BUFFALO — Don Sweeney has long been hopeful that he and super agent J.P. Barry would be able to bridge the gap and get a new contract done for veteran right wing Loui Eriksson.

Loui Eriksson

Loui Eriksson

BUFFALO — Don Sweeney has long been hopeful that he and super agent J.P. Barry would be able to bridge the gap and get a new contract done for veteran right wing Loui Eriksson.

With two days left until Eriksson will be free to interview with other teams and over a week until he’ll become an unrestricted free agent, Sweeney didn’t appear to be in a very hopeful state.

“It may not happen,” Sweeney said of an extension.

“I’m going to have a conversation again with J.P. and see if things have changed and take one more stab at it to see if he thinks the internal landscape is as green as we think it is as opposed to what the outside may look like,” Sweeney said. “Obviously he’s on the cusp of maybe exploring things.”

Term has long been a stumbling block between the two sides. The Bruins have been unwilling to go beyond four years on a contract for Eriksson, who will turn 31 next month.

In other free agency news, the Bruins will not bring back Jonas Gustavsson. Zach Trotman will go to market, while the team has had contact with Lee Stempniak and John-Michael Liles.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean
Peter Chiarelli

Peter Chiarelli

BUFFALO — In rewatching Edmonton president of hockey operations Peter Chiarelli’s availability with reporters from Thursday morning, it was hard not to notice a point he made regarding his own team’s issues that applies to the Bruins.

A reporter asked Chiarelli about trading for a No. 1 defenseman. Chiarelli shed light on such a pursuit by noting something that fans in every market probably don’t consider often enough.

“Over the years, we’ve had discussions with teams I’ve been with, like, how many true No. 1 D are there? Maybe there’s 12,” Chiarelli said. “So there’s 30 teams and there’s 12 No. 1 D, so to think that you’re going to get a No. 1 D, it’s tough.”

While one of Chiarelli’s biggest blunders in Boston involved losing a top-pairing defenseman (Johnny Boychuk), the point he raises is correct. Look around the league. Keith Yandle isn’t a No. 1 defenseman and just god paid $6.35 million annually on a seven-year deal. Alex Goligoski isn’t a No. 1 (on a good team, anyway) and he got $5.45 million a year over five years. Kevin Shattenkirk, a top-four guy who would play big minutes in Boston but is far from a stud, might get traded for a haul. Food for thought.

Watch the video of Chiarelli’s press conference here, courtesy of TSN

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Jake Bean is considered one of the top defensemen in the 2016 NHL Draft (Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)Last year, the Bruins entered the week of the NHL draft with the 14th overall pick.



BUFFALO — When the Sabres sent a third-round pick to the Predators for the rights to North Reading native and stud left wing prospect Jimmy Vesey, their hope was obvious: Vesey would pass up his promise to go to unrestricted free agency and instead team with fellow Massachuset

Jack Eichel hopes his friend Jimmy Vesey will sign with the Sabres. (Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports)

Jack Eichel hopes his friend Jimmy Vesey will sign with the Sabres. (Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports)

BUFFALO — When the Sabres sent a third-round pick to the Predators for the rights to North Reading native and stud left wing prospect Jimmy Vesey, their hope was obvious: Vesey would pass up his promise to go to unrestricted free agency and instead team with fellow Massachusetts native and Jack Eichel to solidify a young offensive nucleus in Buffalo.

The promise hasn’t changed, however. Vesey’s camp said the day of the trade that the player would still go to free agency on Aug. 15. Should that hold true, all the Sabres have is time to sell him on their plan so that when all is said and done, Buffalo is the player’s choice in free agency.

Fortunately for the Sabres, they have one of the most talented young players in the league as a recruiting tool. Yet while Eichel put in his sales pitch soon after Monday’s trade (the two work out together every day), he doesn’t expect any good news before Aug. 15.

“I don’t think in his mind anything has changed,” Eichel told WEEI.com Thursday. “I think he’s still going to wait until free agency, but it’s nice to have him part of the organization, I guess. It would be great if he came to the Sabres, but he’s going to do whatever’s best for him at that point.”

Furthermore, the 2015 second overall pick is aware of the looming threat on Causeway Street. Shortly after Vesey announced his intentions to not sign with the Predators and instead head for free agency, chatter began (and a Boston Herald report outwardly said) that Vesey had his sights set on signing with the hometown Bruins.

Though Eichel thinks Vesey would make a hell of a Sabre, he can recognize that the Bruins might represent a threat to his teams odds of landing the player.

“I mean, he grows up in Boston watching the Bruins and obviously I think that’s got to be in the back of his mind,” Eichel said. “He went to school in Boston at Harvard, so he’s comfortable and familiar with that area. If that’s his preference and that’s what he wants to do, then I’m sure he’ll do it. But I’m sure he has options and a lot of things going through his head, so I know he’ll just take his time and make his decision. [I wish him] all the best.”

Eichel, who played with Vesey for Team USA at last year’s World Championships and is currently playing in a summer league with Vesey, was modest in expressing how much influence his recommendation will have with Vesey. He noted that Vesey will take advantage of his options as a free agency and consider his own preferences and those of his family and agents.

“Obviously he’s a great player, he’s a good kid,” Eichel said. “He’d bring a lot to the [Sabres]. Any time you can get good players, it’s always good. If he comes to Buffalo, I know he’ll enjoy it. It’s a great city to play for, [but] I think at the end of the day he’ll make whatever decision is best for him.”

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

The Kings cleaned up at the NHL Awards Wednesday night, with “cleaning up” meaning “won awards they probably shouldn’t have won.”

The Kings cleaned up at the NHL Awards Wednesday night, with “cleaning up” meaning “won awards they probably shouldn’t have won.”

Moments after Drew Doughty beat out Erik Karlsson for the Norris Trophy (an award with which Karlsson should have run away), Anze Kopitar was awarded the Selke Trophy to deny Patrice Bergeron his third-straight win.

Statistically speaking, Bergeron figured to be a heavy favorite to win the Selke, which is given to the league’s top two-way forward. The Boston center had 32 goals to Kopitar’s 25 and though Kopitar had more assists (49 to 36) and points (74 to 68), defensive and possession metrics heavily fell in Bergeron’s favor. Bergeron’s Corsi Relative of 20.4 was vastly superior to Kopitar’s 2.4 mark.

Bergeron also led the league with 1,130 faceoff wins to Koptar’s 950 despite Kopitar playing one more regular-season game than Bergeron.

Despite Bergeron’s statistical advantages, Kopitar received 31 more first-place votes by Pro Hockey Writers Association members than Bergeron, who finished second. Bergeron has now finished first or second in Selke voting in five straight seasons. Had he won Wednesday, he would have tied Bob Gainey for the most career Selke wins (four) and become the second player in league history (Pavel Datsyuk) to win three straight.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean
Loui Eriksson

Loui Eriksson

The Bruins and agent J.P. Barry still plan to negotiate further as they try to bridge the gap on Loui Eriksson’s next contract. According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Sweeney and Barry will meet Wednesday night.

With the sides still not close on a deal, however, the clock is ticking on the team to decide whether they’re going to keep the player unsigned through the draft or flip his rights to another team for draft pick compensation. Given that such trades involve mid-round picks (as has been the case for free-agents-to-be Alex Goligoski, Keith Yandle and Jimmy Vesey), the Bruins would realistically have until Saturday (the second day of the draft) to make such a move if they were to seek 2016 compensation. According to a league source, the Bruins are not currently discussing Eriksson’s rights with other teams.

Considering that the team shopped Eriksson leading up to the trade deadline, it figures that the team has some sort of indication as to which teams might be interested should it come to that. Last summer, the Bruins traded the rights of UFA Carl Soderberg to the Avalanche the night before the draft in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2016 draft.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean
Gary Bettman

Gary Bettman

The NHL announced Wednesday that an expansion franchise has been granted to Las Vegas. The team, which has yet to be named, will debut in the 2017-18 season and will play in the Pacific Division.

Following are the parameters of the Las Vegas team’s addition, which includes, among other things, alignment, scheduling and next offseason’s expansion draft:

Alignment

The Las Vegas franchise will begin play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in 2017-18. There will be no other changes to the NHL’s alignment.

2017-18 Schedule Matrix

Each club will continue to play an 82-game schedule, with 41 home games and 41 road games.

The schedule matrix, which ensures that all teams play in all arenas at least once each season, will be adjusted to the following in 2017-18:

Eastern Conference (Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions – 8 Teams)

Within Conference (Division): 28 games
* 7 Teams: 2 Home / 2 Away
* 7 x 4 = 28 games

Within Conference (Non-Division): 24 games
* 4 Teams: 2 Home / 1 Away
* 4 Teams: 1 Home / 2 Away
* 4 x 3 = 12 games
* 4 x 3 = 12 games

Non-Conference: 30 games
* 15 Home / 15 Away
* 2 x 15 = 30

Western Conference (Central Division – 7 Teams)

Within Conference (Division): 26 games
* 4 Teams: 2 Home / 2 Away
* 1 Team: 3 Home / 2 Away
* 1 Team: 2 Home / 3 Away
* 4 x 4 = 16
* 1 x 5 = 5
* 1 x 5 = 5

Within Conference (Non-Division): 24 games
* 4 Teams: 2 Home / 1 Away
* 4 Teams: 1 Home / 2 Away
* 4 x 3 = 12 games
* 4 x 3 = 12 games

Non-Conference: 32 games
* 16 Home / 16 Away
* 2 x 16 = 32 games

Western Conference (Pacific Division – 8 Teams)

Within Conference (Division): 29 games
* 6 Teams: 2 Home / 2 Away
* 1 Team: 3 Home / 2 Away
* 6 x 4 = 24 games
* 1 x 5 = 5 games

Within Conference (Non-Division): 21 games
* 4 Teams: 2 Home / 1 Away
* 3 Teams: 1 Home / 2 Away
* 4 x 3 = 12 games
* 3 x 3 = 9 games

Non-Conference: 32 games
* 16 Home / 16 Away
* 2 x 16 = 32 games

2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs

The NHL’s current playoff format will not change.

Expansion Draft 

The following rules were approved for the 2017 Expansion Draft:

Protected Lists
* Clubs will have two options for players they wish to protect in the Expansion Draft:
a) Seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender

b) Eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender

* All players who have currently effective and continuing “No Movement” clauses at the time of the Expansion Draft (and who to decline to waive such clauses) must be protected (and will be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).

* All first- and second-year professionals, as well as all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection (and will not be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).

Player Exposure Requirements
* All Clubs must meet the following minimum requirements regarding players exposed for selection in the Expansion Draft:
i) One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.

ii) Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.

iii) One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list.

* Players with potential career-ending injuries who have missed more than the previous 60 consecutive games (or who otherwise have been confirmed to have a career-threatening injury) may not be used to satisfy a club’s player exposure requirements, unless approval is received from the NHL. Such players also may be deemed exempt from selection by the League.

Regulations Relating to Expansion Franchise
* The Las Vegas franchise must select one player from each presently existing club for a total of 30 players (not including additional players who may be acquired as the result of violations of the Expansion Draft rules).

* The Las Vegas franchise must select the following number of players at each position: 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders.

* The Las Vegas franchise must select a minimum of 20 players who are under contract for the 2017-18 season.

* The Las Vegas franchise must select players with an aggregate Expansion Draft value that is between 60-100% of the prior season’s upper limit for the salary cap.

* The Las Vegas franchise may not buy out any of the players selected in the Expansion Draft earlier than the summer following its first season.

The 30 NHL clubs must submit their Protected Lists by 5:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 17, 2017. The Las Vegas franchise must submit its Expansion Draft selections by 5:00 p.m. ET on June 20. The announcement of their selections will be made on June 21.

2017 NHL Draft Lottery

The Las Vegas franchise will be given the same odds in the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery as the team finishing with the third-fewest points during the 2016-17 regular season.

The Las Vegas franchise’s First Round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft will be determined in accordance with the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery and, as a result, the Las Vegas franchise will be guaranteed no lower than the sixth overall selection.

The Las Vegas franchise then will select third in each subsequent round of the 2017 NHL Draft (subject to trades and other potential player transactions).

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean