Bruins

Haggerty: Bruins should go bold and tender an offer sheet to Seth Jones

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Haggerty: Bruins should go bold and tender an offer sheet to Seth Jones

The Boston Bruins are desperate for a No. 1 franchise defenseman, what with Zdeno Chara turning 40 this season.

Just how desperate is the question.

General manager Don Sweeney is hard at work to bolster the team's defense corps. Trade talks are percolating for puck-moving, All-Star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, and there are several other irons on the fire.

Barring development of a diamond-in-the-rough defenseman (the way Duncan Keith developed in Chicago), that's the route -- going outside the organization -- the Bruins are going to have to take. They don't appear to have a No. 1 defenseman-in-the-making on hand, despite the obvious talents of young, developing players like Brandon Carlo, Robbie O’Gara, Jakub Zboril and Jeremy Lauzon. Nor does it appear they'll be able to draft their future franchise d-man with the 14th overall pick in the first round. 

Unfortunately, young players like Sami Vatanen are getting locked up to long-term deals, while fellow promising young D’s -- Colorado’s Tyson Barrie, Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba -- appear destined to remain with their current teams. The Bruins will be hard-pressed to muster offers tempting enough to land other young defensemen like Hampus Lindholm or Matthew Dumba, particularly if names like Taylor Hall and Matt Duchene get dangled by Edmonton and Colorado, respectively.

So here’s an outside-the-box thought that anybody involved with the Bruins would have to consider, seeing that their long-term future is very much in question right now:

What about a massive offer sheet to restricted free agent defenseman Seth Jones?

He won't come cheap. Thanks to their own missteps -- dealing a second-round 2017 pick to New Jersey for Lee Stempniak, flat-out wasting their 2017 third-round pick in the Zac Rinaldo trade with the Flyers -- the Bruins don't have enough compensation picks to make a reasonable offer to a restricted RFA. So they would need to make an offer of $9.3 million per season, and forfeit their next four first-round draft choices, in order to qualify for an offer sheet to the 21-year-old Jones.

But he would be the young, big-bodied franchise defenseman the B's need, and the move would be similar to a bold one made 10 years ago when they landed the prototypical big-bodied, franchise defenseman in Chara.

The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Jones struggled last season with 3 goals and 31 points along with a minus-14 rating in 81 games for Nashville and Columbus, and he looked every bit the young D-man in late-season games against the Bruins. But he’s also the fourth overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, and still projects to be a frontline, franchise No. 1 defenseman once he grows into his massive body, gains NHL-level experience, and sees his game mature . . . like so many other young blueliners on a learning curve.

A $9.3 million cap hit would be 12.7 percent of Boston’s salary cap starting in 2016-17, and moves would obviously need to be made to fit him and Chara under the cap for next season. But to put it in perspective: Chara’s $7.5 million contract was 17 percent of Boston’s $44 million cap availability in 2006-07, his first year in Boston. The Bruins took a short-term hit on the huge deal that season, but watched the contract become reasonable as the salary cap consistently rose over the last 10 years.

If the Bruins believe Seth Jones could be the next Chara-type franchise defenseman, he certainly could be worth the monetary investment.

As far as the four first-round picks are concerned, losing them would be painful as well. But perhaps not as painful as one might think, given that -- since they'd start surrendering the choices in June 2017 -- the Bruins will have made five first-round picks in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 drafts, replenishing their prospect cupboard. And, besides, the Bruins could be picking in the 10-20 range for the foreseeable future as they’re stuck in the middle with a serviceable-but-not-good lineup on the cusp of the playoffs. They'd never got a shot at a Seth Jones-type player in the draft over the next four years anyway.

Also, the Bruins haven’t exactly consistently killed it with their first-round picks over the last 10 years. So perhaps shooting for the moon with Jones is a much safer bet than hoping to hit gold with a mid-first-round choice.

Offer sheets to restricted free agents are the exception rather than the norm in the NHL, where GM’s don’t want to break form from the other 29 members of the fraternity. In Boston’s case, however, part of the reason the B's lost Dougie Hamilton last season was fear of the Edmonton Oilers were going to swoop in with an offer sheet. So wouldn’t turnabout be fair play?

Yes, it's a very bold move. Yes, they’d have to ridiculously overpay, given their draft-pick situation.

But it’s something Cam Neely and Don Sweeney -- who need to do something creative, innovative and ballsy in order to reverse Boston’s slide to mediocrity -- should think long and hard about.

Bobby Orr calls Don Cherry's firing 'disgraceful' says his former coach is 'not a racist'

Bobby Orr calls Don Cherry's firing 'disgraceful' says his former coach is 'not a racist'

Count the greatest Bruin ever - and arguably the NHL's greatest player - among those who are unhappy that Don Cherry lost his job.

Hall of Famer and B's legend Bobby Orr told WEEI's "Ordway, Merloni and Fauria" show that the firing of his former coach, nicknamed Grapes, from "Hockey Night In Canada" telecasts for controversial comments toward immigrants is "disgraceful."

“I know Grapes better than anybody," Orr said. "He’s not a bigot and he’s not a racist. This guy is the most generous caring guy that I know. What they’ve done to him up there is disgraceful, it really is. It's a new world, I guess. Freedom of speech doesn't matter."

Orr, who played for Cherry on the 1974-75 and '75-76 Bruins, said Cherry is "hurt, but he's going to be fine. He's getting some nice calls from his friends here in Boston. He is getting some wonderful support."

Cherry, 85, was fired by Canadian national sports network Rogers Sportsnet, where his "Coach's Corner" segments have been a staple for decades, after his comments on a Nov. 9 telecast where he called on immigrants to buy more poppies or otherwise commemorate fallen military on Canada's Remembrance Day - a.k.a. Veterans Day in the US.

Cherry said at the time: “You people … you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.”

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Bruins call up Trent Frederic, hope move to wing can let him tap into his inner power forward

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Bruins call up Trent Frederic, hope move to wing can let him tap into his inner power forward

BRIGHTON, Mass. — Trent Frederic has largely been a bottom-6 center for the Boston Bruins when he’s received his shots at the NHL level in Boston.

So it will be a little different for the 2016 first-round pick when the 21-year-old Frederic gets back into the B’s lineup on Friday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs as a physical left winger based on Boston’s need for healthy bodies up front. Frederic skated on the left side with Par Lindholm and Danton Heinen on a makeshift third line at Thursday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena.

Frederic has just five points in 15 games for the P-Bruins this season and went scoreless in 15 games with Boston last season while mostly in the middle and admitted he hasn’t exactly hit his stride in the AHL as of yet this year.

“I’ve been playing hard and I’ve been playing well,” said Frederic. “It hasn’t exactly gone my way the whole year, but I keep battling through it and playing hard every game.”

Bruce Cassidy is interested to see if plugging the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder on the wing can free him up for some needed physicality and more offense. Those are a couple things the B’s are certainly a little light on up front with David Backes and Brett Ritchie both injured and out for Friday night’s tilt against the Maple Leafs. 

The move to left wing might be just the thing to allow the big, physical forward to tap into his inner power forward, though he did have a whopping 40 penalty minutes in his 15 AHL games this year. 

“We'll see if that frees him up to go out and be physical and play more his style, just straight-line game instead of overthinking it as a centerman," said Cassidy. "We're not going to bring him up as a left shot and throw him on the right wing, I think that's a little unfair. We're already kind of moving him to begin with to see where he's at."

Certainly the Bruins are getting a good look at their organizational depth with all of these call-ups to Boston this early in the season, and that could help them down the line when it gets closer to potentially dealing some of those young forward assets for more NHL help à la Marcus Johansson last spring. Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings for Friday's game based on Thursday’s practice:

FORWARD LINES

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Anders Bjork David Krejci Charlie Coyle
Trent Frederic Par Lindholm Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom Sean Kuraly Chris Wagner

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk Brandon Carlo
Urho Vaakanainen Connor Clifton

STARTING GOALIE

Tuukka Rask

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