Boston Bruins

Haggerty: Win means stability -- for now

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Haggerty: Win means stability -- for now

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

For us as a group it was nice to reward our fans because theyve been punished enough. -- Claude Julien

BOSTON In one short sentence, Claude Julien showed just much he understood all that was swirling around him.

When asked to express his feelings when he saw Nathan Horton fire up an overtime game-winner that clinched Bostons first Game 7 victory in 17 years, Julien had the big picture in mind.

There were ramifications and upheaval brewing on Causeway Street if the Bruins couldnt get it done in their fourth season under Julien, but it looks like all of that has tabled for the time being.

The Bruins always understood the pressure and the expectations that came with Wednesday's perform-or-perish Game 7 scenario -- they've been there before. But this current brand of Black-and-Gold brothers had never been able to match the lofty aspirations of a hockey city reborn.

Beyond the three straight Game 7 losses under Julien prior to Wednesday night -- to the Flyers, Hurricanes and Habs -- there were legitimate organizational questions about the long-term employment of Julien and his staff.

Even with the win, the questions linger.

Bruins president Cam Neely will ultimately make the decision on retaining the coaching staff and the roster once the season is over, and he didnt shy away from the questions pertaining to his coach while holding court in the victorious dressing room.

Based on how we finished last year and coming into this year, we had some high expectations, said Neely. We knew it was going to be tough series against Montreal given how we played each other during the course of the season. In sports there are always expectations and there is always pressure.

The pressure and the pain might have been exactly what these Bruins needed to get to the other side. Learning to win can often involve painful losses and wince-inducing lessons, and they dont come any more painful than the gut punches suffered during last years collapse against Philly.

In the end, that bitter taste may be exactly what spurred Boston on to victory against the Canadiens . . . and what will keep them going.

You know, the guys deserved it. I think we deserved this series, said Mark Recchi. I give Montreal a lot of credit: They played hard, they played well, their power play was unbelievable and it kept them in the series. But five-on-five I thought we were a really good hockey team. I thought we deserved the series.

Horton's overtime score was a team effort in every sense of the word.

Adam McQuaid beat P.K. Subban in a one-on-one puck battle in the corner. Milan Lucic set a perfect pass back to Horton in the high slot for the second assist of the playoffs, and David Krejci served as a human screen as the puck whistled past.

That little bit of overtime execution gave Boston the victory after several heart-stopping saves by Tim Thomas in the extra session, and 34 total stops on the evening.

No longer will Thomas, Lucic Zdeno Chara or Patrice Bergeron have to answer questions about why their team couldnt capture a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup playoffs after Wednesday nights coming-out party.

The Game 7 dragon has been slain, and the Bruins were enjoying the spoils after finally tasting sweet victory against a team that wielded the upper hand on them way too many times.

There was a lot at stake in this series. People understand the rivalry between Montreal and Boston thats been there many times, and people also understand the statistics and the winning percentages between the two teams, said Julien, alluding to Boston more often being on the losing end. If you look back to my first year we took Montreal to seven games and then lost.

We know the last couple of years its been Carolina and Philadelphia. I saw some of the stats of Bruins in the seventh games, so its one of those things where you feel happy.

One of the best parts of the victory: different heroes for the Bruins at every turn.

Playoff newcomer Horton had two overtime game-winners in his first postseason appearance, Kelly had six points from Bostons third line, Ryder had a two-goal game and The Save when Boston needed him most in the middle of the series. Andrew Ference finished as a feisty plus-6 while stepping up and answering all who doubted his three-year contract extension last summer.

I think we showed a lot of character. We had to put ourselves in a little bubble, and not think about the pressure and what people were saying around us, said Bergeron. I think we did a great job with that. We stayed resilient all game and all series, and we found a way.

It was a true team playoff victory in every sense of it, and the Bruins are going to bask in it for at least a day.

There are still serious power-play problems, not to mention the revenge issues against Philadelphia and enigmatic performances from franchise players like Chara and Lucic.

But those are issues for another day.

For now, Chara, Thomas, Julien, Chiarelli, Kelly and so many other Bruins can laugh heartily at the playoff monkeys tossed from their backs on Wednesday night.

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

Bean: Bruins putting themselves at risk of Pastrnak offer sheet

Bean: Bruins putting themselves at risk of Pastrnak offer sheet

I hate articles about offer sheets. Most of them are idiotic. This puts me in a pickle, as I am an idiot. 

Yet here we are, nearly two months into David Pastrnak’s restricted free agency. Don Sweeney and J.P. Barry are in their latest blinking contest (Barry represents Dougie Hamilton and Loui Eriksson, among other Bruins to depart in recent years) and one of the best young right wings in the world doesn’t have his second contract. As of late Sunday evening, the sides were still not close to an agreement. 

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Despite my hatred of offer sheet chatter, the Bruins, who traded Hamilton out of fear of an offer sheet before he could even be offer-sheeted, are actually vulnerable in this case. It isn't likely because it never is, but if I were another team, I’d be thinking about it. 

First, an explanation of why I hate talk of offer sheets: 

Because. Offer sheets. Don’t. Freaking. Happen. 

Why don’t they happen? Because they’re harmful to both the team that loses the player and to the team that does the poaching. And to the other 29 teams, for that matter. 

Teams don’t offer-sheet a player unless they’re nearly positive their offer won’t be matched. If they sign a player to an above-market deal, it creates inflation regardless of who gets the player, as that player’s contract becomes a comp for similar players across the league. In other words, if you sign an 18-goal scorer for $6 million a year because you really want him, have fun trying to sign anybody who matches or exceeds that production in future seasons.

There’s also the stuff about GMs not wanting to piss each other off, but it’s mainly the inflation thing because, as in life, everything comes down to money. 

There hasn’t been an offer sheet since the Flames’ idiotic attempt at signing (and then immediately losing because they didn’t understand the CBA) Ryan O’Reilly in 2013. The Flyers signed Shea Weber to a 14-year offer sheet in 2012, but that was matched by Nashville.

Another reason why I hate articles about offer sheets: Because its authors (definitely myself included once upon a time) often don’t understand RFA compensation. The draft picks awarded to victimized teams are done based not on the actual cap hit/average annual value of the deal, but of the deal’s total money divided by years or five, whichever is smallest. 

So when you see charts such as this one … 


… it doesn’t mean that you can sign a player to a seven-year, $7.8 million deal and only have to surrender a first, a second and a third. That contract would contain $54.6 million in total dollars, and since five is fewer than seven, the total money would be divided by five. That would make the number $10.9 million, which would cost a team four first-round picks. 

If you understood all that, I offer both congratulations and my apologies, but here’s where the part about the Bruins being vulnerable comes in: A longer deal would carry a higher cap hit because it buys out years of free agency; a shorter deal would carry a lower cap hit because it gets Pastrnak to his next big raise even sooner. If a team signs Pastrnak to an offer sheet that splits the difference, the Bruins get the worst of both worlds. 

One potential offer sheet that would likely frustrate the hell out of the B’s: A five-year deal at $7.8 million per. 

That contract would screw the Bruins whether they match or not. If they walk away, they get just a first, second and third-round pick for a goal-scorer who drives goalies to drink but is barely old enough to legally drink himself. 

Matching would stink as well, as that cap hit would not suit the term well. The Oilers gave Leon Draisaitl $8.5 million a year on his recently signed contract, but they did so because they were able to lock him up for eight years. That means that the Oilers will have their star forward signed through his age 30 season, buying out years of unrestricted free agency without having to give him another raise during his prime. 

A five-year deal would mean Pastrnak would be an unrestricted free agent at his deal’s conclusion. The Bruins would have paid the high cap hit that comes with a seven-or-eight-year deal, only to have to give him a raise again -- or lose him for nothing -- when he’s 26. If Pastrnak improves upon (or even maintains) what he was last season and the cap keeps going up, the AAV on his third contract in such a scenario could surpass $10 million. Plus, a seven or eight-year deal at that point would mean signing him into his mid-30s and risking diminishing returns. A five-year, $39 million contract right now would carry all the bad of the Draisaitl deal (the AAV) without enough of the good (the years). 

So is there actually a team that could put Sweeney and Co. in such a tight spot? The answer is an emphatic “yeah, kind of.”

Teams that have the picks required to sign Pastrnak to such a contract and the cap space to fit such a deal this coming season are the Blue Jackets, Hurricanes, Canadiens, Jets, Avalanche and Devils. You need your original picks in order to sign a player to an offer sheet.

The NHL allows teams to go over the salary cap by 10 percent of the upper limit in the offseason (so $7.5 million this summer), meaning a number of additional teams could theoretically sign Pastrnak to that deal and figure out their cap situation later. Those teams are the Islanders, Rangers, Lightning, Penguins, Ducks, Flyers, Predators, Kings and Canucks. 

Where the Bruins are fortunate is the fact that teams that would figure to be logical suitors for Pastrnak -- ones like the Sabres and the Flames -- don’t have the draft picks. In the Flames’ case, they’d need to reacquire their first and second-round picks from the Islanders to even send the papers Pastrnak’s way. 

Clearly, the fear of an offer sheet hasn’t scared the Bruins with Pastrnak the way it did with Hamilton. If it had, he’d either be signed or traded by now. With teams mostly done with their offseasons, the Bruins may not be likely to see their 21-year-old scorer offer-sheeted, but they’re certainly leaving themselves exposed. With over $10 million in cap space, the Bruins could afford to match any offer to Pastrnak, but they shouldn't want another team dictating what kind of contract they give to one of their best players. 

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Morning Skate: Plenty of capable players on free agent market

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Morning Skate: Plenty of capable players on free agent market

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while spending some time in the great state of Maine. 

 

*You wanted to see the video and here it is: Dandy Don Cherry singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at Wrigley Field in a time-honored tradition. 

 

*There are still some very notable names available on the free agent market looking for jobs very late into the summertime. I predict PTO’s for a lot of these players, who will then have to sing for their supper if they want NHL jobs this season. It’s amazing how the salary cap has begun squeezing out veteran players that still have game. 

 

*An interesting look at the “stick to sports” phenomenon on social media, and a plea that athletes continue to stay vocal on the issues. For people to ignorantly think anybody in sports doesn’t deserve to have an opinion is downright un-American. Everybody has a say in this country. 

 

*Best of luck to FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dave Goucher as he heads to Vegas to do TV play-by-play for the Golden Knights. What a team he will make with former Bruins D-man Shane Hnidy in an announcing tandem with some very strong Boston connections. Big shoes to fill on the radio in replacing Goucher's play-by-play call for B's broadcasts, so here's hoping guys that have paid their dues around here like Ryan Johnston and Adam Kaufman get some strong consideration. 

 

*Injuries could be thrusting No. 1 overall pick Nico Hischier into a very important role for the New Jersey Devils this season. 

 

*For something completely different: Who would have ever thought that Andrew Dice Clay would continue to be somewhat relevant all these years later.