Notes: Bruins like their chances next season

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Notes: Bruins like their chances next season

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON Even with the Stanley Cup in their possession for the summer, many of the Bruins are starting to think about next season and training camp, which is only a few months away.

With just about 2 12 months to rest, recharge and ramp up, there'll be a lot of challenges for a team that will be the top target for everyone in the NHL. The Bruins will be attempting to avoid the Stanley Cup hangover that undoubtedly hampered the Chicago Blackhawks this season.

Also, the B's were relatively healthy this season. Playing an additional two months, and 25 playoff games, has to take a toll on a players body, and the Bruins will find exactly how much when they regroup in September.

But they're looking forward to the challenge.

This is exciting, said Patrice Bergeron. Its a lot of fun. We won the Cup, but once you have that taste you want it some more. In the room, on the plane and on the ice you want to do it again because its so amazing and surreal. Its almost the same team next year, so its very exciting and the future for us is very bright.

Coach Claude Julien said having the same cast of characters minus perhaps one or two will greatly enhance the Bs chances of defending their championship. Keeping title teams together is a rarity in the NHL salary-cap era; as an example, everyone watched the Blackhawks get decimated by trades and free agency. But that won't be the case in Boston, as most of the team's core is tied up in long-term contracts.

I personally like that as a coach," Julien said of keeping the bulk of the roster intact. "You are getting your team back . . . As a coach, when you win the Cup and you know that a big majority of your team is coming back, you have to be happy.

"If you asked Chicago last year, they would have loved to have kept their team together. They couldnt, but if they could then they would have. When you build a championship team, you like having those guys back.

Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs spoke prior to the player availability on Sunday, and was asked if he was considering putting out an executive mandate that the Bruins become the first team in nearly 15 years to repeat as Stanley Cup champs again next season.

Its a great idea," he said. "To get this done this year was an incredible, incredible experience. Weve become so proud of the people that represent you, we had a lot of good fortunes and a lot of good luck here. This is an incredibly durable, dedicated group of young men. The leadership that Claude showed them, that general manager Peter Chiarelli, and team president Cam Neely, my son Charlie Jacobs, the team's principal owner played a role, a strong role in this, helping put this group together. It just validates what strong leadership can do in bringing this to fruition.

We had a lot of talent, but without leadership, it wont happen. Im talking about leadership on the ice as well as off the ice, I know we had folks off the ice, but take Chara, who really melded this group around him and around his personality. You really had to love these guys, the durability.

"I made the observation that this was not a sprint. This was a long race, if you think about it started in Prague during the season-opening series, which is one of the most unlikely places for the players, to meld together and create a fellowship. Its unique but my experience, in Prague, was special for me personally. Then 107 games, to wind up in a place like Vancouver, it was very, very special. Its the trip of a lifetime. I would love to repeat it, I would love to repeat it, but I feel so fortunate to have gotten there.

A group of about half the Bruins were going to get tattoos commemorating the Stanley Cup championship won by the team, and defenseman Andrew Ference flew in his tattoo specialist from Calgary to assist the team-wide exercise. Several of the Bruins got tattoos with Stanley Cup Champion, Boston Bruins, 06.05.11. in three lines and Mark Recchi was planning to get all three Stanley Cups won with three different teams in one grand design on his body.

He always wanted to come here and do his thing, so he said if you guys ever win, Ill come down and tat all you guys up, said Ference. Ive seen him every year since and he tells me the same thing every year. So I sent him a quick e-mail after we won and he got on a plane and here he is.

Definitely different things, you know, some guys are just getting some writing, some guys are getting the Spoked B, the Cup and B combo or something like that. I think Rex is getting all of his done, all of his past Stanley Cups.

Nathan Horton said he wont need surgery on his separated shoulder suffered during the Tampa Bay series, and that the concussion symptoms have abated over the last few days. Horton said he was suffering from headaches during Games 6 and 7 of the Cup Finals, but that the noise and action surrounding the rolling rally parade didnt bother him in the least.

Its not fun to be injured, but youre in the Stanley Cup Finals and youre playing the playoffs. Thats what people do in the playoffs, said Horton. They play through injuries and we definitely had a lot of guys on our team with injuries. But being injured again with a concussion, it was tough to watch. It was such a good feeling when we won. I felt like I was on the ice no matter what.

"Even every time we won, we have such great teammates. Injuries happen during the playoffs and its just to be part of it and to be part of a team when youre not playing, I felt like I played Game 7. So its a good feeling.

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

Bruins select defenseman Urho Vaakanainen with No. 18 pick

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Bruins select defenseman Urho Vaakanainen with No. 18 pick

CHICAGO – Well, the Bruins are certainly opening themselves up for a little second-guessing.

The B’s were trying to move their first-round pick, but ultimately made the selection in Finnish D-man Urho Vaakenainen, who is described by scouts as a classic stay-at-home defenseman type without much offensive upside.

MORE - Report: Bruins among several teams interested in Wild's Scandella

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Vaakenainen had a goal in six games for Team Finland at a disappointing World Junior tournament, and didn’t post anything eye-catching while playing for JYP of SM-Liiga where he appeared in 41 games, tallying two goals and four assists along with a plus/minus rating of plus-five. He spent the 2015-16 season with Blues of SM-Liiga, scoring a goal and five assists in 25 games.

Some scouting reports cast him as strictly a stay-at-home D-man with limited offensive skills while other scouting reports give him a little more credit for his two-way game and smooth puck-moving abilities without any big holes in his game.

“Has an uncanny ability to get his stick in shooting and passing lanes. Just don’t expect offense,” said Sportsnet anchor and prospect aficionado Jeff Marek leading up to the draft in one of his mock drafts. “He won’t be out there late in a game to tie it up, but you’ll love him out there protecting a lead.”

Vaakenainen said he was surprised to be taken by the Bruins given that he had just one conversation with them at the NHL Scouting Combine, and hadn’t really talked to any Bruins scouts throughout the hockey season. On the plus side, Vaakenainen said he models his game after Nashville defenseman Roman Josi and prides himself on his skating, his passing and shooting and his ability to play the two-way game.

“I think I’m a great skater…good with the puck,” said Vaakenainen. “I have a great first pass. I’m a complete package and a two-way defenseman, steady guy. My expectation was to go in the first round. I wasn’t expecting to go Boston, but the first round was my expectation. I met them at the combine, but that was it. That was the only meeting in person.”

Clearly, it remains to be seen how a young, raw prospect like Vaakenainen develops over time and there were plenty of mock drafts and scouting services that him getting selected in the first round. Still, once in a while it wouldn’t kill the Bruins to go with a player holding larger upside like Finnish power forward Kristian Vesalainen or dynamic, undersized winger Kailer Yamamoto. 

Morning Skate: Pronger on his way to a GM job?

Morning Skate: Pronger on his way to a GM job?

*Chris Pronger takes a job in the front office of the Florida Panthers and wants to be a GM in the NHL someday.

*It sounds like Alex Radulov is playing contract chicken with the Montreal Canadiens while demanding pretty massive term and salary demands.

*Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has a top-nine winger on his wish list after dealing away Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

*A good look from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jon Rosen into what the draft outlook is for the Los Angeles Kings entering this weekend.

*Ryan Strome is ecstatic about moving on from the New York Islanders and heading to the Edmonton Oilers where he’ll get a chance to fully utilize the skills that went under the radar in Brooklyn.

*Even without a high pick, the Buffalo Sabres and Jason Botterill will be making some moves at the NHL Draft.

*You want some talk about the Bruins prospects and their potential draft targets for the Black and Gold this weekend. Here’s FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke on with a podcast up in Maine called the Bruins Diehards talking all of that good stuff just a couple of days ago.

*Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall is going searching for another goalie after once again deciding that Philly needs more help between the pipes. This seems to be a perpetual situation for this group, doesn’t it?

*Jeff Marek has his final 2017 NHL Mock Draft up and running, and he has St. Cloud State forward Ryan Poehling headed to Boston with the No. 18 pick.

*Apparently Linda Cohn wants to push out Gary Bettman and take over as NHL Commissioner when her contract is up with ESPN. Well, okay then.

*It was a little emotional and totally uplifting to see Denna Laing getting saluted at the NHL Awards ceremony. I’m so glad that my daughter has strong role models like Denna that show young women what courage and character are all about.

*The rumor mill is getting worked up at NHL Draft weekend, and it sounds like the Minnesota Wild are going to be busy potentially dealing Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella or Jason Pominville in the next week or two. Certainly, the Bruins have been front and center in those discussions, but it remains to be seen if something gets done.

*For something completely different: The glowing reviews are coming in for the new Netflix series, GLOW, and it doesn’t sound like a fun concept.