Dougie Hamilton begins pivotal Year 3

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
9:12
PM ET
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- There's no denying the talents of Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton.

He's big. He's strong. He has a keen hockey sense and uses it to his advantage. He also has an offensive element to his game.

[+] EnlargeDougie Hamilton
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaDougie Hamilton pulls on his Bruins jersey on Thursday at training camp.
The 21-year-old blueliner has showcased those skills during the first two seasons of his NHL career, but in Year 3, it's this simple: Hamilton needs to have a big season for the Bruins.

His performance in 2014-15 should function as a barometer of how the rest of his career plays out. It's not unusual for younger players to fizzle out after a few good seasons. Some become complacent, or too comfortable.

It will be interesting to see how this season unfolds for Hamilton.

"It's important because he had a great finish," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I thought he was really good at the end of last year and his confidence level was up. But, he's still a young player and you've got to stay on top of him and make sure that little bad habits don't creep in, or a comfort level, which sometimes happens to young players. They've got to know they've got to keep pushing themselves if they want to keep improving.

"He still has a lot of room for improvement, which is a good thing, because we already think he's a pretty good player, so he just has to stay on top of his game and keep pushing himself to get better."

Hamilton made his NHL debut during the 48-game, lockout-shortened season in 2013. The Bruins reached the Stanley Cup finals that season, before losing to the Chicago Blackhawks. Hamilton played only seven games between the first two rounds and watched the Eastern Conference finals and the Cup finals from press level.

He made significant strides during the 2013-14 season and was relied upon as a top-four defender. When veterans Dennis Seidenberg (knee) and Adam McQuaid (quad and foot) suffered season-ending injuries midway through the season, Hamilton's ice time increased, and he proved to be up to the task.

SportsNation

What are your expectations for Dougie Hamilton in his third NHL season?

  •  
    54%
  •  
    45%
  •  
    1%

Discuss (Total votes: 265)

"He played great last season, even the year before," Seidenberg said. "He took great strides developing really nicely. He's such a powerful skater and moves really smoothly for a big guy, and he's just really dangerous offensively. His physical presence, he's gotten stronger and better on one-on-one battles. I only see him getting better and more dominant than he has already."

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask said earlier this week that the team's overall defense needs to be more consistent this season. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner has enjoyed an ice-level view of Hamilton's development.

"I think he just needs to continue where he finished off last year," Rask said. "I thought he took big steps last year and really got better defensively, and he was really showing off his talent offensively, too. He just needs to keep it going and improve overall. He'll be a really good player for us."

The Bruins held their first on-ice session of training camp Friday at Ristuccia Arena. Hamilton looked comfortable and confident.

"Just try to keep getting better," he said at the start of camp. "I really don't set goals for myself but just to keep getting better and keep improving and keep learning. This is the most comfortable I've been coming into camp. Obviously, playing for a year and a half now has helped me, so just knowing the guys, the city and everything makes it a lot easier to come here."

He spent the summer preparing as he normally would. It was a long summer for all the Bruins, but Hamilton is refreshed, recharged and ready to go.

"It was really good. I'm pretty happy with how it went, my development over the summer, and I'm looking forward to camp and seeing how my hard work translates," he said. "I'm excited to get going again."

In 106 regular-season games, Hamilton has 12 goals and 29 assists for 41 points, as well as a plus-26 rating. He has averaged close to 18 minutes of playing time per game.

"I've definitely worked on my defensive game and trying to improve that," he said. "I think I've gotten a lot better at it. From when I first got here until the end of last year, my defense has improved a lot and it needs to keep on improving. I need to focus on that with our team and our system and that's defense first. To be accountable and reliable on the ice is important. The offense, I guess, is just a bonus."

He showed glimpses of a mean streak late last season, and it would be good to see him play with a little more fire. He should use his 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame to wear down opponents. If he can produce that type of physical play on a consistent basis, he could become extremely dangerous.

There's no time like the present for Bruins fans to witness the real Dougie Hamilton.

Pastrnak's first day an eye-opener

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
4:25
PM ET
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- David Pastrnak got his first taste of the NHL on Friday as the Bruins started training camp at Ristuccia Arena.

Boston’s first-round selection (No. 25 overall) in June’s NHL Entry Draft, the 18-year-old forward admitted it was a bit more overwhelming than he expected.

“It’s pretty hard. On the ice, they’re NHL players, so you have to adjust and try to keep going with them and play your best,” Pastrnak said.

The training camp roster is split into two groups, and Pastrnak participated in the second session, playing on the line with David Krejci and Matt Fraser.

[+] EnlargeBoston Bruins
AP Photo/Elise Amendola"It's pretty hard," David Pastrnak said of his first day of Bruins training camp. "On the ice, they're NHL players, so you have to adjust and try to keep going with them."
“It’s great. I like [Krejci] and he’s a skilled player. I like to play with him and I’m pretty sure we understand each other on the ice,” said Pastrnak, who grew up idolizing Krejci, a fellow Czech native.

Krejci, 28, laughs at the notion he’s old compared to Pastrnak. But the veteran has been impressed with the rookie’s abilities.

“For me, playing with David, he’s got great hands, he’s got really good speed,” Krejci said. “It was alright today. We didn’t do too many line drills. We’ll just take it day by day and hopefully we’ll be better tomorrow.”

There’s a legitimate chance Pastrnak could earn a roster spot out of camp, but the Bruins won’t put any unnecessary pressure on the prospect.

“What we've been saying with David is take it one step at a time,” Chiarelli said. “So, get your feet wet in main camp and he had a real good few games in Nashville. You know, he's got the little things where guys overtry a little bit, hang onto the puck a little bit, cut to the middle and stuff like that, but he's a smart player and he'll adjust.”

The plan is for Pastrnak to start on the right wing. Chiarelli described it as a slow progression.

“Let's keep in mind on this player, he's still young and he's light and, you know, you worry with a player of this age and size ... that he could get hurt. He's a very smart player, very good vision and you just have to be careful, and we're taking it slowly and we'll see where it goes,” said Chiarelli.

Pastrnak impressed during rookie development camp in July and again at the recent national rookie tournament in Nashville. Now, it’s a bit different.

“All the players are men here, and in development camp they were all kids, so that’s the difference," Pastrnak said. "We are all hockey players and I just have to keep up with those guys and try to play like them.”

When the first day of camp concluded, Pastrnak was all smiles. He genuinely loves the game and admits it’s still sinking in that he’s attending his first NHL training camp.

“For me, I’m trying to enjoy it. I didn’t expect to be here and now I’m here, so I have to just try to enjoy it and do my best here,” he said. “I need to keep working hard, get better every day, so I can be a good forward for the Bruins.”

Kelly thankful to be back on ice

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
12:53
PM ET
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Bruins forward Chris Kelly made it through the first day of training camp feeling like his old self. Kelly had offseason back surgery to repair a herniated disk and has no restrictions during camp and the preseason exhibition schedule.

“The back felt great, actually, no issues,” Kelly said. “It’s felt good for a while now. It’s gotten to the point where you’re never going to think about it and that’s a good sign because that’s where you want to be.”

Kelly suffered the injury on April 8 and missed the final four games of the regular season. He attempted to come back for the Stanley Cup playoffs, but the pain was too much to handle and he had the procedure in May.

“You appreciate just being able to play hockey,” Kelly said. “Hockey was the last thing from my mind, but I wanted to be a normal person where you can get up, eat, sleep. For a while there, I couldn’t do those things. So, now it’s just about being a hockey player, which is great.”

Camp is split into two groups and Kelly skated in the morning session. He was in the middle with Milan Lucic on his left and Brian Ferlin on his right.

Kelly joked that Lucic went over to David Krejci after the session and gave him a big hug.

Jacobs, Neely discuss Krug, Smith delay

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
8:51
PM ET
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins are pulling out all the stops in trying to make sure forward Reilly Smith and defenseman Torey Krug agree to shorter contracts and report to training camp.

Both entry-level free agents remain unsigned and missed the first official day of training camp, which consisted of off-ice testing and physicals. At this point, they're expected to miss Friday's first on-ice session, too.

Earlier Thursday, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli would not comment on negotiations, saying only that he hopes it gets done sooner rather than later.

After the team's annual "State of the Bruins" meeting, owner Jeremy Jacobs, principal Charlie Jacobs and president Cam Neely weighed in on the situation.

The Bruins have spent to the salary cap and are trying to figure out ways to sign both players. Charlie Jacobs said the last thing the organization wants is an ugly showdown where no one wins.

"Listen, that only leads to discord," he said. "In particular, you talk about arbitration and that stuff tends to go south between relationships with the players and that's not where we aim to be. We really want to be a collaborative partner and we are with our player personnel.

"When it comes to the two players we're talking about -- Reilly and Torey -- their situation is they're two-year pros ... and they're in a unique situation. They're not coming out of an entry-level deal with three years' experience, they're really coming out with really less than two. Peter addressed it best, saying circumstances are what they are and I expect that they will be here in time."

He added: "I really think this will remedy itself. I'm not too concerned about it. I may feel differently in November, but at the moment I feel the circumstances dictate that they're going to have to come maybe on a one- or two-year deal to bridge into their next, perhaps larger deal."

Neely is obviously in a unique position, having been a player at one time but who now sits on the other side of the table.

"I hate to see young guys, I was a young player once and I had a contract dispute one time and I didn't get to camp on time and I know it takes awhile to catch up," Neely said. "Especially nowadays with the shape these guys are in. I know they're in great shape going into camp, but we talk about practicing with a purpose and getting into some exhibition games is a little different than off-ice training and skating on your own.

"I just hope we get something done real quick. Obviously, those guys had great years for us last year and they're a big part of our organization moving forward. I'd like to see something get done sooner rather than later."

Jeremy Jacobs made it clear he has given Chiarelli ownership's full support in this unique situation.

"I think Peter is absolutely doing the right thing. I'm very confident," Jacobs said. "We've got a cap and he has to accommodate these players. Signing [David] Krejci was the right idea. [Chiarelli] moved in the right direction. We spent to the cap and we can't accommodate everybody at this point, not at the level they want to be compensated."

Jacobs pointed to Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and other veteran players who had to produce for a longer period of time before the organization rewarded them with long-term contracts.

"There are times when you get paid very well, and there's time that you don't. That's the way the system is built and it's functioning and doing well. We've never had more money to spend than we have right now and we've spent every cent we have. We told you early on we were going to spend to the cap and we've done it and we'll continue to. It isn't like these people are necessarily underpaid that they can't live on it. They do very well and they just want to do better, and I don't blame them. I can't think there's a person in this room that doesn't want to do better, but their time will come. And if they're great players going forward they will be compensated when they get older in that way, or as they mature into this business."
BOSTON -- Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs believes strongly in educating young athletes to become upstanding members of society.

After participating in the annual "State of the Bruins" on Thursday night at TD Garden, Jacobs, who is also the chairman of the NHL board of governors, was asked how he views the image of the NHL and its players in light of recent controversies that have cropped up in the NFL.

"Professional ownership, professional sports teams have a higher, moral commitment to the community than the average business and I feel that strongly and I believe we have to conduct ourselves differently than the average individual," Jacobs said. "We don't have the privilege to do certain things and I think that's the capacity, I believe, my commissioner believes in and I think that's the way our teams feel.

"There are many obstacles in our way, a lot of human rights issues and legal issues that get in the way of doing that, but we have to recognize that when we go out there we represent, not only our team and our ownership, but our fans and the community we represent. And once we can penetrate the people out there, bear in mind we're taking a lot of young people and putting that responsibility on them and it's incumbent upon us to be able to educate them and how to function. We take it real seriously and I can't get a whole lot deeper than that, but you've got my personal view."

Jacobs is the CEO and chairman of Delaware North Companies. He's been the chairman of the board of the NHL since 2007.

Defensemen prepared for a roster battle

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
6:20
PM ET
BOSTON -- David Warsofsky is ready for anything. The 24-year-old defenseman has a legitimate chance of earning a roster spot out of training camp this year. But he has some competition.

Barring any trades or injuries, there are eight other defensemen on the Bruins training camp roster: Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Dougie Hamilton, Adam McQuaid, Torey Krug (remains unsigned), Kevan Miller, and Matt Bartkowski.

With Krug’s status uncertain, that leaves the total at eight, for now. Normally, the Bruins carry seven on their roster during the season, with one being a healthy scratch, but general manager Peter Chiarelli said Thursday that he could see a scenario with eight defensemen on the roster.

[+] EnlargeDavid Warsofsky
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images"I know I'm ready to play at [the NHL] level," said David Warsofsky. "That's a big step for me mentally."
Chiarelli has said he expects to eventually trade a defenseman, but he wants to see how the internal competition plays out during training camp and the exhibition season. He’s also certain that Warsofsky is ready to play in the NHL.

“I think he is. Again, that's my opinion,” Chiarelli said. “I thought he had a real strong finish last year in Providence. Every time I saw him, he was one of the best players on the ice and he was doing things we were telling him to. He was moving the puck, he was skating, his escape ability is terrific, like turning the net, and real good vision on the power play. So he's a player that I think is ready. Now, will he be ready for our team? Let's see how things sort out, but he's put his time in and he's a guy to watch, too.”

Warsofsky, a product of Boston University, doesn’t want to hear his name mentioned in any possible trade.

“The more I think about it, the more it’s going to aggravate me, so I try not to even think about it,” he said. “No one knows what’s going to happen with all the defensemen here. Management knows what they’re doing, they’ve proven that in the past, so let them do their thing and whatever path that takes me, or whatever path that takes the rest of the defensemen here, it’s part of the business and you have to go with it.”

Warsofsky spent the majority of the 2013-2014 season with the Providence Bruins of the AHL, scoring six goals and adding 26 assists for 32 points in 56 games. Boston recalled him three times and he played a total of six games for the Bruins, recording one goal and one assist for two points. This will be his fourth pro season, and his confidence is at an all-time high as training camp begins.

“It gives me a little more confidence,” Warsofsky said. “Obviously, when I came into past camps, I wanted to play in the NHL but I didn’t know if I was necessarily ready for it. But coming into this camp and playing a couple of games [for Boston] last year, in my own confidence, I know I’m ready to play at that level. That’s a big step for me mentally, getting over that hump and knowing I can play at the next level.”

Hearing the organization is confident in his ability also helps.

"It’s good,” Warsofsky said. “Obviously, I thought I was ready, but to hear the staff say it, and the coaches here, I think, they show a lot of trust in me. I think I’m ready for that situation, so it was a little re-confirmation from them, [which] definitely feels good.”

[+] EnlargeJohnny Boychuk
AP Photo/Matt SlocumJohnny Boychuk, who has been mentioned in trade rumors, knows he'll have to bring his 'A' game to training camp.
Listed at 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, Warsofsky still needs to adjust to the NHL level. But Warsofsky believes that if given the opportunity, he will perform.

“I think every young player from Bobby Orr to Ray Bourque made mistakes when they were coming up, so it’s one of those things that are going to happen and you just try to limit those as much as you can,” Warsofsky said.

The depth on Boston’s blue line -- and how Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien make it work to the team’s advantage -- will play itself out during training camp.

“That’s a good problem to have,” Chara said. “No matter how you look at it, to have that many players capable of playing gives you an advantage. It would obviously be a different situation if we were on the other side of it. So sometimes things are out of your control, as far as trades and other things, but as player you can’t control them and you have to do your best to make the team, the lineup, and the rest of it is up to management.”

Since he has one year and $3.36 million remaining on his contract before becoming an unrestricted free agent, Boychuk’s name has been front and center on the trade rumor list. He understands it’s a possibility since the Bruins are up against the salary cap, and Chiarelli still needs to sign both Krug and forward Reilly Smith, but Boychuk wants to remain in Boston.

“We have so many good defensemen, you have to be on your ‘A’ game or else somebody can take your spot. You have to be prepared to work your behind off. So it’s going to be fun and it’s always a healthy competition in training camp,” he said.

Earlier in his career, Boychuk was that prospect battling for a roster spot. He eventually earned it, and has been an important part of Boston’s blue line.

“I was in that position a little while ago,” he said. “Every year there’s new, young great defensemen, or great forwards pushing the envelope and working for the spots, and that’s what you need. Everybody wants to play in the NHL, but you have to take it away from somebody to accomplish it. It’s a hard feat, but it makes for a healthy competition."

Gagne looks to reignite career with B's

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
5:20
PM ET
BOSTON -- Simon Gagne broke the hearts of Bruins fans during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs.

As a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, Gagne scored the game-winning goal in Philly's 4-3 victory in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series on May 14 at TD Garden. It was a monumental implosion by the Bruins, who had a 3-0 series lead, and a 3-1 lead in Game 7, before the Flyers finished the historic comeback.

[+] EnlargeSimon Gagne, Mike Richards
AP Photo/Charles KrupaGagne hopes there are no hard feelings from when he scored the game-winner for the Flyers in Game 7 of the playoffs against Boston in 2010.
Gagne remembers it well.

Now, the 34-year-old forward is in Boston after the Bruins invited Gagne to training camp on a tryout agreement.

“I hope fans aren’t going to be too bad,” he said with a smile. “After [2010] they ended up winning the Cup the year after that, so maybe I was part of the learning situation at that time to make them better the year after that.”

On Thursday, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said there are four open forward spots available on the roster and Gagne will be given every opportunity to win one. Gagne missed the entire 2013-2014 season due to injury.

“Well, obviously he's been a very good player, on all levels -- clutch player, fast player, smart player, so if he can recover and gain some of that -- he's hasn't played in a year -- then you know, there's the speed element and there's the veteran and he plays both wings, so he's one of those candidates I talk about,” Chiarelli said.

Gagne spent the majority of his career with the Flyers, but won a Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings in 2011-2012. He returned to Philadelphia for the lockout-shortened, 48-game season in 2012-2013. While sidelined all of last season, it was an opportunity for him to spend time with his family, but it also refreshed his desire to keep playing in the NHL.

“Yeah, it was tough. During the season, I’m not going to lie, I really didn’t miss the season because it’s 82 games and it’s a long season,” he said. “But when playoffs started it was pretty hard to watch. That’s the time, if you look at my career, that’s the time I had the most success and most fun to play the game.

“I feel really energized, healthy and excited about coming back, hoping to make the team.”

At the start of the offseason, Gagne wasn’t gaining too much attention from NHL organizations.

“It was pretty quiet on that side. I had a good talk with my agent before summer. I was back in the gym, making sure I was energized, feeling good and stuff like that at first before telling my agent, ‘OK, let’s go and make a couple of calls.’ ”

Gagne spoke with Bruins assistant captain and fellow Quebec native Patrice Bergeron, who then talked with Chiarelli.

“From that, everything went really good with my agent and the team. By August I was ready to sign a tryout contract,” explained Gagne.

A left-winger by trade, Gagne will work on the right side during training camp.

Chara is still B's pull-up king

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
3:02
PM ET


BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins completed their off-ice testing and physicals Thursday at TD Garden, with no surprises.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara owns the training camp pullup competition with 31, but last season fellow defenseman Kevan Miller tied Chara. This year, Chara beat Miller by only two, 35-33.

When the team takes the ice Friday at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, two players will not participate -- forward Gregory Campbell and defenseman Linus Arnesson. According to general manager Peter Chiarelli, Campbell is dealing with a minor mid-core injury and Arnesson tweaked his groin.

Also, Bruins veteran forward Milan Lucic, who underwent wrist surgery last May, will take it slow during camp in order to continue his rehab.

B's begin without Krug and Smith

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
1:37
PM ET
BOSTON -- Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli had no update Thursday on the contract situations for defenseman Torey Krug and forward Reilly Smith.

The entry-level free agents remain unsigned.

The Bruins completed their off-ice testing and physicals Thursday at TD Garden and will begin on-ice sessions Friday at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, Massachusetts.

“Won’t comment on negotiations,” Chiarelli said. “We want them in our mix. As it’s been chronicled, we’ve never had that type of player not signed and not come to camp. I’ve been through a few of them in my time, so they’re not very pleasant, but that’s what we have right now.”

Due to salary-cap constraints, the two players may have to settle for one-year deals. But since neither player is signed at this point, it’s likely both are asking for multi-year contracts.

“In an ideal world, to have all your players healthy and present, that would be ideal,” Chiarelli said. “Younger players, older players, if they miss time they’re going to fall behind. It’s unfortunate they’re not here; they’re both good players and both contributed to our success last year and previous. I hope something gets done at some point.”

Chiarelli has made it no secret he will likely trade a defenseman at some point in order to make cap space. He also admitted that the trade talk has been increasing.

“It’s pretty good. It’s been pretty good all summer,” Chiarelli said.

“I’ve said that I’m looking to trade a defenseman, but I’m very eager to see the competition. There are spots. If I had to open with eight D, I can, so there’s no real pressing need to [make a trade] other than it’s not ideal.”

Johnny Boychuk’s name continues to spin the speculation rumor mill, since he has one year and $3.36 million remaining on his contact before becoming an unrestricted free agent. On Thursday, he said he hopes to remain in the “family” and he won’t let any outside distractions affect his play during training camp and the preseason exhibition schedule.

“You just go out there and play your game,” he said. “You can’t let anything on the outside world affect you. You have to play your game, come to camp prepared, and to start the season we’ll be prepared. We have to do our best and hopefully win another Cup.”

An interesting moment of Thursday’s media availability with Chiarelli was when he mentioned there are four open forward spots. Without Smith in the mix, most would think there would be three open positions, but the GM added one more to the scenario.

Ideally, the Bruins would carry seven defensemen on the roster, but Chiarelli has said he would be fine with carrying eight, which would mean one less forward.

Either way, Chiarelli loves the internal competition and he’s looking forward to how it plays out.

“Absolutely,” he said. “The competition, with it comes uncertainty and we’d all like things to be certain, but the cream will rise to the top and I’m looking forward to it. On a smaller level, we had competition last year on a couple of forward spots and we did OK. We’ve got some invites; we’ve got some young players pushing. I look forward to it.”

10 things to watch with camp set to open

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
9:00
PM ET
BOSTON -- Training camp for the 2014-15 season officially begins Thursday for the Boston Bruins with off-ice testing and physicals at TD Garden.

The first on-ice session will take place Friday at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, and the Bruins will have only four days of practice before their first exhibition game against the Montreal Canadiens on Sept. 23 at Bell Centre in Montreal.

It was those pesky Habs who ended the Bruins’ season in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring. The Bruins had a long summer to digest why their season ended sooner than they’d hoped and now they’re ready to right the wrong.

“Absolutely,” Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask said. “You always get that bad taste in your mouth when you finish your season like we did last year and you want to change that ending. It’s been a long summer for us, longer than we’re used to in past years and I think our hunger has been growing during the summer and everybody looks ready to go. We’re really excited about the new season.”

As training camp begins, here are 10 things to watch for:

[+] EnlargeJohnny Boychuk
AP Photo/Matt SlocumWith the Bruins having a logjam on defense and a tight salary cap, Johnny Boychuk could be on the move.
• It appears the Bruins will start camp without defenseman Torey Krug or forward Reilly Smith, who are both entry-level free agents and remain unsigned. Due to salary-cap constraints, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli’s creativity will be tested in order to sign both players. While both likely want a multiyear deal, they may have to settle for one-year contracts in order to keep the entire roster intact and avoid any early-season trades to create cap space. Because of their status, Krug and Smith are not allowed to negotiate with other organizations. Both are important to the team’s success, but Bruins coach Claude Julien said Tuesday he believes there are other players in camp who can fill the void if Krug and/or Smith do not sign. During Chiarelli’s tenure as GM in Boston, no player has missed the start of training camp for contractual issues.

• At some point this season, Chiarelli will need to make a trade in order to free up some cap space. If that decision comes during camp, defenseman Johnny Boychuk, whose name has been the one spinning the rumor mill, could be the one to go. The veteran blueliner has one year and $3.36 million remaining on his contract before becoming an unrestricted free agent. Losing Boychuk and his relentless style of play would impact Boston’s blue line, but Chiarelli and Julien are confident in the team’s defensive depth.

• Speaking of defensive depth, if everyone remains healthy and no trades are made, the Bruins will have a logjam on the blue line. It’s actually a good problem to have. With Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Boychuk, Dougie Hamilton, Adam McQuaid, Krug, Kevan Miller, Matt Bartkowski and David Warsofsky, the Bruins will use training camp and the entire preseason schedule to figure out which pairings work best. The Bruins were uncharacteristically inconsistent defensively during the 2013-14 season. After the Bruins lost to the Canadiens, Boston could blame its inexperience on defense as one reason for the series loss. Moving forward, the Bruins can’t make that excuse. Depending on Boychuk’s status, the top four will include Chara, Seidenberg and Hamilton. Presuming Krug’s status and McQuaid’s health won’t be issues, there should be a lively competition for the remaining spots.

• David Pastrnak, the Bruins’ first-round selection (No. 25 overall) in June’s draft, will be given every opportunity to earn a roster spot out of training camp. The 18-year-old forward impressed the organization during rookie development camp in July and during the recent national rookie tournament in Nashville. But now he’ll be playing against the big boys and his skills will be tested. So far, there’s a lot to like about Pastrnak. For starters, he genuinely loves the game. He seems mature and ready for the challenges of playing in the NHL and in Boston. His progress will be a major storyline during camp, and if he makes the team, he could quickly become a fan favorite.

• Other than Pastrnak, there is a host of homegrown talent that will battle for roster spots. If Smith remains unsigned, there would be three forward positions vacant. Ryan Spooner, Matt Fraser, Jordan Caron, Justin Florek, Bobby Robins, Alexander Khokhlachev and Matt Lindblad, along with camp invitees and veterans Ville Leino and Simon Gagne, all are in the mix. If the offseason plan of having Loui Eriksson on the top line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic works out, and Smith does sign and remains on the second line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, then the bottom two lines could see several different combinations during camp.

[+] EnlargeHamilton
Getty ImagesDougie Hamilton could be poised to have a breakout season on the Bruins' blue line.
• Recently, Julien revealed that he would make a small adjustment to the team’s systems play and wants to be “a tad” more aggressive in the neutral zone. He half-jokingly said he didn’t want the media -- or the fans -- to make a big deal about the new philosophy, but we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t. Julien will use training camp and the preseason schedule to apply the new system, which will give his defensemen the green light to step up more in the neutral zone if there’s a possibility to create a turnover, and if the forwards are strong on the backcheck and are in a position to gain possession in transition. The key is puck possession time and it could work well for the Bruins.

• Expect Hamilton to have a big season. He made major strides during his first full season with the Bruins in 2013-14. He no longer carries that “inexperienced” tag and there’s no reason to think he won’t be a top-four defender again this season. The 21-year-old blueliner is strong and smooth with his 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame. If he makes the most of his physical presence and combines that with his hockey sense, he could be a dangerous player.

• Another topic this offseason was the departure of veteran leaders Shawn Thornton and Jarome Iginla. Thornton spent seven seasons with the Bruins, but the team decided not to re-sign him, and he landed a two-year deal with the Florida Panthers. Iginla spent one season in Boston and signed as a free agent with the Colorado Avalanche. Their absences will leave a small void in the leadership department, but the Bruins are loaded with leaders, both on and off the ice. From Chara, Bergeron, Krejci, Rask and Chris Kelly, there’s plenty of leadership.

• At the start of the 2013-14 season, Julien and Chiarelli discussed the concept of finding ways to preserve Chara and keep him fresh for the entire season and into the playoffs. But due to a number of key injuries on the blue line, along with the reinforcements’ inexperience, Chara was forced to log his normal ice time and played nearly 25 minutes per game. At 37, there’s no doubt the team’s captain is still a machine. He’s in incredible shape, but his 6-foot-9, 255-pound frame isn’t getting any younger and he still has four years remaining on his contract. Julien likely will attempt to manage Chara’s minutes again this season and it will be interesting to see how it plays out and how much he has remaining in his tank come playoff time.

• With Rask settled into the No. 1 goalie spot for the foreseeable future, he will again have a new partner this season. Since he’s established himself as a true No. 1, he’s had different backups each of the last two seasons with Anton Khudobin and Chad Johnson, respectively. While it appears Niklas Svedberg will serve in the capacity this season, fellow goaltending prospect Malcolm Subban wants to battle for that spot during training camp. Svedberg signed a one-year, one-way contract this summer worth $600,000, but the Bruins haven’t handed him the backup role; he’ll have to earn it.

Bruins announce training camp roster

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
7:46
PM ET
BOSTON -- The Bruins open their 2014 training camp Thursday with off-ice testing and physicals at TD Garden.

The team also will hold its annual “State of the Bruins” event at 5:30 p.m., Thursday at TD Garden. The panel will consist of owner Jeremy Jacobs, principal Charlie Jacobs, president Cam Neely, coach Claude Julien, captain Zdeno Chara and assistant captains Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.

The event gives Bruins season-ticket holders and premium-ticket holders the opportunity to participate in a question-and-answer forum.

The Bruins announced their training camp roster on Wednesday:

FORWARDS: Patrice Bergeron, Anthony Camara, Gregory Campbell, Jordan Caron, Craig Cunningham, Loui Eriksson, Alexander Fallstrom, Brian Ferlin, Rob Flick, Justin Florek, Matt Fraser, Simon Gagne*, Seth Griffith, Cory Kane, Bracken Kearns*, Chris Kelly, Alexander Khokhlachev, Jared Knight, David Krejci, Ville Leino*, Matt Lindblad, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Daniel Paille, David Pastrnak, Tyler Randell, Bobby Robins, Ben Sexton, [Reilly Smith], Carl Söderberg, Ryan Spooner, Ethan Werek*

DEFENSEMEN: Linus Arnesson, Matt Bartkowski, Johnny Boychuk, Chris Breen, Chris Casto, Zdeno Chara, Tommy Cross, Steve Eminger*, Dougie Hamilton, [Torey Krug], Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Joe Morrow, Dennis Seidenberg, Zach Trotman, David Warsofsky, Ben Youds*

GOALTENDERS: Tuukka Rask, Jeremy Smith, Malcolm Subban, Niklas Svedberg

*Denotes player attending training camp on a tryout basis; [Denotes player who is unsigned]

A healthy Seidenberg can't wait to start

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
6:55
PM ET
BOLTON, Mass. -- When training camp begins with off-ice testing and physicals on Thursday, Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg will not be restricted in any capacity.

Seidenberg tore both the MCL and ACL in his right knee on Dec. 27 and had season-ending surgery on Jan. 7. He nearly returned to the lineup for the Stanley Cup playoffs, but the Bruins lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the second round.

The veteran blueliner is healthy and ready for the 2014-2015 season. He’s been participating in the captain’s practices, but Seidenberg is looking forward to a normal team practice.

“It’s been a while. The last time I was on the ice with the team for a real practice was December, so I’m looking forward to getting back at it, skating with the guys and starting to get some body contact. I’m just really excited to get going and play some games.”

Since there are no restrictions, there is no special plan for the preseason game schedule.

“I’ll do whatever. I’m part of the team and there are no restrictions. So, whatever they want me to do, or whatever I have to do, I’ll do. I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

If every defenseman is healthy, and no trades are made, the Bruins’ defensive depth chart will consist of nine players, including Seidenberg, Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton, Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid, Matt Bartkowski, Torey Krug (remains unsigned), Kevan Miller and David Warsofsky. It’s a logjam on the blue line, but the players expect something will happen via the trade market.

“We all know how they can play and we have great depth at D. It will be interesting, if Torey shows up at some point, so we’ll have nine, 10 guys that can play, so there’s a crazy amount of guys out there and it’ll be really interesting what’s going to happen,” Seidenberg said. “I think something’s going to happen, but who knows what. Again, they’re all great players. They skate really well and it would be nice to have them all on our team, but it’s just impossible.”

Pastrnak impresses in rookie tourney

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
6:26
PM ET
BOLTON, Mass. -- The Boston Bruins completed their three-game rookie tournament Tuesday afternoon in Antioch, Tennessee, with a 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators.

David Pastrnak, the Bruins’ first-round selection (No. 25 overall) in June’s NHL Entry Draft, scored his first goal in a black and gold sweater and was named to the All-Tournament team, along with teammate Chris Casto.

Pastrnak played the right wing the entire tournament.

“I felt good on the right wing,” he told reporters in Nashville. “Feel like I’m developing.”

Back in New England, while participating in the team’s annual charity golf tournament at The International, Bruins coach Claude Julien talked about what he saw at rookie camp.

“You get to see a lot of things from your prospects,” he said. “I was there for the first two games and it gives me an idea of some of the guys that will be coming to the main camp and what to expect. It’s good for the guys.”

Since rookie development camp back in July, Pastrnak has impressed with his skill and will have a chance to earn a roster spot. Julien’s early impressions of the 18-year-old rookie are good.

“That first game he showed a lot of skill. He was probably the best player out there. Second game, not as much, but the first game he really showcased what he’s all about, so there’s a reason to be excited about the future of that player,” Julien said.

Once main camp begins with the team’s first on-ice session on Friday, it will be an entirely new level for Pastrnak.

“The test he has to pass is can he play at this level? I think he’s got the speed and he’s got the skill,” Julien said. “Does he have the strength and does he have the experience to be able to overcome the challenges he’s going to be facing? We won’t know that until training camp starts, so it’s something we’ll keep a close eye on.”

Julien: B's will be 'a tad more aggressive'

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
6:04
PM ET
BOLTON, Mass. -- Bruins coach Claude Julien said Tuesday that he is going to tweak his coaching philosophy for the 2014-2015 season, saying he wants his team to be more aggressive. But don’t get too excited, because he doesn’t want this to become a big story line during training camp, which begins Friday with the Bruins’ first on-ice session.

Prior to teeing off at the team’s annual charity golf tournament at The International, Julien explained the adjustment he and his coaching staff have come up with for playing in the neutral zone.

“Just some small adjustments, nothing huge, just tweaks here and there, maybe in the neutral zone. We’re going to try to just be a tad more aggressive. Don’t be running with this and say, ‘They’re going to be way more aggressive.’ A tad more aggressive, OK guys? A tad, so where maybe we can turn the puck over quicker and spend more time with it, so small adjustments like that,” Julien said.

It starts with puck possession, and that’s what he would like more of. As Julien recently explained to the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa, the Bruins’ coach will give his defensemen the green light to step up more in the neutral zone if there’s a possibility to create a turnover, and if the forwards are strong on the backcheck and are in a position to gain possession in transition.

The Bruins will give it a trial run during training camp and the preseason.

“That’s the good part about our coaching staff is [its] always trying to make our system better and find ways to improve it,” said assistant captain Patrice Bergeron. “I’m sure whatever it is it’s going to be the best for the team, and being more aggressive, if you’re smart, is never a bad thing.”

Reilly Smith, Torey Krug unsigned

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
4:31
PM ET

BOLTON, Mass. -- Two days before Boston Bruins training camp officially begins with off-ice testing and physicals, forward Reilly Smith and defenseman Torey Krug remain unsigned.

It is a reflection of the salary-cap constraints general manager Peter Chiarelli is up against -- not an indication of bad blood between the players and the organization.

The Bruins held their annual preseason charity golf tournament Tuesday at The International, and neither Smith nor Krug attended the event.

At the start of the offseason, Chiarelli had mentioned that both players, who are considered entry-level free agents and can't negotiate with other organizations, may have to settle for one-year deals. Chiarelli added that both players deserve pay raises at "some point," so they might have to wait.

Chiarelli also told reporters last weekend at the rookie tournament in Antioch, Tennessee, that due to the salary-cap constraints, it's likely he will trade a defenseman. Johnny Boychuk's name continues to spin the speculation rumor mill, since he has one year and $3.36 million remaining on his contract before becoming an unrestricted free agent.

Never in Chiarelli's tenure has a player, for whatever reason, held out at the start of training camp, and the Bruins are hoping that continues.

Bruins coach Claude Julien said he's prepared for any scenario.


(Read full post)


SPONSORED HEADLINES