Bruins

Nash wants to be the "big power forward" that the Bruins are looking for

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Nash wants to be the "big power forward" that the Bruins are looking for

BUFFALO – Rick Nash has been a longtime good buddy of Jumbo Joe Thornton, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that was one of the first texts that the new Bruins power forward received this morning upon learning he’d been traded to Boston.

“He’d always said it was a great place to play,” said Nash. “I actually got a text from him this morning, so that’s pretty cool.”

The 33-year-old Nash will learn firsthand what it’s like to play for the Boston Bruins after getting dealt to the Black and Gold on Sunday morning from the Rangers in exchange for a bundle of assets amounting to a 2018 first round pick, NCAA defenseman prospect Ryan Lindgren, Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey and a 2019 seventh round pick. Nash is in the lineup for the Bruins against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday afternoon at the First Niagara Center, and he’ll be playing exactly where the Bruins envisioned on David Krejci’s right wing.

The deal will give the Bruins the size, heaviness and power that they’ve been looking to add on their wing this season, and gives Krejci the exact kind of player that he’s had success with in the past a la Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton and Jarome Iginla.

“The team has had such a great year that you don’t want to come in here and ruffle any feathers. You just want to fit in and help out wherever you can,” said Nash. “It was a strange last few weeks in New York, but I’ve moved on and I’m excited for this opportunity. I’m really excited to be here. I wanted to go to a place that wanted me, and that had a great chance to win. I think Boston fits both of those perfectly.

“I just want to bring my style of hockey, and be a big power forward that can hopefully bring some offense, be responsible defensively and be a complete player. It’ll be fun to see what happens. They’re such a good team and they have so many good players that you just want to see where you fit in.

The hope for the Bruins, obviously, is that the chance at a Stanley Cup can light a fire under the 33-year-old Nash, who has posted 18 goals and 28 points in 60 games for the Rangers this season after failing to crack 40 points in each of the last two seasons. Clearly the big-bodied Nash is on the back nine of an All-Star NHL career, but the Bruins see a 6-foot-4, 215-pound dynamic winger that can still score, hit and play the power game around the net that’s needed when things get nasty in the postseason.

“He’s very dynamic. He’s hard to stop and contain one-on-one. He’s got good speed and can protect the puck well, and get so the net with good hands around the net,” said Bruce Cassidy. “It’s all those things are far as attacking the scoring area. He’s a good penalty killer and responsible defensive player. He’s a good fit and he’s going to right in with [David] Krejci on the right wing with Jake DeBrusk on the left.

“We’re not huge in that area. In our top-9 it will give us a different look and I think it will help us a lot. No disrespect to Ryan Spooner, who went into it with a different skill set. We didn’t expect him to grow five inches earlier this year, so this certainly helps us in those closer, harder games. We’ll see where it leads us.”

In his last three playoff runs with the Rangers, Nash has 10 goals and 23 points in 39 games, which is much better playoff production than the impact winger had earlier in his NHL career. And that is what the Bruins spent all of those assets for on Sunday morning with a chance for Nash to bring something to the B’s as they have big plans for this spring.  

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With two-year deal in place, Grzelcyk ready to work on 'weaknesses'

With two-year deal in place, Grzelcyk ready to work on 'weaknesses'

BRIGHTON, Mass – Now that Matt Grzelcyk has put a full NHL season under his belt and holds a two-year NHL contract for $2.8 million after signing with the Bruins last week as a restricted free agent, it’s on to becoming the best player he can be.

The 24-year-old posted an impressive three goals and 15 points in 61 games last season as a rookie who really never looked back after winning a job early last season.

Grzelcyk showed excellent skating wheels and a real knack for breaking the puck out of the defensive zone without a lot of hesitation or costly mistakes normally associated with a first-year D-man. Even better, he managed to avoid opponents taking advantage of his 5-foot-9, 174-pound frame. Now, Grzelcyk is looking to remove some of the weaknesses in his game. 

“I don’t ever want to be too comfortable and I always want to make sure I earn everything that I get,” said Grzelcyk, while talking about his new deal in the Bruins dressing room at Warrior Ice Arena on Monday afternoon. “It helps from a piece of mind standpoint to not constantly be looking over your shoulder, but there’s still a lot of competition. I’m looking to forward to coming into camp stronger and healthier, and ready to earn my ice time.”

Some of that is about the obvious: as one of the smallest D-men in the NHL, he'll need to get bigger and stronger. Grzelcyk is also looking to improve his shot from the point, a skill that could make him a much more attractive candidate on the Bruins power play. Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy are the main trigger men on the PPs with big cannon shots from the point. That’s the kind of company Grzelcyk would like to join if he can turn his long-distance shot into a weapon.

“I can always get bigger and stronger. That’s something I’m always working on,” said Grzelcyk. “I think offensively I can use my feet to my advantage more on the blue line and obviously my shot is pretty much the No. 1 thing I’m looking to improve this [upcoming] year. I’m working hard toward that, so hopefully, that will pay a difference come training camp.”

“[I really learned] what I need to do to be successful and help the team, which is using my feet to my advantage. I think that’s huge as a smaller defenseman. Just getting that number of games under my belt and knowing what I have to do each night on the ice to get the wins, it gives me a lot more confidence and allows me to work more on my weaknesses.”

Clearly, a bigger shot and a bigger role in the offense would mean bigger point production for Grzelcyk, but it remains to be seen how high his offensive ceiling can be after a promising NHL beginning.

The question now is, how much bigger his role might be next season after averaging 16:44 of ice time last season as a bottom-pairing D-man? There is certainly room to grow, but it will all depend on how the rest of the roster comes together this fall after what’s expected to be a fairly action-packed offseason for Bruins GM Don Sweeney.  

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Anderson: Feeling good about the Bruins chances to sign Ilya Kovalchuk

Anderson: Feeling good about the Bruins chances to sign Ilya Kovalchuk

Appearing Friday morning on Toucher & Rich, 98.5 The Sports Hub's Ty Anderson spoke about the Bruins' chances at signing former NHL All-Star winger Ilya Kovalchuk, saying he thinks they might have a leg up on other teams due to their cap space.

Kovalchuk, 35, was regarded as one of the NHL's premier scorers for much of his tenure with the Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils, before returning to his native Russia in the summer of 2013 to play in the KHL full-time. He most recently won a Gold Medal with the makeshift "Olympic Athletes from Russia" team at the 2018 Winter Olympics men's ice hockey tournament.