Report: Bruins Re-Sign D Steven Kampfer To A Two-Year Deal

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

According to Frank Seravalli of TSN and other reports, the Boston Bruins have signed defenceman Steven Kampfer to a two-year contract extension worth an average of $800,000 per season ($1.6 million total).

The 30-year-old, Ann Arbor, Michigan native has had a solid history with the Boston Bruins over his seven-year NHL career. Kampfer began his tenure in Boston back in the 2010-11 season, playing 38 games after joining the club in March of 2010 in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks. Kampfer recorded 5-5-10 totals in that time with Boston.

After ten games played in the 2011-12 season, Kampfer was traded to the Minnesota Wild and would not find himself in Boston until September 11, 2018, when he and two draft picks were sent to Boston in exchange for D Adam McQuaid. Within the 2018-19 campaign, Steven Kampfer played in another 35 games for the Bruins, recording three goals and three assists for six points, averaging 14:38 of time on ice.

The depth blueliner also found himself playing in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs – playing one game in three of the four series. Kampfer skated for 11:06 in Game Three against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Round One and played 14:56 in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Carolina Hurricanes, scoring the first goal of the hockey game.

Kampfer played a key role throughout the season for the Bruins, bringing some experience to the depth blueline players, especially when injuries or suspensions prevented the top players on Boston’s backend from playing. Even though the plus/minus statistic is typically looked down upon, Kampfer was never once a minus player in the postseason, further confirming that he can be trusted on in those important games.

For the Bruins, this contract ensures that they have the depth on defence that they need quite a lot. It has already been announced that defensemen John Moore and Kevan Miller will be out of the lineup for some time to begin the 2019-2020 regular season, meaning Boston will have to fall back on guys like Kampfer to get those early-season victories.

Boston and the rest of the National Hockey League are only one week away from the free agency frenzy on July 1st meaning those key players that need contracts are going to need to sign with their current teams fast. Boston now has just over $13 million in remaining cap space with players such as RFA defenceman Charlie McAvoy, RFA defenceman Brandon Carlo, RFA forward Danton Heinen, UFA forward Noel Acciari and UFA forward Marcus Johansson, among others, expiring very soon.

This signing is a solid move for General Manager Don Sweeney as he locks up a reliable depth defenceman for under $1 million annually on a low-term deal. Heading into the next stages of the NHL offseason, the news and stories will be piling up and everyone here at Black N’ Gold Hockey will make sure that you get all of the latest information.

Check out this week’s Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast Episode 132 below!!

Less Is More For The Bruins In Free Agency

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Photo Courtesy of Bob DeChiara – USA TODAY Sports

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Many Bruins fans, as soon as the final horn sounded ending the 2018-19 Stanley Cup Final and the Boston Bruins and fans alike watched the St. Louis Blues celebrate on TD Garden ice turned to free agency to see how this team could be improved. There are many talented players hitting the market this year, and the Bruins have around 14 million dollars in cap space. Now, I know a lot of you are thinking that with that kind of money our favorite team in black and gold could get an elite player or two and this team who was one game away from being Stanley Cup Champions, would be in a great position to get back there. Now, I don’t mean to burst your bubble but the Bs should not, and probably will not be very active in free agency.

The first reaction some of you may have had seeing that news may be a bit on the reactionary side, but I’ll explain why you should temper free agent expectations. The major reason is the amount of restricted free agents the Bruins have both this year and next year that they will likely keep. Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Danton Heinen are all restricted free agents this offseason and all three need to be re-signed. Brandon Carlo had an excellent season and played in his first playoffs ever despite this being his third year in Boston. The young defenseman played extremely well during the run to the Stanley Cup Final. A longterm four or five-year deal will probably be reached, and it’ll likely be for over four million dollars a year.

Danton Heinen is a player who some fans have soured on a bit because his offensive numbers were down from last season. While this may be a cause for concern, something that some people fail to realize is Heinen is one of the Bruins best defensive and possession forwards, which is hard to see on a scoresheet. At any rate, the down offensive season may actually end up working in the Bruins favor because in contract negotiations he probably will not be able to command as much money as he would have. I definitely see the Bruins and Heinen working out a four-year deal worth anywhere from two to three million dollars a year.

That leaves our final restricted free agent Charlie McAvoy. This one is a little bit trickier because McAvoy definitely deserves a big payday, and the Bruins want him to be a cornerstone of the team and defense for many years to come. However, giving him that huge contract he deserves may not be in the best interest for the Bruins right away. Next season, the Bruins have Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, Connor Clifton, and Karson Kuhlman who are also RFAs. All four of those players are ones you’d probably like to keep. On top of that, Torey Krug is going to be a UFA, and that is someone the Bruins may also try to keep. They need as much cap space as possible.

What the Bruins will probably try and do is sign McAvoy to a smaller “bridge” contract with the promise of a big payday after that. A major reason why this would work out in the B’s favor is after the 2020-2021 season the Bruins have David Krejci, Tuukka Rask, and David Backes all coming off the books. That will give the Bruins a little more than 20 million dollars to spend. If you give McAvoy a two-year “bridge” contract, you could line up his payday perfectly with that money coming off the books. The young Bruins defenseman seems to like Boston and wants to stay long term so I can see a “bridge” deal being agreed upon and then the big payday coming in a couple of years.

Ultimately, these are my thoughts as to why we shouldn’t expect the Boston Bruins to be too active in free agency. I think they have internal options to fill needs at the second-line right wing and I’d like them to keep their own guys. Despite losing in game seven of the Stanley Cup Final, the future is bright for the boys in black and gold. I think if they stay the course, and keep their own guys, the team will be in great shape going into next season. My biggest advice to Don Sweeney is no reactionary moves to the Stanley Cup Final loss. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. I hope everyone has a fantastic offseason and enjoys the draft. As always GO, Bs, GO!

Check out this week’s Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 132 below!!

Potential Unrestricted Free Agents Worth A Look For Bruins

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Boston Bruins at St. Louis Blues

(Photo Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports)

By Carrie Salls | Check me out on Twitter @nittgrl73

It’s certainly no secret that the Boston Bruins’ biggest hole to fill this offseason is second-line right wing. In fact, team president Cam Neely addressed that very issue himself recently.

Whether the right fit will come from a trade, free agency or a player already in the Bruins system remains to be seen. However, faced with difficult decisions regarding the future of free agents Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Marcus Johansson, and Danton Heinen, a solution may not be as readily available as management and fans would like.

In addition, questions still remained heading into the National Hockey League draft regarding the exact amount of cap space available to each team. Coupled with the fact that very lucrative contracts have already having been awarded to players like Kevin Hayes and an oft-injured Erik Karlsson, overspending looks to be a quickly developing trend.

As a result, it may behoove the Bruins to take a look at some potential unrestricted free agents that can boost the team’s forward depth without breaking the bank. While it would be great to see the front office figure out a way to keep key pieces such as McAvoy and Carlo and still sign a “bigger-name” forward to play alongside Krejci and Jake DeBrusk, there are a handful of players set to become free agents that could be diamonds in the rough.

Alex Chiasson

Chiasson played the 2018-2019 season with the Edmonton Oilers, a team that’s personal issues have been well-documented throughout a season during which former Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli was fired from that same role in Edmonton. Chiasson, who will turn 29 on Oct. 1, put up 22 goals and 16 assists for the Oilers this season, possibly providing the shoot-first mentality that Neely said he’d like to see more of on Krejci’s wing. Chiasson is coming off a $650,000 2018-2019 contract.

Brett Connolly

OK, hear me out, Bruins fans. Yes, Connolly already played a somewhat average 25-point year for the Bruins during the 2015-2016 season, in addition to two assists in five games the season before, but a case can definitely be made for a second look at the 27-year-old forward. He is coming off a career year with the Washington Capitals, potting 22 goals and 24 assists with an impressive plus-13 rating.  Connolly’s most recent contract with the Caps featured a relatively low $1.5 million cap hit. Granted, with teams seemingly willing to pay bigger bucks for players of Connolly’s caliber and given the fact that he had a stellar year and won a Stanley Cup in 2018, it’s likely Connolly could be too expensive for the Bs. If not, he’s an intriguing option.

Wayne Simmonds

Simmonds’ name came up often as a potential fit for the Bruins before the 2019 trade deadline in February. Although Simmonds was instead dealt by the Philadelphia Flyers to the Nashville Predators, he still remains a possible candidate to fill a second-line right wing spot in Boston. Simmonds is a bit older than the other possible signings listed here, he’ll be 31 in August, and his cap hit last season was higher than the others at $3.975 million. Still, Simmonds is almost certainly not going to be a Predator when October rolls around. Talk of late has the Pittsburgh Penguins extremely interested in Simmonds. If he is still available on July 1, he could be a good short-term investment for Boston in an attempt to make another run at the Cup while the Bruins’ veteran core is still intact.

Riley Barber

Although admittedly a dark-horse contender, Barber has spent the past four seasons in the Washington Capitals organization, primarily with the team’s Hershey Bears American Hockey League affiliate. After scoring 30 goals and amassing a total of 60 points for Hershey in 2018-2019, the 25-year-old Barber made it known at the end of the season that he did not plan to re-sign with the Capitals after being called up for only two brief stints in the NHL in his professional career and only seeing playing time in one of those call-ups. Barber may be taking the lead of former Miami University teammate Austin Czarnik, who chose to sign with the Calgary Flames following the 2017-2018 season after seeing only sporadic playing time with the Bruins.

If NHL General Manager of the Year Don Sweeney follows the usual Bruins storyline of looking for solid value rather than overspending on a superstar, he could well have a few decent under-the-radar options when free agency rolls around.

Check out this week’s Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 132 below!

Bruins Select John Beecher 30th Overall In The 2019 NHL Entry Draft

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(Photo: Rena Laverty / USA Hockey)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

The Boston Bruins have selected center John Beecher with the 30th-overall pick in the first round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. The Elmira, New York native is a product of the United States National Development Team Program, where he spent the last two seasons.

Last season, the 18-year-old posted 43 points (15 goals and 28 assists) in 63 games for the U.S. National U18 team last season as well as 6-14-20 totals in 27 games for the USNTDP Juniors (USHL)–all the while playing behind the likes of guys like Jack Hughes and Alex Turcotte. Beecher posted three goals and one assist for four points in seven games with Team USA at the World Junior Championships en route to a bronze medal.

In 2017-18 the 6-foot-3, 209-pound forward tallied 17 goals, 24 assists, and 41 points in 60 games while playing with the U.S. National U17 Team. Beecher also registered nine goals and 16 assists in 34 games for the USNTDP Juniors. While playing for Salisbury School (USHS-Prep) in Connecticut in 2016-17, Beecher racked up 24 points (12 goals and 12 assists), skating in 30 games.

A University of Michigan recruit for the 2019-20 season, Beecher is a very strong skater, especially considering his size, with a good shot and nice instincts. He has room to grow offensively, especially in terms of his creativity, but is a strong forechecker and penalty killer; playing in the NCAA at Michigan will serve him well.

Bruins’ Sweeney Named GM Of The Year

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Photo Courtesy Of The Boston Herald

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney won General Manager of the Year on Wednesday night in Las Vegas during the NHL Awards ceremony. Sweeney beat out Hurricanes General Manager Don Waddell and Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong for the honor, becoming the first Bruin to win the award since its inception in 2010. Since Sweeney took over as the General Manager in 2015, the B’s have compiled a record of 143-75-28 which ranks third in wins and points in the entire league over that span. Sweeney has been a part of the Bruins front office since 2006.

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Sweeney oversaw the construction of a squad that finished in second place in the Eastern Conference and tied for second in the entire league in 2018-19. The Bruins compiled a record of 49-24-9 this past season and advanced to the Conference Final for the eight time since the round was introduced in 1982. The Bruins also clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Final for the third time in the last decade and first since 2013. Despite the Bruins losing over 250 man games this season due to injury, Sweeney was able to make the right moves to keep the team near the top of the league standings almost all year.

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His trade deadline acquisitions of Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson proved to be two of his best moves as General Manager as both players were outstanding during the B’s long playoff run. Coyle totaled nine goals and seven assists for 16 points in the playoffs after posting just two goals and four assists for six points in 21 regular season games. Johansson posted just one goal and two assists for three points in ten games in the regular season and then exploded for four goals and seven assists for 11 points in 22 playoff games.

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Sweeney was incredibly thankful for the award and credited the Bruins organization, “I really believe this is an acknowledgement of the Boston Bruins organization,” he said. “I was very fortunate that Mr. Jacobs, Charlie, and Cam gave me this opportunity. And the incredible, devoted coaches and players, people I get to work with every day should share this as well.”

Sweeney also credited his twin boys, Jared and Tyler as inspirations for the award. “From the time they were born at one pound and six ounces,” he said, harkening back long ago to the anxious days of their birth. “But most importantly, to my beautiful wife, she has been the rock of our family. She has selflessly supported all of my career aspirations and I share this with her tonight as the special person she is.”

Sweeney’s work this season was incredibly solid and while he did make a few moves that were head scratching to some people, those moves ultimately worked out. The signings of Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom last July turned out to be some of his better free agent signings in recent years. The addition of Jaroslav Halak was very helpful as he was able to play effectively enough to allow Tuukka Rask to stay fresh for the long playoff run. The additions of college free agents Connor Clifton and Karson Kuhlman proved to be very good moves especially in the playoffs as the two of them played very significant roles. We will see this offseason if Sweeney can pull off any more shrewd moves to get this team to bring some hardware back to Boston next June.

Five Potential Fits For The Bruins With The 30th Overall Pick

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(Photo Credit: MIKE HENSEN, The London Free Press)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

The 2019 NHL Entry Draft will get underway this Friday, a long-awaited day for many hockey fans. Who will go first? Jack Hughes? Kaapo Kakko? Who will go third after those two? Those questions and many more will be answered.

Don Sweeney’s time to shine for the Bruins will come much later in the first round and beyond than those decisions in relation to top prospects like Hughes and Kakko.

The Bruins hold the 30th overall pick in the first round. Below you will find five players that I believe would be great fits for the Bruins near the end of the first round. I will save my number one guy for last, although some of you probably already know who it is.

Albin Grewe – C/RW – Djurgårdens IF J20 – SuperElit

Amongst many questions that this Swedish forward fielded at the NHL Draft Combine, one of them was to say who a player he likes was. His answer? Bruins forward Brad Marchand. Grewe spoke to 23 of the 31 NHL teams at the combine. When you watch Grewe play, you’ll see the similarities to him and Marchand.

Their frames are very similar, Grewe is slightly taller than Marchand, and their both tenacious, shifty wingers who are tough to knock off the puck. If you look at his profile on eliteprospects.com, you’ll see things like this:

“He’s a strong skater, who’s relentless on the forecheck, and a serious trash talker who gets under the skin of his opponents each night, EPrinkside.com 2019

“He is at the top of the food chain, a t-rex, eats everything and thinks everything is under him, Robert Ohlsson (Coach) 2018

Getting under the skin of his opponents is certainly similar to Marchand, but what I like the most is what his coach, Robert Ohlsson had to say. What an epic way to be described. My first thought when first evaluating Grewe as a player was that he plays like a junkyard dog, but being the top of the food chain and being a t-rex are perfect descriptions. Grewe earns his space and isn’t afraid of much, and when he finds a scoring chance, he has good vision and a very quick release.

Last season with Djurgårdens IF J20 of the SuperElit league, Grewe was over a point-per-game player with 34 points (13-21-34) in 25 regular season games. He can also play both center and right wing. Who doesn’t love versatility? In my eyes, Grewe would be a perfect fit with the style of play that the Bruins bring to the table as a whole. Below you can find highlights of Grewe playing internationally for Team Sweden from this past year.

(Video Credit: bigwhite06 on YouTube)

Philip Tomasino – C – Niagara IceDogs – OHL

This one is sort of unlikely, but the draft can be unpredictable. I say this because there is a good chance that Philip Tomasino will not be on the board at pick 30. But if he is, Don Sweeney and crew should totally consider drafting him.

Fun fact about Tomasino, for a brief time this past season he was a teammate of Bruins prospect Jack Studnicka. This was after Studnicka was traded from the Oshawa Generals to the Niagara IceDogs of the OHL. Studnicka gave Tomasino some pointers before the combine. Tomasino spoke to 30 teams at the combine

Tomasino: NHL combine interview (Audio provided by @markscheig on Twitter):

https://www.dropbox.com/s/fl7pi6tmryvn715/Philip%20Tomasino.m4a?dl=0

Another fun fact, Tomasino is still only 17-years-old, and will be until July 28. What strikes me the most about Tomasino is his skating ability. His stride is not only smooth, but his speed is effortless it seems, and he has a soft set of hands to boot.

Last season was a breakout season for Tomasino, tripling his 24 points from the year before with 72 (34-38-72) in 67 games.

His combination of being a prolific skater and puck handler makes him very hard to knock off the puck, making life tough for opposing players. The Bruins’ prospect core could use another top center prospect to go with Jack Studnicka and Trent Frederic, and Tomasino would be a great pick if available at 30th overall.

(Video Credit: HSD Prospects on YouTube)

Nathan Légaré – RW – Baie-Comeau Drakkar – QMJHL

Nathan Légaré is another player who may not be available at 30th overall, but could be on the Bruins radar if he drops that far. He is a pure sniper, who was second in the QMJHL in goal scoring this season with 45 goals, only trailing the newest Providence Bruin Samuel Asselin who had 48 goals.

Like Tomasino, Légaré tripled his point total from the year before, going from 29 points to 87 (45-42-87) in 68 games and established himself as a deadly CHL scorer. The way he skates, shoots, and handles the puck is reminiscent of Colorado Avalanche star forward Nathan MacKinnon. This is not me saying Légaré is going to be as good as MacKinnon, but I definitely see similarities in their skill sets.

Légaré would give the Bruins a top-flight young scorer on the right side, something they could certainly use along with right-wing prospects like Zachary Senyshyn and Oskar Steen.

(Video Credit: Hockey Prospects Center on YouTube)

Bobby Brink – RW – Sioux City Musketeers – USHL

Like Tomasino, Bobby Brink is also still 17-years-old, but until July 8. As the trend continues, there is a solid chance that Brink is not on the board at 30th overall. But, if he is, it would be a no-brainer for Don Sweeney to take such an electric young winger.

Brink was one of the top players in the USHL this season. With 35 goals, 33 assists, and 68 points in 45 games, Brink’s goal totals were good for second in the league, top-20 in assists, and fourth in points. Lastly, his impressive 1.58 points-per-game was third in the league behind Alex Turcotte and Jack Hughes, who are both top-5 prospects in the draft.

He is a small, shifty winger who is a threat to score every time he touches the puck thanks to a very quick release and hard shot. Two seasons from now, he will take his talents to Denver to play for the perennial Frozen Four-bound Denver Pioneers in the NCAA. Whichever team drafts Brink is drafting a polarizing, young scorer who is only going to improve over time.

(Video Credit: Hockey Prospects Center on YouTube)

Connor McMichael – C – London Knights – OHL

Here’s my guy, my ideal fit for the Bruins at 30th overall, Connor McMichael. Playing mainly third line minutes for the London Knights last season, McMichael managed to post a scoring line of 36-36-72 in 67 games — that’s pretty impressive. He spoke to 29 teams at the combine.

McMichael: NHL combine interview (Audio provided by @markscheig on Twitter):

https://www.dropbox.com/s/t0n2s2ben21d4q4/Connor%20McMichael.m4a?dl=0

McMichael possesses high-end skating ability, hands, and explosiveness that makes him extremely hard to contain. When asked at the combine who some players he models his game after are, he mentioned Sean Monahan, Bo Horvat, and Auston Matthews. I see the Auston Matthews in his game the most out of the three. Again, this is not me saying McMichael is going to be as good as Matthews, but I definitely see similarities in the way McMichael skates, shoots, and carries the puck.

On top of his offensive prowess, McMichael can handle himself well in all three zones, making him a threat wherever he is on the ice. His high hockey IQ not only allows him to score a lot, but also find his linemates and create high danger scoring chances. He holds the potential to be a legitimate threat in all three zones, which will make him a tough player to gameplan for. All of these things make McMichael a potential can’t miss guy for Sweeney if he drops to 30th overall.

(Video Credit: Hockey Prospects Center on YouTube)

Sweeney and crew could go for one of these guys at 30th overall, or go totally off the board. If he goes with one of these five guys, I’ll be thrilled, and I think you should be too. It will surely be interesting to see how things pan out this weekend in Vancouver. It’s going to be an exciting two days.

Bruins David Pastrnak Wins Award

Image result for david pastrnak golden stick award 2018(Photo Credits: Tech2.go)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

For the third time in three years in a row, Czech-native David Pastrnak has won the Golden Hockey Stick ( Zlatá hokejka)). The award is given annually to the top-performing Czech ice hockey player. This year, Pastrnak beat Tomas Hertl, forward for the San Jose Shark and fellow Czech Jakub Voracek-who plays for the Philadelphia Flyers. Pastrnak led the poll with 59 points ahead of Hertle to win the top prize.

Pastrnak became the youngest Cezch player to win the award in 2017. Winning for the third time in consecutive years has not been done since Jaromir Jagr did it from 2005-2008. The 47-year-old Jagr has won the award 12 times while legendary goaltender Dominik Hasek won five times. Fellow Bruins and Czech player David Krejci finished fourth behind Voracek in the poll. Pastrnak and Krejci did not attend the ceremony. In a recent interview with Czech media, Pastrnak had a few words to say about the recent loss in Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals:

“The last defeat, even after the few days, still hurts a lot. It’s a memory of the end of life and a big disappointment.”

The 23-year-old native of Havirov had 19 points during the post-season run in the 24 games played. Pastrnak enjoyed one of his best performances during the regular season as being part of Boston’s top line. He had accumulated 81 points with 38 goals and 43 assists in 66 games. David Krejci was voted sixth place last year and jumped to fourth this year.

For the final poll, Pastrnak had 464 points with Hertl at 405 points. The final top players were determined in two rounds and were voted by representatives of hockey associations, coaches and top competitive clubs along with journalists. Here are the top five NHL Czech Players that made the final cut:

  1. David Pastrnak-Boston Bruins
  2. Tomas Hertl-San Jose Sharks
  3. Jakub Voracek-Philadelphia Flyers
  4. David Krejci-Boston Bruins
  5. Michael Frolick-Calgary Flames

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Pastrnak had a tough end to the post-season and much like the rest of team had been dealing with an injury reaggravated during a game in the Playoffs.  Aside from physical injury, many players had to overcome mental hurdles as well. At the end of the season media presser, Coach Bruce Cassidy did touch upon the possibility of moving Pastrnak and stated the conversation would continue next season.

For his part, the young winger (who reaggravated his thumb in the Columbus series) was quick to say the injury was not the sole reason when it came to the lack of production. A lot of it came the way of criticism and the grind of the Playoff that affected the young Czech winger:

“It was defiantly tough. I wasn’t feeling great, but that’s why this was such a good group because we were picking each other up…I had 25 guys to help pick me up just like I would do the opposite. It was mental stuff…In this kind of life, even if you don’t want to see stuff, read stuff…it’s tough.

I will take a lot of positives from this. I’m just going to get stronger mentally. So it was a good experience. It’s a big mental experience…The mental stuff is what I learned the most…It’s the Playoffs and you just need to come back to the bench and make sure you’re ready for the next shift no matter what happened behind you…Sometimes you get stuck on thinking what happened before and that brings you down kind of.”

With the season down and Pastrnak joining some Czech legendary company, here’s to the young winger and may he reach his 100 point season next year!

Bruins Offensive Draft Possibilities Per The Draft Analyst

( Photo Credit: Amazon.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

As a diehard Boston Bruins fan one of my favorite times of the year is the National Hockey League Entry Draft. This summers festivities are set to kick off from Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia with the first round on Friday night June 21st and wrapping up rounds two through seven on Saturday, June 22nd. The B’s have five of seven selections in this years event losing the second-round pick to the New Jersey Devils in the Marcus Johansson 2019 trade deadline deal and the fourth-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2018 deadline deal that brought former Bruins Tommy Wingels to Boston.

So as of right now with under a week to go until Bruins Manager Don Sweeney and other members of his staff step to the podium with their first-round pick at number 30, the B’s will go into day two from Vancouver selecting in the third-round (#92), the fifth-round (#154), the sixth-round (#185) and ending the two-day trip to the West Coast of Canada picking in the seventh-round (#192) a pick from the New York Rangers in the Adam McQuaid trade in September of 2018.

Now, not being an NHL Entry Draft expert myself, I enjoy following and reading those who do extensive amounts of research to properly form an opinion about a player and add personal rankings to their work. The Draft Analyst Steve KournianosThe Draft Analyst Steve Kournianos has been doing his own personal hockey prospect ranking for the last four years and does a fantastic job. In this years 2019 rankings I found his Bruins draft possibilities very interesting and wanted to do a write up of the players he mentioned.

To purchase your own copy of The Draft Analyst 2019 Draft Report for a low cost of $5, please go to thedraftanalyst.com website All information in BOLD in this article does not belong to myself or BNG team and is shared with permission from The Draft Analyst website owner Steve Kournianos.

Below are The Draft Analyst Bruins offensive draft possibilities and opinions of what this team needs when it comes to future assets lining up with potential departures of current roster players.  Hope you all Enjoy!

Forwards

The Draft Analyst said in his draft report that this 2019 NHL Entry Draft is going to be loaded with power play specialists. He mentions the Bruins are riddled at the center depth outside of 2017 second-round pick Jack Studnicka and could always use another two-way forward with goal scoring capabilities or plays with a pass first mentality. Have a look at these players as TDA thinks they’d be solid additions the the Bruins future needs.

Ryder Donovan

( Photo Credit: DuluthNewsTribune.com )

TDA Player Rank: 56th

Here’s what The Draft Analyst had to say about the 6’-3” 184-pound versatile forward from Duluth, Minnesota. Check out this prospect and many others from TDA Report HERE. Last season the 18-year-old Donavan played in 23 games for Duluth East High School posting 12-25-37 numbers. After his commitment was over with his high school team he appeared in nine games in the USHL with the Dubuque Fighting Saints only producing one assist.  Donavan is committed to the University of Wisconsin for the 2019-20 NCAA Division 1 season.

A jersey-flapping winger with size and a massive reach, Donovan is a smart playmaker with excellent puck-protection skills. He played on the top line and first units for both the power play and penalty kill. He puts forth a consistent effort every shift, and the intensity of his forecheck can at times mistake him for a depth-line checker than an offensive force. All areas of Donovan’s skating are outstanding — his first-step quickness, ability, balance, lateral movements and edge work work in concert to get him a least a stride or two out of an opponent’s reach. Donovan’s vision and passing abilities are advanced, and he is more than capable of turning any shift into a scoring opportunity. He times his backdoor or cross-ice passes perfectly, and he can stick fake an opening from a clogged lane. Donovan can play physical and finish his checks with authority, plus sacrifice his body in efforts to hunt down pucks. The only concern was when you consider his size, Donovan was not as dominant as one would have thought, especially in the state tournament. Still, the skill, speed and size combine for a tantalizing option that might be enough to sneak him into the late first round.

John Farinacci

( Photo Credit: New England Hockey Journal )

TDA Player Rank: 45th

Here’s what The Draft Analyst had to say about the 5’-11” 185-pound center from Red Bank, New Jersey. You can see this prospect and other fantastic TDA Reports HERE. Last Season the 18-year-old forward had 12-21-33 numbers for Dexter Prep School in Brookline, Massachusetts. Farinacci is committed to play at Harvard University for the 2019-20 NCAA season.

A poised, cerebral playmaker with excellent vision and strong hockey sense, Farinacci is a New Jersey native headed to Harvard in the fall. He’s an outstanding stickhandler through neutral zone traffic, but he’s also capable of speeding his way into open ice and making high-percentage plays. Farinacci was Team USA’s top-line center and power-play facilitator at the under-18 Ivan Hlinka Tournament, and being an alternate add for the NTDP makes him used to the spotlight. He handles pressure extremely well and is counted on to take (and win) big faceoffs or match up against opposing top lines. Farinacci is a very good penalty killer who keeps his stick active and seems confident in making risky reads that break up cross-point passes. His straight-line speed is above average but he’s shifty and quick in tight spaces, and is proficient at snapping off quick, accurate shots through traffic. It’s cliché to say a Harvard-bound kid thinks the game at a high level, but Farinacci is consistent in his effort in all three zones, and his choices with positioning usually are on the money.

Connor McMichael

( Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images )

TDA Player Rank: 25th

Here’s what The Draft Analyst had to say about the 5’-11” 174-pound center from Ajax, Ontario Canada. Check out this prospect and so many other 2019 NHL Draft eligible players from TDA HERE. Last season the 18-year-old center played in his second season in the OHL and his first with the London Knights where he posted 36-36-72 numbers in 67 games.

McMichael is an intelligent two-way puck magnet who serves a dual-threat inside the offensive zone thanks to his outstanding vision and knack for creating turnovers that lead to quality scoring chances. Hamilton made him the 11th overall pick in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection and was the centerpiece in the trade that brought Robert Thomas over from London. The stats may say he has been more of a finisher this season than a playmaker, but his ability to turn seemingly harmless possessions in the offensive zone into high-danger opportunities is something that keeps opponents honest. Still, his 36 goals (26 at ES/SH) were second only to Arthur Kaliyev in terms of OHL first-year draft eligibles and tied for the London team lead with 2019 NHL first rounder Liam Foudy. McMichael has great hands and roofs the puck from in tight, and he can pick the corners with his wrister. He makes a lot of touch, backdoor or no-look passes, and his jukes and gear shifting while keeping his head up is similar to a point guard crossing over a weak-ankled defender. There’s a lot of Marc Savard to his game, and he likely puts up bigger numbers once his role is expanded.

Antti Saarela

( Photo Credit: Iltalehti.fi )

TDA Player Rank: 67th

Here’s what The Draft Analyst had to say about the 5’-11” 183-pound center from Laitila, Finland. This is the fourth annual TDA Report so go and check out Steve’s archived reports HERE. Last season the 17-year-old forward had 7-8-15 numbers for the U20 Jr. “A” SM-Liiga Lukko club in 21 games and in the same year jumped up a level to play in the Lukko Pro team in the Finnish Liiga league contributing 2-8-10 in 24 games.

A thick, sturdy two-way center with top-six potential for the way he impacts the game at multiple levels. For starters, Saarela is a physical pivot; one who uses strength and power to separate bigger players off the puck. He likes to deliver hard hits anywhere at any time, to the point where he can come across as a heat-seeking missile. Playing with this type of physicality doesn’t hide his contributions as a top-line center who can create chances or finish from in close. Saarela plays a similar game to his brother Antti, who was a third-round pick of the Rangers in 2015. He has very good speed, strong balance with a quick first step, plus he can accelerate through traffic in the neutral zone. He enters the zone clean and controlled, and although defenders have to respect his outside speed, Saarela also has a penchant for fearlessly taking the puck strong to the net. He has a firm grasp of his duties a center and does not tip his hand during odd-man rushes. Saarela having soft hands and good vision comes in handy in those situations.
Saarela is one of the better 200-foot centers in the draft. He is an excellent penalty killer who is very good on faceoffs and keeps his feet moving throughout the duration of the kill. His hard work while down a man leads to shorthanded chances, but he’s also a tenacious forechecker who is comfortable gunning for big hits without giving away much in positioning.

A huge amount of thanks again goes out to The Draft Analyst Steve Kournianos for his continued efforts to educate interested fans that want to learn more about the NHL’s next ones. Please consider giving him a follow on Twitter using the hyperlink above and bookmark his thedraftanalyst.com website. Also, check out his fantastic The Draft Analyst Podcast that can be found on worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts and SoundCloud.

Bruins Defensive Draft Possibilities Per The Draft Analyst

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )


By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

As a diehard Boston Bruins fan one of my favorite times of the year is the National Hockey League Entry Draft. This summers festivities are set to kick off from Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia with the first round on Friday night June 21st and wrapping up rounds two through seven on Saturday, June 22nd, 2019. The B’s have five of seven selections in this years event losing the second-round pick to the New Jersey Devils in the Marcus Johansson 2019 trade deadline deal and the fourth-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2018 deadline deal that brought former Bruin Tommy Wingels to Boston.

So as of right now with under a week to go until Bruins Manager Don Sweeney and other members of his staff step to the podium with their first-round pick at number 30, the B’s will go into day two from Vancouver selecting in the third-round (#92), the fifth-round (#154), the sixth-round (#185) and ending the two-day trip to the West Coast of Canada picking in the seventh-round (#192) a pick from the New York Rangers in the Adam McQuaid trade in September of 2018.

Now, not being an NHL Entry Draft expert myself, I enjoy following and reading those who do extensive amounts of research to properly form an opinion about a player and add personal rankings to their work. The Draft Analyst Steve KournianosThe Draft Analyst Steve Kournianos has been doing his own personal hockey prospect ranking for the last four years and does a fantastic job. In this years 2019 rankings I found his Bruins draft possibilities very interesting and wanted to do a write up of the players he mentioned.

To purchase your own copy of The Draft Analyst 2019 Draft Report for a low cost of $5, please go to thedraftanalyst.com website All information in BOLD in this article does not belong to myself or BNG team and is shared with permission from The Draft Analyst website owner Steve KournianosSteve Kournianos.

Below are The Draft Analyst Bruins defensive draft possibilities and opinions of what this team needs when it comes to future assets lining up with potential departures of current roster players.  Hope you all Enjoy!

Defensemen

The first area the Bruins could address is the ever important “power play quarterback” with the uncertain future of mobile defenseman Torey Krug. Per CapFriendly.com the 28-year-old Krug has one full season remaining under contract and with the bottleneck of B’s defensive prospects in the next year or two, adding another mobile blue liner with offensive capabilities is never a bad idea.

Tobias Bjornfot

( Photos Credit: Last Word On Hockey / Youtube Screen grab )

TDA Player Rank: 26th

Here’s what The Draft Analyst said about the 6’-0” 202-pound left handed defenseman from Upplands Vasby, Sweden which you can see on his website HERE. Last season the 18-year-old Bjornfot posted 11-11-22 numbers in 39 games playing for his Djugardens J20 Superelit club.

The top defensemen for Djugardens J20 and for Team Sweden at several international tournaments, Bjornfot is an excellent skater with or without the puck who contributes in all situations. He can run a power play by using quick thinking and staying in motion, and he owns a heavy slapshot with a massive backswing. He is a significant goal-scoring threat from the blue line. Bjornfot’s wrist shot seems to be his preferred weapon of choice, probably since he can beat goalies clean from any distance inside the the offensive zone. Bjornfot is a clean, crisp passer but isn’t all that creative or one to be classified as a playmaker. He does, however, generate offense with his wheels and quick- strike mentality — several times a game he catches opponents in a line change by whipping turnaround passes up ice or exploding into an opening for an end-to-end rush. He’s a very good 1-on- 1 defender, sometimes dominant but also at times far too respectful of opposing speed. When he’s engaged, Bjornfot has shown to stick to puck carriers like Velcro, and he usually makes the right reads if he sees a dangerous play developing. He wins a lot of foot races and is willing to take a hit in the corner to move it cleanly. Bjornfot’s thick frame comes in handy when he battles along the boards, but his quick stick and powerful one-armed shoves can force an opponent to lose his will to keep possession.

Thomas Harley

( Photo Credit: Craig Abel / Getty Images )

TDA Player Rank: 33rd

Here’s what  The Draft Analyst said about the 6’-3” 188-pound left handed defenseman from Syracuse, New York. You can also view his words about this player and hundreds of other NHL Entry Draft eligible players HERE. Last season the 18-year-old Harley posted 11-47-58 numbers with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL in 68 games played.

Easily one of the best passers among defensemen in the draft, Harley is a cool-as-a-cucumber puck distributor with a smooth, effortless skating style and strong hockey sense – at least on his side of the red line. Harley earned his role as a top-pairing defender to help exploit the strengths of the Steelheads’ many talented forwards. The first thing you notice about his game is his composure with the puck during the attack — Harley rarely gets rattled and appears very confident while distributing the puck in all directions. His vision and pass accuracy are both incredibly advanced for a teenager, and he doesn’t hesitate with his decisions. Harley is an upright skater who uses quick bursts and sharp pivots to buy himself time and space and attack deep into the opposing zone. He also is a fine backskater with very good closing speed, and he displays solid edgework when he is forced to take the puck around his net. Harley can run a power play and owns a low, booming shot, but he is not very active during the man-advantage, which could be explained by the experienced forwards he shares the ice with. Still, he knows how to find or create open lane.
His play on defense comes across as nonchalant, as Harley affords puck carriers too much room at his line and doesn’t play physical enough considering he’s an elite North American draft eligible on a top pairing in the OHL. A native of Syracuse who has dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship, Harley ran Canada’s top power-play unit at the under-18 world championship with acceptable results.

Anttoni Honka

( Photo Credit: Jiri Halttunen / JYP )

TDA Player Rank: 40th

Here’s what The Draft Analyst said about the 5’-10” 179-pound right handed defenseman from Jyvaskyla, Finland. You can also take a look at TDA full website HERE. Last season the 19-year-old Honka posted 3-5-8 numbers in 27 games played for his Jukurit club in the Liiga league.

Swift-skating puck rusher who knows how to handle the puck and has the kind of mobility that keeps forecheckers honest. Anttoni, whose older brother Julius currently plays defense for the Dallas Stars, is the most offensively-gifted among the handful of top-tier Finnish rearguards eligible for the 2019 draft. He’s a gambler with or without the puck, and his ability to anticipate danger before utilizing his top-end skating helps tighten the gap between the opposing puck career and him. Honka’s positional play in his own end is above average, as he makes an effort to stay as close to the slot as possible until possession changes hands. He is far from physical, but he stands up at the blue line and isn’t rattled at the sight of a bigger, faster forward barreling his way. His puck management is relatively sound, although he can look a little nonchalant and be the culprit behind unforced turnovers and errant passes. He was criticized (and ultimately benched) for some sloppy play at the under-20 world junior championship, but the potential improvement and exceeding the standards for the average puck mover remains incredibly high.
Honka keeps his feet moving at all times and is a threat once he drops down into the circles. He owns an average yet accurate shot which he uses with confidence, but he’s agile enough to pump fake and glide into a better look at the net. Honka is a hard, crisp passer with soft hands who beats pressure with authoritative stretch passes, subtle banks or well-timed saucers. Although his shot is average, he can run a power play from the top of the umbrella or remaining active from either point.

Lassi Thomson

( Photo Credit: Marissa Becker / Kelowna Rockets )

TDA Player Rank: 43rd

Here’s what The Draft Analyst said about the 6’-0” 190-pound right handed defenseman from Tampere, Finland. You can get this info below and a ton more draft nuggets HERE. Last season the 19-year-old Thomson posted 17-24-41 numbers in 63 games for Kelowna in the WHL.

Smooth-skating Finnish rearguard who typifies what offensive defensemen are expected to do with the puck on their stick and a full sheet of ice before them. Thomson may be a bit of a risk taker while controlling the puck, with an occasional sloppy pass or unforced error. But the common end-result is that pressure is applied on opposing schemes designed to slow him down. He loves to initiate breakouts with his wheels and drive deep into the offensive zone, but his consistent pass accuracy to teammates in stride also stretches out the neutral zone and allows friendly puck carriers to gain time and space. The kid loves to shoot the puck, and for good reason – he owns an excellent shot with a quick release and requires little backswing to generate power. Thomson quarterbacks the top power play unit and is a shooting threat thanks to a very hard and accurate shot, but he also keeps his feet moving and will jump into openings below the circles. There are moments where he’ll fight for positioning and play physical, but those instances are few and far between. A lack of consistency in his slot/crease coverage, plus the way he overcommits when defending odd-man rushes are things that should be improved upon for the future. His time in Kelowna, as successful as it was, may be short lived, as Thomson is reportedly heading back to his native Finland to play for Ilves next season.

A huge amount of thanks again goes out to The Draft Analyst Steve Kournianos for his continued efforts to educate interested fans that want to learn more about the NHL’s next ones. Please consider giving him a follow on Twitter using the hyperlink above and bookmark his thedraftanalyst.com website. Also, check out his fantastic The Draft Analyst Podcast that can be found on worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts and SoundCloud.

Stay tuned for my release of the offensive possibilities for the Boston Bruins in the upcoming Entry Draft and another tremendous assist from the aforementioned Mr. Kournianos.

Backes’ Time in Boston About So Much More Than Points

Boston Bruins v Ottawa Senators - Game Five

(Photo Credit: Getty Images/Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo)

By Carrie Salls | Follow me on Twitter @nittgrl73

It may be fitting that the image of David Backes that many Bruins fans have emblazoned on their memories was actually a highlight in another player’s young career. That moment came on April 21, 2017, when veteran leader Backes gave Sean Kuraly a “noogie” on the Bruins bench in celebration of one of the rookie forward’s two goals that helped keep the team’s playoff hopes alive in an elimination game against the Ottawa Senators.

The former captain of the St. Louis Blues, Backes’ future with the Bruins seemed as of Friday’s breakup day to be very much in question. However, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said in a Monday morning press conference that there may well be a role for Backes on the team for the 2019-2020 season.

After putting up just 20 points in 70 games in the 2018-2019 season, a drop from a 33-point performance in just 57 games in a 2017-2018 season that saw the veteran forward miss time as a result of needing surgery to remove part of his intestines, suffering a laceration from a skate to the back of the leg and concussion issues, Backes himself said Friday that he knows his future is “in-flux.”

The end of the 35-year-old alternate captain’s 2019 Stanley Cup campaign was a difficult one. Backes sat watching from the press box as a healthy scratch for the final games of the series. Coach Bruce Cassidy opted to take Backes out of game five of the Stanley Cup Finals to allow an 11-forward, seven-defenseman lineup to boost a banged-up defensive corps. The final two games of the series, Backes sat in favor of the speedier Karson Kuhlman. As a result, Backes was forced to sit and watch the Bruins lose in game seven to his former team, the St. Louis Blues.

With Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Danton Heinen and Marcus Johansson all becoming free agents and a potential Torey Krug contract extension looming, the Bruins front office is faced this summer with the difficult task of trying to find a way to hold onto as many of those key young contributors as possible. Given his declining production and advancing age, it would make sense for the Bruins to try to rid themselves of some or all of Backes’ remaining contract. However, those same factors make it difficult to move him.

Backes signed a five-year contract with the Bruins as an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2016. He has two years left and a $6 million per-year cap hit left on that deal. Talk of possible buyouts and trades has been swirling all year, but it remains to be seen what Bruins general manager Don Sweeney could do in regards to Backes to free up some space.

Although his future is in limbo, there is no question that Backes is a team leader who is respected and admired by his teammates. He has also proved to be a valuable mentor to the team’s future stars. Backes has assumed a leadership role from the day he arrived in Boston.

Even with myriad health and injury issues and a drop in playing time, Backes embraced every role he was asked to play in the team’s 2019 playoff run, and before. Backes worked to drop some weight ahead of the 2018-2019 season in an effort to keep up with a trend that favors speed over the heavier power-forward role that was prevalent when Backes broke into the National Hockey League. He was also an integral part of a second line that helped to combat the physical play of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second round.

It looks as though Bruins fans may not have seen the last of David Backes donning the Spoked B. If that proves true, it is good news for a team that can use number 42’s leadership, experience, and never-say-die attitude to guide a young group of still-developing stars.