Bruins

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-Hurricanes simulation: Canes beat B's 1-0 on flukey goal

Bruins-Hurricanes simulation: Canes beat B's 1-0 on flukey goal

The NHL season has been put on hold due to the coronavirus crisis, meaning we may have to wait a while to watch the Boston Bruins again.

As a way to make up for the loss of Bruins action, we'll be using the EA Sports NHL 20 video game to simulate each game on Boston's schedule until they finally return to action.

Previous Simulations:

The Boston Bruins were supposed to take on the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night at PNC Arena, here's how our simulation of that game went.

The B's fell to the Canes 1-0 on a flukey third-period goal that slipped by Tuukka Rask. 

Here are the game stats:

Three Stars of the Game + Game Stats

Anton Forsberg, Tuukka Rask and Andrei Svechnikov were the three stars of the game. The Hurricanes led in shots with 25 and they also had three power-play opportunities that they squandered. The Bruins seemed to have passed too much in the offensive zone and didn't take enough shots on goal in the loss when comparing the shots to their time on attack.  

Bruins Individual Stats

Charlie McAvoy led all B's skaters in ice time with 23:42 while David Krejci and David Pastrnak each had three shots on goal. Tuukka Rask stopped 24 of 25 shots in the loss, but the defense didn't help them out too much.

Hurricanes Individual Stats

Jaccob Slavin led all Hurricanes skaters in ice time with 24:11 and Martin Necas led in shots with four. Anton Forsberg stopped all 17 shots faced and the Hurricanes sneak by with a flukey goal from Andrei Svechnikov.

FINAL SCORE: Hurricanes 1, Bruins 0

Bruins Record (Includes simulated games): 47-16-14 (107 points)

*NOTE: We did not include Boston's games against the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs or Florida Panthers in the simulation, therefore the simulated record isn't 100 percent accurate*

Next Simulation: vs. St. Louis Blues on Thursday

Be sure to keep an eye out for our Bruins vs. Blues simulation which is set to drop on Thursday.

We aren't the only ones enjoying sports video games to pass the time and get their competitive fix. Even the B's Anton Blidh is enjoying his time off with a little virtual sports action.

Phil Esposito set impressive Bruins goal scoring record on this day in 1971

Phil Esposito set impressive Bruins goal scoring record on this day in 1971

March 31 is a special day in the history books of the Boston Bruins franchise.

Hall of Fame forward Phil Esposito scored his 70th goal (an NHL record at the time) of the 1970-71 season on this day, becoming the first Bruins player to hit that goal-scoring milestone.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

Check out the graphic below for more information:

Esposito's 76 goals in the 1970-71 season still stand as a Bruins record for a single campaign.

Bruins right winger David Pastrnak was making a run at 60 goals earlier this season. The 23-year-old star currently sits at 48 goals with the season suspended due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. Pastrnak is tied for the league lead with Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin.

If the 2019-20 season doesn't resume or the league decides to go straight to the Stanley Cup Playoffs upon returning, Pastrnak would be the first Bruins player to win or share the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the league's leading goal scorer since Esposito in 1974-75.