By Kirk Luedeke
We’re starting up a Q&A mailbag every few weeks about the Boston and Providence Bruins, the team’s amateur prospects, NCAA hockey, the 2013 NHL Draft and pretty much anything hockey-related for New England.
Without further ado, we’ll jump into it. If you enjoy this, we’ll shoot for doing another one at the middle of the month.
Other than Bergeron, who would you say are the best
PKers (skaters) on the B's?
Thanks for the question. You are officially first in the chute.
I’ve always been a believer in the maxim that your goaltender is the best penalty killer on the team, and Tuukka Rask has been tremendous thus far in making the stops when his club is a man short. That said, you did specify “skaters” in your question, so I’ll move off the goaltender and give credit to a couple of guys who both came out of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.
Although neither was drafted by the Bruins, Daniel Paille (Buffalo- 20th) and Gregory Campbell (Florida- 67th) are two of the team’s most valuable penalty killers because of their skating, hockey sense and pure hustle.
When you’re down a man, a team doesn’t need high-end skill with the puck (though it does help), but quick, agile, intelligent players like those two is a necessity. Neither Paille nor Campbell have the hands to be consistent NHL scorers, but they’re strong on their skates, see the ice well and have the natural instincts to read the play, anticipate and capitalize on opponent mistakes, at least in terms of creating turnovers and getting the puck out of their end.
The B’s have a lot of strong penalty killers at forward and on defense, Dennis Seidenberg (pictured right) certainly comes to mind. But on a team where Paille and Campbell don’t get a lot of attention, I wanted to single them out for doing all the little things. Claude Julien trusts them to play within themselves and be disciplined when they are killing penalties, and they’ve rewarded him with strong play across the board.
What players are the Bruins looking to trade for come
April 3rd deadline?
The trade deadline questions are always prolific around this time of year.
Given that Boston is up near the top of the standings, it will be interesting to see what approach Peter Chiarelli takes. Does he try for a blockbuster-type move, or does he do the typical tinkering that we have seen from him as Boston GM? With the team playing well, it’s hard to envision a shakeup.
You hear the Daniel Alfredsson rumors, and while he would be a fine addition to the B’s roster, I don’t see it happening. Although Chris Kelly came from Ottawa, the Bruins surrendered a second-round pick for him two years ago. I have to think that Bryan Murray’s asking price would be inflated to deal him within the division, but furthermore, I just don’t see Alfredsson being moved unless he asks for it in the name of helping Ottawa get some key building blocks back. Alfredsson is a “Senator for life” in my opinion, and I just don’t think he’d end up in Boston, but stranger things have happened and Chiarelli does like to exercise his Senators connections.
Jarome Iginla (pictured right) is a big name rumored to be on the block, but you have to wonder at the kind of price he will command. He makes sense for Boston even though he’s getting long in the tooth: he’s a high-character guy with all of the skills to make the Bruins better up front, even if he’s on the downside of his playing career. He’s an impending unrestricted free agent, so Iginla would likely be a rental player, which is something that could scare the B’s off. I would think any deal involving Iginla would start with at least one of Boston’s two best young prospect forwards in Ryan Spooner or Alexander Khokhlachev. The B’s would also likely have to part with their first-round pick in June as well. Beyond that, we could be looking at some kind of roster player/character veteran, and when you do the math, that’s a steep price to pay.
In the end, I suspect that you will see a depth move or two. I think a veteran who can stabilize the third line and brings a well-rounded game, but that won’t come at a high price is the better bet over big names like Iginla and Alfredsson (or Bobby Ryan).
Who that would be though, is anyone’s guess at this point. The Bruins are winning, so you don’t want to see the chemistry altered considerably unless it’s a no-brainer. I don’t see that kind of trade out there right now if the trade deadline was a week away as opposed to a month. We’ll see how things change as Boston’s schedule heats up and they have to play more games in a condensed window.
Which Bruins prospects do other teams see as a talent in
I will tell you that the obvious players like Ryan Spooner (pictured right) and Alexander Khokhlachev (“Koko”) get mentioned a good deal because they are skilled offensive forwards even if they lack ideal NHL size. It’s not by accident that the pair is at the top of Boston’s prospects depth chart, but their challenge is breaking into the B’s roster with so many veteran forwards in place. Therefore, when you talk about “trade bait” and the kinds of assets that would allow the Bruins to acquire a key NHL piece right away without surrendering a roster spot, those are the players that you can pretty much bet that opposition GMs will bring up in potential trade talks with Peter Chiarelli.
Malcolm Subban is having a terrific season as well, and his technique is improving. Niklas Svedberg has provided a seamless transition to North American hockey (27 wins and counting) after winning a Swedish championship a year ago. Even Mike Hutchinson is playing pretty well in limited starts without much in the way of offensive support when he’s in net for Providence. Are those guys seen as “NHL talent” by other teams? It’s a good possibility.
Max Sauve is an NHL talent, but he’s not been able to stay healthy in any single season going back to his last full year in junior. It would be hard to envision other teams having a lot of confidence in making a trade involving Sauve unless there were some conditions attached. It’s a shame that he’s had such tough luck with injuries, because when he’s on top of his game, you can see that he oozes upside.
Finally, Jordan Caron has clearly shown that he has NHL talent in flashes. This has been a lost season for him, and while I don’t doubt that the B’s would have a taker for him on the trade market, his value is not all that high. You wonder if the Bruins are better off just holding onto him and banking on him rebounding next season.
Will Kerby Rychel be available at end of 1st where Bs
pick? If not, who do you think they go for? Subban a reach?
The more Kerby Rychel scores (36 goals and counting) the less you can expect he’ll be there at the end of the first round where it looks like Boston will be picking.
That said, I’ve heard mixed reviews on him in terms of his consistency, effort levels and overall pro upside. At the same time, the pure unadulterated chemistry Rychel (pictured right) has shown with Koko is something that the B’s are no doubt tracking closely. Simply put, the two have been dynamite together in Windsor since Koko returned to the OHL after the World Jr. tourney in early January.
I think you can look at Regina center Morgan Klimchuk as another option for them. He’s always had a nice offensive dimension to his game, but this year appears to be showing much more dedication and commitment to his play in all zones.
Although scouts seem to be all over the map on where to have a couple of WHL defenders in Kelowna’s Madison Bowey (I’ve seen him in the top-15 and outside the 1st round on some rankings) or Seattle’s Shea Theodore, both bring the kind of size/skill/upside element that Boston likes. I think one or the other could certainly be there when the B’s are picking, but not both.
OHL d-man Chris Bigras (Owen Sound) is another under-the-radar guy I like in the late first round. He’s not overly big or flashy, but he moves well and plays with a great deal of hockey sense and character.
Other Bruins-type guys like Ryan Hartman, Nikita Zadorov, Curtis Lazar and Alex Wennberg I don’t think will be on the board when Boston picks…assuming they don’t trade their first selection.
I do think Jordan Subban is a reach there, though I said the same exact thing about his brother a year ago and Malcolm in the Middle has done nothing but prove me wrong since. The youngest of the Subban brothers is small, but a superb skater who has been a solid offensive contributor this season. He’ll go higher than most public lists have him ranked in all likelihood. Ian McCoshen strikes me as a solid second-rounder.
Any thoughts on Eric Hartzell? Undrafted Quinnipiac U.
He’s having a terrific senior season and has been the key to the Bobcats’ surge to upper tier of the NCAA. Eric Hartzell is your classic late-bloomer, who played two full years of junior hockey after he was first NHL draft eligible in 2007. With four full years in college, he has a wealth of experience at 23 (turns 24 in May).
Hartzell has that large frame and is able to make himself big in the net/not give shooters much open space to hit. I also like that he comes off as composed and unflappable. I’ve seen him shut down some pretty impressive college offenses this season, so the sky seems to be the limit. Any NHL club out there who is looking to not only shore up their depth but potentially have a guy who is closer to competing for a spot in the big show than a junior-aged netminder has to be watching him with interest as we move closer to the end of the season and the beginning of the free agent signing period.
I suspect he’ll have a wide range of offers from NHL teams when his season ends and will essentially be able to choose the best situation in terms of money and playing opportunities.
Who’s got the best mustache in the league? I say
Well, George Parros (pictured right) is clearly the reigning heavyweight champ as far as mustaches go.
But when you factor in the beard, I don’t think it’s even close--Colorado’s Greg Zanon opens and closes the argument!
Thanks for submitting the questions, folks. As always, you can reach me directly on Twitter for a more immediate response.
Otherwise, send me your queries and we’ll catch you back here in a couple of weeks for the next edition of the e-mailbag.
Photos: Getty Images (Parros, Iginla, Seidenberg); Dave Arnold Photography (Spooner); William Smith/Windsor Spitfires (Rychel)