Haggerty: Bruins, Marchand keep on winning

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Haggerty: Bruins, Marchand keep on winning

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

Even when nobody is playing hockey games, the Bruins are winning.

The contract status of Brad Marchand was the only potential skunk at the Black and Gold lawn party this summer, but that was taken care of Wednesday afternoon.

After several months of little progress, Marchand signed a two-year, 5 million deal with the Bs after a 20-goal rookie season in which he elevated himself to playoff hero, with 19 points in 25 postseason games.

From the get-go I was never going to miss a day of training camp," Marchand said. "I never wanted that. I wanted to be here the first day and show that I wanted to be here. I wanted to be in the full camp with the rest of the guys. Im very happy it didnt come down to that and that we were able to get the deal done.

Marchand was well on his way to becoming a cult hero as the Honey Badger a nickname coined by Andrew Ference during the playoff run but the diminutive scrapper cinched it all with a Stanley Cup Finals Game 7 for the ages.

That went along with the lethal penalty-killing that led to five shorthanded goals and a plus-25 on the ice through a season split equally as a fourth-line forward and a second-line spark plug.

That kind of versatility and mixture of skill and grit is something that doesnt exactly grow on hockey trees. Its also amplified with the knowledge that Marchand wants to keep getting better skating alongside the ultimate effort player in Patrice Bergeron.

Marchand and agent Wade Arnott were looking for something with a longer term for much of the summer, and hoped to get a four-year contract that would take the scrappy winger to 27 years old and unrestricted free agency.

A source with knowledge of the talks also indicated to CSNNE.com that Marchand and Co. rejected a three-year offer for 6.5 million on the table when longer-term deals were being discussed.

We talked about a whole bunch of different terms, but we feel this was the right fit for both sides, said general manager Peter Chiarelli. We found that this term was best for both parties. It gives the team some security and it also gives Brad the chance to come back and negotiate again in a couple of years. It was something that was a fit here.

These second deals coming off the entry-level deals are hard deals to negotiate on both sides. Theyre just sticky. There are sticking points along in the negotiators. Its an area in the CBA thats just tough negotiating time with a player of that status. Brad had a terrific year and a terrific playoff. Its not a reflection on the Bruins or Brad, its just where Brad was a player within the CBA. You see it happening with other players right across the league.

But instead the Bruins were able to avoid the kind of ludicrous six-year deal handed to James Van Riemsdyk by the Philadelphia Flyers before the player has truly accomplished anything worthy of the term or salary. Give Marchand credit for signing something a little more team-friendly and waiting until next time to rake in the big bucks.

It took a little while, but Im very happy to have signed Brad to two years. He was a terrific performer in the playoffs and a clutch performer, said Chiarelli. He just loves to play. He plays on the edge and were really excited to have him with the Bruins for two more years.

I told Brad today that at end of the last year he told me he was going to score 20 goals and he scored more than that. I told him I was proud of him and he deserved this. Hes a good kid and were happy to have him in the mix.

Speaking of the next time, the Bs will also get another crack at Marchand in restricted free agency two years from now when the skater has arbitration rights, and can continue to match anything offered by another NHL team should the agitator keep developing the hands, speed and tenacity into a viable offensive package.

Theres always room for every player to improve, said Marchand. I think a big part that I want to improve is my defensive game. You watch guys like Bergeron and David Krejci and theyre a couple of the top guys on the team and in the league. Theyre so defensively strong. Thats a big area I want to improve, but you can always improve in every area of the game.

Did Marchand want to make any grand projections for his upcoming season?

No . . . thats okay, said Marchand. Ill just try and work hard.

Paired with Bergeron and perhaps either Rich Peverley or Tyler Seguin, its possible the surface has barely been touched for No. 63s potential and what hes able to provide. His ability to elevate in big spots has already been proven after one NHL season, and the sandpaper, in-your-face aggressiveness is a unique characteristic among a group of Bs that are often reactive more than proactive.

The Marchand trait of sparking a little trouble to get the rest of the team physically engaged is something that was sorely lacking in the previous three years prior, and really helped the Bs team fulfill their potential.

The combative personality combined with Marchands huge Stanley Cup Finals performance made him a deserving recipient of a contract extension somewhere between the deals handed out to Teddy Purcell and Logan Couture.

So Marchand is deserving of the money, and thats exactly what he got.

The deal is a gigantic victory for the Bruins going up against an agent that helped craft Phil Kessels escape from Boston two years ago. Arnott is renowned for taking up every last nickel on the negotiating table, and that didnt happen this time around with a player who didnt want to leave Boston.

Marchands 2.5 million cap hit leaves Boston with roughly 5 million in cap space prior to the season, and will give them upwards of 9 million once Marc Savard is ruled out for the season.

So now Chiarelli and assistant GM Don Sweeney have locked up every key Bs player for the upcoming season, have nearly 10 million in cap space for an epic trade deadline acquisition if a little talent jolt is needed and boast some excellent health along with a signed "Honey Badger" headed into the hockey year.

Its almost unfair for a hockey club that already starts the NHL season at the top of the mountain, but the Cup seems to just keep on giving.

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

Heinen coming up big with Bruins' roster openings on the wing

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Heinen coming up big with Bruins' roster openings on the wing

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Danton Heinen has to know he’s got a fair shot to win an NHL job out of B’s training camp if he plays with confidence and assertiveness. 

So far, that little Black and Gold carrot has served him well in the preseason. The 21-year-old winger has scored a goal in each of his first two preseason appearances for the Bruins. He will be pushed back into the lineup again vs. the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night.

The difference this time around is Claude Julien will be behind the bench once again for the Bruins after his time with the World Cup of Hockey and the B’s lineup will start to take on more of a real NHL feel with David Pastrnak and David Backes entering the mix.

Julien has liked what he’s seen thus far out of the University of Denver product, and clearly he’ll keep getting looks as long as the production and good work ethic are there.

“I think he’s been a real good player. He’s a smart player that seems to be heady and sees the play well. He seems to be in the right place and understands the game,” said Julien. “The hockey sense is something that you either have or you don’t, and I think he has great hockey sense. It certainly makes a great hockey player. I’ve liked him so far and I’m looking forward to seeing more of him.”

One other thing is certain: wing positions are open on the roster with Frankie Vatrano out for three months and Jimmy Vesey sharpening his skates at Madison Square Garden as a New York Ranger.

“We have to keep an open mind.  Frank Vatrano is hurt, and we kind of felt that he was going to have a really good start to this year. His confidence seemed to be at its highest, and the World Championships were good for him,” said Julien. “We have to look at what we have for a replacement. We went after Jimmy Vesey and we didn’t get him. So there are some spots that are open, and there’s no doubt about it.

“I’m going to be looking at compete level and I’ll be watching for the next three games to see who can fit in those spots. There are open spots, so it’s not cut-and-dried like a lot of years when it has been.”

Clearly, the high-end offensive skill is there after posting 36 goals and 93 points in his first two years at the University of Denver prior to going pro, and Heinen has a dollop of pro experience after getting into three AHL games with Providence at the end of last season. 

The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder showed off the playmaking ability setting up his teammates for chances in Friday night’s win over the Red Wings, and then finally scoring at crunch time in the third period when the coaching staff moved Zach Senyshyn to his opposite wing.

Both of his goals in this preseason have been tying scores in the third that factored prominently in the game’s outcome. That’s been impressive for a young prospect in his very first NHL camp.

But Heinen claims there is still more to come in his game, and that’s encouraging. He’s just starting to get comfortable as a player that uses his vision, hockey IQ and passing to generate loads of scoring chances when he’s on the ice.

“I feel pretty good. I’ve felt better as things have gone on, and I felt better [on Friday against Detroit] than I did in the first game,” said Heinen, who finished just behind a couple of guys named Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin for the NCAA scoring title as a freshman a couple of years ago. “I just need to keep getting better. I think I have a lot more to give. I’m just trying to put my best foot forward, and we’ll see what happens.

“I think I’ve rushed a few plays where I feel like I could hang onto [the puck] and make a smarter play. So it’s little things like that. As I play a little more then I get more comfortable hanging onto it, so I hope to do a little more than that.”

It will also be interesting to see how Heinen responds to again being in the B’s lineup on Saturday for back-to-back, physical preseason games when the NCAA schedule can be a bit more spaced with weekend games. 

There are other candidates like Jake DeBrusk and Zachary Senyshyn that have enjoyed solid training camps to date for the Bruins, but it feels like Heinen is starting to push ahead for one of those winger roster spots Julien has in mind as he watches these final four exhibition games leading into the regular season. 
 

Saturday, Oct. 1: Vesey's New York state of mind

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Saturday, Oct. 1: Vesey's New York state of mind

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while gearing up for Big Papi weekend.

 
*A “behind-the-scenes” look as Jimmy Vesey was sold on the New York Rangers, but there’s not too much detail about the pitches from the other teams. Feels pretty apparent at this point that Vesey wanted to live, and work, in New York City.

*Damien Cox says that the World Cup of Hockey better get it right the next time, or else…or else what, Damien? You’re going to block them on Twitter?

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri has Patrick Kane, Erik Karlsson and P.K. Subban making their preseason debuts on Saturday. David Backes and David Pastrnak will play their first preseason games for the Bruins as well.  

*It’s a complicated, strange story with Vladimir Sobotka, the KHL and the contract he seemingly can’t get out of to again play for the St. Louis Blues.

*Oliver Ekman-Larsson is ready to get back to work with the Arizona Coyotes after his World Cup experience.

*San Jose Sharks prospect Timo Meier is out for the next month with mono, which is definitely worse timing than Zach Senyshyn getting hit with the mononucleosis bomb over the summer.

*A quick look at the Philadelphia Flyers in advance of their preseason meeting with the Black and Gold tonight, which won’t be televised.

*For something completely different: there will be some pretty funky stuff happening on The Walking Dead this season.