Zdeno Chara

Julien talks up Bergeron as next Bruins captain


There’s been plenty of talk about Zdeno Chara’s future in Boston this year, given his injury issues and the fact he turns 38 this month.

While nobody’s ready to write B’s captain yet — a title he’s held for nine seasons —  head coach Claude Julien acknowledged the club has a replacement candidate in mind.

“It’s probably undeniable that down the road when [Chara] is done with his career, if Bergeron is here it would be pretty hard to not make him the next captain,” Julien said, per CSNNE. “So I think he feels comfortable in dealing with issues that maybe he didn’t two or three years ago. I think that’s just a player being a little more of a veteran player every year, and that we’ve got some young players that need some leadership.

“So he’s kind of taken over a little bit.”

Wearing the “C” in Boston is a fairly big deal. Franchise icons like Terry O’Reilly, Rick Middleton and Ray Bourque all served as captains and, dating back to the earliest days of the franchise, legends like Dit Clapper, Milt Schmidt and Johnny Bucyk all held the title as well.

Bergeron does seem to be a nice fit to replace Chara when the veteran blueliner calls it a day. The 29-year-old has spent his entire 10-year career in Boston, winning a Stanley Cup (in 2011) and two Selke Trophies as the league’s top defensive forward. Bergeron has also served as an alternate captain since the 2006-07 season and has represented Canada at each of the last two Winter Olympics, helping the country capture gold both times.

Bruins maintain four-point edge in playoff race, hand Coyotes ninth straight loss


The Florida Panthers put pressure on Boston with their 5-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres this afternoon. Boston responded with a 4-1 win over Arizona to maintain its four-point edge in the battle for a Wild Card spot.

Milan Lucic put the Bruins ahead early with his 13th goal of the season. Brad Marchand added to that lead with what proved to be the game-winner at 14:13 of the first period.

Captain Zdeno Chara snapped his four-game point drought by scoring a goal and an assist Saturday. Reilly Smith got two helpers to give him 35 points in 62 contests.

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask stopped 31 of 32 shots and came within half a period of earning his third shutout of the season.

Arizona has now lost nine straight games — all in regulation — as it hovers just above the Edmonton Oilers and the second lowest spot in the NHL standings. As previously noted, the difference between the 28th and 29th places are big when it comes to the possibility of getting Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Seidenberg would waive trade clause if Bruins asked


Dennis Seidenberg has a no-trade clause in his contract, but if the Boston Bruins want to trade him, he won’t stand in their way.

The German blueliner told CSNNE.com that much on Thursday.

“People have mentioned those rumors to me, but all I can do at the end of the day is play hockey and work hard. That’s what makes you strong,” Seidenberg said. “If they feel like they want to move me, then there’s nothing I can do. Even if I have a no-trade clause, I don’t want to be here if they don’t want me.

“But my job is to play with full effort on the ice, and hopefully that’s enough for them to want to keep me. We’ll see.”

The veteran defenseman presents an interesting case if the Bruins decide to aggressively shop him.

From traditional standpoints, he has some serious selling points. He logs the second highest ice time per game (21:57) among Bruins defensemen behind Zdeno Chara, with 2:34 of that average coming on the penalty kill. The experience is there, and at 32, he’s either in his prime or just past it.

On the other hand, his possession stats argue that he’s not quite as effective as his reputation might suggest. More than a few people believe that he has been overexposed at times when he’s been on a top pairing with Chara.

Really, the biggest factor might be asking price, though.

Seidenberg’s current contract carries a $4 million cap hit and runs through the 2017-18 season. Much like his perceived value, some will look at that as a positive thing (he wouldn’t be a rental) while others would see him as a risk.

The Bruins’ cap situation is tight, and their situation is tense (if not desperate), so GM Peter Chiarelli has to be pleased that he has the option to move Seidenberg, if nothing else.

Bruins decline has columnists weighing merits of trading Chara


The Boston Bruins, just two years removed from their last trip to the Stanley Cup Final, are in position to make the playoffs for the eighth straight campaign. And yet, the situation isn’t nearly as good as that statement makes it sound.

Boston has struggled to stay afloat this season and now have just a two-point edge on the Florida Panthers in the Wild Card race. Even if the Bruins manage to squeak into the postseason, there will still be serious questions about their ability to contend, both in the playoffs and down the road.

Faced with a situation that they’ve become unaccustomed to in recent years, is it time for the Bruins to make a bold move by trading captain Zdeno Chara before the 37-year-old (38 on March 18) slips further from his prime?

Sportsnet’s Mark Spector felt the idea has merit even if it’s not likely:

Zdeno Chara turns 38 in March, and has become to the Bruins what Jarome Iginla was to the Calgary Flames: that ageing superstar whom the Bruins need to make the playoffs for the next couple of seasons, but whose value will then slip to the point where any trade return on him is negligible.

History shows that the Calgary Flames should have dealt Iginla two years before they did. Instead, the Flames missed the playoffs in both of Iginla’s final two seasons in Calgary, then settled on two middling prospects — Ben Hanowski and Kenny Agostino — and a first round pick (Morgan Klimchuk) in a trade from Pittsburgh.

Of course, Chiarelli’s dilemma runs deep. There isn’t a GM in hockey — and he’s one of the best, IMO — who would submit to this obvious trend and deal Chara now. Not with a playoff spot still a very real possibility.

But the decline has begun, and here’s why we are mighty sure that the Bruins are not Detroit, a team that has bucked the trend: Look at the Bruins drafting record since 2007, and you’ll find the answer to why their opponent tonight has fallen on such hard times. It’s why Calgary is rebuilding. It’s why the Canucks are no longer an elite contender. And it’s why the Maple Leafs are as bad as they are.

There’s also a substantial cap component to consider. Chara comes with a roughly $6.9 million annual hit through the 2017-18, so moving him would provide the Bruins with the kind of flexibility they’ve been hurting for in recent years. The length of that deal might lead to Boston getting less desirable offers for his services, but there would still be plenty of interest in the big defenseman given his superb resume and the fact that he can still log top minutes.

CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty recently brought that up while arguing that Boston should deal Chara on the Great American Hockey Show:

At the end of the day, it would be very surprising to see Boston deal its captain at this time or even in the summer. Still, the fact that the topic is even being discussed is a reflection of just how poorly this season has gone for the Bruins.

Banged-up Bruin — Miller sent home with shoulder injury


Winless in their last four, now the Boston Bruins have another problem — they’re down to just six healthy defenseman after Kevan Miller hurt his shoulder last night in Calgary.

Miller has reportedly been sent home for evaluation.

With three games remaining on their road trip (tomorrow in Edmonton, Friday in St. Louis, Sunday in Chicago), the B’s are expected to call up a defenseman (Zach Trotman?) from AHL Providence.

Against the Oilers, the Bruins’ could line up something like this on the back end:

Zdeno Chara — Dougie Hamilton
Dennis Seidenberg — Adam McQuaid
Matt Bartkowski — Torey Krug

Related: Changes coming to Bruins’ defense?