Bruce Cassidy knows he will have a treasure trove of prospects coming down Interstate 95 sometime soon.
"We can all predict what's going to be down there," the Providence Bruins coach said after Saturday's developmental camp session at Ristuccia Arena. "I think it's fair to say that this year's crop, at least on paper, is a higher end group of players."
Last season, Cassidy said, the AHL Bruins would routinely dress 10 to 11 first-year players.
"A lot of teaching," Cassidy said. "We kind of changed our system to be more in line with Boston. I enjoyed that, but it took away from some on-ice success."
This year, players like defensemen Zach Trotman and Tommy Cross, and forward Ryan Spooner, will likely all return to Providence, having each spent a short time there in 2011-12. Defenseman Torey Krug, who saw ice time in two games with Boston last season, should be there as well.
"It's to be around a pro environment," Cassidy said of bringing in players toward the end of the season. "How do I conduct myself, how are practices, how is preparation? Once they get on the ice, they're hockey players, they've played at a high level, it's going to be a little better."
Add to the mix forward Jared Knight (52 points with the AHL's London Knights) and goalie Niklas Svedberg (.912 save percentage in Sweden), and Cassidy suddenly finds himself swimming in experienced prospects.
"They know that there's a certain amount of time you've got to spend there. When they get a little antsy, it's part of your job to keep them focused," he said.
"I think it's good to have a chip on your shoulder in the minors. Not everyone makes it out of there, so to have that mentality is a good thing, as long as it doesn't cross the line of selfish and negative when you do make it up."
Other nuggets from Cassidy's press conference:
On Spooner: "Spooner, two years in a row, has come down. Very creative, made some no-look passes that maybe some of the other players in our club just don't have the ability to make. It's one of his best gifts.
"The difference I noticed from last spring and the previous one was his attention to detail away from the puck. He's starting to become more of a student of the game. A year older, he wants to know, positionally, where to be, have a good stick, the things he's going to need to do when the offense dries up in spurts. Shoots the puck better than he did the year before.
"You see him now, when he walked through the door two years ago, he looked like a 14-year-old kid. Now at least he's got a little peach fuzz on his face, starting to look a little like a man now."
On Cross: "He was coming down for two games, we knew that, he knew that. His first game, he was a little tentative. The second game, we had a chat after, a very short window, 48 hours is what he was going to be there.
"We talked about what he needed to do to be more of an impact player. That second game he was crisp with the puck, snapping passes, physical when he needed to be in terms of one-on-one confrontations, when they're there he was aggressive with them.
"Night and day between the two games. But such a small sample size that it's hard to say which one you're going to see more of. But we need more of the second game. I think Tommy will bring that.
"He's a very mature guy, he's a winner, and he's going to figure it out."
On developing a winning environment in Providence: "You develop a lot better in a winning environment. That's what we're trying to do. Last year, we won more than we lost, but not enough to make the playoffs, and I think playoffs are important for young kids to feel the atmosphere of that. That's ultimately our goal as a team, but again it can't come at the expense of developing players.
"The more winners you have in the locker room, the more winning you'll do at the end of the day if they have the talent to match. It becomes a culture, which you're going to accept. Providence for years was a winning environment, the last few years not as much, so we're trying to get that back.
"Like I said, these kids need to play in order to learn, and sometimes you learn by failing, so you have to balance that.
"The young kids we had last year, until the roster takes shape, you hope that the growing pains you went through, that they're better players for it, and a better younger crop coming up will help you coming out of the gate."
On forward Justin Florek: He's already skating better than he did at the end of the year, so he's obviously done some work on his legs. That's a noticeable difference for me.
WILMINGTON – On Sunday, Tuukka Rask will officially sign his one-year, $3.5 million extension, the deal that certifies the 25-year-old as the team’s go-to goalie.
“He wants to prove that he’s the No. 1 goalie for the Bruins for a long time,” said GM Peter Chiarelli. “This was the easiest way to set the stage for that.”
Rask agreed to the extension in principle on Thursday. Rask and Chris Kelly (four years, $12 million) will sign their deals on Sunday.
Rask will be a restricted free agent upon the conclusion of the extension. However, Rask will be eligible to sign a longer-term deal next January. Chiarelli said he’d be open to such a transaction, provided Rask delivers the goods in 2012-13.
Rask could have been subject to an offer sheet starting on Sunday had he not agreed to his extension. Chiarelli said there were no indications of rivals teams signing Rask to an offer sheet. The Bruins would have matched any offer.
* Alexander Khokhlachev has agreed in principle to a three-year, entry-level contract. Khokhlachev will sign the contract on Sunday. Khokhlachev, the team’s second-round pick in 2011, will report to main training camp this fall. He will then play for Spartak of the KHL in 2012-13. Khokhlachev has indicated to the Bruins that playing in the NHL remains his goal.
* Chiarelli said the team will most likely stay on the sidelines on Sunday when free agency opens.
Tuukka Rask has agreed in principle to a one-year, $3.5 million extension.
Rask will officially sign the contract on Sunday. On the same day, Chris Kelly will sign his four-year, $12 million contract.
Rask will be a restricted free agent at the end of his extension. Based on the one-year extension, it appears both sides are treating 2012-13 as the season in which Rask can establish himself for a long-term deal.
TSN first reported the extension.
WILMINGTON – The Bruins have completed their first on-ice session of their annual development camp at Ristuccia Arena.
Of the group, Dougie Hamilton is the closest at cracking the NHL roster. Hamilton checked in at 6-foot-5, 193 pounds. Hamilton could top 200 pounds once he reports for training camp in September.
“Doug had a really, really good year,” said assistant GM Don Sweeney. “He was a dominant player at that level. He went back and worked on a lot of things we had addressed with him in rounding out his game and decision-making. He’s such an athletic player to begin with, at that size and how he moves. Overall, he became a dominant player at that level. He’s ready for the next step and the next challenge.”
* Jared Knight and Torey Krug project to be at the next level under Hamilton. Both players should start 2012-13 in Providence. Knight has NHL size and tenacity. Sweeney noted that Knight took advantage of his size in junior, and might not be able to do the same as a professional. Krug appeared in two NHL games last year.
* Malcolm Subban spent his first day in Bruins gear. Subban, the No. 24 pick of the 2012 draft, relies on athleticism and competitiveness to make his stops. Sweeney mentioned Subban’s explosiveness in moving from side to side.
* Alexander Khokhlachev could be headed to the KHL next season. Khokhlachev has played for Windsor of the OHL. Regardless of whether he plays in the KHL or returns to junior next year, the skilled forward will report to Bruins camp in the fall.
Malcolm Subban and Dougie Hamilton, the Bruins’ two most recent first-round picks, will participate in the club’s annual development camp.
The camp will take place at Ristuccia Arena from Thursday through next Monday. All on-ice sessions are free and open to the public.
Here is the roster, including seven invitees:
Darik Angeli (invitee), Anthony Camara, Colin Campbell (invitee), Daniel Carr (invitee), Justin Courtnall (invitee), Brian Ferlin, Justin Florek, Seth Griffith, Colton Hargrove, Alex Khokhlachev, Jared Knight, Cody Payne, Ben Sexton, Wayne Simpson (invitee), Ryan Spooner
Matt Benning, Chris Casto (invitee), Tommy Cross, Matthew Grzelcyk, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, Robbie O’Gara, Zach Trotman
Zane Gothberg, Parker Milner (invitee), Adam Morrison, Malcolm Subban, Niklas Svedberg, Lars Volden
PITTSBURGH -- The Bruins have traded Benoit Pouliot to Tampa Bay for Michel Ouellet and a 2012 fifth-rounder.
Pouliot scored 16 goals and 16 assists for the Bruins this past season. Pouliot was scheduled to become a restricted free agent on July 1. The trade indicates the Bruins were not prepared to give Pouliot the raise he would have landed via arbitration.
* The Bruins have drafted defenseman Matthew Grzelcyk in the third round. The Charlestown native will report to Boston University in the fall.
* In the fifth round, the Bruins have picked forwards Seth Griffith and Cody Payne.
* The Bruins have selected Matthew Benning in the sixth round. Benning is the nephew of assistant GM Jim Benning.
The Bruins have drafted goalie Malcolm Subban with the No. 24 pick. Subban is the younger brother of Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban.
“The rivalry’s just about to begin,” Subban said with a smile. “I don’t know if he’s going to like me too much. To be honest, I never really liked him too much.”
Malcolm Subban plays for Belleville of the OHL. In 39 games last year, Subban recorded a 2.50 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. Subban had three shutouts. Younger brother Jordan Subban also plays for Belleville.
“I’d say he’s a hybrid,” Chiarelli said. “Very athletic. Probably technically, he needs a little bit of work. Very, very competitive. Searches for pucks in traffic. He’s big and strong. His lateral speed is tremendous.”
PITTSBURGH – Tim Thomas has waived his no-movement clause. The clause is in place until July 1, when the fourth and final year of Thomas’s contract begins.
Several teams have inquired about Thomas’s availability. GM Peter Chiarelli said those calls have been in relation to the cap floor, which currently projects to be approximately $54 million in 2012-13. Even if Thomas doesn’t play next season, an acquiring team could apply his $5 million annual cap hit toward its total number. Thomas is due $3 million in salary.
Chiarelli didn’t disclose the identities of the teams. Colorado, Nashville, and Phoenix currently project to be the bottom three teams in terms of cap commitments toward 2012-13.
The cap floor, however, could decrease upon the introduction of the next collective bargaining agreement.
While Zdeno Chara left the NHL Awards in Wynn Resort in Las Vegas empty-handed, Patrice Bergeron walked away with some hardware.
Bergeron was named the Frank J. Selke Trophy winner, an annual award given to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.
Bergeron thanked his teammates and members of the Bruins organization. He beat out St. Louis Blues center David Backes and Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk.
“This is the way you learn to play the game (both sides of the rink). Ever since I was 12 years old, I never wanted to get scored against while I was out there,” he said. “To win the Stanley Cup is something that I am proud of, but it’s not going to get anywhere close to the Stanley Cup.”
He credited his junior coach Real Paiemeant for learning this style of play. “It was something that stuck in my head, something I wanted to do.”
Bergeron, 26, led the NHL in plus/minus this season at +36 and won the most faceoffs in the NHL with 973. Bergeron’s faceoff win percentage of 59.3 percent was second best in the league.
On his first nomination, Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson took home the James Norris Memorial Trophy, awarded to the defensive player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.
When Karlsson went up to the stage to receive his award, he remarked on the size of the trophy.
“I don't think I realized how big it was until I got here,” he said. “I will probably have to look at the tape a couple of times to figure out what happened.”
Karlsson had a breakout season, leading all NHL defensemen in scoring with 78 points (19 goals, 59 assists) in 81 games. He recorded 25 more points than any other league defenseman – the widest winning margin since Pittsburgh's Paul Coffey lapped the field by 38 points in 1988-89 – and set Ottawa franchise records for blueline assists and points.
Chara helped the Bruins capture their third Northeast Division title in four seasons. The captain led all defensemen and tied for third in the NHL in plus-minus (+33) – matching his League-leading rating from 2010-11 – and recorded a career-high 52 points (12 goals, 40 assists) to rank fourth among all blueliners in scoring.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association submitted ballots for both the Norris Trophy and Selke Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists.
LAS VEGAS -- Greetings from the Vegas Strip, where Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and steady center Patrice Bergeron are about to learn if they will be taking home the hardware in tonight's NHL Awards ceremony at the posh Wynn Resort.
Chara, the 35-year-old defensive stalwart, is up for the Norris Trophy, the prize that former Bruin Bobby Orr won eight times as the league's No. 1 defenseman. The Norris will be the first award handed out here tonight.
Chara won the Norris in 2009 and also was named runnerup to Scott Niedermayer in 2004.
Bergeron, one of three finalists for the Selke Trophy as the game's best defensive forward, will have to wait until approximately midway through the two-hour program to find out if he is the winner.
Only one Bruin, Steve Kasper in 1982, ever has won the Selke. Don Marcotte ('79), Kasper ('88) and Dave Poulin ('93), all finished second in the Selke voting.
Training camp will officially open on Sept. 21 at Ristuccia Arena. The first preseason game will take place on Sept. 25 against Washington at the Verizon Center.
The Bruins will play Winnipeg at Saskatoon’s Credit Union Centre on Sept. 29. The following night, the teams will have a rematch at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, the Jets’ home rink.
The Bruins first started considering the Saskatoon visit last summer. While they have some concern about fatigue, they consider the trip an opportunity for team bonding.
Rookies report to Ristuccia Arena on Sept. 14.
Here is the preseason schedule:
Sept. 25: Bruins at Capitals (Verizon Center, Washington)
Sept. 26: Bruins at Sabres (First Niagara Center, Buffalo)
Sept. 29: Bruins vs. Jets (Credit Union Centre, Saskatoon)
Sept. 30: Bruins at Jets (MTS Centre, Winnipeg)
Oct. 3: Bruins vs. Capitals (TD Garden),
Oct. 5: Bruins vs. Sabres (TD Garden),
Oct. 6: Bruins at Canadiens (Bell Centre, Montreal)
The NHL's collective bargaining agreement is set to expire on Sept. 15. It's possible the preseason and the start of the regular season could be in doubt.
The Bruins are entering the final week of preparation in advance of this weekend’s NHL draft at Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center. The first round is Friday night. Rounds two through seven will take place on Saturday.
The Bruins have the No. 24 pick. In the previous two drafts, they had selections in the top 10, courtesy of the Phil Kessel trade with Toronto. In 2010, they drafted Tyler Seguin with the No. 2 pick. Last year, they nabbed Dougie Hamilton with the ninth overall selection.
“There’s a lot of defensemen – good defensemen in this draft,” GM Peter Chiarelli said during a conference call. “If we don’t get a defenseman, we’ll be fine. There’s always some good players. We’re hoping that some will slip. I’ve never seen a number of defensemen this large.”
Among the top defensemen are Matt Dumba, Ryan Murray, Morgan Rielly, Cody Ceci, and Jacob Trouba. The Bruins are hoping one or several from that group slip to No. 24.
Up front, the Bruins could be interested in big forwards such as Henrik Samuelsson and Stefan Matteau.
Currently, the Bruins also have picks in the third, fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds. They lost their second-round selection as a condition of the Tomas Kaberle trade. They swapped their fourth-round pick to Carolina for Joe Corvo.
Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell, both brought back in the mix earlier this week, stated they had no desire to reach July 1 as unrestricted free agents.
“There was no real decision other than to come back and be part of the Boston Bruins organization,” Kelly said during a conference call. “I knew I wanted to be back. They wanted to have me back. There’s no better feeling than that – to be wanted to come back to such a great organization.”
Kelly has agreed to a four-year, $12 million contract. Kelly will officially sign the contract on July 1. It is the first day he will be eligible to do so because of tagging purposes as the Bruins rid themselves of expiring contracts.
Campbell signed a three-year, $4.8 million extension.
“My first priority going into free agency was to ultimately not even make it there,” Campbell said. “I wanted to re-sign with the Bruins. I have nothing but great memories with this team. As soon as I signed, I got text messages from every single player on the team. That exemplifies how close we are as a team.”
* GM Peter Chiarelli has yet to speak with Tim Thomas since the goalie made public his decision to take next year off. Via agent Bill Zito, Thomas has informed Chiarelli that nothing has changed.
* The Bruins have not decided whether to bring back Benoit Pouliot. The third-line winger will reach restricted status on July 1.
Kelly signed a four-year, $12 million extension. Campbell agreed to a three-year, $4.8 million deal.
The third- and fourth-line centers have been valuable niche players. Kelly is an alternate captain coming off a career-first 20-goal season. Campbell has teamed with Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton to form a consistent fourth line. Both have been regular penalty-killers.
The Bruins are not expected to sign any more of their pending UFAs prior to July 1.
Among the players expected to attend the camp include Dougie Hamilton, the team’s first-round pick from last season. The Bruins project Hamilton to be in the mix for an NHL roster spot in 2012-13. Players from the 2011 draft, which will take place on June 22-23 in Pittsburgh, should also be in attendance.
This is the earliest the Bruins have held the camp. In previous years, it has started in early July.
Here is the schedule:
Thursday, June 28
Practice, 10:30 a.m.
Friday, June 29
Practice, 11 a.m.
Power skating, 12:45 p.m.
Saturday, June 30
Power skating, 10:30 a.m.
Practice, 11:45 a.m.
Sunday, July 1
Practice/scrimmage, 11 a.m.
Monday, July 2
Power skating, 10 a.m.
Scrimmage, 11 a.m.
“It didn’t have anything to do with a contract or trade,” said Zito, Thomas's agent of 15 years. “It did not.”
Zito declined to discuss any other specifics of Thomas’s decision not to play next season. On Sunday, Thomas confirmed that he will not play in 2012-13 via a posting on his Facebook page. Thomas has one season remaining on his four-year, $20 million contract. Thomas’s no-movement clause expires on July 1.
The chatter around the league is that Thomas does not want to play for the Bruins next season, thus prompting his decision. The Bruins, who would be responsible for his cap hit next year, would be eager to rid themselves of Thomas’s $5 million number.
Zito’s declarative statement reinforces Thomas’s plan to sit out next year. With Thomas standing firm to his commitment, it’s unlikely the Bruins could find a taker, via trade or waivers, for the remaining year of his contract.
Bruins goalie Tim Thomas has posted a message on his Facebook page about his plans for the next year that confirms reports last week he was planning to take next season off.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said last week that Thomas expressed that possibility to the team through his agent.
On Sunday, Thomas posted the following on his Facebook page:
From the earliest age I can remember, I've wanted to be a hockey player. I've been blessed in my life to not only be able to live that dream, but to achieve more than I ever thought possible.
The singleminded focus that is necessary to ac...complish a dream of this magnitude entails (by necessity) sacrifice in other areas and relationships in life.
At the age of 38, I believe it is time to put my time and energies into those areas and relationships that I have neglected. That is why at this time I feel the most important thing I can do in my life is to reconnect with the three F's.
Friends, Family, and Faith.
This is what I plan on doing over the course of the next year.
On top of this, I will continue to train using the ARP/POV system www.ultrafitevosport.com and work with G-Form www.g-form.com in the development of protective equipment.
What does this portend for the future?
We'll see….God's will be done.
Thomas, who won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goaltender in 2009 and 2011, led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 2011. He has played in 378 games for the Bruins and has a 196-121 record with a .921 career save percentage and 2.48 career goals-against average.
The news means Tuukka Rask will likely become the Bruins' starting goalie next season. However, Chiarelli said last week that the Bruins would still have to carry Thomas's $5 million salary cap hit next season if the goalie did not play. Thomas has one year remaining on a four-year, $20 million contract.
“These things happen. You’ve got to roll with them," Chiarelli said last week. "You’ve got to deal with them. When someone talks about their family, you have to respect that. You’ve got to deal with it. We’re not too disabled on the cap side. But sure, that’s the strength of our team.”
“As of right now, I’m operating under the premise that it is a strong possibility of him taking the year off,” Chiarelli said during a conference call. “We’d have to go about our business without Tim Thomas for the year.”According to Chiarelli, Thomas conveyed his thoughts through Bill Zito, his agent, sometime in May. Thomas cited fatigue and the desire to spend more time with his family. Thomas and wife Melissa have three children.
If Thomas follows through, the Bruins will most likely suspend the goalie for 2012-13. However, the team must carry Thomas’s $5 million annual cap hit. The team would most likely have to place Marc Savard on long-term injured reserve to negate some of Thomas’s hit. Savard carries an annual hit just north of $4 million.
“I’m disappointed,” said Chiarelli, who acknowledged being surprised by Thomas’s declaration. “These things happen. You’ve got to roll with them. You’ve got to deal with them. When someone talks about their family, you have to respect that. You’ve got to deal with it. We’re not too disabled on the cap side. But sure, that’s the strength of our team.”
Thomas said he hopes to play in the 2014 Olympics. The NHL has not committed to sending its players to the Winter Games.
The Bruins have re-signed Daniel Paille to a three-year, $3.9 million extension. Chris Bourque, acquired last Saturday from Washington for Zach Hamill, has signed a two-year contract. The first year of Bourque’s contract will be a two-way deal when he will make $550,000 in the NHL and $200,000 in Providence. The second year of Bourque’s contract is one-way, when he will earn $550,000 at either level.
Paille was originally acquired from Buffalo on Oct. 20, 2009 for a 2010 third-round pick. Paille was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The fourth-line left wing and penalty-killing specialist scored nine goals and six assists in 69 games in 2011-12. Fourth-line center Gregory Campbell’s contract will expire on July 1.
Bourque could be in the mix for bottom-six NHL duty if he has a strong training camp. Otherwise, Bourque will be the go-to scorer in Providence. Bourque led the AHL in scoring while playing for Hershey this past season.
GM Peter Chiarelli is scheduled to speak during a conference call at 3 p.m. Chiarelli is expected to address ESPN.com’s report on Tim Thomas considering taking 2012-13 off.