Morning Skate: Too bad nobody is going to mess with the Leafs

Morning Skate: Too bad nobody is going to mess with the Leafs

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while the Bruins already have a game in the books, having been played at 2:30 a.m.

*It’s too bad that NHL general managers pretty much never, ever use the offer sheet on restricted free agents because rival Atlantic Division teams could really screw with the Toronto Maple Leafs by dropping a big offer on talented RFA William Nylander. The 22-year-old is coming off a strong 20 goals/61 points season for the Leafs and Toronto is in a fairly tight salary-cap situation after signing John Tavares and still needing to shell out massive bucks for Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner after this season. So, a significant offer sheet for Nylander could really start to rip things up for young GM Kyle Dubas in Toronto. Instead, the Leafs GM sounds confident Toronto will eventually sign the player and not have to do anything too extraordinary in order to make it happen. The GMs will continue to shy away from one of the tools they could use to help bury a division rival and the hands-off treatment of RFAs in the NHL will continue.

*Fun little PR stunt for the Springfield Thunderbirds as they have invited big-mouth defensive back Jalen Ramsey to work out with them after he said he could play in the NHL within a couple of weeks of training.

*How cannabis changed the life of former NHL player and Stanley Cup winner Jeff Friesen after he retired at 36.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the youthful New York Rangers focused on getting better after all the changes to their roster.

 *With schoolboy hockey all the rage there, Milton, Mass., is an epicenter of hockey in New England.

*Trying to make sense of Nik Ritchie’s contract negotiation struggles with the Anaheim Ducks that have now spilled over into training camp.

*For something completely different: With family in the Merrimack Valley area, I hope they get to the bottom of this and nothing like the home gas explosions ever happens again. The injuries and life lost, the untold damage to people’s homes and the trauma of displacing families from their homes, there’s no doubt it’s a tragic disaster. I wonder how long before we find out it was a completely avoidable disaster as well.


Kevan Miller returns from throat injury, skates with Bruins Thursday

USA Today Sports Photo

Kevan Miller returns from throat injury, skates with Bruins Thursday

BRIGHTON, Mass – It was a return for a number of injured Bruins players on Thursday as Kevan Miler, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara all appeared on the Warrior Ice Arena frozen sheet. Chara (left MCL sprain) and Bergeron (rib/sternoclavicular injury) skated ahead of Bruins practice and Miller (larynx) skated with the team during actual practice while wearing a red no-contact jersey. Chara has been out since Nov. 14, Bergeron has been out since Nov. 16 and Miller has been out since taking a fired puck to the throat in a Nov. 26 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“They’re skating and they’re getting closer to joining practice, but again there is no timeline,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I suspect that we’ll probably see them in [regular team] practice next week, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. It’s good to see [Miller] back on the ice because it was a tough injury, and he’s doing well. It’s good that he’s practicing, but he’ll obviously have to be cleared for contact at some point [before he can return].”

It wasn’t expected that either Chara or Bergeron would return much before Christmas given their original timetables, so they both appear to be on track with their recoveries. Miller, on the other hand, was expected to miss five weeks with his throat cartilage damage injury and would be way ahead of schedule if he were to return anytime soon.

So it may be a bit of recovery time for the larynx before he's pushed into contact drills. 


There was no indication from Cassidy that his timetable had been pushed up significantly, but the fact he was out during normal practice would indicate that perhaps Miller is pushing for a quicker return.

On the other end of the spectrum, Sean Kuraly missed practice with a minor “closed reduction” procedure for his broken nose after last weekend’s fight with Ben Harpur. Cassidy termed the fourth line center somewhere between “questionable and probable” for Friday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Jake DeBrusk again missed practice and will be out for Friday night against the Penguins, but he’s also begun going through the concussion protocol program after feeling better and showing up to the B’s practice facility on Thursday. Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings vs. the Penguins based on Thursday’s practice:












Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.


NHL Rumors: Bruins interested in Charlie Coyle, but should they be?

USA Today Sports Photo

NHL Rumors: Bruins interested in Charlie Coyle, but should they be?

The Bruins have now been linked to local hockey product Charlie Coyle a couple of different times in trade rumors over the last few weeks. Pierre Lebrun from the Athletic said on Montreal sports radio on Tuesday that “for sure the Bruins have kicked the tires on Charlie Coyle” in exploratory trade discussions with the Minnesota Wild.

So how should we feel about all this?

This shouldn’t come as a surprise given that the versatile Coyle can play both center and wing, has good size, is a hockey product out of Weymouth and that he played at Boston University before joining up with the Wild. Coyle checks a lot of the boxes that the Bruins seem to require for the players around the league that they’re interested in.

After all, Coyle is a pretty solid NHL player.

He’s posted 82 goals and 228 points in 449 games after being a first round pick in the 2010 draft, and brings 6-foot-3, 218-pound size along with top-9 skill to the table while still being smack dab in the middle of his prime at 26 years old. Coyle is clearly a useful player and bringing him into the Bruins fold would instantly make them a better team if he were to slide over to third line center, or even supplant a struggling young player if Ryan Donato and Danton Heinen can’t keep up their current offensive hot streaks.

But we’re also talking about a player that’s topped 20 goals only once in his five full seasons, and only has gone over 40 points twice in those five years with the Wild. He’s a better third line center than JFK right now with five goals and 14 points in 30 games this season, but would it be better for the Bruins in the long run to get either JFK or Trent Frederic real NHL experience down the stretch rather than hand things over to a veteran with a ceiling of about 15 goals and 40 points?


Similarly, it doesn’t feel like Coyle would be a guy that’s going to work as a goal-scoring winger on the second line with David Krejci. He has the kind of size the Bruins are looking for, of course, but Jake DeBrusk is more of an impact player than Coyle in only his second NHL season. He’s an upgrade over some of the young players currently on the roster, but how much more is really up for debate at this point.  

It should all come down to cost in the end for the Black and Gold. If they can get Coyle for a player like Anders Bjork who might not have a long-term future in Boston given some of the flaws in his still promising game, then it would be a good get for the Black and Gold to make them a deeper all-around team.

But a cost of Ryan Donato, or even the struggling Heinen, for Coyle would be too high of a price considering that Heinen’s 16 goals and 47 points last season are better than most of Coyle’s five full seasons in the NHL. He’s a good story because he’s a local kid and a Hockey East product that everybody is familiar with around Boston, but the Bruins already have more than enough New England kids and college hockey products on their NHL roster.

They don’t need more unless they are high-impact players.  

What they need is a winger who can score goals and give Krejci the kind of talented wingers he’s excelling with right now while skating in the injured Patrice Bergeron’s place with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. The last three games are a stark reminder that Krejci hasn’t been given enough on his wings over the last few seasons.

Coyle simply hasn’t been that kind of high impact player for the Wild to this point in his career, and if he was ever going to be that kind of player, he’d already be doing it in Minnesota.

If the cost is right, then Coyle makes a lot of sense, but there will certainly be bigger, better names out there for the Bruins a little closer to the NHL trade deadline when Don Sweeney might be willing to pull the trigger. With the B’s still in a playoff spot, it’s a smart play to wait and see the trade landscape unfold over the next few months with no big hurry to swing a deal.