Bruins

Cassidy explains his Agostino choice in shootout loss

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Cassidy explains his Agostino choice in shootout loss

BRIGHTON, Mass – While it felt like a bit of ancient history because it was a couple of days ago and Kenny Agostino is now back in the AHL, Bruce Cassidy finally got a chance to address his shootout choices on Wednesday afternoon. For those that need a refresher, Cassidy selected the 25-year-old Agostino for Monday night’s shootout along with Brad Marchand as both failed to score in the extra-session loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The choice was more than a little curious given that either Patrice Bergeron or David Pastrnak wouldn’t be among Boston’s top three shooters, and was thoroughly ripe for second-guessing once the Bruins bowed out quickly in the shootout.

So what was Cassidy’s reasoning behind the Agostino choice?

“Some of it was preseason, he had a breakaway and scored, some of it was some success he’s had at the American League level and some of it was gut. He’s an offensive player that can finish off plays,” said Cassidy. “In hindsight, it’s a lousy call when he didn’t score and if he scores then it looks good.”

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The B’s head coach went on to outline his overall philosophy in the shootout, and how some goal-scorers aren’t necessarily perfectly suited for shootout duties while citing the example of Alex Ovechkin with the Washington Capitals. It would seem that Marchand (7-for-28 with a 25 percent success rate) and Bergeron (25-for-85 with a 29.4 percent success rate) are players that Cassidy is going to roll with most of the time in the shootout, and instead appears to have reservations about using David Pastrnak (1-for-9 for a 11.1 percent success rate) given some shootout difficulties over the last few years.

“I think what happens in shootouts is that some guys that are natural goal-scorers, it doesn’t always translate to shootout success. You can look up the numbers. For some other guys it does,” said Cassidy. “It’s not an automatic that your leading scorer [will be in the shootout]. A quick release in the shootout matters, but it might not matter as much as it does five-on-five. With some guys having success and some guys not having success, it’s about their ability going 1-on-1 against the goalie. When the goalie is set and ready, they might not be able to beat them with what’s natural for them.

“I might be out of line here, but I don’t know how often Alex Ovechkin goes out there [for the shootout] and he’s one of the best natural goal-scorers there is with one of the hardest shots. So sometimes guys have much more luck than others.

While Cassidy has some numbers to back up his argument, this humble hockey writer believes it’s way too early to write off the 21-year-old Pastrnak as a player that’s not built for success in the shootout. He’s not just a one-timer shot from the face-off circle, and Pastrnak potentially has the speed, hands and creativity to be a dangerous, effective one-on-one player in the shootout. When David Krejci is healthy he might be a much easier choice as a third for the shootout (14-for-48 with a 29.2 percent success rate), and Cassidy has some other young player choices with potential shootout skill like Anders Bjork and Jake DeBrusk.

The bottom line, however, is that Cassidy and the Bruins had much better options for the shootout than a career AHL guy in Agostino, and it was a little much to expect a goal from a guy that barely played five minutes in a 65-minute overtime game. That’s backed up by the fact that Agostino was shipped down to the American League less than 24 hours later after failing to come through in Columbus, and the whole losing the game thing as well.

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Haggerty: Bruins should pass on trading for Wayne Simmonds

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Haggerty: Bruins should pass on trading for Wayne Simmonds

DALLAS -- Interesting times for the Bruins as they head into NHL Draft weekend here, as a number of names have been bandied about as possibilities,. Things are fluid right now as far as targets and potential strategies go, what with the draft being held this weekend and free agency opening on July 1. 

One name that has popped up in recent days is Flyers power forward Wayne Simmonds, who is entering the final year of his contract at age 29. Simmonds was mentioned as a possible target by NBC Sports Boston way back in May, and has been kicked up in the last few days with The Athletic’s Michael Russo mentioning him as possible trade bait for the Minnesota Wild. 

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In a vacuum, Simmonds would be a terrific second-line fit for Boston. Despite battling injuries that culminated with him undergoing hip surgery, Simmonds scored 24 goals and 46 points last year. Just a couple of seasons ago he put up 32 goals and 60 points. At his best, the 6-foot-2, 183-pounder is a prototypical power forward capable of scoring goals around the net, throwing big hits and dropping the gloves with a ferocious level of intimidation when the situation calls for it. 

He’s very much in the mold of Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton and Jarome Iginla as the kind of power winger that’s been very good with David Krejci in the past, and would make the Bruins a little tougher and much harder to play against. 

So, clearly, as a player Simmonds would be “a great addition” for the Bruins, as Bruce Cassidy said about Ilya Kovalchuk, with all things being equal. 

Here’s the rub: The cost is going to be considerable for Simmonds. The Bruins will have to give up significant assets to get a full year of Simmonds ahead of his free-agent walk year, and then they’d need to pay up again to sign him to a big contract extension at some point next season.

Certainly the B’s would feel beholden to sign Simmonds if they gave up blue-chip prospects and draft picks to land him.

As with most trade discussions over the last year, Jake DeBrusk is a name that's been an ask from other team. Even if it's Danton Heinen or Anders Bjork involved in the discussions instead, the Bruins would need to give up a valued young winger in order to get the more established Simmonds. 

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They’d be doing all this for a big-bodied, 29-year-old player who's probably going to start slowing down, and breaking down, over the next few seasons.

A couple of years ago landing Simmonds would have been a master stroke move for the Bruins as they sought to replace Lucic’s hulking presence in the lineup. Certainly they could have used the offensive punch on their second line, where Rick Nash disappointed after arriving at the trade deadline last spring. 

But in this humble hockey writer’s opinion, the window should probably be closed at this point on acquiring Simmonds, given the cost in terms of both assets and future dollars.

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Morning Skate: One man's NHL awards ballot (sorry, Patrice)

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Morning Skate: One man's NHL awards ballot (sorry, Patrice)

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while giving full credit to the NHL for an excellent awards show that adeptly highlighted very emotional hockey stories involving Las Vegas and the Humboldt Broncos. Seeing all those Humboldt kids together while the Broncos head coach’s widow made an awards speech was very moving.

-- Speaking of the awards, here’s my full PHWA ballot submitted at the end of the season. I’ll admit that I had a very different line of thinking than most with my Hart Trophy vote, as I didn’t have Taylor Hall in my top five. I wasn’t going to penalize players like Evgeni Malkin and Nikita Kucherov for having outstanding seasons on good teams, as it seemed like this season’s voting was all about players, like Hall and Nathan MacKinnon, who essentially carried middling teams to the playoffs. I’d also stick with Patrice Bergeron as the best defensive forward in the NHL even if he missed 22 percent of the season (18 games) due to injuries. I know that many voters ended up dinging Bergeron for the time missed to injuries, and that opened the door for another very viable candidate in Anze Kopitar to win the Selke for the second time.

Victor Hedman for Norris and Mathew Barzal for Calder were both no-brainers, and the Lady Byng is always a toss-up as I didn’t have winner William Karlsson on my ballot either. Anyway, here’s my ballot:

Hart Trophy

1. Evgeni Malkin Pittsburgh Penguins
2. Claude Giroux Philadelphia Flyers
3. Nathan MacKinnon Colorado Avalanche
4. Nikita Kucherov Tampa Bay Lightning
5. Blake Wheeler Winnipeg Jets

Norris Trophy

1. Victor Hedman Tampa Bay Lightning
2. PK Subban Nashville Predators
3. John Carlson Washington Capitals
4. Drew Doughty Los Angeles Kings
5. Shayne Gostisbehere Philadelphia Flyers

Calder Trophy

1. Mathew Barzal New York Islanders
2. Brock Boeser Vancouver Canucks
3. Yanni Gourde Tampa Bay Lightning
4. Charlie McAvoy Boston Bruins
5. Clayton Keller Arizona Coyotes

Lady Byng Trophy

1. Ryan O'Reilly Buffalo Sabres
2. Alex DeBrincat Chicago Blackhawks
3. Ryan Spooner New York Rangers
4. Mark Stone Ottawa Senators
5. Evgenii Dadonov Florida Panthers

Selke Trophy

1. Patrice Bergeron Boston Bruins
2. Anze Kopitar Los Angeles Kings
3. Jonathan Toews Chicago Blackhawks
4. Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins
5. Aleksander Barkov Florida Panthers

-- Think there might be some angry Edmonton Oilers fans who want a refund on the Hall-for-Adam Larsson trade that Peter Chiarelli engineered a couple of seasons ago? Yeah, I think there probably might be.

-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Darren Dreger says his gut feeling is that Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson is going to get traded.

-- Which teams might be interested in Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly? Well, there should be plenty, given what kind of player he is. This is part of the problem with the B’s trying to deal David Krejci or David Backes this offseason. There are going to be much better, younger players available out there on the trade market like O’Reilly.  

-- Now that the foundation is in place for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the job becomes taking that next step with the Leafs.

-- It sounds like it’s going to be a busy weekend for Jeff Gorton and the New York Rangers as they have a slew of first-round picks to make on Friday night.

-- It sounds like Dallas isn’t all that pumped about hosting the NHL Draft this weekend. Or maybe they just don’t know it’s going on.

-- For something completely different: Boy, Kevin McHale sure gained some attention this morning after being a very noticeable audience member during yesterday’s Trump speech in Minnesota.