Lucic, Krejci on hot seat?
Q. What kind of impact do you think Jeff Skinner's deal (6 years, $34.35 million) will have on a new deal for Tyler Seguin? As good as Seguin is, I think the Bruins would have some reservations about paying that much, don't you? -- JB (Boston)
A. JB, I actually think that's the perfect deal for the Bruins and Tyler Seguin and hopefully they can iron out a new contract before he reaches restricted free agency. The similarities are there for Seguin and Skinner in that Skinner had a 63-point season and Seguin a 67-point season, except they did it in reverse order with Skinner racking up those points in his freshman season and Seguin in his sophomore. Both are 20 years old and both are centerpieces to their respective team's future. In fact, I'd argue that Seguin might be better, so if the Bruins can get him for six years with an annual cap hit of $5.725 million, that would be great for Boston. The Bruins and general manager Peter Chiarelli have shown since the last lockout that they're willing to spend -- and sometimes above market value -- to win. It paid off with a Stanley Cup in 2011 and should pay off again if they can lock up players like Seguin.
A. Rick, I'm of the belief that where there's smoke, there is fire, and with David Krejci's name surfacing in trade rumors as much as it did and numerous NHL sources telling me the Bruins listened to offers for both him and Lucic, I think one of them is gone after this season. I think Marchand stays though, because his offensive and defensive value (especially on the penalty kill) is so high. But for Lucic and Krejci, this is a show-me season in many ways. The Bruins want them to show why they should be re-signed. Given the team's depth at center and the fact that Lucic fits the Bruins' style and identity more, I think Krejci must deliver more than Lucic and on a consistent basis. The fact that Lucic is in a contract year, though, means he may deliver more. Krejci will therefore need to find more motivation from within.
Q. Which player on the Bruins do you think will be under the most pressure this season? Tuukka Rask is an obvious one, but I'm picking Lucic. He's been a solid player for the Bruins, but not as good as I think he can be and he's playing for a new contract. -- TK (Yarmouth, Mass.)
A. TK, I definitely agree with you. As I said above, this is a huge year for Lucic. He has the tools to be a legit power forward, and when he's on, there's no stopping him. But he has to be more consistent and deliver in the clutch. Until he does that, I'm not sure anyone (including Lucic himself) will be satisfied.
Q. Did the Bruins sniff around at all on Shane Doan? I'm not sure he's worth the money or years he's probably going to get, but B's fans would LOVE him. -- Patrick (Portland, Maine)
A. Patrick, I was told by an NHL source the Bruins did "sniff" around when it came to Doan but never expressed major interest. I agree with you that he'd be a great fit in Boston both for the team and the fans, but that same source told me he is set on staying in Phoenix. So even if the Bruins did express more interest, chances are it wouldn't have mattered.
Q. The Hurricanes have locked up Jeff Skinner for a long time and there are reports that Taylor Hall and the Oilers are talking extension. Do you think Peter Chiarelli should follow suit and offer Seguin a contract before the season or current CBA expires? Would Seguin's next contract be similar to those two players'? If Chiarelli can have the Bruins' biggest RFA signed before the season starts, it would remove the threat of an offer sheet. Or do you think it would not motivate Seguin (not having to play for a contract) and hurt his production next year? All this is considering there is a season next year and not another lockout under Gary Bettman. What are your thoughts on the chances we see hockey next year? In addition, based on the proposed deals by both sides, who do you think offered the fairest deal and what do you think it will take to get the deal done? Thanks for taking my question and keep up the good work! -- Michael (Boston)
A. Michael, as I stated above, I definitely think it would be wise to lock up Seguin before he reaches restricted free agency. I also think a contract similar to Skinner's would be the right fit for both sides.
As for another lockout, I unfortunately think at this point it's a given the season doesn't start on time and this league suffers its fourth work stoppage in 20 years -- and second lockout in eight. I use the word "suffer" because that's exactly what the game and its fans continue to do. Nothing ever seems to be solved when it comes to the NHL, and until both sides -- I think the players are recognizing it more than the owners -- want to really work together and recognize what's wrong, no CBA agreement will work.
For that reason, I fear that two to three months of the season will be lost. It doesn't help that we have Gary Bettman, Bill Daly and a group of owners who have no problem missing an NHL season on one side and Donald Fehr who had no problem missing a baseball season on the other. If I was a betting man, I'd say if there is a season it will start Jan. 1 with the Winter Classic, and if there isn't hockey by then, all bets are off.
Q. If a CBA is not reached and the NHL schedule is delayed, how will it affect guys like Dougie Hamilton who have no AHL options? -- Dave (Newton, Mass.)
A. Dave, from all I hear and read, Dougie Hamilton is ready to make the jump to pro hockey. But that being said, I'm of the belief that another season in juniors never hurts. There's always room for improvement, and dominating in the OHL can only help his confidence. As for young players like Seguin, a lockout could hurt his momentum from last season.
Q. Do you think Jordan Caron can take a step forward and develop into a regular part of the lineup? -- JoeT (Hingham, Mass.)
A. Joe, this will be a very interesting season for Caron. There were rumors around the league that he was being shopped, and one NHL source told me that was true. I thought Caron really found his game down the stretch last season, but the question is whether he can do it on a regular basis. I think the fact he was a first-round draft pick hurts him sometimes because, in my opinion, he is a third-liner at best. But if he, the team and others can accept his value and work with it, he has a chance to succeed here. I think he can be a very solid defensive forward if put in the right situations.