Joe Haggerty

Morning Skate: Jagr still going, but not in the NHL

Morning Skate: Jagr still going, but not in the NHL

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while welcoming Marcus Smart back into the fold. Good contract for a guy that’s probably worth more to the Celtics than he would be to just about anybody else.

*It looks like Jaromir Jagr will play some hockey next season, but it also looks like it won’t be in the NHL for the surefire Hall of Famer.

*A list of the greatest NHL players to wear each jersey number with a good idea who the choices would be for No. 77 and No. 4…at the very least. This is a good companion piece to the list that we just put out for the best Bruins player to wear each jersey number that the team ever issued.

*The cyberbullying case between Melina Karlsson and Mike Hoffman’s girlfriend continues with more legal filings as both sides attempt to find out the truth.

*Pro Hockey Talk has an entertaining, wide-ranging Q&A session with PK Subban about any number of topics involving the Nashville D-man.

*Da Beauty League is once again getting into full swing in Minnesota for many familiar NHL players looking to stay in skating shape.

*For something completely different: The 2018 TV season hasn’t been good for new hit shows in their second season.

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Morning Skate: Kucherov deal could have Karlsson implications

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Morning Skate: Kucherov deal could have Karlsson implications

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while the NHL summer recess is pretty much upon us.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the details of an eight-year contract extension between the Lightning and Nikita Kucherov that will pay the Hart Trophy candidate a sum of $9.5 million per season. It’s a reasonable deal for a superstar in the prime of his career, but one wonders if this kind of deal precludes Tampa from also locking up Erik Karlsson to a theoretical long-term contract as well. It’s reasonable to think the Lightning could afford Karlsson for the upcoming season, but much less clear how they’d be able to do it for the long term.

*If your name is Joseph Patrick Haggerty, then the chances are pretty bloody good that you’re going to like next season’s Notre Dame Fighting Irish-themed Winter Classic logo for the Bruins/Blackhawks game.

*Interesting piece on goalie Chris Darling working hard this offseason to try and bounce back from a horrendous first season with the Carolina Hurricanes.

*The Hockey News isn’t expecting a hangover second season from the Vegas Golden Knights after they made it all the way to the Cup Final last season.

*A group of NHL stars talk about their pet peeves on the ice in this NHL-produced video.

*For something completely different: It was great to hear that all of the soccer players and their coach got out of the cave safely in Thailand. There were many heroes involved whether it was the Navy SEAL divers that did the rescuing, the one Navy SEAL that gave his life in the escape efforts or this Australian doctor that consulted on the rescue mission.

Haggerty: Despite big moves by rivals, Bruins need to stick to the plan

Haggerty: Despite big moves by rivals, Bruins need to stick to the plan

The simple fact is that the Bruins' standing in their own division has worsened to this point in the summer and it might get even worse over the next weeks and months even as the B’s minimally improved as a team.

The Bruins are better than they were at the end of the playoffs by virtue of the additions of backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak and defenseman John Moore and landing a legit top-six impact winger would make it a more drastic improvement to their roster makeover.

Still, there’s no denying that the Maple Leafs have pushed closer to Stanley Cup contender status with the addition of free-agent superstar John Tavares, and could really get there if they can ever acquire, or develop, a No. 1 defenseman. Regardless of their standing league-wide, the Leafs are clearly much improved from the team that the Bruins barely eked by in seven games in the first round of the playoffs.

Then there’s the Tampa Bay Lightning, who dispatched the Bruins in five games in the second round and are now getting close to landing Erik Karlsson, which would give them Victor Hedman, Karlsson, Ryan McDonagh and Anton Stralman to start with on their back end. That puts them far ahead of a Bruins team they already dispatched if they can pull off the improbable and get Karlsson and make them a legit contender for the term “NHL super team.”

The thought of Hedman and Karlsson in the same Tampa D-corps conjures up memories of Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer dominating with the Anaheim Ducks and would immediately vault them into Cup favorites. So, there’s a realistic scenario for next season where the Bruins could be the third best team in the NHL and still wind up the third best team in the Atlantic Division with a first-round playoff date of doom against the Lightning.

So what are the Black and Gold to do about this?

Well, what they shouldn’t do is rashly try to join the arms race that Tampa and Toronto have escalated this summer.

Certainly, Bruins GM Don Sweeney should keep pushing talks forward to acquire a top-six offensive impact player whether it’s Jeff Skinner, Artemi Panarin or somebody off the beaten path that hasn’t been readily discussed. But that’s all part of the offseason plan already in place and would include trading chips that the B’s have already reconciled with giving up in the right trade whether it's Torey Krug, a prospect such as Anders Bjork or another high draft pick after dealing their first-rounder last spring.

What the Bruins should not do is alter the plan to try and hit a home run trade to match Tavares or Karlsson.

What the Bruins should not do, under any circumstances, is think about trading Charlie McAvoy or Jake DeBrusk, who could be in the Bruins organization for the next ten years. It might even mean (though it wouldn't be ideal) not landing their top-six target ahead of the season and instead getting a look at their young players before making an impact move during the season. 

The B’s don’t need a panic move or a reactionary transaction simply designed to keep up with Toronto and Tampa. Those kinds of motives behind trades or free-agent signings almost always backfire on the team that’s getting desperate.  

“You’re juggling a few things [during the offseason], but you get through. You have contingency plans. All our staff, and I’m grateful for them, everybody worked hard [at the open of free agency], and all of the plans and all of the situations we had, the ownership was certainly supportive of what we are trying to accomplish,” said Sweeney. “Hopefully we move forward as a better team.”

It’s clear that the Lightning are loading up to win this season and then GM Steve Yzerman will have to answer the difficult questions later, like “how in the hell will Tampa afford Karlsson’s next contract where he wants $11 million per year?”

The Bruins are still building and doing it the right way. They posted a 112-point season while pushing Tampa Bay in the regular season, and they got some very valuable postseason experience for their young guys while winning a Game 7. Right now, the Bruins are an intriguing mix of young (20-year-old McAvoy) and old (Zdeno Chara will be 42 this season) that should absolutely be a playoff team and should be one of the contenders in an Eastern Conference that’s going to pack some punch next season.

The structure that Cam Neely and Sweeney are building in Boston could see the B's consistently competitive for the next 10 years with McAvoy and David Pastrnak leading the way. The Bruins just need to stick to the plan rather than getting overwhelmed by Toronto/Tampa’s shock and awe show this summer. By all accounts, that’s exactly what the Bruins are doing right now even as the road has clearly grown more treacherous and difficult for the Black and Gold next season.

Sometimes sticking to the plan can grow difficult when all manner of things are happening all around you, but that’s exactly what the Bruins should do even as their closest rivals are taking big home-run swings.  

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