TRADER DON MAKES MAJOR CHANGES
Sends Lucic, Hamilton out west in separate deals
SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Bruins eliminated two potentially difficult contract negotiations Friday by trading defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames and forward Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings.
General manager Don Sweeney made it clear in explaining the trades prior to the start of the 2015 NHL Draft that the moves were necessitated by financial concerns. He said he hoped the increased salary-cap flexibility and bevy of draft picks he gained will allow him to make the Bruins competitive for the long term.
As such, he said he feels no pressure to leave South Florida with additional roster players to fill the significant voids left by the departures of Hamilton and Lucic.
"Do I think we need to? We have picks, we have assets that I can now try and turn into that, but I'm not going to force that," Sweeney said. "We shed salary as a result of that as well, so we're in a position going forward where we have to have our younger players in this situation step forward and we give them an opportunity to grow and develop. I feel confident our coaches will be able to do that."
Sweeney began his busy day by trading Hamilton to the Calgary Flames in return for the 15th, 45th and 52nd picks in the 2015 draft.
Hamilton, 22, can become a restricted free agent July 1, but Sweeney said he was not worried by the possibility of another team signing Hamilton to an offer sheet. He said in light of the Lucic trade that was already in the works, the Bruins would find a way to match any offer sheet Hamilton signed, assuming that was what they wanted to do.
"I wasn't necessarily afraid of the offer sheet all along," Sweeney said. "I thought we would get into a position to match. We extended Dougie a very significant contract offer, and it didn't lead us to where we thought he would be comfortable being a part of our group long term."
Sweeney would not elaborate on why Hamilton would not be comfortable with the Bruins.
"Everybody views Dougie as a foundational-type player. It was indicated to us that might not be the case going forward in Boston," Sweeney said. "He didn't ask out. We were in a position where we felt we would be better served to move in a different direction."
Sweeney also said he was not sure what it would take to get Hamilton under contract, but he did suggest that the Bruins were philosophically opposed to giving out a lucrative, long-term commitment to a player coming out of his entry-level contract.
"It's always going to take two sides to make a deal," Sweeney said. "Clearly there have been a bunch of players who have jumped bridge deals and gone to the next one. It's up to the individual team and the player himself to find that deal to be made."
Boston coach Claude Julien appears to share his general manager’s ideas on handing out big contracts to young players.
“I find it very unfortunate that players that have played maybe three years in the League are looking to be up there with the top-paid players. I prefer it the other way when they work their way up in years of service,” Julien said. “That’s not to say he’s not in his right; he is in his right, he’s entitled to do what he did. I’m not standing here blaming him at all. Would we have liked to have kept him? We would have liked to have kept Dougie Hamilton; he’s a good, promising player. But let’s move on.”
Lucic was traded to the Los Angeles Kings for the No. 13 pick in the 2015 draft, restricted free agent goaltender Martin Jones and minor-league defenseman Colin Miller. The trade gave Boston the Nos. 13, 14 and 15 picks in the draft.
Sweeney was hopeful he could package some or all of those picks to move up in the first round, but instead used the picks to select defenseman Jakub Zboril, left wing Jake DeBrusk, and right wing Zachary Senyshyn.
Lucic has one year remaining on his three-year, $18 million contract, but Sweeney said the Bruins did not attempt to seriously negotiate an extension. He said that in light of what Lucic has already accomplished as a player and his current salary, an extension would have been too expensive for the Bruins.
"I just felt in the situation we were in it was going to be very difficult to extend the offer to the level it would take to retain Milan going forward," Sweeney said. "On a hockey club that has significant dollars tied up in a number of players in that same category, we couldn't add what would be in all likelihood two more players to that group."
One player who will be back in Boston is defenseman Adam McQuaid, who signed a four-year contract worth an average of $2.75 million per season shortly after the Hamilton trade. That leaves Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, McQuaid, Torey Krug and Kevan Miller on the blue line; Matt Bartkowski can become an unrestricted free agent next week.
Sweeney mentioned the possibility of Colin Miller, 22, earning a roster spot. He also mentioned Zach Trotman, 24, and Joe Morrow, 22, as others who could help replace the offensive aspects of Hamilton's game on the back end.
"We have to have younger players in this category step up, especially on the back end," Sweeney said. "Adam McQuaid re-signing with us is a big plus. He's a big part of our organization, a tremendous leader on and off the ice. He brings an edge and physicality that we need to maintain. Our forward group is going to be young in some areas, but they're ready for that next challenge as well."
That forward group will be missing someone who was seen by many as the perfect representative of the Bruins' identity. Lucic was not a perfect player, but his combination of size, skill and toughness was unique in the NHL, and it is difficult to replace.
Sweeney said when he was hired as general manager that the Bruins needed to get back to their traditional identity of tough hockey. But the player that best represented that identity is gone.
“I don’t think we’re necessarily looking to get away from our identity just because Milan Lucic is gone,” Julien said. “A guy like McQuaid is still there, and there’s still more time left before the season starts. We could be bringing in some other people, who knows? I have to let management continue to do their job and bring the players they feel will help us be a competitive team and also give us the identity that we want to have.”
Lucic's departure did let Sweeney shore up what he felt was a position of need by adding Jones. He said he was not comfortable with how often starter Tuukka Rask had to play this season as the Bruins pushed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"We felt all along that Tuukka was put in a tough spot last year, and we're very comfortable now with Martin potentially part of our group," he said. "I think there's real depth in the organization."
With two significant pieces leaving the roster, what the Bruins are doing could be seen by some as the start of a rebuilding process. Sweeney does not see it that way at all.
"Our expectation is to make the playoffs," he said. "With our goaltending, the core group of our guys, our strength up the middle of the ice. Our young players didn't score at the level they were supposed to last year. We're going to continue to look to improve our club as well."
This month's show, with an interview with Providence College Head Coach Nate Leaman.
TRADER DON ACTIVE IN FREE AGENCY
Boston, MA - Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney was active on the first day of free agency, signing left winger Matt Beleskey, formerly of the Anaheim Ducks, and one of the more coveted available forwards, to a five-year contract with a charge against the NHL salary cap of $3.8 million per season. Then he also acquired right wing Jimmy Hayes, a Dorechester native, in a trade with the Florida Panthers for forward Reilly Smith and the contract of center Marc Savard, who has not played since 2011 because of post-concussion syndrome.
Both Beleskey and Hayes had breakout seasons in 2014-15 and might provide enough offense for the Bruins to get back into the playoffs after they missed out for the first time in eight seasons.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The current rivalry between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens will not be the only one celebrated at the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.
The League announced Wednesday there will be an alumni game played at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 31, pitting legends against each other one more time.
For many who have been involved in the competition between the Bruins and Canadiens over the past nine decades, the mere sight of the other's logo rekindles a rivalry that never goes fully dormant.
Yvan Cournoyer, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and a former Canadiens captain, said the rivalry defined a huge part of who he was as a hockey player.
He entered the NHL during the 1963-64 season, when he was 19 years old, and his second game was at Boston Garden. Asked about the reception from Bruins fans, he shook his head and laughed as he stood on the playing surface at Gillette Stadium.
"We won the game, so …," Cournoyer said, suggesting that he and his Canadiens had the last laugh. "So many memories against the Bruins. I started with six teams [in the League]. That was a lot of action with six teams. I almost say we grew up together, the Boston Bruins and me with the Montreal Canadiens."
Cournoyer is 71 years old, and almost 50 years have passed since he first took the ice against Montreal's most bitter rival, but he is ready to pick up the torch again in service of the Canadiens.
No, Cournoyer will not strap on his skates and dazzle fans and opponents with his blazing speed, a skill that earned him the nickname "Road Runner." Those days, sadly, have passed him by. He said he has had multiple back surgeries and procedures done on a knee and a shoulder, so playing in the game is out of the question.
Instead, he said he will help coach the team of Canadiens alumni on New Year's Eve. He joked that he is already on the recruiting trail, making sure his team is stocked with the best players possible.
On the other side, Bruins president Cam Neely said the lure of playing against the Canadiens may pull him back onto the ice for the first time since he played in the alumni game for the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park. On Jan. 2, 2010, Neely and other Bruins alumni split into two teams and played during a heavy snowfall.
As Neely took his skates off that day, he thought it was likely to be the last time he did so after playing in a public exhibition. Now, five years later, the mixture of the setting at Gillette Stadium and the presence of the rival Canadiens has Neely reconsidering his options.
"I've been asked a bunch and right now I am on the fence," the 50-year-old said. "The last game I played was the Winter Classic at Fenway Park, so it has been a while. I don't know, but it is going to be hard to not do it, but right now I am on the fence."
Hopefully Stan Jonathan, John Wensink, Pierre Bouchard and Gilles Lupien all play in the Alumni Game, although it should be noted that Wensink now has short hair and it'll be tougher for Lupien to pull it.
TRADER DON AT IT AGAIN
Boston, MA - Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced yesterday, June 29, that the Bruins have acquired a first round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft and forward Sean Kuraly from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for goaltender Martin Jones.
Kuraly, 22, skated in all 40 games for Miami University (Ohio) in 2014-15 as Assistant Captain, racking up 19-10=29 totals with 38 penalty minutes. The forward's 19 goals ranked second on the team, while his 29-point output ranked fifth.
In 118 of a possible 120 NCAA contests (missed just two games to compete for Team USA in the 2013 World Junior Championships) at Miami University, Kuraly accrued 37-33=70 totals. Kuraly joins forwards Reilly Smith and Austin Czarnik as Miami University (Ohio) alumni currently in the Bruins' organization. Kuraly was teammates with Czarnik from 2012-15.
Kuraly won a gold medal competing for Team USA in the 2013 World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia, where he recorded one goal and two assists with a plus-four rating in seven games. Kuraly became one of two players in MU history (Riley Barber) to win gold at World Juniors.
Prior to joining the collegiate ranks, Kuraly played three seasons ( 2009-12) for the Indiana Ice of the USHL were he scored 41 goals and collected 61 assists in 110 games with a combined plus-17 rating. In 11 USHL playoff competitions, the forward notched four goals and four assists.
The 6'2'', 201-pound forward from Dublin, OH was selected by the San Jose Sharks in the fifth round (133rd overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
In 2014-15 Jones, 25, played 15 games with the Los Angeles Kings, with a 4-5-2 record, a 2.25 GAA and .906 save percentage, winning three of the four games by shutout with a 154:17 scoreless streak from Nov. 26-Dec. 12. He has a 16-11-2 record, a .923 save percentage, and a 1.99 GAA in 34 career NHL games.
Jones was acquired by the Bruins on June 26, 2015 along with defenseman Colin Miller and a first round pick in 2015 (13th overall) from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Milan Lucic. The 6’4”, 189 lb. native of North Vancouver, B.C. Signed with the Kings as a free agent on October 2, 2008.
BRUINS ADD SANDPAPER
Trade 3rd round pick in '17 to Flyers for Zac Rinaldo
Boston, MA - Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced today, June 29, that the Bruins have acquired forward Zac Rinaldo from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for the Bruins natural third round draft pick in 2017.
Rinaldo skated in 58 games with the Flyers during the 2014-15 campaign, registering one goal and five assists for six points. Rinaldo led the team in penalty minutes with 102.
In total, the 25-year-old has skated in 223 games at the NHL level - all with Philadelphia - notching eight goals and 16 assists for 24 points with 572 penalty minutes. The forward has led the Flyers in penalty minutes the last four seasons. Rinaldo has also skated in 14 NHL postseason games with Philadelphia, racking up 64 penalty minutes.
The 5'11'', 185-pound native of Mississauga, ON was drafted by the Flyers in the sixth round (178th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.