Commentary

Pressure on Lucic, Krejci?

Updated: July 20, 2012, 4:59 PM ET
By James Murphy | ESPNBoston.com

The Bruins continue their relatively quiet offseason, but that doesn't mean fans don't have questions.

Q: Why do the Bruins (and fans) overrate David Krejci and Milan Lucic? They are no better than second line players who the Bruins have playing on the first line. Also, does Peter Chiarelli understand that you need to score goals? He spends all his time focusing on third line depth and zero time looking at first line talent that can score 35-40 goals. Seguin is the only one with that type of talent, the Bruins need another guy like that. If it takes Krejci to get Bobby Ryan, I'll drive him to the airport. -- Marc (Malden, Mass.)

A: I understand your frustration and agree the Bruins need a sniper like Ryan, but unlike the media and fans, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli doesn't have the luxury of living only in the present like we do. Chiarelli must sign five restricted free agents (including Tyler Seguin and Tuukka Rask) and two unrestricted free agents next summer. Only the Bruins and Ducks really know what players were discussed in any talks for Ryan, but apparently Chiarelli still values Krejci and Lucic enough to pull them off the table. But I can tell you that may change. I've had a team source and an NHL source tell me that this season is being looked at as a big season for both Krejci and Lucic. No one is happy with their inconsistent play, and they will need to prove themselves this season.

Q: I'm sure you've answered this before this offseason, but how confident are you really that Tuukka Rask can make it through the year as the No. 1? He's had some injury issues that worry me, and he's also really never had this kind of pressure going into a season. The only year opened as the No. 1 (2010-11), Tim Thomas was still in Boston, so all the pressure wasn't on Rask (and in that season, he lost the job to Thomas early anyway). -- Bill (Conn.)

A: If healthy, I am very confident in Tuukka Rask and believe he can be an elite No. 1 goalie in the NHL. But I believe that "if healthy" caveat is a bigger one than the Bruins might want to acknowledge. Any time an athlete suffers a groin injury, it has the potential to return. And when you're talking about a goalie in hockey, there is an even greater chance. Because of that, I still think the Bruins should invite a veteran free-agent goalie to training camp just for extra depth. Yes, they have some depth with young goalies such as Niklas Svedberg and Anton Khudobin, but I'm not sure either is ready to be a No. 1 if Rask struggles or suffers another long-term injury this season.

Q: Can you give me anything on what the Bruins might be up to? Anything  just been crickets with the B's lately. -- Nate (Boston)

A: Not much. Sorry, but that's the truth. The Bruins did their due diligence on big-name players such as Rick Nash and Bobby Ryan, but right now, they're keeping their word that they want to keep the core that won them a Stanley Cup just over a year ago in tact.

Q: What do you think Brad Marchand's long-term future is in Boston? I know he's a RFA (retricted free agent) at the end of the season and he strikes me as being a player that could price his way out of Boston? -- Jim P. (Durham, NH)

[+] EnlargeBrad Marchand
Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty ImagesBrad Marchand had a career-high 55 points (28 goals and 27 assists) last season.

A: As mentioned above with Krejci and Lucic, I think Marchand will need to prove he is worth the money that he'll want and command at the end of the season. If he is, the Bruins will do what it takes to keep him in black and gold. Marchand inked a two-year $5 million deal before last season, and if he has another productive season, he will certainly be looking for a raise over that. He has proven to be a very versatile player as well as a thorn in the side of opponents, and I believe as long as he stays consistent, he'll be a Bruin for a while.

Q: Why do you think the Bruins continue to stockpile "7th" defensemen (Johnson, Exelby, Bartkowski)? Is there a possible trade looming with a current defenseman? Although I understand Hamilton might need some protection if he struggles, this seems like overkill. -- Derek (Londonderry, NH)

A: First, I have no idea if there is a trade involving a defenseman looming, but I'm part of the crowd that believes you can never have too much depth on the blue line. If you go back and look at some of the recent Stanley Cup champions, there have been plenty of teams that benefited from defensive depth. I also like bringing in veteran depth as well. That will help push the younger defensemen.

Q: Not a Bruins question, but what do you think about Shea Weber and Philly? And as it relates to the Bruins, he'd certainly make the Flyers a much tougher team in the East? -- Bill J. (Boston)

A: I think the Shea Weber offer sheet just proves once again that Paul Holmgren is one of the gutsiest general managers in the NHL. The potential addition of Weber to the Flyers definitely catapults them to the top of the Eastern Conference in terms of contenders. But I still believe the Bruins are contenders as is. I'm looking forward to what promises to be a very competitive conference.

Q: Have you heard anything else lately on the chances the Bruins can move Tim Thomas anywhere? -- LT (Wallingford, Conn.)

A: I haven't heard anything lately on the possibility of trading Thomas. I think teams that might have interest in him for the purpose of getting to the salary-cap floor are going to wait and see what that cap floor is under a new collective bargaining agreement.

James Murphy

Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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