Bruins forward Brad Marchand isn’t going anywhere but up, according to general manager Peter Chiarelli.
Chiarelli spoke to the media following the team’s morning skate in Buffalo on Thursday, a task usually reserved for the head coach. However, B’s coach Claude Julien continues to battle the flu so Chiarelli pinch hit. Among the topics he discussed was Marchand, who has underperformed this season. The Boston GM also spoke Wednesday about Marchand. He wanted to reiterate Thursday that he doesn’t plan on trading the struggling winger.
“If all three guys [on Marchand’s line] were clicking, they’d all be producing,” Chiarelli told reporters in Buffalo. “When one guy isn’t, it hurts the other two. Let me be clear on Marshy. I saw some of the aftermath yesterday from my comments. I’m not trading Marshy. He’s a good player. I like the way he plays. He’ll figure it out. But when one guy struggles, the other guys unfortunately piggy-back on those struggles. You need three guys really going and contributing. that’s happening a little bit, but as I said [Wednesday], he’s finding his way.”
Marchand’s struggles have been well documented and they have been brought to the forefront after Marchand caught some flak for taunting the Vancouver Canucks during the Bruins’ 6-2 loss to Vancouver on Saturday night. Marchand has just five goals and nine assists in 34 games this season and has found the back of the net just once in his last eight games.
Despite the statistical struggles, Marchand has been more involved as of late. He has eight shots on goal in his last five games, and he’s starting put himself in better position to be effective. Chiarelli sees that improvement as well and is hoping it can continue.
“He’s skating better,” Chiarelli added. “He’s driving deeper when he’s rushing with the puck. I see him making plays, he pulls up a little sooner when he doesn’t have the confidence. He’s skating better, I’ve seen him beat guys one-on-one. I see him making plays on both sides on the right and the left and he’s not giving away as many pucks. The biggest thing for me is he’s skating better. I know he’s bobbing for pucks still, but he’s getting shots off and making some plays so that’s what I see.”
Marchand is currently in the first year of a four-year extension he signed prior to last season. The 25-year-old, who scored 18 goals in 45 games last season, comes with a $4.5 million salary cap hit through the 2016-17 season.