Bruins Report: Contract Discussions With Carlo, McAvoy Are “Stalled”

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)

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

According to an article by NHL.com writer Mike Battalingo, Boston’s contract discussions involving restricted free-agent defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo “remain stalled” in the latest update.

The two defensemen have been the biggest talking points of the Bruins offseason, especially in the fanbase as both play a crucial role on the blueline of the defending Eastern Conference Champions. In an interview with BostonBruins.com, General Manager Don Sweeney gave some light to a topic largely filled with darkness in terms of details released on contract negotiations.

“But that’s just the nature of the business, and every negotiation has its own timeline,” Sweeney told the Bruins website Thursday. “We’ll find a finish line at some point in time, Brandon and Charlie will be part of our organization for a long time. We think really highly of them as players on and off the ice, we just have to find a common ground and we’re working to get there.” (quote was taken from NHL.com)

Following their Stanley Cup Finals run that ended just one game short of winning it all, the Bruins knew that the offseason was going to be an important one regarding the extensions of key RFAs in the system. On July 9th, GM Don Sweeney managed to lock up forward Danton Heinen to a two-year, $5.6 million contract ($2.8 million AAV), leaving only Carlo and McAvoy left to prioritize.

Charlie McAvoy was the 14th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Bruins and has since become a top-two defenceman alongside captain Zdeno Chara. McAvoy started his NHL career in the 2017-18 campaign, recording 7-25-32 numbers in 63 games played that season with another five points in 12 playoff games.

This past season, injuries kept McAvoy down to 54 regular-season games but the 21-year-old defender still managed to match a career-high in goals with seven to go along with his 21 assists to finish the season with 28 points. Charlie also led the entire Bruins roster in time on ice, averaging 22:10 over the course of the 2018-19 campaign. McAvoy added 2-6-8 totals in the 23 Stanley Cup Playoff games, playing a key role in the success the team found down the stretch.

Brandon Carlo is not as offensive as McAvoy, but he brings the type of defensive play that is needed in front of your goaltender. The 6-foot-5, 212-pound Carlo had the most hits among defenceman in 2018-2019 and was fourth on the team with 134 recorded hits. According to Hockey Reference, Carlo ended the season with 42 takeaways and 41 giveaways, a large improvement from the year prior. Improvements like that will only continue year-to-year.

The Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA native set a new career-high in minutes per game, averaging 20:55 on the ice in 72 games played. In addition, Carlo played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in his young career due to untimely injuries that forced him out of the past two postseasons.

Sweeney went on to say that negotiations with both players are “not as fast as everybody would like”, but failed to provide any insight on the likelihood of the duo joining the rest of the roster for the official Boston Bruins Training Camp next month. Earlier in August, Boston offered a professional tryout contract to defenceman Alex Petrovic in the event that Carlo and McAvoy are absent from the camp.

Should fans of the Bruins be worried? Not yet. Sweeney made it clear that the organization wants the pair of blueliners to wear the Spoked-B on their chest for the long-term and he showed a level of confidence that the two will eventually be signed so there is no need to worry and stress, yet.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 141 that we recorded on 8-18-19 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 Link To Our YouTube Channel! 

Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Sign Multiple Free Agents

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(Photo Credit: Offical ECHL Atlanta Gladiator’s Hockey Club)

By: Ian Frazier | Follow me on Twitter @ifrazier95

The Atlanta Gladiators have been quite busy with free-agent transactions, a few of which are big-ticket players. The ECHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins opened up the league’s free agency period by hitting the market signing several players. From forwards to defense, the Gladiators made many moves to bolster their roster for the 2019-20 season.

To start, the Gladiators signed a pair of free-agent forwards Anthony Collins and Logan Nelson. These two are no strangers to playing the Gladiators since last season they both played for their rivals the Indy Fuel. Collins, a 29-year-old forward out of Langley, British Columbia is about to play in his seventh season in the ECHL and first with Atlanta. Last season with the Fuel, Collins managed to score zero goals and record one point on one assist and 94 penalty minutes in thirty-one games played. He is being brought in to be a rotational forward who will serve as a bottom-six. Nelson, the 25-year-old gritty forward out of Rogers, Minnesota, spent the beginning of last year with the Orlando Solar Bears before being traded to the Indy Fuel. He recorded 16 goals, 25 assists for 41 points in 64 games during the 2018-19 season and was also a big factor in Indy’s Kelly Cup playoff push last spring.

On defense, the Gladiators locked up a pair of their in-house free agents by re-signing Zach Malatesta and Jack Stander to new contracts. Malatesta might sound familiar as he is a Boston native and played Junior Hockey for the Boston Jr. Bruins and is now playing for Atlanta. As he begins his third season with the club, he has six goals, 27 assists for 33 points in 108 games. He was very durable last season in which he played all 72 games of the ECHL season. Stander, the 24-year-old out of Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, played hockey at Canisius College in New York before transferring to Atlanta. Last season he scored three goals, with 12 assists totaling 15 points. Both of them are key members of the Gladiators defense, and it was imperative they get them locked up early as soon as possible.

A couple of big pieces were also added to the roster by signing defenseman Jake Flegel and forward Thomas Frazee. While Flegel returns from last year’s roster, Frazee is a big addition to the team. Flegel, the 27-year-old defenseman from Ajax in Ontario, Canada played at Adrien College in Michigan before he transferred to the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) and then the ECHL. After one game last season in the SPHL, he joined the Gladiators where he recorded three goals and added three assists for six points. Frazee, the 29-year-old forward from Vancouver, British Columbia is considered one of the bigger names on the market in ECHL free-agency this season. He was on the Gladiators during the 2015-16 season tallying 16 goals, 31 assists for 47 points in 71 games.

The following year he recorded a career-high 19 goals, with 20 assists totaling 39 points in 60 games before he went on loan to the San Antonio Rampage in the AHL. He entered the last offseason as a free agent and decided to sign back with Atlanta after fielding many offers from other teams. He put up 15 points in 12 games on 5 goals and 10 assists. Because of his dynamic ability to play as a team supporter, the Gladiators re-signed him this offseason after he tested free agency. Expect Frazee to get top-six minutes going forward in 2019-20.

The Gladiators were busy in free agency, and we will see how these players this upcoming season as the Gladiators hope to make a long postseason run after falling short of the playoffs last year.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 141 that we recorded on 8-18-19 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 Link To Our YouTube Channel! 

Former Bruin Bill Guerin Hired As General Manager in Minnesota

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PHOTO CREDITS: (ANDREW WALLACE / REUTERS)

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

Yesterday, August 21st, news circled the hockey universe that four-time Stanley Cup Champion, Bill Guerin was officially hired by the Minnesota Wild to be the team’s fourth General Manager in franchise history.

The Wild missed the playoffs for the first time after six consecutive playoff appearances and finished dead-last in the NHL’s Central Division standings. The poor conclusion to the 2018-19 season led to the firing of General Manager Paul Fenton, who had been the team’s GM since May 21st, 2018. From July 30th to August 21st, the Wild were in the hunt for a new General Manager, they now have one.

Coming into the role is Bill Guerin, a two-time Stanley Cup Champion as a player and a two-time Stanley Cup Champion as apart of the Pittsburgh Penguins management team that won back-to-back championships in 2016 and 2017. Not known extensively for his management roles to date, Guerin will sound familiar to most fans due to his 18-year NHL career that began in the 1991-92 season.

Over the course of his career, Guerin played for eight different NHL clubs, spending the majority of the time with the New Jersey Devils, the team that drafted him fifth overall in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft. The 48-year-old has connections to not only the Boston Bruins but the state of Massachusetts as well. In fact, it was in Worchester, Massachusetts where Guerin was born and was raised in Wilbraham, Massachusetts – roughly 80 miles west of Boston.

After spending eight years in New Jersey, the same place where he won the first of four Stanley Cups (1995), Guerin was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in January of 1998. Guerin played 211 regular-season games with the Oilers before once again being shipped out, this time going to Boston.

Bill Guerin’s time in Boston was short-lived, playing in only 142 games for the Bruins, putting up 69-60-129 totals in that span including a 41-goal season in 2001-2002. Guerin’s successful personal season that year also helped the Bruins too as the team made the postseason after missing out in each of the previous two seasons. However, the B’s lost in six games to the rival Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals, but Guerin did his part, scoring four goals and two assists for six points in as many games.

On July 3rd, 2002, Guerin left Boston to sign a five-year, $31,209,886 contract with the Dallas Stars. Following his time with the Stars, Guerin played with the St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks, and New York Islanders before being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in March of 2009. As many may know, the Penguins went on to win the Stanley Cup over the Detroit Red Wings that year, securing Guerin’s second Cup.

On December 6th, 2010, Bill Guerin officially announced his retirement from the National Hockey League, ending his career with 1263 career NHL games under his belt. Guerin finished his playing career with 429-427-856 numbers. In addition to his NHL career, Guerin was a three-time Olympian for the United States ice hockey team, winning the silver medal in the 2002 Winter Olympics. Guerin was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013.

Now, Bill Guerin turns to a new chapter in his hockey career, becoming a General Manager for the first time. Not wasting any time with his new role in Minnesota, Guerin signed RFA forward Joel Eriksson-Ek to a two-year contract worth an average of $1,487,500 per season. With his knowledge of winning as not only a player but as an assistant GM in Pittsburgh, he will bring value to the front office for the Minnesota Wild. All in all, having roots in Boston.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 141 that we recorded on 8-18-19 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 Link To Our YouTube Channel! 

Grzelcyk Ready to Go for Bruins

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(Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By Carrie Salls | Find me on Twitter @nittgrl73

The 2018-2019 season did not end well for Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk. Grzelcyk himself may not remember much of what happened after a hit in game two of the Stanley Cup Finals that sent his head careening off the boards and forcing him to be helped off the ice, but Boston fans surely do.

After that fateful hit, Grezelcyk was placed in concussion protocol. He resumed practicing with the team after a couple of games, but most of that time was spent in a red non-contact jersey. He was finally cleared to return to action for game seven and actually scored the Bruins’ only goal in a heartbreaking loss.

Interviewed after game seven, a visibly shaken Grzelcyk broke down in front of reporters when describing how it felt to be sidelined for so much of the series. Minutes after the series ended, the pain of the loss was still very fresh in the minds of Grzelcyk and his teammates.

The good news is (yes, there is good news here), Grzelcyk is raring to go for the 2019-2020 campaign. And, with so many questions remaining about the make-up of the Bruins’ defensive corps leading into camp, the 25-year-old Charlestown native is one piece of the puzzle that is solidly in place. He recently said that he took some time off after the season to let himself fully recover from any lingering effects of the concussion he suffered, but he now feels good and ready to go.

Heading into the final year of a two-year deal signed in July 2018, Grzelcyk is in a great position to have a break-out season. With captain Zdeno Chara returning for at least one more season, but likely to see reduced minutes as he approaches his 43rd birthday in March, Grzelcyk is a prime candidate to share some, if not quite a bit, of that extra load. With injuries dominating the blue line throughout much of the season, he’s already shown that he is more than capable of stepping up when needed.

Of course, last season was a tough one for Grzelcyk himself from a physical standpoint. In addition to the concussion suffered in the final round of the playoffs, Grzelcyk missed a few weeks with an apparent arm injury suffered March 10 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Although the team and fans were relieved that tests revealed no broken bones or significant structural damage, the injury still kept Grzelcyk out of the lineup during a key stretch of the season.

Grzelcyk played 66 of 82 games in 2018-2019, but still managed to increase his points total to 18 points last season from 15 scored in his first season in Boston, in which he played in 61 games. Those numbers aren’t staggering, but considering that Grzelcyk played most of the season on the third pairing with a revolving door of defensive partners, they are solid. Also, he stepped up big in the playoffs, including a two-goal effort in game two of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Bruins fans also know that statistics don’t tell the whole story. Grzelcyk is known for his ability to move the puck, and that trait can be invaluable. Even though he has suffered injuries, listed at 5′ 9″ and 174 pounds, Grzelcyk has shown that he does not shy away from puck battles or hits from larger players. If he can stay healthy, I expect Matt Grzelcyk to take advantage of every opportunity that comes his way in the upcoming season.

Why The Bruins Can’t Afford To Mess Up The Torey Krug Situation

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(Photo Credit: (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports))

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

It’s no secret that Torey Krug’s role on the Bruins is a pretty vital one. Being the power-play quarterback, top scorer from the back end, and a high-energy player, Krug is tasked with quite a bit.

One of the main storylines this offseason has been what to do with Torey Krug down the road, as he is set to hit unrestricted free agency next July. Whatever ends up happening, it needs to be executed a certain way, in my eyes. Things could end up panning out a few different ways.

The ideal solution: A long-term deal

Ideally, the necessary moves and negotiations are made to accommodate Krug. While ideal, it won’t be easy. Krug’s stock continues to trend upwards as time passes by due to his consistency. His stock as a free agent has never been higher after another great regular season and a stellar playoff run.

His 53 points in the regular season and 18 in the playoffs were best on the team amongst defensemen. While points aren’t everything when it comes to evaluating defensemen, they certainly don’t blemish a player’s image.

For an undersized defenseman, Krug proved this year that his size won’t affect his ability to be an effective defenseman in his own zone and in the physical aspect of the game. He also continued to show why he is one of the most effective power-play quarterbacks in the entire league, amongst a great first power-play unit that included David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Bergeron.

Additionally, Krug further established excellent chemistry with Brandon Carlo. Their differing styles actually complement one another very well. Carlo often cleans things up defensively, as that’s where his expertise lies, allowing Krug to effectively carry the puck and create offense. Having that comfortability and chemistry is huge for Carlo, and vice versa, as he is still developing into a shutdown defenseman at 22-years-old.

When it comes to comparables, CapFriendly has a great tool for drawing contract comparables on their website. Some of the contracts they list as comparables to Krug are Tyson Barrie ($5.5M AAV), Jared Spurgeon ($5,187,500 AAV), and Matt Dumba ($6M AAV).

While I think Krug will make north of $6 million per year in his next deal, whatever the exact amount may be, these are potential starting points for contract comparables that could come up in future contract negotiations to stay in Boston.

With things very much up in the air right now surrounding how much Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo will make, proper accommodations need to be made to make Krug’s next contract fit under the cap. Not only will however much Carlo and McAvoy make factor into the cap, Matt Grzelcyk, Jake DeBrusk Chris Wagner, Joakim Nordstrom, Charlie Coyle, Brett Ritchie, Zdeno Chara, and Kevan Miller will all be looking for new deals next summer.

Don Sweeney has his work cut out for him in that department.

If you can’t keep him, trade him

Do everything you possibly can to keep Krug long-term, but if you can’t, you have to trade him if you’re Don Sweeney. If you don’t trade him in this case and lose him for nothing as a UFA, it’s bad mismanagement of assets.

A player of Krug’s caliber could fetch a large haul on the trade market. Whether a trade revolves around a top-six right-winger to play with David Krejci, or picks and prospects, a large haul could be obtained.

With Krug’s pending UFA status, it’s anyone’s guess as to what Sweeney could get in return for him. But as mentioned previously, in a perfect world, Sweeney doesn’t even have to seriously consider having to move on from a player of Krug’s caliber.

Providence Bruins Player Profile: Cooper Zech

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(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins Flickr)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Cooper Zech is a name you might not recognize, and that’s because he is someone who wasn’t drafted by the Boston Bruins. In fact, he was not drafted at all. In March of 2019, the young defenseman signed a two-year AHL contract with the Providence Bruins after finishing his freshman season at Ferris State University. Zech is an undersized puck-moving defenseman from Michigan. The Bruins’ recent history with a player that fits that same mold is pretty good. So, let’s get into what Zech did before coming to Providence, and what the Bruins saw in him.

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(Photo Courtesy of Odessa Jackalopes)

Cooper Zech spent the 2015-16 season with the Odessa Jackalopes of the North American Hockey League (NAHL).  In 51 games with the Jackalopes Zech netted eight goals while dishing out 17 assists for 25 total points and plus/minus rating of 0. It was not a bad first season in the NAHL where Zech’s offensive ability was really on display. The Michigan native would go on to earn NAHL All-Rookie First Team and NAHL All-South Division Rookie Team honors.

The young defenseman would go on to play the 2016-17 season with the Odessa again, and in 41 games found the back of the net three times and dished out 29 assists for 32 total points and a plus/minus rating of +9. Zech would also play a part of that season in the United States Hockey League (USHL) with Muskegon Lumberjacks. In 25 games with the Lumberjacks Zech would dish out four assists for four total points, and plus/minus rating of -6. It was another solid year of development for Cooper.

Zech would go on to play the 2017-18 season in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) with the Wenatchee Wild, and he would have a stellar season. In 58 games with the Wild, the Michigan native would net 11 goals and dish out 58 assists for 69 total points. He would also play in 20 playoff games for Wenatchee netting four goals and dishing out 19 assists for 23 total points en route to leading the Wild to the BCHL Championship. Cooper would also be a BCHL First Team All-Star, he would also lead the league in assists, lead defenseman in assists, lead defenseman in points, and be named the league’s top defenseman. Zech really shined during this season and was able to prove what he could do.

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(Photo Courtesy of Western Collegiate Hockey Association)

Cooper Zech would spend the 2018-19 season playing in his freshman season at Ferris State University for the Bulldogs. The young defenseman would make his presence felt early and often. In 36 games with the Bulldogs, he would net eight goals and dish out 20 assists for 28 total points and a plus/minus of +3. It would be the first time since 1987-88 a freshman led Ferris State in scoring. The excellent year earned Zech some accolades. He would win the NCAA Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Rookie of the Year and would also be named to the NCAA WCHA First All-Star Team and NCAA WCHA All-Rookie Team.

After his collegiate season ended, Zech had multiple offers from AHL teams. Ultimately he would choose to sign with Providence and was able to get into 12 regular-season games for the AHL club in 2018-19. In those 12 games, he would dish out four assists for four total points while playing very good defense. The Michigan native would also play in the team’s four playoff games netting two goals for two total points. In his short time playing for Providence, Zech looked really good on the ice. He looked comfortable in each zone, and he looked comfortable both with and without the puck. The game didn’t seem too fast for him, which can happen for players coming into the AHL for the first time.

Going into this season, I believe we can expect big things from Cooper Zech. Despite only being 5’9, he plays without fear. He is quick on his feet and can play with or without the puck, though he’s more comfortable with it. Not only do I think he can be a very good hockey player, but the Bruins have also had success signing guys to AHL deals and developing them. Connor Clifton is a good example of that just this past season. Zech’s game is a lot like Torey Krug, and I believe he will be a player to watch this season in Providence. To me, he’s one of their most intriguing players heading into 2019-2020. As we get closer to the start of the season, remember the name, Cooper Zech. You could be hearing it a lot. As always, if you have questions or comments, feel free to send them to me on Twitter. I hope everyone is enjoying their summer and Go, Bs, Go!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE For Link To Our YouTube Channel! 

Boston Bruins: The Future After Goaltender Tuukka Rask

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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

Without a doubt in anyone’s mind, the role of a goaltender is one of the most crucial positions in all of hockey. In most, if not all cases, the goaltender is the cornerstone to Stanley Cup Champions over a large majority of the NHL’s 102-year history and it continues to be evident even today.

On January 2nd, 2019, the St. Louis Blues were dead-last in the league’s overall standings but clawed their way back to not only make the playoffs, win a series, but defeat the Boston Bruins in a seven-game series to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history. A lot of players had fantastic seasons as well as the emergence of then-interim Head Coach Craig Berube but most people will credit the Blues’ success to rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington.

Teams can look great and perform great but can come to a halt if their starting netminder fails to match the performance that he had the season prior. This was evident for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 Edmonton Oilers. Superstar Connor McDavid led the Oilers to their first playoff berth in ten seasons and even brought them to the second round only to miss the playoffs altogether in the two seasons that followed. The reason? Cam Talbot failed to play to the consistency that he had during the ’16/’17 campaign and the Oilers continue the struggle to find that number one goalie.

In Boston, the goaltending scene has been controlled by Tuukka Rask since Boston’s last Stanley Cup win in 2011 and rightly so. At 32 years of age, Rask already holds numerous franchise records during his time with the Bruins. The Finnish netminder has the most games played as a goalie (495), most wins (265), and most career saves (12,607) and sits second in best goals-against-average (2.28) and tied for first with Tim Thomas for save percentage (.921%).

Tuukka Rask won the Vezina Trophy in the 2013-14 season which is awarded to the goaltender who is “adjudged to be the best at this position” and has led the Bruins to two Stanley Cup Finals appearances (2013, 2019), but has yet to hoist the Stanley Cup as the definite starting goaltender, (he did win the Cup as the backup to T. Thomas in ’11) – an accomplishment that still eludes him to this day.

As previously stated, Tuukka Rask recently turned 32, meaning his time as an elite player in this league could very well be running out. The goaltender position can stay in their prime for longer than a forward or defenceman, but they still have a moment in time in their career where they slow down. For the Bruins, now is the time to look ahead past Tuukka Rask when those days come around.

For the sake of looking at the future, I will not mention backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak for the sole reason that he is 34-years-old. In addition, the following goalies are in no particular order, just randomly listed below.

Daniel Vladar – 21yrs – 6’5″, 185lbs – 2015 3rd Round Pick (75th overall)

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Alan Sullivan Photography)

Daniel Vladar is a big goaltender with his large 6-foot-5, 185-pound frame in the blue crease. Vladar was drafted by the Bruins back in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, selected in the third round, 75th overall. In the year after his draft, (2015-16), Vladar had a decent year in the USHL with the Chicago Steel, finishing with a 12-12-4 record, but boasted a 2.30 GAA and a .920 save percentage including three shutouts.

The season was enough for management to give him some time in the AHL with the Providence Bruins, where he played in eight games during the 2016-17 campaign, ending the year with .921 save percentage and a 2.62 goals-against-average. In the same season, Vladar spent time in the ECHL with the Atlanta Gladiators, where his numbers were much less impressive.

Most recently, Vladar played in 31 games for the Providence Bruins, ending the season with a 13-17-1 record, a 2.73 GAA and a .898 SV%. At 21 years of age, Vladar has work to do in order to become an NHL starting goaltender once Rask is finished, but right now, he will continue to develop with the P-Bruins. One thing to look out for is the fact that Vladar will most likely get more time in the starting role for the 2019-20 season due to the departure of Zane McIntyre, who split starts last year with Vladar. This is a big year for his future development.

Kyle Keyser – 20yrs – 6’2″, 179lbs – Undrafted

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

In my opinion, Kyle Keyser is the best goaltending prospect within the Boston Bruins system – and he was not a selected player in the NHL Entry Draft. In fact, in October 2017, the 20-year-old netminder was signed to a three-year entry-level contract by the Black n’ Gold and according to CapFriendly, that deal expires at the end of the 2021-22 season.

For the past two full seasons, the Coral Springs, Florida native has played for the Oshawa Generals in the Ontario Hockey League. It has been his play with the Generals that has earned him a title of being one of the top prospects. Going back to the 2017-18 campaign, Keyser finished with a record of 28-13-2 along with a 3.16 GAA and a .904 SV%.

It was a solid season, but somehow, the young goalie managed to improve even more in this past season. In 47 games played for Oshawa, Keyser finished the year with an outstanding 32-8-3 record with a 2.75 goals-against-average and a .915 save percentage. Keyser was also named to the United States under-20 World Juniors, where his team won the silver medal even though he only played in two games.

The 2019-20 season is up in the air regarding where Keyser will play. It is possible that he gets time in the AHL with Providence, but with the addition of Maxime Legacé and Daniel Vladar most likely already getting a bulk of the starting minutes, Keyser may end up playing in the ECHL with the Atlanta Gladiators. Keep an eye out for his progression this season.

Jeremy Swayman – 20yrs – 6’2″, 187lbs – 2017 4th Round Pick (111th Overall)

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PHOTO CREDITS: (boston.cbslocal.com)

As of right now, Jeremy Swayman is not currently signed to a contract with the Bruins organization since being drafted in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in the fourth round. According to CapFriendly, Swayman is on the Bruins’ reserve list and his exclusive rights are with Boston up until August 15th, 2021.

The Anchorage, Alaska, USA native has spent each of the last two seasons with the University of Maine Black Bears where he started in 35 games this past season, finishing the year with a .919 save percentage and a 2.77 GAA, a continuation of his solid 2017-2018 campaign. Below is a quote from Chris Mazza of Dobber Prospects on in March of 2019 regarding Jeremy Swayman.

“Swayman was a workhorse for the University of Maine in his sophomore season, starting 35 games while posting a save percentage of .919 and a GAA of 2.77. His numbers remained in line with his dominant freshman year, and further cement the notion that the Bruins found a gem in the fourth round of the 2017 draft. He was named Third Team All-Conference for his efforts and was recognized by a leader by his coach. He should return to college for at least one more year before Boston likely signs him to his first pro deal.” – Chris Mazza

As mentioned with the goaltenders already covered above, the Bruins have quite a few goalies in the system battling for spots. However, at the end of this upcoming season, both Vladar (RFA) and Legacé (UFA) will no longer have a contract. If one or both of those players fail to meet the expectations and Swayman has yet another good year with the Black Bears, I would assume that a contract would be offered to the young prospect.

Maxime Legacé – 26yrs – 6’2″, 190lbs – Undrafted

While writing this piece, I contemplated the idea of adding in Legacé due to the fact that he is 26 years of age, but I ultimately decided to throw him in regardless. For argument sake, Legacé is not considered a prospect, just another goaltender in the system. Maxime was signed by Boston on the first day of Free Agency to a one-year contract worth $700,000. Legacé was originally signed to an entry-level deal by the Dallas Stars in the 2012 offseason but never played a game with the Stars in his three years within the organization.

On July 1st, 2017, Legacé signed a contract with the Vegas Golden Knights, starting the year with the Chicago Wolves in the American Hockey League. The 26-year-old goalie had a record of 14-5-1 with a GAA of 2.84 and a save percentage of .905% before being called up to the Golden Knights due to injuries to Marc-Andre Fleury, Malcolm Subban, and Oskar Dansk.

The Saint-Augustin, Quebec, Canada native played a total of thirteen games with Vegas, ending the year with a 6-7-1 record, 3.91 goals-against-average and .867 save percentage before being sent back down to Chicago. Legacé had decent stretch with the Wolves after that, recording a .914 SV%, 2.43 GAA, and a 16-16-2 record.

The signing likely means that Legacé will get time with the Providence Bruins behind Daniel Vladar. Due to the fact that the deal is only for a single season, it may also be used so fellow prospects Kyle Keyser and Jeremy Swayman improved their games in other organizations across North America.

Out of these four goaltenders, it is not guaranteed that any of them will ever be ready to not only be a starting goalie in this league, but a Stanley Cup contending goalie, but there are options running down the pipeline. As of this moment, it will all come down to proper development from the coaching staff of the Bruins organization and the other organizations that these players currently play in.

Who appears to be the most promising? Let me know via Twitter @tkdmaxbjj .

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 141 that we recorded on 8-18-19 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 Link To Our YouTube Channel! 

Bruins’ Krug And McAvoy Named To NHL Network’s Top-20 Defensemen List

( Photo Credit:  AP / Ben Margot )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter @yanlatz

Every summer, the NHL Network narrows down the best players from throughout the league at each position. As part of the series, producers, hosts, and analysts prepared a top-20 list of the current best defensemen in the National Hockey League. This year, the Bruins had two of their own crack the top-20 list as Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug made appearances on the board.

Torey Krug came on the list at number 16 ahead of Zach Werenski, Colton Parayko, Ryan Suter, and rookie Miro Heiskanen. Krug had six goals and 47 assists for 53 points in 64 games which ranked him 12th most in points among defenseman in the NHL. The Bruins power-play quarterback had 30 power-play points which ranked him 16th in the league. This was Krug’s third straight season with 51 or more points and his second-best year in points since he scored 59 points in  76 games during the 2017-2018 campaign. The 28-year-old Michigan native has 62 playoff games under his belt with 11 goals and 35 assists for 46 points and 27 of those on the powerplay. He was second among defensemen in points these past playoffs with 18 points behind Alex Pietrangelo’s 19 points. This past season was Krug’s sixth full season in the NHL and will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2020.

Charlie McAvoy cracked the list two spots ahead of Krug at #14 and one spot behind New Jersey Devil P.K. Subban. The 21-year-old Long Island, NY native was selected 14 overall by the Bruins in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft out of Boston University and has played in two full seasons after beginning his NHL career in the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Ottawa Senators. In his rookie campaign, #73 in Black ‘N Gold put up seven goals and 25 assists for 32 points along with a plus-20 rating. In his sophomore season, McAvoy only appeared in 54 regular season games posting seven goals and 21 assists for 28 points and a plus-14 rating. Playing with Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara has accelerated McAvoy’s growth as a young hockey player in the NHL and has quickly become a dominating defenseman in both his own zone and has an offensive upside. McAvoy is still not signed by the Bruins as he is a restricted free agent. He is joined by Brandon Carlo as the Bruins unsigned RFA’s and it is unclear if both defensemen will be on the ice for the beginning of training camp before the 2019-2020 campaign.

Other notables on the list include a number of division rivals such as Maple Leafs d-man Morgan Reilly at number seven and Tampa’s Victor Hedman at number two. Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Bruins’ second-opponent in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, came in on the list at number five.

However, the NHL Network does know that some fans will disagree with their picks and allow the fans to choose their own top-20. According to the fans, Charlie McAvoy rose up to number 11 while Torey Krug fell one spot to number 17.

Although there was not much of a disagreement from the fans regarding Krug’s and McAvoy’s placements on the list, we can all agree that the Bruins have a couple of gems on the blueline.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 141 that we recorded on 8-18-19 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 Link To Our YouTube Channel! 

Bruin’s Offseason: All Quiet On The Eastern Front (1 of 2)

(Photo Credit: AP / Nam Y. Huh)

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

The start of free agency saw the Bruins come out of the gate quickly, signing or extending seven players. Forwards: Brendan Gaunce, Par Lindholm, Brett Ritchie, Ryan Fitzgerald…Defensemen: Connor Clifton and Josiah Didier…Goalie: Max Lagace. While none of these players were big-name signings, which was to be expected given the Bruin’s limited cap space and restricted free agents, it was an encouraging sign for the fans of the team.

Over the next three weeks, forward Peter Cehlarik signed a one year deal, forward Danton Heinen inked a two-year extension, and center prospect Pavel Shen signed his ELC. Since then, all has been quiet on Causeway Street, with very little being said about restricted free agents Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. This is not unusual for the Bruins. Since Sweeney was named GM, they like to keep everything internal and very little leaks out. The only comments on the subject came from Bruin’s President Cam Neely via Joe Haggerty two weeks ago.

That brings us to the present, and where the Bruins go from here. With the Backes’ contract still on the books, the team does not have the Cap space to acquire any more help at this juncture. So, what you see is what you get as training camp looms.

The only thing that appears certain at this point is that Tuukka Rask and Jaro Halak are the B’s two netminders. In this two-part series, we will take a look at the openings and question marks the Bruins have at forward and on defense heading into the 2019-20 regular season. Part One will deal with the forwards and Part Two the defense.

The Bruins return a Top 4 that was as good as any in the NHL. Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak, and Krejci combined for 333 points. Jake DeBrusk had a “decent” sophomore season, and will likely be attached to Krejci’s left side, as he has been for the first two seasons of his career. His 27 goals in 2018-19 were more than acceptable, but it would be nice to see him up his assist and overall point totals, particularly as he was a staple on the PP most of the season.

The only real question mark in the Top 6 is who is going to play to the right of David Krejci. It seems that this has been an issue headed into every season since Nathan Horton left following the 2012-13 season. My first choice to fill one of the Top 6 right-wing positions would be Danton Heinen. I have been a proponent of putting Heinen with Bergeron and Marchand on a more permanent basis for a while now. He showed last season over a 16 game stretch when Pastrnak was injured that he can play and more importantly, produce, in that role, putting up 13 points during that span. This would allow the B’s to put Pastrnak on Krejci’s right-wing, giving him his first legit scoring threat there in years.

The Bottom 6 would appear to have four spots already locked up with Coyle, Kuraly, Wagner, and Nordstrom filling those positions unless something unforeseen happens. That leaves only two openings for a wide variety of candidates.

They include incumbents Karson Kuhlman, Petr Cehlarik, Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Anders Bjork. Newcomers Par Lindholm, Brett Ritchie, Oskar Steen, and possibly Jack Studnicka (although the B’s have consistently maintained they want to keep him at center) round out the group. These players represent a wide variety of styles and experience levels and while all have question marks of one type or another, they give the Bruins the ability to go in a number of different directions.

Three of the contenders, Cehlarik, Lindholm and Ritchie are not waiver exempt, meaning the Bruins risk losing them if they don’t make the team out of camp. Every year this plays a factor around the league in who makes teams initially. Many times more talented players who are waiver exempt end up getting sent down to the AHL, at least to begin the season.

Bruins fans are well acquainted with Cehlarik. The 24-year-old former third-round pick has appeared in 37 NHL games over the last three seasons with mixed results. He has tended to start off quickly and then become less visible as his appearances mount. He’s a big body that uses his size for puck possession but is a below-average skater. The left-shot wing does have the flexibility to play both sides.

Lindholm was a point per game scorer for Skellefteå of the SHL, but it didn’t translate to the NHL with Toronto last season, where he had only 12 points in 61 games. He turns 28 in October and is primarily a center (51% in the dot with 400 attempts). His advanced stats were not great, but in his defense, he had only 30% offensive zone starts.

That brings us to the newly-signed Brett Ritchie. A big, physical scoring wing in his OHL days, who scored 41 for Niagara one year. The offensive side of his game has never manifested itself in the NHL, where he only has 33 career goals in 241 games. If I had to guess, I would say that the B’s see Ritchie as a cheap replacement for what Backes brings (on ice), if they can find a way to move 42.

bjork

(Photo Credit:  Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The next group of guys: Bjork, Kuhlman, Senyshyn, Fitzgerald, Steen, and Studnicka contain my two favorites to get the remaining spots and also my “long shot” candidate. All of these guys are waiver exempt, so they will be susceptible to being “stashed” in Providence to start the season. For that reason, I am going to rule out both Fitzgerald and Studnicka. I would much rather see them playing big minutes in all situations with Providence than watching from the press box in Boston.

My favorite to take the first open spot in the Bruin’s forward lineup this season is Anders Bjork. The 23-year-old graduate of the University of Notre Dame already has 50 NHL games under his belt but has yet to have any tangible impact because of a variety of injuries. Shoulder surgeries have cut short Bjork’s seasons in consecutive years, but perhaps the third time is the charm? Bjork has an NHL-caliber shot, a quick release, excellent skating skills and is a good three-zone player. The only thing he needs to stick in my opinion is a bit of luck and some good health. As a rookie, Bjork put up 3g/6a in his first 16 games (playing with Marchand and Bergeron) before suffering a concussion after a collision with Toronto’s Matt Martin. The Bruin’s staff seems to really like Bjork, so he’s a possibility for Top Six duty again, but personally, I would start him on the third line at left-wing and see what happens.

The other player I see cracking the lineup in October is Minnesota-Duluth’s, Karson Kuhlman. Bruin’s fans are already familiar with him due to his strong play down the stretch and into the playoffs, where he compiled eight points in 19 games. Kuhlman is another player (like Bjork) that possesses plus speed and skating ability and a strong defensive game. I believe he would be a strong complement to Bjork and Coyle at right-wing on the third line. Bruce Cassidy could use a line like that in a variety of situations, including up against the top two lines of opposing teams. Combine that with the confidence he already has in the “fourth line” and it would provide him a great deal of flexibility when matching lines.

A player I’m sure the Bruin’s brass would love to see grab a spot is former first-round pick Zach Senyshyn. Bruin’s fans would likely be relieved as well if he became an NHL regular so they did not have to hear about the 2015 draft any longer. Senyshyn has the size/speed ratio needed to roam the right-wing on the third line. The only issue is that the scoring touch the 6’2″, 200 pound Ottawa product displayed in the OHL (114 goals in 195 games) has yet to manifest itself as a pro in the AHL. His supporters point to his deployment as a third liner and the desire to develop his three-zone game as reasons why he has not scored more. His critics say that a lack of consistency and hockey IQ’s are the culprits. I would love to see Boston start him off in a fourth-line role and let him play his way higher into the lineup. However, it may be a case of musical chairs, where there are too many bodies and not enough seats to go around?

My dark horse candidate for the third-line right-wing position is Swede Oskar Steen. He was a 6th Round Pick (165 overall) in the 2016 draft. He got off to a slow start in his first two seasons with Farjestäd of the SHL. In 2018-19, Steen was given a larger role and ran with it. He finished the season with 17 goals and 20 assists in 46 games. It was good for 10th in scoring in the SHL and he was the only player in the Top 10 under the age of 26 (20 at the time). He also finished with 49 PIM’s (18th) which is impressive for a guy of Steen’s small stature (5’9″, 187-pounds). I had the pleasure of watching him at several of the Bruin’s Development Camps, and in my opinion, he was easily the most skilled forward I saw. He’s quick, explosive, and strong on his skates. Given that skill set and his build, he will definitely garner some comparisons to Marchand. Obviously, he has a long way to go before he ever reaches that level.

Bruins development camp

(Photo Credit:  Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

I wouldn’t put money on it, but if someone twisted my arm and forced me to put in in writing, this is what my starting lineup would look like for Opening Night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on Thursday, October 3rd:

Marchand-Bergeron-Heinen

DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak

Bjork-Coyle-Kuhlman

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

Ritchie

There are definitely some question marks in the Bruin’s top nine, but there are also a number of candidates that could fill those holes. The options, competition, and differing styles of the players involved should make for an interesting Camp where roster spots will be on the line.

 Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 141 that we recorded on 8-18-19 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 Link To Our YouTube Channel!

Report: Bruins, Cassidy Begin Contract Extension Talks

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

According to Joe McDonald of The Athletic, the Boston Bruins have started to talk to Head Coach Bruce Cassidy regarding an extension on his contract that expires at the end of this upcoming 2019-20 NHL season.

Bruce Cassidy has been in the Bruins organization since 2008-09 when he was the assistant coach for the American Hockey League’s Providence Bruins. Cassidy, who turned 54 on May 20th, was the assistant in Providence for three seasons before being named Head Coach in the 2011-12 season, operating in that role up until the 2015-16 campaign. With the P-Bruins, Bruce led his team to the playoffs in four of the five seasons, only missing the postseason in his first year.

To begin the 2016-17 season, the Ottawa, Ontario, Canada native was the assistant coach to then-Head Coach Claude Julien. However, the Bruins would announce that they had fired Julien after the team boasted a 26-23-6 record. From February 7th on, Cassidy was the Interim Head Coach, leading Boston to an 18-8-1 record with him and managed to make it to the postseason in a losing effort to the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals.

On April 26th, 2017, General Manager Don Sweeney formally announced that Bruce Cassidy would become the 28th Head Coach of the Boston Bruins, starting his Head Coach role in the 2017-18 season. Once again, the B’s were a dominant team in the Eastern Conference, finishing the regular season with a 50-20-12 record, earning a berth in the playoffs for a second consecutive season. After defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs in the opening round, the Bruins lost in five games to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Round Two.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Steve Babineau / National Hockey League / Getty)

With the success of his first full season behind him, Bruce Cassidy still had a few doubters on his case, but yet again, he proved them all wrong, leading the club to a 49-24-9 record at the end of the regular season and helped keep the Bruins fighting strong all the way through to the Stanley Cup Finals, where he and his team fell one game short to the St. Louis Blues in Game Seven.

As of right now, Cassidy has a 117-52-22 record in the three regular seasons that he has coached in – a .612 winning percentage as the Head Coach. As Joe McDonald states, the organization does not release the salary of the bench boss but without a doubt in anyone’s mind, he will receive a raise in comparison to his previous contracts.

Keeping Cassidy is the best decision for the Bruins. Bruce has shown confidence in his players and has no problems benching players or moving players up and down the lineup when they are in a slump scoring-wise. In 2018-19, Boston dealt with injuries upon injuries to almost every single player on the NHL roster. However, Bruce managed to keep the wins coming, leading Boston to the Eastern Conference Championship.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 141 that we recorded on 8-18-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.