Haggerty: Thoughts from P-Bruins and Phantoms

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Haggerty: Thoughts from P-Bruins and Phantoms

PROVIDENCE -- Here are five thoughts from the first period of the Providence Bruins-Adirondack Phantoms game, where the P-Bruins lead by a 1-0 score at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.

1) Team-leading ninth goal of the season for Jamie Tardif, who has really made me stand up and take notice whenever I've watched Providence this year. He made a great play blocking a clear attempt against the boards, and then turning that into an odd man rush at the other end of the ice. Tardif looked off the trailer on the play and snapped a shot glove-side high for the score. He's the perfect example of the right kind of veteran player the Bruins have brought into the mix here in Providence.

2) Good period for Matt Bartkowski, who has really stabilized his play in Providence after some early shakiness. Was involved at the offensive end and able to play his shutdown defense in a period dominated by Providence.

3) Once again the P-Bruins dominate the first period as they've done quite a bit this season, and are outshooting the Phantoms by a 16-7 margin.

4) Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn are both playing with Adirondack, but not much out of those two NHL players this afternoon. Good challenge for the P-Bruins defense and they're living up to it thus far.

5) Today marks the 20th game -- out of 22 overall -- that Jared Knight has missed this year with groinhamstring issues. He's got to be disappointed about the way things have gone in his first full pro season thus far.

SECOND PERIOD
Providence 2, Adirondack 1

1) Another goal for Jamie Tardif as a result of hard, determined work around the net. The play was created when Chris Bourque wheeled through the high slot and found Ryan Spooner for a one-timer. Phantoms goalie Scott Munroe made the initial stop, but Tardif slammed the loose puck in for the score.

2) Solid two periods for Niklas Svedberg in the pipes. His only blemish was a 2-on-1 with a top shelf shot that was created when Colby Cohen and Ryan Button collided and took the other out of the play. But otherwise the Swedish goalie continues to impress is his 16th appearance in 22 games.

3) Zack FitzGerald nearly scrapped with Providence tough guy Bobby Robins after a scrum, and then had a questionable hip check on David Warsofsky late in the second period. Would expect he might drop gloves in the third period. Yup. He fits right into the Flyers Way of doing things.

4) Ryan Spooner has got the good stuff today for Providence. Drew a hooking penalty on a breakaway in the second period that set up a P-Bruins power play and earned his 10th assist of season their power play score.

5) Six shots on net for Chris Bourque and an assist in first two periods for the P-Bruins winger. He's been all over the ice for a dominant line each time Providence has had the puck.

THIRD PERIOD
Providence 2, Adirondack 2

1) Max Sauve absolutely buried Phantoms forward Shane Harper with a hit early in the third period. Not something I'm used to seeing with Sauve, but I think that's the kind of tenacity the Bruins organization would love to see out of him.

2) 44 shots on net for Providence. That's impressive even if they were catching an Adirondack team that got into Rhode Island early this morning.

3) Two shots net between Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn this afternoon. Didn't look like they much interest in being in Providence this afternoon. As if one Couturier took a horrendous slashing call after turning the puck over to Max Sauve in his own end late in the third period.

4) Justin Florek is hanging around in Providence and scored his first pro goal the last time I was in Providence, but didn't have much impact in limited ice time for the P-Bruins. He took an ill-advised holding penalty late in the third period that led to the Phantoms-tying goal as well, which certainly isn't helping his cause.

5) Second Sunday in a row the Providence Bruins are providing me with some free hockey after things ended up in a shootout last weekend. Always appreciate that when good hockey is so hard to find during these lockout days.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is trading for Paul George worth the risk?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is trading for Paul George worth the risk?

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0:41 - Michael Holley, Kayce Smith and Tom Giles recap their thoughts on drafting Jayson Tatum and trade rumors involving the Celtics.

6:21 - Ian Thomsen joins BST to discuss if it would be worth trading for Paul George as a one-year rental and if there would be a chance he could still around long-term if traded to Boston.

11:13 - Evan Drellich joins BST to talk about Rick Porcello’s outing, the Red Sox offense coming to life, and Doug Fister being claimed by the Red Sox. 

15:10 - Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely look back at the Celtics/Nets trade, what the assets have turned into, and if Danny Ainge has done a good job turning those assets into players. 

Haggerty: Bruins playing it pretty safe at the NHL Draft

Haggerty: Bruins playing it pretty safe at the NHL Draft

CHICAGO – As opening nights go at the NHL Draft, Friday night was a bit of a ho-hum affair for the Boston Bruins at the United Center home of the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Bruins went the safe route by drafting a smooth, defensive-minded defenseman with the 18th overall pick when they selected Finnish product Urho Vaakenainen, and in doing so left more dynamic forwards like Kristian Vesalainen and Kailer Yamamoto still on the draft board for other teams to claim as their own. It was a bit of a curious choice given how many defensemen the Bruins already have in the prospect pipeline, but the lack of strength in the draft class seemed to lead teams to carve their own paths looking for players.

MORE: Bruins select defenseman Urho Vaakanainen with No. 18 pick

The 6-foot-1, 188-pounder clearly has miles to go offensively despite his smooth skating and solid passing skills, but there’s also a consideration that the teenager has been playing in the men’s league in Finland for the last couple of seasons. It makes things a little more difficult to project for the Finn D-man, but the Bruins believe there is some upside to his offensive game given the skills, the hockey IQ and the considerable confidence that the player has in his own game.

“His gap control and skating ability are really good. He’s obviously played in the Finnish Elite League at a very young age for one and a half years now and he’s played on the big stage at the world juniors. We feel like there’s a lot of upside for a 200-foot player that gets back on pucks, and then can transition them back out. Being able to cover ice is an important part of the game, and it continues to evolve in that direction,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney, who indicated Vaakenainen will play in North America in 2018-19 after fulfilling his contractual obligations in Finland. “We tracked what he did on offense at the junior league level prior to him jumping to the elite league, and it lines up pretty well with other elite players that made the jump to that level.

“It’s a valid question and whether he gets put into those [offensive] situations this year is what we’re excited about with his [Finnish] team moving forward.”

While Vaakenainen sounded surprised the Bruins selected him after only a single meeting at the NHL scouting combine, Sweeney said that Boston’s head scout in Finland has enough history with the family to vouch for the kid’s makeup.

So while it’s far from a sexy pick and the Bruins could have tried to hit a home run with an 18th overall selection in a mediocre draft, the B’s will also get some time before anybody is ready to label the Finnish blueliner a boom or a bust.

The rest of the draft night didn’t add up to much for the B’s, however. They made the selection of Vaakenainen after strongly considering dropping down in the first round, and in doing so lost one of the better trade chips in the form of their 2017 first round pick. There were discussions with Minnesota about Marco Scandella and a few trade feelers to other clubs that might listen on a D-man, but the Bruins now have to hit the reset button on trade discussions for left-shot defensemen or top-6 left wings.

Perhaps Scandella’s $4 million per season salary was an issue for the Bruins, or maybe the Bruins didn’t want to give up their first round pick for a 27-year-old D-man coming off a so-so season with the Wild. Either way, there wasn’t enough momentum for the Bruins to get a trade done with a bevy of defensemen rumored to be available if the offer is good enough.

“I was on the record saying that we’d be offering our first round pick for target-specific players, and we did do that,” said Sweeney. “I don’t blame teams for not necessarily wanting to go through with it, so we went ahead with a player we wanted with our own pick. We continue to build what we think is a good group of guys moving forward.

“There are a couple of areas we’d like to address and get better. We’re trying to help our team currently. Certainly Brandon [Carlo] jumped into our lineup and we hope Charlie [McAvoy] will carry over what he did, and we have other players that will push. We have six returning defensemen we feel good about and we’ll certainly push from underneath, but it’s an area we’ll continue to address. We have some forwards that we also hope will come online, but we’ll never stop exploring and trying to improve our club.”

So let’s sum it all up after a week of additions and subtractions from the Original Six organization: The Bruins added a decidedly vanilla defenseman in the first round of the NHL Draft that might be a simple stay-at-home guy, and they weren’t able to muster any kind of deals for a D-man or winger to enhance the NHL roster. On the other hand, they didn’t give up much over the week as well and they didn’t do much at all to harm a solid roster that looked like they were finally on the right track pushing into the playoffs last season.

The Bruins could be in store for an action-packed Day Two of the draft on Saturday full of promising prospects and bountiful trades, but it sure feels like the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago isn’t going to be a very memorable one for the Black and Gold.