WILMINGTON, MA - The second day of the Bruins' seventh annual Development Camp kicked off today, with the 24 prospects hitting the ice for long sessions of stickhandling work.
In between sessions, Bruins' Head Coach Claude Julien addressed the slew of media gathered at Ristuccia Arena for camp.
Julien, along with his assistant coaches, and nearly the B's entire scouting, management and coaching staff has been perched on the top bench of the arena for the past two days, peering down, watching the prospects closely.
But on Thursday, there was more news to discuss than just the latest crop of Bruins' hopefuls making their way through drills.
Coach Julien answered reporters' questions ranging from recent roster moves, to Tuukka Rask's new eight-year contract, to his impressions of Loui Eriksson and Jarome Iginla, and more.
Praise for Tuukka
Julien spoke prior to a conference all with both GM Peter Chairelli and Rask regarding the signing, so he wanted to respect that and didn't go into details about the contract itself, but instead, offered his thoughts on their franchise goalie.
"The only thing I’m going to say about Tuukka is I’m really happy he’s still with us. What I’d like to do here is probably give Peter and Tuukka the opportunity to probably express themselves more on the situation. They’re the ones that did the work. I’m the coach that gets the gift, I guess," smiled Julien.
"I’m happy to have him with us for all these years."
"He’s a really down to earth kid but at the same time, he’s got that fire. People say he’s got a fire in the belly. He’s got that competitive nature in him that makes him want to be a great goaltender all the time," added Julien.
"Absolutely No Worries About Our Goaltending"
Not only is he confident in his starting goaltender heading into the 2013-14 season, but he's comfortable with his depth at the position as well, even with Anton Khudobin gone (signed as an unrestricted free agent with Carolina).
"Obviously [Niklas] Svedberg had a good year in Providence, [Chad] Johnson that we picked up is also a very good goaltender, I know not too many people know about him," said Julien of their backup goaltending situation.
"What I know about Johnson and what I’ve seen about Svedberg is they’re both good goaltenders. I said it last year when we had Khudobin and Tuukka. I have absolutely have no worries about our goaltending. I feel the same way going in to next year."
Eriksson Joins the Mix
Coach also gave his take on the roster changes that he'll be working with next season, with the additions of Loui Eriksson and Jarome Iginla, and the likes of Matt Fraser and Reilly Smith possibly challenging for spots in Boston.
"To me, trades are part of the scheme," said Julien. "As a coach, you've just got to accept it like the player and move on. I’m going to tell you right now Tyler Seguin is a good hockey player. He’s got an opportunity to be a great hockey player too, but we also got Eriksson, Fraser, Smith who are good players as you know. Eriksson being the main guy in that trade, but I think we’ve got some good players coming in as well."
Kelly? Soderberg? Third Line RW? Decisions, Decisions...
Julien also gave insight into is coaching decisions come the Fall.
"[Carl] Soderberg, I’m telling you right now, we didn’t see much of him, but I’ve seen enough even in practice and the few games that if this guy, once he’s got the experience in this league and figures it out, he’s going to be a good player. I see good things coming from him."
"We’ll just have to, like anything else, put that puzzle together. Do we put Iginla on the first line with Krejci or on the other first line with Bergeron? To me, I always thought those two lines were pretty identical as far as contribution and production. Where are we going to put Eriksson? Which fit is going to be better? And then is Soderberg going to be a better centerman vs. winger and is Kelly going to be better at the wing with Soderberg at center and vice versa?"
"Those are all things I've got to figure out. I can’t stand here today and say I’ve got it figured out. We’re going to have to see it develop."
Coach on Iginla: "I Don't Blame the Player"
And as far as Jarome Iginla goes, Coach Julien - like Chiarelli and Captain Zdeno Chara, who have both weighed in on the well-documented time around the trade deadline with the former Calgary Flames captain - won't be harboring any bad blood when it comes time for Training Camp.
"I said it from the get-go - I don't blame the player. It was his right to make that decision. If we’re honest and we look at where both teams were at that time, Pittsburgh was playing so well. We struggled at the end of the year with all these games and that stuff. Did he make the decision based on that? Maybe. And if he did, can you blame him?"
"As much as it was disappointing for us at the time, you have to respect that that guy could make his own decision. I know you guys kept asking is that extra motivation against Pittsburgh. I didn't really answer it. For me, it wasn’t. It was like, so he chose there, I want to win for the right reasons and I think the fact that he extended himself to Peter [during free agency] and Peter felt the same way I did. Let’s move on here. Right now, we’ve got a pretty good player who’s excited about coming here and that's the main thing."
Eriksson Joins the Mix
Julien offered his thoughts on the new addition of Loui Eriksson, slotted to play the right wing.
"You know enough without having watched. I’ve talked to people who know him personally, people who’ve seen him play more. I’m getting the same feedback you guys are. He’s going to be a real good player, a good two-way guy probably a little closer to the Bergy mold than the guy who is more of a good one way offensive player," said Coach.
"He’ll produce. He’s going to hopefully produce even more with us with the people that he’s going to be surrounded with but he’s a great all around player and that's what our team is built on. Not to say we can’t afford the other guys, but those guys seem to get in well with our team."