We’re back after the holidays for a Wednesday Boston Bruins Mailbag. As always, you can send in your questions at any time to firstname.lastname@example.org or wait until I post it on Twitter and you can reply there. So, let’s get right down to the questions this week!
*Note: These questions were all answered before the Rask signing announcement. Not goin back and changing them!!
GeeWally via Twitter has two questions:
Question – Is there a roster and Cap compliant way to keep all 3 goalies with the big club. Assuming Rask is signed in next week or two?
Answer – Well, we know now that Jeremy Swayman will be in Providence. After the trade deadline (March 21) there is no 23-man roster limit as long as you can remain cap compliant. They can always make the numbers work, but the roster spot until that period means someone is going to have to go through waivers. And let’s not forget the Jake DeBrusk saga, now into the 40th day since the trade demand was made public. A lot of moving parts, but they can make it all work. I think they’ll need three goaltenders.
I will say this: Rask and Swayman cost almost the same on the cap for the remainder of the season. Rask makes the Bruins better even if the only reason is that he is a known factor and the players in front of him know what they are getting – trust factor.
Question – Second question. If a team is crazy enough to sign E. Kane, does he still need to serve his 21-game suspension? Tying up roster spot and cap space?
Answer – Evander Kane has served his suspension already so it won’t be an issue.
RJ Williams via Twitter asks:
Question – How hot do you think Cassidy’s seat is given the performance in Western Canada without him, Krejci and Backes comments, and finally the lack of offense in general/lack of any real player growth in the last year?
Answer – I don’t think his seat is hot at all. Let’s start with the Western Canada trip. Bruce Cassidy, Joe Sacco and Don Sweeney have all said that Cassidy spoke to Sacco daily, multiple times and did video breakdowns. To say it was all Sacco is just false. Show me any systematic changes that Sacco introduced that was any different and you might sway me just a tad there.
As for the lack of player growth in the last year, well you could look at Jakub Zboril taking a major step until he got injured. He was off to his best professional career season, including the AHL until then. Swayman, although he had a great year a season ago has taken the next step. Even Charlie McAvoy has gone to another level. Anton Blidh, although older has taken a step and shown he can play a role in the NHL. Oskar Steen looks to have developed really well, doesn’t he? As for the others? They are mostly veterans and there isn’t much else they can do to grow their games. At this point, they are what they are.
Finally, I will keep my opinions of the David Backes and David Krejci comments to myself if I may. The Krejci comments can be taken in two different ways and some things got lost in translation as they always do and it’s hard to read tone and body language in a printed piece. It appears to me that everyone has made up their minds and nothing I can say won’t sway anyone.
Jen via email asks:
Question – Do you have any idea what Rask’s contract is going to be like?
Answer – Well, I am answering this on a Sunday but you won’t see it until Wednesday, so you might have the answer before then. My understanding is that it is a one-year deal. Many others are speculating that it will carry an AAV of $2.5 million to $3 million meaning a cap hit of $1.3 million to $1.6 million prorated for the remainder of the season. That’s a lot more than I’m hearing.
Connor via email asks:
Question – I think Steen has proven he belongs in the NHL. Do you agree?
Answer – Yes, I do and have said as much. Now it’s up to General Manager Don Sweeney to decide how he can make it work. He is going to have to send someone to the Taxi Squad or Providence and that will require waivers, unless a DeBrusk deal doesn’t bring back a roster player (if a deal happens at all). For Cassidy it appears that the odd man out is Karson Kuhlman as he almost consistently has put Blidh in over him. I know some of it is based on positional need, but there are other players he could move around to fill those needs to get Kuhlman in the lineup.
Vinny via email asks
Question – Are the Bruins close making a deal involving DeBrusk?
Answer – Well, it’s been reported that as many as twelve teams had shown interest. I can’t speak to that. I have mentioned four teams here that had expressed interest in the recent past. One of them was St Louis early in the process but they couldn’t make a deal happen with their injury/covid/cap situation at that time. Another team was Chicago who was in and then out of the process. But I was told as late as last night (Saturday) that they are back in the process.
Front Office via Twitter asks:
Question – I would like them to make a deal or two prior to the deadline this year with two caveats: Don Sweeney is not the one making the deals and they choose a direction, i.e. contend or rebuild. Thoughts?
Answer – Well, I certainly agree that they have to decide on a direction. But I also think they’ve already decided what that direction is and that is to try and make a playoff run. Why else would they bring Rask back? As for Sweeney, he is the General Manager and like it or not, he will be the one making the calls. Of course, it’s a team effort so there will be others involved in the decision making including their analytics department. Apologies if that’s not what you wanted to hear.
Maine Bear via Twitter asks:
Question – Who are the top 3 defenders you think would make the biggest impact if the bruins make a trade for one?
Answer – Viktor Hedman, Cale Makar and Adam Fox would make the biggest impact, but they aren’t getting any of them. Seriously though, it’s hard to say who might be available at this point in the season. There are some obvious sellers already when you look at the standings. The biggest impact among the rumored to be available class though is Jakob Chychrun. John Klingberg is also an interesting name that has recently surfaced, but his contract demands likely leave the Bruins out on him.
Mike O’Connor via Twitter asks:
Question – Hey Guys…wondering if there any college free agency who the bruins would be interested in, and could they help out this year.
Answer – Guys? There’s only one of me thank goodness! But to answer your question, two guys playing in the Bruins back yard are Parker Ford (Providence College) and Marc McLaughlin (Boston College) are two guys that will be in very high demand by NHL clubs. There are others as well, but I don’t think we can expect a Torey Krug or Charlie McAvoy impact this season.
Eddie in Maine via Twitter asks:
Question – Apparently there is interest in Coyotes’ LW Lawson Crouse. Would be a perfect DeBrusk replacement at 3LW, but brings up the question of what happens to Haula if a 2C trade is made. Will mgmt be content with Haula in that spot for the rest of the season?
Answer – It’s funny that you mention Lawson Crouse because as you were sending in your question, I received a message saying they were interested. Here’s my thinking: The Bruins need to decide what their biggest need is. Is it a second line center? Is it a left shot defenceman? Crouse is neither of those and if he is the best the Bruins can get for DeBrusk then I say pull the trigger and get it over with. But it would be in their best interest to try and fill a need. I also believe you have to move Nick Foligno to the left side (if he’s healthy) in order to keep Steen in the lineup. Trades are not easy to pull off and this deal would likely result in the Bruins having to make another deal, maybe two more. Is that realistic?
Mind Within via Twitter asks:
Question – I see this team built well for playoff success; however, they need better options on LD who is the one guy that you feel is a realistic option and will add grit to the LD.
Answer – I think you have to look long and hard at who the sellers are at this point. In the East you have Montreal, Ottawa and Buffalo, maybe the Islanders but they have other reasons for being so low. In the West you have Arizona, Seattle and Chicago. The rest are pretty much still in playoff contention so it is slim pickings. Let’s wait a little longer to see who else drops out of the race and see who might become available.
Flannelman via Twitter asks:
Question – With their anticipated trade deadline space, do you think they will land a big fish (ie Hertl)? Follow-up: will they be able to clear enough space to re-sign him? Assuming Bergy is back.
Answer – Well first off, let’s see what their trade deadline cap space looks like after the Rask deal is signed. Secondly, let’s see how the Foligno injury is. I mean, I am no doctor but that did not look good. Any length of time out is going to eat up valuable cap space. And of course, there is the DeBrusk trade request and how that will affect the cap. While it looks good today, that cap space can disappear very quickly. It’s very fluid right now and what I tell you now could change in an hour from now.
As for Tomas Hertl, he would like to remain in San Jose and even though General Manager Doug Wilson keeps things very tight to the vest, he has admitted there have been talks about Hertl’s future. The Kane fiasco has given Wilson $20 million to work with next season (unless he wins his grievance). While I think it’s in the Sharks best interest to move Hertl, I don’t think it’s set in stone they will like many others do.
The Bruins as of now would have enough tagging space to sign him to an extension if they were able to acquire him. That’s dependent on whether Patrice Bergeron signs an extension before then and for how much. I don’t worry about cap space. If you have a chance to acquire Hertl, you do it and worry about the cap when the time comes.
Question – One more, sorry, any update on Dustyn McFaul? I ask because I see report McQuaid is at Clarkson checking up on him.
Answer – Yes, that was tweeted by Mark Divver. Part of Adam McQuaid and Jamie Langenbrunner duties are to travel and work with the prospects. In the podcast I had with Brett Harrison, he mentioned how both were suppose to go to Oshawa to see him after Christmas, but COVID restrictions put a hold on that.
As for Dustyn McFaul, his offense has not developed at all. As you know, for a late round pick that was going to be 6 years away from the NHL, I liked the pick. Now it’s about developing his defensive game. You always need those types of blueliners who can kill penalties, protect a lead late in the game and provide some snarl. He can still develop into that type of player, which isn’t a bad thing.
BugsyM via Twitter asks:
Question – In College Hockey both Marc McLaughlin and Ben Myers were Bs development camp invites and are having solid seasons. Both captains as well. Anything to be excited about as a Bs fan?
Answer – You can add Parker Ford to the list, who I mentioned earlier. There are others such as Ethen Frank (Western Michigan), and Brandon Scanlin (Nebraska-Omaha) just to name a few that will draw some interest. The Bruins are always on the lookout for college free agents, but so are the San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins.
I wouldn’t necessarily call any of them blue-chippers, but they are good hockey players and I’m sure Sweeney will be making some calls.
Jeff Snow via Twitter asks:
Question – With 38 points in his last 47 AHL games, is Cameron Hughes a tweener or caught in a #’s game in this organization? Do you see him as a bottom 6 option in the NHL?
Answer – I like Cameron Hughes and he is having a good season. Unfortunatley, COVID and injuries have meant that he hasn’t played a lot of hockey the last few years and that has slowed his development. He also turned 25 in October so he’s getting up there. That and it is a numbers game right now so those two things are keeping him from Boston. However, I think he’s capable of playing a bottom six role, but there just isn’t any room at the Inn.
Hughes is a restricted free agent at the end of the season with a qualifying offer of $787,500 and arbitration rights.
Steve via email asks:
Question – What are the chances of the Bruins going after Evander Kane?
Answer – Somewhere between my chances of being the first man to land on the moon or me discovering insulin.
In all seriousness, Sweeney will do his job and talk to Kane’s agent, he will do his due diligence and get whatever information that he can get about Kane’s issues on and off the ice (he will actually talk to people, not read the internet), he will talk to the coaching staff, but most importantly, he will talk to the leadership among the players.
The Bruins put a large emphasis on character and Kane is the opposite of that. Some team will pick him up and I am looking at the Oilers. General Manager Ken Holland has already spoken to Kane’s agent, who he has a good rapport with.
I’d be all for the player on the ice. Not interested in the locker room guy or the off-ice guy. But I will add this: If Bergeron, Foligno, Brad Marchand and Rask tell Sweeney they are fine with it, then I will be as well.
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