Boston Bruins President Cam Neely, left, and Bruins Chief Executive Officer Charlie Jacobs prepare to leave a news conference in Boston, Wednesday, April 15, 2015, regarding the hockey team's decision to fire general manager Peter Chiarelli days after missing the NHL playoffs for the first time in eight years. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
AP

Where does the Bruins’ roster need to improve? Neely identifies three areas

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The Boston Bruins held another press conference this morning. Six days after GM Don Sweeney and head coach Claude Julien had the floor, it was time to hear from owner Jeremy Jacobs, CEO Charlie Jacobs, and president Cam Neely.

It was Neely who said the most. In addition to stating the obvious — that the Bruins were disappointed at how their season ended — he outlined three parts of the roster that need to be addressed.

The first is the defense.

“We know that it’s an area that we need to improve upon,” said Neely. “That’s probably at the top of the list.”

It’s no secret that the Bruins’ blue line has gone from a position of great strength to one of weakness. The departures of Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton left significant holes that have yet to be filled, so expect the likes of Jacob Trouba, Matt Dumba, Sami Vatanen, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Tyson Barrie to be targeted, should any of those players become available this offseason.

The two other parts are right wing (where Neely would like to get “heavier”) and backup goaltending (after Jonas Gustavsson failed to provide the B’s reliable netminding behind Tuukka Rask).

There was also this, about pending UFA Loui Eriksson:

And this, about Julien:

All in all, it should be an interesting offseason in Boston. We saw last summer that Sweeney is not afraid to wheel and deal, and after two straight missed postseasons, you can bet that Neely is feeling the heat himself.

Related: Jack Edwards says the Bruins’ blue line ‘is in a crisis right now’

Video: Bruins prospect Lauzon suffers neck laceration during QMJHL playoffs

Jeremy Lauzon heads out to meet team executives after being chosen 52nd overall by the Boston Bruins during the second round of the NHL hockey draft, Saturday, June 27, 2015, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Associated Press

A scary incident took place during the QMJHL playoffs on Friday night, when Rouyn-Noranda Huskies defenseman (Bruins prospect) Jeremy Lauzon suffered a neck laceration against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.

Lauzon got tangled up behind the net when an opponent’s skate caught him in the neck.

To watch the incident, click here

Lauzon underwent surgery on Friday night and thankfully, he’s “out of danger” according to TSN hockey insider Bob McKenzie.

The 18-year-old was discharged from hospital this morning, per a team release (in French).

Here’s a translated version of the release:

After the incident that occurred in Friday night’s game between the Huskies and the Armada, Jeremy Lauzon was discharged from the hospital this morning. 

He was cut in the throat by a skate during Friday’s game. He was immediately transported to hospital so that he could have surgery. 

Jeremy Lauzon, the team doctor, Dr. Michel Parayre and the organization will meet the media Monday morning at 11:00 a.m. to answer questions and to give more details about Jeremy’s rehab.

Lauzon was Boston’s second round draft pick, 52nd overall, in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Avs’ Rantanen, Bruins’ Vatrano split AHL outstanding rookie award

Mikko Rantanen, Tim Jackman
AP

Colorado and Boston had their season end on down notes — both missed the playoffs for the second consecutive year — but each club received some positive news on Thursday, as Mikko Rantanen and Frank Vatrano shared the AHL’s outstanding rookie award.

More, from the AHL:

Rantanen has had a remarkable 2015-16 season despite being one of the youngest players in the AHL. The 10th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Rantanen leads all AHL rookies in scoring and is tied for sixth overall with 60 points (24 goals, 36 assists) for San Antonio, recording at least one point in 42 of his 51 AHL games.

Vatrano has also had a historic first season as a professional, highlighted by his league-leading 34 goals in 34 games for Providence. Bidding to become just the fourth AHL player ever to average a goal a game in a 30-goal season, Vatrano has added 17 assists to give him 51 points, good for a league-best 1.50 points per contest, and he has recorded three hat tricks on the year, including tying an AHL record with three unassisted goals in a single game on Mar. 6 vs. Portland.

Rantanen, 19, also got a taste of NHL life this season, appearing in nine games — including a few down the stretch, when the Avs were fighting for their playoff lives (and Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon were out injured). All told, the future looks pretty bright.

Vatrano, 22, seems to have a bright future as well. He had an even bigger role in Boston this year than Rantanen did in Colorado — 39 games — and acquitted himself well offensively, with eight goals and 11 points.

Julien will be back behind Bruins bench; Sweeney has ‘work to do’

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Claude Julien will be back behind the Bruins bench next season. Boston’s GM, Don Sweeney, said so this morning at a press conference, where he sat alongside his head coach and sung his praises.

“I believe in Claude as a coach,” said Sweeney. “I think our core principles align very well.”

But after the disappointment of missing the playoffs for the second straight season, there will be at least one change to Julien’s staff, and there could be more coming.

“Doug Houda will not be back,” Sweeney said of the long-time assistant, while noting that there are other assistants who are currently without contracts.

When asked where it all went wrong this season, Julien pointed to his team’s failures to get results in the big games. He used the Winter Classic as a prime example. (Boston, you’ll recall, was blown out by the Canadiens at Gillette Stadium. At the time, Julien called it “one of our worst games at the worst time.”)

As for the offseason?

“I have work to do,” said Sweeney. “There’s no question that we have areas that we want to address.”

Expect the defense to be one area that he’ll try to improve. The Bruins went young on the blue line for this season, and things didn’t work out as planned.

In a potentially related story, Sweeney wrote a letter to Bruins season ticket-holders this morning, in which he shared the following:

“One of our objectives last year was to improve our salary cap situation, and through various trades and signings, we were able to accomplish this. We now have some cap flexibility heading into the offseason and this summer’s free agency planning period. This will allow us to re-sign players or make competitive offers to free agents on the market that we believe will help our club.”

Still, despite seeing a clear need to make some changes, Sweeney does not believe the Bruins need a “major overhaul.” He thinks it’s important to remain patient with the organization’s youth, using 19-year-old David Pastrnak as an example.

“We have a very, very bright future with a number of young players that we have,” he said. “It’s rightfully so to be excited about that, but it’s also imperative to be patient to allow them to hit their ceilings.”

A pending UFA, Bruins’ Eriksson in wait-and-see mode

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The Boston Bruins decided not to trade Loui Eriksson at the deadline. Now, after missing the playoffs, it’s very possible they’ll have to watch him walk away for nothing.

Eriksson, 30, is a pending unrestricted free agent who’s coming off a 30-goal season. There’s already speculation that a team like Vancouver could be interested.

“I feel good about where I am in my game,” Eriksson told CSN New England. “It’s a big decision, where I end up. So, we’ll see what’s going to happen this summer. I had three great years [in Boston], and we’ll see what’s going to happen here this summer. That’s all I can say.”

Because he’s now on the wrong side of 30, a major factor in whatever deal Eriksson signs will be term.

From the Boston Herald:

It’s not impossible that some team might go to five years and $30 million — which would likely be too much for the Bruins’ taste. But it does seem probable that general manager Don Sweeney will make a serious offer. It’ll then be up to Eriksson whether he wants to stay, or chase the bigger bucks of the open market.

If Eriksson leaves, it could make it very important that the B’s sign Harvard free-agent winger Jimmy Vesey — who conceivably could step into Eriksson’s role.

There are a handful of other pending UFA wingers that may — repeat: may — be available this summer, including 26-year-old Mikkel Boedker and 27-year-olds Milan Lucic and Kyle Okposo.

Andrew Ladd and Troy Brouwer, both the same age as Eriksson, could also end up hitting the market.

Related: Salary cap estimate for next season falls to $74 million, with one notable assumption