Friday, July 29, 2011
Do Bruins have more moves to make?
By James Murphy
Hello all and thanks for writing in your questions in to our Bruins mailbag. It seems like only yesterday that I was driving down the beautiful British Columbia coastline and through the border in Washington with colleague Joe McDonald as we tried to make our flight home in Seattle the day after the Bruins clinched their first Stanley Cup in 39 years. But amazingly, and while we may be in the dog days of summer, training camp is just over a month away and the buzz around the Bruins will pick up once again. Based on your response to our first mailbag in a while, there is still quite a buzz around the Bruins, so let's delve into all of your questions.
Q: How do you see the goaltending situation going down in comparison to last season? Timmy played the majority with 57 games and Rask with 29, do you see this staying somewhat consistent? And what kind of future do you see for newly acquired/signed Khudobin, who to date has 6 NHL games under his belt? -- Stan Rosi (Holyoke, Mass.)
A: Great question and it probably will be the biggest hot-button issues heading into the season. Obviously right now, Tim Thomas is the man after a Conn Smythe performance in the playoffs and his second Vezina Trophy in three seasons. But how will the Bruins keep Tuukka Rask fresh as well as continuing to develop his game. I think we will see Claude Julien use Rask more this season for those reasons. Also, as he proved with his increased usage of Rask down the stretch run last season, that it will help keep Thomas fresh. Rask still is considered the future between the pipes for the Bruins and he needs to be treated as such.
Q: With Mark Recchi retiring, Michael Ryder signing with the Dallas Stars, and Marc Savard's status for the upcoming season still in question, does Jordan Caron finalize his spot on the Bruins roster, and where do you see him fitting in this season? -- Mike (Belmont, Mass.)
A: Mike, considering that Caron started the 2010-11 season on the Bruins roster and was then one of the "Black Aces" during the playoffs (and in my opinion a player they would've thrown into the lineup if need be) I think Caron has a very solid chance of making the roster. The only thing in his away could be the acquisition of Benoit Pouliot. The Bruins love the combination of size, grit and scoring touch Caron has the potential to bring. But that is also what they see in Pouliot and the reason they took a chance on the underachieving former Hab and Wild skater. I see them in almost direct competition. But if Caron goes out and does his job in camp, I'll take him over Pouliot and could see him on the fourth or third line to start the season and maybe even with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand on the second line.
Q: Benoit Pouliot has been a disappointing player since entering the league. What does Peter Chiarelli see in him and what can he provide for the team? -- Alex (Concord, N.H.)
A: Alex, as stated above in reference to Caron, I think the Bruins see the same potential in Pouliot as they do in Caron. He's got the goods to be a power forward-type player but as you pointed out, has been a disappointment. I would think the Bruins' hope is that now that he is on a Stanley Cup winning roster, he will raise his game and reach his potential. I'm still skeptical of Pouliot though and I see a player that could fall in the doghouse of Claude Julien very quickly due to his lack of work ethic.
Q: JMurph -- First off congrats on the baby and awesome job covering the Stanley Cup champs (boythat won't get old). Any news on Savvy, who fills Recchi's spot? Would they move Peverley onto the second line, any late FA signings or is the team pretty set? -- Chris (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
A: Chris, thanks for writing and thank you for the well wishes on my newborn. She is a bundle of joy! First off, I haven't heard anything on Marc Savard since right after the season. What I was told then by one Bruins source was that retirement was a very real possibility and he was supposed to contemplate his future and decide by training camp if he would try and play again or retire. But like I said, that was over a month ago, so as of now, I have no new info. As for who will fill Recchi's spot, I do see Peverley as a very real possibility. He has the two-way game that fits that line perfectly. I also could see them giving Tyler Seguin a shot there as well as Caron. I don't know about anymore free agent signings but I definitely could see Peter Chiarelli giving a few veteran free agents a training camp tryouts as he has in the past. Remember that worked out well in 2007-08 when Glen Metropolit came to camp on a tryout basis, made the team and played a major role in that team's success.
Q: Who will be wearing Recchi's A this season? -- Greg (Pittsfield, Mass.)
|Tuukka Rask started 27 games last season for the Bruins, while Tim Thomas started 55. |
A: Greg, I'd have to say at this point Shawn Thornton gets that A. He is a proven leader on this team and had a major leadership role in the playoffs, especially when he came in for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals and made an immediate impact on and off the ice, helping spark the Bruins to a win. He is great with the media and the players respect him and knowthat he has their backs.
Q: Hello, do you think with Recchi retiring, that Seguin, with a year under his belt, will get a chance to shine and play on one of the top two lines and power play. I feel they could have developed him better last year, giving him more time on the power play and with better offensive teammates. Lets face it, he isn't a fourth liner. Also, do you see any other rookies entering the fold this season, Spooner perhaps? -- Tyler (Quincy, Mass.)
A: As mentioned above, I do believe Seguin gets a legit shot in the top six and while I agree his development wasn't handled perfectly last season, he was given a chance. In the end, the Bruins chose tough love as the way to go and based on his breakout performance in the Eastern Conference finals and how his game improved in the playoffs, I think Seguin learned a lot and will benefit from that this season. I see him as a great fit with Bergeron and Marchand but we'll see how camp and preseason goes before we peg him in anywhere. He needs to bring a strong work ethic and a more physical, two-way game to earn that spot.
Q: With the B's having made almost no impact in free agency and many other teams getting better, notably Buffalo, do you think there is a chance the Bruin's make a big trade before the season starts? And if so, who do you see them making a move for? -- Ben (Brighton, Mass.)
A: Ben, I think what you see is really what you get with maybe the exceptions of some minor signings or training camp tryouts. I agree the Eastern Conference improved as a whole, but how much worse did the Bruins get? As constructed, their roster is definitely a Stanley Cup contending roster and has a solid chance to repeat. Now that being said, with all their cap space, should injuries occur or players slump, Peter Chiarelli won't hesitate to make a deal to improve his team as he proved last February.
Q: Congratulations James on your new born and hope you are enjoying your summer. My question is how do you see the lines shaping up entering the regular season? Do we see Seguin move up and take Recchi spot on the 2nd line or would a more defenseive sound player such as Peverley be better fit. -- Jason D (Florida)
A: Jason, thanks for writing and thanks for the well wishes! Very tough to tell right now with lines and that could be a good thing for head coach Claude Julien as he has many options. If I was to make my lines now, this is what they may look like:
|Could Shawn Thornton end up being one of the Bruins' assistant captains next season?|
I can also see Caron getting a chance with Bergeron and Marchand.
Q: The Bruins will obviously be under the cap next season. Do you think they'll try to re-sign someone like Krejci or use the $ to make an in-season trade? -- Jimmy (Hartford)
A: Jimmy, I do think they use some of that money to make in-season trades if necessary, but they have enough to do that and also lock up some of their own like David Krejci. One of the reasons Peter Chiarelli gave for not jumping into the free agent frenzy this offseason was that he has plenty of free agents to lock up next season and I believe he will follow through with that plan. He wants to keep this young core together and he will do whatever he can to do so.
Q: When are the bruins going to sign Brad Marchand -- Ethan
A: Ethan, I am writing this on July 29 and I can definitely see Marachand being signed within the next 10 days. Peter Chiarelli was on vacation this past week and while Marchand's agent told me earlier this week that talks were still in the "early stages" I think they will accelerate next week. He wants to stay and the Bruins want him back.
Q: Have you heard anything about Horton's health? Just wondering if he'll have any lingering affects from the concussion? -- TK (Norton, Mass.)
A: TK, I actually recently tried to reach out to Horton and hopefully should have an aswer on that next week. But -- and I am no doctor -- given the fact that he flew cross-continent to Vancouver pretty soon after that concussion seems to be a positive sign. But that being said, there is no exact science with concussions. From what I know he is healthy and enjoying his first summer as a Stanley Cup champion!
James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Ask a question for his next Bruins mailbag here.