- James Murphy, Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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It's been a quiet offseason for the Boston Bruins' front office, with Claude Julien's recent contract extension being the most noteworthy move so far. GM Peter Chiarelli has said he's satisfied with the current roster, but not all mailbaggers are on board.
That's where we'll begin.
Q. Murph, could you please explain to me why David Krejci and Milan Lucic are considered "untouchable" by the Bruins' front office? There's no doubt both show flashes of brilliance, and Lucic especially provides a rare skill set. But both are historically prone to long droughts, followed by a two-week explosion, followed by another drought -- hardly the kind of consistency Claude Julien preaches. I'm very fond of both, but explain to me why a Krejci for Bobby Ryan deal is a non-starter for GM Peter Chiarelli? People point to the fact that Tyler Seguin might not be ready to be a full-time center, and while I agree, that doesn't mean that we don't have tremendous depth down the middle. Krejci is a terrific playmaker, but somebody has to put the puck in the net. Bobby Ryan has four consecutive 30-goal seasons. Can we really expect Nathan Horton (a guy who's had his past two seasons end prematurely) to be that top-flight goal scorer? With the Rangers getting better and the Penguins getting Sidney Crosby back for 82 games, can we agree that we're going to need to score some goals this year? -- Joe O. (Los Angeles)
A. Joe, I agree with you that David Krejci and Milan Lucic shouldn't be considered "untouchable," and I'm not sure they have been put in that category by Peter Chiarelli and the Bruins' brass. What I do know is that both players were brought up in trade discussions with Columbus for Rick Nash and with Anaheim for Bobby Ryan, and that Chiarelli decided for whatever reason the package he was getting versus what he was receiving wasn't worth it. I think that with the exception of Tyler Seguin, Dougie Hamilton, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask, any Bruins player is fair game for the right price.
As for whether or not the Bruins can be better offensively, there is always room for improvement, but I feel Claude Julien and the Bruins are unfairly cast as a low-scoring team. Last season they had the most goals (193) 5-on-5 and were third in scoring overall with a 3.17 goals-per-game average. The main problem in Boston seems to be timely scoring and, of course, the power play. You can blame coaching and management all you want, but there comes a point when the players need to execute the game plan and use their skills when it counts. This core of players did that successfully in their 2011 Stanley Cup run, but last season, most glaringly in their first-round playoff loss to the Capitals, they couldn't get that clutch goal.
So can a guy like Bobby Ryan help, and is he worth Krejci or Lucic? I think so, but only if he can be the clutch player Krejci or Lucic weren't in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Q. If the Bruins do not get Keith Yandle in a trade, do you see Hamilton starting this year? -- Mark (Montreal)
A. I can tell you right now that according to an NHL source, the Coyotes are not offering Keith Yandle in any trade discussions. So for now, I don't believe Yandle will have any effect on where Dougie Hamilton plays this season. Honestly, with or without Yandle in the mix, if Hamilton comes to camp, makes the team and consistently delivers on his potential, he will have a spot on the Bruins' blue line. Of course, if he is delivering, there would be no need to pay the hefty ransom it would take to get Yandle in a trade.
Q. Do you see the Bruins looking at adding a cheaper free-agent forward who will bring veteran experience and also some scoring? I'm thinking Petr Sykora, Radek Dvorak, bringing back Marco Sturm are some viable options. I know Sturm has injury issues, but he could be a good depth option for the Bruins at a good price. -- Andrew V. (Dudley, Mass.)
A. Yes, I do see the Bruins making a move like this or at least inviting such a veteran to training camp to see how he fits in. Chiarelli has had some success with this in the past, most notably with Glen Metropolit for the 2007-08 season, and he won't be afraid to give a guy like Petr Sykora, Radek Dvorak or even, as I suggested in a recent tweet, Andrew Brunette a chance to come in and earn a spot. The Bruins can use all the veteran leadership they can get, and as long as the player can contribute on the ice, it's worth a shot.
Q. Murph, why is Tim Thomas not traded yet? Is Peter Chiarelli trying not to trade him so he can never play again unless it's for the Bruins, or is there no market for him now because of a particular recent Facebook post? Also, do you think the poor return on investment with the Thomas Kaberle deal is a factor for Chiarelli to not have the desire to make a big deal again and "bringbobby2Boston"? It seems fans are willing to give up Krejci and Jordan Caron for Bobby Ryan. Why is Chiarelli not willing? Move Seguin to center, to replace Krejci, Ryan takes Seguin's wing spot and Ryan Spooner or Jared Knight takes Caron's role. Knight is NHL ready and Caron is looking like he could use a change of scenery.Thanks in advance and keep up the great work. -- Michael (Boston)
A. Michael, regarding Thomas, I don't think Chiarelli is purposely not trying to trade Tim Thomas. Trust me, if he can unload that $5 million cap hit, he will. As for Thomas' lastest Facebook post, I think it has an effect on teams willing to bring him in even if he won't be playing this season. But it's not so much what he says there; it's more of what these posts indicate to interested general managers. I know from talking to some NHL executives that Thomas now has a reputation as a selfish player who repeatedly put himself and his views before the team last season. Also, from conversations I've had with some current and former Bruins, there were other things that Thomas did within the dressing room that rubbed his teammates the wrong way. If Thomas decides to play, a team would need to weigh the pros and cons and decide whether he'd be a distraction.
As for the Bruins not willing to deal Krejci and Caron for Ryan, no one really knows that was the exact asking price. If so, for whatever reason, Chiarelli didn't want to do it. I still think the Bruins will keep an eye on Ryan and circle back to inquire again, but for now it remains status quo there.
Q. Do you think Marc Savard's playing days are behind him? -- Russ S. (Milford, N.H.)
A. I have no sources confirming this, and I haven't spoken to Savard since he visited TD Garden for a game last season, but based on what I hear and read and comments he's made via Twitter, I think he's doing better, but I think a comeback is a long shot. From what I can tell, Savard is more concerned with being able to live a normal and healthy life and spending time with his family and girlfriend. And while it's sad to see a career cut short like that, it's good to see other areas of his life is improving. I wish him nothing but the best.
Q. Will the Bruins make any more moves before the season starts? -- Phil (Rochester, N.Y.)
A. As mentioned above, I think what you see now is what you will get come training camp, but there's a good chance they do invite one or two veterans as free-agent camp invitees. I'd keep an eye on Petr Sykora, Andrew Brunette, Daymond Langkow and Jochen Hecht.
Q. Assuming Dougie Hamilton makes the B's roster, who do you see him being paired up with, and what kind of role do you think he will play? I know Julien really took his time with Seguin, but forwards generally need more time to develop their game. Do you see Hamilton starting out as a third pairing or will he see time with Zdeno Chara or Dennis Seidenberg early on? -- Greg (Abington, Mass.)
A. That's a great question and great point on how Claude Julien handled Tyler Seguin as well as the difference between the development of a forward versus a defenseman. I would expect Julien to not rush Dougie Hamilton but most definitely -- at least in training camp and the preseason -- give him some looks with all his defensemen. Julien and the Bruins have high hopes for Hamilton, but as they have shown before, they can temper those high hopes and realistically assess a player's performance.
Q. Memo to Bruins management: The only thing worse than doing nothing is lying about it and thinking your fans are idiots who will believe anything you say ("We made a significant offer to Zach Parise"). Guess what? Nobody believes you. Either (a) you did nothing or (b) it was a token offer of 4/$40M or 5/$50M, which is NOT a significant offer when the guy signs for 13/$98M. -- Marc (Malden, Mass.)
A. If I can, I'll be sure to pass that memo along, but hopefully Chiarelli is a regular reader of the Bruins mailbag here at ESPNBoston.com and sees it. I'm sure whether he agrees or disagrees, he will respect your passion. I think you're on target with the reported offer to Zach Parise. I know via a Bruins source that they did make an offer, but it was more just to get a feel of what Parise was asking for, and the price was well beyond what the Bruins are willing to commit to. Honestly, I don't blame the Bruins or any other team that wasn't ready to match what he got from Minnesota. With all the uncertainty of the CBA right now and also what Chiarelli faces next summer with his own free agents, I'm not sure I'd give up on any of them for one player who hasn't won a Stanley Cup yet.
Q. With the Bruins being quiet in the offseason, and them "keeping the Stanley Cup team intact" one season removed from winning, do you think Peter Chiarelli has the confidence in the young talent he has up and coming and wants to keep it that way, instead of going after big free agents? -- Derek (Sanford, Maine)
A. Derek, yes, I think that is exactly what is going on right now, and it is up to the likes of Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic, Tuukka Rask, David Krejci and Nathan Horton to deliver.
Q. Hi, James. With Lucic, Horton, Marchand, Seguin and Tuukka Rask all becoming free agents next offseason (and going to command pay raises), do you think it's possible that Chiarelli can resign all of them? If not, which two or three of those five would you make sure to sign first? -- Nate (Maryland)
A. Nate, I'd say right now Tyler Seguin is the top priority and then possibly Tuukka Rask. As for the others, I believe this season will determine whether they continue their careers as Bruins. They have proved they can win and play to their potential, but there have been consistency issues. That needs to change this season.