged 28 goals and 61.5 points over the last two seasons and is due for a healthy raise over the 4.083 million annual salary hes made over the last three seasons.

Its conceivable that a contract similar to Hartnells 28.5 million and 4.75 million cap hit would be in the cards for Lucic if he wanted to sign something that would assure hed be a member of the Bruins for the long haul. In all likelihood Lucic will agree to a short-term contract extension for two or three years as a restricted free agent and bank on a few more banner seasons before commanding a large extension for a higher average annual value.
But perhaps this is the perfect time for both the Bruins and Lucic to meet in the middle with something in the neighborhood of the six years and 28.5 million before this season is over.

An unrestricted Lucic on the free agent market would easily command upwards of 5 million per season in average annual value given his body of hard work, his solid reputation and the unique skills he brings to the table as he enters his prime years.

But somewhere along the line some of the current core of Bruins players as others like Patrice Bergeron and Johnny Boychuk have done before them will have to take a Black and Gold discount if they hope to keep their nucleus together.

A contract similar to Hartnells deal is a way Lucic could guarantee that his future remains in his second home city of Boston when it appears that change might be inevitable at the end of this upcoming year no matter what happens. Its a way that a Bruins team bumping up against the salary cap could keep the band together well beyond this upcoming season.

Its something to think about as anonymous NHL agents hammer Hartnell for doing what was best for him, and taking less money to remain in Philly presumably for the rest of his career in a spot he enjoys.

Thats something there really is no price tag for, after all.

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right. 
 

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.