BOSTON -- The Eastern Conference got stronger Monday with the New York Rangers' deal for Rick Nash, and could get even stronger if Nashville decides not to match the reported offer sheet of 14 years, $110 million from Philadelphia to reigning Norris Trophy winner Shea Weber. (Editor's note: Nashville has decided to match the offer sheet to Weber)
But don’t expect the Bruins and general manager Peter Chiarelli to rush out and respond.
Tuesday at a press conference officially announcing a multi-year contract extension for head coach Claude Julien, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli spoke sternly of remaining committed to his core group of players. He told reporters there's a "good chance" the roster as it currently stands will remain the same when the team breaks for preseason camp in September.
"There’s a lot of the summer left, there’s a lot of stuff that has to happen on a macro basis too," Chiarelli said. "So, I really, if anything right now, there’s -- in my mind -- there’s more uncertainty as far as the global landscape and us in the global landscape. I guess what I’m saying is, I think anything can happen depending on how things unfold, but there’s a good chance that this will be our roster going into the training camp."
Rumors had circulated this summer of possibly trading David Krejci to Anaheim for Bobby Ryan, and of the Blue Jackets looking for any combination of Krejci, Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin and prized defensman prospect Dougie Hamilton in exchange for Nash. Neither of those rumors appeared to have much weight, as Chiarelli has made it clear those players are not available.
Chiarelli would not disclose how negotiations went with Columbus, or how serious they even got. But a source told ESPNBoston.com's James Murphy last week that the sticking point between the Bruins and Blue Jackets was that Columbus also wanted an NHL defenseman with experience.
Going forward, while Chiarelli hinted strongly that he might stand pat for a while, He also said that he might not be done yet either.
"I don’t want it to be misconstrued by just keeping the core intact that we’re standing pat here," Chiarelli said. "When rivals make moves like that, when Philly has the offer sheet on Weber -- I don’t lose sight of that stuff and knowing that these are good teams that are getting better. So our foundation, our team right now, is quite good. And we got some things that we may do at a later point, we may wait until later this season.
"We’re not standing still. And with the Weber thing, the Nash thing, those are things that we certainly don’t ignore. We don’t react right away, but we certainly don’t ignore it."
The potential of a work stoppage delaying the start of the 2012-13 season leaves an interesting predicament for the talented Hamilton. The Bruins drafted the 6-foot-4 puck-mover ninth overall in June 2011, then sent him to the OHL, where he had 17-55-72 totals in 50 games for the Niagara IceDogs last season. Chiarelli didn't have any clarity on Hamilton's status in case of a work stoppage, but noted that in general, players under the age of 20 have gone back to the Canadian Hockey League during work stoppages. Hamilton turns 20 next June.
Chiarelli added, "One of the things that we’ve accomplished, that Claude has accomplished, is we’ve brought youth into our lineup and allowed them to develop and succeed rather than throw them into the fire right away and all -- Dougie Hamilton, we would hope that he would get into our lineup and fall into that category."
Life without Thomas
The Bruins are preparing for life without two-time Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas, who posted on his Facebook page earlier this summer that he will be sitting out the upcoming season. Asked about the transition, Julien noted the inury to Marc Savard in 2010, and how the team was able to adapt going forward, while offering support to incumbent starter Tuukka Rask and his assumed backup, Anton Khudobin.
"There’s no doubt, nobody’s going to deny what Tim’s done here for our hockey club over the years," Julien said. "But we’ve mentioned that Tuukka is a very capable goaltender. He’s got his opportunity to showcase that this year and I think when I saw Khudobin play, whether it was training camp or whether it was when he was with us that game in Ottawa, practice, you can see a goaltender who has not only improved but has matured.
"And I honestly have a lot of confidence in our goaltending and, you know, obviously, we drafted, we’ve signed a few goaltenders as well. I think our depth is there. I don’t really see that as an issue. And that’s because I have the confidence in what I have in front of me right now."