Lucic/By S. Bradley

I never expected the reception my request for mailbag questions received this week. There were so many, that I had to break up the mailbag into two parts – and I probably won’t get to a few of the questions.

How very Bill Simmons of me.

Anyway, coming on the heels of yesterday’s Part I of the mailbag, here’s Part II:

Ben writes:
It looks as though the Bruins lack scoring/depth at LW (at least with Sturm out). Do you see Chiarelli looking at adding a LW or LW prospect via a trade? Or do you think that Seguin and Colborne at the LW position will be enough to satisfy the Bruins need as a team for more scoring as well as them getting NHL experience?

MK: Ben, I don’t really see the Bruins’ depth at LW as that much of a problem. Even without Sturm, they have Lucic, Recchi (who can play both wings), Paille and Wheeler, who has played more LW than RW in the NHL. You add in Colborne and fellow prospects Marchand and Sauve, and you might have enough to get by. As a right shot, Seguin would probably play on the right side. As a team overall, the Bruins should have more offense than last year now that Horton’s around. Of course, if that will be enough offense for them to win the division, or go deep in the playoffs, remains to be seen.

Just for kicks, here’s a little line chart I came up with:

Lucic-Savard-Horton
Recchi-Bergeron-Seguin
Wheeler-Krejci-Ryder
Paille-Campbell-Thornton

Horton and Seguin might be swappable, or you could give Ryder a chance to resurrect his game alongside Savard.

Matt writes:
Is it a foregone conclusion at this point that Ryder will play his last season with the Bruins in Providence? It seems to me to be a stupid idea to trade Savard or Thomas simply to clear space when both have value on the varsity roster. We don’t know what we will get from Rask and this team needs Savard’s abilities, even with his passive play. This is a no-brainer to me. Ryder to Providence.

MK: If comments on this blog and others are any indication, the gas money and rent it would take to make Ryder a member of the P-Bruins would easily be raised from a collection can passed among Bruins fans. Obviously, this is an option the Bruins are looking at or they would’ve shipped out Savard, Thomas or Wheeler already and been done with it. With the 10-percent offseason cushion and $3.5 million LTIR allowance from Sturm’s injury at his disposal, Chiarelli is obviously playing his cards close to the vest and trying to see how things play out.

There’s obviously hope from the Bruins’ brass and coaches that Ryder, playing for another contract and under Julien (his so-called button-pusher), will find his game again. The competition from younger players should also do something to fire up Ryder. If it doesn’t, then Chiarelli can revisit the trade market or get permission to pay him $4 million to play down on the farm. I also still wouldn’t rule out a buyout once Wheeler’s arbitration situation is settled.

Jim Turcotte writes:
Is including Hamill enough of an incentive to get another team to take on Ryder’s expiring contract?

MK: Following up on the previous answer, the Bruins have plenty of prospects and picks to use as deal-sweeteners. But do they really want to do that if they don’t have to? Hamill is the type of player that could continue to develop at Providence and emerge as a third-line center, at least, by next season. He’s still young and the Bruins knew he would be a bit of a project when they drafted him. Those picks they have from Toronto and their own picks could also make a team think about taking Ryder on. Of course, Chiarelli might be wisest to let Ryder play some preseason games, let other teams assess their needs and then try to make a deal that doesn’t hurt the prospect pool or draft pick collection.

Anthony Amico writes:
I think at this point we know there are some prospects ready to make a move. I am trying to figure out when PC and Co. will take a risk on some of the young guys? Especially seeing they are tight to the cap again. They can’t act like the Red Sox and take every single prospect through every minor level of advancement. Sometimes you need to just plug a guy in and watch him do his job or not.

MK: Anthony, I think first of all you have to look at the Bruins’ prospects and realize that other than Seguin, not all of them are guaranteed NHL material at this point. Colborne, Caron and a few of the defensemen might be able to challenge for a job, but winning one this fall is going to be very tough. Plus, the best prospects come with decent-sized cap hits as well. If it was as easy as dumping a Ryder to make room for a kid, the Bruins would probably do it. However, it’s not that simple. Since Chiarelli arrived, the Bruins have shown more than enough willingness to give kids a shot when they’ve earned it. Just look at Rask, Lucic, Krejci and Hunwick over the last few years. The Bruins will give every prospect a fair shot at a job, and you have to figure Seguin is already in. So don’t worry that the Bruins will let any of their top up-and-comers rot on the vine.

Eugene Mannarino writes:
I was just wondering why the Bruins are looking to move Savard when he is one of our few offensive guys.

MK: As is often the case, it’s all about money. Except this case is about money under the cap and not what the Bruins have to pay out. Chiarelli has sort of backed himself into a corner with some of the extensions he’s handed out, starting with Thomas and continuing with Savard, Ference and Seidenberg. He had to sign Stuart for just one year and with the drafting of Seguin now has four legit NHL centers. Savard makes the most sense based on affordability to other teams, age and amount of area he excels.

That being said, the worst offensive team in the league is still nuts to trade its best offensive weapon. If the Bruins really want to make a run for the Cup, they should keep Savard, Krejci, Bergeron as their top three centers, move Seguin to wing and then clear cap space by trading Thomas during the season and/or demoting Ryder (or buying him out now).

Christina O’Connor writes:
I was wondering what fun things some of the guys did over the offseason.

MK: Christina, that’s a question I’ll be able to better answer in a few weeks when players start to return to Wilmington for informal skates. I can tell you most guys took long vacations after the season ended and are probably now starting to ramp up their workouts. They’ll probably being skating in early August.

Marty writes:
With Hossa, Kovalchuk and DiPietro with 10+ year deals why not pull the same thing in Boston with Chara or Bergeron. Give them 10 years and 40-50 million?

Bergeron/By S. Bradley

MK: This could end up being an option with Bergeron. But Chara will turn 35 during the first season of his extension, so the rules apply differently to him. Regardless if he retires, whatever his cap number is for the deal will apply to the Bruins’ cap (of course, it depends what the new CBA looks like down the road too). So making that type of commitment to Chara could be dicey. Something in the five- to six-year range might be in order, at around the same cap hit he has now.

You have to remember that if Chara hits the open market, there will be a team waiting to make him as rich as he became in July 2006. The only difference is there’ll be less teams bidding because so many teams have committed long-term deals to young players and wouldn’t have the space.

Andrew Dall writes:
If the Bruins manage to trade Thomas, or he finishes out his contract, do you feel that the Bruins will finally retire Cheevers’ No. 30 or continue to ignore his monumental contributions to the 1971-72 Stanley Championship season and team?

MK: Love to end on a history question, Andrew. This is one that has bugged me for a while. How the Bruins have not retired the number of a guy that won two Cups, is in the Hall of Fame and third on the team’s all-time wins list is as mind-boggling as giving Ference a three-year extension after he played just 65 percent of his team’s games.

After his great playing career, Cheevers was an excellent coach and then served the team as a scout in the pre-Chiarelli years. That they haven’t at least honored his number, if not retire it, is a shame. Of course, it doesn’t stop with Cheevers. When will they retire Cashman’s No. 12? The guy played more than 1,000 games in black and gold, won two Cups and was every bit the heart and soul of some great teams as the guys that already have their numbers in the rafters. Then there’s Middleton, who scored more than 400 goals for the Bruins.

There have always been murmurs about the Bruins starting to honor numbers because if they retired them all they’d have guys wearing triple digits. Of course, just as with most things dealing with alumni, ownership has yet to step up and make this right. The owners are only worried in appealing to the young, beer-swilling money-spenders in the fan base, who they think don’t care about history. But if the team embraced its history more, everyone would care more.

There’d be no better way to get everyone, including the current players, fired up about being part of the Bruins than reliving the days of Cheevers, Cashman, Middleton and even the likes of ‘Tiny’ Thompson and Brimsek with nights to honor them and have the present meet the past. Maybe it’ll take the fan base demanding this type of ceremony to get ownership to wake up.

Click here to read Part I.

And to submit a question for a future mailbag, click here.