Vancouver Canucks v Boston Bruins - Game Four

Bruins will let Tomas Kaberle and Michael Ryder become unrestricted free agents


The 2010 Chicago Blackhawks and 2011 Boston Bruins have some things in common. Both teams won the Stanley Cup, lifted decades-long championship droughts and drew tons of people to their victory parades. They’re both “Original Six” franchises in huge American markets to boot.

With all the similarities, there are some big differences. The most significant one is their team structures: the Blackhawks almost seemed built to peak in the 2009-10 season while the Bruins face a remarkably small amount of big off-season questions in 2011.

It’s looking more and more like the only important re-signing will be restricted free agent Brad Marchand, who should ride a nice rookie season and an outstanding playoff campaign to a healthy raise. Boston failed to trade Tomas Kaberle’s negotiating rights while their finals opponent the Vancouver Canucks managed to get a fourth round pick in 2012 for Christian Ehrhoff’s rights. That attempted move tells you all you really need to know about Kaberle’s future with the Bruins.

Few will be surprised that Kaberle will trot into unrestricted free agency after he damaged his market value with a tepid run in Boston, but it might be a bit more surprising to hear that the Bruins will allow streaky scorer Michael Ryder to walk too. That being said, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli seems to be saying all the right things about the two players returning to the fold after testing the free agent market.

“There is no finality to our relationship,” Chiarelli said of Kaberle when asked if it was decided he wouldn’t return. “What we’ve agreed to with Tomas and his agent (Rick Curran) is that he would look into the market and we’d continue to talk with him. So certainly there’s no finality there.”

According to Chiarelli the same goes for Ryder.

“We certainly haven’t parted ways,” Chiarelli said. “I’m weary of the market as it stands now so I said ‘look guys go out there and see what’s going on and we’ll continue to talk.’ The risk that we run is that they’ll get a deal and they can’t come back to us and I understand that risk. That’s where those two guys stand.”


“I don’t know but I have a sense of what segment they’re in within the market but I’m not entirely certain,” Chiarelli said when asked if he thought he may still be able to get Ryder and Kaberle back at the right price for his team. “Those are two guys that gave us good service so for the right number, I’d like to have them back but I can’t tell you. I don’t know what that number is.”

The one saving grace for Kaberle’s marketability is the arid market for scoring defensemen. A team might be willing to take a chance on the Czech blueliner, assuming that he simply didn’t have enough time to acclimate himself to Claude Julien’s system in Boston. That being said, it would be surprising if he could earn a rise from his previous $4.25 million annual salary.

There might be a decent (but far from red-hot) market for Ryder, who had two nice playoff runs (13 points in 11 games in 2009; 17 in 25 in this year’s Cup run) and semi-decent numbers in his three years with Boston. It might be tough for him to garner a significant raise over his $4 million salary from 2010-11, though.

You never know how much logic NHL GMs will follow, though, so stay tuned.

Struggling Sabre Tyler Ennis out with upper-body injury

Tyler Ennis, James Wisniewski
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Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.

Perhaps some of that has to do with health?

Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.

The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.

“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”

He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
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You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer

Johansen calls trade rumblings ‘weird,’ says relationship with Torts is ‘great’

Ryan Johansen
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One day after reports surfaced of Ryan Johansen being at the center of trade talks, all parties involved from Columbus did what they’re supposed to do — downplay the situation.

You can read the denials in full over at the Dispatch, but here’s the gist:

— Johansen said the rumors were “weird” and that he’s “never seen it before.” He also said there were no issues between him and head coach John Tortorella, calling the relationship “great.”

— GM Jarmo Kekalainen wouldn’t address the report, nor would Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt.

— Johansen added he hasn’t spoken to any of Columbus’ management about the trade rumblings.

So there’s that. What’s next?

At this stage of the game, it’s hard not to think about another Overhardt client, Kyle Turris.

Turris, you’ll recall, spent four (mostly) stormy years with the Coyotes before his trade out to Ottawa was orchestrated. Turris eventually told GM Don Maloney “this is not going to work out” with the club, and he was gone.

So, consider the similarities now:

— Turris was 22 at the time of the trade, with four years and 137 games under his belt.

— Johansen is 23, with five years and 291 games.

— Both had contentious contract holdouts with their respective clubs.

— Both are Overhardt guys.

— The Turris trade happened after the Coyotes went from Wayne Gretzky to Dave Tippett as head coach.

— Johansen is already on his third head coach (Scott Arniel, Todd Richards, Tortorella).

For now, these are all coincidences (or a forced narrative, depending what you think of the author).

And, of course, the one big — big — difference between the two is that, at the time of his trade, Turris wasn’t as good or established a player as Johansen currently is. Therefore, logic suggests any Johansen trade would be a lot more blockbuster-y and, therefore, probably more complex.

And as we know, complex deals aren’t easy to pull off.