Morning Skate: Bruins cap situation isn't messy at all


Morning Skate: Bruins cap situation isn't messy at all

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while going through withdrawals with no Game of Thrones on Sundays anymore. 
-- I love PHT writer James O’Brien like the NBC Sports brother that he is to all of us over here at CSN New England, but I think there’s some serious sportswriting hyperbole being used when he talks about the Bruins with a “messy” salary cap situation. That hasn’t been the case since the Bruins swallowed hard once Don Sweeney took over and traded away Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton as high-priced items they weren’t going to pay anymore. Sure they have a few contracts -- like David Krejci, David Backes and Matt Beleskey -- that wouldn’t be considered very good at all under any circumstances, but they also have cap space this season (roughly $3 million) along with almost zero big contract decisions to make for at least a couple of years. It’s literally been years since they needed to make a trade due to salary cap reasons. They also have an armada of young, cheap and talented prospects coming up through the system right now or already on the team, like Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy and Anders Bjork, who are going to be cheap labor for the foreseeable future. Could their cap situation be better? Sure. Anybody’s could. But they got Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak signed to under-market deals and they face no imminent cap issues with the cap ceiling expected to still go up by a few million each season. So as far as I can see, Boston’s cap situation is actually a pretty good one as compared to many other teams around the league.  
-- Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov aim to pick up where they left off this season for the Tampa Bay Lightning after the Stamkos injury hurt them last season. 
-- It looks like former Merrimack standout Stephane Da Costa is going to have to put the NHL return on hold after suffering an injury while reportedly talking to the Montreal Canadiens about a contract. 
-- A number of prominent players, like JVR, Evander Kane and others, are entering the final season on their contracts, and could be at play in trade talks moving forward this year
-- Here are a few things that the NHL can learn after its first foray into China, where the league hopes to really make a dent in a massive, growing market. 
-- Interesting piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Joe Smith on Tampa Bay’s evacuation for the Lightning organization during Hurricane Irma, and the menagerie of animals that it included.  

-- For something completely different: This is truly a sad state of affairs when artists like U2 and Ed Sheeran have to cancel concerts in St. Louis due to safety concerns for themselves and their fans.

McQuaid returns to first B's practice since breaking leg


McQuaid returns to first B's practice since breaking leg

BRIGHTON, Mass – It marks just another step on Adam McQuaid’s eventual return to game action, but it was a big one getting back on the ice with his Bruins teammates on Monday for his first practice since breaking his right fibula on Oct. 19. 

The 31-year-old McQuaid has missed 21 games and counting since blocking a pair of shots in a win over Vancouver that ultimately snapped his right leg. It’s been a long road of rehab and working his way back after a fairly significant surgery, but the light is present at the end of the tunnel now for the rugged, stay-at-home defenseman.

However, it looks like there will be a healthy amount of practice time involved before McQuaid has sufficiently knocked the rust off for game action after missing the last seven weeks. 

“He’s still got a ways to go, so I don’t want to even speculate [on a return date],” said Bruce Cassidy. “We’ll start to sort the pieces together when he’s truly ready to play, but it’s nice to have him around. He’s a great guy and his teammates all love him.”


Clearly McQuaid has suffered his share of injuries over the years while playing a fearless style of blocking shots, throwing hits and defending his teammates at all costs. Just don’t expect him to change the way he plays after suffering a major injury in that particular line of duty because McQuaid knows exactly what his job description is on the ice. 

“Obviously today was a good step. It was good to be out there with the guys, and hopefully things continue to progress,” said McQuaid, who had an assist and a minus-3 rating in six games this season. “It’s tough. Without sugarcoating it, it was [a tough injury]. But you can’t change the situation. You try to persevere through and be better for it, so hopefully that will be the case with this. I felt good coming into the season, so it was disappointing in that way. But I’m looking to work back to that level now.

“I’ve said to some people that I can choose between getting hurt once in a while and missing some time, or playing a different style and probably not playing at all. I don’t foresee anything changing with me in that way. When you get out there, you just play and get into that mindset where you can’t think about injuries. 

It’s going to be a challenge for Bruins head coach Cassidy to work McQuaid back into the lineup when he is ready to play given the six-man defense corps that’s functioning well these days with rookie puck-mover Matt Grzelcyk in the lineup. Still McQuaid is bullishly strong, a Stanley Cup champ and as good of a teammate as you’ll find when it comes to defending everybody else in a Bruins uniform, so it won’t be too long before he finds his way back into the lineup.  

Cassidy appreciates all of those things in McQuaid’s game since their early days together with the Providence Bruins, and bristles at the notion of his injuries being looked at as a liability in any way. McQuaid has missed an average of 18 games per season over his seven full seasons with the Bruins, but Cassidy sees it as more of a hazard of the particular role he fills on the back end. Not everybody can do what McQuaid does, but it’s absolutely needed on any hockey club that’s going to be successful in the regular season and playoffs. 

“He plays hard every night and he’s a guy that blocks more shots than anybody,” said Cassidy. “Yes, he missed the last seven weeks because he blocked two shots in the same sequence. He puts himself in harm’s way and he’s suffered some injuries because of it. That’s the way I look at it. I don’t want to get into labels…I love the guy. 

“The game needs players like him, and the team needs him if you want to be hard to play against. Guys like that are necessary…I’ve heard that [injury-prone] description and I think it’s unfair because [McQuaid] lays it on the line every night.” 

Here are the Bruins line combos and D-pairings based on Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with both Ryan Spooner (lower body) and Noel Acciari (upper body) practicing and uncertain if they can play Wednesday night in Detroit: 
















Morning Skate: Boeser continues to produce for Canucks


Morning Skate: Boeser continues to produce for Canucks

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while avoiding all “The Last Jedi” spoilers out there. 


*Brock Boeser continues to score and play well for the Vancouver Canucks despite the extra attention as one of the NHL’s lead rookie players this season. I hate to say it, but this is another one of those players from the second half of the first round in the 2015 NHL Draft. I’ll leave it at that and move on. 


*Alex Burrows fined $5000 for an incident in San Jose, but at least he didn’t bite anybody this time around, right? 


*It must be a slow week if there’s a big think piece about the ritual of using smelling salts right before the drop of the puck in NHL games. 


*There is more speculation about the Ottawa Senators trading Erik Karlsson than ever before in his NHL career, but his thoughts haven’t changed about wanting to win in Ottawa. 


*Good for the Bruins going out and donating some Christmas trees this weekend to the families of service members and veterans in Leominster. 


*It’s been a whopping 44 games since Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith has scored a goal, and that’s an almost unthinkable drought considering how much he handles the puck. 


*For something completely different: Wonder Woman is getting snubbed by the Golden Globes, and it’s difficult to understand why.