Tag: Tim Thomas

Johnny Boychuk, Kyle Okposo

Julien downplays Boychuk’s return to Boston


New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk was the casualty of the Boston Bruins cap crunch earlier this month.

GM Peter Chiarelli dealt Boychuk, a pending unrestricted free agent, to the Islanders for a trio of draft picks on Oct. 4.

Tonight, Boychuk returns to the TD Garden for the first time as a member of the opposition.

“It’ll be awkward. I’ve played with him for a while, and some guys have played with him for five plus years,” Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg told CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty. “It’s definitely going to be a bit of a different feeling when guys have to fore-check him, and have to hit him. Or when I stand in front of the net and he shoots.

“It’ll be different, but in the end it’s about winning a hockey game. We’re focusing on that. It’s funny and it’s awkward. If you have to chip a puck behind him and them hit him, that’s when it feels a little bit weird or different.”

Boychuk, 30, spent six seasons with the Bruins capturing the Stanley Cup in 2011.

As Haggerty points out, it’s not the first time the Bruins are welcoming a high-profile former teammate. Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin and Tim Thomas have all returned to Boston as a member of the opposition.

As a result, coach Claude Julien was downplaying the significance.

“This is a business, guys,” said Julien. “Once the puck is dropped you’ve got to fight for your team, and fight your own battles. You can be friends afterward, and chitchat before and after. But during the game itself, if you don’t do it then he will.

“I don’t see an issue there. All of the guys liked him, but there are plenty of guys we’ve liked that are playing on other teams. When the puck is dropped then the game is on.”

Boychuk originally a second-round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche (61st overall 2002) appeared in 317 games with the Bruins scoring 19 goals and 75 points to go along with 198 penalty minutes.

LaRose approaches Canes about possible NHL return

NHL Labor Hurricanes Hockey

After leaving the Carolina Hurricanes on strange terms and sitting out the 2013-14 season entirely, Chad LaRose approached his former team about a possible return to hockey, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.

Hurricanes GM Ron Francis said he hopes to meet with the 32-year-old soon to discuss options, including a possible tryout.

“I’d like to talk to him,” Francis said. “He took a year off and obviously he’d need to earn his way back. There are some options. We could get him to camp on a tryout. He could start the season in Charlotte (AHL), show that he could still do it.”

At LaRose’s age, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to imagine that he could stick as a bottom-six forward. While his last season with Carolina was pretty hedious (just four points in 35 games played), he’s a two-time 19-goal scorer who enjoyed five-straight seasons with at least 11 goals and hovered around the 30-point mark for four straight years. Those aren’t eye-popping numbers, but he’s at least shown enough ability to potentially land back on an NHL roster.

The Hurricanes have also been open-minded about training camp auditions in the past.

Jeff O’Neill gave it a shot with the Hurricanes after sitting out a season at the same age of 32. While that didn’t work out, Radek Dvorak managed to make the team after impressing enough during a PTO prior to the 2013-14 season.

Other players have returned after absences as well; while Tim Thomas had an injury-plagued, up-and-down season, he did show flashes of his former brilliance last year despite a well-publicized hiatus.

So, really, the odds aren’t on LaRose’s side, but he’s probably used to that as a small-ish, undrafted free agent.

Flyers goalie Zepp looks to Thomas, Fasth as inspiration


One of the more unlikely free agent signings on July 1st came from Philadelphia, where the Flyers brought aboard a 32-year-old goalie that’s never played in the NHL — Rob Zepp.

Zepp, twice drafted by the Thrashers and Hurricanes, never advanced beyond the AHL level with either club and has spent the last nine seasons in the Finnish and German leagues. While his road to the NHL is an unlikely one, it’s not completely unheard of.

“Over the years, guys have done it,” Zepp said, per Simcoe.com. “Tim Thomas and Viktor Fasth came over in their 30s and we know the success they’ve had, especially Tim.

“Stories like that provide inspiration and motivation for guys like me.”

(Thomas was 31 in his first “full” NHL season and won his first of two Vezina Trophies at 34. Fasth was 30 upon making his NHL debut with Anaheim.)

As far as picking teams, Zepp chose wisely with Philadelphia. Steve Mason’s entrenched as the No. 1 and Ray Emery is returning as his backup, but neither is a lock for a huge workload. Mason missed time last season with a concussion and has never appeared in more than 61 games in a single season; Emery, who turns 32 himself in September, didn’t exactly have a banner campaign in ’13-14 (9-12-2, .903 save percentage, 2.96 GAA).

Throw in the fact AHL Adirondack goalie Cal Heeter is still relatively untested — he has just two full seasons at the American League level — and ’12 second-rounder Anthony Stolarz is still just 20 years old…and, well, Zepp could really have a shot at this. He’s no slouch, going 24-14-0 with a 2.39 GAA and .931 save percentage with Berlin last year, and knows this might be his real last chance at playing in the NHL.

“Ten or 15 years ago it was not possible,” he explained. “But maybe more teams realize guys have maybe been lost in the shuffle.”

Could Dallas be a big player this week?

Jim Nill

For all the rumors and speculation being bandied about, things have been awfully quiet out of Dallas over the last week or so.

And perhaps that’s intentional.

Last year, his first on the job, Stars GM Jim Nill let his actions to the talking — he acquired the rights to Sergei Gonchar and inked him to a $10 million deal, orchestrated the Tyler Seguin blockbuster and acquired Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff within weeks of being on the job.

The result? Dallas made the playoffs for the first time in five seasons and Nill received four first-place votes as NHL GM of the Year.

Nill should be watched with great interest as he readies for an encore performance. Calgary GM Brad Treliving has already tabbed this as “volatile of a draft week as we’ve seen in recent memory,” and it’s clear all 30 NHL clubs hold the potential to do something big.

Earlier this week, PHT spoke with Jarret Bousquet of Titan Management, the agent for Dallas defenseman Brenden Dillon and forward Cody Eakin. While he did confirm he’s spoken with Nill about new deals for both clients — Dillon and Eakin are pending RFAs — it sounds as though extensions aren’t imminent as the Stars are intently focused on the draft and UFAs right now.

Makes sense, given how Dallas is positioned at the moment.

Nill’s spent this offseason mostly clearing the decks — he used one of the club’s two compliance buyouts on defenseman Aaron Rome and informed veterans Ray Whitney and Tim Thomas they wouldn’t be brought back. The Stars also made an offer to versatile center Vern Fiddler, which was rejected as he plans to test free agency.

As such, Dallas now has 15 players under contract for next season at around $48 million — meaning it has roughly $22 million in available space. Nill has played coy about what sort of budget he’s working with (“We’re not a cap team or a floor team,” he told the Dallas Morning News) and it’s clear from last summer he’s got the green light to be aggressive and make big moves.

At this point, it’s probably worth mentioning the guy who signs Nill’s cheques — Dallas owner Tom Gaglardi. This past year was Gaglardi’s first full 82-game season as owner since purchasing the club in November of 2011 and while snapping the club’s playoff drought pleased him, Gaglardi sees it more as the first step in turning things around. He hasn’t been shy about doing whatever it takes to accelerate that process — from the new uniforms to aggressive ticket marketing plans to reconnecting with the club’s history (remember the epic Mike Modano jersey retirement ceremony?) — and he re-iterated as much following the team’s opening-round loss to Anaheim.

“It was a special moment, because I know how important it is to make the playoffs, and the fans know that too,” Gaglardi explained. “That’s the first step, and you want to take it as soon as possible, because everything gets accelerated after that.”

So yeah. Maybe keep an eye on Dallas this week.

Bruins’ Tuukka Rask wins Vezina Trophy


Tuukka Rask has taken the 2014 Vezina Trophy as the National Hockey League’s top goaltender.

The award comes on a special day – the eight-year anniversary to the day when the Boston Bruins acquired Rask from the Toronto Maple Leafs, as per Chris Johnston of Sportsnet. Rask finished the season with a league-leading seven shutouts and a .930 save percentage, which was second among goalies. He also recorded 36 wins in the regular season.

Here are the voting results for the award:

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)

1. Tuukka Rask, BOS 103 (16-6-5)
2. Semyon Varlamov, COL 90 (9-13-6)
3. Ben Bishop, TB 32 (1-6-9)
4. Carey Price, MTL 26 (2-3-7)
5. Jonathan Quick, LA 9 (1-1-1)
6. Henrik Lundqvist, NYR 5 (1-0-0)
7. Steve Mason, PHI 3 (0-1-0)
8. Sergei Bobrovsky, CBJ 1 (0-0-1)
Kari Lehtonen, DAL 1 (0-0-1)

In the end, 16 of 30 league general managers took Rask as their top choice for the Vezina. It is Rask’s first Vezina Trophy of his career.

Here’s a list of the Vezina winners and second-place finishers since 1990:

Year Winner Runner-up
2014 Tuukka Rask, Bos. Semyon Varlamov, Col.
2013 Sergei Bobrovsky, CBJ Henrik Lundqvist, NYR
2012 Henrik Lundqvist, NYR Jonathan Quick, L.A.
2011 Tim Thomas, Bos. Pekka Rinne, Nsh.
2010 Ryan Miller, Buf. Ilya Bryzgalov, Phx.
2009 Tim Thomas, Bos. Steve Mason, CBJ
2008 Martin Brodeur, N.J. Evgeni Nabokov, S.J.
2007 Martin Brodeur, N.J. Roberto Luongo, Van.
2006 Miikka Kiprusoff, Cgy. Martin Brodeur, N.J
2004 Martin Brodeur, N.J. Miikka Kiprusoff, Cgy.
2003 Martin Brodeur, N.J. Marty Turco, Dal.
2002 Jose Theodore, Mtl. Patrick Roy, Col.
2001 Dominik Hasek, Buf. Roman Cechmanek, Phi.
2000 Olaf Kolzig, Wsh. Roman Turek, St. L.
1999 Dominik Hasek, Buf. Curtis Joseph, Tor.
1998 Dominik Hasek, Buf. Martin Brodeur, N.J
1997 Dominik Hasek, Buf. Martin Brodeur, N.J
1996 Jim Carey, Wsh. Chris Osgood, Det.
1995 Dominik Hasek, Buf. Ed Belfour, Chi.
1994 Dominik Hasek, Buf. John Vanbiesbrouck, Fla.
1993 Ed Belfour, Chi. Tom Barrasso, Pit.
1992 Patrick Roy, Mtl. Kirk McLean, Van.
1991 Ed Belfour, Chi. Patrick Roy, Mtl.
1990 Patrick Roy, Mtl. Daren Puppa, Buf.