Bruins

Cassidy says Kovalchuk would be 'nice addition' to Bruins

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Cassidy says Kovalchuk would be 'nice addition' to Bruins

As the free agency period of July 1 inches closer, the hype machine for 35-year-old Ilya Kovalchuk will grow more and more frenzied for teams like the Bruins.

And coach Bruce Cassidy gladly added to it on Tuesday in Las Vegas, telling reporters assembled for the NHL Awards that the Russian winger would be “a nice fit” for the Black and Gold. 

“Yeah, that would be interesting . . . you never want to speculate,” Cassidy said to reporters in Vegas during his press availability as a finalist for the Jack Adams Award. “You can’t get too far ahead . . . he’s a top-six guy, he can play left and right wing, he’s a big body. He’d be a nice addition. I am sure any team would say that right now. 

“He’s going to make your team better, and I think that’s what you always look at as a coach, and fitting [talented players] in is the easy part. The tough part is getting those types of players.”

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The Bruins will be among a handful of teams vying for Kovalchuk, who spend the last five seasons playing in the KHL after bolting the New Jersey Devils and the NHL after the lockout-shortened 2013 NHL season. Even at his advanced NHL age, the expectation is that Kovalchuk can still have an impact offensively even if he’s not exactly the same player who posted 37 goals and 83 points in his last full season in Jersey six years ago. 

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound winger still has the big shot, the scoring ability, the size and the game-breaking skills that made him a former first overall pick in the NHL draft, and it may just be that he has more left in his tank than the younger Rick Nash. Clearly there was a concussion that played a big part in Nash’s time in Boston, but he also didn’t look like the explosive scoring ability was still there like it was in the Columbus/New York power forward’s younger years. 

The Bruins haven’t yet locked in a time when they’ll make their pitch to Kovalchuk’s camp, but it’s expected to happen ahead of the July 1 opening of free agency. Kovalchuk's representatives have already had meetings with teams on the West Coast like the Kings and Sharks. It’s expected that Kovalchuk, 35, be looking at a shorter-term deal making something close to the $6.67 annual salary he was being paid by the Devils when he departed the NHL. 

If Kovalchuk were to land in Boston, he’d fill a need for secondary scoring behind the big guns of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.He would allow the Bruins to keep their top forward line intact while filling a hole on the second line right wing alongside David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. 

With the news that next season’s salary cap is going to be in the $79-80 million range, the Bruins will also have somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 million in cap space for their offseason shopping list. That should give them plenty of room to sign Kovalchuk to a short-term deal and still address the other openings on their NHL roster, including third-line center and a backup goaltender. Still, Kovalchuk would be the big fish, and that’s why the talk about him is front and center.

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Big payday expected for Torey Krug, whether it's from Bruins or someone else

Big payday expected for Torey Krug, whether it's from Bruins or someone else

While Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney managed to free up some cap space at the NHL trade deadline on Monday, Torey Krug has yet to ink a contract extension with the organization.

The 28-year-old defenseman said in September that he would be willing to take a pay cut to remain with the Bruins. Obviously, though, he's not going to take a massive discount, especially considering he's expected to be paid similarly to Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson, who makes $8 million per year.

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The latest report from The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun doesn't sound too promising for Boston. According to LeBrun, NHL agents believe that Krug will sign a deal from anywhere between $7.5-8 million per season -- noting that Boston will not be willing to pay Krug more than Pastrnak ($6.66 million AAV) or Bergeron ($6.875 AAV).

Here's what the agents said specifically:

“Boston won’t want to pay Krug more than Pasta ($6.66-million AAV) or Bergeron ($6.875-million AAV),’’ an agent said, according to LeBrun. “I think Krug could get $7-million AAV if goes free, maybe $7.5 million.’’

“I would value him between $7.5 million to $8 million," another agent said. "Call him what he is, a consistent 50-point offensive D-man and point a game guy in playoffs. “

What is LeBrun's prediction, though? Unfortunately for Boston, he believes Krug will hit the open market this summer.

Sweeney's latest update on contract negotiations with Krug also doesn't sound too promising -- noting that he has stayed in contact with Krug, but there is no timeline for a deal to be made.

Boston also needs to re-sign key free agents in Jake DeBrusk (RFA), Zdeno Chara (UFA), Jaroslav Halak (UFA) and Matt Grzelcyk (RFA) among others. So, they'd be in a very sticky salary cap situation if they were to give Krug between $7.5-8 million per year.

 

Bruins' Patrice Bergeron has some advice for Patriots' Tom Brady

Bruins' Patrice Bergeron has some advice for Patriots' Tom Brady

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron are more similar than you think.

Well, at least in the sense that both have spent their entire professional careers in Massachusetts.

But with the latest news that Brady is reportedly set to test free agency and may not re-sign with the Patriots, Bergeron noted that any athlete who is thinking of playing anywhere else but Boston should re-evaluate their decision.

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"I don't think there's many places like Boston to be honest with you," Bergeron said following Bruins practice Thursday morning, according to WBZ's Joe Giza. "All the teams are always very successful and in it every time, and the fans are special. It's been a lot of fun to be in this position, obviously, for me, myself, I got drafted here and kind of grew up here. So, it's been welcome from day one and it's a very special place.

"It seems like it's the feeling every time guys come here. They seem to be very happy to come here and play under the fans that love the game, that know the game, know their hockey and are behind us. But like you said, it's a sports town and there's rich history here."

It's been known for a while that Brady, number one, wants a raise and number two, wants the Patriots to give him some offensive talent to work with in order to help him win his seventh Super Bowl title. Oh yeah, and don't forget that thirst to prove he can win in another system other than Bill Belichick's.

While Robert Kraft is willing to dish out the big bucks to keep his star quarterback in New England, it'll be extremely difficult for the organization to sign any big-name receivers while still re-signing key talent in Kyle Van Noy, Matthew Slater, and Devin McCourty among others.

If Brady places any value on the "rich history" of Boston sports that Bergeron mentions above, maybe he'll remain in New England. Honestly, though, does anyone truly know which way he's leaning? Probably not.