WILMINGTON -- Numerous reports surfaced Thursday that the Bruins and restricted free agent defenseman Mark Stuart were close to signing a one-year deal, and Stuart’s agent Matt Keator confirmed that late Thursday afternoon.
When asked if the reports were true, Keator said, “Yes, close.” Financial terms were not known.
The Bruins would still like to sign restricted free agent forwards Blake Wheeler and Gregory Campbell, as well as rookie Tyler Seguin. Chances are Stuart will be taking a bit of a discount to return to Boston so the Bruins can fit everyone under the salary cap.
Cunningham hopes for reunion with Lucic
When Craig Cunningham was drafted in the fourth round (97th overall) at the NHL Entry Draft last month, he already had a fan in the Bruins organization. Bruins winger Milan Lucic and Cunningham played together on the 2006-07 Vancouver Giants squad that won the Western Hockey League's Memorial Cup, and Lucic had been hounding the Bruins' brass and scouts to select his former teammate.
“I work out with him every day back home and he said he was hoping the Bruins would draft me and I’d end up in Boston,” Cunningham said Thursday after the team’s third day of development camp. “He was pushing them all year long. Then as soon as soon as I got drafted, he was texting me, ‘Congrats.’ Then on my first night back in Vancouver, we celebrated.”
Cunningham has an immense amount of respect for his former -- and possibly future -- teammate and hopes he can follow in his footsteps.
“He’s a pretty unique story,” Cunningham said of Lucic. “A guy that makes it in the lineup when no one really thought he would have a chance. So it’s an inspiration for a guy like me to see how hard he works and the way he comes to work every day and tries to get better. He’s really an idol of mine.”
Cunningham, who hails from Trail, British Columbia, said that Lucic has become quite popular back home, as he has in Boston. But as Cunningham pointed out, Lucic is still the same person who fought hard to get to where he is in his career.
“He’s ‘the guy’ in Vancouver like he is here in Boston,” Cunningham said. “I’ve seen him go from a guy just trying to make it to a star, and it’s really cool to watch. But at the same time he’s still the same guy and that’s important.
“I only got to play one season with him but obviously it was a memorable one because we won the Memorial Cup,” said Cunningham, who spent three more seasons with the Giants after Lucic left, finishing this past one with 97 points in 72 games. “It was amazing, in front of our own fans. The place was packed with 16,000 fans and it was just unbelievable. Hopefully Milan and I can do something like that again.”
Button a hot shot
Late in the first scrimmage of Bruins development camp, defenseman Ryan Button, who was selected in the third round (86th overall) by the Bruins in the 2009 draft, ripped a laser short-side past goaltender Michael Hutchinson, drawing huge applause from the bench and the stands. He also caught the attention of camp director and Bruins assistant GM Don Sweeney.
“That was a heck of a shot,” Sweeney said with a smile after the scrimmage.
Button was happy with the praise but admitted he may never get such a perfect shot off again.
“Probably not,” he said. “A lot of the guys were joking with me and saying it was a good shot but it will never happen again. But I have been working on my shot and hopefully it can happen again.”
Button, who has played the last three seasons in the WHL, was just happy to be playing a scrimmage after all the team building and drills the prospects have gone through.
“It was great to scrimmage,” he said. “We’ve been asking a lot when we would and finally we did, so it felt great after all those drills.”
James Murphy has covered the Bruins and the NHL for the last eight seasons. He has written for NHL.com, NESN.com, Insidehockey.com and Le Hockey Magazine. Murphy also authors a blog, Drop Puck Murphy.