Getty

Bruins expect Bergeron, Rask to be ready for next season after surgeries

The Boston Bruins put up a good fight in the postseason, but injuries and the Ottawa Senators did them in. A couple “successful surgeries” heighten hopes that the B’s will begin 2017-18 closer to full strength.

Patrice Bergeron (sports hernia) and Tuukka Rask (right groin surgery) both underwent successful procedures this week and are expected to be ready for next season, the team announced.

Bergeron scored 21 goals and 53 points in 79 games, hogging the puck often enough to become a Selke finalist once again. Rask experienced an up-and-down season, at least by his lofty standards, but perhaps he was hindered by health issues.

If successful surgeries aren’t enough optimism for Bruins fans, Joe Haggerty has some praise for the work GM Don Sweeney is doing in this CSNNE.com piece and video.

Scroll Down For:

    Report: Bruins talking Ryan Spooner trade with at least three teams

    Getty
    4 Comments

    When a team changes coaches, it often means that players get a clean slate, which is often an especially promising opportunity for “finesse” players.

    Claude Julien made way for Bruce Cassidy in Boston, but it seems like the Bruins still view Ryan Spooner as less-than-essential.

    He was reportedly on the trading block late in 2016, and the Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy reports that the Bruins are shopping him again. More specifically, they’re essentially trying to trade Spooner’s negotiating rights, as he’s slated for restricted free agency this summer.

    At the moment, three possible landing spots are to the New Jersey Devils, Vancouver Canucks or Vegas Golden Knights, according to Kennedy.

    Spooner was solid but unspectacular in 2016-17. He collected two assists in four postseason games while generating 11 goals and 39 points in 78 regular-season games, slightly down from 2015-16’s totals.

    Nothing spectacular there, yet he could conceivably give an offense-needy team a boost.

    Bruins ‘doing everything we possibly can’ to sign prospect Bjork

    Getty
    3 Comments

    Boston will soon learn the fate of prized prospect Anders Bjork.

    Bjork, the club’s fifth-round pick at the 2014 draft, has blossomed into one of the top collegiate players in the country and, accordingly, one of the Bruins’ most important assets.

    But he’s yet to decide if he wants to turn pro, or head back to Notre Dame for his senior season.

    “We’re doing everything we possibly can,” Bruins president Cam Neely said of the club’s push to sign Bjork, per CSNNE. “He had a very difficult decision (about turning pro) right after his season was over. I think it was overwhelming for him. He’s at the World Championships now. His camp has told Don that he’s going to make a decision whether or not to return to college hockey or turn pro after the World Championships at some point.

    “Our hopes are that he sees where we’re at as a team and some of the young players we’re putting in our lineup. We hope that he understands that he’s a player that we think very highly of that can step in and contribute [in the NHL].”

    Bjork, 20, is currently playing for Team USA at the Worlds, another indication he’s viewed by hockey folk as a youngster that’s ready to make the leap. His selection by USA Hockey comes after a stellar junior campaign with the Fighting Irish, in which he racked up 52 points in 39 games, helping the school advance to the Frozen Four.

    There were rumblings the B’s first tried to get Bjork to turn pro right after his collegiate season ended, not unlike what they did with Charlie McAvoy. And the club certainly showed a willingness to implement youngsters into the lineup, as McAvoy averaged a whopping 26:12 TOI per game during Boston’s opening-round playoff loss to Ottawa.

    Bjork, of course, has options. If he sticks around for another year at ND, he could head into next summer facing the prospect of unrestricted free agency — “pulling a Vesey,” as it’s come to be known.

    Bruins owner says decision to fire Julien was ‘overdue’

    AP
    4 Comments

    BOSTON (AP) Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs acknowledged Tuesday that he might have held up the coaching change that helped the team turn its season around and qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in three seasons.

    But in his first public comments on the team since the fall, Jacobs expressed appreciation for general manager Don Sweeney’s decision to hire Bruce Cassidy as coach and the job Cassidy did after taking over for Claude Julien on an interim basis on Feb. 7.

    The Bruins were 26-23-6 when they made the switch and went 18-8-1 under Cassidy. Sweeney removed the interim tag for Cassidy and made him the full-time coach last week.

    “The decision was very much made here in Boston and the leadership here,” Jacobs said during a news conference at TD Garden. “My own impression was it was overdue, we were a little late. Maybe I precipitated part of that in having misplaced loyalty in that sense. But it was the right move. …

    “It was a very prudent move and it was a prudent hire. Under those circumstances I would say that Don did a terrific job in selecting him and motivating him and motivating the team.”

    Read more: Neely defends David Backes contract

    The Bruins lost their Eastern Conference first-round series against the Ottawa Senators, their first playoff appearance since 2014, in six games. All six games were decided by one goal, including four overtime games. The Bruins gained postseason experience and several younger players took strides in their development.

    It’s been two seasons since the Bruins made the change from Peter Chiarelli to Sweeney in the GM’s chair, and Jacobs believes that the results of 2016-17 and the influx of younger talent has proven that the move was the right one.

    “I think we had a successful season because of what evolved, the changing of the guard … in our coaching ranks and I think our leadership showed itself very well,” Jacobs said. “I think hope springs eternal. … I think the direction is good and I think we did a tremendous job once we had Butch in place. So I’m happy with where we are and I’m happy looking at the next generation of players coming into this organization.”

    In some regards, this season resembled 2008, when the Bruins under first-year coach Julien went to the playoffs for the first time in three seasons and pushed the Montreal Canadiens to seven games before succumbing. Three years later, the Bruins won the 2011 Stanley Cup championship.

    “It remains to be seen, but I think it’s beneficial,” Bruins president Cam Neely said. “For players that hadn’t played in the playoffs before to really get an understanding of what playoff hockey’s all about is what you want for your team.

    “Now we’re not satisfied with losing out in the first round and winning two games. But it was a series we felt could’ve went either way.”

    If competing for the Stanley Cup, or winning it, again takes three years, Jacobs intends to be around for the run. Jacobs, who passed the role of CEO to son Charlie Jacobs in January 2015, just completed his 42nd season of ownership. He doesn’t expect to relinquish his current role in the near future.

    “This is a wonderful property that my whole family has enjoyed and it should be preserved for the next generation,” the elder Jacobs said. “I’m hopeful that that’s the way it goes. It’s obviously out of my hands at some point. But I think the next couple of years is predictable for me. Beyond that I don’t know.”

    Sweeney shares offseason plans for Bruins

    Getty
    2 Comments

    The Boston Bruins had a relatively successful season, getting back to the playoffs after narrowly missing them the past two years.

    But another interesting summer awaits GM Don Sweeney, who has a number of areas he’d like to improve.

    From CSN New England:

    Sweeney listed the “middle of the [forward] lineup, transition-minded defensemen and the backup goaltender position” as places he had in mind for offseason upgrades. Those were glaring areas of need throughout the regular season and postseason. 

    More specifically on Sweeney’s to-do list: a left wing to be paired with David Krejci, a revamping of a third line that underachieved far too often and another top-four defenseman capable of moving the puck to go along with a more dependable backup goaltender situation than the Jekyll and Hyde performance from Anton Khudobin last season.

    Boston’s pending unrestricted free agents include Drew Stafford, Dominic Moore, and John-Michael Liles, the latter of whom turns 37 in November.

    At some point, the Bruins will need to find a replacement for 40-year-old Zdeno Chara. But the NHL’s oldest defenseman still has one year left on his contract, and he says he’d like to play beyond that.

    To start next season, the Bruins could go with a top four of Chara, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo, and Charlie McAvoy, two lefties and two righties. Assuming they don’t re-sign Liles, adding another left shot for the bottom pairing seems an attainable goal for Sweeney. Adding another top-four d-man could be tough, though.

    Another situation to watch is the one with Ryan Spooner, the 25-year-old forward who found his way into Bruce Cassidy’s doghouse in the playoffs. Spooner is a pending RFA and arbitration eligible. He can be good offensively, but without the puck he’s still tough to trust.

    Sweeney did not share his plan for Spooner with reporters, but it’s safe to say the player’s future with the Bruins is uncertain.