With the news that Charlie McAvoy will miss Game One of the Eastern Conference Final, the Boston Bruins know that they will need someone else to step up and fill both his spot in the lineup and his considerable minutes. While the latter responsibility will likely fall to increased roles for Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug, as well as captain Zdeno Chara of course, someone will have to come off the bench and be ready to contribute. Who exactly that will be remains a mystery, but the pool of potential options has increased. Speaking with the media today, Bruins GM Don Sweeney revealed that John Moore will be available on Thursday and that Kevan Miller has not been ruled out either. Moore was injured early in the Bruins’ last series and did not return, while Miller has not played at all in the postseason while rehabbing a lower-body injury. Sweeney did not sound optimistic that Miller would be the choice for Game One, but did promise that the further the team plays into the postseason, the more likely it is that he will return to the lineup. Miller began the season as a top-six regular for Boston, as he has for several years now, but injuries cost him all but 39 regular season games. An especially injury-prone defense corps this season has helped the Bruins give the likes of Moore, Matt Grzelcyk, Steven Kampfer, and Connor Clifton all considerable play time, and head coach Bruce Cassidy has entrusted the youngsters Grzelcyk and Clifton with starting roles moving forward in the playoffs. If Miller is still unable to go on Thursday, the decision would thus come down to Moore versus Kampfer, with the latter providing a right-handed shot and more stable defense, but the former bringing more experience with the team and more puck-moving ability to help with McAvoy’s absence. It will be an interesting decision for Cassidy and his staff and one that could play a major role in the Game One result.
- Ottawa Senators’ COO Nic Ruszkowski is leaving his post after just one year on the job. As The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch writes, this is yet another shake-up to a front office that is still searching for a President of Hockey Operations, not to mention a head coach. Garrioch reports that Ruszkowski’s departure has spurred the Senators to restructure their administrative structure, with several executives moving into new roles to take on some of Ruszkowski’s duties. While the team claims that this restructuring will “strengthen our club”, Ruszkowski’s unexpected resignation is yet another stain on a difficult season for the Senators and only adds to the mythos of owner Eugene Melnyk being a difficult individual to work for. The team has a lot of work to do this summer on all fronts and hopefully can get their front office sorted out sooner rather than later.
- The Montreal Canadiens may be paying Carey Price $10.5MM per year, but that doesn’t mean they expect him to play in every game. Yet, Price started the second-most games in the league this season, making 66 appearances. The poor play of backup Antti Niemi forced head coach Claude Julien’s hand in many cases and the team has already told Niemi, an unrestricted free agent, that he will not be back. Simply promoting Charlie Lindgren likely isn’t a much better option either. Instead, Sportsnet’s Eric Engels writes that the Canadiens will looks for experience and value on the free agent goalie market this summer. Engels warns that Montreal should not overpay for a backup, given the investment in Price to be “the guy” for ideally 60 games or so each year, but also feels they need a trusted veteran who could step in as the starter in case of injury. A cost-effective, proven veteran goalie is not always an easy thing to find, but Engels does throw out the likes of Cam Talbot, should he opt not to re-sign with the Philadelphia Flyers, Brian Elliott, Curtis McElhinney, Anders Nilsson, Keith Kinkaid, and Michael Hutchinson as top options. In all likelihood, it will be one of those names backing up Price come October.