JohnnyBoychuk

Bruins’ quiet summer could have an eventful finish

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The Boston Bruins watched Jarome Iginla walk away as a free agent this summer, but as far as adding players go, they’ve done almost nothing. Christopher Breen and Jeremy Smith are the only two unrestricted free agents they’ve brought on board from other organizations and it wouldn’t be surprising if neither of them are on the opening game roster.

Boston’s quiet summer might end with a bang though.

The Bruins are roughly $800,000 over the ceiling, according to Cap Geek. They will get to shave Marc Savard’s cap hit of roughly $4 million off the books, but at the same time, they still have to re-sign restricted free agents Reilly Smith and Torey Krug. Once you factor in Smith and Krug, who are coming off strong seasons and likely want to get paid accordingly, the Bruins’ situation looks murky.

With that in mind, the Bruins might resort to making a trade to give themselves some breathing room. It’s been an option that’s been discussed all summer, but with time running out until training camp, Boston might finally pull the trigger.

Among the players that have been mentioned before as potential trade candidates are forward Brad Marchand and defenseman Johnny Boychuk. Marchand would provide the Bruins with some long-term relief given that he comes with a cap hit of $4.5 million for another three seasons, but moving Boychuk or another blueliner might make more sense.

The Bruins have a defensive logjam as it is with six blueliners signed to one-way contracts, not including Dougie Hamilton or Krug and there are certainly teams out there that would be very interested if the Bruins made a top-four defenseman available. Trading Boychuk would create about $3.4 million in cap space.

Perhaps GM Peter Chiarelli has an alternate solution in mind. We won’t have to wait much longer to find out.

It’s Boston Bruins day on PHT

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Detroit Red Wings at Boston Bruins
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Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Boston Bruins.

After falling to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final in 2013, the Boston Bruins entered the season with high expectations. They faced some adversity as one of their key offseason additions, Loui Eriksson, suffered multiple concussions and one of their top defenseman, Dennis Seidenberg, suffered a knee injury that ended his season in December.

Despite that, the Bruins’ regular season couldn’t have gone much better.

Tuukka Rask excelled in the first campaign of his eight-year, $56 million contract, posting a 2.04 GAA and .930 save percentage in 58 games en route to winning the Vezina Trophy. Jarome Iginla, who signed a one-year contract with them for the 2013-14 campaign, also proved to be a great fit with 30 goals and 61 points in 78 contests.

Propelled by superb goaltending and a deep offense, Boston claimed the Presidents’ Trophy with a 54-19-9 record. The Bruins cruised past Detroit in the first round, but ultimately lost a bitter seven-game series against Montreal.

Because of their difficult cap situation, the Bruins watched Iginla sign with Colorado and they also decided to cut ties with Shawn Thornton, who instead signed with Florida. Boston made no move to replace them through the free agent market and was equally quiet on the trade front. Instead, the Bruins are hoping that a healthy season out of Eriksson will help them replace the offense lost by Iginla.

With training camp mere weeks away, they also still need to sign restricted free agents Reilly Smith and Torey Krug.

Although their summer hasn’t been exciting so far, the Bruins remain a well-rounded team that figures to be very competitive in 2014-15.

Cunningham could solve Bruins’ problems

Boston Bruins v New Jersey Devils
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We mentioned last week the salary cap crunch the Boston Bruins are currently under. Adding to general manager Peter Chiarelli’s problems is the fact both Torey Krug and Reilly Smith (both restricted free agents) are unsigned.

The Boston Globe suggested moving one of the Bruins pending unrestricted free agent defensemen in order to both clear cap room and potentially add a right winger – an area the Bruins are currently lacking since the departures of veterans Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton.

However, Bruins’ prospect Craig Cunningham has another idea.

Cunningham, the Bruins fourth-round selection at the 2010 NHL Draft, has his eyes set on the Bruins roster for the upcoming season.

“Once you play and get sent back down, it makes you that hungrier,” Cunningham told Steve Ewen of  The Province. “The life is night and day, pretty much. It’s the life that I want. Everything’s different.”

The 23-year-old made his NHL debut on Dec. 17, 2013 and also suited up for the Bruins April 13 – the only two games he has on his resume.

Cunningham has been a model of consistency at the AHL level with the Providence Bruins registering three straight seasons of 20-plus goals. This past season he led Providence in goals (25) and was third in points (47).

In July, Boston rewarded him with a new, one-year, two-way contract, which pays him $85, 000 at the AHL level and $600,000 at the NHL level.

Cunningham hasn’t really had an opportunity to prove himself at the NHL level and though he’s a right-shot, right-winger – what the Bruins could use, he’s hardly a guarantee to make the team.

Boston also has Jordan Caron, Justin Florek and Matt Fraser, who are all likely ahead of Cunningham in the pecking order.

“You need to go to camp in the best shape possible and see where you fit in and what role you can play,” said Cunningham. “It’s always nice to know that there’s an opportunity. It pushes you that much more throughout your summer.”

Cunningham will need to have an excellent showing during the preseason to get any sort of consideration for time in Boston.

Related: B’s strength coach once viewed Lucic as ‘stringbean’

Report: Bruins need to make a trade

toreykruggetty
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As it stands today, the Boston Bruins have little room to work with when it comes to cap space heading into the 2014-15 season and that’s a problem considering restricted free agent defensmen Torey Krug and forward Reilly Smith are without contracts.

Krug nor Smith had any leverage this summer as they wait for contracts. The pair didn’t have arbitration rights and are not eligible to sign offer sheets from other teams.

The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa points out there will be cap relief when Marc Savard is placed on the long-term injured reserved list, but even without Savard on the books, there’s little room or flexibility for general manager Peter Chiarelli to add two contracts.

The logical spot for Chiarelli to deal from is the back end where the Bruins are deep.

As we pointed out earlier this month, defensemen Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid and Matt Bartkowski are all unrestricted after 2014-15.

Shinzawa suggests Boychuk or Bartkowski would likely bring the biggest return for Chiarelli.

The Bruins do have significant room to play with come 2015-16, but it’s not likely all three aforementioned defensemen re-sign in Boston. Shinzawa points out the Bruins could use an experienced right-shot, right winger in return on a trade.

So Bruins fans, who do you deal if you’re in Chiarelli’s shoes?

Related: Report: Bruins’ Marc Savard to join Ottawa 67’s

Bruins to try out Gagne at training camp

Simon Gagne, Tuukka Rask
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Under some serious salary cap limitations, the Boston Bruins could take out a flyer on an old rival to round out their forward corps. The team extended a training camp tryout invitation to Simon Gagne, according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie and the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

Some might be a little surprised that Gagne is only 34, as he’s dealt with the sort of concussion issues that seem to age a player.

Gagne also sat out the 2013-14 season thanks to a lack of interest after splitting the 2012-13 campaign between the Los Angeles Kings and Philadelphia Flyers. He managed 16 points in 38 games that season and was similarly limited in 2011-12 with Los Angeles (17 points in 34 contests), but he’s not that far removed from being one of the league’s most prolific snipers.

At least, he’s not that far removed from those glory days as far as the Bruins are concerned. Factoring in Marc Savard’s soon-to-be negated $4.03 million cap hit, the Bruins have a bit more than $3 million to allocate to RFAs Torey Krug and Reilly Smith. Taking a look at Gagne and potentially giving him a bargain deal makes a lot of sense from the Bruins’ perspective, especially since they can pass after testing the veteran winger out in training camp.

Naturally, this also opens the door for the odd sight of seeing Gagne in a Bruins uniform.

The long-time Philadelphia Flyers forward scored his fair share of goals against the B’s, with some of the most painful ones coming during Philly’s historic comeback from an 0-3 deficit in the 2010 postseason. This one may still sting for some Bruins fans:

Obviously, Gagne hasn’t shown that game-breaking form in quite some time, but the Bruins might just benefit from a little veteran forward insurance. Unlike that video above, it can’t hurt to at least take a look, right?