Cunningham could solve Bruins’ problems

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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

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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

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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?

Bruins still bummed out by Thornton signing in Florida

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Many fans in Boston took it hard when resident tough guy Shawn Thornton signed a two-year deal with the Florida Panthers in July.

After being the face of what became the modern version of the “Big Bad Bruins” he had a strong following with the crowd. He was also a big hit amongst his teammates as well.

As Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com shared, Thornton’s now former teammates are lamenting the loss of the guy who would drop the gloves in their defense.

“Those are the guys you never want to give up, though,” goalie Tuukka Rask said. “I don’t think people necessarily talk about it too much, but you need that kind of leadership inside the locker room. You can’t just be quiet in there. You have to have young guys step up when you lose that, and its part of the challenge. Every team has to go through it.”

Plenty of teams have different things that help get them going. The Bruins seemed to feed off emotion in their games and that’s where they believe they’ll miss Thornton. Think back on all those heated games where a big hit or a fight seemed to snap them out of a fog and they’d roll from there. It’s that brand of motivation the Bruins felt Thornton brought to them.

While he’s not the best player on the ice, he was important to the Bruins’ mindset via his leadership. Now they’ll have to get by with replacing him with someone with a different skill set. The Panthers, meanwhile, will hope that guidance can be put to good use in their seemingly very young locker room.

Report: Bruins’ Krug receives KHL offer

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Bruins restricted free agent defenseman Torey Krug is still without an NHL contract, but word out of Boston is he may have a new offer to ponder.

According to a report from CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty, Krug has received an offer from a KHL team.

Haggerty points out Krug could’ve been in line for a similar three-year, $10 million deal, which Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat signed. However, with the Bruins already over the salary cap per CapGeek, Krug would have to leave money on the table to sign in Boston.

With an opportunity to build on his rookie season, which saw him appear on the Bruins’ power play, and establish himself as an NHL-regular, it’s hard to understand why Krug would seriously consider crossing the Atlantic. Following the 2014-15 season, Bruins defensemen Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid and Matt Bartkowski are all scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.

Krug’s best bet would be to sign a one-year deal and seek a raise next summer where currently the Bruins have upwards of $20 million to play with.

The 23-year-old Livonia, Mich. native has 14 goals and 42 points in 82 career NHL games all with Boston. The un-drafted blue liner saw his three-year entry-level contract expire in July.

Krug burst on to the scene during the 2013 playoffs, after being recalled from Providence on an emergency basis. He appeared in 15 games for the Bruins scoring four goals and two assists after playing just three career regular season games.

If Krug decided to sign in the KHL,  he wouldn’t be the only RFA to bolt overseas this summer, Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka left in favor of the Russian league signing a deal with Avangard Omsk.

Related: The Bruins have too many d-men – who will they trade?