Bruins

Haggerty: Bourque could give B's organizational depth

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Haggerty: Bourque could give B's organizational depth

The Bruins pulled off a move on Memorial Day weekend.

It probably wasnt the hockey trade anybody was pining for, but it was the kind of low riskpotentially high reward move that has become as big a part of the Peter Chiarelli Era as collecting a seemingly endless army of ex-Senators players.

The Bruins dealt restricted free agent Zach Hamill to the Washington Senators for unrestricted free agent Chris Bourque. They have more than a month to come to terms with the Bs Hall of Famers oldest son.

The deal can be looked at from two different directions: They unloaded something they clearly no longer wanted or valued, and they have potentially added some good depth on the cusp of the NHL. Lets start off with the fact that any Bourque progeny skating around an NHL rink in a Black and Gold Bruins sweater is all kinds of right.

The most electricity running through the Beanpot Final in recent years was when Bourque scored the game-winning goal to win it for Boston University in the House that Ray Built. The Bruins have again become beloved in the city of Boston, and part of that comes from the organizations new-found willingness to give the favored sons of Massachusetts a chance to play for their boyhood favorites.

Whether Mike Mottau re-signs with the Bruins or goes elsewhere, the South Shore native has a big smile on his face after living out his lifelong dream of donning the Bs sweater. Theres no doubt Bourque has dreamed of skating for the Bruins after growing up in Boston watching his father carve out a Hall of Fame career with them.

But beyond that the kid can also give them some needed organizational depth.

The 26-year-old Bourque has proven everything possible at the AHL level, and is coming off a 93-point season where he registered 27 goals and 66 assists.

Hes scored 20 plus goals in every single full AHL season and has experienced a season in Europe with the KHL and Swiss League.

In 33 NHL games, however, Bourque has managed only one goal and three assists along with a minus-6 during cups of coffee with the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins. The left winger would appear destined to compete for a third line spot with the Bruins, and has the kind of speed and playmaking ability that should work in the NHL if theres enough strength in his 5-foot-8, 180-pound body.

If injuries crop up for the Bruins as they did last season and Bourque doesnt make the team out of camp, theres a capable offensive player in Providence that can step in the breach. Thats something the Bruins didnt have last season, and sorely needed when Nathan Horton went down with a concussion.

On the other side of the coin, Hamill was a bust for the Bruins. Theres no other way to put it when Hamill never developed into the playmaking center that Boston imagined he would become after selecting him eighth overall in the 2007 NHL Draft. He was selected one pick before Logan Couture by the San Jose Sharks, and the different development tracks experienced by the two players is stunning.

In 20 games with the Bruins he managed four assists and a plus-5, but never showed enough strength to handle the banging, bruising NHL. The 24-year-old also never topped 14 goals or 44 points in the AHL, and couldnt consistently harness the passing and playmaking that everyone saw in flashes from the young pivot. The final straw came last season during a 16-game run with the Bruins as Hamill played up and down the lineup. He showed some promise early, but once again sunk into a stretch of ineffectiveness and inconsistency. His final game with the Bruins came against the Pittsburgh Penguins: the lasting image of Hamill will be him getting buried in front of the net late in the third period with a chance to tie a one-goal game.

Its a play that showed Hamill getting to the right place at the right time to make a play, but not having enough strength to hold his ground when it came to finishing things off at the NHL level. There wasnt much interest in Hamill within the trade market, so it was more a change of scenery for a player that reminded the Bruins organization of a rare first round bungle by the Bs scouting department.

Grzelcyk happy to be back w/ B's and confident in his game

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Grzelcyk happy to be back w/ B's and confident in his game

BRIGHTON, Mass – It had to be a bitter pill for Matt Grzelcyk to be sent back down to the AHL after playing solidly for the Bruins earlier this season. 

The 23-year-old Charlestown native was excellent playing in place of Torey Krug in Boston’s opening night win over the Nashville Predators, but his stay didn’t last very long. The former Boston University standout was back in the minor leagues shortly afterward once Krug returned from his fractured jaw a little earlier than expected. Now Krug is again banged up again with an upper body injury, and Grzelcyk has been called up to fill in for Krug during Wednesday night’s pre-Thanksgiving road game in New Jersey against the Devils.

Once again it will be about a focus on puck-moving and power play for Grzelcyk, who is the closest thing that the Bruins have to the smaller, skilled Krug in their minor league system. 

“I was happy with how things went before I got sent to Providence, so I’m just going to try to do the things that I was doing well before I got sent down. Mentally knowing that I can play at the NHL level [is huge], and just going through the experience was positive,” said Grzelcyk. “Mentally my first year I think I was a little too nervous and tentatively with my play, and that’s not me at all when I’m at my best. I’m confident with the puck, and confident with my speed and ability. It was just about going out and doing it on the ice.”

Grzelcyk was okay down in Providence with four assists and a plus-4 rating in 14 games, but he’s been patiently waiting for another NHL call since logging 12:11 of solid puck-moving ice time in his lone appearance for Boston this season. Now he’ll get it in a likely pairing with Kevan Miller against the New Jersey Devils

“He’s a puck-mover. He’s quick. He can get up the ice and support the rush, and he’s a good distributor,” said Cassidy of Grzelcyk. “There are a lot of natural similarities to Torey [Krug] because of their physical makeup, but they are similar [players] with Torey at this level being a bit more significant offensive player. Whether it’s in [Grzelcyk] or not time will tell, but we believe it is and we just need to get it out of him.”

Grzelcyk will get a chance to show that offensive wrinkle and more when he suits up against the New Jersey Devils for his second game of the season after paying his dues with the P-Bruins overt the last month. 

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Bruins still holding out on a goalie decision for Devils game

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Bruins still holding out on a goalie decision for Devils game

BRIGHTON -- Coming off a pair of back-to-back wins from backup goaltender Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are still undecided about what they’re going to do between the pipes Wednesday night against the New Jersey Devils.

On the one hand, the Bruins are very tempted to ride the hot goaltending hand with Khudobin a strong 5-0-2 record on the season and a .935 save percentage that currently leads all goaltenders across the league. There’s a school of thought that the B’s should simply keep plugging Khudobin into the lineup until he actually loses a game, and begins to cool down a little bit between the pipes after stopping 63-of-65 shots against LA and San Jose.

At the same time it will be over a week since Tuukka Rask has played in a game if the Bruins go with Khudobin on Wednesday night against the Devils, and Bruce Cassidy was clear to stress that Rask is still their No. 1 guy. So that’s the dilemma the Bruins are facing with Cassidy calling it “a good problem to have” based on Khudobin’s strong play from the backup spot.

That is a far cry from what the Bruins experienced a year ago with the same goalie, and a reason for optimism that their goaltending situation will be better off throughout a long season.

“Do you go with the hot hand and leave your No. 1 sitting where he’s beginning to wonder what the hell is going on? That’s the decision,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We need to keep them both in a good place, and not lose out on [Khudobin’s] good run while keeping Tuukka focused and confident in his game. That’s what we’re battling and I talk to Goalie Bob [Essensa] about it every day. We’ll make our decision [on Wednesday] and we hope it’s the right one.

“It’s a long year so no matter who we use there are a lot of starts. I don’t think Khudobin is going to go ice cold if he use Tuukka tomorrow, and I don’t think Tuukka is going to blow a gasket if we go with the hot hand. For me I don’t think it’s that big of a decision.”

Perhaps Rask blowing a gasket wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world given the way he’s played this season.

The one underlying concern for Rask beyond the .897 save percentage this season is that his game has really been in a different place for the last three seasons. While his .922 career save percentage mark is among the best in the NHL, he has been below that mark in each of the last three seasons while struggling to maintain consistently behind a changing roster that’s turning over to youth and inexperience.

It certainly seems like the Bruins feel it’s premature to label Rask as anything but their No. 1 goaltender, but the pause they’re giving on Wednesday night’s starter speaks volumes about their current confidence level in each of their puck-stoppers.

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