James O'Brien

Boston Bruins v Tampa Bay Lightning

Looking to make the leap: Zach Trotman

For the second straight season, the Boston Bruins must absorb the loss of a key right-shot defenseman after Dougie Hamilton was traded to Calgary.

That prospect is unsettling for the Bruins’ short-term outlook, but it opens the door for young players to sink or swim. Torey Krug may be getting the most prominent bump from this situation, but more will be expected from youngsters like Zach Trotman.

Bruins head coach Claude Julien said as much while discussing new GM Don Sweeney’s tweaks in late June.

“I can’t go into the year saying it’s going to be tough, I need to be optimistic, I need to believe,” said Julien. “We have guys who can skate, the Joe Morrows are down there, the [Zach] Trotmans, and there’s some more time here to maybe add if we need to.”

Trotman, 24, has already got his feet wet a bit at the NHL level, playing in 27 games in 2014-15. He also played a couple in 2013-14.

The blueliner only averaged 16:24 minutes of ice time last season, but people seemed impressed with how he handled an elevated role after Hamilton was injured in late March.

While Krug may carry a heavier burden, Trotman could very well enjoy a prominent role as Zdeno Chara’s partner, as the Boston Globe noted. That’s already quite the accomplishment for a guy who was “Mr. Irrelevant” of the 2010 NHL Draft, going 210th overall out of Lake Superior State University.

Trotman isn’t the only young guy to watch on the blue line, as Joe Morrow and Colin Miller (another right-handed shot) may also get their chances.

Meanwhile, up front, Bruins fans will definitely be curious to see if Alexander Khokhlachev can make the leap from AHL star to NHL regular.

It’s Boston Bruins day at PHT

Toronto Maple Leafs Vs. Boston Bruins At TD Garden
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If nothing else, you shouldn’t confuse next season’s Boston Bruins with the group who failed to make the playoffs in 2014-15.

After a pretty impressive run of seven postseason berths, the Bruins fell two points short of the postseason, but apparently the bitter flavor of that campaign was too much for management.

Granted, as much as new GM Don Sweeney wants to modernize the team’s transition game, there are still some core tenants remaining.

The defense will depend upon aging star defenseman Zdeno Chara, perhaps more than ever. Tuukka Rask may be expected to earn every cent of his $7.5 million salary in 2015-16. It looked dicey for some time, but Claude Julien remains behind the bench.

It’s tough to gauge what, exactly, we should expect from a very different Bruins team. People probably won’t be any happier if they miss the playoffs again, though.

Off-season recap

That’s because their offseason seemingly went from – pardon the cliche – rebuilding to reloading.

OK, maybe it’s wisest to label it a partial rebuild. Would they be totally blowing things up and still sign Matt Beleskey to a five year, $19 million contract? More than a few Bruins fans cringed at acquiring Zac Rinaldo, yet the move argues at least partially for a change of pace rather than punting on competitiveness altogether.

After all, they’re investing plenty of money in Chara, Rask, David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron, right?

It’s true that the Bruins did sacrifice the present a bit for the future, however. Moving Milan Lucic out of town took many aback, and trading away Dougie Hamilton will stand as a polarizing decision (to say the least).

One could say that Hamilton and eventually Lucic would be too expensive to keep, but again, they spent some of the cash they conceivably could have used on Hamilton to sign Beleskey.

In summary, the Bruins fired Peter Chiarelli in favor of Sweeney, essentially traded Lucic for Beleskey, added beef actually trading Reilly Smith for Jimmy Hayes and parted ways with Hamilton.

That’s a brain-full, and we could see even more changes if the Bruins don’t make gains next season. Stay tuned.

PHT Morning Skate: Virtual reality and the Capitals

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The Washington Capitals are embracing virtual reality for development and fan experiences. PHT is embracing the joy of finding funny photos of people in virtual reality helmets. (Capitals)

Aside: goofy hockey players in goofy helmet pictures better surface.

Justin Bourne discusses the increasingly valuable ability for defensemen to shoot around shot blockers. (The Score)

Now this is some quality trolling: Sean McIndoe gauges the “validity” of Stanley Cup wins. So, so many people left angry … especially if they only skim. (Grantland)

On Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs winning the 2015 Lester Patrick Award. (CSNNE)

Scotty Bowman would tweak a couple rules if he was in charge. (Bleacher Report)

Milan Lucic and four players who can rebound during the 2015-16 season. (The Hockey News)

Should Alex Galchenyuk play at center or wing? (TSN)

Looks like Las Vegas’ NHL-friendly arena is coming along nicely

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Imagine this: hitting a casino, checking out an NHL game and then popping over to In-N-Out Burger.

ESPN’s Arash Markazi went on a tour of the arena being built in Las Vegas, and it sure looks like the progress is promising. Maybe most importantly, Markazi reports that that arena may be completed in 260 days (but let’s say “within a year” to be safe).

You should check out his Twitter feed for every shot, but here are a few other highlights:

source:

Markazi pointed out that the greasy burger, hidden menu mecca is within walking distance of that building, so his feed is worth checking out to get a fuller picture.

(H/T to The Score.)

Habs’ Therrien is upbeat about ‘challenge’ of coaching Semin

Michel Therrien,
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Michel Therrien, the Montreal Canadiens and Alexander Semin seems like a match made in heaven … for people who enjoy chaos.

OK, that’s an exaggeration, but many anticipated high drama between the hard-driving coach and a winger who may be the poster child for talk of being “enigmatic” and “polarizing.”

Let’s face it: they’ll probably clash at times, maybe even spectacularly.

Still, Therrien seemed pretty positive about taking on a “nice challenge” in Semin and others. He even seems to acknowledge that communication is key:

NHL.com’s Arpon Basu transcribed some of Therrien’s most relevant quotes, comments that hint at a kinder and gentler Habs head coach:

“These days it’s not like the old days that it’s my way or the highway, it doesn’t work like that,” Therrien said. “You need to try to first of all build a relationship with players, communicate a lot. I truly believe in those things, in teaching [them] the way you want them to play, the way you want them to compete. And our young leaders are really buying into that. This is a group that competes a lot and they work hard. I’ve got a lot of respect for my players.”

Of course, it’s easy to say all the right things at a press conference, especially one in mid-August.

It remains to be seen how well these two will work together in practice. Some might even get a little popcorn ready for the show.