WEDNESDAYS MAILBAG DECEMBER 8

Colin Stead via Twitter asks

Question – Do you think signing Ullmark to a hefty contract was a good idea if they bring Tuukka back for the stretch run?

Answer – Yes, I do. I know that almost everyone reading here is sitting at home on their sofa reading and thinking the exact opposite. But there isn’t a GM past or present in the NHL that would have gone into the season with two rookie netminders on a team that was suppose to be near the to tier of teams. I guess that’s why they are GM’s and we just talk about it. No one knew then, or even knows now how Tuukka Rask is going to perform when he returns.

We are not privy to the conversations the Bruins had with Linus Ullmark and his camp, but you can rest assured every possible scenario involving Rask’s potential return was discussed and possible scenarios and outcomes put on the table.

Opinions are mine via Twitter asks

Question – Why do you think Sweeney has gone away from the CHL when drafting players? Some of the best still come from the CHL and he has been leaning more towards the NCAA and drafting them really young.

Answer – I don’t think he’s gone away from drafting CHL players. I think it’s cyclical. When you are one of the top teams for that last 6 years and you have key players locked up and you’re looking at a draft where you have a European player, a USHL (heading to NCAA) player and a Canadian Hockey League player that you view as equal, then your best option is to draft the European or USHL player that is heading to college over the CHL player, and the reason is simple: You have four years, sometimes 5 to sign the Euro or USHL player versus two years to sign the CHL player. Remember, there is a 50-contract limit in the NHL so you can’t just look at the players you’re potentially going to draft, but also how and when they fit in.

On the other hand, if you have a lot of expiring contracts and with the thinking that you are not bringing some of them back, then you draft the CHL player because you can sign them in that two-year window. Which is the position the Bruins were in at the 2021 draft, thus drafting Ryan Mast and Brett Harrison out of the OHL, and to a lessor extent, Fabian Lysell who they planned all along to send to the WHL. In Lysell’s case, they were able to slide his contract so it does not count against the 50-contract limit.

Let me use an example: In 2019, the Bruins selected John Beecher 30th overall. The Carolina Hurricanes drafted Ryan Suzuki 28th overall. The Canes had to sign Suzuki by June 1, 2021 where as the Bruins don’t have to sign Beecher until August 15, 2023. Suzuki is counting against the contract limit now despite not playing with the Canes and is that much closer to requiring waivers and to free agency. On the business side, Beecher is a better fit than Suzuki for 2019, 2020, 2021 and remains to be seen for 2022.

Eugene Mannarino via Twitter asks three questions

Question 1 – Dom do you think the Bruins will keep Jake?

Question 2 – Dom you think the Bruins will add a type of enforcer sometime this season.

Question 3 –Dom you think the Bruins sign Rask it will mean sending Swayman down would it make the goalie tandem weaker?

Answer 1 – I do not. I think they will eventually have another conversation with Jake DeBrusk and ask him if he’s had a change of heart, but I think JDB’s mind is made up. I mean, they went public to force a deal. I can see GM Don Sweeney being lenient should JDB change his mind but not President Cam Neely.

Answer 2 – I don’t think anyone is adding an enforcer in the NHL anytime soon. Toughness maybe.

Answer 3 – Yes. Weaker? No. Not unless you think Swayman is a better goaltender than Rask right now.

Gerry via email asks

Question – Hi Dom. Long time reader. What does Sweeney mean when he says they are going to do this on their timeline in regards to trading DeBrusk?

Answer – Simply means that he is not going to be rushed into making a deal involving DeBrusk. He will wait until he gets a deal that he likes and the trade request going public is not going to rush him into making the first deal that comes across his desk. As it should be.

Colin via email asks

Question – Will the Four Amigos get together to do a podcast again? You guys were the best and I miss it.

Answer – I would love that as I’m sure some of you would, but time is preventing all of us from getting together. Kirk is doing a fantastic job with the New England Hockey Journal (I might add that if you don’t subscribe you should), Reed is busy with his new duties with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the OHL, and Anthony is at the top of his game right now doing what he always does, plus he has a new job that keeps him busy. Me? I’m in a rink a lot (somewhere) or I am glued to a screen watching all sorts of hockey.

Cindy via email asks

Question – I thought Jack Ahcan had a pretty good game against Tampa, but you didn’t include him in your top-10 prospects when you did them. Have you changed your opinion?

Answer – My opinion is still the same, Jack Ahcan will play in the NHL, I am just not sure it will be with the Bruins and if you recall, when I ranked them, I also included that part of the ranking was based on chances of playing with the Bruins. I think the Bruins made an internal decision when they let Torey Krug go that they were not going to have two “smaller” defencemen on the roster. Matt Grzelcyk is under contract for two more seasons after this one. Ahcan is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and unless the Bruins lock him up long term, Grzelcyk and Ahcan become unrestricted free agents at the same time, the summer of 2024. Unless the team is in an emergency situation on the blueline like they are right now, I can’t see Neely allowing Grzelcyk and Ahcan on the roster at the same time. Add to that: Ahcan will no longer be waiver exempt after the 2022-2023 season (this is the key date as it is one year before Grzelcyk hits free agency) or if he plays in 50 more NHL games before the start of the 2023-2024 season. Thanks to the COVID seasons, his games played is reduced to 54 to require waivers. So, combining all that, I see Ahcan as trade bait.

David via email asks two questions

Question 1- I live in Saint John and go to every Sea Dog game. Wondering if you could share your thoughts/favourites on the team. Not sure how much you get to see them or read about them.

Question 2- I am sure that you will be answering DeBrusk questions and possibly naming some names that you think could interest the Bruins. After listening to Elliot’s comments on Saturday night, I really had to think about what exactly DeBrusk’s value is. It’s interesting. We all know the draft position and goal potential. What do you value him as? Here are some names I (far from an expert, just a Twitter junkie) have come up with. Greenway, Skjei, Dube, Crouse, Monahan, Barbashev, Sundqvist and Schenn (contract is yikes)

Answer 1 – I spend a lot of time in OHL rinks and watching Bruins prospects on video from around the world, but I do get some time to sneak in a few QMJHL games a month. I know he’s not a Bruins prospect (He’s an Islanders prospect) but I pay more attention to William Dufour than I probably should, mostly because I was impressed with him last season and want to see how he is progressing. Same with Jeremie Poirier (Flames). As for your Sea Dogs, I can’t recall the last time the Q was this tight. I don’t think they’ll miss the playoffs but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see them challenging for first overall. And once the playoffs start, as they say, anything can happen.

Answer 2 – I can’t comment on other people’s news and only what I have heard myself and that is the St Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks, New Jersey Devils and Vancouver Canucks (although who knows now with the turmoil in Vancouver) have all expressed interest and were having discussions both internally and with Boston.  As for names thrown around or possibilities, I won’t get into that. Literally every team places a different value on a player.

NHL trades and rumors retweet via Twitter asks

Question – Does Sweeney gamble his future in terms of draft picks and young players to help the team now for one last push?

Answer – I think it’s too soon to answer that. Let’s wait until at least the Olympic break and see where the team stands. Maybe even up until trade deadline. If things are as they are today, no, I don’t mortgage any of the future.

David Oscarson via Twitter asks

Question – If Rask comes back, do you move Swayman for a center or defenseman?

Answer – I don’t believe anyone is untradeable. That said, it depends on who that center or defenceman coming back is. Would I move him for Connor McDavid? Yes. Would I move him for Sean Couturier? No.

Northern Lights Sports via Twitter asks

Question – Should the Bruins ask Ullmark to waive his no trade clause if Rask is back at 100%?

Answer – I’m sure as sure can be that the Boston Bruins and Ullmark (and his camp) had extensive talks about the Rask situation and where everything stood and what the ramifications might be. Hence, the term on his contract for his own protection and the NMC, again for his protection, that way he has a say in where he goes, if it comes to that. Swayman is a superb prospect and on one is going to want to hear this, but neither Bruins goaltender has stolen a game for them when the team was struggling. And you need that once in a while. But to answer your question, let’s wait and see where Rask is at when he comes back (not if).

Kristy kennedy via Twitter asks

Question – Bruins need a 2C now and a 1C in the next 1-3 years… do you go all out for Hertl? Could they even make an extension work with him?

Answer – Personally, I think Tomas Hertl re-ups with San Jose, but it doesn’t cost anything to pick up the phone and call Sharks GM Doug Wilson to see what his plans are. The Sharks are in a battle for a playoff spot and with the lost revenues due to COVID, owners are going to want playoff revenue. I think we revisit this at trade deadline and see where things stand.

Luc Granger via Twitter asks

Question – Swayman, Ullmark and then Rask. Assuming that Rask is healthy, who’s staying in Boston and why.

Answer – I’ve answered this a hundred times Luc, but for you I will answer it again mon ami!! The answer is simple: If it’s before trade deadline, Rask and Ullmark are in Boston and Jeremy Swayman is in Providence. If it’s after trade deadline, they could carry 3 goaltenders as there is no 23-man roster limit after trade deadline as long as they remain cap compliant.

Why: They are not signing Rask to do anything other than play in Boston (unless he gets a conditioning stint in Providence to get up to speed). Besides, they are not going to send him to Providence as a third goalie because of waivers. Someone would claim him. On to Ullmark. Has a full No Movement Clause. Can not be sent to Providence or traded without his permission and I doubt he would take an assignment in Providence. Swayman does not need waivers and can be sent to Providence without any risk. At that point, it’s all about minimizing risk. What if Rask falters and you’ve traded Ullmark? Now you’re two goaltenders are Swayman and Kyle Keyser.

I know people don’t want to look at the business side of the game, but it is a big part of the game. Merci Beaucoup.

Bean Town Bandit via Twitter asks

Question – Since we have seen the chemistry between CC13 and EH56 do you think they move to the 3rd line keep the TF11 line as fourth and have Studnicka come in at 2c?

Answer – Without even getting into the discussion about whether Jack Studnicka is remotely ready to take on second line duties right now, the answer is no. The fact of the matter is you can’t just callup someone for the sake of experimenting different line combinations. There is a 23-man roster limit and there just isn’t room for Studnicka on the roster as it is today without injuries to the forward group.

As for the other line combinations you suggest: with the flu hitting some of the team and Patrice Bergeron having a broken nose, it’s hard to determine what the coaching staff has decided from practices. But rest assured they are having discussions about line combos. I firmly believe Eric Haula is better on the wing than at center. But how much of his performance the last couple of games is due to playing wing and how much is due to coming back after being a healthy scratch is still to be determined.

You could have a left side of Brad Marchand, Taylor Hall and Haula. That leaves DeBrusk as your fourth line left wing. Are you devaluing him there or are you better off playing him on line 3 to build value? Or are you worried about risking injury and sit him in favor of Anton Blidh until you can trade him? I’m pretty sure all these conversations are taking place. I don’t know what the right answer is, if I did, I would be a GM or coach somewhere. But I am looking forward to seeing what they decide.

Thanks for all the great questions. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy doing them. If you have questions and want to get them in early, you can email me at ohlwriters@gmail.com or as always, reply via Twitter when I send out the tweet for questions.

In the meantime, have a great week and stay safe!!

Follow me on Twitter @dominictiano

Published by Dominic Tiano

Following the Ontario Hockey League players eligible for the NHL Draft. I provide season-long stats, updates and player profiles as well as draft rankings.

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