The Boston Bruins just have to hope their fortune changes quickly because luck certainly hasn’t been on their side thus far.
They announced this morning that captain Zdeno Chara won’t be available for tonight’s season opener against the Winnipeg Jets. That’s on top of missing Dennis Seidenberg (lower body) after their defense had already been weakened by trading Dougie Hamilton over the summer.
The result is that the Bruins are going into the season with some very unflattering defensive pairings:
None of the Bruins’ six blueliners averaged 20 minutes or more last season. Two of them (Zach Trotman and Joe Morrow) have less than 30 games worth of NHL experience while Kevan Miller has fewer than 100 games under his belt.
Boston is trying to bounce back after missing the playoffs last season and coach Claude Julien is seen as someone who is on the hot streak before Boston’s season even starts.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. It’s possible that trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only makes them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old, too.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.
Boston has placed veteran forward Max Talbot on waivers, per TSN.
Talbot, 31, was acquired from Colorado at last year’s deadline and appeared in 18 games for the Bruins, scoring three points.
Based on training camp and preseason action, it was clear Talbot was fighting for a fourth-line forward role along with the likes of Finnish free agent signing Joonas Kemppainen, former Flyer Zach Rinaldo and Tyler Randell, a 24-year-old AHL farmhand that’s spent most of his professional career with AHL Providence.
Talbot is in the last of a five-year, $9 million deal with an average annual cap hit of $1.8M.
From a financial standpoint, the Bruins would save a decent amount of space with the move (assuming Talbot clears, and heads to AHL Providence.) The club can “bury” $950,000 of his cap hit, and Colorado was already retaining roughly half of the original $1.8M.
In other roster news out of Boston, goalie Jeremy Smith has been placed on waivers. The former Nashville Predators prospect had lost out the backup netminding gig to Jonas Gustavsson, who was in camp on a PTO and signed a contract over the weekend.
There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.
The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.
That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.
In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.
Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.
Let’s face it: creating mayhem is essentially Zac Rinaldo‘s job. “Troublemaker” might as well be on his business card.
Tonight’s game between the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers doesn’t count in the standings, yet Rinaldo has been in regular season form, both receiving and giving questionable hits.
Things really started to heat up when he seemingly ran Henrik Lundqvist:
Dylan McIlrath delivered this blow, possibly because of that moment:
People mock what the Bruins gave up for Rinaldo –
– But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the testy forward won’t make an impact, in some form or fashion.
The Bruins and Rangers meet for the first time in the regular season on Nov. 27, so the resentment might settle down … a bit.