Bruins

Bruins show faith in young D by passing on Franson

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Bruins show faith in young D by passing on Franson

WILMINGTON, Mass – The Bruins were involved in the Cody Franson derby at points this summer, but they weren’t there at the end when the 6-foot-5 D-man inked a two-year, $6.65 million deal with the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. Franson went through the summer unsigned as teams shied away while he looked for longer term and bigger money and weren’t sold on the player after he struggled following his trade from Toronto to Nashville.

Still, Franson, 28, posted seven goals and 36 points last season and proved himself a solid, if a bit slow in the skating department, top-4 defenseman that could have stepped into the void left by Dougie Hamilton’s departure. There was certainly grumbling by the message board warriors and Bruins fanatics, who thought Boston should have been willing to pony up for Franson if they’d also been willing to pay Adam McQuaid a contract extension salary of $2.75 million per season.

So, Don Sweeney admitted he was tempted to really pursue Franson once the price came down over the last month after some lofty contract wishes back on July 1, but in the end wanted to get a look at his young defensemen.

That means giving looks to Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid as potential top-4 D-men, and allowing for Zach Trotman, Colin Miller and Joe Morrow to get a legitimate shot at NHL gigs.

“I think this is presenting an opportunity where you go and establish yourself,” said Sweeney of the young D-men right in the middle of competition for NHL jobs. “There’s definitely a little bit of a tug of war going on internally as to whether or not you go out and get a guy that you know can provide what [Franson] can versus a little of the unknown as to what these [younger] players can grow into. But there’s always going to be that, and every team faces that when you have a little bit of transition and age, and you have some young players that are pushing for their own opportunity.

“But you’re always going to have that. You’re going to have that up front, and have that at every position. You want that. That’s the internal competition that as an organization we have to have if we’re going to get better. I’m not going to turn my back on it when I feel like guys are in that position, but if they fall short of that then we have to make an adjustment accordingly.”

Translation: if the young D-men can’t hack it in camp or early in the regular season, the Bruins won’t hesitate to target some of the big name blueliners that might become available, with names such as Dustin Byfuglien or Brent Seabrook.

Trotman, in particular, could be the beneficiary of the Bruins passing on Franson as his size, strength and offensive skill set is very similar to Franson.

The one major difference: Trotman, 25, is three years younger, home-grown and a much more inexpensive player than one of the top free agents on the market. He is on a one way contract, and really took a big step last season with a goal and five points in 27 games while earning top pairing shifts with Zdeno Chara at the end of last season.

That is a pretty convincing sample size that Trotman is ready to be one of those young, offensively capable D-men ready to turn up the transition game for the Bruins and seize the opportunity in front of him with Franson now in Buffalo.

Bruins wowed by scrimmage turnout: "Not many other cities where that would happen"

Bruins wowed by scrimmage turnout: "Not many other cities where that would happen"

BOSTON – The final score didn’t matter, and truth be told the identities of the goal-scorers and the assist-makers didn’t really matter all that much either.

The only things that really mattered during Thursday night’s Intra-squad scrimmage at TD Garden were that all the Bruins players got out of the exercise healthy (they did after a brief scare with Brad Marchand), and that an amazing 16,000 plus Bruins fans filtered through the gates as paying customers to watch a glorified night practice.

Certainly it was a good night for David Pastrnak scoring a couple of goals, and David Backes kicked in a couple of scores of his own. It was a little less than stellar for Tuukka Rask giving up a couple of goals in his 25 minutes of work, and David Krejci never even made it on the ice after running a fever earlier in the day on Thursday.

But the biggest winners of all were the Bruins fans that got to see their Bruins for a $20 fee going to the Bruins Foundation, and showed exactly the kind of support that the Black and Gold get from their hardcore fan base.

“I thought it was great to be back in front of our home crowd. They had good energy. I think the guys fed off that a little bit. It’s nice to be appreciated I guess or cheered on in these circumstances, but we’re trying to get our work done. That was the message. We can’t get out there and have it like a summer hockey league game,” said Bruce Cassidy. “You’re going to make some plays but try to stay detailed as best you can.

“Sometimes in these environments, you want to do a little more, so we got a little bit of both, but we got our work done. Thanks to the fans for coming out. Supports a good cause and got to see some decent players playing, getting ready to go into the Final, so it’s a win-win.”

It showed just how hungry Bruins fans are for the Stanley Cup, and just how frenzied the following is with Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final scheduled for Monday night against the St. Louis Blues at the Garden. Bruins President Cam Neely saluted the fans ahead of the two-quarter scrimmage on Thursday night, and B’s leaders Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron addressed the crown after the two teams produced eight goals during the game rehearsal.

It all added up to an impromptu love-fest with a Bruins team that’s exceeded expectations and hopes this season, and could bring a second Stanley Cup back to Boston in the last eight years. All of that good mojo was apparent to the Bruins players as they talked it about after scrimmaging for 50 minutes in front of a packed house.

“I was saying to my dad or somebody that I hope [the fans] remember that we still have one more series to go. They showed up and it was great. Not many other cities around the league where that would happen,” said Torey Krug. “It was fun to get out there and extremely beneficial for us to get out there in some game-type situations.

“We have the type of locker room that gives 100 percent all the time whether it’s a practice or a game, and that’s what we tried to do tonight. Looking up and seeing the upper bowl was pretty full, that’s pretty special.”  

Some will say that the game day simulation with the night scrimmage was odd, or that it didn’t really make much of a difference with the 10 days off between the Eastern Conference Final and Stanley Cup Final. Certainly those both might be true, but the B’s had to try something to keep too much rust from gathering on their game prior to puck drop on Monday night against the St. Louis Blues.

Now all that’s left is to count down the days until the Cup Final begins in earnest on Monday evening, and the fans really get a treat with the Bruins and Blues facing off after Thursday night’s scrimmage appetizer at the Garden. 

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Breakfast Podcast, May 23, 2019: Bruins play Intra-team scrimmage 3 days before Stanley Cup Final

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Breakfast Podcast, May 23, 2019: Bruins play Intra-team scrimmage 3 days before Stanley Cup Final

LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE

01:35: DJ Bean, Michael Holley, and Danielle Trotta react to Bruins decision to have intra-squad scrimmage three days before the start of the Stanley Cup Final. Although no one was injured, there was a close call in Brad Marchand.

05:25: Kyrie Irving was named 2nd-Team All-NBA, Chris Forsberg joins DJ Bean and Danielle Trotta to react. Was he named correctly? And Dan Gilbert comments on Kyrie Irving trade saying, “We killed it.”

09:50: After Bruce Cassidy commented on Patrice Bergeron’s legacy as a Boston athlete, Michael Holley and Rich Keefe rank the top ten most beloved Boston Athletes. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.