Kaberle hopes to have a future in Boston


Kaberle hopes to have a future in Boston

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- The NHL free-agency period doesnt begin until July 1, so the Boston Bruins have a short window of time to discuss things with a couple of their potential unrestricted free agents.

Tomas Kaberle and Michael Ryder are the two big names who will hit UFA status at the start of July, and its unknown whether either or both players will be back in Black and Gold after helping the Bs win a Cup. Ryder didnt speak at Sundays breakup day for the team as the players packed up their belongings and said farewell for the summer, but Kaberle said he truly enjoyed his taste of Bruins hockey after arriving via trade in late February.

The 33-year-old defenseman had 11 assists and a plus-8 in 25 playoff games while averaging 16:02 of ice time per contest, and played well in the seven Stanley Cup Final games against the Vancouver Canucks.

Kaberle actually finished in a tie with Dennis Seidenberg (1 goal, 10 assists) for the leading scorer among defensemen on the Bruins in the postseason.

Kaberle said hell speak with his agent and GM Peter Chiarelli over the next couple of days, but is hoping he can return to the Black and Gold.

Were going to talk in the next few days. Everything was hectic in the last couple of days, said Kaberle, who mentioned hell be taking the Cup back to his home village of Rakovnik, Czech Republic, this summer. Hopefully we can sit down or we can talk to my agent . . . it would be nice to be back here."

It will be an interesting decision on Kaberle, as he really didnt appear to be a very good fit for the Bruins with his soft defensive play and propensity for mental breakdowns at the worst times. But he does fill a role as a needed puck-moving defenseman, and the Bruins did give up a motherload to Toronto (Joe Colborne, a first-round pick in 2011, and a 2012 second-round pick, which was guaranteed once the Bs qualified for the Cup Finals) in exchange for Kaberle.

With his performance against Vancouver and strong final few games against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Chiarelli sounded like he might be in favor of re-signing Kaberle if the price and terms were right. Steve Kampfer is waiting in the wings as a young puck-moving defenseman and there will be alternatives on the free-agent market, but the door is still ajar for Kaberles return despite some tough moments.

I know Tomas had been criticized. The expectations were very high on him when he came in, said Chiarelli. I go to him because he seems to be -- of the group that we brought in -- the most vulnerable. You saw what he brings more against Vancouver. He brings the ability to both slow down the play and speed it up with his passing and skating.

He freezes guys. He freezes guys on the opposing forecheck and he freezes them in the neutral zone. He makes great passes, he skates into the trap and I think he was our top defensive scorer. He skates right into the trap. He was a real important component here and I know he was criticized for a time. But Ill continue to defend him because hes a good person. He brought a lot to the back end.

Since Kaberle has voiced his desire to come back and should command less than the 4 million per year he was making with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Chiarellis actions toward the impending free agent will speak to just how much the defenseman actually brought to the back end.

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

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

BOSTON, Mass – Malcolm Subban says that he believes that he can still be a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL.

While that’s admirable on some level for the sheer, brazen self-confidence involved in saying this after getting yanked from a 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden, pretty much all of the evidence points out the contrary. Nearly two years after getting pulled from his NHL debut in against the St. Louis Blues after giving up three goals on six shots, Subban was pulled from Tuesday night’s appearance after giving up three goals on eight second period shots with the Bruins desperately in need of a quality start in goal.

He maintained a defiantly confident tone after another humbling NHL effort against Minnesota, and that’s a testament to the maturity and mental toughness of the person behind the goalie mask.

“It sucks. Obviously, I’m just trying to finish the game, let alone win one. Obviously it sucks, but what can you do now, right?” said Subban, who has now allowed six goals on 22 career shots faced in two starts. “Obviously I want to be a number one goaltender in the league. I was a high pick for a reason. I have the potential, and I just have to show it. Obviously I haven’t done that so far yet, but I think I’m getting closer to it. Honestly, I think I can do it right now. I just got to show it. Obviously, I didn’t [do it] today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Given the stunningly bad quality of his two NHL starts combined with a thoroughly pedestrian body of work at the AHL level over the last three years, there is literally zero tangible evidence Subban is tracking to be a franchise goaltender. Instead he’s the emergency goaltender called on by the Bruins only after Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin have both been shelved by injuries, and he’s now flunked the two pop quizzes when the NHL team needed him to come through.

Meanwhile, a sizeable selection of goaltenders taken after him in the 2012 NHL Draft class have already proven their NHL worth and broken through at the elite level: Matt Murray, Frederik Anderson, Connor Hellebuyck and Joonas Korpisalo.

Subban was hoping all along to break through this season in Boston, but things went south on him quickly with a Bruins team not playing well in front of him. The first goal was a fluttering Charlie Coyle shot that trickled between his glove hand and the top of his leg pad. The third goal was a softie low and to the glove side, power play strike authored by Ryan Suter. It added up to poor goaltending and shoddy defense, but it also added up to a Bruins goaltender that didn’t even give his hockey club a chance to win.

“It could be a combination of both. There are some goals – I’m not going to lie – there are some goals that we thought our goaltenders should have had. But I’m not here to talk about a goaltender who’s in one of his first few games because he let in a couple of bad goals,” said Julien. “We were terrible in front of him and we weren’t any better, and that’s the big picture. That’s more important.

“I don’t care who’s in net. I think when you have some injuries you need to be better in those situations and we weren’t good enough tonight. It doesn’t matter if Tuukka [Rask] is in net and we had injuries up front, or we’re lacking players here or there. You’ve got to let the system take care of the game. If you play it the right way, you have a chance to win. When you don’t, you don’t. That’s what happened [against Minnesota].”

There’s no question the defense in front of Subban wasn’t nearly good enough, and Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug in particular struggled to lock things down in the defensive zone. The wide open shots from the slot - like the Chris Stewart score in the second period that arrived 12 seconds after Minnesota’s opening goal - are indicative of a hockey club that’s not sticking to the game plan once things start to get a little wonky.

But this is about a player in Subban that should be entering the NHL stage of his career after being a first round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, and anybody would be hard-pressed to see him as an NHL goalie after failing in each of his first two NHL starts. Combine that with the lack of dominance at the AHL level over the last three years, and there’s a better chance that Subban will be a major first round bust for the Bruins rather than suddenly develop into a late-blooming No. 1 goaltender in Boston.

The scary part is that Subban and fellow young netminder Zane McIntyre are all the Bruins have for Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden, and perhaps longer than that if Rask can’t make rapid progress with his lower body injury.

Maybe Subban can be a bit better than he’s shown thus far, and the four goals allowed to Minnesota were not all his fault. The bottom line, however, is that Subban should be up for doing this job right now. Tuesday was a big chance for the young goalie to make a statement that he was ready for it.

Instead he looked like the same goalie that’s been pulled from two of his first four AHL starts this season, and plays like a goaltender that’s never going to truly be ready for the call in Boston.