Wheeler, Stuart have a little Stanley Cup lament

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Wheeler, Stuart have a little Stanley Cup lament

BOSTON Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler both admitted it was difficult watching the Bruins win the Stanley Cup last season.

Both players were dealt to the Atlanta Thrashers for Rich Peverley and defenseman throw-in Boris Valabik prior to the trade deadline, and never got to take part in the best part after helping to build the Bruins back into a perennial contender from some modest beginnings.

Both players also live in Minnesota in the offseason and have more than a few heart-to-heart talks in the spring while their former teammates were battling against the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Finals.

It was gratifying but it was hard at the same time. You wanted to be a part of it, said Wheeler. You get something out of it seeing the guys celebrate that you played with for a few years. That was the hardest part about getting traded. Stuart and I both knew it was very real possibility that winning the Cup was going to happen.

To see it come true was kind of a mixed bag of emotions. I was happy for the guys, they worked hard and they deserved it. Stuart and I had a few powwows in the summertime for sure. We live all of about 10 minutes apart, so we definitely met up a few times and talked about it. It made it a little easier to swallow. We were happy for the guys, but we wanted to be out there too.

Wheeler was always viewed as a project with good size, skill and speed levels that could just never put it all together, and perhaps didnt have the instincts or grit that was needed on a Cup contender. The talent is still there, however, and hes got 11 points in 22 games for the Jets while starting to play more consistent hockey with Winnipeg lately.

Thats not bad, but Wheeler still has a way to go to catch up to the surprising Kyle Wellwood leading the club in scoring with 17 points thus far.

Stuart, on the other hand, was a player the Bruins didnt want to give up on with his leadership abilities and physical tenacity, but he was also becoming a player in Boston made obsolete by a younger, cheaper alternative in Adam McQuaid.

So both players were shipped out for a player in Peverley with a little more offensive production and grittiness borne out of working his through the lower minor league levels, and theyve gone from Atlanta to Winnipeg along with the rest of the franchise. Stuart has taken to a leadership role with the Jets while Wheeler is getting accustomed to the zero degree temperatures that come along with living in Manitoba.

Hes also playing 20 minutes a night for the Jets and being allowed to blossom as a stay-at-home defensemen when it appeared that was never going to be possible during his time with the Black and Gold.

Is Stuart expecting any kind of ovation from the Bruins crowd that respected his thumping style of play?

I think I got one in my first game back last year with the Thrashers so theyve probably forgotten about me now, said Stuart. Theyve got a lot of stuff to celebrate around here.

I think its so hard not to think about if hed remained with the Bruins. But you try not to dwell on that too much because youll make yourself go crazy. That thought crept in, but you just move ahead. Im happy in Winnipeg. I think Im lucky with where Ive ended up. I was in Boston for so long in a great city and great organization, and Im very proud to be part of things in Winnipeg. Its a great hockey city with some great fans.

So Wheeler and Stuart have certainly moved on from the Bruins winning the Cup to life in Winnipeg.

But theyll have that lasting reminder every time they travel to Boston and see the Stanley Cup-winning banner hanging in the rafters, and that will no doubt serve as motivation to hoist a Cup of their own one of these days.

Bean: The (incorrect) case for the Bruins signing Kevin Shattenkirk

Bean: The (incorrect) case for the Bruins signing Kevin Shattenkirk

The Bruins should not sign Kevin Shattenkirk. They really shouldn’t. 

Yet they might. Pierre McGuire said on TSN Radio Tuesday that his guess is that Shattenkirk, arguably the best free agent defenseman on the market, will end up in Boston.

It is remarkable how universally against a Shattenkirk megadeal B’s fans have seemingly been. A Twitter poll with over 3,600 votes this month had Bruins fans preferring Boston sign 40-year-old Zdeno Chara to a two-year, $8 million extension than the 28-year-old  Shattenkirk to a seven-year, $45.5 million deal. 

That is obviously the correct conclusion, but considering how hard the false “Chara is old and bad” garbage is pushed in this town, it’s telling that 64 percent would rather he stick around than the team build the defense around Shattenkirk. 

Of course, Shattenkirk is not a bad player just because he’s been overrated in recent seasons. He’s a decent second-pairing defender and strong power play asset who can be penciled in for 40 points a year. The Bruins already have that in Torey Krug, and he makes less than Shattenkirk figures to command. Shattenkirk is also a righty who plays on the right, which is not a need for the Bruins, whereas Krug is a left shot who plays both sides. 

Add in the Bruins’ cap situation due to some bad contracts and they why of Shattenkirk would be a bad signing doesn’t need to be re-hashed. By this point, the explanation’s been given a few times in a few different places. 

So what would the Bruins’ actual case for signing Shattenkirk be? 

TO KEEP IT MOVING 

Last season was encouraging for Bruins fans because it saw them reach the playoffs for the first time in three years while also seeing young talent emerge. Yet they still only made the playoffs by two points, something of which Don Sweeney and Cam Neely are undoubtedly aware. 

So for all the good signs, this could be a fringe playoff team again if more improvements aren’t made, and missing the playoffs for the second time in three years would mark a step back in the eyes of ownership, perhaps putting jobs in danger. It would be a shame if money were spent irresponsibly for the sake of saving jobs, but Shattenkirk would definitely make the Bruins better next season, even if it crippled them financially down the road. 

TO PULL A CHIARELLIAN FREE AGENT SWITCHEROO

With McAvoy set to be a top-pairing player and Brandon Carlo a good second-pairing option, the Bruins do not have a need for a highly paid right-shot defender. That doesn’t mean they don’t have needs elsewhere. 

Last offseason, Peter Chiarelli made the controversial move of trading Taylor Hall, one of the best left wings on the planet. He did it to get Adam Larsson to help build Edmonton’s blue line up, then he went out and signed Milan Lucic in free agency to replace Hall. 

If the Bruins truly have designs on adding Shattenkirk, perhaps they could have something similar in mind: Trade someone like Carlo for either a left-shot defenseman or a left wing, then replace Carlo with Shattenkirk. 

This would still not be financially palatable, however. When the Oilers traded Hall for Larsson, they swapped a player with a $6 million cap hit for a player with a $4.16 million cap hit and replaced the original player (Hall) with a player in Lucic who carried a $6 million cap hit. So essentially they netted one player for an additional $4.16 million. 

Carlo is on his entry level contract, so unless the Bruins traded him for a player on an entry-level deal, they’d be spending a lot of money in any maneuver that involved replacing him with Shattenkirk. 

TO GO ALL-IN ON POST-CLAUDE LIFE

Claude Julien’s detractors lamented his affinity for responsibility. They loved it when Bruce Cassidy was more open to trading chances. 

Well, you like trading chances? Shattenkirk’s your guy. He’s a good skater, a good offensive player and a sub-par defender. You put Krug, Shattenkirk and McAvoy as three of your four top-four defenseman and you’ll be a long way from the days of Chara, Seidenberg and Boychuk, for better or worse. 

BUT, KEEP IN MIND . . . 

They for sure should not sign Kevin Shattenkirk. 

Morning Skate: What does trading a first-rounder get you now?

Morning Skate: What does trading a first-rounder get you now?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while wishing that Gordon Hayward and Paul George were already in Boston, like, yesterday.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Freidman gives his 30 thoughts for the week, including the trade value of a first-round pick right now.

*It could that non-unrestricted free agents steal all of the thunder on July 1 with massive contract extensions a la Connor McDavid.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has the Detroit Red Wings taking potential fliers on a number of veteran D-men that are out on the free market.

*With free agency right around the corner, the legendary Stan Fischler details the sad end to Bobby Orr’s career in Boston, where he was lied to about the offer extended to him and ended up playing things out with the Chicago Blackhawks in a way that it shouldn’t have gone. The sight of Orr in a Blackhawks sweater is one of the real all-time NHL oddities out there.

*The NCAA is eying college hockey expansion in NHL markets, including the University of Illinois and Pitt, and, from what I’ve been told, perhaps UNLV and maybe even Vanderbilt. This is a great thing for amateur hockey players and anybody that can’t get enough of the game.  

*Ex-Senators defenseman Marc Methot holds no ill will toward the Sens after being dealt from Vegas to the Dallas Stars following his selection in the expansion draft.

*Josh Ho-Sang shares his wisdom to Islanders prospects as a 21-year-old somebody that’s gone through the ups and downs of being in their shoes.

*As we referenced above, Connor McDavid is closing in on a massive contract extension with the Edmonton Oilers that will probably make him the highest paid player in the NHL.

*For something completely different: My heart goes out to this Roslindale family fighting through a situation with a child who has a life-threatening disorder. They have a Go-Fund-Me page, so please give if you can.