Replacing Savard is an inside job for the Bruins

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Replacing Savard is an inside job for the Bruins

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

Nothing definitive has been decided with Marc Savard this season.

The 32-year-old center has been convalescing in his hometown of Peterborough, Ontario, over the last 10 days as he continues to battle headaches and irritability brought on by his fourth concussion in the NHL, suffered at the hands of Matt Hunwick in Colorado.

Sources within the Bruins have confirmed to CSNNE.com that shutting Savard down for the remainder of the year has been a topic of discussion in the front office.

But nothing can be determined about Savards fate until he again sits down with doctors for another round of testing which could happen as quickly as Thursday.

Even so, the Bruins have to carry on with the rest of the season. They've got 31 games remaining and are sitting comfortably among the top three teams in the Eastern Conference headed down the stretch run to the playoffs.

Essentially, the Bs have to play as if Savard isnt going to return this year.

If thats the case, the Bruins are inclined to look within the organization to fill the void created by Savards absence and that starts with centers David Krejci and Tyler Seguin raising their games.

Patrice Bergeron is already doing his fair share. He appears to be everything he was before his own concussion, and then some, as he now has NHL experience on his side.

But the Bruins can certainly receive more from Krejci and Seguin.

Krejci actually refined his playmaking skills in the weeks leading up to the All-Star break, and has nine assists in his last 10 games with a plus-4. That elevated play, along with the reformed Krejci-Milan Lucic-Nathan Horton line riding together again, is exactly what he needed to get his game going.

He also hit his stride right around this time last season, and that trend needs to continue if Krejci is expected to be the teams top playmaker and power-play architect from the half-wall.

Its more exciting now. Before the All-Star break youre just kind of playing games and thats all, said Krejci. But now youre playing teams and youre starting to look at the standings, and everybody is playing for something.

Everybody wants home-ice advantage for the playoffs so everything starts to get more exciting. Its fun.

Then there's Seguin.

The rookie hasnt scored a goal in the last eight games, and is finding himself on the bench in the third periods of tight games in a crossroads portion of the season. Now that the pace has quickened and the pressure has heightened, Seguin needs to rise to the level.

The 19-year-old seems to have curbed some of his offensive instincts after being given a reduced role, with little to no power-play time, over the last month, and more than anything else needs to play with the confidence that allows his speed and skills to emerge.

While the public is clamoring for a stop-gap veteran solution should the Bruins need another forward to replace Savards missing offensive punch, the answers wont be coming from a trade at the forward spot.

The answers will be coming from within the organization, whether its someone on the current roster or from the P-Bruins.

I think weve got a lot of guys playing wing that we would feel pretty comfortable with playing center, said coach Claude Julien. Blake Wheeler is one of those guys, and Brad Marchand has played center before. Were not stuck in that area. We also have some prospects down in Providence that we feel will play in the NHL someday down the middle. We dont feel like depth is an issue at that position.

To wit about the P-Bruins: Joe Colborne remains a first-round talent, and the Bruins are expecting him to continue to improve in his first full year as a pro. Jordan Caron has already proven he can be a reliable player in the NHL, with a high ceiling. Zach Hamill -- who was beginning to get written off in some corners as afirst-round bust after having an unimpressive training camp with a jobpotentially available last fall -- is back on the Bs radar after really finding his game at the AHL level in his third season.

The Bruins will search for a mobile defenseman in the next few weeks. But life without Savard begins with an examination of the options within Bostons own organization.

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

Haggerty: No move may be the best move for Bruins at deadline

Haggerty: No move may be the best move for Bruins at deadline

The NHL trade deadline is now less than a week away, with plenty of movement expected despite the perpetual lack of sellers, and an expansion draft perhaps preventing some teams from taking on players they will then need to protect. 

The Bruins shouldn’t be much of a seller as long as they can continue their current good stretch for three more games before the March 1 deadline. The expansion draft shouldn’t be much of a scare either based on the players {Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Malcolm Subban) they might be in danger of losing to the Vegas Golden Knights this summer.

With the Bruins currently outside of a playoff spot by virtue of the one game in hand held by the Florida Panthers (both teams have 66 points vying for the final wild-card spot), it would be no surprise if GM Don Sweeney wanted to be a buyer at the deadline for a Boston roster that could use a big top-six winger with finishing ability, a top-four defenseman that can move the puck and a backup goaltender should Anton Khudobin have any more struggles this season.

The Bruins and Avalanche had been talking steadily in recent weeks about a possible deal for 24-year-old left wing Gabriel Landeskog, but those discussions have hit a standstill with Sweeney refusing to part with either Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy in the trade package. That's the 100 percent right move for a Bruins team that shouldn't start trading away blue chip D-man prospects. 

Landeskog has made sense for the Black and Gold because he’s signed long term with a reasonable $5.7 million cap hit, and because he’d theoretically be a good, power forward fit alongside David Krejci.

It’s that type of trade Sweeney and the Bruins are looking to make for a young player with term that will be part of the long-term solution in Boston. They aren’t looking for a repeat of last season where they shipped off good future assets in exchange for pedestrian rental players Lee Stempniak and John-Michael Liles and missed the playoffs anyway after dipping into the trade market.

In other words, Sweeney doesn’t sound all that keen in dipping heavily into the rental market, for a Patrick Eaves or a Dmitry Kulikov for instance, as he did a year ago.  

“Do I think we have an opportunity to make the playoffs? Absolutely, there’s no question this group has a chance to get in. Whether or not I can find a player between now and the deadline that sort of fills all those gaps, that does remain to be seen,” said Sweeney at the time of the Claude Julien firing, prior to the current four-game winning streak. 

“But I think it dovetails with the fact that I’m not going to be short-sighted. I’m going to stick to the longer term view as to what I have put in place with the intention of being able to bridge and bringing in players like David Backes and surround our guys that we get a chance to win now and be competitive now.

“I’d prefer to err on the side of a player that will integrate into us on the longer-term. Last year, we gave up draft picks. I wasn’t prepared to move players that I felt in the same regard that teams had asked for in order to get a higher-level rental or a different kind of rental. I’m not going to deviate from what I said. Are there players and we have a surplus? That’s what I want to try and evaluate and find out whether or not we can deal from a position of strength.”

Some of that may change after a current four-game winning streak with a Bruins team that looks much more playoff-worthy than the aimless group that struggled through the first 55 games. But it would have to be the perfect rental at the right price for it to make sense for the Bruins this time around and chances are that might not materialize for a team just looking to hang in there until McAvoy, Anders Bjork, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson and Zach Senyshyn are ready to contribute a couple of years down the road.

So, would people be okay if Sweeney and the Bruins stand pat at the trade deadline if they can’t swing a big hockey deal for a young player like Landeskog who would be part of the long-term plan? Is it acceptable to just let it ride with the current group that has suddenly shown a different gear under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy, and bet on the core group rising to the occasion like they didn’t the last couple of years under Julien?

The answer from this humble hockey writer is that Sweeney should pass on anything less than a home run deal for the Black and Gold. The worst thing the Bruins GM could do is get in the way of the momentum that’s naturally starting to roll with his team, or make another severe misstep with his NHL talent evaluation. Right now, draft and development seem to be his strengths, and he should lean into those and away from being a wheeler dealer with wiser, more experienced managers around the NHL looking to once again rob the Black and Gold blind.

So, there’s a chance the Bruins do very little at the deadline and, after thinking about it, the fickle fans should be perfectly okay with that as they watch a newly transformed hockey club. 

Wednesday, Feb. 22: Talking Bruins with Ray Ferraro

Wednesday, Feb. 22: Talking Bruins with Ray Ferraro

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while getting ready for the February heat wave headed our way.

*In the interest of self-promotion, here’s a podcast I did on Tuesday talking Bruins with former Hartford Whalers great and current outstanding TSN hockey analyst Ray Ferraro, who is also a great FOH (Friend of Haggs).

*Good piece on a Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster that has already gained plenty of internet plaudits for his great, and now legendary, Nick Bonino goal call in last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

*It’s never too early to look at this summer’s crop of NHL draft-eligible players. Right, Kevin Allen?

*Apparently Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Auston Matthews has his own rap song, so he’s got that going for him…which is nice.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) and PHT writer Jason Brough has James Wisniewski trying to revive his NHL career after a short stint in the KHL.

*There’s a call for Nashville backup Juuse Saros to get more playing time between the pipes for the Predators.

*Larry Brooks brings his always interesting take to the Bruins situation in allowing Claude Julien to take the head gig in Montreal, and said it all came down to money. Big surprise there. I think there was also a concern from the B’s about having another PR nightmare on their hands if it was perceived that they stepped in and didn’t allow Julien to gain employment someplace else, regardless of what waited for him in the offseason. It also tells me that the Bruins aren’t afraid of Julien coaching their arch-rivals, which makes perfect sense since they just fired him.

*For something completely different: the image of Woody Harrelson in the Falcon cockpit is both jarring and super awesome.