Agent: Marchand deal 'no sure thing' before camp

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Agent: Marchand deal 'no sure thing' before camp

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
So whats the hold-up with the Brad Marchand contract negotiations anyway?

Its become the biggest and really the only question mark of the summer for the Bruins with so many pieces locked into place on the Stanley Cup winning roster. Normally the Bs front office is excellent at taking care of lingering contracts early in the process, but Marchands status has remained unresolved through the entire summer.

Marchand was a rookie revelation for the Bruins with 21 goals during the regular season along with a key role as agitator that had really been missing from the roster makeup in the past. The 23-year-old Marchand then exploded in the Stanley Cup playoffs for a franchise record 11 goals (and 19 points) during 25 postseason games including some very big performances for the 5-foot-8 Nova Scotia native against the Canucks in the Cup Finals.

Its no exaggeration to say Marchands bargaining profile grew exponentially in the playoffs.

But the pesky winger is still a restricted free agent with the Bruins able to match any offer sheets Marchand could potentially receive on the open market. That hasnt really materialized for Marchand and agent Wade Arnott since the player hit restricted free agency on July 1, but there is also no deal close to being in place between the Bruins and their diminutive cult hero.

Nothing to report, indicated Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli when asked about the negotiations.

Arnott could potentially summon bad vibes for Bruins fans given he was the exact same agent that helped broker Phil Kessels escape to Toronto as a restricted free agent two years ago.

But Marchand has consistently affirmed that he wants to remain in Black and Gold, and that he loves the city of Boston. There also doesnt appear to be a smitten suitor the same way the ArnottKessel teamhad Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs two years ago.

Arnott confirmed to CSNNE.com that talks are still ongoing with the Bruins, but they dont sound any closer to getting a deal done despite training camp sitting less than a month away.

Discussions with the Bruins remain open and ongoing regarding Brad, but nothing is imminent, said Arnott.

It doesnt appear that there will be any grand announcement during Marchands Cup Day parade in Halifax at the end of August, either. In fact, Arnott had an interesting response when asked if he was optimistic a deal will get done before Bruins training camp begins in earnest on Sept. 16.

Im hopeful, but its no sure thing, said Arnott, casting the slightest shed of doubt that Marchands signing is an automatic.

It sounds like theres still a chasm between the player and the team when it comes to determining his contract value. Marchand is a difficult case because hes really a one-year wonder that flashed and surprised as a rookie in Boston.

He became a cult hero and a fan favorite, and he also took celebrating the Cup victory to a new level in the weeks following Bostons win.

Marchand is a key cog in the Bs skating on a line with Patrice Bergeron and either Rich Peverley or Tyler Seguin next season, and the BergeronMarchand duo was dynamite all last season.

Theres little doubt the Bruins would have fallen short of the Cup without Marchands services, and hes now part of team building blocks moving forward. But the NHL is all about consistency, and thats something Marchand hasnt shown just yet after tasting a whole lot of success at a very young age in a role where he needs to constantly play on the edge.

There were times Claude Julien had pull back on the reins a bit with Marchand last season, and it remains to be seen whether its a young player maturing or just part of the player package with Marchand. Its a delicate balancing act, and its something that the Bruins want to see more of before showing Marchand the money.

The expiring CBA at the end of the upcoming season also isnt making things any easier for both sides attempting to forecast what the future NHL landscape will look like.

Indications are that the Bruins are looking to sign Marchand for a two-year deal in the 2.5 million per season neighborhood that would keep the Bs rabble-rouser a restricted free agent under Bostons control at the end of his next deal.

Restricted free agent Teddy Purcell busted out for 51 points during the regular season and 17 points in the playoffs, and resigned with the Lightning for two years and 4.72 million, which amounts to 2.36 million per season. Thats the closest comparable contract for Marchand given his age, accomplishments and classification as a free agent.

But it also makes perfect sense that Marchand and Co. are pushing for something in the four-year, 12 million range, and a contract that would set him up for unrestricted free agency once his deal has expired.

Sean Bergenheims four-year, 11 million deal with the Florida Panthers would appear close to the high end target for what Marchands camp is shooting for. Bergenheim also stepped up his game in the postseason just as Marchand did, but there are also a couple of significant, noted differences.

Bergenheim was an unrestricted free agent after turning 27 years old last season, and has proven himself in the NHL over four plus seasons. Bergenheim has also never come all that close to approaching 20 goals in a single season during his career, and its pretty clear Marchands ceiling is much higher after his one amazing season.

Theres also Joel Ward, who got four years and 12 million from the Washington Capitals despite never scoring 20 goals or topping 40 points in his career. Marchand did both of those at the ripe young age of 23 for the Bruins. Then there's Tomas Kopecky with his four-year, 12 million deal from the shopping spree mad Florida Panthers this summer.

In an elevated free agent market that saw a lot of drunken sailor money being thrown around to free agents after July 1, the market value for a player like Marchand has clearly risen. In fact, it may never be higher given his offensive production and his performance in the postseason.

The Bruins have roughly 7 million in cap space according to capgeek.com, but they will have upwards of 10 million in cap space once the Marc Savard situation is determined for this year. (Its expected Savard wont be able to pass the training camp physical and hell sit out the 2011-12 season barring some kind of 11th hour recovery.)

At the end of the day the Bruins hold most of the cards with Marchand unless another team steps up with an offer sheet. Marchands only real option save an getting an offer sheet from a team with some extra cap money kicking around thats also willing to give up valuable draft picks for his services would be to hold out in training camp and take his chances that the Bs cave once they begin to miss him.

The good news in all of this: Marchand loves Boston and loves being a member of the Bruins.

"I have no idea right now ... what the numbers are or how long it's going to be," Marchand told Steve Murphy of CTV Atlantic during an interview three weeks ago. "Right now, we're just kind of getting into things. It's been a long summer and people have been on vacation and enjoying the Cup so we're going to start getting into it pretty heavily here and hopefully we'll get something done soon."

When Murphy asked Marchand if he wanted to remain in Boston, Marchand unflinchingly replied in the affirmative.

"Of course I love it there," Marchand said.

The bad news in all of this: There hasnt been a lot of progress made since that interview, and theres no guarantee itll be done when camp opens up next month.

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

Countdown to camp: Malcolm Subban

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Countdown to camp: Malcolm Subban

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From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Malcolm Subban.

Things might have been much different for Subban had he avoided the fractured larynx injury last winter, and instead been able to continue building momentum toward winning an NHL job this season as the understudy to Tuukka Rask. Instead, Subban sustained the freak injury that knocked him out for the final months of last season, and now finds himself stuck organizationally after the B’s signed old friend Anton Khudobin to a two-year deal on July 1 to once again work in tandem with Rask. Now it looks like it will be the AHL again for the foreseeable future for Subban.

What happened last year

Subban has shown flashes throughout his young career after the Bruins made him a first-round pick in 2012, and that continued last season prior to the stray puck that hit him in an unprotected part of his throat during pregame warm-ups. The shame of the injury’s timing was that Subban was perhaps playing the best hockey of his career and it finally appeared like he was headed toward the consistency that’s eluded him thus far. Instead the 22-year-old finished last season with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage and didn’t appear on the surface to make much of a progression from his first couple of pro seasons. The injury cost Subban any chance to potentially move into this season as Tuukka Rask’s backup at and really puts a lot of pressure on him to turn the corner this season in the AHL.

Questions to be answered this season

The question still lingers as to whether Subban is an actually NHL goaltender. He still has the potential to be a No. 1 guy as he gains experience and confidence between the pipes. He’s still just 22 with three years of AHL experience and goaltender is a position where it can take longer for the development arc to be completed. But Subban needs to start showing a little bit more dominance in the AHL if he wants to start pushing for looks in the NHL, and clearly needs to be more consistent rather than shining every once in a while with brilliant performances. The talent is clearly there for Subban as a gifted athlete playing goaltender, but it still looks like he’s a late-comer to the goaltending position as he was in his teenage years. Perhaps this is the season where it all comes together for him.

In their own words

“I’ve been hit in the neck before. I have all the gear on now, the protection and stuff. I’ve gotten used to it. Honestly I feel like a tank. I’m not even worried at all about getting hit again. [My approach] is the same as it’s been since I was drafted. I just focus on myself and my game, and that’s all I can really control. My goal is to make the team the same as it is every year, so that’s what I’m trying to do. I just have to play well and give my chance a team to win every night.” –Malcolm Subban talking about his injury and his approach at development camp in July.

 Outlook

We are entering make-or-break territory with Subban and the Bruins as he enters his fourth pro season with the organization with very little discernible progress made over that time period. The injury makes it even more difficult to gauge if he has shown significant signs of development in his time in the AHL and if he’ll be a better goalie than the one that imploded in St. Louis during his NHL debut a couple of years ago. Subban has made strides in his technique and certainly seems to understand the need to gain consistency at this point in his career, but all of this will be happening at the AHL level for the next couple of years barring any injuries to Rask or Khudobin. One has to wonder if Subban is going to end up in another NHL organization via trade given the current goaltending situation in Boston. Subban won’t be getting his NHL shot anytime soon in Boston and he still has work to do before he’s even earned it. With Rask a fixture in Boston and Subban’s lack of clear dominance in the AHL, it makes one wonder why the B’s selected him in the first round back in 2012 when clearly there were bigger organizational needs.  

 

 

Veteran center Dominic Moore among Bruins signings

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Veteran center Dominic Moore among Bruins signings

The Bruins announced some organizational signings and one surprise dip into late summer free agency with a one-year, $900,000 contract for 36-year-old depth center Dominic Moore.

The B’s also announced one year, two-way contracts for forward Brian Ferlin, along with defensemen Chris Casto and Alex Grant, and all three of those players will serve as young, organizational depth players in Providence.

Moore has spent each of the last three seasons with the New York Rangers amid a career 765 NHL games played as a solid face-off and penalty-kill player that has fourth line candidate written all over him.

The Bruins will be former Harvard center Moore’s 10th NHL team. He’s coming off a season where he posted six goals and 15 points in 80 games for the Blueshirts, and has previously played for Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Toronto, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Tampa Bay and San Jose along with the Rangers.

While Moore is a solid candidate for fourth-line duty that will provide leadership, good face-off work, solid and gritty penalty-kill work and all kinds of NHL experience, he is also a 36-year-old on a team that has a ton of center candidates headed into camp. 

Moore’s presence could be problematic if he’s standing in the way of developing young centers Austin Czarnik and Noel Acciari. The expectation is that B’s coach Claude Julien, as he always has in the past with safe veterans like Chris Kelly, will go with a player like Moore over the youngsters if times start getting tough for the Black and Gold.

Ferlin, 24, completed his second professional season with the AHL's Providence Bruins in 2015-16, producing six goals and eight assists for 14 points with 27 penalty minutes and a plus-nine rating in 23 games. He was sidelined for much of last season in Providence by a concussion.

Casto, 24, completed his third full AHL season with Providence in 2015-16, establishing career highs with seven goals and 16 assists for 23 points with 47 penalty minutes in 68 games.

Grant, 27, spent the 2015-16 season with the Arizona Coyotes organization, splitting time between the Coyotes and their AHL affiliate in Springfield. He recorded seven penalty minutes in five games in the NHL, while compiling 11 goals and 31 assists for 42 points with 57 penalty minutes in 69 games in the AHL.  

 

 

Haggerty: Bruins say hunger is back, but we must see it on the ice

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Haggerty: Bruins say hunger is back, but we must see it on the ice

BRIGHTON – It only amounts to lip service coming in the first few days the Bruins players are simply getting together for informal captain’s practices, but it’s pretty clear the fire is burning brightly after missing the playoffs two years in a row.

For a group that still includes some players that made the playoffs seven seasons in a row, made it to the Cup Finals twice and hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2011, it feels like that sting of pride is very close to the surface.

Torey Krug wouldn’t even entertain discussion of last season when asked about it following Monday’s skating session at the new Warrior Ice Arena practice facility. David Krejci said he’s officially done talking about winning the Cup five long years ago. Now, it’s about righting the ship for the Bruins, and getting things back moving in a positive, forward progression after moving backwards and sideways over the last two years.

As always, the playmaking Krejci gives a straight, honest take about where the team is on the down side of their Cup years.

“I feel like we’re back to where we started 10 years ago, you know? The teams didn’t make the playoffs, and now we kind of have some new guys. It’s still a good mix with some experienced guys,” said Krejci. “But the hunger, it’s there again. Obviously we haven’t been in the playoffs for a couple of years. It’s exciting times.

“If you go back to 2011 and then to 2013, we were in the Final. But we knew that we had already won two years before. We did try, but you always knew in the back of your mind that you’d already won the Cup. Now, it’s like the Cup is out of the window and that was a long time ago. I’m going to talk about the Cup when I retire, so now we’re all hungry again. We missed the playoffs two years in a row, and it’s a new excitement again. I just can’t wait to get back into it.”

Krejci’s first full season in the NHL was actually the year that the B’s made it back into the postseason in 2007-08, but he was close enough to the organization to see what it was like at the 2006 training camp when a great deal was in flux for the Black and Gold.

It’s not unlike the big changes that the Bruins have seen in the past two years with the hopes that there will start being a payoff in the near future.

It’s exciting for Krejci, in particular, as he should be 100 percent healthy for the first time in three years after surgery on his left hip last spring. A healthy Krejci and Patrice Bergeron will give the Black and Gold their potent 1-2 punch down the middle and there’s also a healthy chip on the shoulder of the B’s defensemen crew after a difficult campaign last year.

Krug admitted as much while brushing off big picture questions about what happened last season, and why this season should be any different for a group of seven defensemen returning from last season’s crew ranked 19th in the league.

“I’m not going to talk about [last year]. We’re moving on. This group will use it as motivation moving forward. With this new practice facility, everybody is excited to get back together and start moving forward,” said Krug. “We have [D-men] pieces in here that maybe people aren’t getting too excited about, but we know what we have in this room. We’ve grown and developed together.

“We know that we’re highly capable of taking whatever is thrown our way. But I know the D-men especially are motivated to prove a lot of people wrong that we’re not ready to compete, and not ready to be a playoff team.”

That’s essentially what it comes down to for the Black and Gold. They can talk about regaining the hunger to compete and utilizing last season’s failures as motivation for this season, but it all amounts to nothing unless they show it on the ice on a consistent basis.

It will be months before everybody truly knows if it’s more than talk from the Bruins and before we learn whether the B’s even have the talent on the roster to truly compete in a difficult, improving Atlantic Division. 

For now, the optimism is running high for the returning Black and Gold players and that registers as something as they slowly ramp up to the start of training camp next month and the season opener on Oct. 13 in Columbus against the Blue Jackets.