The Window To Win Another Cup Is Closing For Some Current Bruins Veterans

( Photo Credit: Boston Globe via Getty Images )

By Jeremy Grabowski | Follow me on Twitter @JeremyBNGhockey

For a little over a decade now, we as Bruins fans have been blessed with playoff hockey almost every year since 2008. Sure, not all of them have ended the way we would have liked, but playoff hockey is better than no
playoff hockey. We are entering a time now where we have to start asking ourselves this question, “how much longer does Boston have to win a cup with its core group of players still together and in their primes?”

Let me be more specific. By core players, I mean the guys that have been here since the Stanley Cup Championship in 2011. That involves Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, and Tuukka Rask. All of these guys are in their early 30’s except for Chara, who is 43. Chara is long past his prime. With that being said, he is still finding a way to be one of the most feared and lock-down defenders in the league. Let’s go more into depth on a few of these guys.

Patrice Bergeron

Other than being my personal favorite player for over a decade now, Patrice Bergeron is the perfect description of what it means to be a Boston Bruin. He plays the game with his heart on his sleeve and leads by example. He does the difficult things that not a lot of guys would do. Simply because he wants to win, and he doesn’t want to let his teammates or the fans down. Bergeron has had his fair share of injuries. Some he has been able to play through, some he has not.

I don’t think anyone will forget back on October 27th, 2007 the scary scene of Bergeron laying flat on his back after being boarded by Flyers defensemen Randy Jones. He would be stretchered off the ice after a 12-minute delay to tend to the injured forward. he was diagnosed with a “Grade 3” Concussion and would miss 72 games during the regular season plus another seven in the playoffs that year.

It wasn’t until the following pre-season that Bergeron was cleared to fully participate once again. He would only score four goals and 14 assists in the first 31 games of the 2008-2009 season. Then he got hurt again. On December 20th, 2008, Bergeron collided with Dennis Seidenberg, who was a member of the Carolina Hurricanes at the time and once again, sending Bruins fans to panic. Regardless of those fears, Bergeron was back in-game action a little over a month later.

Now, on the other side of this is the injuries he did play through. More specifically, the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. In the toughest event, and at the highest level of play, Bergeron suffered torn rib cartilage in Game-Four. Then a broken rib in Game-Five. And to put the icing on the cake, he suffered a separated right shoulder and punctured lung in Game-Six. The Puncture in that lung caused it to collapse. Despite all those injuries and all the pain that comes with them, Bergeron KEPT PLAYING! He would spend the next three days after Game-Six in the hospital.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Bergeron has literally given his body and soul to this organization and the fan base. I consider myself lucky to have grown up watching and learning from his style of play. That being said, Bergeron is now 34 years old. He is still in the prime of his career, but how much longer will that be true with the injury history he has? Eventually that will take a toll on his body and he wont be the same player. Hopefully, that happens later rather than sooner.

Zdeno Chara

Zdeno Chara has been the captain of the Bruins since the 2006-2007 season. He was the big piece the Bruins needed to turn its fortune around. Since joining the club, Chara has taken on the responsibility of being the captain of a team in a market that LOVES its hockey and knows the game. In Boston, if the fans are unhappy with the way you are performing, they are going to let you know! And Chara has been up to the task the whole time.

Now, Chara is well known for being the tallest person to ever be in the NHL coming at 6’9 and maybe a little more than that on skates. But, he is also known for his NHL record hardest shot at 108.8 MPH. That record has not been broken since and probably never will.

Chara has had his fair share of injury history as well. Like Bergeron, he is no stranger to toughing it out and playing through injuries. The most recent sign of this was in last year’s Stanley Cup Final. In Game-Four, Chara went to block a shot from Brayden Schenn that deflected of Chara’s stick and hit him directly in the mouth. He was spitting out blood and skating off the ice under his own power. He would return to the bench for the third period of the game with a bubble mask on his helmet but did not play. It was later revealed that Chara had broken his jaw.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

With two days off between Game-Four and Game-Five, all the talk around the city of Boston was, “Is Chara going to play, or is he done?” It wasn’t until hours before Game-Five that we found out he would play despite having a broken jaw. Once again, Chara showed his toughness by playing through a debilitating injury that most guys would even think of playing through. Chara came out for the start of Game-Five to a standing ovation that, to this day, still gives me goosebumps every time I watch it.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Chara is 43 now. Seriously, how much longer can this man play? I don’t have an answer to that for you, but I think he could play for another two-three years, at least. We’ve already seen one Boston icon play well into his 40’s with Tom Brady. Is Big Z going to do the same if not longer?

Brad Marchand

Brad Marchand is the youngest out of the core players coming in at 32 years old. He is the kind of player that if he isn’t on your team, you love to hate him. But, if he is on your side, you absolutely love the guy! Early in his career, he got into some trouble with suspensions and fines from the league. Since then, he has learned how to toe the line without crossing it. He is an energetic player who, like Bergeron, plays the game with his heart on his sleeve. If there was anyone you wanted to get under the skin of the opponent, it was Brad Marchand.

He quickly became a fan favorite and an essential player in this team’s future. He has six years left on his deal, so he isn’t going anywhere any time soon, but how long will the Bruins continue to be useful during those six years? Will they all be good years for the team? Will they still have a chance to win another cup?

In conclusion, the Bruins core players are still in a great position to win another cup in the next two, maybe three years. But, what about after that? How good is this team going to be by then? Hopefully, the kids that come up from Providence or players that they sign in the offseason come in and fit in seamlessly. This core group can get it together and be as good as we all know they are.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! 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!

NHL, NHLPA Ratify RTP; Bruins’ Playoff Schedule Released

80143e76011af90267792a52b09e940f

PHOTO CREDITS: (Yahoo Sports)

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

It’s official – hockey is coming back. Today, July 10th, 2020, the NHL and NHLPA officially ratified the Return-To-Play/CBA Extension following a 502-135 vote (nearly 79% in favor) that has taken place over the last couple days.

In addition to confirming the Return-To-Play plans, more details have emerged on the deadline for players to opt-out of the festivities. Players will have until 5 p.m. EST on Monday, July 13th to opt-out of the 2019-2020 summer training camp as well as the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs without a penalty. Players must do so in writing to keep records of who decided to participate and who opted-out.

It was largely expected that the results would be in favor of hockey returning to decide a 2020 Stanley Cup Champion, but we also heard the news today of the schedule for the games and for Bruins fans, when we will see the boys in Black and Gold back on the ice for their three Round Robin games.

As of right now, only the qualifying round exact schedule has been released as further details will be released as the play-in rounds and round-robin conclude. Below is the full, 10-day schedule for every one of the 24 teams participating:

The Boston Bruins will begin their road to the 2020 Stanley Cup on Sunday, August 2nd against the Philadelphia Flyers followed by the dangerous Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, August 5th, and finally the Washington Capitals on Saturday, August 8th. From there, the seeding will be formed for the remainder of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Re-seeding will take place after each round ends, meaning a 1st seed position has more value.

Toronto, Ontario and Edmonton, Alberta are the official hub cities. The National Hockey League confirmed that the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Finals will be held in Edmonton. According to Sportsnet Stats on Twitter, this is the first time since 1925 that the entirety of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be held in Canada. The Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup over the Hamilton Tigers due to a player strike in that 1924-25 season.

Below are some of the key dates for the National Hockey League starting at Training Camp courtesy of NHL Public Relations:

July 13th – Training Camps Open

July 26th – Teams Travel to Hub City

July 28-30th – Exhibition Games

August 1st – Stanley Cup Qualifiers Begin

August 10th* – Phase 2 of NHL Draft Lottery

August 11th – 1st Round Begins

August 25th* – Second Round Begins

September 8th* – Conference Finals Begin

September 22nd* – Stanley Cup Final Begins

October 4th* – Last Possible Day of Final

October 9-10th* – 2020 NHL Entry Draft

*Tentative Date

For the latest on the NHL’s Return-To-Play as well as everything in the Boston Bruins organization, make sure to check back to blackngoldhockey.com and follow me on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! 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!

The Best Bruins Moments: Decade by Decade

photo credit: sportslogohistory.com

By Josh Houreas|follow me on Twitter @JHoureas

Ever since 1924, the Boston Bruins have entertained the fans of New England on the ice and around the country. Since then, the pioneers of professional American Hockey have dazzled fans on the ice. So decade by Decade lets take a look at the best moments in Bruins history.

The 1920s: Birth of a team soon to be Champions

While the opening season in Boston Bruins history was easily the worst, (with Boston finishing with a 6-24 record) It wouldn’t take long for Boston to experience a winning tradition in a city where winning means everything. As the Western Hockey League (not to be confused with today’s junior tier league of the same name) folded in 1926, the Boston Bruins were successful in their pursuit of the first cornerstone player in franchise history. That Player was Eddie Shore, and he would help Boston to their first Stanley Cup only three seasons later in 1929.

Photo Credit: NHL.com

The 1930s: Shore steps down, the Krauts step up.

Today, some teams have a line combination that just… Clicks. For Boston, Pastrnak, Marchand and Bergeron would be that combination today, but back in the 1930s, the Kraut Line, consisting of Mildt Schmidt, Bobby Bauer, and Woody Dumart was the almost unstoppable combination in Beantown. While the Bruins maintained a winning tradition throughout the 1930s, it wouldn’t be until 1939 when the Kraut Line helped Boston capture the Stanley Cup, right before heading off to fight in World War II, and in their last game against the hated Montreal Canadiens, all three players of the Kraut Line were lifted up on the shoulders of Montreal players, and were carried off the ice.

Photo Credit: bostonsportsextra.com

The 1940s: Boston captures another title in the War Stricken world.

Photo Credit: stanleycupofchowder.net

It wouldn’t take the Boston Bruins long to reclaim the Stanley Cup. Bostonians would only have to wait two seasons to see Lord Stanley’s hardware return to the Boston Garden. During the War, Boston would continue to play, but with the eventual retirement of the renowned Kraut Line, the Bruins would struggle to capture another championship. For the next 3 decades.

The 1950s: O’ree breaks the NHL’s color barrier.

Photo Credit: HHOF.com

Just like Jackie Robinson stepping on a Major League field before him, Willie O’Ree became an icon the minute he stepped out onto the ice. On January 18,1958 against the Montreal Canadiens of all teams, O’Ree became the first African Canadian player to dress in an NHL game. He would also hide the fact that he was blind in one eye, after being hit with a puck two years prior to his debut.

The 1960s: The birth of the Big Bad Bruins

There’s no better feeling in the game of hockey than to kick the crap out of the guy who just slammed you into the boards. The Bruins would make a habit of doing the same even though the on ice struggles were clearly visible. Throughout a country struggling with Civil Rights movements and marches, the Bruins would struggle to march into the win column for a majority of the decade. But along came a kid… who had the speed of Connor McDavid , and the defensive skills of Ray Bourque.

And he would change the course of Bruins history forever.

The 1970s: Orr soars, Bruins build a new dynasty.

Mother’s day. 1970. 13,909 fans packed the Boston Garden to watch the Bruins battle the St. Louis Blues in game four of the Stanley Cup Final, and in arguably the most memorable play in Bruins history, Bobby Orr would score the clinching goal, and would be frozen in time, flying through the air. Two years later, Boston captured their fifth Stanley Cup in team history, and it would be a swan song for the Big Bad Bruins.

Photo Credit: sportsnet.ca

The 1980s: Lunch Pail A.C. opens a new era at the Garden

Cheevers, Doak, Cashman. These were the players who would give fans fond memories of the Big Bad Bruins, while players like Terry O’Reilly, Rick Middleton, and Brad Park introduced Bostonians to a new style of Bruins hockey. The Bruins would make it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1988, but were defeated at the hands of Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers, who were in the middle of building a dynasty of their own.

The 1990s: Bruins Bid Farewell to Boston Garden

photo credit: Boston.com

For 67 years, Boston Garden showcased Boston Bruins hockey and while the product on the ice was spectacular for a majority of years, it is the quirkiness of the layout of the famed building we take a look at. The rink dimensions were smaller than National Hockey League Standards, and the fans always seemed to be right on top of you, and when it got loud, the building shook. Literally. One of my biggest regrets (even though it was completely out of my control being born in 1998) was not being able to see the Boston Garden.

The 2000s: Chiarelli transforms losing traditions into winning traditions

At the turn of the Millennium, the Boston Bruins had finished with a record of 24-33-19-6. Something had to be done to help Boston become a contender for their 6th Stanley Cup. Over the next five seasons, General Manager Peter Chiarelli (hired in 2006) would transform the Bruins into a powerhouse.

The 2010s: Monumental Heartbreak leads to a Memorable Championship.

On May 14, 2010 the Boston Bruins sent their fanbase into horrifying shock. The team had succeeded in performing a monumental collapse at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers. Up 3-0 in the series, and not to mention 3-0 in Game 7, Boston had a lot of questions to answer, and a lot of criticism to face. Personally, I couldn’t even believe what I had seen. I kept mumbling “all they had to do was win one more game, how could they blow it?”

The team would repay us in the Summer of 2011, as the team won the Stanley Cup after winning 3 game sevens in route to their first Championship in nearly 4 decades. Going to the parade is a memory im never going to forget. Three hours of waiting for 30 seconds of cheering. Totally worth it, also PSA. If your local sports team wins a championship, don’t go to the parade. Enjoy watching it in the comfort of your own home.

Photo Credit: boston.cbslocal.com

Honorable Mention. 2013. That entire season was a rollercoaster of emotions. Well, what we were able to get of it. A similar situation to 2005 was arising, and the NHL lost about half the year to lockout. With the tragedy at the Boston Marathon in April of that year, the Bruins became Boston’s team more than ever. And the fans were certainly with them on April 20, 2013. Let’s go Bruins chants were replaced with We are Boston chants. A 617 jersey was custom made by the equipment staff, and it gave us a tearful reminder that there was only one outlook on what had happened in the days prior, and that was to remain Boston Strong. The following month, Boston completed one of the most historic comebacks in Stanley Cup Playoffs history, defeating Toronto after scoring 3 goals in less than 12 minutes in the final period of game 7.

photo credit: ESPN.com

Today, the Boston Bruins continue a winning tradition going into their 97th season in the National Hockey League.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! 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!

Who’s The Most Underrated Player On The Bruins?

(Photo Credit: James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

I’m a Bruins fan, but I feel there’s a lot of players on the Boston Bruins roster that don’t get the recognition they deserve. Whether that be league-wide, or by fans in Boston, there are a lot of underappreciated guys like Anders Bjork, Sean Kuraly, and Torey Krug just to name a few. As you continue to read below, I give my idea’s as a diehard and question who is the most underrated player on this National Hockey League Bruins team? Let me kno0w your thoughts in the comments section below about my mentions of the Bruins players.

Brad Marchand

When 95% of hockey fans hear the name “Brad Marchand,” the first thing they think of is his antics on the ice. While he’s certainly deserved his reputation in that sense, he needs to be talked about amongst the greats of the NHL right now. He should be spoken in the same breath as the likes of Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin, and Alex Ovechkin. 

Over the past three seasons, only Connor McDavid, Nikita Kucherov, Nathan MacKinnon, and Leon Draistaitl have more points than the A1 agitator. And he does far more than just score points. He’s been in the top 16 for Selke voting over the past three years and is well known as one of the better playoff performers in recent history. Despite one specific play sticking out like a sore thumb, everyone’s favorite rat led the playoffs in scoring last year and is currently 17th in active playoff scoring, despite being younger, and having fewer games under his belt than just about everyone around him. 

Charlie Coyle

usatsi_12589604.jpg
(Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports)

The Bruins have had a hole at the third-line center position for quite some time. They’ve gotten good performances for a year from guys like Ryan Spooner and Riley Nash, but the consistency was never there. Now with Charlie Coyle, the Bruins have never been deeper.  He’s given the Bruins a level of stability that’s really needed to be a Stanley Cup contender.  

He’s managed to average more even-strength minutes than guys like Patrice Bergeron and Jake Debrusk, and it’s been remarkable how much he’s helped the Bruin’s even-strength woes. 13 of his 16 goals have come at even strength, good for 4th on the team. He has a ton of skill for a guy his size and his ability to keep control of the puck is excellent. If he was put in a more prominent role, I think he’d have a real good chance to be a 20-something goal, 55 point guy. 

Brandon Carlo

Boston Bruins v Vancouver Canucks
(Photo Credit: Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Offensively, he’ll never get confused with his defensive partner Torey Krug, but Brandon Carlo may be one of the best defensive defensemen in the league. At 6’5, Carlo has a great reach, and despite his big frame, the Colorado native can really move. He’s relentless in the Bruin’s own zone and has helped the Bs boast the 3rd best penalty kill in the league. 

As he’s gotten older, the 23-year-old has only improved. He’s added a much-needed snarl to his game, and the once nicknamed “Bambi” has been way better with the puck on his stick. Despite the shortened season, the defenseman notched a career-high with 19 points in 67 games, following an excellent run in the playoffs. It took three seasons for Carlo to get a shot to play for Lord Stanley, and he did not disappoint. He touted a +10 rating, good for second in the entire playoffs, and had a couple really important goals for the Bruins. Learning from one of the best, Brandon Carlo will be a force at the blueline for many years to come. 

Matt Grzelcyk

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 19: Matt Grzelcyk #48 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on January 19, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)

If I had to describe Matt Grzelcyk in one word, it would probably be easier than trying to remember how to spell his last name. But that word would be great. He’s just great at everything he does. He makes a great first pass, he’s great at leading the transition, he’s a great skater with a great head on his shoulders. The Boston University product has simply been a swiss army knife. The Bruins have had nine defensive pairings this season that have played over 100 minutes together. Matt Grzelcyk is on the top FIVE in terms of GA/60 (goals allowed per 60 minutes). And in terms of Corsi, Gryz is featured on three of the top four. Give him more minutes. 

Honorable Mentions

(Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

David Krejci – He’s never really been appreciated by fans. He’s done everything you want from a 2nd line center despite not having a real right winger for years.

Patrice Bergeron – A little out of the running because he’s been “underrated” for so many years. But I still think he needs a more praise for how good he really it. 

Zdeno Chara – People seem to focus on his legs, not his importance to the Bruins. Their D-core won’t be the same when he leaves. 

Tuukka Rask – It seems like everyone outside of Boston realizes how good Mr. Rask is, he’s elite.

I’m not sure I could pick the most underrated player on the Bruins. Gun to my head, I’d think I would have to say Brandon Carlo, but the others aren’t far behind. Who do you think takes the crown for the most underrated player on the Bruins?

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! 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!

Where Does Bruins Forward, Jake DeBrusk, Fit In The Bruins Future Plans?

Rasmus Ristolainen, Jake DeBrusk

(Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer, AP)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

Since the NHL released its Return to Play schedule, the NHL community has been buzzing with news and rumors.  The latest news comes from NBC Boston Sportswriter, Joe Haggerty.

On NBC Sports Boston Zoom Call, Bob Stauffer announced his thoughts on Jake DeBrusk’s worth in the upcoming contract negotiations.  Bob Stauffer is an Edmonton Oilers radio analyst who has spent over 10 years calling hockey games in Alberta, so he knows his hockey.  Stauffer thinks Debrusk is “a $6 million a year player,” which, if that’s true, the Bruins have an extremely tough roster and cap decision to make.

DeBrusk’s contract ends at the same time as Torey Krug’s deal, which is this coming off-season.  We wrote about Krug’s next probable contract, which is the area of $7-8M per year.  It had been reported back in March that Krug was seeking a 6-year, $49M contract, which is $8.2M per year.  To Bruins fans liking, Krug did mention he was open to a hometown discount, which could benefit the Bruins cap situation immensely.

DeBrusk’s agent, however, did not seem to be on the same page as Torey.  Bob Stauffer and Jake DeBrusk’s agent, Rick Valette, spoke on Stauffer’s radio show on Monday.  Stauffer mentioned the Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak deals with Valette to get the agent to convey his Jake’s willingness to take a hometown discount.  Valette wouldn’t bite on the hometown discount comment and understandably so.  Valette needs to have his clients’ best interests in mind and cannot be coming to the negotiating table showing his hand that they’ll take a hometown discount.  There’s a difference between being open to one and openly expressing taking one.

Rick Valette didn’t shut the door on it but definitely didn’t hint towards one.  He explains DeBrusk’s accomplishments through his “big-game playoff performances” and “being a top-six forward almost from the moment he stepped in the National Hockey League.”

DeBrusk was one of the three 2015 first-round draft picks when Don Sweeney made two swift trades leading up to the draft.  DeBrusk was selected with the Bruins’ own draft pick at 14th overall out of the Western Hockey League (WHL) in Canada.  He potted 185 points in 205 games in the WHL and stepped into Providence for another exciting year.  He scored 49 points with the Providence Bruins, showing Bruins management he was ready for the NHL spotlight.

DeBrusk had a fruitful rookie season, scoring 16 goals and adding 27 assists.  He followed up his rookie regular-season with 6 goals and 2 assists in the ensuing playoffs.  Bruins fans salivated at his tenacity, willingness to battle in the corners, and his clutch goals.


DeBrusk entered last season with that same drive, scoring a career-high 27 goals.  Any NHL forward who scores 30 goals is widely celebrated, and DeBrusk was three away from that feat.  He ended the year with 42 points, looking to continue his fiery playoff game-play.  However, DeBrusk was close to a no-show in the 2018-19 playoffs.  He scored four goals and seven assists in 24 playoff games.  He only surpassed his previous playoff total by two points but played in 12 more games.

DeBrusk has definitely scored timely and much-needed goals in the playoffs, making his “big-game playoff performance” claim fine.  But what about the other games?  DeBrusk ended the shortened season with 35 points, which he was on pace to net 44 points in all 82 games.  44 points would become his career-high, but scoring 27 goals the year before, Bruins fans thought Jake would smash his career total and easily eclipse 50 points.

He has spent most of his career with David Krejci, who has been longing for a left-winger who isn’t afraid to grind in the corners.  Before the season ended, DeBrusk was spending some of his ice time with Charlie Coyle on the third line.  Coyle seemed to give DeBrusk the spark we all know he has, and it’s likely Head Coach, Bruce Cassidy, places DeBrusk on Coyle’s left to begin the playoffs.

Debrusk is playing the last of his 3-year, $4.05M deal and will become a restricted free agent.  He is not eligible to enter the open market and is not arbitration-eligible, leaving him entirely under the Bruins control, to an extent.  Restricted free-agents are still under their teams’ command and can only be plucked by another team through an offer sheet.  General Managers have strayed from offer sheets because they’re afraid another team will steal one of their players in the same process.

Debrusk also doesn’t have arbitration rights, which is a contract negotiation that uses a third party arbitrator to determine a fair contract term and length for a restricted free-agent.  Jake’s options to negotiate are limited, hence his agent’s demeanor leading up to the off-season.  He can holdout for a better deal, which is the route William Nylander took in 2019.  However, if DeBrusk holds out into the next calendar year, he is ineligible to play in the current season.

His presence will be missed if he chooses the holdout route, so let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.  If DeBrusk comes to the negotiating table with a 6-year, $42M offer, either Krug or DeBrusk will likely be wearing a new jersey next season.  The Bruins are in an excellent position to give DeBrusk a bridge deal, which is a “show your worth” type of agreement that Torey Krug took back in 2015.  Krug signed for a 1-year, $3.4M deal, which clearly has worked out well for him.

Debrusk’s bridge deal would be in the neighborhood of 2-years, $8M, which would pay him $4M a year.  It is certainly is a much lower price point than his agent is touting him to be, but it could help both sides at the end of the day.  The Bruins have $19.6M in cap space next off-season and still need to sign Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, Anders Bjork, and Matt Grzelcyk.

The $4M per year deal is by no means a low ball offer either.  DeBrusk has plenty of comparables to reference for that contract offer.

DeBrusk’s point per game is certainly on the high-end of the comparables, and a few players have been in the league longer than DeBrusk, so he carries a higher weighted average.  He’s also been compared to Travis Konecny in Philadelphia.  Konecny signed a 6-year, $33M deal immediately following his rookie contract.  At the time of the signing, Konecny had scored 24 goals in two consecutive years and followed it up with 61 points in 66 games in the shortened season.  The Flyers skipped the bridge deal and went full throttle, risking what Konecny’s ceiling was.  Thankfully for the Flyers, he has rewarded them.

If you were to ask the Bruins what they’d ideally like to do, they would probably choose to take the Konecny route with DeBrusk.  However, their cap situation does not allow that.  If the Bruins signed Krug and DeBrusk to their reported offers, the Bruins would be left with $5.6M to sign Grzelcyk, Chara, and Bjork. This would be nearly impossible, and someone wouldn’t be wearing the spoked-B next season.

Now, if the Bruins can negotiate successfully and sign both Debrusk and Krug at $4M and $7M, respectively, they’ll have $8.6M leftover.  Sweeney has shown his ability to make a roster complete with limited funds.  Last season, he had Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo without deals and $7.3M leftover in space.

DeBrusk taking a bridge deal, would help both him and the Bruins in the long-run.  DeBrusk would be setting himself up for an even bigger pay-day once the bridge deal is over if he performs well enough.  Additionally, Bruins will (hopefully) have more cap space in two years to fund DeBrusk’s ceiling.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! 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!

Projecting What The Bruins Could Look Like Three Years From Now

Boston Bruins: Best trade deadline acquisitions will come from within

Photo Credit: David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

This kind of thing is fun. Trying to forecast what a team could look like down the road. Mind you, this projection won’t factor in future potential draft picks or free-agent signings. It will also not factor in any potential trades that could go down between now and then. This will include players currently apart of the organization in some fashion. Here’s my shot at projecting the 2023-2024 Bruins.

First line: Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

I see Bergeron still playing at a high level at age 38. His contract expires after the 2022-2023 season, but I think the Bruins will keep him around as long as he is productive. He is showing no signs of slowing down in my eyes, I don’t see that happening much in the next three years. Marchand and Pastrnak aren’t going anywhere.

Second line: John Beecher – Jack Studnicka – Ondrej Kase

While Beecher was drafted as a center, he has played the left-wing at times at the University of Michigan, as well as with team USA in the World Juniors. With the structure of this roster, I think he fits in better as a winger. Having that kind of speed and size on the wing isn’t a bad thing. Given the fact that he will still be developing at this time, he might still be earning his keep to start the 2023-2024 season, but Beecher projects as a surefire NHL player down the road, in my eyes.

At this point in time, I definitely think Jack Studnicka will be entrenched in a full-time NHL role. I think a player of his caliber would complement the skillsets of both Beecher and Kase pretty well. Kase’s current contract expires following the 2021-2022 season, but unless he struggles to contribute, I think he will be retained for the foreseeable future.

Third line: Jake DeBrusk – Charlie Coyle – Anders Bjork

I have made it clear that I like this line in the past, and given the makeup of this roster, they should stay together. DeBrusk and Bjork’s contracts both expire following this season, so their next contracts will tell us more about their future with the Bruins when they receive them. I see no reason to let either of them go at the moment, and think they both have the potential to be productive players on the team for a while.

Fourth line: Trent Frederic – Sean Kuraly – Jakub Lauko

Extra forward: Karson Kuhlman

This would be a very interesting fourth line. Frederic could find himself in a situation like Beecher where he shifts to the wing. A player with his physical nature and tenacity should do fine on the wing. He has played both on the wing and center in the past in Providence. Kuraly is a perfect fourth-line center, and I see him sticking around for a while, even after his contract expires following the 2021-2022 season.

Jakub Lauko’s blend of offensive skill and tenacity makes him a great fit for the fourth line in the early stages of his potential NHL career. This line could create some serious hell on the forecheck and keep the trend of great Bruins fourth lines going. Having a player of Kuhlman’s caliber as an extra forward in this case is a nice luxury to have.

First defensive pair: Urho Vaakanainen – Charlie McAvoy

Zdeno Chara isn’t going to be around forever, and Vaakanainen has the best shot to fill his shoes, in my opinion. Despite having what some saw as a rough season this past year in Providence, I still think Vaakanainen has top-pairing defenseman potential. Charlie McAvoy isn’t going anywhere and could be a lethal defensive partner for Vaakanainen.

Second defensive pair: Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo

I think Torey Krug will re-sign with the Bruins, meaning there’s no reason to break up this defensive pair. They’ve proven to work well together in the past, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Third defensive pair: Matt Grzelcyk – Jeremy Lauzon

Extra defenseman: Connor Clifton

While both Grzelcyk and Lauzon are candidates to be plucked away by Seattle in the expansion draft, I’m putting them in this projection because that hasn’t happened yet. Grzelcyk has established himself enough to be a mainstay on the third pairing, and Lauzon is on his way to doing so as well. Like Kuhlman as a forward, having a player like Clifton as an extra defenseman is a nice luxury to have.

Goalies: Tuukka Rask and Jeremy Swayman

At age 33 with an expiring contract following next season, it’s hard to say whether Rask will be around or not, but if he is still serviceable as a goaltender, there’s no reason to let him go. Unless of course, a prospect like Swayman or Vladar were to emerge as a starting-caliber goaltender to take his place. I see Rask still starting in goal for the Bruins in the 2023-2024 season unless he is let go and/or falls out of favor somehow.

Jeremy Swayman is too skilled and athletic in the crease to not have an NHL job in some capacity come 2023. This would make him an ideal candidate to learn from Rask for a while and perhaps take over as the starting goaltender whenever Rask decides to call it a career. This could be a really solid goaltending tandem.

Full lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Beecher – Studnicka – Kase

DeBrusk – Coyle – Bjork

Frederic – Kuraly – Lauko

Kuhlman

Defense

Vaakanainen – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Lauzon

Clifton

Goalies

Rask

Swayman

Let’s see how this holds up three years from now. If it does, I think this team could still be competing for the Stanley Cup. It projects to be a pretty deep team. The projection could be spot on, or not even close, we’ll have to wait and see.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! 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!

Is This The Year Tuukka Rask Breaks Free From Tim Thomas’ Shadow?

( Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images )

By Jeremy Grabowski | Follow me on Twitter @JeremyBNGhockey

Ever since Tim Thomas’ miraculous playoff run back in 2011 that ended in the Bruins winning their first Stanley Cup in 39 years, the questions started being asked. How much longer does Thomas last? How much longer will he be effective? How much longer will he be with the Bruins? That answer finally came to light not long after the Bruins fell to the Washington Capitals in seven games in the first round of the 2011-2012 NHL Playoffs. Thomas announced that he would sit out the 2012-2013 NHL Season. Opening the door for the Bruins to thrust Tuukka Rask back into the starting role for the first time since the 2009-2010 NHL Season.

Tuukka would have to wait a little longer to step back into the crease as the Bruins Starting goaltender. The reason being was because of a lockout at the start of the 2012-2013 NHL Season that began on September 15th, 2012. Finally, a new CBA was agreed upon by the NHL and NHLPA on January 6th, 2013. The season was shortened down to just 48 games for the regular season. That year we saw Tuukka play 36 games posting a 19-10-5 record with a GAA of 2.00 and a Sv% of .929.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Going into the playoffs that year, the Bruins were facing a young up and coming Toronto Maple Leafs team in the First-Round. The series was a back and forth battle most of the way. That was until the Maple Leafs took a 4-1 lead in game seven at TD Garden and seemed to have the series all but wrapped up. And then I think we all remember what happened next……

The Bruins went on to eliminate the New York Rangers in five games in the Second-Round and Swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals. They were on their way to a second Stanley Cup Final appearance in three years. Unfortunately, the Bruins would lose in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks in an infamous 17 seconds that Bruins fans will never forget.

Fast forward to the 2013-2014 season the Bruins would go on to win the President’s Trophy and Tuukka posted a 36-15-6 record in the regular season with a 2.04 GAA and a .930 Sv%. Tuukka was remarkable in his first full season as a starter for the Bruins since 2010. He led the Bruins to a series win over the Detroit Red Wings in five games. Then in the second round, the Bruins faced the arch-rival Montreal Canadiens. The Bruins would fall short against the Canadiens losing the series in seven games.

The next year in the 2014-2015 season Tuukka and the Bruins would not qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007. They would miss the playoffs again for the second straight year in the 2015-2016 season. The Bruins would make their way back to the playoffs in the 2016-2017 season and meet with the Ottawa Senators in the first-round but fall short once again, losing the series in six games.

Tuukka would bring the Bruins back to the second round of the 2017-2018 playoffs. Once again, beating the Maple Leafs in seven games in the first round and then losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round in five games. And we all know what happened last year. The Bruins beat the Leafs in seven games for the second straight season, then beat the Blue Jackets in six games in the second round, and swept the Hurricanes in the Conference Finals. Still sour on the minds of all Bruins fans, they would go on to lose to the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Final in seven games.

Now being a Vezina Trophy winner, a two-time All-Star, and a Stanley Cup Champion as a backup in 2011, Tuukka has got to be thinking “what do I have to do to get over the hump?” Well, this might be the year he does it. With this unprecedented long break due to the Coronavirus outbreak, Tuukka has had plenty of time to rest up and get back to 100%. It’s no secret that Tuukka plays much better when he has had his rest, and I, for one, will be putting all my eggs into Tuukka’s basket once the playoffs start. I think he will have what it takes to get the Bruins their first Stanley Cup Championship since 2011 when the playoffs start up again for the 2020 season.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! 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!

Boston Bruins vs. Philadelphia Flyers – An Underrated Rivalry

bruins_vs_flyers_0

Boston Bruins’ Charlie Coyle shields the puck from Philadelphia Flyers’ Connor Bunnaman. PHOTO CREDITS: (nbcsports.com)

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

As one of the first franchises in the National Hockey League, the Boston Bruins have had their fair share of time to stir the pot with essentially every other team. Typically, when the word “rivalry” combines with the name “Boston Bruins”, the other five Original Six teams come to mind. The rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens, as fellow Black n’ Gold Hockey Podcast writer Joe Chrzanowski wrote about in a recent article, is widely regarded as the greatest rivalry in the history of the NHL.

As well, rivalries with the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks, and even the Detroit Red Wings are fairly well-known. These teams are rivals with the Bruins more-so because of the fact they were the only teams in the league at the time and played each other in high-stakes games often, thus creating hatred for one another on the ice.

However, in the 1967-68 season, the National Hockey League introduced six new organizations to the league – the California Seals, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, and the Philadelphia Flyers, bringing the size of the league to twelve teams instead of six. With more competition and more opponents, winning a Stanley Cup became even more challenging and opened the door for more rivalries.

As an expansion team, the Philadelphia Flyers had losing records in each of their first five seasons, making the postseason three times and losing in the quarter-finals each time – twice to the St. Louis Blues and once to the Chicago Blackhawks. It wasn’t until the 1972-73 season where the Flyers, led by captain Bobby Clarke, finished with a winning record of 37-30-11. Philly knocked out the Minnesota North Stars in six games but fell short in five games to the Montreal Canadiens in the next round.

In the very next season, the Bobby Clarke scored a team-leading 87 points to help lead the Flyers to a 50-16-12 record and the 1st place position in the NHL West Division. After sweeping the Atlanta Flames in the opening round and bouncing the New York Rangers in seven games, the Flyers were in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history – against the powerhouse Boston Bruins.

The Start of a Rivalry: 1974 – 1978

Led by Bobby Orr and company, the Boston Bruins were one of the strongest teams in the National Hockey League. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup in the 1969-70 season, won 57 games before losing in the first round in the ’70/’71 season, won a second Stanley Cup in 71-72, won another 51 games in 72-73, and were coming off a 52-17-9 record in the 1973-74 campaign.

Boston eliminated both the Toronto Maple Leafs (4-0) and Chicago Blackhawks (4-2) in the previous two rounds which led to the Finals against Philadelphia. During the regular season, the B’s won the season series 3-1-1, out-scoring Philly 20-to-16 in those five games. Boston was arguably the favorites to win their third Stanley Cup in five seasons.

The 1974 Stanley Cup Finals was also a series between two of the scariest NHL teams at the time and quite possibly of all-time. The Bruins were known as the ‘Big Bad Bruins’ with the likes of Terry O’Reilly and Wayne Cashman and truly paved the way for the physical, hard-hitting teams like the Broad Street Bullies to even exist. Now, with the likes of Dave Schultz and Don Saleski, these two tough teams were going toe-to-toe with Lord Stanley on the line.

Boston took the first game, but the Flyers won Game Two in overtime followed by wins in Games Three and Four to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. In Game Five, the Bruins scored more than three goals for the first (and only) time in the series, winning the game 5-1. However, Hall-of-Fame goaltender Bernie Parent stopped every shot in Game Six as the Philadelphia Flyers won their first franchise Stanley Cup with a 1-0 victory. Parent was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.

The Broad Street Bullies did not stop there. In the very next season, they dominated once again all the way to their second-consecutive Stanley Cup, defeating the Buffalo Sabres in six games. The Bruins, on the other hand, lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the best-of-three preliminary round.

In 1975-76, both the Bruins and Flyers were top-three in the final league standings and found success early on in the postseason. Thus led to a semi-finals matchup between the two, a rematch from the Finals two years prior. The Flyers dominated the Bruins, winning four-straight games after losing Game One, sending them to the Stanley Cup Finals again. However, the Montreal Canadiens proved to be too good and swept Philly in four games.

jco50158833-jpg

Boston Bruins’ Bobby Orr (right) passes the puck as Philadelphia Flyers Rick MacLeish looks on in Boston on February 9, 1974. PHOTO CREDITS: (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP)

For the next two seasons, these hard-hitting franchises played against one another in the semi-finals with Boston winning both matchups before going on to lose to the Montreal Canadiens – as most teams did back in this era of the NHL. During those five years, the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers played in four playoff series with each team winning twice. Although, only the Broad Street Bullies managed to go on and win the Stanley Cup (1974) after their series.

The 1970s went down as arguably the most entertaining decades for each of these teams. Philadelphia and Boston had seemingly the perfect blend of scoring talent, solid goaltending, and the willingness to drop the gloves and pound your body into the glass. Ruthless, intense, physically-demanding are the best ways to describe the Big Bad Bruins and the Broad Street Bullies back in the day.

A Recent Resurgence: 2007 – Present

This rivalry appeared to die down a little during the 1980s, 1990s, and beginning stages to the 2000s. We did not see another playoff series between the two organizations and neither team won another Stanley Cup in that period. While they played each other in the scheduled regular-season games, there just was not as much intensity as a best-of-seven elimination series.

However, the bad blood between Boston and Philadelphia started to amp up more recently. On October 27th, 2007, defenceman Randy Jones brutally hit 22-year-old Patrice Bergeron on the numbers into the glass. Bergeron laid unconscious on the ice before being stretchered out of the arena. He was later diagnosed with a broken nose and a concussion and was forced to miss the remainder of the 2007-08 season. Jones received a two-game suspension for his hit.

Two seasons later, in 2009-2010, the Bruins and the Flyers each made it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after finishing third in their respective Eastern Conference divisions. Boston dispatched of the Buffalo Sabres in six games while Philadelphia knocked out the New Jersey Devils in five games. This subsequently led to a Bruins-Flyers playoff series for the first time since 1977-78 – 32 years prior.

Following a 5-4 overtime win in Game One, the B’s would win the next two meetings to have a dominating 3-0 series lead over the Black and Orange. Most hockey fans expected Boston to come out victorious, but the Flyers were not done yet. Simon Gagne, who missed the first three games due to injury, scored the game-winning goal in overtime to avoid the four-game sweep.

Philly shutout the Bruins 4-0 in Game Five and stole Game Six by a final score of 2-1 to somehow, someway force a pivotal Game Seven in Boston, Massachusetts. With goals from Michael Ryder and Milan Lucic (2), the Bruins exploded to a 3-0 lead in the first period of play. However, James van Riemsdyk buried one with less than three minutes to go in the opening frame to cut the lead down to two.

Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere each potted one of their own to equal the score after forty minutes. Then, the Boston Bruins took a too-many-men penalty (a Déjà vu moment from the 1979 Semi-Finals against Montreal) which lead to a power-play goal by Simon Gagne with just around seven minutes remaining in the final regulation period.

Philadelphia held on to win Game Seven, 4-3, and became just the third team in NHL history to come back from a 3-0 series deficit and win the series (Maple Leafs over Red Wings in 1942, Islanders over Penguins in 1975). This series loss remains to be one of the most heartbreaking moments for many Boston Bruins fans as an almost certain series win came crashing down. The Flyers would go on to win the Conference Finals but lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals.

During the 2010-2011 campaign, both Boston and Philadelphia finished with 100-plus-point records and were considered to be two of the favorites to make it to the Finals coming out of the East. The Bruins defeated the Canadiens in seven at the same time the Flyers eliminated the Sabres in seven – setting up an immediate rematch of the year prior.

Once again, Boston came out strong, winning Game One 7-3, Game Two 3-2 in overtime, and Game Three 5-1. With another 3-0 series lead over Philly, the Black and Gold were looking to finish the job successfully this time. In a masterful game of offensive and defensive success, the Bruins won Game Four by a score of 5-to-1 and eliminated Philadelphia to move onto the Eastern Conference Finals.

As we know, the Boston Bruins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games and the Vancouver Canucks in seven games to win their sixth Stanley Cup and first since 1972. The 2011 Bruins went down as one of the toughest teams in NHL history as their defense and hard-hitting style helped lead them to victory. It was shades of the old-school 1970s Big Bad Bruins – the team that as we discussed, started the rivalry with the Philadelphia Flyers.

In 201 regular-season games dating back to 1967-68, the Boston Bruins have a combined 107-61-21-12 record over the Philadelphia Flyers, outscoring them 659-to-583. In addition to that, these two teams have played six playoff series against one another with each winning three times. The Bruins have outscored the Flyers in the postseason 100-to-86.

Now, in 2019-20, this rivalry has the potential to gain new ground. On March 10th, 2020, the Bruins defeated the Flyers 2-0 in what ended up being the final game of the regular season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the NHL’s Return-to-Play format, the Bruins and Flyers will each play in a Round Robin to determine seeding for the remainder of the playoffs.  This means that there is the potential for another high-stakes game between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers and to be quite frank, I am ready for it.

To a lot of Bruins and Flyers fans alike, this rivalry is heated, intense, and quite historic. However, with other more high-profile rivals for each respective franchise, this one often goes unnoticed. For that reason, the rivalry between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers is one of the most underrated ones in NHL history.

Information and statistics are courtesy of hockeyreference.com, nhl.com, records.nhl.com, thehockeywriters.com, and bleacherreport.com.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! 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 Could Benefit from This Impromptu Break

( Photo Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports )

By: Jeremy Grabowski | Follow Me On Twitter @JeremyBNGhockey

As we all know, the Boston Bruins took it to the limit last season once the playoffs started. In the first-round, they eliminated the Toronto Maple Leafs in 7 games once again! Then they went on to eliminate the high flying Columbus Blue Jackets in 6 games. A team that had swept the Presidents Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round. Then in the Conference Finals, they met with a team that was a surprise to me to even be there, the Carolina Hurricanes. They swept them to move on to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2013 and the third time in a decade. Ultimately losing in a brutal seventh game on home ice to the St. Louis Blues 4-1. 

With the devastation of another Stanley Cup Final loss on home ice, the Bruins could have easily come back in the 2019-2020 season and laid an egg, but they were far from doing that. The Boston Bruins came out hot at the beginning of the 2019-2020 season. Winning five of their first six games and going on a 17 game point streak to start the season at home.  They were unbeaten on home ice until a cold December night when the Colorado Avalanche rolled into town and handed the Bruins a decisive 4-1 loss snapping their streak. 

But, the Bruins picked up right where they left off after that for the rest of the year until the Coronavirus pandemic hit the world. The Bruins finished the season at 44-14-12 with 100 points, the most in the NHL. Also winning the President’s Trophy for the first time since 2014. 

Now, here is where things start to get interesting. Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the NHL paused its season on March 12th, 2020. The players have had pretty much four months off before training camps are supposed to start on July 13th, 2020, which is phase three of the NHL’s Return to Play plan. That’s basically another whole month more than they have off during a regular off-season if you were to make it all the way to the Finals like the Bruins did last year. 

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

In my head, I think this could work tremendously in the Bruins favor. Players that were injured at the time the season paused have had time to heal up and get back to playing condition during this break. Older players like Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, and David Krejci have gotten the extra rest that they need to push them over the edge in the playoffs. And maybe give them a little extra left in the tank that they didn’t have last year against the Blues. And most importantly, in my opinion, Tuukka Rask. 

Proven in the past, Tuukka has run out of gas in the playoffs because of his excessive workload during the regular season. Most of the time, it’s because of poor backup goaltending and not much faith from the coaching staff. The last two years, however, with Jaroslav Halak now in the backup spot, it has given Tuukka the much-needed rest in the regular season that has made him primed and ready for a deep playoff run. 

In the 2016-2017 season, he had to play 65 games with three different backups throughout the season. With Anton Khudobin playing 16 games, Zane McIntyre playing eight games, and Malcolm Subban playing one game. In the 2017-2018 season, he played 54 games with only Anton Khudobin as his backup. Then Jaroslav Halak joined the fray in the 2018-2019 season and Tuukka only played 46 games and Halak played 40. 

Since then, Tuukka’s regular-season games total has been steady at that number or close to it taking a lot of the workload off his shoulders. Tuukka tends to perform better when he has had a good amount of rest. So four months should be plenty of rest for Tuukka and the Bruins to catch lightning in a bottle and get back to the finals and win it all this year. 

Stats credited to hockeyreference.com

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! 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!

Torey Krug’s Bruin Future Based On Current Cap Projections

USATSI_13774342

(Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara / USA Today Sports)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

The NHL is starting up its normal operations as we get closer to a renewed playoff start.  The NHL held their draft lottery this past week, which of course, had some fireworks, and it also announced the potential cap situation for the upcoming year.

A “flat salary cap” means the cap in which teams must keep their total salaried players under will not change year over year.  This creates a lot of headaches for organizations because historically, the cap tends to increase year over year.  General managers will forecast the players they can keep or let go based on the future cap numbers.  It is a “hard” cap, which means teams cannot exceed the amount and pay a luxury tax like Major League Baseball.

The salary cap is calculated based on a percentage of the league’s revenue from the previous season.  As the NHL’s revenue increases year over year, the salary cap will usually follow suit.  This suspended season has essentially been deemed incomplete; therefore, the NHL has decided to keep the salary cap a flat number year over year.

Boston Bruins General Manager, Don Sweeney, cannot be thrilled by the news considering he has a few key cogs who are playing in their final contract years.  The following NHL roster players require a new contract this offseason: Torey Krug (UFA), Kevin Miller (UFA), Zdeno Chara (UFA), Joakim Nordstrom (UFA), Anders Bjork (RFA), Jake DeBrusk (RFA), Karson Kuhlman (RFA), and Matt Grzelcyk (RFA).

Unrestricted free agents are allowed to meet and sign with any team in the NHL of their choosing, meaning there is a real risk they could be wearing a different uniform next season.  The Bruins will likely let Nordstrom and Miller walk in the offseason, ending their times as Boston Bruins.

Nordstrom has been a helpful piece of the Bruins’ fourth-line and penalty kill, however, the Bruins have more than enough players to fill his void.  Kevan Miller has unfortunately been plagued by the injury bug and has been on the Long-Term Injured Reserve (LTIR) since November 2019.  Retirement is a real possibility for Miller, and the Bruins probably will not offer him a new deal if he decides to keep playing.

Zdeno Chara is a 43-year old defenseman in a league that has become faster as the years’ progress.  He re-signed for another year in March 2019 for a $2M cap hit.  Depending on how the playoffs go this year, Chara could call it quits.  Though, it is also possible that he continues to defy the odds and play into his 44th year.  If he wants to extend his career, the Bruins would need to make some more hard decisions.

As it stands today, the Bruins have $19.5M in cap space with a flat cap of $81.5M, as seen above.  Torey Krug has reached the 50-point plateau since 2016 and is one point shy in this shortened season.  He has been the Bruins’ best first powerplay unit quarterback with his creative passing and incredible vision.  He can open up space, even with his 5’9 frame, and creates any type of scoring opportunity.

He anchors the second-line defense pairing with Brandon Carlo.  The two defensemen complement each other’s strengths quite well.  Carlo is an underrated defenseman who typically shuts down the opposition’s best and gives Krug the space to use his quick speed and vision.  Last year in the playoffs against the Carolina Hurricanes, Krug and Carlo (with the help of their offensive line) shut down the Canes’ best player in Sebastian Aho.

This next stat may surprise hockey fans: Torey Krug ranks sixth among NHL defenseman in points in the last five seasons.  He’s amassed 256 points in five seasons, sitting only 28 total points behind Nashville’s Roman Josi.  Some wouldn’t classify Krug has elite company and therefore wouldn’t predict he’ll command top dollar.  His statistics and gameplay would say otherwise.  If Sweeney were to allow Krug to seek other teams’ offers, he would command north of $7.5M per year.

Back in March, another Black N Gold Hockey writer gave his take on a Krug report that Krug is seeking about $8M per year.  This price point for Krug is about the general consensus starting point amongst NHL execs and players throughout the league.  Roman Josi, the player who sits above Krug in points over the past five years, signed an 8-year, $72.4M deal, which equates to a $9M per year cap hit.  Josi plays a much different game than Krug.  Josi has anchored the Predators’ top defensive pairing for the past five years and has averaged 25 minutes since his rookie year in 2011.  He currently leads his entire team in points with 65.  John Carlson (Washington Capitals defenseman) sits fourth in points in the last five years and carries an $8M cap hit per year.  Carlson currently has 75 points and is the front-runner for the Norris Trophy.

If the Bruins were to sign Krug to a fair market value deal, Krug would likely play for the Bruins for the next six to seven years for $8M per year.  Don Sweeney has been scarred signing players for longer than six years, and $8M might be too costly for Sweeney, given his other free agents.

If the Bruins adhere to his fair market value, the $8M per year cap hit will give the Bruins only $11.4M next year to sign the plethora of players whose contracts are ending.  Sweeney would once again have to work his magic and play with the roster to free up more cap space.  John Moore is the most likely starting point.  He has a $2.75M cap hit through the 2022-2023 season.  The Bruins would seek a mid-round draft choice for Moore to increase their cap space total to $14.2M.

Most fans in any sport hope their beloved hometown heroes take “team-friendly” deals.  This means the player will sign for less than what they’d command on the open market.  Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak all took team-friendly deals when their respective contracts were signed.  The three forwards are on the Bruins books for a combined $19.6M, which is basically the Bruins’ cap space next year.  Krug is on record saying he would be open to a team-friendly deal.

A team-friendly deal for the Bruins would be somewhere in the ballpark of 6 years and $7M per year.  Anything lower would be a bit disrespectful considering Krug already carries a $5.25M cap hit.  Trading Moore is still on the table and a likely scenario, regardless of the deal Krug signs.  With the emergence of Jeremy Lauzon and a few of their recent prospect signings, the Bruins could find a different home for restricted free agent, Matt Grzelcyk.

Restricted free agents are still under their teams’ control, but can be offer-sheeted elsewhere.  An offer sheet is a contract that a new team can offer a restricted free agent. If an offer sheet is signed by the player, the originating team has the option of matching that offer or receiving compensation from the team in the form of draft picks.  However, NHL executives have been reluctant to offer sheet other teams’ prospects in fear theirs will be targeted.  The Bruins could be open to finding a trade partner for Grzelcyk and allow another team first dibs at signing the RFA.  The move would enable Sweeney to turn his attention to fewer RFA’s and still keeping the roster competitive.

Don Sweeney has been awarded General Manager of the Year in the past for his incredible perseverance in leading the Bruins to consecutive successful years.  Sweeney will undoubtedly need to continue that work ethic and cap management to sign Krug and the rest of his impending free agents and keep the roster looking similar.  The Bruins do not need a massive shakeup in roster makeup; however, they can’t allow certain players to wear another team’s jersey.  Krug is the number one priority this offseason, and Bruins fans hope he’ll be a Bruin for life.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! 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!