By Joe Haggerty
UNIONDALE, N.Y. Theres no denying the Bruins are moving closer to a deal for Toronto Maple Leafs premium defenseman Tomas Kaberle, and Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli is working to fit the puzzle pieces in place for another move to free up some salary cap space.According to several hockey sources, and as reported earlier on Thursday morning by TSNs Darren Dreger, the Bruins are getting close to a trade agreement on a deal with the Leafs for the four-time All-Star defenseman. The package is believed to be Blake Wheeler and a draft pick headed to the Leafs, and that package of playersprospects would net the Bs the puck-moving defensemanpower play quarterback that Boston desperately needs.Right now if we can improve then Ill take whatever Chiarelli can give us, right? said coach Claude Julien. But I think its pretty obvious and pretty clear that we want to upgrade our puck-moving part of our game from the back end. Steve Kampfer has done that as a young player, and now were looking for a guy with a little more experience. Thats what were looking right now.Hockey sources have indicated to CSNNE.com theres a second, salary-cap clearing deal being moved into place to give Boston some cap flexibility. The Bs are discussing sending rugged defenseman Mark Stuart to the Chicago Blackhawks, who are looking for a little more toughness around their net.The Stuart deal would net the Bruins a draft pick, and would be strictly for salary cap relief rather than instant roster improvement.The Bs have roughly 2.5 million salary cap space, and shedding the cap hits of Wheeler (2.2 million) and Stuart (1.675 million) would give Boston room to add Kaberle to their pop-gun power play and have some room in case any other roster tweaking is needed prior to the Feb. 28 NHL trade deadline. Stuart is aware of the trade chatter surrounding his name and clearly wants to remain with the Bruins, who drafted and developed him. But he's done a good job of blocking everything out as hes resumed his hard-hitting role in the Boston lineup.Were not having problems because of rumors the last three games. Were just not playing good hockey, said Stuart. Trade rumors are a part of the game, but you cant let those kinds of things affect your game or how you play.
Joe Haggerty can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs
Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while everybody in New England is in mourning over the latest Gronk booboo.
*A pretty neat sharpshooting video with Jonathan Toews and that young whippersnapper Auston Matthews squaring off against each other.
*Craig Custance looks a little deeper into the situation with the Florida Panthers and how things are stabilizing after the rough firing of Gerard Gallant last week.
*Now. let’s get to the real important stuff: the San Jose Sharks website has put together their Movember rankings for the player’s mustaches.
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Garrioch says that the plans for an outdoor game in Ottawa are again back on the NHL’s agenda.
*Erik Erlendsson has put together a “Lightning Insider” website where you can find all the latest news about the Tampa Bay franchise. Check it out.
*As guys such as Anton Khudobin prove when they’re thrust into the starting spot, backup goalies matter in today’s NHL.
*For something completely different: a mash-up of Kylo Ren and “Girls” from the mad mind of Adam Driver is exactly just that.
BRIGHTON, Mass. – Zdeno Chara said he is “feeling better” after going through a full practice with the Bruins, but the captain won’t be making the one game road trip to Buffalo for Saturday afternoon’s matinee game vs. the Sabres.
Chara was going through line rushes and battle drills with the rest of his teammates while practicing for the second day in a row, but made it clear that his lower body injury hasn’t been cleared for game action yet.
“It’s day-to-day. It feels better…yeah. But it’s still day-to-day,” said a rather laconic Chara when it came to questions about his injury. “It would feel much better [to play] than it feels [not playing].”
Claude Julien said his 39-year-old defenseman has moved into true “day-to-day” status as he nears a return after missing what will be his sixth game in a row on Saturday afternoon, but that he isn’t quite ready to go just yet.
“[Chara] and [Noel] Acciari won’t be on the trip,” said Julien. “I think [Chara] is getting pretty close. When you see him at practice things are going pretty well for him. I think that the term day-to-day is fitting for him right now. A lot of times when we say day-to-day we don’t know whether it’s going to be two days, three days or even a week. But in his case I would say that day-to-day is really day-to-day now with him.”
One thing the Bruins can be heartened by is that they’ve managed to survive without Chara: the B’s have gone 2-2-1 and allowed just nine goals in the five games since their No. 1 defenseman went down. They have been able to continue collecting points in sometimes ugly, workmanlike fashion.
That gives the Bruins the luxury of not rushing their D-man along before he’s ready and gives some of their other defensemen added confidence that they can effectively do the job with or without their 6-foot-9 stopper.