Haggerty: Thoughts from P-Bruins and Worcester Sharks

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Haggerty: Thoughts from P-Bruins and Worcester Sharks

PROVIDENCE, RI -- Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Providence Bruins and Worcester Sharks tied at 1-1 apiece after the first 20 minutes at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.

1) The P-Bruins outshooting the Sharks by a 25-8 tally after just one period of play. That's a full night for plenty of AHL teams, so consider me impressed. Might be of some concern that they managed to finish off just one of those shots, but Lane MacDermid also rang a post in the first.

2) Was good to see Michael Hutchinson finally pick up his first win of the season in goal for Providence last night, but they go right back to the Swedish magic man Niklas Svedberg this afternoon. Tough period withoiut a lot of action in the one-sided affair.

3) P-Bruins let down for a Worcester goal with just 20 seconds left in the period that was awarded to Yanni Gourde, and tied it up for the Sharks. Might be a harbinger of bad things to come given the way Providence dominated the entire period.

4) Christian Hanson with the goal for Providence in the first period. The "buzzsaw line" of Hanson, Bobby Robins and Lane MacDermid has been awesome for the P-Bruins and they continue that energetic effectiveness this afternoon.

5) Just perusing the stats: team-worst minus-9 ratings for Torey Krug and flashy forward Carter Camper. Ouch, babe. The Boston Bruins can't be loving that kind of slouching at the defensive end of the ice.

SECOND PERIOD

Providence Bruins and Worcester Sharks are tied at 2-2 after the first 40 minutes at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.

1) Providence getting offense from unexpected places like Christian Hanson and Justin Florek in the first 2 periods, but they'll need something from their offensive sparks if they're going to beat the Sharks.

2) Providence has to wonder what's going on after squeezing off 37 shots in the first two periods, but still sitting tied after two periods. That's a difficult challenge for a team in the final period when they probably feel they should be up two or three goals at this point.

3) P-Bruins need to do something about their penalty kill. It's the worst in the AHL statistically, and looks just as bad in actual theory on the ice. Kills the Bruins momentum when they can't cover for mistakes that lead to penalties and power plays.

4) Love the feisty attitude from Niklas Svedberg, who was throwing shoves with Worcester's Curt Gogol during a particularly busy exchange in front of the net. You might expect a goalie from Europe would show some timidity in a new situation, but he hasn't backed down one bit.

5) Tim Kennedy the best player on the ice for either team today. Creating chances and he roofed a puck over Niklas Svedberg's shoulder for the Sharks' game-tying goal. The red-hot Kennedy has five goals this weekend and 11 goals in 21 AHL games this year.

The Providence Bruins fell to the Worcester Sharks, 3-2, after an overtime and shootout at the Dunkin Donuts Center.

1) Horrible knee-on-knee collision between Sharks forward Freddie (brother of Dougie) Hamilton and Ryan Spooner at center ice. Luckily both skaters managed to get away from it, but can you imagine what would have happened if Dougie's brother took out Boston's best forward prospect.

2) Bruins defenseman Zach Trotman scored his first goal of the season on Saturday night in Portland, and fired six shots on net through the first two periods on Sunday.

3) Tommy Cross has looked pretty solid after getting the call up from the ECHL last week. He's got two assists and is a plus player in those three games after tearing it up for the South Carolina Sting Rays. Willing to get involved in the offensive end with his big shot, and has looked calm enough with typically tough AHL forechecks bearing down on him.

4) A minus-1 and one shot on net for Ryan Spooner and no shots on net for Jordan Caron in the first two periods. Nothing doing for that talented twosome on Sunday afternoon.

5) No fights today. First time I've watched a P-Bruins game without Bobby Robins dropping the gloves. That's saying something.

6) Bonus thought: Matt Bartkowski playing much better hockey than he was earlier in the year. Playing a ton of minutes and picking his spots to jump into the play.

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.