The Boston Bruins sent minor shockwaves through their fandom on Saturday when a couple of longtime NHL players, John Moore and Chris Wagner, were put on waivers. The two passed through waivers unclaimed on Sunday and remained on the ice practicing with the team at Warrior Ice Arena with NHL’s opening night still almost a week away.
Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy went a little bit into the organization’s thinking behind the moves following Sunday’s practice. Some of it is about giving the Bruins roster wiggle room if they wanted to claim a player on waivers, and some of it was simply about giving the B’s options headed into the regular season.
It could be that a player like Karson Kuhlman starts on the fourth line to open the season with Curtis Lazar injured, and that Wagner starts the year in Providence. Kuhlman’s skating speed and the B’s not wanting to lose him on waivers clearly played into that decision, but it feels like it isn’t goodbye for Wagner.
On the back end, the Bruins may be looking to pick up a right-handed defenseman on waivers given that they are pretty short on NHL depth in that particular area.
“There’s a lot that goes into it. One of the things is that this time of year if there’s a player that goes on waivers, so if we see somebody that could help our team, we have to have a space to put the player on our team,” said Cassidy. “The easiest answer is that there are players in front of them and some of them would require waivers, so you have to make tough decisions on who you’re going to expose. I think that’s what it came down to and it happened to be Wagner and Moore.
“Johnny has bounced back from his surgery well and has shown that he’s got good life and good legs. We have guys ahead of him, but Clifton would be the main competition with Clifton a right [stick] and Johnny a [left] stick. But Moore has been practicing on the right and playing on the right and doing a good job. Wagner is a good soldier and an effective penalty killer. He can be physical. The makeup of that line with Nosek and Frederic and if it was Wagner is that it’s lacking a little bit of pace. So that’s we thought about with putting [Kuhlman] in there. So that’s sort of where we have them in comparison to other players here. Both great Bruins, great team guys and well-liked by their teammates. But there’s certainly no finality here unless they get claimed [on waivers].”
As alluded to, this doesn’t exactly feel like goodbye to either player and their presence at practice on Sunday indicates it’s still being determined when/if they are headed to Providence. But just as it was clear during the offseason that significant changes are in the offing for the Black and Gold, it’s the same at the end of training camp with the status of two familiar players very much in question.