Peter Chiarelli

Gagne still awaiting a deal from the Bruins

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As Tuesday’s 5pm eastern time deadline for teams to reduce their rosters to 23 men, and be cap compliant, fast approaches, Simon Gagne continues to wait for a contract from the Boston Bruins.

Gagne, 34, had a solid showing in camp and through the preseason reports CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty and though he doesn’t have a contract yet, it appears a deal isn’t far off.

Gagne who didn’t play in 2013-14, split the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season between the LA Kings and Philadelphia Flyers where he scored five goals and 16 points in 38 games.

The forward said he was motivated to get back into the game watching the Kings march to the Stanley Cup last spring.

“I missed the game last year, especially during the playoffs,” said Gagne. “I feel energized. I feel really good physically and mentally, so I’m ready for another (season). When I got the call from Boston, I thought it was the perfect scenario for myself, and for my family.”

Even after moving Johnny Boychuk to the New York Islanders, the Bruins only have $330,000 in cap space to work with as of Monday morning according to CapGeek.

Gagne isn’t deterred by the the Bruins cap situation.

“I had a little chat with (GM Peter Chiarelli)… we’ll see what happens over the next few days,” said Gagne. “I’ll be a part of the team, and I’ll stick around. It’s something where I’m ready to do whatever it takes to make the team. It’s good for them, and it’s good for me.

“I’m not going to another team. I’m here now and I want to be here now. I’m not going anywhere.”

For their part, Boston is happy with how Gagne has progressed through camp given he spent a year away from the game.

“My impressions are that he’s getting better. I think he’s skating better and he’s starting to get his hands back. He’s been away from the game – he’s skated for most of the year, but he’s been away from the game for the whole year,” said Chiarelli. “I spoke with him (Saturday) morning, and I made a proposal to him in the sense of, ‘Look Simon, I see you getting better, I want you to stick around and practice with the team.’

“He didn’t say yes or no, but I think he suggested he would want to stick around. He feels that he’s getting better. So that’s kind of a play-it-by-ear, day-by-day see how his legs feel, see how his hands feel, and just kind of see how it goes.”

Originally a first-round pick of the Flyers in 1998, Gagne has appeared in 799 NHL games with the Flyers, Lightning and Kings where he’s scored 288 goals and 597 points.

Boston is no stranger to giving older players contracts following camp invites. As Haggerty points out in his piece, the Bruins once signed Jay Pandolfo following a professional tryout.

“I didn’t play last year, so I’m happy to be here,” said Gagne. “If it takes a week or a couple of days, I will take the time and work hard in practice waiting for something to happen.”

The Bruins ironically open the season Wednesday against the Flyers.

Gagne could ultimately turn into a bottom six depth type player in Boston should he sign.

Krug, Smith sign with Bruins

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You can scratch two more names off the restricted free agents list.

The Boston Bruins announced new one-year deals for defenseman Torey Krug and forward Reilly Smith Monday.

According to the release, the deals are identical carrying a cap hit of $1.4 million.

With the signings, the Bruins now have $418,000 of cap space remaining per The Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin. This of course includes the relief they get from Marc Savard remaining on long term injured reserve.

Krug, 23, actually ends up taking a pay cut in the deal as he made roughly $1.75 million last season according to CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty.  TSN’s Aaron Ward reports Krug’s deal is worth $900,000 with a $100,000 signing bonus.

Krug had 14 goals and 40 points in 79 games during his rookie season with the Bruins in 2013-14. He became just the fifth rookie in franchise history to score 10 or more goals in his first season.

In his first full season with the Bruins, Smith who earned $2.7 million over three years on his entry-level deal, scored 20 goals and 51 points in 82 games in 2013-14.  The Bruins acquired Smith in July 2013 from the Dallas along with Loui Eriksson, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow in the deal which saw Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley and Ryan Button go to the Stars.

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli is going to be a busy man next summer. In addition to Smith, Krug and Fraser, Ryan Spooner, Dougie Hamilton, Jordan Caron, Justin Florek and Niklas Svedberg will become restricted free agents following the 2014-15 season.

That’s on top of Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid, Matt Bartkowski, Carl Soderberg, Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille becoming unrestricted free agents.

Smith and Krug coupled with Jaden Schwartz leaving money on the table in St. Louis  certainly can’t help the case of Columbus Blue Jackets’ holdout Ryan Johansen.

Nashville also inked restricted free agent defenseman Ryan Ellis on Thursday.

Brenden Dillon and Cody Eakin of the Dallas Stars along with Johansen are also among the notable restricted free agents still awaiting new deals.

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 assistant Geoff Ward resigns, takes job in German league

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Claude Julien is in the market for a new assistant coach.

Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli announced Geoff Ward has resigned from his position with the team and has taken the head coaching job with the Mannheim Eagles of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga in Germany.

Ward has been an assistant coach with the Bruins since 2007 and was part of the Stanley Cup-winning team in 2011. He was responsible for working the power play in Boston and that’s been a bit of a problem there in the postseason.

Seeing him leave to take a job in Germany isn’t shocking as he’s been a head coach there before including with Iserlohn in 2006-07 before he took the Bruins job. He’s also coached in the OHL with Kitchener and Guelph and the AHL with the Hamilton Bulldogs.

There isn’t a shortage of capable people to help out behind the bench and Julien and Chiarelli will have plenty of time to find a replacement.