Bruins prospect Cantin a project worth working on

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Bruins prospect Cantin a project worth working on

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

WILMINGTON One of the quiet stories of prospect camp and Bs rookie camp has been the solid play of rugged defenseman Marc Cantin, who signed an entry level deal with the Bs in March.

The undrafted blueliner has been compared favorably to the hard-hitting, leader-friendly style of Mark Stuart by Bruins talent evaluators, and hes displayed very Stuart-esque qualities on and off the ice during his time with Bostons other prospects.

When we talked about signing Cantin, we see him in a Mark Stuart-type mold," said Bruins assistant general manager, Jim Benning. "Hes going to play hard, hes going to play physical and hes going to step up in the neutral ice and hit guys. Hes not a fancy player, but hell make a first pass and play a simple, hard, physical, stay-at-home game.

Cantin first showed his stuff during the summer after getting an invite to Bs prospect camp, and its been a steady progression ever since. Cantin put up 41 points and 78 penalty minutes in the OHL last year, and then he appeared completely unafraid to throw rookie bodies around on the ice during his second prospect camp. Hes never going to be a coveted puck-moving defenseman or power-play specialist from the point, but Cantin said he always modeled his game after Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa.

Bieksa was a player the Bruins might have gone after this summer in free agency if he hadnt re-signed with the Canucks. So, potentially, developing a 20-year-old version of the rugged leader is something Boston is definitely interested in. It may take a year or two for Cantin to develop the skills capable of surviving in the fast-paced skating world of the NHL, but the Bs have two things working for both them and Cantin: Good defense depth and plenty of time to bring the youngster along.

Cantin has always been a naturally competitive kid as a lacrosse and hockey player growing up with a little boxing thrown in for good measure but going undrafted seems to have placed a little bit of a chip on his shoulder.

Going undrafted was something that bothered me at first because Id put in a lot of work in the summer and offseason, said Cantin. But it also made me want to go above and beyond what everybody else was doing, and it paid off last year.

Thats not necessarily a bad thing for a defenseman whos looking to impress the Bs organization, and endear himself to a team that relies on grittiness, physicality and the willingness to stand up for each other.

I like to be the guy that other guys dont like to play against, said Cantin. I just want to play. It's an instinctual thing for me that I just go out and do it. My compete level is something that I just can't shut off. Its me going 100 percent or Im not going at all. Its like that in pretty much everything I do.

Whether its sport or some other kind of competition, Ive always got to find a way to win.

That kind of rah-rah leadership as Benning described it is readily apparent in Cantins words as he talks about his place within the game of hockey. It should also be obvious once the spotlight goes up over the next two evenings at Nassau Coliseum during the rookie games against the Islanders.

Thats the next logical step for Cantin as hes impressed right along the way with a few more steps standing between the 20-year-old defenseman and his long range dream of playing in the NHL someday.

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

Bruins view newly signed Krug as an emerging leader

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Bruins view newly signed Krug as an emerging leader

With Bruins defenseman Torey Krug in the fold for four more years, a Thursday afternoon conference call with the 25-year-old defenseman and GM Don Sweeney was about what the young puck-mover can accomplish over the next few years. With Krug coming off a four goal, 44-point season and offseason shoulder surgery, it will be a slow and steady progression to begin next season once he’s cleared to play.

What isn’t in question is Krug’s leadership, toughness and gritty attitude to go along with his considerable offensive skill set, and those all made the $21 million contract a no-brainer from the Black and Gold end of things.

“Torey’s got a very, very unique skill set that’s important to our hockey club. He’s had a very, very productive three years. His role this year and his time on ice, in all situations, increased significantly. He was able to shoulder much, much more responsibility in all parts of the game. As a young player who is invested in the Boston Bruins organization, he wants to win, he does things the right way every time he comes to the rink,” said Sweeney. “He wants to get better; he’s not satisfied. All the things you want out of a young player to identify with, which is something we also acknowledge, that Torey has really been identified as an emerging part of our core leadership group.

“I think he’ll help tremendously to help all of our young players that hope to fall in similar fashion with the success that he’s had up to this point. We have a lot of work to do in front of us and Torey’s going to help us get back to where we want to be in trying to win a Stanley Cup.”

Krug has averaged 10 goals and 41 points over his first three seasons in the NHL, and averaged a career-high 21:37 of ice time last season as a de facto No. 2 defenseman behind Zdeno Chara. It was a big season because Krug survived, and continued to put up points, as a legit top-4 defenseman in the NHL, but the 5-foot-9, 181-pounder also needed his shoulder repaired after his first season of heavy duty usage.

So it bears the question of whether Krug will stay in one piece with the heavy top-4 duty over the next four years. Whatever the answer is to that question, the puck-moving defenseman will be a leader, a feisty character on the ice and somebody that’s going to serve as a good professional role model for the flock of young players expected to come through in the next couple of seasons.

The Michigan boy couldn’t be happier to be a part of all of it in Boston for the next four years.

“I think [the leadership thing] has been something that was instilled in me in a young age, you know, coming from my father. It’s always been authentic. If anyone tries to force it then people see right through that, and it just doesn’t happen. But for me and this team and this locker room I think I’m able to bridge that gap from the young guys to the older guys,” said Krug. “I relate to every single person in that locker room, which I think will help our team as we grow and we mature bringing in younger guys from Providence. Or guys that are just signed and helping them develop and helping them feel comfortable within the locker room because it can be intimidating.

“It’s tough to walk in the locker room, you know, when you have Stanley Cup Champions and Norris and Selke Trophy winners. So it can definitely be very intimidating and hopefully I can serve as that bridge to kind of ease that gap for those guys. As far as young defensemen goes, the one thing that Claude [Julien] helped me with when I first came up was making sure I was myself. I was here for a reason. I was able to do the thing I do well, and I wasn’t straying away from that to try to be someone that I’m not. So I think young defensemen, once they realize that and they realize that everyone in this organization is there to help them then they’ll begin to improve. They’ll become themselves as they will at the NHL level.”

With Krug having experienced a couple of years of late season collapses as one of the young leaders on this Bruins team, even more will be asked of him next season as the Black and Gold push hard to right the ship. 

Report: Celtics likely to guarantee Amir Johnson’s $12M deal for next season

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Report: Celtics likely to guarantee Amir Johnson’s $12M deal for next season

The Celtics will likely guarantee the second year of Amir Johnson’s two-year, $24 million deal he signed last season, the Boston Globe reported.

Johnson, 29, a 6-9 forward, signed as a free agent last summer, averaged 7.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 79 regular season games for the Celtics and 8.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in the six-game, first-round playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks. 

Bruins, Krug agree to four-year, $21 million deal

Bruins, Krug agree to four-year, $21 million deal

With the salary room created by buying out the final two years of veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg contract, the Bruins signed restricted free agent Torey Krug to a four-year, $21 million contract ($5.25 million cap hit) through the 2019-20 season.

The negotiations between Krug and the Bruins had been fairly quiet with GM Don Sweeney consistently stating that something would get it done and it seemed the writing was on the wall when Sami Vatanen signed a four year, $19.9 million extension with the Anaheim Ducks. The two are comparable players in size, offensive production, NHL experience and both also served in top-four roles last season while projecting to stay at that level of performance over the next four years.

The Bruins couldn’t afford to let Krug, 25, hit the open market, where another team could potentially poach Boston’s only true puck-moving D-man with an offer sheet. After signing a one-year bridge deal, Krug played in a career-high 81 games, with four goals and 44 points. His 40 assists were ninth among D-men in the NHL last season and it’s clear that Krug plays a vital role as a puck mover and power-play specialist.

Krug also stepped up in minutes last season, finishing only behind Zdeno Chara with a career-high 21:36 average of ice time and essentially serving as the B’s de facto No. 2 defenseman. The diminutive (5-foot-9) D-man did pay the price for playing such heavy minutes by undergoing shoulder surgery following the season, but Krug was expected to make a full recovery and be ready to jump into the lineup at some point during the month of October.

The signing of Krug is a big piece for Sweeney and the Bruins, who must prepare for what awaits them Friday, once the free agent market opens, and later in the month when they begin efforts to re-sign Brad Marchand to an extension.