Kaberle's return to Bruins uncertain

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Kaberle's return to Bruins uncertain

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
ST. PAUL, Minn. The Bruins were focused on the future while drafting six players at the Xcel Energy Center this weekend, but theres also a present that needs to be taken care of.

The weekend began with a discussion between Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli and Tomas Kaberles agent, Rick Curran, about a potential future for the 33-year-old defenseman on a team that he never really seemed to settle in with. Kaberle shared the lead with Dennis Seidenberg for top scoring Bs defensemen during the playoffs, but also saw his ice time minutes dwindle as the playoffs went on.

Chiarelli didnt deny that a full training camp and season would probably allow the former Maple Leafs defenseman a greater chance at fitting in with the Bruins way of doing things, but the GM also didnt sound like locking down Kaberle was a foregone conclusion.

I think if Kaberle returning is the case, I think he would," Chiarelli said. "You know he played in Toronto for a while, got used to what was going on there. Im not saying it was good or bad, just different from where we were. We were at a higher level, we simply were. I think it took him some time.

It was pretty clear that higher level of expectations and pressure wasnt something that Kaberle was prepared for, and his conditioning wasnt allowing him to play 20 minutes of ice time per night in a more pressurized environment. Add that to the fact that there are three or four other unrestricted free agent defensemen out there potentially for the taking, and it seems the Bruins wont be in a rush to ink Kaberle if they decide to go that route at all.

Given that an injury prone Andrei Markov managed to secure himself a three-year, 17.25 million contract as a 33-year-old while only playing 52 games for the Montreal Canadiens over the last seasons it would seem that the market is going to be a little on the high end for a Kaberle player in that same category.

Chiarelli thought the Markov contract was actually a bit shorter term than he expected, and that has to be the minimum term Kaberle is looking for in his likely final big contract as an NHL player. Perhaps the Bruins are willing to spend that kind of money because they invested a pair of first round picks (one literal first-rounder and a former first round pick in Joe Colborne) and a 2012 second round pick for Kaberle but that seems very doubtful given the likely price tag of 3-4 years around the 4 million that the defenseman was making with the Maple Leafs.

Thats a huge investment for a player that wasnt trusted to play more than 14 minutes in the final two rounds of the playoffs, and ended up as something of a power play specialist on a bottom defensemen pairing with Adam McQuaid.

There are three or four defensemen like Kaberle," Chiarelli said. "Those defensemen are valuable types of defensemen. They skate through the traps, passing through traps, all of that type of stuff. I dont know what value they would be.

Historically, theyve been in and around where Tomas Kaberle is now and above. So that would suggest that theyd be above that.

Among those other unrestricted free agent names are guys like Anton Babchuk, Joni Pitkanen, Kevin BieksaSami Salo and James Wisniewski that could be on the market for the Bruins come July 1 with plenty of salary cap room to chase after whichever blue-liner would make the best blue line fit. That doesnt even account for young defensemen like Steve Kampfer and Matt Bartkowski that are fighting for playing time moving forward as younger, more affordable, physically tougher alternatives to a player like Kaberle softened by the years in Toronto.

It really doesnt make a great deal of sense to lock things in with Kaberle before the Bruins see how the landscape plays out for the rest of the free agent defensemen crop this summer.

Bruins first round pick Dougie Hamilton was said to be taken aback by a question from the New York Islanders during the interview process where they asked the brilliant student if he saw himself playing in the NHL in two years or finding a cure for cancer. The question stunned the brilliant 18-year-old as if he would ever have to choose between playing hockey or the strong academic record hed put up over the years, and the notion amused Peter Chiarelli that a brilliant student couldnt also be a very good hockey player.

Well, New York Islanders GM Garth Snow is a brilliant GM, said Chiarelli with a completely straight face.

Third round pick Anthony Camara is a fighter and gritty junior player that made a name for himself with his fearless style of taking on any possible fight opponents. When asked where that fearless came from, the 17-year-old Toronto native had a pretty surprising answer.

I would say probably my sister would beat on me when I was a little kid, he said before breaking out into laughter. It got me tougher. Congratulations to Eric Tosi, Matt Chmura, Kelly Mohr and all of the other hard-working interns and game day staff people on the Boston Bruins PR staff for winning the highly-respected Dillman Award given to the NHL's top PR staff in the league each and every year. The B's do a lot of good work in that area, and have truly lifted that department up over the last four years. The award is a well-deserved honor.

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

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while thinking about and praying for the people of Manchester, England. It’s obviously an evil, cowardly act to bomb any public place, but to do it at a concert filled with women and children is the lowest of the low.

*The Capitals players are acknowledging that there’s some kind of mental block with the Stanley Cup playoffs. CSN Mid-Atlantic has all the details.

*It’s been a very odd postseason for the NHL where there are so many non-traditional teams still alive with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Fina, and the Ottawa Senators fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Final. On that note, there is a ton of disappointment at the empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa’s home games in the playoffs. It sounds like there are going to be empty seats tonight for a do-or-die Game 6 in Ottawa. That is an embarrassment for a Canadian city that’s supposed to pride itself on their love of hockey. Let’s hope the Senators fans have a last-minute surge to buy tickets and show some appreciation for a Senators team that’s given the Ottawa fans a totally unexpected ride through the postseason this spring. I mean, Erik Karlsson at the top of his game is worth the price of admission all by himself.  

*The Pittsburgh Penguins have the Senators on the ropes, and it’s been an impressive showing given that they’re doing it without Kris Letang.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the ownership for the St. Louis Blues giving their GM Doug Armstrong a vote of confidence.

*Another early exit from the playoffs is going to start making some players expendable on the New York Rangers roster.

*Here’s a good piece on how David Poile built the Nashville Predators, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Give credit where it’s due: He manned up and made a big move dealing away Shea Weber straight up for PK Subban. It’s really worked for Music City as they’ve stepped to the next level.

*Speaking of Nashville’s rise this spring in a wide open Western Conference, Pekka Rinne has silenced the critics he might have had by carrying his team to the Cup Final.

*For something completely different: Boston law enforcement is on high alert after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in the UK.

 

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.