Are Bruins' roster changes coming?
Q. Do you think there's any shot the B's will be players in the Rick Nash sweepstakes? I imagine any deal would have to include Dougie Hamilton and a legit NHL player (Krejci or Lucic) and probably more? But the B's have the cap space to do it, don't they? -- George T. (Boston)
A. George, I am sure Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli will look into what it may take to get Rick Nash as he wouldn't be doing his job as GM if he didn't. There are also rumors out there that the Bruins were one of five teams on a list that Nash submitted of teams he's willing to go to. As for what it would take, you're right, it would be a hefty price. If I were Chiarelli and wanted to make a run at Nash, I would offer David Krejci, Doug Hamilton and a first- or second-round pick. But that's just me -- it's not anything I've heard that has been offered.
Q. B's fan out in the desert. Do you think the Bruins will be in the mix for Ray Whitney? If think he's be a great fit for them. Could play on the Krejci-Lucic line if Horton remains out or could play on the third line if the B's decide they need to upgrade Pouliot (who while he's been decent in stretches is definitely someone they could upgrade on). -- Bill (Phoenix)
A. Bill, I completely agree with you that Ray Whitney would be a perfect fit for the Bruins. I have been saying for a while now that he can provide that Mark Recchi-like scoring presence and leadership that Recchi gave the Bruins during his tenure in Boston. He has a Stanley Cup ring and is proving this season he still has a scoring touch. I also wouldn't be surprised if the Bruins look into acquiring Whitney's teammate Shane Doan as well, should he become available.
Q. A lot of the Tim Thomas talk lately has been on skipping the White House, etc., but what's more concerning to me as a fan is his lackluster play. The B's haven't played great in front of him, but he's also been less than his spectacular self for the last month or so, too. Any concerns about his play moving forward or do you expect him to turn things around? -- Vick (Natick, Mass.)
A. Vick, I'd agree with you that Thomas hasn't been his normal self as of late but I wouldn't panic just yet. I think it's more of a byproduct of the team's play and just the dog days of the summer. The White House and Facebook incidents I really believe are a separate issue and I think this is just the normal cycle of a season for both him and his teammates. If he is still struggling a month from now, then maybe it will be time to worry, but with Tuukka Rask expected to get more starts in that time and spell relief for Thomas, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner should be fine.
Q. With basically nothing in Providence, the B's need to at least add some depth at the deadline if nothing else, right? That said, I'd still like to see them upgrade on D from Corvo. He's just very average to me. -- RRJ (Portland, Maine)
A. RRJ, I would agree that Joe Corvo has been just average, and I'd argue maybe that he's been worse. The Bruins knew he would be a defensive liability, but his offensive talent hasn't been present enough to justify that liability. Therefore, yes, an upgrade in their 4-6 slots on defense is needed, but unfortunately that is the case on almost every other NHL club. The asking price is high and Chiarelli may have to just settle for prospects and depth for now, especially if he is forced to replace the offense from Rich Peverley and Nathan Horton in a trade for a forward.
Q. I know Krejci hit a post the other night, but I thought it was another lackluster game from him. Just watching on TV he seems to be shying away from contact, giving the puck up too quickly when he's pressured, etc. Just doesn't seem like he's fully into the game. To me he's the key to the rest of their season. Without a legit offensive star the B's need to rely on their offensive depth. If Krejci keeps playing like this they're going to struggle on offense. -- Robert (Hamden, Conn.)
A. Robert, As I pointed out here last week, Krejci has amazing God-given talent but unfortunately he also has the ability to use that talent when he feels like it. That being said, I have seen progress -- maybe not on the stat sheet -- lately in his game. He is playing a tougher game and not forcing plays out there as he has for long stretches this season. He recently told the media that he misses Nathan Horton but knows he must suck it up and play with whomever Claude Julien slots him in with on the ice. I think he is doing that right now and we'll cut him some slack here this week.
Q. Are there any under-the-radar trade targets you could see the Bruins going after? Players that we haven't really heard anyone talking about? -- Kelly R. (Vineyard Haven, Mass.)
A. Kelly, last week I mentioned defenseman Marek Zidlicky as an under-the-radar trade target, and in the past week reports surfaced that the Wild are actively trying to grant his wish that he be traded. I have no confirmation that the Bruins are in on Zidlicky, but I still think he could be a good fit on the blue line. I'd also keep an eye on Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina, who the Lightning have made it known is on the trading block. Two names I haven't heard linked to the Bruins but I think could help them up front in the absence of Rich Peverley and Nathan Horton would be Oilers forward Sam Gagner or, if he can find his game again in a new setting, Kings forward Dustin Penner.
Q. Were you a little surprised by the amount of $ Boychuk got? I guess he's a legit starting defenseman in the NHL and that's probably the going rate for that. Still, it seemed like a lot for a guy who while he's been solid this year was very up and down last season. -- Franklin (Hopkinton, Mass.)
A. Franklin, yes, I was surprised that the Bruins locked up Johnny Boychuk for $3.36 million per season for three seasons. I had heard Boychuk's name a lot in trade rumors among NHL scouts, and I don't know if I would've made signing him a priority. But that being said, he's still young and does have value. He can be a very intimidating presence on the ice and has a cannon of a shot. He also deserves credit for his hard work as he battled his way from a relative unknown who started his NHL career at forward and is now a key part of the Bruins' blue line.
James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Ask a question for his next Bruins mailbag here.
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