Teams already following St Louis' 'Blues-print' - should Bruins do the same?

Teams already following St Louis' 'Blues-print' - should Bruins do the same?

BOSTON - They always say that the NHL is a copycat league once a formula is out there for a Stanley Cup winner.

Well, it would appear that teams are actively going to try and get bigger, stronger and meaner after watching the St. Louis Blues dominate 5-on-5 play, push teams around and generally use their oversized roster en route to a Stanley Cup title this week.

The parade through St. Louis won’t even happen until Saturday afternoon and Bruins players cleaned out their lockers on Friday afternoon, but other teams are already putting the big, bad plan into action this summer. It certainly would appear that the Washington Capitals have that in mind as they landed hard-hitting, suspension-earning defenseman Radko Gudas in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Certainly, the Capitals already have their own nasty, check-throwing types in Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson, among others, but adding Gudas to that mix just makes Washington even that much more difficult to play against next season. It should also make things easier for the NHL Department of Player Safety to track down their frequent customers with both Gudas and Wilson now taking residence in Washington together.

Capitals GM Brian McLellan referenced Gudas’ “competitive, physical game” in a statement following the trade, and this is cleaned-up hockey executive speak for a player they obviously feel is going to be willing to do any necessary dirty work in the playoffs.

Just as the Blues were playing a punishing style that won the war of attrition against the Sharks and the Bruins in the final two rounds of the postseason. The Blues became the first team in Stanley Cup Final history to have two different players suspended in the series with Oskar Sundqvist and Ivan Barbashev dinged for throwing dirty hits and that was certainly no accident given the heavy, punishing, in-your-face way that they played.  

Bruce Cassidy was asked about teams perhaps leaning into size, strength and physicality and away from too much speed and skill as a result of the way the Cup Final played out, but the B’s bench boss wasn’t ready to go there when the question was posed to him while the series was still going on.

“I think it’s a good discussion, right? You’ve got this decade you’ve got the Bruins [Washington] and LA and they were certainly heavy teams. You’ve got Chicago and Pittsburgh that were more geared toward speed and skill. So, it’s a good argument about how best to construct your team,” said Cassidy. “I think GMs go through it every day to figure out the best way to go. This year, I think you’ve got two heavy teams. “You’ve got St. Louis and I feel that we’re in that [heavy] category. I think they’d probably say the same thing. Comparably around the league, I think we’re both perceived in that same way. Who knows maybe the shift will go back that way? It’s a good conversation [to have].”

While it’s true that the Bruins do have some big, heavy players: Zdeno Chara, David Backes and Brandon Carlo for instance, the Boston roster is noticeably smaller than St. Louis. The heaviness was a calling card for the Blues roster as were the borderline hits thrown in the postseason. On the Boston side, it was about having enough to merely survive against the Blues, a bigger, stronger team.

It's clear now that teams around the NHL while watching the Blues hoist the Cup have received the memo that playing like St. Louis will be rewarded. It raises the question whether it’s in the best interest of the Bruins to get bigger, heavier and stronger this offseason so they’re a little more well-equipped should they get into an alley fight in a seven-game series with a team like the Blues again next season.

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Bruins bring back Chris Kelly as player development coordinator


Bruins bring back Chris Kelly as player development coordinator

Chris Kelly is back on the Boston Bruins, but he's trading in his hockey gear for a suit.

The Bruins announced Thursday they have hired Kelly as player development coordinator, while also adding Andrew Dickson as an amateur scout.

Kelly came to the B's as a player in 2011 and won a Stanley Cup during his first season in Boston. He went on to play 288 games for the Bruins over six seasons, tallying a total of 43 goals and 58 assists as a third-line forward.

The 38-year-old last played for the Anaheim Ducks during the 2017-18 season and spent last season as a development coach for the Ottawa Senators -- his first NHL team as a player -- before coming to Boston.

Dickson spent the last seven seasons as an amateur scout for the Detroit Red Wings.

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Is McAvoy really in line for 'a huge contract' with Bruins? Maybe not

Is McAvoy really in line for 'a huge contract' with Bruins? Maybe not

There’s quite the interesting debate going on these days about just how much Bruins RFA defenseman Charlie McAvoy should get on his second contract.

NBC’s Pro Hockey Talk tweeted out a story proclaiming that both McAvoy and Columbus Blue Jackets D-man Zach Werenski should be in line for “huge contracts” and conjured up some numbers that put those two young defenseman in a class with Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson at the same stage of their careers.

Certainly the 21-year-old McAvoy and 21-year-old Werenski have shown promise as excellent puck-movers and developing two-way D-men in their short NHL careers. But to lump the two of them together into the same class is not something I’m sure the Bruins would do at this point in their separate negotiations.

First off, both Doughty and Karlsson were Norris Trophy finalists before they got their massive contracts. Secondly, do you know how many games Doughty missed with injuries before he signed his eight-year, $56 million contract?

He missed seven NHL games with injuries in his first three seasons with the Kings, including just one in his first two seasons in Los Angeles. Doughty also put together a 16-goal, 59-point masterpiece sophomore season, all while averaging 24 plus minutes of ice time per game over those first three NHL seasons in L.A.

All due respect to a special talent in McAvoy who idolizes Doughty, but he hasn’t even been close to that kind of dominance yet in his very promising, young NHL career. He was brilliant in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and he's shown big time flashes for the B's, but he's also missed almost 50 games with injuries over the last two years. 

Werenski has averaged 13 goals and 40 points in his three NHL seasons with Columbus and missed a total of nine NHL games in his first two seasons before playing the full 82-game schedule this past season for the Blue Jackets. He’s a lot closer to Doughty in terms of a comparable situation at this point in his young NHL career.

Werenski has the ability to be offer-sheeted by other prospective NHL teams, and has all the makings of an RFA who could cash in on something similar to the massive eight-year, $60 million deal signed by Florida’s Aaron Ekblad a couple of seasons ago.

McAvoy, on the other hand, has topped out at seven goals and 32 points in the better of his two NHL seasons (his rookie campaign) and has missed a whopping 47 games due to injuries in his first two seasons. McAvoy also can’t be tendered with an offer sheet by other NHL teams because he has fewer than three full years of NHL service based on the 40-game rule adopted by the league when it comes to restricted free agents.

So really there are very few parallels between Werenski’s negotiating leverage right now and McAvoy’s situation headed into his third NHL season with Boston.

If McAvoy wants to get the “huge contract” with the B’s then he’s going to have to earn it with a dominant, healthy season that he has yet to put together at the NHL level. It’s really as simple as that, regardless of his Corsi numbers when he has been healthy over the last two seasons.

The best course of action for both the Bruins and McAvoy?

It would be sign a bridge contract for a couple of years where the young D-man gets the $5-6 million per season based on his closest comparable players (Esa Lindell, for one), and puts together the kind of years that would put him closer to the Doughty/Karlsson/Ekblad max contract neighborhood that he’s clearly aspiring to at this point.

Basically, McAvoy at this point will need to sign the qualifying offer given to him by the Bruins or sit out until he agrees to a long-term second deal with the Boston. The reality is this: The Bruins young D-man has zero leverage this time around in negotiations aside from being a key player for the B's in both their present and future plans. Then again, the Bruins did pretty well in the first half last season when McAvoy was barely a presence while battling through concussion-related issues, and before he put together a very strong second half and postseason during their run to Game 7 of the Cup Final.

There’s no reason to think they can’t do the same this season with a Stanley Cup Final-worthy group if McAvoy’s camp plays hardball and holds out ahead of NHL training camp.

All signs point to McAvoy getting a big raise and eventually getting the cap-busting contract that he’s clearly going to be looking for, and he could get it as soon as a year from now at this time. But the 21-year-old needs to earn it first, and shame on Don Sweeney and the Bruins if they shell out tens of millions of dollars on an admittedly talented, highly-gifted player before he’s done the kind of things that earn players that type of money at the NHL level.

Why Heinen signing left B's with cap questions>>>>

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