With training camps scheduled to open up all around the NHL this week, there won’t be a lot of time for the carefree days of Hagg Bag mailbags until we get into the grind of the regular season. It will be all about double-session practices, preseason games and getting everything into the rhythm that will ultimately catapult us into an 82-game regular season. So with that in mind here’s the final pre-training edition of the Hagg Bag mailbag where we answer any and all questions thrown our way.
As always these are real questions from real fans sent to my twitter account using the #HaggBag hash tag, real emails sent to my email@example.com email account and real messages sent to my CSN Facebook page.
Without further ado, let’s crack open the bag:
#haggbag Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has B's o/u point total at 92.5. If I gave you $100 that you had to bet what side would you take?
JH: First off, thanks for the hundy. Secondly, I’d go with the over. The Bruins had 95 points last season, and had 93 points and 96 points in the previous two seasons while barely missing the playoff cut in each instance. Are we really going to believe that the B’s are going to be worse this season than they were in the two years they missed the playoffs?
Clearly, I have my doubts that this is a 100-point team quite yet. The defense is still very young in parts, and very big, old and slow in other parts. They have the David Pastrnak contract situation to deal with, and they’re also banking on a couple of young wingers to come through for them in training camp and potentially hold down some pretty important spots in the top-6. So there are definitely some question marks with the Black and Gold, for sure.
All that being said, I don’t see this team doing any worse performance-wise than last season when they sleep-walked through the entire first half of the year. They should be good for right around 95 points this season with Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Pastrnak, Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, David Backes and Tuukka Rask holding down the veteran core, and young guys like Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy continuing to step up in a big way.
The problem, as I see it, is that the rest of the Atlantic Division is getting better this year. There’s no way the Tampa Bay Lightning misses the playoff cut again this season with Steve Stamkos healthy, and a team like the Florida Panthers should bounce back strongly after the turmoil in their front office last season. The Buffalo Sabres will be much better this season, and the Maple Leafs should be very formidable as their youngsters continue to improve. Montreal should be a playoff team with Claude Julien coaching up a group in front of the best goalie in the world in Carey Price, and we almost forgot to even mention the team (Ottawa) that was still alive in the playoffs after every other Atlantic Division team had been eliminated.
My point: The Atlantic Division is much improved this season, and I see a scenario where the Bruins could get 95 points and end up missing the postseason again this year. So the 92-point over/under doesn’t mean much to me in that regard.
Why won't Don pay up for pasta? and do you think bran stark is the night king?
JH: The Bruins think that David Pastrnak’s asking price is based on what they perceive to be one extravagant contract handed out in Edmonton to Leon Draisaitl. The Bruins are wrong as both Draisaitl ($8.5 million per season) and Vladimir Tarasenko ($7.5 million per season) were very comparable to Pastrnak at similar points in their respective careers. Look at the list of 20-year-old players that have posted 30 goals and 70 points in a season, and it’s a comprehensive list of stud players across the NHL that now includes Pastrnak. He’s an elite talent and the Bruins will have to end up paying him upwards of $7 million per season if they want him on a long-term deal. The Bruins just have to dust the cobwebs off their bank vault and pay the man his money.
I don’t think Bran Stark is the Night King, but I do think it’s one of the Stark children’s ancestors. I’m looking forward to watching one of the dragons melt his face off in the final season, though I guess we should suspect it’s going to come down to him and Jon Snow in hand-to-hand combat for all the Westeros marbles, right?
Reaction to John/Dany's big scene at the end, ice dragon (Dragon and snowflake emoji removed for editorial purposes) & wall collapsing? Any hopes/predictions for season 8?
--Thomas Deon (@tdeon26)
JH: Yikes. Those Targaryens creep me out. I’m interested to see if the blue flames can do any harm to Dany or her dragons, or if they are impervious to that kind of flame as well. Hated to see the White Walker army get a dragon, but I guess they had to if they were ever going to get past the wall or even pose any semblance of a threat to an army boasting multiple dragons. My hope for season 8 is that the rest of the despicable characters in Westeros get the same kind of comeuppance as Littlefinger did by the Stark kids in Winterfell. It was kind of great seeing the walls close in around him as all of the Stark kids, with their unique abilities, boxed him and made him pay the ultimate price for setting up their dad like seven seasons ago. By the way, I’ve begun watching Game of Thrones again from the beginning in the last couple of weeks, and it’s really been enjoyable going through it while knowing where the roads lead for each of the characters.
What do you think of Jesse Gabrielle??
JH: I like his tenacity. I like his work ethic. I like his confidence. I like his willingness to do whatever it takes to get things done. I think he may need some development time in the AHL and it may be expecting too much for Gabrielle to turn into the next Marchand as an agitating player with some skill. But I’d be interested to watch him get a look as a fourth line option at some point this season, particularly if he starts putting the puck in the net at the AHL level. I’m still a little skeptical about his final potential as an NHL player until I see more of him, but you can tell he wants it really, really badly. That’s a good place to start if you’ve got a pretty good set of skills to start with, and his junior hockey resume with the gaudy goal totals says that he does.
If you had to come up with the words for this incarnation of House Bruin, how would it read?
JH: Hockey youth is coming.
If a deal isn't made between Pasta and the Bruins & they trade him, does this further cement that the Bruins don't take care of young talent
--Trevor Krejci (@KrejciTrevor)
JH: It certainly would in my mind, and more importantly it probably would in the minds of other talented young players in the Bruins system. That’s why there is plenty of leverage on Pastrnak’s side even if he doesn’t technically have any rights or leverage as a non-arbitration eligible restricted free agent. The Bruins can’t botch this contract, and they can’t trade Pastrnak away and try to patch something together without him. They don’t have a single player in their organization that can replace his game-breaking ability and dynamic skill set.
#haggbag what player(s) get shipped out to make way for young guns this season?
--Mike Wazowski (@shotswithmike)
JH: I don’t think any players get shipped out per se. I still think a player like Ryan Spooner could get moved if Sean Kuraly outplays him in training camp, or if the Bruins decide they want to slide David Backes back over to center. I also think that Kenny Agostino could start the year in Providence, and is more of an experienced fallback option if Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen all look like they need more AHL development time. I’d expect the Bruins might give Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson a little run on the wing as well, and see if that would a better place for him to start his NHL career if he shows that he’s ready. My gut instinct on JFK is that he’s definitely going to need some development time in Providence, but I guess we’ll see about that over the next few weeks.
Who's your dark horse (sleeper) candidate to crack the opening night roster for the B's?
--Robert Brown (@bruins2nine)
JH: Jakub Zboril. I don’t think it’s going to happen and it would seem that he needs some time to mature and develop his game at the AHL level, but he’s got the talent to make the NHL roster right now if he’s focused on the task at hand. I’m just not sure it would be a good idea on an NHL roster to have three D-men (McAvoy, Carlo and Zboril) in their first or second year. That’s the kind of thing that could keep a team out of the playoffs because of mistakes and too much inexperience.