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 the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading after thinking Barack Obama gave Jeffrey Ross a run for his money as the Roast-master In Chief at last night’s White House Correspondent’s Dinner.
*The man behind the music at American Airlines Arena for the Dallas Stars’ games comes into the spotlight for a story.
*Don Cherry sings the praises of Joel Ward, wears a Toronto Marlies suit and said “it was time to go” for Bruce Boudreau in Anaheim.
*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Penguins coach Mike Sullivan taking major issue with the head shot Brooks Orpik laid on Olli Maatta.
*The Maple Leafs secure the No. 1 overall pick in last night’s NHL Draft lottery, which will no doubt lead them to Auston Matthews.
*Now that the Edmonton Oilers have the No. 4 pick, Peter Chiarelli is open to trade options for those teams wanting to move up.
*Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is once again thriving in Ontario just a year after a major health scare.
*Good piece by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Kurz on the unique journey for Brent Burns that culminated in his Norris Trophy finalist honor this week.
*Spector has the roundup of rumors including plenty of speculation on Kevin Shattenkirk once the Blues are done in the playoffs.
*For something completely different: a couple of reporters actually got into an actual fight at the White House Correspondent’s after-party. It sounds like they both kind of deserved a punch in the face, to be honest.
Patrice Bergeron will have some Bruins company at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas at the end of the month of June.
Loui Eriksson was named a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy on Saturday afternoon along with Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar and Florida Panthers pivot Aleksander Barkov. It’s the second time in his career that Eriksson will be named a finalist for the award given annually "to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability."
The Swedish winger finished his best season in a Bruins uniform with 30 goals (third on team) and 33 assists for the second most points (63) on the team along with 12 total penalty minutes through 82 games played. Eriksson was excited to once again be a finalist for the award, and to be lumped in with a couple of the NHL’s best players in Kopitar and Barkov.
“It is a great honor to be considered for the Lady Byng Trophy, an award that has been won by some of the best players of all time,” said Eriksson, who will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1 after three seasons in Boston. “There are many deserving candidates so to be named one of the finalists with Anze Kopitar and Aleksander Barkov is very exciting for me. Thank you to my teammates and the coaching staff and I appreciate all those who voted.”
The last Bruin to win the Lady Byng Trophy was Rick Middleton back in 1981-82, and Eriksson is the first B’s finalist for Lady Byng in more than 10 years.
The Boston Bruins basically had a three percent of moving up into the top three of the NHL Draft Lottery on Saturday night, but they didn’t strike it draft rich when it was all said and done up in Toronto.
With Bruins general manager Don Sweeney in attendance representing the Original Six franchise, the Black and Gold were the first team logo selected in the draft lottery meaning they will own the 14th overall pick in the first round for the second straight summer.
Instead the Toronto Maple Leafs will select first overall after putting together the worst record in the NHL last season, and the Winnipeg Jets and Columbus Blue Jackets won the lottery to move up into the second and third slots in the draft.
This marks the sixth time in franchise history that the club has owned the 14th overall selection in the NHL Draft. The Bruins drafted Jake DeBrusk 14th overall last summer in Florida at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Stephane Quintal 14th overall in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft, Normand Leveille 14th overall in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft, Douglas Halward 14th overall in the 1975 NHL Amateur Draft and Terry O’Reilly 14th overall in the 1971 NHL Amateur Draft.
Based on finishing with the highest point total of all non-playoff teams for the second straight season, the Bruins owned a 1.0% chance of winning the 2016 Draft Lottery overall and a 3.4% chance of securing a top-three pick.
The 2016 NHL Draft will take place on June 24-25 at the First Niagara Center home of the Sabres in Buffalo just a couple of months from now, and the Bruins also own the first round pick of the San Jose Sharks that will end up somewhere in the 20’s based on the fact they’re still currently alive in the playoffs.