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Question for Bruins (again): How long can Chara keep going?

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BOSTON (AP) — How much longer can Zdeno Chara keep this up?

The Boston Bruins defenseman – and leader in ice time – will turn 42 this season, and sooner or later the window will close on his opportunity to skate around the ice again with the Stanley Cup. For his teammates, that means focusing on this season as their best and possibly last chance to win with him.

”The older you get, it’s just about winning,” said David Krejci, one of five holdovers from the franchise’s last title, in 2011. ”We know that we’re not going to be playing in the league for 10 more years, but we have maybe three, four, five years left, who knows, but this is it. We worked really, really hard this summer to get the job done this year.”

Chara was already an eight-year veteran and two-time All-Star when he signed with Boston a dozen years ago, and the Bruins built a contender around him that went to the Stanley Cup finals twice in three years. (They lost to Chicago in 2013.)

Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask, Brad Marchand and David Krejci are the only other players remaining from the 2011 champs. Bergeron is 33, Rask and Krejci will turn 32 during the playoffs, and Marchand will turn 31. (Steven Kampfer was traded away in 2012 and rejoined the Bruins this summer; he just turned 30.)

Charlie McAvoy, the 20-year-old defenseman paired with Chara for most of his career, has seen players come and go and values the stability brought by the core.

”As long as we have those veteran guys the culture will always be the same, I really believe that,” he said. ”I really think it could be another special year. You bring back all these guys, the veterans, it could be an awesome year and I’m really excited to get it going.”

Here are some other things to look for from the Bruins this season:

SOPHOMORES

Helping to take some of the pressure off the aging core is a group with about one year of experience, led by McAvoy. Also among the sophomores are Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen, Matt Grzelcyk, and Sean Kuraly.

”None of us are forecasting a setback, I call tell you that,” McAvoy said. ”Something about the experience of having a full season, playing a few playoff series now, seeing that element. I can use all those things to allow me to come in and play great hockey from the start. That’s my goal.”

Those five combined to score 151 points (48 goals, 103 assists) last season.

MORE NEW BLOOD

Joining the youth movement are players in their first full season like Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Ryan Donato and Anders Bjork. Brandon Carlo has two years behind him but is still just 21.

”You need those young guys,” Krejci said. ”And our young guys are fast, they’re good, they’re smart, they make plays. They deserved to make the team last year and I’m looking forward to what they’ll bring again this year, one year under their belts.”

IN NET

Rask returns for his 12th season but he has a new backup.

Jaroslav Halak signed a two-year contract to come to Boston from the Islanders, where he started 49 games last season and had a 3.19 goals-against average. He replaces Anton Khudobin, who had been the backup for two years and started last season 7-0-2 filling in while Rask had a concussion.

The fast start led fans to call for him to replace Rask, when he won just three of his first 13 games. But the 2014 Vezina Trophy winner did not lose a game in regulation from Nov. 26 until Feb. 10, finishing with a 34-14-15 record and a GAA of 2.36.

LONG TRIPS

The Bruins played two exhibition games in China against the Calgary Flames, with Cassidy and half the squad heading over to Shenzhen and Beijing for a week while the rest of the team stayed back in Boston. The split squad wasn’t ideal, but the Bruins started the 2010-11 regular season with two games in Prague and went on to win the Stanley Cup.

Cassidy said that would be a nice precedent to follow.

”Well if it’s a repeat of ’11, yes,” he said. ”I’d love that to happen, trust me.”

AP freelancer Matt Kalman contributed to this report.

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/tag/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Trade: Bruins ship Adam McQuaid to Rangers

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The Boston Bruins were set to enter the 2018-19 season with four right-shooting defensemen on their NHL roster. Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller all had their spots in the lineup. But it was going to be tough to find a spot for rugged defender Adam McQuaid, so the Bruins decided to ship him out of town.

On Tuesday morning, Boston sent McQuaid to the New York Rangers for Steven Kampfer, a fourth-round draft pick in 2019 and a conditional seventh-round pick.

The 31-year-old has one year remaining on his contract at $2.75 million. That’s a significant amount of money for a player that probably wouldn’t have had a regular spot in the lineup. This will be the first time in his NHL career that he’s going to play for another team. McQuaid was originally drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, but he never suited up for them. He spent parts of three seasons with AHL Providence before joining the club in 2009-10.

Here’s a fun fact: When the Blue Jackets traded McQuaid to Boston in 2007, they received a fifth-rounder. Columbus then traded that fifth-rounder to Dallas. The Stars used that draft pick to select Jamie Benn

Kampfer, who is in his second stint with the Bruins, also shoots right, but his contract comes with a digestible cap hit of $650,000 (Boston can send him to the minors without facing any cap penalties).

In all, the Bruins will end up saving $2.1 million in cap space, which isn’t insignificant.

McQuaid has also had a hard time getting in the lineup/staying healthy over the last few seasons. Since the 2013-14 season, the veteran has played in more than 65 games just once (2016-17).

MORE:
Three questions facing the Rangers
Three questions facing the Bruins

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

PHT Morning Skate: ‘Hawks have options this summer; Nolan Patrick’s strong second half

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Up top, check out the highlights from last night’s game between the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings.

• The Predators have added forwards Mike Fisher and Ryan Hartman, which means that two good players are going to have to sit. (Predlines)

• What was life like for the Oilers before they got all those first overall picks? (Oilers Nation)

• Jets Nation breaks down the trades that Winnipeg made before the deadline. (Jets Nation)

• The Bruins power play has been slumping of late, but is it cause for concern. (Stanley Cup of Chowder)

Alex Ovechkin‘s gap-tooth smile helped this hockey fan get through a difficult time. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)

Nolan Patrick got off to a slow start this season, but he’s been a lot better in the second half. (Broad Street Hockey)

• If the Rangers want to do this rebuild right, they have to make sure to play their young players ahead of veterans like David Desharnais, Cody McLeod and Steven Kampfer. (Blue Seat Blogs)

• ‘Hawks GM Stan Bowman will have options this off-season. (Second City Hockey)

• Developing multiple young goaltenders is important in today’s NHL. (NHL.com)

• Here’s a deeper look at the hits Ryan Reaves dished out with the Golden Knights and the penalties he took too. (Sinbin.Vegas)

• If you love hockey, you should check out a non-Olympic women’s game. (Toronto Star)

• The Hamilton Spectator looks at how the NHL creates its outdoor rinks. (Hamilton Spectator)

• The NHL is all about youth and speed, but here’s a list of five veterans that have played at a very high level. (The Hockey News)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

WATCH LIVE: Buffalo Sabres at New York Rangers

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CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

PROJECTED LINES

Buffalo Sabres

Benoit PouliotJack EichelKyle Okposo

Evander KaneRyan O'ReillyJason Pominville

Zemgus GirgensonsEvan RodriguesSam Reinhart

Scott WilsonJohan LarssonJordan Nolan

Marco ScandellaRasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabeJustin Falk

Josh Gorges — Casey Nelson

Starting goalie: Robin Lehner

[NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Sabres vs. Rangers; Penguins vs. Kings]

New York Rangers

Rick NashMika ZibanejadPavel Buchnevich

Mats ZuccarelloJ.T. Miller — Vinni Lettieri

Jimmy VeseyDavid DesharnaisPaul Carey

Michael Grabner — Peter Holland — Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonaghNick Holden

Brady SkjeiKevin Shattenkirk

Brendan SmithSteven Kampfer

Starting goalie: Henrik Lundqvist

WATCH LIVE: Philadelphia Flyers at New York Rangers

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 season continues on Tuesday night, as the New York Rangers host the Philadelphia Flyers at 7:00 p.m. ET.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

PROJECTED LINES

Rangers

Rick NashMika ZibanejadPavel Buchnevich
Mats ZuccarelloJ.T. Miller – Vinni Lettieri
Jimmy VeseyDavid DesharnaisPaul Carey
Michael Grabner – Peter Holland – Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonaghNick Holden
Brady SkjeiKevin Shattenkirk
Marc StaalSteven Kampfer

Startling goalie: Henrik Lundqvist

[Flyers look to push winning streak to five games against Rangers]

Flyers

Claude GirouxSean CouturierTravis Konecny
Michael RafflValtteri FilppulaJakub Voracek
Jordan WealNolan PatrickWayne Simmonds
Taylor LeierScott LaughtonJori Lehtera

Ivan ProvorovShayne Gostisbehere
Robert HaggAndrew MacDonald
Brandon ManningRadko Gudas

Startling goalie: Brian Elliott