New contract for Carolina's Skinner a sign of Seguin's value

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New contract for Carolina's Skinner a sign of Seguin's value

Those wanting to know what its going to take to sign Tyler Seguin when hes ready for his second contract got a glimpse of it this week with the news the Carolina Hurricanes had locked up 20-year-old Jeff Skinner for the long haul.

Skinner signed a six-year, 34.35 million contract that could wind up being very similar to Seguins second contract if the Bruins opt for a longer term pact with their budding superstar. The deal will play Skinner 4.35 million in his arbitration-eligible season in 2013-14 and 6 million per season from 2014-2019.

If Seguin got the same deal, it would make him the highest-paid forward on the Bruins, and the second-highest paid player behind only Zdeno Chara.

But its also the kind of deal that Seguin could command given the comparable track that both Skinner and Bostons young superstar have undergone over the last two years. In essence Skinner has set the bar for Seguin and agent Ian Pulver if a contract extension is to be completed before the end of next season.

Boston could opt to go the shorter deal route with Seguin, but that could end up costing them more money if the Bs center continues his rapid ascension toward being one of the games best offensive players.

Seguin has 40 goals, 49 assists and 89 points in 155 games over the last two seasons as he enters the final year of his entry level contract with the Boston Bruins, and he will be up after this season along with Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton and Tuukka Rask among others.

Skinner meanwhile has 51 goals, 56 assists and 107 points in 146 games with the Hurricanes over his first two NHL seasons. The Carolina superstars stats are slightly better overall than Seguin after two seasons with both players at 20 years old, but Skinner is coming off a disappointing 44-point sophomore campaign when he was limited to 64 games in his second season because of concussion problems. Seguin has been exceedingly healthy aside from a finger injury he played through at the end of last year.

Both forwards have one All-Star appearance under their belts and Seguin finished second in the NHL last season with a plus-34 while putting out the best individual season either player has enjoyed since breaking into the league.

The long-term and high price tag of Skinners second contract is one of the very reasons the NHL is attempting to make entry level contracts five years in length in the next collective bargaining agreement. Theres an interest among league owners to control the cost of their young assets for a longer period of time as elite young players are commanding mega-bucks four or five years into their young NHL careers.

A new CBA could change things slightly for Seguin and the Bruins, but nobody should be surprised if this is the kind of contract Bostons young scoring sensation ends up signing to stay in Boston for the foreseeable future.

Haggerty: Bruins get chance to show good results weren't just short term

Haggerty: Bruins get chance to show good results weren't just short term

The mission for the Bruins on their four-game road swing through the West Coast is certainly to keep the momentum going, but it’s also to quell any talk that the positive results will be short-lived following the coaching change.

The Bruins won there first three games interim head coach Bruce Cassidy headed into the five-day “bye week”, and they’ll come out on the other side with a potentially dangerous road swing through California that will finish up in Dallas next weekend. 

The Black and Gold have gone into death spirals before on the Cali trip, so that’s always a danger when going coast-to-coast to face tough teams in the Sharks, Ducks and Kings.

There’s also the fact that NHL teams are 3-10-2 as of Saturday afternoon in the first game coming back from the five-day midseason vacation. That means the B’s are going to face a stiff uphill battle on Sunday night against the Pacific Division-leading Sharks. 

The challenge is going to be there for the Bruins to answer all of those challenges when they’ve shrunk away from such adversity most of the season. It gives the Bruins yet another chance to show that the three games aren’t merely a sugar-high after cages had been rattled and is instead something that Boston sustains over the season’s final two-plus months.

“Our thinking is to try to win every game. We know the standings. We know it’s pretty tight. We put ourselves in some of the games in tough situations. Now, we’ve got to climb up and fight for every point,” said Zdeno Chara. “It’s going to be very important that we do that and play that way until the end.

“We can look at the standings as much as we want. I think that we really have to focus on how we play, how we want to go into every game, and what we can do to get as many points as possible.”

The good news for the Bruins is that the teams chasing them in the standings really haven’t gained ground on them, and they enter Saturday still in a playoff spot. So, the mathematics don’t look as dire for Boston as they did going into their rest period, and now they should be energized, recharged and highly motivated headed into the final 24 games of the season.

There’s also the fact that the Bruins were playing exciting, aggressive and winning hockey due to some of the tweaks made by Cassidy after taking control of the team. He finally got some production from the third line after putting forwards Frank Vatrano, Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes together, a combo he never truly gave a look because he didn’t trust them to do the job defensively. Cassidy immediately placed 21-year-old Peter Cehlarik into a top-six role with power-play time straight from the AHL. That’s something one almost never saw happen with rookies and inexperienced guys during Julien’s run.

The B’s defensemen corps scored four goals in the three wins and showed aggressive, timely risk-taking to produce offense when playing it safe was normally the call of the day under Julien. The forwards were avoiding the low-to-high passing to the point that so often resulted in perimeter shots from the Bruins in the offensive zone, and instead attacked the net down low with the forwards looking to put some anxiety into the opponent’s D-zone coverage.

It all worked and it all looked remarkably different from the way the Bruins played in the opening 55 games.

“It’s something we need to bottle up and not change our approach, not change what we’re doing, make sure we’re moving [during the bye] and not just sitting idle and getting rusty,” said David Backes last weekend headed into the bye. “Make sure that mentally, we can have those same sort of mindsets for every guy to be contributing. It’s something that doesn’t show up on the score sheet, but guys are recognized in here for doing those things and that’s winning culture. That’s what we’re building.”

The Bruins now get their chance to prove this is a permanent change to a winning culture rather than a short term, three-game adrenaline rush after watching their longtime coach get fired. It won’t be easy, but it shouldn’t be for the Black and Gold if they’re finally going to earn their way into the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in three seasons. 

Saturday, Feb. 18: NHL more likely in Seattle than NBA?

Saturday, Feb. 18: NHL more likely in Seattle than NBA?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while hoping that Purple Passion doesn’t try the same comeback as Zima.

*A Seattle investor says that an NHL team coming to that city is much more likely than a return by the NBA to the Pacific Northwestern city.

*Gare Joyce writes eloquently about the loneliness of a hockey scout, and how that world can sometimes come to a crashing halt.  

*Good piece from Arpon Basu giving the sights and sounds of Claude Julien’s second stint behind the bench with the Montreal Canadiens.

*The agent for Russian player Maxim Shalunov says there is a “10 percent chance” that he’s going to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks.

*Mike Babcock says not to expect any big trade deadline deals from the Toronto Maple Leafs as they push for a playoff spot.

*Henrik Zetterberg reflects on a difficult season with the Detroit Red Wings where it looks like things might finally come down to a crashing halt.

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/nhl/red-wings/2017/02/17/red-wings-zetterberg-reflects-tough-season/98064530/

*The Minnesota Wild have underrated depth on their team, and the Hockey News says it might just be their scariest attribute.

*For something completely different: as referenced above, it looks like that Zima drink of the 1990s is trying to make a comeback. I was in college when the Zima people were seemingly flooding campuses with advertising and samples back in the day.