Training camp starts in just over three weeks (Sept. 16). Let's jump right into some questions, and don't forget to send in your questions here:
Q: Great coverage this past season, guys -- looking forward to watching the B's defend the title. What do you think about Tuukka? My view is that too much was asked too soon, given Thomas' injury, and Rask's struggles in the playoffs stayed in his head this past season. How do you see him getting his legs back underneath him to be the future for this team? Or, do you see him getting traded to make a 'fresh start' somewhere else? Thanks! -- Joe (Hummelstown, Pa.)
A: Besides Brad Marchand's contract status, this has been one of the most commonly asked questions throughout the summer; as I've said before, I truly believe that Tuukka Rask is still the future between the pipes for the Bruins and that he will see more playing time this season. The only trade scenario I see involving Rask would be a knock-your-socks-off deal that the Bruins couldn't refuse. Those types of deals usually happen in the offseason, which is essentially over, so I don't see any chance of that until at least next summer. Tim Thomas was amazing this season but he is getting older, and as you point out, Rask needs game action to stay sharp. From talking to Tuukka a lot last season, I know his confidence improved drastically toward the end of the season, and he didn't mind riding the pine to get a Stanley Cup ring, either. I wouldn't worry about him just yet.
Q: Joe & James, thanks for all your great coverage last season. Given all that's been written about the Blackhawks and the "puck incident", do we know who got the puck from Game 7 this year? -- Nate (Bristol, Conn.)
A: Funny you sent this question in. I just recently watched the Bruins Stanley Cup DVD and noticed that Tim Thomas scooped up the puck right at the end of the game. I spoke to Mark Recchi the day after I watched that, and he said he believes Thomas did indeed keep it, but I have yet to confirm that with him or the Bruins.
Q: Hey Guys, Where do you envision Dougie Hamilton getting his playing time next year? I imagine he needs a little more bulk before he wears the spoked B. Will a return to Juniors or maybe the AHL be best for his development? -- Nick (Brookline, Mass.)
A: Based on scouts and NHL management folks I've spoken to this summer, you're right on target. Dougie Hamilton's potential is great, and he could prove to be a steal at No. 9 overall, where the Bruins drafted him in the 2011 NHL draft. But yes, I'd expect another year in juniors with the Niagara IceDogs so he can get more experience and bulk up his 6-foot-4, 193-pound frame. A season in Providence in 2012-13 is also very possible. But there's no doubt the Bruins got a legit prospect to help their blue line for years to come.
Q: So all I'm looking for here is a shot in the dark, I won't hold you to anything ... what's your best guess at Tyler Seguin's scoring line next season? -- Vinny (Boston)
A: I've never been good at projections, but I'll say Seguin will have a very solid season in 2011-12. I think he learned a lot about himself, Claude Julien's system and coaching style, and the rigors of playing full time in the NHL. I also think he'll come back a stronger and more confident player. So I'll say he'll have a season like Brad Marchand had in 2010-11, with 22 goals and 31 assists.
Q: Are the Bruins looking to add any last minute veteran help before camp to assume a Recchi-like role? -- Don Jones (Montreal)
A: This was one of the first questions asked of general manager Peter Chiarelli in his end-of-the-season/pre-draft teleconference; at the time, Chiarelli said he felt very confident in both the young core and veteran leaders on the team. I would look for Andrew Ference or Shawn Thornton to get the assistant captain's A left vacant by Mark Recchi's retirement and for younger players like Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron (who already is a great leader) to increase their leadership roles. But Chiarelli recently did tell the Boston Globe that he was interested in bringing in a veteran free agent on a tryout, so we'll see if that happens. Remember, he struck gold doing so when he invited Glen Metropolit for a tryout in 2007-08. Metropolit ended up being a leader and a very versatile player who played a big role in the team's success.
Q: Do you think that Jordan Caron can make more of an impact this season? -- Gerry (The Cape)
A: I have made my opinion of Jordan Caron very clear here, and that opinion is very high. I think that this kid has the potential to be a solid power-forward-type player and that he'll be given every chance to make the full-time jump to the NHL this season. He is very eager to learn, a hard worker, and by all accounts is determined to make the NHL squad and stay there this season. I think he'll accomplish that goal.
James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Ask a question for his next Bruins mailbag here.