Bruins open up contract talks with free agent Brad Marchand

5 Comments

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.

Crosby: Penguins ‘probably deserved better’ vs. Senators in Game 6

3 Comments

If you didn’t know that the Stanley Cup Playoffs can be awfully cruel, then the last week or so of action should make it pretty clear.

The Nashville Predators lost top center Ryan Johansen to a scary ailment few would have seen coming. The Anaheim Ducks fell in both games to the Johansen-less Predators, even after dominating significant chunks of Game 6. At least one Ducks player wondered if the better team won.

Much like in life, “fair” and “deserve” only matter so much. Sports have a scoreboard to serve as the ultimate deciding factor.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have similar thoughts after falling 2-1 to the Ottawa Senators tonight, extending the Eastern Conference Final to a decisive Game 7. You can nitpick questionable penalties and missed chances, but really, how negative can you be after Craig Anderson puts forth a blazing 45-save performance (with no overtime)?

Mike Sullivan and others echoed such thoughts.

” … Obviously, we’re disappointed in the result, but I don’t think we can get discouraged by that,” Sullivan said. “I think we’ve got to take the positives from it, and we’ve got to build on it, and we’ve got to become a more determined team for Game 7.

That’s not the sort of take that’s going to make the Senators angry in Game 7. The tone of the Senators’ discussions was likely very different after they lost Game 5 by a 7-0 score, yet maybe there was similar self belief.

Anderson puzzles Penguins as Senators force Game 7

10 Comments

Who could blame fans for chanting “Andy” tonight?

The Ottawa Senators said they would choose to fight in Game 6, and Craig Anderson truly battled in this one, refusing to allow this unlikely run to an end on Tuesday. They wouldn’t roll over, even after a 7-0 humiliation in Game 5.

The underrated goalie continued his memorable (and emotional) 2016-17 season with a brilliant performance, making 45 saves to help Ottawa manage a gutsy 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

With that, hockey fans get a true treat: the Eastern Conference will go to a Game 7 on Thursday.

The Senators opted for a “bend but don’t break” strategy for much of the contest, possibly to Guy Boucher’s preference. Even so, the Penguins managed to grind their way to a 1-0 win thanks to another hard-work goal from Evgeni Malkin.

Mistakes would come back to haunt the Penguins, however, as Bobby Ryan broke Ottawa’s lengthy power-play drought to tie things up on a 5-on-3.

With their season in question thanks to a 1-1 tie in the third period, Mike Hoffman sent a booming shot by Matt Murray, and that ended up being all the Senators needed to tie the series 3-3.

Anderson was the standout, but Erik Karlsson was a hero in the way his detractors might not expect.

You can watch Game 7 on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday. The game is also available to stream via the NBC Sports App.

Report: Avalanche get permission to speak with Leafs assistant GM Dubas

Getty
1 Comment

Could one of the most hapless possession teams of this more analytics-leaning era nab arguably the most promising analytics-leaning executive in the NHL?

It’s a reasonable question, as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the Colorado Avalanche asked for and received permission to speak to Toronto Maple Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas.

Current GM Joe Sakic recently got a vote of confidence and also cleaned out some of the coaching staff around Jared Bednar, so this is certainly a time of change for the Avalanche.

It will be interesting to see what kind of role Dubas would receive if he did join the fold in Colorado. Would he still be considered an assistant GM, only with more sway with what would likely be a smaller group of decision-makers? Could we see Sakic move up and give Dubas the full GM title (or eventually transition that role to the young upstart)? Might there be some other factor that would qualify as a more “outside the box” idea?

One thing seems clear: the Avalanche might want to be decisive, as demand could be significant for Dubas if he’s even somewhat on the market.

This could be interesting, especially if you’re a nerd for team-building storylines.

Video: Senators score twice to take 2-1 lead in Game 6

6 Comments

The Ottawa Senators have defied odds during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and they’ve done so with what’s often been an ice-cold power play.

They finally struck gold on the man advantage on Tuesday, and at a key moment. The Pittsburgh Penguins were dominating much of the game and pressing for an even bigger edge after Evgeni Malkin made it 1-0.

Maybe the Penguins got overzealous, or maybe officials … finally started making some calls. Either way, the Senators ended up with a 5-on-3 advantage for almost a minute-and-a-half. With that opportunity, Bobby Ryan scored a huge goal for Ottawa on a shot that was both oddly and perfectly placed.

Moments later, Kyle Turris narrowly missed a golden opportunity, so the contest remained tied 1-1.

Despite a late push by the Penguins to finish the second, Game 6 will enter the third period with a 1-1 score.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE COVERAGE FOR GAME 6

Update: Mike Hoffman‘s booming shot gave the Senators a 2-1 lead in the third. We’ll see if Pittsburgh can tie it up.