Each summer, there are a handful of players who turn a conveniently timed career-year into a big, fat raise. We’ve already seen some breakthrough players reap those benefits in the 2011 off-season, with Joel Ward and Sean Bergenheim receiving significant contracts based on the hope that they might conjure their playoff magic over the long haul.
Boston Bruins rookie Brad Marchand probably fits in a slightly more positive subcategory with fellow restricted free agent Teddy Purcell, though. Both Marchand and Purcell boast minimal NHL resumes but they distinguished themselves from Ward, Bergenheim and other postseason wonders by having solid regular seasons as well. Perhaps that explains why both Purcell and Marchand lack new contracts at the moment (though that probably has more to do with the fact that they’re not unrestricted free agents).
While Purcell approaches a possible salary arbitration hearing on July 20, the Bruins have a larger window to work with their surprisingly high-scoring pest. CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty captures some of the early talks between Marchand and the Bruins’ front office (including GM Peter Chiarelli).
The B’s general manager has consistently said that the team will get a deal done with the impish forward, who has been back in his native Nova Scotia after a wild week of celebration in Boston following the Cup win.
Chiarelli wouldn’t characterize the discussions, but it’s expected that Marchand is going to get a substantial raise in his deal to something in the $2.5-3-5 million range before it’s all said and done.
“We continue to talk and we’ve had some discussion and I’ll leave it at that,” said Chiarelli when asked about the negotiations.
Giving Marchand $2.5-$3.5 million seems a little risky, but that salary falls compares reasonably well to the funny money being handed out in free agency this summer. Even looking at his standard numbers – which doesn’t tell the whole story because he can be effective at rubbing opponents the wrong way, too – he would probably get a nice deal on the open market. Marchand scored 21 goals (and 41 points) in his first season and then had 19 points in 25 games played during a fantastic Stanley Cup run.
His restricted status limits the relevance of certain comparisons, but his physicality and agitation make him more versatile than some of the one-dimensional scorers who went laughing to the bank in July. The closer the Bruins can keep his salary in the lower end of that range, the better things will look for a team that shouldn’t be drastically different (on paper, at least) as they prepare to defend their title in 2011-12.
The Boston Bruins keep flipping the script.
In Wednesday’s case, it swerved to a “Cinderella” story, as little-known forward Frank Vatrano scored two of Boston’s three goals – including the overtime clincher – as the B’s beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 (OT).
Here’s his first goal of the night:
While this is his overtime game-winner:
It wasn’t a perfect night for the 21-year-old, yet it may have been a convincing one.
The Bruins continue to begin a month on a sour note before ending up with impressive sprees.
October: 0-3-0 start, finished month with four straight wins and victories in six of seven contests.
November: 0-3-0 start, losses in four of five; currently on a four-game winning strek with victories in five of six.
Boston faces a challenge in closing this month out against the Rangers on Friday, and it’s possible that this trend may continue, as they begin December with a three-game road trip through Western Canada.
More than anything else, the safest bet with the Bruins is for ups and downs.
Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.
Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:
… While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.
(You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)
Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.
You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.
Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.
Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.
You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.
It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.
Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.
Update: The fight may have inspired the Islanders more than the Flyers, as they bested Philly 3-1 on Wednesday.
Carter Hutton is getting something that might make fellow Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne jealous: goal support.
Still, there was at least one moment where Rinne was likely happy to be on the bench, as Hutton was left flipping during this collision with Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno:
Remarkably, Hutton remained in the game.
If you’re the type who loves adding to your “hockey players are tough” files, put this under the goalies section.
Check out this incredible shot of that moment:
Update: The Predators held off the Buffalo Sabres to win 3-2.