Boston Bruins

Report: Leafs targeting Colin Miller in expansion draft deal

Report: Leafs targeting Colin Miller in expansion draft deal

There remains some question as to which Boston Bruins player will end up getting selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in Wednesday’s NHL expansion draft in Las Vegas, but the high probability is that it will be a defenseman, either Adam McQuaid or Colin Miller. If Vegas does end up making the pick for the player to eventually be on their own roster this then the informed speculation is that it could be McQuaid based on his connection to some in the Golden Knights organization.

If GM George McPhee and the Golden Knights have designs on flipping the player they lift from Boston’s unprotected list, however, it’s looking more and more like it could be the 24-year-old Miller. To make matters worse, it looks like the talented, young puck-moving defenseman might also be headed to one of Boston’s rivals in the Atlantic Division, and could be spun off to the Toronto Maple Leafs following the expansion draft, according to TSN insider Frank Seravalli.

Here’s more from Seravalli:

It’s no secret that the Leafs have been on the prowl for a top-four defenceman to add to their blueline. The NHL’s expansion draft protection scheme – with most teams opting to protect seven forwards, three defencemen and one goaltender – by definition means McPhee will have a bevy to choose from and flip as trade currency.

The Leafs’ front office would also be intimately familiar with Bruins defenceman Colin Miller, a right-shot from another division rival who could represent a more inexpensive option and fit in coach Mike Babcock’s quest to perfectly balance pairs with left and right-shooting defencemen.

Seravalli went so far as to ask if Miller is “the Leafs’ most likely target” this week to bolster their back end.

Maple Leafs assistant GM and noted fancy stats enthusiast Kyle Dubas was the GM of the Soo Greyhounds when Miller exploded on the scene as a hard-shooting, fast-skating defenseman on the fast track to the NHL. So there’s a strong connection between the Toronto front office and the 24-year-old D-man that’s shown flashes in the last two seasons at the NHL level, but has been inconsistent with his hockey sense and puck management.

Miller’s inclusion on the Boston non-protection list was twofold. There was a real lack of progress over the last two seasons combined with Boston’s overwhelming depth on the right side with Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy. Miller scored six goals last season while getting sporadic power play time, but also finished with three less points this past season despite playing in 19 more games for the Black and Gold. He was initially looked at as a big time top-4 prospect for the Bruins after arriving via the Milan Lucic deal with the Los Angeles Kings, but Miller was never able to tap into the kind of play that saw him post monster numbers in the AHL as a member of the Kings organization.

Miller’s puck-possession numbers have been strong over the last couple of seasons, however. It’s also undoubtedly part of the reason that an analytics-savvy group like Toronto would be interested in him above others, and would be willing to part with good assets to swing a side deal with Vegas this week. It clearly also doesn’t hurt that Miller is still a very cheap player at $1 million for next season while still working on his second NHL contract.

The reasoning was sound for the B’s to protect a big, strong, proven defenseman like Kevan Miller over Colin Miller when it came time to finalize the list, and there really isn’t a readily available spot for Miller to continue developing with Boston this season. But it will no doubt sting if Lou Lamoriello and the Maple Leafs pull the end-around after the expansion draft, and somehow find a way to siphon a talent like Miller away from the Black and Gold as the two rivals vie for Atlantic Division supremacy.

Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

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Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

BOSTON – It was probably only a matter of time before it happened, but it looks like Boston’s favorite Little Ball of Hate is stepping up his game on social media.

Brad Marchand is known as much for his rabble-rousing and trash-talking on the ice as he is for massive offensive production while serving as Boston’s top scorer in each of the last few seasons. So Marchand has the perfect mixture of good humor and clout as a star NHL player, and that usually combines for a pretty powerful voice on Twitter.

Marchand has been noticeably more active on Twitter in recent days with a wide-ranging group of tweets, and the big winner is the hockey fan that gets a little more exposure to some classic Nose Face Killah wit. Some of the tweets have been as a Bruins team leader where he’s praising the talented young crop of B’s prospects that he’s watching during training camp:

Some have been about chirping the NHL for their decision to skip the Olympics this winter where Marchand most certainly would have been primed for a chance at a Gold Medal:

Some have been engaging with “fans” and dropping classic pop culture references from children’s books while showing the nasty edge that routinely drives opponents up a wall:

The Charlotte’s Web reference is a devastating classic from Marchand, a noted longtime fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sometimes it’s just telling a quick story in a tweet that gives you an inside look at the kind of chirping that goes on when Marchand is on the ice:

A social media platform like Twitter was made for a personality like Marchand, and a stepped-up presence is good for him and good for hockey fans. So why all of a sudden is No. 63 tweeting with greater frequency over the last few days?

It sounds like it’s a combination of training camp boredom and a genuine interest in amplifying his voice on all manner of subjects.

“I’ve just been kind of lying around with nothing to do and I jumped on [twitter]…thought it was kind of funny,” said Marchand. “I thought I’d get a little more involved. I don’t know if I’m going to have enough time to do it every day, but it’s fun.”

As fun as it’s been for Marchand, it’s no doubt even more fun for the fans that might get a chance to interact with him even if it’s as the unwitting foil for one of his well-placed chirps. 

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Cassidy: Khudobin 'has a leg up' on backup competition in Bruins camp

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Cassidy: Khudobin 'has a leg up' on backup competition in Bruins camp

BOSTON – Fresh off a strong performance allowing just a single goal on 31 shots in his preseason debut, Tuukka Rask looked close to the top of his game and exactly where he needs to be with the regular season a couple of weeks away. Nearly as important as Rask’s state as the regular season nears, the Bruins coaching staff has been keeping a keen eye through camp on the all-important backup goaltender position as well. 

It’s important that the Bruins have a quality backup goalie in place as they hope to start Rask in just 55-60 games this season, and manage the slender puck-stopper in a way where they can get the best out of him from beginning to end. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy indicated Anton Khudobin has the inside track on the backup job after finding his groove in the second half of last season, and it would appear he’s well on his way to retaining his job with a Malcolm Subban/Zane McIntyre tandem in Providence.

“Tuukka looks good, and looks good in practice and healthy. So that’s reassuring,” said Cassidy. “[Anton Khudobin] I thought played very well in his game. He had the one unfortunate goal, but I thought he was rock-solid the rest of the game. He’s in very good shape and he’s practiced well, so he’s got a leg up on the other [goalies] based on his experience.

“We know that going in, but he’s going to get pushed. Zane [McIntyre] was good in a game, and Malcolm let in a couple where he could have been more aggressive. But it was a first game, so right now they all look good. That’s a good problem to have if they all push each other, but to get direct to the point Anton has done nothing to lose that backup spot.”

At this point, it would likely be McIntyre rather than Subban that would challenge for the NHL backup job if Khudobin did stumble at all in training camp or early in the regular season as he did last year. There will be no backup controversy, however, if the 31-year-old plays like he did in stopping 20-of-22 shots in Tuesday night’s win vs. the Red Wings or as he did going 6-1-0 with a .922 save percentage after the All-Star break last season.  

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