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Bruins may look to make a splash by signing Kovalchuk

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Bruins may look to make a splash by signing Kovalchuk

Clearly, the Bruins fell short in the offensive depth department during this spring’s postseason run. Now it seems like they’re making significant plans to address that shortcoming. 

According to a report from TSN’s Darren Dreger, the B's are one of the interested suitors for the services of free agent winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who plans to jump back into the NHL next season after spending the last handful of years in his native Russia playing for the KHL. Boston is one of what’s believed to be close to a dozen teams vying for the 35-year-old Russian scorer, who can’t sign with an NHL team until the July 1 opening of free agency. 

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“I’m going to give you a list of teams that I believe are interested in Ilya Kovalchuk,” said Dreger on Tuesday during a radio hit with TSN 690 in Montreal. “And I’m going to qualify that level of interest. Detroit, as I tweeted earlier today, definitely made a push. The St. Louis Blues have interest, Anaheim, Dallas, the New York Islanders. I’d put that group as potential dark horse teams.

“And then beyond that, probably more solid contenders include the likes of San Jose and Los Angeles, and I’d put the Boston Bruins in that group and maybe the New York Rangers as well. So there are a total of nine teams. I did not mention Toronto or Montreal and that’s just simply because either the team hasn’t engaged or the player doesn’t see those teams as the right fit.”

Kovalchuk, who scored 31 goals and 63 points in 53 games for KHL St. Petersburg last year, last played in the NHL in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season when he scored 11 goals and 31 points in 37 games for a New Jersey Devils team that didn’t qualify for the playoffs. In his last full NHL season, 2011-12, he posted 37 goals and 83 points in 77 games in leading New Jersey's surprise run to the Stanley Cup Finals, where the Devils lost to the Kings.

No one's expecting Kovalchuk to play at the level he was at six years ago in New Jersey, but the 6-foot-3, 230-pound left winger would be exactly the kind of big-gun scorer the Bruins are seeking to boost their second line. He’s a plus-sized player who can work around the net, he’s an excellent skater, and his shot and finishing instincts are game-changers both on the power play and during even strength. Kovalchuk might be the best scoring winger available on July 1, so he’s certainly worth pursuing given that he would cost the Bruins just money to bring him in. 

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In a perfect world they'd attempt to trade for a younger player to pair with David Krejci, but a short-term, bigger-money deal with Kovalchuk would be less of a gamble with no player assets sacrificed. It would also be a better free-agent investment than throwing money at 33-year-old Rick Nash, who was something of a disappointment as their big trade-deadline acquisition. A top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, paired with a second line of Kovalchuk, Krejci and a younger winger like Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk or Ryan Donato, would be a formidable top-6 for next season and give the Bruins a much more balanced offensive attack.

It all comes down to cost, however, and the Bruins have nearly $9 million in cap space with Riley Nash, Anton Khudobin, Tim Schaller, Sean Kuraly and Matt Grzelcyk as the most likely players to be re-signed by the Bruins this summer. 

On the last deal he signed with New Jersey, Kovalchuk had a cap hit of $6.67 million per season on a long-term dea. One would expect he’d be looking for something in that neighborhood per season upon his return to North America. It’s doable for the Bruins and it sounds like the kind of big splash they’re looking to make in order to upgrade their offense.

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Bruins' Zdeno Chara spills the tea on Tuukka Rask's 'awful' farting issue

Bruins' Zdeno Chara spills the tea on Tuukka Rask's 'awful' farting issue

Zdeno Chara was probably not the Vegas favorite to give the funniest and most entertaining answer of an Atlantic Division Zoom conference call with NHL reporters, but that’s exactly what happened on Monday afternoon.

Chara, Dylan Larkin, John Tavares and Brady Tkachuk answered questions online for 30-plus minutes and the Bruins captain saved his best material when asked which teammate he’d least like to be quarantined with.

His choice was Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask and the reasons behind it were pungently amazing.

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Apparently, Rask has an issue in the fart department and it’s chronic enough that his longtime Bruins teammate would not want to be anywhere near him for the stinky aftermath of his beloved chicken wings.

“I have to say Tuukka Rask. The way he farts? The smell is awful,” said Chara. “He likes his chicken wings. And after the chicken wings I’ve had to sit behind him on the bus. I’ve got to tell you. I’ve got to control myself sometimes.” 

How this farting issue remained a well-kept secret within the Bruins locker room over the years is nothing short of amazing. 

Rask has been a regular at Buff’s Pub in Newton over the years while living in the suburban city, so none of this should be surprising information when it comes to Boston’s No. 1 goaltender.

On the other end of the spectrum, Chara singled out Charlie Coyle and Kevan Miller as teammates he enjoys spending time with and guys he wouldn’t mind being quarantined with if he had his choice.

On a more serious note, Chara, who mentioned during the call that he drove to Florida a couple of weeks ago with his family to live in their gated community property, mentioned several times that hockey is secondary right now while the entire world is going through the “strange times” of a global coronavirus outbreak, and thanked the medical personnel, first responders and food delivery people who continue to do their duty under very dangerous, trying conditions. 

Bruins' David Pastrnak gets wistful in tweet about missing hockey

Bruins' David Pastrnak gets wistful in tweet about missing hockey

There’s no doubt it’s hurting hockey fans to not have the NHL as a welcome distraction from the global coronavirus pandemic currently ripping through North America.

But there’s also little question it pains those involved in the NHL even more to not have hockey at a time of year when teams are finishing up the regular season, and gearing up for the best time of year in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Bruins hotshot right wing David Pastrnak sent out a tweet over the weekend that was simple and short with its actual words, but truly conveyed exactly the kind of heartbroken emptiness that the 23-year-old is feeling while house-bound amidst what was the best season of his excellent NHL career.

“Haven’t done the thing for a while…” wrote a wistful Pastrnak without any need to elaborate that he was talking about playing hockey and scoring goals.

For young, single NHL players like the happy, go-lucky Pastrnak this period of time has to be particularly difficult with no immediate family to keep their minds off just how much they are missing hockey in their lives.

Pastrnak was approaching both 50 goals and 100 points for the first time in his NHL career (48 goals and 95 points in 70 games) and was destined to be a Hart Trophy finalist when the NHL regular season was suspended nearly three weeks ago. It feels like hoping for more regular season games is more fantasy than reality at this point, but hockey players like Pastrnak are still clinging to the hope that there will still be some kind of hockey playoffs when some sense of normalcy hopefully returns months from now.

The good news is that guys like Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk are doing something good with their downtime as they played on a Fortnite tournament over the weekend to raise money for the COVID-19 Solidarity Relief Fund for the WHO (World Health Organization).

NHL players are still currently in quarantine after a handful of them tested positive for the coronavirus over the last week, most notably in Colorado and Ottawa, but at least the league is beginning to host video conference calls between players and the media to make certain that fans can still keep an eye on what their favorite players are up to these days.