Bruins

Entry level contracts shouldn't be holding CBA talks up

916373.jpg

Entry level contracts shouldn't be holding CBA talks up

While the NHL and NHLPA are engaged in an epic game of shut up thats lasted almost a week, heres an interesting wrinkle on one of the player contract rights thats suddenly become a big bone of contention: Some NHL executives are actually surprised the players association hasnt jumped all over the two-year entry level as something that could become a potential boon to young NHL players.

Its been widely assumed that dropping the majority of entry-level contracts from three years to two years in the next CBA would wrangle down the skyrocketing second contracts NHL superstars like Taylor Hall (seven years and 42 million) and Tyler Seguin (six years and 34.5 million) have secured at precocious young ages.

Both forwards signed their pimped out second contracts just prior to the Sept. 15 work stoppage, and it was seen as both players getting deals done that might well become extinct in the brave new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

But there are some NHL minds that think the two year entry level idea is something that serves the players as much if not more than it does the league.

I was actually surprised to see that one in the leagues proposal, and surprised it hasnt been received more favorably, said one league source. Think about it: the money teams are going to save by lopping off the third year in the entry level contracts isnt going to amount to a considerable sum. Most of those entry-level deals are for short money.

But for players like Seguin or Hall its going to get them to bigger dollar numbers more quickly. Rather than waiting for their fourth year in the league to really cash in, theyll be doing it a year earlier provided theyve shown they can play in the first two years.

Since both Hall and Seguin and Jeff Skinner to name a third signed their deals before their third NHL season, the argument that two seasons isnt enough time for players to establish lofty dollar values doesnt seem to hold water. Some NHL players dont develop until the third year of their entry-level deal, but those select skaters are actually in the minority when looking at big RFA contract extensions over the last few years.

Above and beyond the NHLs bright lights getting paid even earlier in their careers, a two-year entry level system would also make North America more attractive to European players looking to dip their toe in the waters. The Bruins had held the rights to Swedish import Carl Soderberg since trading Hannu Toivonens rights to the St. Louis Blues in 2007, but the enigmatic Swede has resisted all invitations for an NHL tryout.

Who knows?

Perhaps a smaller commitment of two years rather than three would entice some of the more sheepish foreign hockey imports like Soderberg that are currently shying away from North America.

Its certainly much more conducive to attracting players from Europe and Russia than switching to a five-year entry level contract that would tether them down for a half-decade.

Dropping to a two-year entry level system under the proposed player contract rights being offered by the NHL could result in a few more holdouts given the lessening of arbitration rights and a potential unrestricted free agent finish line pushed to 28 years old. Thats a potential downside when players have no other recourse, but the NHL owners will always pay money to protect the best, young, exciting talent on their respective teams. Players will also have the threat of offer sheets in the restricted free agency despite the fact many NHL GMs seem deathly allergic to the mere thought of them.

Even if the NHL CBA crafters believe that a two-year entry level system will bring back the traditionally modest second contracts to the NHL, the high number of players achieving stardom at 18 or 19 years old completely flies in the face of that theory.

It will be interesting to see how things play out, but dont be surprised if the NHLPA is remarkably compliant on the two-year entry level deal portion over the player contract rights theyre currently talking about.

Or not talking about as the case may be.

Rask out tonight as he recovers from practice collision

bruins-tuukka-rask-032316.jpg

Rask out tonight as he recovers from practice collision

BRIGHTON, Mass – The string of injuries for the Bruins continues as Tuukka Rask (upper body) is out for tonight’s game against the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden after getting trucked by Anders Bjork in practice Wednesday.

Rask was wobbly-legged while being helped off the ice after the violent collision and the 21-year-old Bjork looked like he’d also needed a couple of stitches on his chin after bloodying his practice jersey.

MORE:

The big concern is Rask still being evaluated by Bruins medical personnel for a possible concussion. It will be Anton Khudobin stepping in place for him against the Canucks with Providence Bruins netminder Zane McIntyre serving as his backup.

“Tuukka is out tonight. He’s going to get reevaluated today and we’ll have a better idea tomorrow,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Anton will start [against the Canucks].”

Clearly, Khudobin didn’t like seeing his goaltending partner get drilled in a spirited practice, but the 32-year-old is clearly feeling confident after a strong camp and a winning season debut last week against the Arizona Coyotes.

“You don’t want to see that, but at the same time we’ve got to keep moving forward and hopefully he’s going to get better soon,” said Khudobin, who stopped 29-of-31 shots in the win over Arizona last weekend. “I feel good. Camp was good and everything is fine, and I’ve started better than last year. My role is just day-to-day. Today is a game day and hopefully, you get a good result, and then tomorrow is another new day.”

Otherwise, it looks like the Bruins will at least be getting some of their healthy bodies back with David Backes in the lineup and Patrice Bergeron a game-time decision against the Canucks. Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings based on Wednesday’s practice:

Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork
DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak
Schaller-Kuraly-Backes
Beleskey-Nash-Agostino
 
Chara-McAvoy
Miller-Carlo
Krug-McQuaid

Khudobin 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

BOSTON — As soon as the American League Championship Series ends, the Red Sox could make a move for their manager.

Industry sources continue to expect Astros bench coach Alex Cora will be the Sox’ pick. No offer had been officially made as of midday Wednesday, one source close to the situation said. But the belief is such an offer waits out of respect to the Astros-Yankees ALCS that can end no later than Saturday if the series goes a full seven games. 

MORE:

“Not a doubt it is him,” the source said.

Sunday and Monday would both be off days ahead of the Tuesday night start of the World Series. That leads to the potential for at least a Red Sox announcement of Cora, if not a press conference, before the Fall Classic begins. (If the Astros advance to the World Series, it may be harder to have Cora in Boston for any length of time.)

All those who know Cora praise his ability to connect with players. The former Red Sox infielder is good friends with Dustin Pedroia. Cora’s previous knowledge of the Boston market works in his favor, as well, as does his mettle handling the media. Some question his readiness as a first-time manager, considering he would be taking over a team with great win-now expectations and complicated clubhouse dynamics.

Nothing takes the place of experience and there is such a thing as being too close to players. Ultimately, if the Sox do land Cora, 41, they would be adding the hottest up-and-coming managerial prospect who’s available on the market. The everybody-wants-him reputation could give Cora added cachet with players and certainly becomes a public-relations win for those fans following the search.

The Sox interviewed Ron Gardenhire on Wednesday. Gardenhire was the third candidate the Sox talked to and could well be the last. Cora met with the Sox on Sunday, followed by Brad Ausmus on Monday.