By: Cam Manning | Follow me on Twitter @Cam_Manning133
We are nearly through the month of February, and the Boston Bruins continue to be a force to be reckoned with in the NHL. The Bruins are an astounding 43-8-5, good for 91 points and at the top-of-the-league standings. With all the Bruins’ success this season, you could make the argument for a lot of players of who should win the NESN’s annual 7th player of the year award.
NESN’s Seventh Player Award is an annual award presented to the Bruin who exceeded the expectations of Bruins fans during the season. Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman was the most recent winner of the award for his stellar rookie season last season, but who will take home the hardware this year? Here are four players that should be in consideration.
Ullmark inked a four-year contract with the Bruins in 2021, and many wondered how he would perform after playing most of his career with the then-below-average Buffalo Sabres. After posting solid numbers in his first year in Boston, Ullmark has turned it up ten notches, posting a historic season so far.
In 35 games started this season, Ullmark has a ridiculous 29 wins and only four losses while also leading the league in goals against average (1.88 GAA) and save percentage (.937 SV%). Ullmark is definitely in the conversation for the Vezina trophy with these numbers and should be on the minds of Bruins fans when picking NESN’s Seventh Player Award winner this season.
At the beginning of the year, the Bruins were down arguably their number one franchise defenseman, Charlie McAvoy, due to off-season shoulder surgery. Many Bruins fans wondered who would fill the void with McAvoy sidelined, insert Hampus Lindholm. The 6’4, 215-pound defenseman has been outstanding this season. You could argue that Lindholm has been Bruins GM Don Sweeney’s best trade in his tenure.
Lindholm has already set a career-high in points this season, and we are only in February. Lindholm’s skating ability, poise with the puck, and decisive decision-making has made that eight-year contract worth $6.5 million AAV look like a bargain. Lindholm is also tied with fellow teammate Matt Grzelcyk for the lead league in plus/minus at +36. Ever since the Bruins acquired Lindholm, they have had a record of 51-10-5 when Lindholm is in the lineup, absurd.
It can sometimes be hard to acclimate to a new team after being traded, but sometimes it is just the thing a player needs to revive his career. Pavel Zacha was a top-ten pick of the New Jersey Devils and did not live up to expectations. Zacha was traded to the Bruins one-for-one in exchange for Erik Haula, and it is safe to say that the trade has worked out quite swimmingly for the Bruins.
Zacha has found a home on the second line with fellow Czech mates David Pastrnak and David Krejci. The 25-year-old has already surpassed his career-high in points in only 56 games played. Posting 38 points (13 goals/25 assists) and playing a solid 200-foot game, Zacha has indeed defined expectations and deserves to be in the conversation for the Seventh Player Award.
Talk about shattering expectations this season; Connor Clifton has put his name in the conversation for most improved Bruin this season. Clifton played 54 games for Providence in 2017-18, then was signed to a two-year contract by the Bruins on May 3, 2018. Clifton has improved his scoring gradually every year.
Clifton has posted a career-high in points with 15 and is a career-best +20 this season. The most notable thing about the 5’11 190 LB defenseman is that he doesn’t play down to his size. He leads the Bruins in hits and blocked shots this season and has been a massive reason for the Bruins’ success.