Celtics could be in the market for big body

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Celtics could be in the market for big body

OKLAHOMA CITY The Boston Celtics will be down to just three big men against Oklahoma City tonight, with Jermaine O'Neal (left wrist) and Chris Wilcox (groin) both headed back to Boston to see doctors for additional tests.

Even if both receive good news that their injuries won't keep them out too long, the Celtics still might need to add another big man to the roster.

If the Celtics were to add a big man other than by trade, they would have to waive at least one player.

The most likely candidates to be waived would be Marquis Daniels and Sasha Pavlovic, who have each played their way in and out of the rotation all season.

"It's pointing that way," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of needing to add a big man. "We'll find out more once Chris and JO get back. But the way they've been injured so much, we may need to get one, anyway."

And it may not necessarily come via free agent centers, either. Boston may look to the D-League for help as well.

Whatever they do, it's becoming increasingly clear that the C's don't have the kind of depth up front that they can rely on.

For Wilcox, he has missed three games with a left shoulder injury, and another six due to a sore left calf. O'Neal has missed two games with a sore knee and another two with a sore shoulder.

When you factor in Brandon Bass' left knee injury (he has missed six games and isn't expected back until after the all-star break), Boston's lack of depth upfront becomes a major, major issue.

Look at tonight's game.

Rivers said Garnett, who has missed the last two games dealing with a personal matter, will play more minutes than usual.

"We'll up his minutes by five minutes," Rivers said. "He's usually at 30. Today he'll play 35. But for 13 minutes, he'll be off the floor and somebody else will have to do something."

That means more Greg Stiemsma, who will get the starting nod at center. That also means more JaJuan Johnson, who has shown promise off the Celtics' bench this season.

"Trust me, everybody is going to play," said Rivers, whose roster is down to just 11 available bodies. "We got three bigs, and we're still debating on whether JuJuan is a big yet."

As far as the increased minutes for his younger players, Rivers isn't sold on the idea that it is a good thing for them or for the Celtics.

"You don't want to force anybody into minutes," Rivers said. "I've never believed that's good for a guy."

Pare 'brings energy' as big-bodied, sixth-round Bruins pick

Pare 'brings energy' as big-bodied, sixth-round Bruins pick

CHICAGO – The Bruins aren’t ever going to shy away from big, strong centers with a willingness to play on the physical side, so it was no surprise they selected big French-Canadian center Cedric Pare in the sixth round of the NHL Draft Saturday at the United Center.

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The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Pare was described as “a project” by Bruins assistant general manager Scott Bradley, who said that he’s looking forward to the big-bodied forward playing a top-six role in the QMJHL next season. Pare had five goals and 16 points in 64 games for the Saint John Sea Dogs before posting three points in 18 playoff games. Bradley said the Bruins hope to see more offense as he gets more exposure as a player.

“Pare is a developed kid that we got in the sixth round. He went to the Memorial Cup and we’ve seen good things from him. We think we got good value there,” said Bradley. “He plays with a lot of energy and I think his skating is undervalued. Over the course of the year he really picked it up with his skating, and his stride has lengthened a little bit. We just like that he plays with energy and he scored in the Memorial Cup despite playing a limited role.

“He was playing on the fourth line last year. I think this year he’ll be playing on one of their top lines as a top-six forward and he’ll get a lot of ice time...hopefully get some good development there.”

Pare indicated that the Bruins had shown interest in him throughout the season and he had an idea the Black and Gold might call his name in the later rounds. While there’s always room in the B’s prospect cupboard for a big-bodied center that plays with plenty of energy, it remains to be seen if Pare was worth using a sixth-round pick on when there are plenty of big-bodied hockey players out there willing to play with energy and aggressiveness. 

Bruins tap Maine-bound goalie Swayman in fourth round

Bruins tap Maine-bound goalie Swayman in fourth round

CHICAGO – It was thought the Bruins might swing for the fences with Boston University goalie Jake Oettinger, particularly if they traded down in the first round, but they ended up filling their goalie quota on Saturday in the fourth round of the NHL Draft at the United Center. The B’s selected University of Maine-bound Jeremy Swayman with the 111th pick in the draft after an impressive run for the Alaska native at Sioux Falls as a junior hockey player.

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The 6-foot-2, 183-pound Swayman posted a 2.90 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage in 32 games for a poor Sioux City junior team, but distinguished himself with his size, athleticism and competitiveness as the rare goalie prospect to come out of the great state of Alaska. Swayman was eating breakfast in his Alaskan home while watching himself get drafted by the Bruins. Needless to say, he was pumped as he readies for his first season in Hockey East.

“I’ve been working my whole life for this and just to kind of have the notion of, your work has paid off in a small area of time or a small trinket, it’s very worth all of the hard times and tough times, and kind of working at everything for it. It’s kind of a token back and just an incredible opportunity for sure,” said Swayman, who said he models his game after Braden Holtby while also envying Tuukka Rask’s flexibility. “I would describe myself as a challenge goalie. So, a competitive goalie just kind of fighting through traffic at all times. Being able to see the puck from anywhere on the ice, whether there is a screen in front or a point shot and, of course, a point blank shot. Again, I trust my ability on my skates. I have good feet. I can stay up longer than most goalies in situations where they would have to slide. So, I can stay up and cover more net on a backdoor pass, per say. I also like to cut down the angle a lot.”

Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley admitted that Swayman wasn’t the first choice of everybody at the B’s draft table, but said the scouts were confident making him the pick after another goalie was taken off the board before him. There were three goalies taken in the fourth round, including Prince Albert netminder Ian Scott taken one pick before the B’s selection, so it’s difficult to tell which other goalie Boston had their eyes on.

Clearly, the hope now is that Swayman follows in a proud tradition of stud Black Bears goalies that include Ben Bishop, Jimmy Howard, Scott Darling, Mike Dunham and Garth Snow, and that the B’s have drafted a new goalie of the future with Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre in the AHL.

“He’s a goalie that [Bruins goalie coach] Bob Essensa had really liked, and had scouted him. Most of our staff was on board with the goalie. We targeted another goalie, but he just went before our pick,” said Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley. “We heard good things from [the University of Maine] staff there, and we did our due diligence on him. We’re happy with him.”

It remains to be seen how Swayman develops in college, but the B’s hope it’s a steady, ascending development like that of McIntyre after they drafted him prior to his starring run at North Dakota.