Recently we were able to corner Boston Bruins beat writer Matt Kalman in order to extract some excellent fantasy hockey knowledge out of him. If you are unfamiliar with his work, Matt runs The Bruins Blog as well as regularly contributing to NHL.com and CBS Boston. Below is the transcript of our conversation, a must read for any Bruins owners.
News broke today that Nathan Horton isn’t really close to returning. How do you think his absence affects the team, and their offense for that matter? Do the Bs make another move to try and make up for his lost production?
Well, we’ve seen that Horton’s natural ability to finish has really been missed. There have been games where the Bruins worked hard, got shots on but failed to score the timely goals. The entire lineup has been affected by his absence. Of course, the Bruins have to be on the lookout for help in their top six, especially with Rich Peverley out too. You don’t know what you’ll be able to get out of him as the season winds down. With the few sellers out there, however, they might have to settle for top-nine help.
When Horton went down in the Stanley Cup Finals, Rich Peverley quickly assumed his role on the top line. With Peverley also injured, who is the next guy the team turns to? Furthermore, is the solution in the system?
Well, there are plenty of Bruins slumping right now. If David Krejci, Chris Kelly, Benoit Pouliot and even Tyler Seguin could pick up their production, that would make life easier. They also need to tighten up their defense. But we’ve seen some sky-high prices for marginal talent acquired via trade over the last week. I’m not sure the Bruins want to pay a premium for someone who’s not a guaranteed impact player. Heck, maybe Carter Camper will bring a spark.
Much has been made about Tim Thomas and NObama Gate. From a fantasy hockey perspective we could probably care less – he wins. If he doesn’t start, Tuukka Rask is quite serviceable. You’ve been one of the biggest proponents in giving Rask more games this season, can you explain where you think the starting goalie blueprint goes over the next year or two?
Well how the next year or two goes has a lot to do with how this season goes. Regardless, two years from now Rask is your starter with Thomas gone or taking a back-up level contract. Next season, though, depends on this season. If one guy emerges as the No.1 he goes into next year as the No.1. You have to figure the Bruins do whatever it takes to get Rask signed and pay him close to No. 1 money. Thomas is either back to compete or maybe he’s trade bait should the team see a bigger need than having two top-line goalies.
What does matter to us, and our fantasy hockey teams, is the team’s current slide. Do you think the Bs finally hit their high-water mark or is it just a bit more adversity? In your opinion, what does Claude Julien and company need to do in order to right the ship?
The Bruins just have to do a better job of paying attention to detail – defensive coverage, breakouts, power play – and then start to finish offensively. They have to work harder around the net. It’s tough at this stage of the season, especially when you look at the standings and the Bruins are somewhat comfortable in the second seed. Sure, Ottawa is coming on, but the Bruins still hold four games in hand. My colleague at CBS Boston wrote a story pointing out that Julien’s Bruins always slump around this time of the season.
On the bright side, Tyler Seguin looks worth every penny after the Bruins invested their 2nd overall pick on him. What do you see as his absolute upside (points wise)?
There’s no doubt that he’s an 80-plus point player. From the Bruins’ perspective you just hope that along with that he continues to be a plus player and can be a power-play mainstay for years to come. Down the road, if he keeps developing his defensive game, he could take the baton from Patrice Bergeron as Boston’s best two-way forward.
Speaking of upside, super-prospect Dougie Hamilton is dominating the OHL to the tune of 14 goals and 56 points in 38 games. What are the chances he makes the team out of camp? With most of the blue line save for Joe Corvo signed, is there even a spot for him?
The Bruins have shown that if a young player (Lucic, Seguin, Wheeler, Boychuk) earns a job, they’ll find a spot for him. So if Hamilton came in next year and knocked everyone’s socks off, Boston would make space. That could mean trading Adam McQuaid or Johnny Boychuk (depending on the parameters of his no-trade). But Hamilton will definitely get a chance to make the team like so many young D around the NHL. It might be best for him to even just be the seventh guy and get used to life in the NHL.