For obvious reasons, I had to postpone the mailbag from yesterday to today.
And then I had to weed through all the Tomas Kaberle questions to find ones that aren’t dated.
Nonetheless, this is still a vital part of the NHL season and your questions were great. So without further ado, and keeping in mind that these questions were submitted before the Bruins’ Friday trades, here’s my February mailbag:
JT Pierce wrote: I’m surprised at the recent sentiment among Bruins fans that this team should move David Krejci. I’m not saying he is untouchable, and I think we can all agree that he’s yet to live up to the potential he displayed two years ago, but Krejci is the closest replacement for a Marc Savard-type player this roster has to offer. His cap hit is relatively low, and when firing on all cylinders he is a vital member of this team. On the flipside, he has a tendency to disappear for long stretches, and I often question his “compete level.” What are your thoughts on his role on the team, and the possibility of moving him?
Matt Kalman: Krejci has been given a lot of opportunity to prove he is a No. 1 center this year, and until the last couple weeks he struggled. Maybe there have been physical issue bothering him, but I think most people expect him to not only be a playmaker but a physical force like he was in Providence and in ’08-09. That being said, I wouldn’t be in a rush to trade him unless he was the big chip in a package to get a franchise-type player along the lines of Brad Richards or Rick Nash. With his potential and friendly cap hit, he’s obviously attractive to other teams. And projecting down the road, if Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin are your top two centers and maybe another prospect emerges as your third or fourth guy, you could survive without Krejci.
Mike wrote: The Bruins obviously need a huge trade to change their fortunes. I don’t think getting Chris Kelly and Kaberle is going to remotely turn this team around. I agree with your assessment that they need two top-four defensemen. But they also are crying out for a big-time stud forward who can put the puck in the net consistently. I’ve read some blogs where fans are pining for the Bruins to trade for Nash in Columbus, but I’ve never seen anything indicating that he’s available. So, how realistic is it that the B’s could make a run at him?
MK: Unfortunately, Rick Nash, and players of his ilk just aren’t available. I argued last week that with the Bruins’ pool of picks and prospects, they should try to make a guy like that become available. But it doesn’t seem like the Bruins, or any other team, are inclined to really knock another club’s socks off, especially in season. But I think now the Bruins’ biggest weakness is a big time scorer that they can rely on 5-on-5 and on the power play to cash in regularly even against playoff-tough defenses.
Glenn wrote: Now that Dustin Byfuglien has signed a long-term extension, do you think it’s more likely that Zach Bogosian is on the move before the deadline? If so, are the B’s interested and what do you think it would take to land him?
MK: Well, now with Mark Stuart in the mix, Bogosian, who it seems has had a strained relationship with assistant coach John Torchetti, might be even more available. While he would be a great addition to any team’s back end, he’s more a guy you trade for with the future in mind, not the here and now. The price would probably be such that the Bruins would have to mess with their chemistry to get a guy that still needs some seasoning. At this stage, the Bruins can’t afford to get less experienced.
Jeremy Gram wrote: I know all the talk is about the deadline, but what do you think the Bruins will target in the draft, forward or defenseman? Also, what are some names we should keep an eye on as potential future Bruins come draft time?
MK: I want the Bruins to do all they can to snag a stud defenseman. Depending where the Leafs’ pick is, maybe they can move up to grab Swedish giant Adam Larsson (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) or maybe go with Adam Clendening or Ryan Murphy to bolster the back end. Obviously, if they won the lottery and landed in the top two, they could go for the best player available. But otherwise they should be looking to fill their need on D with a top-end talent.
Erik wrote: Do you think that Claude Julien’s system will wear out its welcome? How long can the team be considered “defensive” when you’re giving up four to six goals a game?
MK: Well, the reason the Bruins’ goals against suddenly surged upward recently was because the players got lazy and stopped paying attention to detail within the system. I think Julien’s system is evolving every season, every month, every week. The team figured out a way to aid the defense corps with better responsible play from the forwards early on, and then started to get the defensemen involved in the offense more this yera. With Kaberle, the power play should now become more of a force and we should see even more offensive aggression from the back end.
Eric Emond wrote: Why does Julien only bench rookies? There are plenty of veterans on the roster that should be or should have been benched this year. I don’t just mean bench them in the third, I mean healthy scratches.
MK: It gets frustrating when you see guys like Nathan Horton and Michael Ryder coasting over the course of a few games, but more often than not these guys seem to bounce back – and that’s a product of Julien keeping the faith. Rookies tend to know their place and act more understanding when it comes to healthy scratches. Guys that have been in the league a long time, aren’t quite as agreeable and Julien knows that in the salary-cap era, the players you have are mostly the ones you’re going to be coaching all season — and maybe beyond. He doesn’t want to “lose” anyone, so he finds different buttons to push, be it reaming a guy out in private or taking away power-play time or dropping a guy to the fourth line like he has done with Milan Lucic and Blake Wheeler in the past.
Greg Roth wrote: Assume Ryder finishes the year with 20-25 goals and has a decent playoff. Would the B’s consider signing him in the $2 million range for next year knowing that he will be forever a second- or third-line guy that will get you 20-25 goals a year and be a streaky player. Or is he gone for sure?
MK: You and a lot of my readers might not like this answer. But I think depending on how many more of their prospects they trade before the deadline or how well some of the farmhands develop down the stretch here, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for the Bruins to re-sign Ryder. However, he and his agent would probably see that even if he comes back at a cheaper number it’s going to be a big-time battle to get in the lineup. Other than Ryder, only Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi aren’t signed for next year among forwards. Then you factor in Jordan Caron, Max Sauve and junior players Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner, and suddenly the Bruins could be going young. Never mind that a lot of Ryder’s money is going to have to go toward re-signing Marchand and Kaberle. It’ll depend how much Ryder wants to stay here and keep playing for his long-time mentor Julien.
Digger wrote: Does Chara need a rest? I’m seeing some uncharacteristic play from him.
MK: Chara has struggled a bit playing with a few different partners and in an offensive-minded guy with little pro experience like Steven Kampfer, he has a different type of partner than the Dennis Seidenberg-, Aaron Ward-type guy. With Kaberle around and Kampfer gaining experience, Chara’s play will improve and his workload will be reduced a tad until the playoffs.