NHL notebook

Bruins look to move up

Chiarelli trying to improve position

By Kevin Paul Dupont
Globe Staff / June 26, 2009
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MONTREAL - Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, maintaining that he still has his eye on a couple of players in tonight’s draft, remained keen yesterday on moving up in the first round for a chance to land one of them.

“I’ve got three teams I’m talking with,’’ said Chiarelli. “These are three teams that are willing to move down.’’

The Bruins currently hold the No. 25 pick. Chiarelli, while unwilling to specify what teams he talked to, said the proposed moves were in the range that could improve Boston’s draft spot by upward of 10 picks.

The clubs in that neighborhood include Anaheim (15), Columbus (16), St. Louis (17), Montreal (18), and the Rangers (19).

The Bruins have often talked trade with the Blues, the biggest swap sending Brad Boyes to St. Louis and Dennis Wideman to the Bruins. A lesser move had Hannu Toivonen going to St. Louis for the rights to Carl Soderberg. The sides were close to a deal at the March 4 trade deadline, a swap that would have sent Phil Kessel to the Blues for veteran forward Keith Tkachuk and high-end prospect David Perron, who just finished his second year in the league.

No telling for certain what Chiarelli would have to yield to better his spot, but clubs across the board are looking for legit roster players, with lower salaries, who can fill roles and not bust their budgets. Two Bruins who fit that description are defenseman Aaron Ward (one year to go at $2.5 million) and winger Chuck Kobasew (two more years at a $2.33 million cap hit). Defenseman Andrew Ference also fits the bill, but his cap hit ($1.4 million) is so low that it gives the Bruins little temptation to deal him.

Chiarelli would not be eager to part with any of the three, but a move would give him some needed cap relief, and the flip of first-round picks would increase his chance of landing his teenager of choice. He could be eyeing Chris Kreider, the left winger from Boxford who is about to enter Boston College this fall, or perhaps rugged winger Zach Kassian of the Peterborough Petes. Kassian is likely to go right around No. 15. Kreider figures to go in the same area or a little lower.

When asked if he might make a blockbuster deal in the next day or two, Chiarelli said, “I doubt it.’’

With rumors swirling in recent weeks that Chiarelli might deal the unsigned Kessel, a restricted free agent, the GM said recently that he had received a lot of calls about virtually all of Boston’s forwards. He added that the calls have not increased of late, despite the draft typically being a time when activity picks up.

“I’d say it has been consistent, but not heightened,’’ he said. “I guess no one is looking to help me.’’

Bouwmeester moving?
Rumors heated up in the afternoon that the Panthers were about to deal the negotiation rights to Jay Bouwmeester, their talented defenseman who becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1. His landing spot? Right now it sounds like the Flyers are being the most aggressive and might be willing to send a roster player - far exceeding earlier rumors that the Panthers might get only a third-round draft pick.

If not the Flyers, look for the Kings and Canucks to make a push for the 25-year-old smooth-skating blue liner.

Bouwmeester would look great in a Bruins uniform, his puck-moving skills a great complement to the Norris Trophy-winning Zdeno Chara. However, if he were to sign a long-term deal worth $6 million - his projected figure - it would force the Bruins to deal Wideman (three more years at $3.875 million cap hit).

Defensive help?
Chiarelli maintains that a healthy Ference and Matt Hunwick will be enough to fill out the Boston back line. But it would not be surprising to see him try to find another second-pairing defenseman, someone capable of logging 18-21 minutes per night and contributing some offense. A possibility would be Dennis Seidenberg, who appears to have priced himself out of a job with the Hurricanes. He turns 28 next month and will become an unrestricted free agent July 1. His offensive game has never really blossomed in the NHL, in stops with Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Carolina, but at the right price he could provide a reasonable upgrade for the Bruins.

Payday coming
Boston agents Peter Fish and Mark Witkin, Hunwick’s representatives, meandered into the hotel lobby where the Bruins’ brain trust was holed up in meetings and exchanged pleasantries with Chiarelli. Hunwick is in line for a new deal, one that could bring him about the same money (three years/$5.5 million) Pittsburgh recently handed Alex Goligoski . . . Chiarelli’s official line on Kessel: “He’s an important player and we’ve tried to sign our players and we’ll continue to do that.’’. . . E.J. McGuire, director of the league’s Central Scouting Bureau, likes what he has seen of Kreider. “He has jaw-dropping skill,’’ said McGuire, “and those skills will jump out next year when he’s at BC.’’ . . . Lots of talk here that Matt Duchene might slip ahead of the pack and be the Islanders’ pick at No. 1 tonight. If so, Tampa Bay likely would snatch potential franchise defenseman Victor Hedman at No. 2, which would leave John Tavares there for the Avalanche at No. 3 . . . Ray Bourque’s youngest son, Ryan, most likely will be selected in the third round. “Probably top of the third round,’’ suggested McGuire. “He’ll be a flashy offensive guy, maybe even better than Chris [Bourque, Capitals’ property].’’

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