Why The Bruins Should Not Trade Anders Bjork

( Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman / Getty Images )

By Carrie Young | Follow me on Twitter @carrieyoung512

With Boston’s 2019-20 season ending at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning, many fans are hoping for changes this offseason. Free agency will play a large part in those changes (check out our website’s homepage for plenty of speculative articles about free agents of interest!), but giving young players and prospects a chance is also crucial for the transitional phase that the Bruins have found themselves in. There are multiple young forwards vying for a chance to join Boston’s roster next year. 24-year-old Anders Bjork is one of those players, but his name has also been included in trade rumors as of late.

Bjork was drafted by Boston in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Despite being picked late, he excelled while playing for Notre Dame of the NCAA and the Bruins realized that they had a strong prospect in the system. Bjork earned an entry-level contract in 2017, then signed a three-year contract extension on July 29th, 2020.

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While this contract shows commitment from the Bruins organization, it could also make Bjork a valuable trade asset. A young, talented player with a $1.6 million cap hit is sure to have garnered interest across the league. However, I maintain that the Bruins should not include Bjork in any offseason trades this year. I’ll provide three main reasons why I think this is the case.

Versatility

Bjork has shown that he can play on both the left and right wing. On a team with a few question marks on lines 2-4, this proves to be extremely valuable. He played up and down the lineup and on the left and right sides this year, skating alongside Charlie Coyle, David Krejci, Sean Kuraly, and even on the top line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. The Bruins should be able to take advantage of such an adaptable player this upcoming season.

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Mental Strength

Bjork has also shown that he’s willing to put in the work. Though he was sent down to the Providence Bruins multiple times, he played hard and remained dedicated to improving his game. He pushed through two major shoulder injuries and months on injured reserve to stay in game shape and returned better than ever for the 2019-20 season. In 58 regular season games with Boston, Bjork recorded nine goals and ten assists. He also scored eight points in seven games with Providence.

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These statistics come with a less offense-heavy role than one might have expected, but the Bruins coaching staff have been emphasizing the development of a complete, defensively responsible game for their young forwards. Coach Bruce Cassidy praised Bjork for his play away from the puck during training camp, stating that it was important to see him “earning his teammates’ trust [and] his coaches’ trust.” He also continues to build chemistry with centers Krejci and Coyle.

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The Bruins’ Window is Still Open

Boston is in for some changes in the coming weeks. Many fans and reporters speculate that Torey Krug is on his way out. Veterans remaining from the 2011 Cup win aren’t getting any younger. This doesn’t mean that the Bruins need to start a rebuild. Bergeron, Marchand, and Krejci are still incredibly talented leaders. Goalies Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak each have one year remaining on their contracts. David Pastrnak is coming off a Rocket Richard trophy win and is still just 24-years-old. A balance of fresh talent and veteran presence is a recipe for success in the NHL.

Bjork will have a lot to prove in what will hopefully be his first full (injury-free) season in the NHL. With a fresh contract under his belt and a strong lineup alongside him, he can make some noise at the highest level in hockey.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 196 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins Prospect To Watch In 2020-21: Urho Vaakanainen

( Photo Credit: Jonathan Wiggs / Boston Globe )

By Carrie Young | Follow me on Twitter @carrieyoung512

With the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs coming to a close, Bruins fans are starting to look ahead to next season. A lot of uncertainty remains regarding the timeline, start date, and number of games. The Bruins are also currently in a transitional period after losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games in the second round. Facing the probable loss of second-pairing defenseman and power play quarterback Torey Krug, Boston has some work to do in free agency this fall, but there are plenty of young players with potential in the system. One of those prospects is Urho Vaakanainen, who is aiming to improve his all-around game and fight for a spot in Boston.

Vaakanainen was selected 18th overall by the Bruins in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Hailing from Joensuu, Finland, he was with Saimaan Pallo of the Finnish Liiga before transitioning to North America for his professional career in the Bruins system. He has also skated for Finland’s national team in the IIHF’s U18 and U20 World Junior Championships. His four points and +5 rating helped Finland to a gold medal in the 2019 WJC.

Vaakanainen has completed two pro seasons, appearing in 7 games with Boston and 84 games with Providence. He has yet to register a point at the NHL level. In the AHL, he scored 14 points each season, both times in a limited number of games (due to injury in 2018-19 and the suspension of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019-20). Decision-making at both ends of the ice and consistency have been major areas of improvement.

Looking ahead, the 2020-21 season will be a very important one for the 21-year-old. Barring any unfortunate injuries, it will be his first chance to play a complete season in the AHL. He will also be a top candidate for call-ups if the Bruins are in need of an extra defenseman, but it’s likely that he needs another year in the minors before he’s ready to make a difference in Boston. Vaakanainen was signed to an entry-level contract in 2018 and will become a restricted free agent in the 2022 offseason.

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Fans should keep an eye out next season for Vaakanainen’s strong skating, ability to manufacture breakouts, and transitions up the ice. The Providence coaching staff will likely give him big minutes in crucial scenarios (such as protecting a lead late in the game) to boost his confidence and prepare him for the pressure that comes with playing at the highest level. Fans can expect him to keep piling up accolades and praise from Bruins management if his development takes another step forward in 2020-21.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 196 that we recorded below on 9-27-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

BNG Hockey Talk Ep. 10 With Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast YouTuber Cameron Young

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( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By Cameron Young | Follow me on Twitter @cmoney008

In my latest video uploaded to my YouTube channel, I grade the overall performances of all goalies that played for the Boston Bruins this past season. This is the first part of a three part series of grading the 2019/20 Bruins team by position. Check it out below and please subscribe to my YouTube Channel and turn notifications on to be updated when a new video is published.

  • Dan Vladar: 1:33
  • Jaroslav Halak: 2:30
  • Tuukka Rask: 3:42

The Bruins may be out of the playoffs, but that won’t stop the content from being produced. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @cmoney008 and please consider subscribing to the YouTube Channel HERE!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 196 that we recorded below on 9-27-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Big Changes Coming To Boston During Critical Off-Season

(Photo Credit: Chris Christo/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

By Jack Cinquegrana | Follow me on Twitter @bruinschewy

The 2020-2021 NHL offseason is one that is exceptionally crucial to Boston’s future. It is vital the Boston Bruins sign some marquee skaters that can shake up this team’s identity. The Bruins had an identity of a team that would out-hit and out-muscle your team while playing rock-solid defense and a sturdy goaltender back-stopping the team. Over the past few years, Boston has lost that identity and have veered off of their path of success.

Yes, Boston made it to the Cup Final last season. But, they did not go through Pittsburgh or Washington or even Tampa Bay to get there. They snuck into the Cup Final beating teams that had just upset a contender. It seems as if Boston is always in the conversation as a Cup contender every year, but we are just a little bit worse than the top teams in the league. I am not saying we are a terrible team; I think where the Bruins finished this year is about as far as I would expect this roster could take us.

Changes To Be Made

The first line, also known as the “Perfection Line,” has been anything but perfect, and is where one of the Bruins’ main problems resides. In my opinion, David Pastrnak cannot play with Bergeron and Marchand. That is concentrating too much of our entire teams’ skill and putting it on one line. Most people would think that is a no-brainer, put the best skaters together and they will be unstoppable, right? No, because all they have to do is shut down the top line and then not worry about the Bruins scoring.

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I do not think that David Krejci and Charlie Coyle are bad either; the B’s are just so top-heavy that if we do not spread skill throughout the lineup, then the Bruins have an easy offensive attack to stop. We have three great center-men, but two of them do not get much scoring help on the offensive side of the ice.

With the money that Boston was going to pay Torey Krug, they will have enough cap space to re-sign mostly everyone that is a Restricted Free Agent and the captain. I am very interested to see what Jake DeBrusk gets paid or if he is traded.

David Krejci should be stuck to Pastrnak and the same for Bergeron and Marchand. Ondrej Kase can play on either line, hoping Boston can sign a big-time scorer like Hall or Toffoli; they can play on either line. The Bruins cannot have our three best players on the ice at the same time.

The fourth line used to be dominant when they hit the ice. Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner would buzz around the ice and hit anything in sight. They could shut down top lines, even score occasionally. They seem to have lost a little bit of their juice. Maybe a shake-up on the bottom line like a roster move addition like Trent Frederic can get that energy line going again.

Time To Move On?

Is it time to say what nobody wants to say? Big Zee is too old to play. Over 1,000 games played donning the Spoked B and almost 500 points as a Bruin. In my opinion, the Bruins should not re-sign the 43-year-old defenseman. His penalty-killing prowess and experience are unequaled, and his professional mindset will never be matched.

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The sport is so much faster now, and Chara will keep falling further behind; possessions in the defensive zone become extended and chances are given up. He is flat out too slow and the reach of his stick has become less of an asset and more of a detriment. I have nothing but respect for the man he is and for all he has done; for the leadership in the community, not just the locker room. All good things come to an end, and you could not be prouder to say he played for your hockey club.

Another interesting thing to keep an eye on is Tuukka Rask news. He was interviewed in March by Matt Porter of the Boston Globe and Rask said that retirement is “a real possibility” after the expiration of his contract. In the following months, when the NHL resumed play, after four games, he returned home to Finland to be with his family. Now, GM Don Sweeney expects to see Tuukka in Boston for training camp, but as a Boston Bruins fan, I am a little worried that Tuukka may already be checked-out. Make sure you stay on the look-out for any Rask news.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 196 that we recorded below on 9-27-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Can the Boston Bruins And Las Vegas Golden Knights Hit The Trade Jackpot?

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By: Dan Anderson | Follow Me On Twitter @DanAnderson5970

In a series of articles looking at trade possibilities for the Boston Bruins, the focus turns onto the Las Vegas Golden Knights. The Knights, who had made a run in 2018 to the Stanley Cup final, looked well-armed to reach them again this season. I had them picked as the second most likely team to come from the west behind the Colorado Avalanche. Las Vegas has depth at most forward positions, two excellent goaltenders in Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner, and sufficient depth at defense, but couldn’t get past the Dallas Stars to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

What about Las Vegas makes a good fit or a bad fit for a trade? I am currently focused on western conference teams, as I think it is easier for eastern conference teams such as the Boston Bruins to send a player to the other conference rather than face them on the ice more frequently. I am also skipping over organizations that aren’t good fits whatsoever. This list includes the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, St Louis Blues, Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators, and Chicago Blackhawks. I see the possibility of a deal happening that could help both teams.

The Bruins need secondary scoring, but most of what Vegas has wouldn’t fit for salary cap reasons, have no trade or modified no-movement clauses, and one is named Max Pacioretty. The Golden Knights could use center depth, but if the Bruins are serious about winning a Cup now, I can’t see Krejci, Bergeron, or Coyle moving unless the offer was overwhelming. The Bruins desperately need left defensive help; this is where I see the most likely scenario working out. I also see the possibility of the Bruins helping Las Vegas with their center needs, but not with any of the players named above.

The main target for the Bruins would be Shea Theodore, the former first-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks in 2013. Shea has a reasonable contract of $5.2 million through 2024-25. This contract becomes a more team-friendly deal as it ages. He is currently twenty-five; this deal ends at age thirty. Las Vegas has the services of a 6’2, one hundred and ninety-five pound left defenseman with offensive upside. In fact, with seven goals in twenty playoff games, Theodore might have priced himself off the market. GM Kelly McCrimmon, brother of former Bruins defenseman Brad McCrimmon, is left with little room currently against the salary cap, but I wouldn’t be in a hurry to move Theodore if I was in his position. McCrimmon is also working on trading Fleury to sign Lehner, who is an unrestricted free agent to be, but would then need a backup goaltender, furthering his salary cap dilemma.

Another target for the Bruins might be thirty-three year old Alex Martinez. Martinez scored the double-overtime Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Los Angeles Kings in 2014. Alex plays left defense; having a veteran presence to pair with youngster Charlie McAvoy and or Brandon Carlo for a bridge year might be a great way to push for the Cup. Younger players such as Jakub Zboril and Urho Vaakanainen would have at least one more year to develop. Martinez’s contract is for $4 million this, his last season under contract. With draft picks or prospects as the asset heading to Las Vegas, Alex could become a Boston Bruin. As well, it could be part of a more substantive deal involving more assets.  

As mentioned prior, center is the Golden Knights’ weakest forward position. They have William Karlsson and Paul Stastny, son of former NHL great Peter Stastny, as the pivot on their first two lines, but the quality drops off after that. Paul is also going into his last year under contract at age thirty-four.  Might the Bruins be willing to trade top prospect Jack Studnicka to improve their defensive position? The Knights do not need Ondrej Kase or Jake DeBrusk, so this is the asset the Knights are most likely to want. I do not think this next proposal would be enough to entice the Knights to part with Shea Theodore, but has the makings of a potential deal.

The Bruins part with their best prospect in natural center Jack Studnicka and defenseman John Moore for Theodore and Martinez. In so doing, the Knights gain salary cap flexibility and their replacement for Stastny along with an NHL caliber defenseman. The Bruins solidify the left side of their defense and replace Torey Krug for a total dollar value of what they would have been paying Torey if he was to stay in Boston. It might be advantageous for the Bruins to remove Martinez from the mix, as having him as part of this particular trade likely means the end of Zdeno Chara’s playing days in Boston.  Would they want to pay $4 million for Martinez or $1 million for Chara?  Studnicka and Moore for Theodore. Is McCrimmon ready to make this gamble?

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 196 that we recorded below on 9-27-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Bruins Joakim Nordstrom & His Future With Boston As A UFA

PHOTO CREDITS: (Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

As the Boston Bruins’ chase for the 2020 Stanley Cup is over, the offseason is now in full force. Due to COVID-19 as we know, the NHL’s normal schedule of the offseason is different. As of now, the start of free agency is expected to be early October, a few days following the annual events of the NHL Entry Draft. Assuming that, the Bruins are running out of time to re-sign their expiring contracts before they enter the open market.

Earlier in the season, Boston extended forward Charlie Coyle and more recently, goaltenders Jaroslav Halak and Dan Vladar as well as forward Anders Bjork. Now, aside from RFAs and a few UFAs in the depth charts, the Bruins have defenceman UFA Torey Krug, defenceman RFA Matt Grzelcyk, forward RFA Jake DeBrusk, UFA defenceman Zdeno Chara, UFA defenceman Kevan Miller and UFA forward Joakim Nordstrom without a contract for the upcoming 2020-21 season – leaving GM Don Sweeney some big decisions.

Joakim Nordstrom joined the Boston Bruins on July 1st, 2018 on a two-year contract worth $1 million per season. The Bruins brought the Stockholm, Sweden native to the organization after losing forwards Riley Nash, Tim Schaller, and Austin Czarnik to free agency that same year. Forward Chris Wagner was also signed by the B’s at this time as well.

Prior to his arrival in Boston, Nordstorm played 282 regular-season games between the Chicago Blackhawks and Carolina Hurricanes. The Blackhawks drafted Nordstrom in the 3rd Round (90th overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, but later moved him to the Hurricanes in 2015 along with Kris Versteeg and a 2017 3rd Round Pick for Dennis Robertson, Jake Massie, and a 2017 5th Round Pick.

In Carolina, the 6’1″ forward played 228 games, scoring 19 goals and 24 assists for 43 points, but parted from the franchise at the conclusion of the ’17/’18 campaign, leading to his contract signing with the Boston Bruins in the summer of 2018.

Since joining the Black and Gold, Joakim has scored a combined 11 goals and eight assists for 19 points in 118 regular-season games over the course of two seasons. In addition, Nordstrom has scored 3-7-10 totals in 46 postseason games with the Bruins including eight points in Boston’s Stanley Cup Finals run in the 2018-19 season. Beyond that, Nordstrom adds depth to Boston’s forward roster in more ways than the occasional goal or assist.

Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy had trust in Nordstrom on the defensive end of the ice as well, more so when the team was shorthanded. According to NHL.com, Nordstrom averaged just under two minutes of shorthanded time on ice per games played (1:58) and was responsible for being on the ice for 36.6% of Boston’s shorthanded time in 2019-20 – both of those statistics ranked him as the highest forward on the roster. Without a doubt, Nordstrom was a huge reason for the success of Boston’s penalty kill that ended up ranking third in the National Hockey League with an 84.3% success rate.

In the last few days, it seems more and more likely that Torey Krug will be moving on from the Bruins organization to start a new chapter in his NHL career with a different franchise. This will free up a significant amount of cap for the Bruins – well enough to extend the players listed above including Nordstrom. However, I believe the Bruins decide to let Nordstrom walk this free agency.

At 28-years-old, Nordstrom is an aging veteran that can be taking a roster spot from a young player that has been seeing time largely with the Providence Bruins down in the American Hockey League. Trent Frederic is a player, for example, that played 58 games for the P-Bruins in ’19/’20 and would be a preferred option in the bottom-six up in the big leagues.

It’s no secret at this point that the Boston Bruins are not getting any younger. With the forward core of Bergeron, Krejci, and Marchand in their 30s, the B’s need to start bringing in players like Frederic into the mix more consistently in order to keep the train rolling. In addition, Nordstrom’s strong performance as a member of the team likely only boosted his value to other teams – and could see a pay raise on his new deal.

If Boston’s management feels they cannot replace Nordstrom with players already in the system, they can also look to sign a potential role player in free agency – as they did with Joakim back in 2018. There is a plethora of bottom-six forwards set to expire in October, such as Flyers’ Tyler Pitlick, or Oilers’ Riley Sheahan who is coming off of similar contracts to that of Nordstrom.

There is also the slight possibility that General Manager Don Sweeney decides to finally pull the trigger on a long-awaited move for a solidified top-six winger to play alongside David Krejci due to the additional cap space freed up by Krug’s departure. In this scenario, I’d expect the Bruins to use organizational pieces on the fourth line instead of signing one in free agency to maximize the available cap space.

Overall, Joakim Nordstrom is a solid fourth-line forward for the Boston Bruins, but is he absolutely required to find success going forward? No. His role, while important, can be replaced in many different ways. I would be greatly surprised if he signs an extension with the Black and Gold.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 196 that we recorded below on 9-27-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Pros And Cons Of Acquiring Mike Hoffman In Free Agency.

( Photo Credit: NHLI via Getty Images )

By Jack Cinquegrana | Follow me on Twitter @bruinschewy

Mike Hoffman has had an excellent career so far. NHL goalies have gotten better over time, and Hoffman is still potting around 30 goals per season, not an easy thing to do. The Boston Bruins need secondary scoring, and Mike Hoffman would be a great addition to the second line.

The Canadian winger is allowed to test free agency though the Panthers would like to have him back, new general manager Bill Zito is willing to risk losing him if that means that the Panthers do not overpay him, per Pierre LeBrun, TSN. His contract carries an average annual value of $5.187 million.

Pros

There are pros and cons to every player in the NHL, and Hoffman has many pros. The skills that he possesses, a wicked shot and great vision, have given him a nine-year career with over 350 points in almost 500 games. The contract he signed with the Senators in 2016 was a four-year, $20.75 million deal. He was traded to Florida after two years, but despite the change in locale, his goal-scoring did not suffer. He had a season-high 36 goals.

Hoffman went on a deep run with Ottawa in 2017 when they eliminated Boston in six games in overtime. The Senators made it to the Eastern Conference final game seven overtime and lost to a Chris Kunitz one-timer off a pass from Sidney Crosby. But, Mike Hoffman has played in the playoffs and has experienced how tough it is to win. He also played six games in 2015 and played four with Florida this past season, scoring three goals and five points. Playoff experience is a valuable commodity in the eyes of a hockey club’s general manager.

( Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports )

Cons

Hoffman is 30-years-old now and will be expecting a big contract for his consistency, and looking at his games played, he has stayed pretty healthy throughout his nine-year career. He will also be expecting a term, which is a problem because I am not sure the Bruins will be interested in signing another 30-year-old to a six, seven, or eight-year deal in the player’s post-prime.

Though there are more pros than cons, that contract that Hoffman wants might be out of their price range. Mike Hoffman is the target of many teams in the NHL, which will only drive up his asking price. He will want to sign long-term, and the Bruins may not be willing to give up so much money and so many years.

In my opinion, I believe the Bruins will not sign Mike Hoffman because the price will be too high. If the Bruins want to make a splash in free agency, you have to have enough room to be able to sign more than one guy, especially if the Bruins are rumored to lose Torey Krug and/or Jake DeBrusk.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded below on 9-21-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Report: Boston Bruins Looking To Trade Torey Krug’s Rights

(Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY)

By: Andrew Taverna | Follow me on Twitter @andrewtaverna

According to Rear Admiral on Twitter, it is possible that Torey Krugs UFA rights could be on the move tomorrow before free agency opens on October 9th.

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Krug, who has been with the Bruins his entire career since being an undrafted free agent, made it clear to the media earlier this year that he was looking to sign his next big deal and that while he’d love to be a Bruin, it was his time to get paid. During his end-of-year availability, Krug was quoted saying, “There’s an emotional attachment. I think that’s a mistake that a lot of athletes get caught up in when they start their professional careers. There’s nothing personal about it. It’s business on both ends. Teams have to put the best team forward, spending certain amounts of money. And athletes have one shot at making all their money in their career. Whether you play one, two, three years in the league, up to 10, 15 years, you have one shot to do it all.” Krug continued, “I realize that and it is what it is, but there definitely is an emotional attachment,” Krug continued. “There’s no secret. I’ve been very outspoken about it and my teammates know it. Everyone knows it. It’s part of the business. It stinks. But we’ll see what happens moving forward.” It sounds like moving forward is inevitable at this point.

While it’s true that fans would also like to see Krug stay, as is evident when looking at Twitter, it’s also important to understand where the Bruin’s stand with this player.

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Krug turns 30 in April, and in all likelihood, is looking for a deal with term. Assuming he gets a six-year to an eight-year deal on the open market, the Bruins would be wise to step out of the conversation and get something in return before free agency opens.

What exactly could this look like for the Bruins? Well, according to RA, there are several teams in the mix. Colorado, Florida, Vegas, and Detroit appear to be in the lead for the negotiating rights. There are two possibilities I see playing out here. The Bruins could trade his rights for a mid-round draft pick, or they could look to be slightly more creative and trade for the rights of another free agent they feel could help their team.

If the Bruins look to get a mid-round draft pick, it’s within reason to think they could get a fourth or fifth-round pick for his rights. A comparison I’ve seen made on Twitter is Kevin Hayes. Last season, Philadelphia sent a fifth-round pick to Winnipeg in exchange for negotiating rights. Trading Krug’s right for a draft pick seems like the most likely scenario.

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A more creative solution here would be trading rights for rights. For example, the Colorado Avalanche could send Nikita Zadorov to the Bruins. The Florida Panthers are also in the mix who could send Dadanov this direction. This, while a more unlikely scenario, would allow Don Sweeney a bigger return for Krug, who many criticized he should have traded earlier if he thought he could not find a deal this offseason.

Ultimately, the Bruins are likely to move on from Krug tomorrow, and Bruins fans will be waiting with bated breath to determine where his final landing spot is and what we get in return.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded below on 9-21-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

What Are the Bruins Options With John Moore

(James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports)

By Leon Lifschutz | Follow me @BruinsBreakdown

John Moore signed with the Boston Bruins on July 1, 2018. The contract was for five years with an average annual value towards the Bruins’ salary cap of $2,750,000. At the time of the signing, General Manager Don Sweeney discussed the need for skating, size, and depth in his defense corps all of which he believed Moore, coming off the best stretch of his career with the Devils, could provide. Two years into the five year deal, Moore has only played 85 games with the spoked B on his chest, a consequence of injuries and sliding down the depth chart. Sweeney’s concern about depth two seasons ago has been slightly allayed by the play of youngsters like Matt Grzelcyk, Connor Clifton, and Jeremy Lauzon, all of whom have become preferred choices for Coach Bruce Cassidy in the lineup over the veteran Moore. By all accounts from Bruins’ beat writers, Moore is a great professional but it’s evident things have not worked out how the team or the player imagined on the ice when signing the long-term deal on the first day of free agency two summers ago. In this piece, we will examine what the Bruins’ options are with Moore who this past season was not much more than a very expensive depth option.

Buyout

The Athletic’s James Mirtle recently did a piece on the top buyout candidates in the NHL where he floated Moore’s name. In a flat cap world with diminished revenues paying so much for a player like Moore instantaneously raises this scenario. Not only does it reduce your cap hit for the upcoming season, it also opens up a roster spot to sign a free agent or to promote a younger player to the top club. If the Bruins buyout Moore they will owe him $805,556 in actual money until 2025-26. In terms of cap savings, they would get back $1,444,444 in 2020-21 and 2022-23 and $1,944,444 in 2021-22. However, the buyout would eat up $805,556 of cap space for three years beyond when the initial contract is set to expire. While the Bruins could use the cap space this year they may need it even more in the coming years needing to re-sign players like David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy as well as plug holes as their core players age.

Bury The Contract

Another option available to the Bruins is to send Moore down to the minors and “bury his contract”. The Montreal Canadiens have been currently employing this strategy with Karl Alzner. Although Alzner’s paycheck is bigger than Moore’s, there are a lot of similarities amongst both players and their situations. The NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that if you send a player on a one way contract down, your cap still includes the original cap hit minus league minimum salary and an additional $375,000. If the Bruins’ sent Moore to Providence he would still count as $1,675,000 towards their cap. This is slightly more than the buyout option but would ensure the contract came off the books when it is set to expire in 2022-23. Moore would also need to clear waivers to be sent down and it’s possible, though unlikely, another team would claim him.

Trade

An inevitability of the cap era is the need to get rid of contract’s that were ill advised or just didn’t work out. In these instances team’s often need to sweeten the pot to find a taker. Bruins fans are familiar with this as recently as this past winter, when Sweeney had to include a first round pick and retain some salary to move on from David Backes and his albatross of a contract. Over the summer there is likely little market for a player like Moore. Many similar players will be available for cheaper in a depressed free agent market. Teams may also want to gauge what their in-house options are for a third pair defenseman before taking on a larger salary for one. However, as teams get into their opening games (whenever that might be), assess their talent level, and start facing injuries, they may decide they have a need for a player like Moore to shore up their depth and take on some minutes for them. The Bruins would likely be willing to part with Moore for a marginal pick and could even consider retaining some salary to make it work.

Remain On The Team

Moore is indeed still part of the Bruins as this article is being written. He was a part of the traveling party in the playoff bubble and did get into one game. Had the Bruins’ defense faced injury, Moore likely would have received the call after Lauzon. Moore is only 29 years old so while he is just past his prime, age is not a major concern. The Bruins also may indeed have a depth issue on defense depending on how the off-season (not the summer) plays out. If the Bruins do not sign a defenseman (or two) in free agency and decide it would be best for their young defense prospects to keep logging extensive and all situation minutes in the minors, they have a dearth of options on the big club. Grzelcyk has yet to show he can play big minutes. Clifton and Lauzon have yet to show they can be everyday players. That leaves just Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo as proven commodities the Bruins know what to expect from on their current roster. Even Carlo is coming off an inconsistent playoff bubble performance and poorer underlying regular season numbers than previous years. While Moore’s performance relative to his teammates has not been sterling, he does provide a veteran presence for Cassidy. Moore, after struggling with injury this season, should also come to camp in full health ready to battle for a spot.

Conclusion

The Bruins are in an unenviable position with John Moore. A buyout provides some short term savings but could hinder them long-term. Burying Moore in the minors provides savings similar to that of a buyout without the long term impact. Trade options are likely scarce over the off-season but may be available as teams become desperate with injuries or underperforming players. However, the Bruins best option is likely to retain Moore for now. Unless Boston makes a big splash on defense in free agency, or via trade, they may need him as an option next season. The Bruins would need to see if Clifton and Lauzon can become regulars or if a player like Jakub Zboril is ready to make the jump. Having a veteran insurance policy would be a good route to go. If the youngsters or off-season additions prove adequate then they could look to off-load him early on next season or consider assigning him to Providence.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Could Oliver Ekman-Larsson Become A Bruin?

Dylan Strome, Charlie McAvoy - Arizona Coyotes v Boston Bruins
( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images )

By: Lucas Pearson | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

Oliver Ekman-Larsson would look excellent in black and gold. With the recent news that Arizona is looking to shed salary (and quite a bit of it) I’d think anyone not named Barrett Hayton and Jacob Chychrun could be in play, including their captain. According to Elliot Friedman, the Bruins are interested, and why wouldn’t they be? 

OEL has been a workhorse for one of the worst teams in the league over the past ten or so years. He’s never missed more than seven games a season and absolutely eats up icetime for the Yotes. The Swede has averaged over 24 minutes a game since his rookie season and has hit double digit goals in six straight seasons (and would’ve likely been seven as he finished this year with nine before the shutdown). He’s an excellent skater and would do wonders in a prominent role with the Bruins.

Ekman-Larsson would also benefit one man more than most, that being Charlie McAvoy. McAvoy’s defensive game has improved a ton because of the living legend that is Zdeno Chara, but it’s pretty clear that the Boston University product looks way more dynamic with a partner that can skate (see: Matt Grzelcyk). If the five time all-star was paired with McAvoy, they would be one of, if not the most dynamic defensive pairings in the league. Their superb first pass as well as their legs would make the two dangerous in any zone on the ice. So if you’re Don Sweeney, why don’t you go after Ekman-Larsson?

The Contract

NHL: NOV 27 Bruins at Senators
(Photo Credit: Richard A. Whittaker / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

So as good of a player OEL is, his contract will certainly scare some people away. He’s locked up for another seven years at a cap hit of $8.25 million. Now if I’m being honest, the cap hit isn’t as big of an issue as it may seem. If we think of OEL as a replacement for Krug, the cap hit doesn’t look too bad. With Krug likely to get upwards of $7 million on the open market, you’d think a guy as good as Ekman-Larsson is worth the (give or take) million more AAV than the more one-dimensional Torey Krug. But the bigger issue is the term. 

At seven years, the contract will take the Swede to his age 35 season, and we’ve learned paying mid-late 30’s players doesn’t really turn out too well. I will say, given how Ekman-Larsson plays the game and his essentially non-existent injury history gives me some hope he would still be able to play at a pretty high level throughout his contract. But it’s still too tough of a gamble to take. 

The Price

Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) scores past Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper, top, right wing Michael Grabner, right, and defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(Photo Credit: AP Photo Ross D. Franklin)

Hefty contract or not, the Coyotes are not going to just gift their captain to any team. You gotta give to get. As for the package for Ekman-Larsson? In terms of recent trades featuring big time defensemen, I look at the deal for Jacob Trouba as a bit of comparison. He’s another dman thats making $8 million a year that was traded to the Rangers after a big year in Winnipeg. He was able to net a 1st round pick and young defenseman Neal Pionk. 

If I’m the Bruins, Brandon Carlo is off limits, I would rather dangle prospect Urho Vaakanainen instead. With the defensive depth in their system and in the NHL right now, moving someone like Vaakanainen isn’t the end of the world, especially when you’re left and right side are pretty full. But I really can’t see the Coyotes doing a deal without getting Jake Debrusk in return. He’s cost controlled and would allow them to trade some of their veteran forwards making hefty money (Derek Stepan, Michael Grabner etc) to regain some draft stock. Add that with at least a 2nd round pick and likely another young forward, maybe Karson Kuhlman or Zach Senyshyn and that is a huge price to pay. 

So ultimately, if I’m Don Sweeney, do I pull the trigger? If OEL’s contract was five years at $7 million, I would think looooong and hard about it, but unfortunately that’s not the contract OEL has. The NHL is a cap league and adding $8 million to your cap isn’t a recipe for success. I hope if Torey Krug leaves, the Bruins can find a suitable replacement, but I don’t think Ekman-Larsson is within the cards. 

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded below on 9-21-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!