Tag: Reilly Smith

Toronto Maple Leafs Vs. Boston Bruins At TD Garden

It’s Boston Bruins day at PHT


If nothing else, you shouldn’t confuse next season’s Boston Bruins with the group who failed to make the playoffs in 2014-15.

After a pretty impressive run of seven postseason berths, the Bruins fell two points short of the postseason, but apparently the bitter flavor of that campaign was too much for management.

Granted, as much as new GM Don Sweeney wants to modernize the team’s transition game, there are still some core tenants remaining.

The defense will depend upon aging star defenseman Zdeno Chara, perhaps more than ever. Tuukka Rask may be expected to earn every cent of his $7.5 million salary in 2015-16. It looked dicey for some time, but Claude Julien remains behind the bench.

It’s tough to gauge what, exactly, we should expect from a very different Bruins team. People probably won’t be any happier if they miss the playoffs again, though.

Off-season recap

That’s because their offseason seemingly went from – pardon the cliche – rebuilding to reloading.

OK, maybe it’s wisest to label it a partial rebuild. Would they be totally blowing things up and still sign Matt Beleskey to a five year, $19 million contract? More than a few Bruins fans cringed at acquiring Zac Rinaldo, yet the move argues at least partially for a change of pace rather than punting on competitiveness altogether.

After all, they’re investing plenty of money in Chara, Rask, David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron, right?

It’s true that the Bruins did sacrifice the present a bit for the future, however. Moving Milan Lucic out of town took many aback, and trading away Dougie Hamilton will stand as a polarizing decision (to say the least).

One could say that Hamilton and eventually Lucic would be too expensive to keep, but again, they spent some of the cash they conceivably could have used on Hamilton to sign Beleskey.

In summary, the Bruins fired Peter Chiarelli in favor of Sweeney, essentially traded Lucic for Beleskey, added beef actually trading Reilly Smith for Jimmy Hayes and parted ways with Hamilton.

That’s a brain-full, and we could see even more changes if the Bruins don’t make gains next season. Stay tuned.

Panthers’ biggest question: Can the old guys hang on while the young guys get better?

Boston Bruins v Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers are a bit of an odd team, in terms of their mix.

They have Jaromir Jagr, who at 43 is the oldest player in the NHL by a considerable margin. They also have a couple of 38-year-olds in Willie Mitchell and Shawn Thornton, plus a couple of 36-year-olds in Roberto Luongo and Brian Campbell.

Yet you can’t call the Panthers an old team. These aren’t the New Jersey Devils we’re talking about here.

Not with 19-year-old Aaron Ekblad, the league’s reigning rookie of the year, and 22-year-old Jonathan Huberdeau, who received the same honor in 2013.

Also, Nick Bjugstad, Aleksander Barkov, Brandon Pirri, Reilly Smith, Vincent Trocheck, Dmitry Kulikov, Erik Gudbranson, Alex Petrovic, and Dylan Olsen. All of them under 25 years of age.

Oh, and don’t forget Lawson Crouse, the 18-year-old winger that could make the team. And Rocco Grimaldi, the 22-year-old forward who had 42 points 64 AHL games last season.

You get the point.

“We’ve got young players that are very capable of playing for us next year,” said GM Dale Tallon. “We don’t want to shut the door on that. We want those guys to get every opportunity to be on our team. I want to be the youngest team in the league and the best team in the league at the same time.”

The key next season will be for the old guys to hang on while the young guys get better. If that happens, the Panthers have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs, and even making some noise once they get there.

On the other hand, if key veterans like Jagr, Campbell and Luongo start showing their age and/or the youngsters experience too many growing pains, they could stumble.

Related: Roberto Luongo is under pressure

It’s Florida Panthers day at PHT

Roberto Luongo

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Florida Panthers.

For the third season in a row, the Florida Panthers fell short of the playoffs.

This time around, there were signs of moderate progress, as they finished 10th overall in the East with a 38-28-15 record (91 points). Final wild card team Pittsburgh finished seven points ahead of them, so there’s still work to do.

For especially jaded fans, this may sound like a broken record, yet the team’s extreme mix of potential and experience could make for intriguing results.

At one end, you have veteran star power with Jaromir Jagr and Roberto Luongo. They even have Brian Campbell for one more year, as his oft-cited $7.14 million cap hit will expire after 2015-16.

On the other end, a bountiful crop of young players earned from all these years of underwhelming play.

Aaron Ekblad won the 2015 Calder Trophy, while this year’s first-rounder Lawson Crouse may also make an immediate impact. Nick Bjugstad, Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau are all showing varying degrees of promise. Bjugstad’s the oldest of these young players, and he’s just 23.

Expectations should climb in Gerard Gallant’s second season as head coach, at least from those who are paying attention to a team that frequently slips under the radar.

Off-season recap

For the most part, the Panthers stayed idle in free agency, either letting veterans walk (Tomas Kopecky) or shoving them out the door (Brad Boyes). Perhaps re-signing Jagr constitutes their “big splash,” then?

They did make one eyebrow-raising move in adding Marc Savard’s contract in a deal that sent Jimmy Hayes to the Boston Bruins for Reilly Smith.

Florida seems content with letting its young players continue to grow alongside Jagr and Luongo.

Trade: B’s send Smith, Savard’s contract to Florida for Hayes

Reilly Smith, Patrick Wiercioch

Boston GM Don Sweeney remained a busy man on Wednesday, shipping forward Reilly Smith to Florida in exchange for Panthers winger Jimmy Hayes.

Oh, the B’s also sent Marc Savard’s contract to South Florida in the deal as well.

A quick look at the particulars:

• Hayes, 25, is a former Boston College standout that spent the last two years in Florida, scoring 11 and 19 goals in each of the last two seasons. A big man (6-foot-6, 221 pounds) and current RFA, it sounds as though his camp couldn’t agree on a new contract with Panthers GM Dale Tallon, hence the move to the Bruins.

• Smith, 24, was one of the pieces the Bruins acquired in the Tyler Seguin-to-Dallas trade. After a good first year in Boston, scoring 20 goals and 51 points, Smith tailed off a bit this year and saw his totals drop to 13G and 40PTS. Unlike Hayes, Smith is under contract for two more years with a cap hit of $3.425 million.

• The Savard contract was rumored to be in play. At the draft, Philly moved Chris Pronger’s deal to Arizona, setting the stage for Boston to do the same with Savard. Brough touched on this yesterday:

Sweeney confirmed today that he’s spoken to a few teams about a transaction that would clear Savard’s $4 million cap hit (through 2016-17) off Boston’s books, and put it on a team that could perhaps use it.

No longer able to play due to concussion issues, Savard has an actual salary of just $575,000 in the final two years of his contract.

Dealing Savard would help the B’s in that they wouldn’t be as prone to the bonus-related overage issues that have plagued them recently. On that note, Sweeney suggested the Bruins intend to keep spending to the cap, and that they’re dealing with a current overage of approximately $1 million.

The Savard move was done so the B’s could ink former Anaheim forward Matt Beleskey in free agency.

Bruins sign Miami (Ohio) playmaker Czarnik

Miami v Providence

The Boston Bruins have dipped into the college free agent market, agreeing to terms with Miami senior Austin Czarnik on an entry-level deal.

Czarnik, 22, is a former Hobey Baker finalist and the second-leading assist man in RedHawks history. He’s captained the club in each of the last two seasons and should have some immediate chemistry in Boston, as Reilly Smith was Czarnik’s former linemate at Miami during the 2011-12 campaign.

Though undersized — listed at 5-foot-9, 167 pounds — Czarnik is a skilled player that can create for others. He finished tied for third in the country in assists this year, with 36.

Per TSN’s Bob McKenzie, there appeared to be a number of NHL clubs interested in securing Czarnik’s services. It’s interesting to note that Boston won out shortly after it was linked to another skilled, undersized forward — Columbus’ Cam Atkinson — at the March trade deadline.