Bruins

Don Sweeney: Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy contract talks 'works in progress' with camp looming

Don Sweeney: Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy contract talks 'works in progress' with camp looming

The start of Bruins training camp is less than 24 hours away and the expectation is that both Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo won’t be there as unsigned restricted free agents.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney gave the best update he could on Wednesday afternoon while discussing Bruce Cassidy’s contract extension, and it didn’t amount to much of an update at all.

“Still works in progress. We continue to communicate every day and we remain hopeful that we can find the landing spot for both players,” said Sweeney. “Obviously they’re important to our hockey club and we’re going to continue working at it.”

Certainly, as mentioned earlier this week, the three-year, $15 million bridge deal for Columbus defenseman Zach Werenski is going to make an impact on negotiations with the 21-year-old McAvoy. One could very easily envision McAvoy signing the same kind of bridge deal if both sides can’t find common ground on a long term contract, and if the clock begins ticking on the regular season for one of Boston’s most important players.

It shouldn’t be nearly as difficult for Carlo, who should be in line for something in the neighborhood of $3-4 million per season on a three-year contract based on comparable RFAs around the league.

Sweeney also mentioned earlier this week at the Bruins rookie camp that he’s not interested in signing his RFA’s to contracts that will take them directly to free agency, so that leaves a window for the kind of term that the B’s/McAvoy would be looking at for a contract.

Basically the Bruins won’t be offering Carlo a four-year deal, and they won’t be offering McAvoy any five-year contract offers. Either they are going to retain some of their restricted free agent seasons for another negotiation down the line after a bridge deal, or they are going to move longer-term with a pair of bona fide top-4 defensemen.

As of right now, however, the Bruins are without their future No. 1 D-man in McAvoy after he played brilliantly during the Stanley Cup playoffs, and they are without their top young shutdown D-man in Carlo with camp set to begin. Both are young players that could still benefit greatly from training camp leading into the regular season, but their head coach doesn’t want that to become a distraction for the team as they ready for the new season.

“It’s a hypothetical now and I’ll be able to answer it a little better once we get going,” said Cassidy. “But at the end of the day as a coach you coach the guys that are there. That’s the business side of it. I hope they both do well and get what they deserve, and after that we’ll get them ready to go. I think any coach will tell you that they don’t want guys to miss [training camp time]. You want your team and you want your guys that you’ll be working with.

“But if they’re not there then guys like [Connor] Clifton and maybe [Urho] Vaakanainen – guys that play the right side – will get a better look.”

Training camp will begin for the Bruins on Thursday morning with the first preseason games to get going pretty quickly next week with the B’s playing a short six-game exhibition schedule following their short summer break.

Bruce Cassidy signs a multi-year extension with Bruins>>>

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Sean Kuraly, Bruins fourth line 'trying to get back to what makes them a good line'

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Sean Kuraly, Bruins fourth line 'trying to get back to what makes them a good line'

BRIGHTON, Mass. — While there are obviously plenty of things that have gone right for the Bruins given their standing in first place in the Atlantic Division, their fourth line hasn’t really been one of them.

A big part of it, obviously, is the number of injuries suffered early in the season with left winger Joakim Nordstrom out of the mix for 11 games, so the continuity wasn’t there early in the season with a number of different faces on Boston’s energy line.

But the regular trio has been together for the last few weeks, and still hasn’t completely found the footing that made them one of the most effective fourth lines in the NHL last season. They have combined for just four goals in the first 20 games this season, and both Chris Wagner and Sean Kuraly have been minus players this season.

The good news is that some offensive opportunities are beginning to come their way, enough so that Wagner has been unsuccessfully tapped for the shootout in each of the last two instances where the Bruins made it to the extra season.

But it’s also clear to Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy that his fourth line needs to get back to basics and do what they do best in playing with speed and physicality, shutting down top lines and occasionally popping in secondary offense when chances present themselves. Right now they are doing some of that, but clearly haven’t hit the high levels they were at a little more often last season.

“I think [Kuraly] is losing sight a little bit of what makes them a good line, and what makes him a good player. He’s visibly frustrated when he’s not finishing, which I get. Guys want to score. But that shouldn’t then affect the rest of his game, and I think it has a little bit. We’ve pulled them aside as a line, especially the assistant coaches, and have gone through things when they’re solid,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I think the puck is finding Sean and the rest of their line; they just have to finish. But he really has to make sure what his primary role is and that’s been our message to him.

“That’s being a shutdown guy and making life miserable for one of their top two lines, and then get the job done on the penalty. I don’t want to say the offense is gravy, but you’ve just got to play through that part of it and not let if affect you mentally.”

Kuraly himself admitted that it hasn’t been an easy go of it this season and understands exactly what needs to be done to get them back to their high level of play.

“My details can be better and that’s my focus. I want to be top end at the little things and the details,” said Kuraly, who has been a minus-3 with just five shots on net in the last five games for the Bruins. “I think some of that might have slipped lately and my focus is going to be getting that back to what it was. It’s realizing when I do that, I give the team a good chance to win — and when I don’t, it can hurt us. A lot of that can fall on me.”

Maybe what the B's fourth line needs is simply to play crash-and-bang hockey with some responsible defense thrown in for a couple of games. Once they have become difficult to play against once again, then the offense will follow afterward.

It remains to be seen exactly when the B’s energy line is going to make the expected turnaround, but it sounds like everybody is on the same page as to how exactly that’s going to happen, when it does happen.

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Bruins' Jake DeBrusk, Brett Ritchie trending toward return vs. Devils

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Bruins' Jake DeBrusk, Brett Ritchie trending toward return vs. Devils

BRIGHTON, Mass. — The Bruins should get at least a couple of pieces of their team back from injuries for Tuesday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

Jake DeBrusk (lower body) and Brett Ritchie (upper body) both skated without restrictions in Monday morning’s practice at Warrior Arena, and it sounded like they would play against the Devils barring any setbacks following practice. For DeBrusk, it will be a welcome return after a five-game absence and he’ll hope to pick up where he left off with goals in each of the two games before he got hurt early in the first period against the Canadiens on November 5.

“I’m feeling good,” said DeBrusk, who has three goals and six points in 15 games this season. “I’ve obviously been missing the game, so it was great skating with the boys today. I scored in back-to-back games before Montreal, so I used the time [out with injury] to reflect on things and rejuvenate myself in a way. It was different things that were getting to me a little bit. I used the time to be more mature with my approach [to the game] coming back whenever that is going to be.”

Patrice Bergeron (lower body) didn’t skate with the Bruins on Monday and will be a game-time decision against the Devils while planning to travel with the team to New Jersey. Torey Krug (upper body) skated ahead of practice on Monday and could be nearing a return to the lineup as well, but he won’t be playing against the Devils.

“Ritchie and DeBrusk both skated and no residual effects right now, so we anticipate they’re going to play,” said Cassidy. “We’ll put them as game-time decisions. “Krug skated. He’s not available [against the Devils] so he’ll be available a little later as well.”

As far as other injured Bruins are concerned, Kevan Miller has had a couple of days off the ice, “won’t play this week” but is looking at a possible return to game action next week after he was not on the ice with the team on Monday morning. John Moore (shoulder surgery) did skate with the main group and continues to make progress in his recovery from offseason surgery.

Tuukka Rask will get the start against the Devils on Tuesday night, and both Brendan Gaunce and Urho Vaakanainen were called up to the Bruins ahead of Tuesday’s trip to New Jersey. It didn’t look like Gaunce will be playing against the Devils, however, unless somebody expected to play isn’t able to at game time.

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings for Tuesday night’s game vs. the Devils based on practice:

PROJECTED LINES

Brad Marchand David Krejci David Pastrnak
Anders Bjork Charlie Coyle Danton Heinen
Jake DeBrusk Par Lindholm Brett Ritchie
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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