THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: Boston Bruins

Rory Boylen
The Boston Bruins celebrate. (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

2013-14 record: 54-19-9

Acquisitions: None

Departures: Chad Johnson, Shawn Thornton, Andrej Meszaros, Jarome Iginla

Top five fantasy players: David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic, Reilly Smith

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: When you were the NHL’s best team last season and are bringing back every cornerstone of that team, you have every confidence you’re going to enjoy similar success when the next season begins. Read more

Ryan Johansen vs. Torey Krug – a study in contract leverage

Ken Campbell
Ryan Johansen (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The next time you’re inclined to think about NHL players as pampered and overpaid millionaires with no sense of gratitude, shift your thoughts to Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins. The only box he checks off in that description is millionaire.

Krug led all rookie defensemen in goals, assists and points last season. No first-year player, forward or defenseman, had more points on the power play than Krug’s 19. He was named to the NHL’s all-rookie team and became just the fifth defenseman in Bruins history to record double digits in goals in his first NHL season. His 14 goals were one more than Bobby Orr had in his rookie season.

For all that, Krug was rewarded with an almost $400,000 pay cut. And in doing so, he provided a fascinating study of leverage when it comes to negotiating contracts. Read more

Electrifying Jeremy Bracco leads off Ryan Kennedy’s Hot List

Team USA's Jeremy Bracco (Photo courtesy of Tom Sorensen/USHL)

Welcome back to another season of The Hot List, my weekly update of who is making noise in the world of prospects. Players are eligible for the list as long as they haven’t stepped on the ice for a regular season NHL game; otherwise, they come from all different leagues and development points. Some will be on hot streaks, others will be new names you’ll want to bank in your memory. All will be potential NHLers one day. Hockey’s back, so let’s take a look at this week’s roundup.

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Torey Krug, Reilly Smith sign one-year, $1.4 million deals with Bruins

Rory Boylen
Torey Krug. (Photo by Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

The Boston Bruins were bumping up against the salary cap and still had two RFAs to re-sign: Torey Krug and Reilly Smith. Even after taking Marc Savard’s $4 million LTIR into consideration the Bruins were still going to have a tough time signing these two. Krug was looking for something in the $2-$2.5 million range, while Smith was in line for something between $2.5-$3 million.

The only way the Bruins would be able to get both under contract is if they accepted discounted one-year deals – and that’s just what they did Monday. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Should the Islanders trade for Johnny Boychuk?

Johnny Boychuk (Photo by Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

With the start of the upcoming NHL season less than two weeks away, interest is growing over the potential moves by Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli to free up cap space. It’s been speculated for weeks Chiarelli could move one of his nine NHL-ready defensemen, creating additional room to re-sign restricted free agents Torey Krug and Reilly Smith.

Trading Johnny Boychuk ($3.37 million cap hit), who’s an unrestricted free agent in July, would easily remedy the situation, but Chiarelli seems reluctant to move him. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports of speculation the Bruins could re-sign Boychuk, but an extension hasn’t been discussed.

During a recent live chat, ESPN’s Katie Strang stated her belief the New York Islanders could be a logical trade partner for the Bruins, claiming the Isles would like to upgrade their defense via trade. Her colleague Craig Custance, however, suggests it might make more sense for the Isles to evaluate their young blueline core and compliment it closer to the trade deadline with an experienced defenseman.

Sports Illustrated Allan Muir feels Adam McQuaid could be a trade option. Muir suggests a swap with the Detroit Red Wings, who need a top-four defenseman with a right-handed shot. He also believes McQuaid’s reasonable cap hit ($1.57 million), size (6-foot-5, 209 pounds) and physical presence would be attractive to the Wings. While Chiarelli might prefer shipping McQuaid to a different division, the Wings could tempt him with their prospect depth.

McQuaid could also be of interest to the Islanders, but the Bruins aren’t the only team that could move a defenseman for cap reasons. The Chicago Blackhawks must shed more than $2.2 million to become cap compliant. Johnny Oduya ($3.38-million cap hit) and Nick Leddy ($2.7 million) are often mentioned as trade candidates. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Ryan Johansen to KHL & other RFA buzz

Ryan Johansen (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

While Ryan Johansen’s contentious contract negotiations with the Columbus Blue Jackets dominate NHL headlines, several other notable young players around the league also remain unsigned.

Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug and right winger Reilly Smith still await new deals. CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty reports it’s believed Krug and the Bruins have agreed to a one-year bridge term for this season but remain around $750,000 apart. Haggerty speculates Smith also received a one-year offer.

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli undoubtedly would’ve preferred re-signing the duo before training camp opened last week, but, as has been well documented, the Bruins lack sufficient cap space to comfortably re-sign the duo.

It’s anticipated Chiarelli will make a trade before the start of the season to free up the necessary space. Until then, Krug and Smith remain in contractual limbo, unable to participate in training camp. Read more

Agents scratching their heads over Ryan Johansen’s contract demands

Ryan Johansen (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

When Columbus Blue Jackets president of hockey operation, John Davidson, sounded off last week over the Ryan Johansen imbroglio, he backed up his stance by saying, “There are agents that can’t understand it.”

We at thn.com thought we would put that theory to the test. And if our sampling of conversations with 10 prominent agents is any indication, unfortunately for Johansen and his agent Kurt Overhardt, Davidson is right. There are a good number of player agents out there who can’t understand the stance Johansen and Overhardt have taken. (Last week, we spoke to 10 GMs for their views on the stance the Blue Jackets have taken.) Read more

Rumor Roundup: Is this Marc-Andre Fleury’s last season in Pittsburgh?

Marc-Andre Fleury needs a stellar performance in his walk year if he wants to remain a Pittsburgh Penguin.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury enters this season facing an uncertain future. He’s an unrestricted free agent in July, and new Penguins GM Jim Rutherford didn’t believe this summer was the right time to discuss a contract extension.

Fleury told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Josh Yohe he pondered what life would be like playing elsewhere, but that he prefers staying with the Penguins. Since signing a seven-year, $35-million deal with the Penguins in July 2008, Fleury backstopped them to a Stanley Cup championship in 2009. In recent years he struggled in the playoffs, but he rebounded last season with a solid effort under goalie coach Mike Bales.

It’s apparent, however, Rutherford intends to take a wait-and-see approach with Fleury, who turns 30 in November. The former Carolina Hurricanes GM has no contract history with Fleury and seems reluctant to offer another lengthy, expensive contract to an inconsistent netminder. It’s up to Fleury to prove his worth this season as a reliable starting goaltender.

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