There's no denying NHL teams are, and have been, changing the way they build their rosters. Young and cheap players have become valuable under a cap system. The increasing awareness and use of advanced possession stats have been putting a priority on skilled players. The game has sped up, so quickness is valued. One-dimensional fighters, who could play fewer than five minutes in a game, are going the way of the dodo. Depth and fresh, fast legs are key. The Boston Bruins let go of fighter and fan favorite Shawn Thornton this summer, which was a big statement for a team that prides itself on toughness. But, really, the 37-year-old wasn't needed anymore because these days you need speed and scoring capability even on your fourth line. So who will the Bruins replace him with? According to
TVA's Renaud Lavoie, Simon Gagne has accepted a training camp tryout with the Bruins.
If we had run one of
Jason Kay's "retired or active" challenges yesterday and included Gagne, you'd be forgiven for guessing he had packed it in. Gagne last played an NHL game at the end of the 2012-13 season as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. He split that season between Los Angeles and Philadelphia, scoring five goals and 16 points in 38 games. At 34, Gagne is likely not the first choice for the Bruins to run on a third or fourth line, but he should help push their younger options in camp. He perhaps could even crack the lineup with a cheap contract if he shines, or if guys like Dan Paille and Jordan Caron flounder or get injured. Gagne is long past his prime when he was a 40-goal scorer, but in an emergency, he will bring a level of experienced skill to a bottom line. There's no harm in having him tryout anyway. In Gagne's last 73 NHL games, he managed 12 goals and 33 points. Plus, he's been a Bruin killer in the past, scoring two OT winners for the Flyers in the 2010 playoff series when Boston blew a 3-0 series lead. May as well keep him on your side. But make no mistake, the Bruins have other options, a couple of whom have
$1 million-plus contracts. Though he would be an upgrade over Thornton, consider Gagne a long shot to stick with the Bruins.
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