Zdeno Chara

Report: Bruins ‘significant contract offer’ to Hamilton was six-years, $33 million

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After trading defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames, Bruins GM Don Sweeney insisted he made the restricted free agent a “very significant contract offer.” Now we might be able to put a number to that statement.

Boston offered the 22-year-old defenseman a six-year, $33 million contract, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. Hamilton then countered with an offer that was around $2 million per year higher.

That’s obviously a big gap, but as Friedman noted:

Sometimes, we get caught up in initial proposals. Any good negotiator will tell you to exaggerate your opening position.

All the same, this is in contrast to an earlier report that claimed Hamilton was seeking $5.5 million annually. If that was instead Boston’s opening position and it was rejected, then it becomes a bit more apparent as to why the Bruins felt the need to move him given the team’s cap situation. It also offers insight as to what it might cost Calgary to lock him up.

All the same, losing Hamilton could prove to be a serious blow to the Bruins next season, especially given that Zdeno Chara will turn 39 years old before the 2015-16 campaign is over.

Related: Trade: Busy Bruins send Lucic to Kings

Karlsson claims Norris Trophy for the second time

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For the second time in four years, Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson is the Norris Trophy winner.

When it comes to contributing offensively, no blueliner has been better than him in recent years. Karlsson has led all defensemen in terms of points in three of the last four campaigns, including his 21 goals and 66 points in 82 contests this season. He’s also a workhorse, averaging 27:15 minutes per game in 2014-15.

The battle for the Norris Trophy was a fierce one though. Karlsson came out ahead with 964 votes, but Drew Doughty finished just shy with 889 and P.K. Subban was a strong third with 801 votes.

Here are the voting results for the award, cutting off at the top 10:

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)
1. Erik Karlsson, OTT 964 (44-42-33-19-8)
2. Drew Doughty, LAK 889 (53-30-20-13-10)
3. P.K. Subban, MTL 801 (24-36-38-37-8)
4. Shea Weber, NSH 614 (26-19-28-20-21)
5. Roman Josi, NSH 222 (3-9-11-17-23)
6. Mark Giordano, CGY 177 (1-6-11-15-25)
7. Duncan Keith, CHI 134 (1-7-4-12-19)
8. Kris Letang, PIT 80 (1-2-6-6-8)
9. Ryan Suter, MIN 43 (2-0-0-4-11)
10. John Carlson, WSH 31 (0-1-1-6-1)

Here’s a list of the Norris winners and the second highest vote-getters since 1990:

Year Winner Runner-up
2015 Erik Karlsson, Ott. Drew Doughty, L.A
2014 Duncan Keith, Chi. Zdeno Chara, Bos.
2013 P.K. Subban, Mtl. Ryan Suter, Min.
2012 Erik Karlsson, Ott. Shea Weber, Nsh.
2011 Nicklas Lidstrom, Det. Shea Weber, Nsh.
2010 Duncan Keith, Chi. Mike Green, Wsh.
2009 Zdeno Chara, Bos. Mike Green, Wsh.
2008 Nicklas Lidstrom, Det. Dion Phaneuf, Cgy.
2007 Nicklas Lidstrom, Det. Scott Niedermayer, Ana.
2006 Nicklas Lidstrom, Det. Scott Niedermayer, Ana.
2004 S. Niedermayer, N.J. Zdeno Chara, Ott.
2003 Nicklas Lidstrom, Det. Al MacInnis, St.L
2002 Nicklas Lidstrom, Det. Chris Chelios, Det.
2001 Nicklas Lidstrom, Det. Ray Bourque, Col.
2000 Chris Pronger, St.L Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
1999 Al MacInnis, St.L Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
1998 Rob Blake, L.A Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
1997 Brian Leetch, NYR Vlad. Konstantinov, Det.
1996 Chris Chelios, Chi. Ray Bourque, Bos.
1995 Paul Coffey, Det. Chris Chelios, Chi.
1994 Ray Bourque, Bos. Scott Stevens, N.J.
1993 Chris Chelios, Chi. Ray Bourque, Bos.
1992 Brian Leetch, NYR Ray Bourque, Bos.
1991 Ray Bourque, Bos. Al MacInnis, Cgy.
1990 Ray Bourque, Bos. Al MacInnis, Cgy.

Chara wants to play out his contract

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Whether he likes it or not, age comes to mind almost as often as height does with Zdeno Chara these days.

He’s 38 and just suffered through one of those injury-packed seasons that reminded us that he’s, you know, human. Don’t expect the Boston Bruins behemoth to hang up his skates anytime soon, however, as he told the Toronto Sun.

“My contract goes for another three years and I’d like to play until then,” Chara said. “I think we still have a competitive team with some good young players.

“Being out of the playoffs just makes you want to get back there even more.”

Chara did point out the bright side, especially for him: missing the postseason means all those extra weeks/months to heal up. Considering the Bruins’ two Stanley Cup Final runs and other nice playoff pushes, they’re used to accruing some serious mileage. Getting a breather cannot be the worst silver lining imaginable.

While his cap hit remains hefty, one perk for the Bruins is that Chara’s salary may just dwindle at a similar rate that his role may decline. His salary is $7 million next season, yet it goes down to $5 million in 2016-17 and $4 million in 2017-18.

With a no-movement clause, he can also make sure that he stays in Boston if he wants to.

Some might look at Chara’s tough year (not to mention his combination of wear-and-tear with size that implies a sharp decline) and fear the worst, but if anyone can bounce back, it’s the Big Z. The renowned workout warrior is getting extra time to train, after all.

Related

Chara cringes at age talk

(H/T to The Score.)

Quenneville thinks Hossa ‘could be’ the next Jagr or Selanne

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CHICAGO — A couple of weeks ago, I took some heat for writing that Marian Hossa’s age would be a challenge for the Blackhawks in the coming years.

In reality, I meant it as a compliment. Hossa is 36. He can’t play forever, because nobody can. It’s the same argument I’ve made when it comes to Zdeno Chara in Boston.

Some players are so important to their teams that when they get to a certain age, it’s only natural (for me at least) to question how much longer they’ve got as elite players.

Well, last night, Hossa showed that he’s still capable of an elite performance. Even if he did miss an open net, the oldest forward on his team played the most of any forward (23:56). He also finished with two assists, including a perfect pass to set up Brandon Saad on a one-timer for the Blackhawks’ second goal.

So, given how he played, and given what I’d written, I asked coach Joel Quenneville today if he thought Hossa could be the next Jaromir Jagr or Teemu Selanne, the rare forward that can play at a high level into his late 30s, or even into his 40s.

“He could be,” said Quenneville. “He loves the game. He does a nice job of taking care of himself, preparing so he can go into games and be great, do the best he can each and every night.

“He had the puck a lot last night. Had an outstanding chance early. Stayed with it. I thought that line was dangerous at times. He was very effective last night.”

For the record, I stand by my argument. Hossa proved last night that he remains a very good player. However, he also remains human. Among active players, only Jagr (202) has appeared in more playoff games than he has (191).

Hossa fans should take it as a compliment when people wonder how long he’s got left as a great player. It means his importance has been appreciated.

There wasn’t always such an emphasis on shot-blocking

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CHICAGO — The day after it was reported that the NHL’s competition committee had discussed “disallowing certain shot-blocking techniques,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, a former NHL defenseman, was asked how the emphasis on shot-blocking has changed compared to when he was playing.

“I think the game has changed now,” said Quenneville. “There’s so many layers of guys in shooting lanes. There’s one, two and three guys sometimes you got to get the pucks through. I just think a lot of teams emphasize making sure shots don’t get through, and protecting the middle of the ice as well.”

It wasn’t always that way. The rise of shot-blocking has been linked to the NHL’s crackdown on obstruction that followed the 2004-05 lockout.

“You [keep] forwards from going to the net, and you’re called for interference,” Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara told Sports Illustrated in 2007. “And once the forwards get there, they’re basically screening your goalie. So now all that’s left for you is throwing yourself in front of shots.”

PHT reached out to former NHL forward Ray Ferraro to ask what it was like when he was in the league, from the mid-1980s until 2002.

“Shot-blocking was never really demanded from us. It wasn’t seen as a big deal,” Ferraro texted. “The focus was on keeping the lane clear for goalies to see the shot.”

More goals and fewer injuries are two reasons to try and think up ways to reduce the number of shots being blocked.

However, just because the topic was discussed by the competition committee doesn’t mean anything will be done about it, or should be done about it. After all, there’s something to be said for a player’s willingness to sacrifice his body for the good of the team.

“Some guys have more of an anticipation towards that, more willingness to do it,” said Quenneville. “There’s a bit of an art. There’s a little bit of pain that you gotta deal with as well. We may have one of the best ones in the game in [Niklas Hjalmarsson].”

Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi leads all players in blocked shots during the playoffs, with 65.

On the teams in the Stanley Cup Final, Hjalmarsson leads the Blackhawks with 51, while Victor Hedman has the most on the Lightning, with 39.

Related: Ducks dealing with shot-blocking conundrum