Ex-villain Pouliot looks for new beginning with B's

494689.jpg

Ex-villain Pouliot looks for new beginning with B's

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON At the conclusion of last years playoff series with the Canadiens, rangy winger Benoit Pouliot might have been voted the Montreal player least likely to ever don a Bruins sweater.

Pouliot had dropped the gloves and split open David Krejcis mouth during the regular season, was benched in the playoffs after he attempted to clean out Johnny Boychuk in the corner with a cheap elbow to the head, and suffered the verbal barrage of NESNs Jack Edwards in full rage after the attempted cheap shot on Boychuk.

Who could ever forget Edwards labeling Pouliot a chump and one of the greatest disappointments of talent in National Hockey League history and nobody could really call Edwards wrong in his assessment. Pouliot has a little bit of grit, ideal size and good offensive skills to go along with the cachet of being a No. 4 overall draft pick in the 2005 draft.

Pouliot has lugged the potential tag around with him at his previous stops in Minnesota and Montreal, but its never materialized beyond potting a combined 17 goals for the Wild and Habs two years ago. The 24-year-old winger didnt pull any punches in his first conversation about his final season with the Bleu, Blanc and Rouge, and appeared to have some Cool Hand Luke style communication failures with Jacques Martin.

A new start is always fun. I think my fresh start in Montreal went really good. My two years were definitely good and a lot more positive than negative, said Pouliot. Maybe there was a little bit of a slip there at the end. Coming to a new team youve got to earn the trust of the players and the coaches, and youve really got to just go out and do your own thing.

Its a business. Things happen. Ive just got to play the way that Im capable of. Ive got a couple of strengths for shooting and skating, and Im a pretty big guy. I can go into the corners very easily.

So what went wrong in Montreal?

I dont know. I think there was a little bit of a lack of trust there between me and the coach . . . maybe in the end, said Pouliot. When I first got there things were going well and he was playing me 16 or 17 minutes a game, but things went downhill after that. Last year I had a good year on the third and fourth line and played a full season. So that was good.

Pouliot actually sought out Krejci upon his arrival to smooth things over, but hockey fights and hard hits are usually forgiven and forgotten in the NHL when players become teammates. Hell also likely be competing with rookie Jordan Caron for a starting wing position on one of the bottom two lines with the Bruins, but that should make for a competitive situation in training camp.

The bigger deal might be the acceptance from a Bruins fan base thats looked at Pouliot as the enemy over the last two seasons, but the winger said hes on the right side of the equation now.

Its not easy being a new guy on the team especially when there arent many new guys at all.

The Pouliot signing might have been a curious one at first, but its also a move with very little downside for a team that could take advantage of a motivated forward that crapped out with the Wild and Canadiens. The Bruins themselves have several times used the Nathan Horton parallel when discussing Pouliot, and feel like the Boston hockey atmosphere could bring the best out of the perennial underachiever.

Pouliot is a big player with high end skill. We hope he comes into camp and does what we anticipate him doing or for example what Nathan Horton did last year, said Claude Julien. The knock on Pouliot has been inconsistency. But in the middle of the season to the end of the year Horton was as consistent as you would want him to be. You get a lot of those players that grow in those roles, and that happens because youve got a lot of players in that dressing room that know what accountability is. They make everybody that comes in here accountable.

Then as a group we seem to get the most out of these guys as players. Thats what were hoping to get out of Joe Corvo and Pouliot. Those are guys that are going to be vying for a spot.

Its all up to a player thats still young enough to start realizing his considerable puck potential, but old enough that hes not going to get too many more cracks at the NHL better than the one opening up for him in Boston.

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

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

celtics_amir_johnson_2_022516.jpg

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. 

 

Bruins buying out veteran D-man Dennis Seidenberg

Bruins buying out veteran D-man Dennis Seidenberg

The Bruins placed veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg on waivers on Thursday for the purposes of buying the veteran defenseman out of the final two years of his contract.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Seidenberg, who turns 35 July 18, still had two years remaining on a deal that would have paid him $4 million in each of the seasons. The move will save the Black and Gold roughly $4.6 million in cap space over the next two years.

Seidenberg confirmed the contract buyout to CSNNE.com and confirmed one other thing: "I going to miss it."

The extra space should theoretically allow the Bruins to spend big money on Friday when free agency opens, but the Bruins really haven’t been the lead suitors for any of the major available players to this point.

With the way buyouts work, however, the spread over four years means that the Bruins will still be including $1.16 million cap hits from 2018-2020, and are now down another experienced D-man who was a stalwart warrior for them over the years. Seidenberg clearly lost a step after blowing out his knee in the 2013-14 season and was a minus player for the first time in Boston last season with one goal and 12 points in 61 games.

The skating speed was noticeably slower and Seidenberg had trouble keeping up with the pace even as he continued to block shots and throw opponents around in the defensive zone. Seidenberg finishes his seven seasons in Boston with 23 goals and 117 points in 401 games as a rugged top-four defenseman. He will always be cherished in Boston for his marvelous stretch en route to the Stanley Cup in 2011.

Claude Julien pairing Seidenberg with Zdeno Chara midway through their first-round series against the Montreal Canadiens changed the tide of that playoff matchup and was the combo used by the B’s for the playoffs when they again made it to the Cup Final in 2013 against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The German-born defenseman was a respected and tough veteran leader in the B’s dressing room and will be missed for his toughness and accountability whether it was good times or bad in the room.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie was the first to report that Seidenberg was being placed on waivers for the purpose of being bought out of his contract.