Bruins’ Free Agent Options If Torey Krug Does Not Re-Sign

(Photo Credit: Radio | Radio.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter! @andrewlindrothh

The National Hockey Leagues’ free-agent market is scheduled to open on October 9th at noon ET, or at least seven days after finishing the Stanley Cup Finals, whichever happens first. The Boston Bruins’ General Manager Don Sweeney, has his work cut out for him this off-season, and his most significant task is deciding on re-signing Torey Krug, or let him walk and use that extra cap space on other free agents.

According to Cap Friendly, the Bruins have roughly $15M available in cap space, but Sweeney may want to leave around $2M-$3M leftover if injuries occur. With that being said, the Bruins will have approximately $13M available for re-signing players like Krug, Jake DeBrusk, Zdeno Chara, and Matt Grzelcyk.

Krug spoke to media recently and stated he is not interested in a one-year deal and wants to cash in on his value by signing a long-term contract. I predict the Bruins have a chance to sign Krug to a 5+year deal worth $7M-$7.5M per year, but the defenseman knows his value is worth more than that. If Krug doesn’t believe what the Bruins offer (if they even do) is enough, he will walk and get anywhere between $8M-$9.5M per year from another team.

As of this moment, there are a plethora amount of UFA and RFA players the Bruins could look at, many big names and even more depth-pieces. I’m not sure if Sweeney is looking to continue building by adding a few depth-pieces or make a big signing whether it be a forward or defenseman to replace Krug. For a complete list of all 31 teams’ UFA and RFA players, Sporting News has it covered here. Here are some free-agent options for the Bruins if Krug decides to walk.

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Evgenii Dadonov (F/UFA)

(Photo Credit: The Rat Trick | therattrick.com)

Evgenii Dadonov has shined the past three seasons with the Florida Panthers. Over the past three years, Dadonov has played 225 games, contributing 81-101-182 numbers, 25 power-play goals, and 47 power-play points.

The 31-year-old forward is set to become a UFA, and his last contract was a three-year deal worth $4M per season. I’m not an expert on predicting a player’s value in terms of AAV (average annual value), but the Bruins could make an offer worth $5M-$5.5M per season. Although he may be worth more in the open market, I do not see the Bruins over-spending on any player.

The Bruins could use Dadonov on the power-play and David Krejci’s’ or Charlie Coyles’ right-wing. Ondrej Kase began to create solid chemistry with Krejci and Jake DeBrusk during the Carolina Hurricanes series. Still, he is often injured and, before arriving in Boston, had only played a career-high 66 games back in 2017-2018. DeBrusk has also shown many potentials but has not shown consistency in his offense, so a player like Dadonov could help spark any of those lines.

Mark Borowiecki (D/UFA)

(Photo Credit: National Hockey League | nhl.com)

Mark Borowiecki could be a reasonable defensive option for the Bruins. If Krug decides to leave, I imagine Grzelcyk will pair with Brandon Carlo and split power-play duties with Charlie McAvoy. The Bruins’ third defensive-pairing isn’t solidified, but Borowiecki could be an option to consider along with Connor Clifton, John Moore, or Jeremy Lauzon. His last contract was a two-year deal worth $1.2M AAV, so he would not be a massive cap casualty to the Bruins.

The 6’1, 207-pound defenseman plays a very physical brand of hockey and isn’t afraid to stick up for his teammates. These are player attributes Sweeney has been looking for and was hoping Brett or Nick Ritchie could be that player, but they have not worked out so far.

Borowiecki also had offensive career-highs this past season, scoring seven goals and 18 points in 53 games played. He also averages over 200 hits per season, and just last season had a career-high 120 blocks. I believe he is a reliable option for the Bruins if Sweeney deems it necessary to sign additional depth defensemen.

Conor Sheary (F/UFA)

(Photo Credit: National Hockey League | nhl.com)

Conor Sheary would be a reliable forward option that could spark the bottom-six. The Winchester, MA native, first suited up in the NHL for 44 games during the 2015-2016 season and contributed enough to help lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to capture the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017. He also eclipsed his career-highs during the 2016-2017 season, scoring 23 goals and 50 points with a +24 rating.

The 5’8, 175-pound forward has a lot of speed to his game and could fit in well with either Coyle or Kuraly. Sheary just finished a three-year deal worth $3M AAV and is set to become a UFA.

$3M+ per year is most likely too steep for the Bruins, especially for a bottom-six forward, but he can also be utilized on the second line with Krejci in case DeBrusk doesn’t stay consistent. After achieving 20+goals just a few seasons ago, Sheary has shown the potential to be a productive middle-six/bottom-six forward.

Vladislav Namestnikov (F/UFA)

(Photo Credit: The Athletic | theathletic.com)

Vladislav Namestnikov is another forward the Bruins could consider in the free-agency. The 27-year-old forward is trying to find his offensive consistency and a team to grow with long-term. This past season, Namestinikov suited up for three different teams (NYR, OTT, COL), playing 65 games and contributing 17 goals and 31 points.

Namestnikov ended the season with the Colorado Avalanche and is set to become a UFA. He is finishing up a two-year deal worth $4M AAV. For a forward who has yet to hit the 50 point mark in his career, anywhere near $4M AAV is well out of the Bruins price range. If Sweeney could get Namestnikov to take a reasonable discount on a prove-yourself contract, we could see Namestnikov possibly reach his full potential.

Not only could Namestnikov be slotted onto any of the Bruins’ lines, but the team can also use him on the power-play and the penalty-kill unit. This past season, he also led the league in short-handed goals (four).

Brenden Dillon (D/UFA)

(Photo Credit: NHL Player Association | nhlpa.com)

Last but not least, if Krug does not re-sign with the Bruins, Brenden Dillon would be a reliable option to beef up the blue-line. The 6’4, 225-pound defenseman uses his size to his advantage and makes it very difficult to play against, especially in a playoff series. Dillon was traded to the Washington Capitals shortly before the 2019-2020 season paused, but is now set to become a UFA. His last contract was a five-year deal worth $3.27M AAV.

Dillon suited up for 69 games this past season, contributing 14 points, 74 blocks, and 194 hits. Before the trade deadline this past season, the Bruins were linked to having considerable interest in Dillon, so now that he is set to hit the open market, Sweeney will have his chance once again.

It’s important to note that Dillon is 29-years-old and may be looking to cash in on his value at full. Sweeney may not be keen on paying more than $3M+ per season but could use the winning culture argument to sign Dillon on a discount.

Overall, there are a plethora of options the Bruins could consider. There are also a lot of players who are RFAs that may not sign with their current team, giving the Bruins even more options. I also predict Sweeney will be attempting to make trades during the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. With that being said, the Bruins’ future is up in the air, but that is not necessarily a negative thing. I’m very excited to see what Sweeneys’ plan is to improve this team.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 193 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher

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Former Bruin Marc Savard Stepping Away From St.Louis Blues Organization

(Photo Credit: Yahoo Sports! | sports.yahoo.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter! @andrewlindrothh

Former Boston Bruin, Marc Savard, is leaving the St.Louis Blues Organization. The team recently announced that Savard is leaving his assistant coach position to spend time with his family. “Marc has decided to step away and will not coach in the National Hockey League in 2020-21,” said Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong, reported by Chris Pinkert. “I want to thank Marc for his work with our coaches and players during his time in St. Louis and wish him nothing but the best.”

One of the main reasons for bringing Savard into the Blues organization this past season was to address issues with the power-play, and based on analytics, it seems as if he did a decent job at that. The Blues power-play saw a 3% increase from 50 power-play goals in 82 games to 49 power-play goals in 71 games. They also finished third in the league for power-play percentage this past season. Although it seems as if Savard has stepped away from coaching altogether, he could be an essential piece to the Bruins organization if he were to coach again, especially for the power-play.

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Savard began his NHL journey with the New York Rangers during the 1997-1998 season and played for three teams from 1997-2006 until signing with the Boston Bruins as a free agent in 2006. He was a tremendous asset for the Bruins at the time and, within his first season, had contributed 22-74-96 numbers, including ten power-play goals and 49 power-play points. The forward continued to play for the Bruins until the 2010-2011 season when he played only 25 games until suffering concussions from games against Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Avalanche. He went on to miss the entirety of the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons due to the head injuries he sustained.

Savard finished his career with the Bruins, suiting up for the team in 304 games, producing 74-231-305 numbers, and 131 power-play points. Throughout his 13-year tenure in the NHL, Savard played 807 games, racking up 207-499-706 numbers, and 292 power-play points.

With Savard’s success on the power-play throughout his career as a player and his short-term success with the Blues this past season, there is no doubt that you can argue the case that Savard could be useful as an assistant coach for the Bruins. The Bruins top power-play unit is usually one of the most dominant in the NHL the past few seasons, but begin to struggle when in the playoffs, so maybe a change in coaching could help address some of those issues.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 192 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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What The Bruins’ Lineup Could Look Like Next Season

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By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter! @andrewlindrothh

While the Boston Bruins continue the quest for the Stanley Cup, this will also be the chance for head coach Bruce Cassidy to see who will fit in the lineup next season. Although the pandemic forced the NHL to have a five-month pause and the 2020 playoffs to be held in a bubble with no fans present, that will be no excuse for Cassidy to see which players stayed in game-shape and adapted to the adversity. With the Bruins currently down in their series against Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1, questions are already being answered about who will be ready for a full-time role in the lineup next season. First, let’s start with the obvious, which are the top-six forwards.

Top-Six

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Kase

(Photo Credit: Sun Journal | sunjournal.com)

To no one’s surprise, the perfection line will be representing the Bruins top scoring line next season. The big question mark for the past few seasons has been finding Krejci a right-winger, and although Cassidy occasionally slots Pastrnak onto that line, it seems as if the Bruins may have found the answer with Ondrej Kase.

Kase wasn’t precisely overwhelming during his first few appearances with the Bruins before the regular season came to a screeching halt. With Kase also missing most of camp due to being “unfit to play,” it didn’t look very positive for the Czech winger. Through ten playoff games, he has been able to produce a career-high four points and has seemed to develop steady chemistry with DeBrusk and Krejci.

If Krejci’s’ line can continue being this productive throughout the playoffs and find opportunities to score against Tampa, they will give the Bruins’ the best chance possible at winning the Stanley Cup. If Kase can maintain being healthy throughout the season, expect to see him on Krejci’s’ wing all season long. Now let’s take a look at what will be looking different next season; the bottom-six forwards.

Bottom-Six

Bjork-Coyle-Studnicka

Fredric-Kuraly-Wagner

Lindholm/Ritchie/Kuhlman

(Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski | USA TODAY Sports)

The bottom-six core will change quite a bit, and knowing Cassidy’s coaching style, I could see many of these players mentioned above being slotted in and out of the lineup depending on who the Bruins play. It’s undeniable in the current series against Tampa that the Bruins lack secondary scoring, the very factor that gave the Bruins a push to the Stanley Cup Finals last year. At this moment, I do not see Nick Ritchie fitting in the lineup full-time, so I imagine he will be utilized when playing heavier teams, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he is dealt to another team before next season starts.

I predict Karson Kuhlman will come to terms with the Bruins this off-season but has not impressed enough to earn the trust of a full-time position in the lineup. The right-winger does have an impressive motor and wrist shot, so he is an excellent player to slot into any line when an injury occurs, and players like that do not grow on trees. He will be a quiet but essential depth piece. Par Lindholm is my final scratch listed, with one year left with the Bruins, he will also be looked at as a vital depth piece to slot in the lineup when facing faster teams.

For the 2020-2021 season, I imagine you’ll see Coyle with two young players who have a lot to prove, Bjork and Studnicka. Bjork recently re-signed with the Bruins on a three-year term with $1.6M a year, so there is no doubt the Bruins organization finds Bjork to be an essential piece to this club.

Studnicka led the Providence Bruins (AHL) in scoring this past season with 23 goals and 49 points, as well as leading the AHL with seven short-handed goals. Studnicka debuted with Coyle and Bjork during the Carolina Hurricanes playoff series. There is a lot of potential with that line if Bjork and Studnicka can create consistent chemistry with Coyle.

For the fourth-line, you will, of course, see Chris Wagner on the right-wing and Sean Kuraly at center, but I believe Trent Fredric will break into a full-time role. Although he is a natural center, the Bruins have placed him on the wing during his NHL appearances so far, so I see him playing on the left-wing. Joakim Nordstrom will become a UFA at the end of the post-season, and I do not predict the Bruins will re-sign him. Now, lets take a look at what the defensive pairs could look like next season.

Defensive Pairs

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Clifton

Lauzon/Moore/Zboril

(Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images| gettyimages.com)

As you may notice, these are the current defensive pairings playing in the 2020 playoffs, and although Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, and Matt Grzelcyk have contracts expiring soon, I believe all three players will re-sign with the Bruins. To save time, I wrote an article recently that has my predictions about who will and will not re-sign with the Bruins this off-season, and you can view that here.

Suppose Krug decides to test the free-agent market. In that case, I believe Grzelcyk will pair with Brandon Carlo, quarter-back the primary power-play unit, and have Jeremy Lauzon, John Moore, or Jakub Zboril slot in and out of the third defensive pairing with Connor Clifton. With now two strong post-season performances under his belt, I believe Clifton will be trusted with a full-time position on the third defensive pairing.

With young emerging talent such as; Lauzon, Clifton, Zboril, and Urho Vaakanainen, the Bruins may look to clear more cap space and trade Moore, a smart move in my opinion. The only other factor I see changing next season is what we started seeing in the current series against the Lightning. Chara will be playing less 5-on-5 minutes and may play occasional shifts on the third pairing, as we have recently seen. Now, last but not least, our goaltenders for next season.

Goaltending

Rask

Halak

(Photo Credit: NBC Sports | nbcsports.com)

Although Tuukka Rask decided to leave the Toronto bubble in the middle of the first-round against the Hurricanes, I do not believe that will reflect his decision to continue playing hockey for the 2020-2021 season, as he has one year left on his contract with the Bruins. I assume Rask will take this extra time to spend with his family and get hockey off his mind to come back, honor his final year with the Bruins and chase the Stanley Cup one more time with passion. I obviously cannot predict what he will do the following year his contract expires, but this will most likely be the most vital year of his career, especially with the Bruins’ aging core.

With Jaroslav Halak committing to the Bruins for one more year, you will once again see split goalie-duties throughout the season until the playoffs. The dominant goalie tandem of Rask and Halak will live on for one more season, one more chance at the Stanley Cup.

With Halak locked up for one more year, this also helps the continuous development of Daniel Vladar and incoming rookie Jeremy Swayman with the Providence Bruins (AHL). Vladar was excellent with Providence this past season and led the league in GAA (1.79) and save percentage (.936%).

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It will be exciting to see the 2020-2021 opening-day roster for the Bruins and which players perform well during camps and preseason. If my lineup predictions are anywhere near close enough, the Bruins could have a very stacked lineup next year. Still, the most significant factors needed for a deep playoff run rely on the younger players fighting for the bottom-six roles and Krejci’s’ line.

If players like; Bjork, Studnicka, Kuhlman, and Fredric perform well and potentially have a break-out season, that could help create momentum and confidence for the Bruins if the bottom-six forwards can contribute offense most games. Also, if DeBrusk and Kase can produce more consistently, then the Krejci line will flourish and finally solve the problem the Bruins have been facing for years with their second-line.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 191 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

Five Players You Forgot Played For The Bruins: Part Three

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By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

It’s always fun to look back at Bruins’ history and notice players you had no idea played for the team. Sometimes, you recognize that name and suddenly remember the short time they did have with the Bruins. Regardless, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at some players you probably forgot played with the Bruins. You can view part one and part two of this series here.

Dominic Moore

(Photo Credit: Metro US | metro.us)

Dominic Moore had more than a cup of coffee with the Bruins and even played all 82 games during the 2016-2017 season. Although Moore was on the Bruins in recent years, he is a name that you forget wore a Bruins uniform at some point during his career. During the 2016-2017 season with Boston, the forward produced 11 goals and 25 points.

Moore began his National Hockey League journey in 2003-2004 with the New York Rangers when he appeared in his first five contests. He became quite the journeyman in the league, suiting up with ten different teams during his 13-year tenure in the NHL. After his deal expired with the Bruins in 2017, Moore played his final year in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs, suiting up for 50 games and producing 12 points. After his NHL career, Moore signed a contract with ZSC (Swiss) as a free agent in 2019.

Throughout his 13-year career in the NHL, Moore suited up for 897 games while contributing 106-176-282 numbers. He also won the Bill Masterton Trophy in 2013-2014.

Colton Orr

(Photo Credit: Getty Images | gettyimages.com)

One of the most feared enforcers, Colton Orr, started his career in the NHL with the Boston Bruins after signing as a free agent in 2001. He split his time between the Providence Bruins and Boston, but mostly spent his time with Providence, amassing 543 PIM in 126 games during that time. He got his first piece of National Hockey League action when he made his debut in 2003-2004, but only went on to play just one game with Boston that season. He played just 20 games with the Bruins in 2005 before being claimed on waivers by the New York Rangers.

The 6’3, 222-pound forward played for the New York Rangers from 2005-2009, suiting up in 224 games while producing 11 points and 522 PIM. After his time in New York, Orr signed to the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent in 2009. He continued to play for the Maple Leafs for the remainder of his career while making occasional visits to their AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, until 2015. Orr played 232 games for the Maple Leafs while contributing 13 points and amassing 637 PIM.

Throughout his 11-year career in the NHL, Orr posted 12-12-24 numbers with 1,186 PIM. Although no longer actively playing, Orr has taken the role of a coach. In 2019, he was named head coach of the Connecticut Whale in the National Women’s Hockey League.

Dave Andreychuk

(Photo Credit: Twitter/Boston Bruins | Twitter.com/bruinsnhl)

As weird as it is, Dave Andreychuk wore the Spoked-B at some point in his career. He spent a short time with the Bruins during the 1999-2000 season after signing as a free agent. During that time, he played 63 games with the Bruins. He posted 19-14-33 numbers before being traded to the Colorado Avalanche with Raymond Bourque in a blockbuster trade, sending Brian Rolston, Martin Greiner, Samuel Pahlsson, and a 1st round pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft to the Bruins.

Andreychuk had a phenomenal career in the NHL that I could not sum up in one paragraph, but I remember him fondly while growing up in Tampa, FL, especially when he won the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004. He played for six different teams throughout his career and currently holds the record for most power-play goals in the NHL (274).

Throughout his 23-year career in the NHL, Andreychuk played in 1,639 games while contributing an astounding 640-698-1,338 numbers with 1,121 PIM. He became a Stanley Cup Champion before the end of his career and was inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame in 2017.

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Sergei Gonchar

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Sergei Gonchar is a name you don’t often see in Bruins’ history, but he is an alumnus through the 15 games he played for the Boston Bruins. The defenseman was traded to the Bruins by the Washington Capitals before the trade deadline in 2004. Gonchar collected four goals and nine points with the Bruins before joining the Pittsburgh Penguins the next season.

Gonchar began his NHL career with the Washington capitals and played with the team from 1994-2004 before being traded to Boston. After his time in Boston quickly expired, he went on to play for Pittsburgh from 2005-2010, suiting up for 322 games, contributing 54-205-259 numbers, and winning the Stanley Cup with the team in 2009. From 2010-2015, Gonchar went on to play for the Ottawa Senators, Dallas Stars, and then finished his NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens.

Throughout his 20-year NHL career, Gonchar appeared in 1,301 games while posting 220-591-811 numbers and 981 PIM. After retiring from his playing career, he became an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017 and is still serving as one of their assistant coaches.

Brett Connolly

(Photo Credit: Puck Prose | puckprose.com)

Brett Connolly suited up for the Bruins in recent years, first appearing in five games in 2015 after being traded by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Connolly continued his journey in Boston for most of the 2015-2016 season, suiting up in 71 games and producing 9-16-25 numbers. After his season in Boston, the forward hit the free-agent market in 2016 and was immediately picked up by the Washington Capitals.

Connolly began his NHL career playing for Tampa Bay from 2011-2015, appearing in 134 games and posting 18-14-32 numbers. After playing in Boston, Connolly signed with Washington as a free agent and played for the team from 2016-2019, suiting up for 217 games, contributing 52-44-96 numbers, and winning the Stanley Cup in 2018. After his time in Washington expired, Connolly signed the Florida Panthers as a free agent in 2019 and is ready to help his team for a playoff run starting August 1st. Throughout his nine-year NHL career so far, Connolly has played in 496 games and contributed 98-90-188 numbers.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 185 that we recorded below on 7-12-20! 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!

Why It’s Still Important For The Bruins To Win The Stanley Cup

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By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

The 2019-2020 season will go down in the history books as one of the most unfortunate things to happen to a hockey season. The Bruins were sitting at first in the league and were only a dozen games away from the regular season concluding, and the playoffs starting. Everything was halted back in mid-March, and players are just now skating for the first time since. But now, the Bruins have the opportunity to finish what they started with the next phase of the Return-To-Play Plan now underway.

With the current season in the state it is in, there is no doubt there will be an “aestrik” associated with whoever wins the Stanley Cup this year, but for the Bruins, there are too many reasons why they need to finish the job and win the Stanley Cup.

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Redemption

One of the apparent reasons is redemption for last year’s disappointing finish in the Stanley Cup Finals. Since that moment, the Bruins could either use that as motivation or tear down their morale, and the answer is evident with the Bruins sitting first in the league before the season was postponed. With the roster almost identical to last season’s, there is no doubt the Bruins can make another deep playoff run, and this time claiming the Stanley Cup.

New additions like Ondrej Kase, Nick Ritchie, Jeremy Lauzon, and Anders Bjork could help the Bruins in many ways, just like 2019 trade deadline acquisitions Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson stepped up significantly in last year’s playoffs. One of the Bruins’ most significant success factors was their player depth and their “next man up” mentality. The Black Aces for the Bruins this season will be one of the most reliable units they have had in years with emerging players like Jack Studnicka, Trent Fredric, Jakub Zboril, Dan Vladar, and the list goes on.

Between Providence’s highly talented players and the Bruins new acquisitions, they have addressed their team’s needs following the Stanley Cup Finals loss to the St.Louis Blues, and I believe they have a better chance than they did last year.

Veteran Core

Bruins fans know it’s coming, and it’s a harsh reality to face. Bostons’ core players such as; David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara, and Tuukka Rask are on borrowed time with the team due to age and contracts expiring. Being part of the 2011 Stanley Cup Championship roster, they have the veteran experience and what it takes to guide the Bruins for a deep playoff run.

These core players have been the foundation of how this team has been built over the past decade. It is also important to note that players like Torey Krug and Jake DeBrusk could play in their final playoff run with the Bruins if they end up not agreeing to terms during the offseason. With many unknowns and ‘what-ifs’ for the Bruins, it’s entirely possible the roster may change up quite a bit over the next year or two.

As much as this playoff run may not seem worth it for several reasons, if the NHL does continue to move forward with the games as planned, there is no doubt the Bruins need to use their core players to their advantage as much as possible. There is nothing more those players want than one more Stanley Cup victory with the Boston Bruins.

(Photo Credit: AP Photo | John Locher)

The Stanley Cup

The last time I checked, this is the Stanley Cup playoffs and not a COVID-19 tournament; therefore, all players will be playing each game with pride to reach the ultimate goal, capturing the Cup. I fully expect a highly competitive environment, even with no fans in the stadium, and it will start with teams setting the tone in their play-in/exhibition games.

Let’s also keep in mind the living environment for the players being in “the bubble.” Separate hotel rooms, restrictions for going out in public, not being able to see your family for most of the playoff run, etc. For the players, the cycle will be; eat, hockey, sleep, repeat until they claim the ultimate championship sports have to offer. I’m sure it’ll be a similar feeling for fans, especially after being deprived of the last dozen games of the regular season and an exciting playoffs.

Many will argue that winning the Stanley Cup this year will mean nothing because it will be tagged with an “aestrik” because of the unfortunate circumstances. To be fair, I don’t remember this attitude when playing in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2013 after the play lock-out cut the NHL regular season in half. And I don’t know of any fan who will find themselves complaining if the Bruins were to win it all this year.

If anything, reaching the Stanley Cup will be harder than ever given strict circumstances throughout the process and 24 teams now being in the playoff picture. It will be no cakewalk, but the Bruins were first place in the league by eight points before the season was canceled. It is the Bruins’ year for the Stanley Cup.

(Photo Credit: Boston Hockey Now | bostonhockeynow.com)

July 30th is when the magic will begin to unfold, with the Bruins squaring off in an exhibition game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Following that will begin play-in series and round-robin games with the Bruins playing the Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bruins need their fans more than ever now to cheer them on from home in hopes of a second Stanley Cup victory in nine years.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 185 that we recorded below on 7-12-20! 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!

Five Players You Forgot Played For The Bruins: Part Two

(Photo Credit: Game Worn Auctions | gamewornauctions.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

It’s always fun to look back at Bruins’ history and notice players you had no idea played for the team. Sometimes, you recognize that name and suddenly remember the short time they did have with the Bruins. Regardless, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at some players you probably forgot played with the Bruins. You can view part one of this series here.

Marty Turco

(Photo Credit: Times Union | timesunion.com)

Yes, Marty Turco wore the bright gold leg pads for the Bruins during the 2011-2012 season. The netminder signed with the Bruins as a free agent on March 5th, 2012. He only appeared with the Bruins for five games and won two of those.

Turco began his career with the Dallas Stars and played with the team throughout most of his career. His rookie season from 2000-2001, led the league with 1.90 GAA and .925% save percentage. He led the league again in 2002-2003 with 1.73 GAA and .932% save percentage. He played with Dallas from 2000-2010 until his contract expired and decided to hit the free-agent market. He was then picked up by the Chicago Blackhawks during the offseason and played until the end of the season, then signed to the Bruins as a free agent in 2012.

Throughout his 11-year NHL career, Turco played in 543 games and won 216 of them, averaging 2.36 GAA and a .910% save percentage. He officially announced his retirement from the hockey world on January 17th, 2013.

Chris Nilan

(Photo Credit: Stanley Cup of Chowder | stanleycupofchowder.com)

To me, Nilan wearing the Spoked-B has never felt right. The Boston-native was traded to the Bruins by the New York Rangers in 1990 and played for them until Montreal claimed him on waivers in 1992. He appeared in 80 games with Boston while producing 11-14-25 numbers with 463 PIM.

He began his NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens in 1979 and played with them until 1988 when he was traded to the New York Rangers. During his time as a Canadien, he played in 523 games while posting 88-87-175 numbers with a whopping 2,248 PIM. He led the league in penalty minutes two seasons in a row from 1983-1984 (338 PIM) and 1984-1985 (358 PIM).

After his time with Montreal, he spent the next few seasons with the New York Rangers before being traded to the Bruins. Throughout his 13-year NHL career, Nilan played in 688 games while posting 110-115-225 numbers with an astounding 3,043 PIM.

Brian Gionta

(Photo Credit: Stanley Cup of Chowder | stanleycupofchowder.com)

Oddly enough, Gionta did have a short stint with the Bruins, and it was just two years ago back in 2018. His time in Boston lasted only 20 games during the 2017-2018 season and shortly retired after the season ended. The 5’7, 175-pound forward, had a memorable career though.

Gionta spent most of his career with the New Jersey Devils from 2001-2009, appearing in 473 games while producing 152-160-312 numbers with a +62 rating. He also became a Stanley Cup champion during his second year in the NHL after the New Jersey Devils won in 2003. After his contract expired in 2009, he signed to the Montreal Canadiens as a free agent and played with the team until 2014. His contract had expired during the off-season and was signed by the Buffalo Sabres. He played for Buffalo from 2014-2017, then was signed late in the 2017-2018 season by the Bruins.

The Stanley Cup champion announced his retirement from professional hockey on September 18th, 2018. Throughout his 16-year NHL career, he appeared in 1,026 games while producing 291-304-595 numbers with a +35 rating.

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Jarome Iginla

(Photo Credit: Black N’ Gold Hockey | blackngoldhockey.com)

If you’ve always been a fan of Iginla, how could you ever forget the one season with the Bruins? Iginla signed with the Bruins as a free agent in 2013 and suited up for 78 games while contributing 30-31-61 numbers with a +34 rating. Unfortunately, this would be the only season the power-forward plays with Boston.

Iginla spent most of his career as the captain for the Calgary Flames from 1996-2013, playing in 1,219 games and posting 525-570-1,095 numbers. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2013 for Kenny Agonisto, Ben Hanowski, and a first-round pick (Morgan Klimchuk) in 2013 NHL Entry Draft. That following season, he inked a deal with the Bruins and did a tremendous job. Unfortunately, Iginla wanted to keep his options open and signed a contract with the Colorado Avalanche in 2014.

The 6’1, 210-pound forward played for Colorado until being traded in 2017 to the Los Angeles Kings for a fourth-round conditional pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. After finishing the season with the Kings, Iginla decided to hang them up and officially retire from the hockey world.

Throughout his 20-year NHL career, Iginla suited up for 1,554 games and posted 625-675-1,300 numbers. As of yesterday, the NHL announced Iginla to be apart of the 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame and fellow Black N’ Gold writer, Lucas Pearson, wrote about it and can check it out here. Congratulations on an astounding career, Jarome Iginla!

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Zac Rinaldo

(Photo Credit: The Hockey News | thehockeynews.com)

Tough guy, Zac Rinaldo, was traded to the Bruins during the 2015 off-season for a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He played for just one season, appearing in 52 games and scoring three points with 83 PIM.

He spent half of his NHL career with the Philadelphia Flyers from 2011-2015, suiting up in 223 games while producing 8-16-24 numbers with 572 PIM. After his time in Philadelphia, he has become an NHL journeyman, spending the last five seasons between four NHL teams and several American Hockey League (AHL) teams.

This past season, he played with the Calgary Flames but will most likely be hitting the free-agent market this off-season. Throughout his eight-year NHL career so far, he has played in 370 games while producing 18-24-42 numbers and racking up 753 PIM.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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!

Five Players You Forgot Played For The Bruins: Part One

(Photo Credit: Boston Globe | bostonglobe.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

It’s always fun to look back at Bruins’ history and notice players you had no idea played for the team. Sometimes, you recognize that name and suddenly remember the short time they did have with the Bruins. Regardless, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at some players you probably forgot played with the Bruins.

Simon Gagne

(Photo Credit: Toronto Star | thestar.com)

That’s right, Simon Gagne was a Bruin back in the 2014-2015 season and appeared in 23 games wearing a Bruins jersey while collecting three goals and four points before retiring from the National Hockey League. Although his career was about finished by the time he arrived in Boston, he has had quite the NHL career.

The 6’1, 195-pound forward, began playing for the Philadelphia Flyers from 1999-2010, playing in a total of 691 games and posting 264-271-535 with a +140 rating. On July 19th, 2010, Gagne was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Matt Walker and a fourth-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Gagne spent the season with Tampa Bay before signing with the Los Angeles Kings as a free agent. That year, Gagne was used more as a depth forward, especially after missing most of the season due to a head injury. Regardless, he played four playoff games, and the Kings ended up winning the Stanley Cup in 2012, making Gagne a Stanley Cup champion.

He appeared in 11 games with the Kings that next season before being traded back to Philadelphia for a fourth-round pick. After that season, he played impressively at the Boston Bruins training camp and inked a one-year deal. Although his time spent in Boston was cut short, it would’ve been great to have had a prime Gagne at one point in the lineup.

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Drew Stafford

(Photo Credit: National Hockey League | nhl.com)

Drew Stafford had a quick cup of coffee with the Bruins after being traded by Winnipeg for a sixth-round pick on March 1st, 2017. He suited up in a Bruins uniform 18 times that year and produced four goals and eight points with a +8 rating.

Stafford began his NHL career with the Buffalo Sabres in 2006 and played from 2006-2015, playing in 563 games while producing 145-177-322 numbers, before being traded to the Winnipeg Jets. After spending a full season with Winnipeg, the following year, he was traded to the Bruins, then in 2017 signed to the New Jersey Devils as a free agent. He played his final two years in the NHL with New Jersey, suiting up for 116 games and posting 13-15-28 numbers.

Throughout his 13-year NHL career, Stafford played for four teams, appearing in a total of 841 games while posting 196-232-428 numbers before retiring from the NHL.

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Blake Wheeler

(Photo Credit: Zimbio | zimbio.com)

For those that don’t know, Blake Wheeler was drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes as the fifth-overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, but signed to the Boston Bruins as a free agent in 2008 and began his NHL career in a Bruins jersey. He had a successful rookie campaign with Boston from 2008-2009, racking up 21 goals and 45 points with a +36 rating in 81 games.

He continued to play with Boston for the next two seasons until being traded to the Atlanta Thrashers on February 18th, 2011, with Mark Stuart going to Atlanta in exchange for Rich Peverly and Boris Valabik. The Bruins went on to win the Stanley Cup that year.

Wheeler suited up in a Thrashers jersey for the remainder of the 2010-2011 season before being transferred to the Winnipeg Jets after the Atlanta franchise relocated. Wheeler has been a top-notch winger for Winnipeg ever since. So far, he has appeared in 687 games with Winnipeg and has produced 207-427-634 numbers with a +58 rating. The 33-year-old forward is currently signed to Winnipeg until 2024, with a current cap hit of $8.25M.

Rick Tocchet

(Photo Credit: Game Worn Auctions | gamewornauctions.com)

Rick Tocchet spent a short amount of time with the Bruins from 1996-1997 after being traded to the Bruins by the Los Angeles Kings for Kevin Stevens. During the 1995-1996 season, Tocchet appeared in 27 games with the Bruins and contributed 16-8-24 numbers.

The following season, the power-forward played 40 more games with the Bruins, producing 16-14-30 numbers before being traded to the Washington Capitals. He was traded along with Bill Ranford and Adam Oates in exchange for Jim Carey, Anson Carter, Jason Allison, and a third-round pick (Lee Goren) in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. After his time with the Bruins, Tocchet finished his career playing with Washington, Phoenix Coyotes, and the Philadelphia Flyers from 1997-2002.

Throughout his 18-year career in the NHL, Tocchet played in 1,144 games while posting 440-512-952 numbers with 1,815 PIM. He is now the current head coach for the Arizona Coyotes.

Maxime Talbot

(Photo by Jana Chytilova | Freestyle Photography | Getty Images| nationalpost.com)

The former Pittsburgh Penguins grinder ended up in Boston at the tail-end of his career from 2014-2016. The Bruins saw grit and leadership that could help the team, especially during playoffs. During his tenure with the Bruins, he suited up for 56 games while producing just ten points while spending time with the Providence Bruins (AHL) as well.

Talbot began his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2005-2011, winning the Stanley Cup in 2009 while playing in 338 games and posting 52-56-108 numbers. He was then signed to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011 as a free agent and then was traded a few years later in 2013 to the Colorado Avalanche. He was then traded to the Bruins in 2015, where he finished the rest of his NHL career.

Later, he signed with Avangard Omsk (Russia) in 2018 to continue his playing career. Throughout his 11-year NHL career, he became a Stanley Cup champion, and played a total of 704 games with 91-113-204 numbers.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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!

Providence Bruins Announce Winners Of Team Awards

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

Every year the Providence Bruins (AHL) hosts their awards for their players who exemplified excellence and leadership throughout the season. If you followed Providence in any way this season, then you’ll recognize a few of these names and might have predicted who would win a particular award. Some players won more than one award and blew away people’s expectations. There is a good chance some of the players you see here today might crack the Bruins roster for the 2020-2021 campaign. Here are the winners of Providences’ awards!

Rookie of the Year Award – Jack Studnicka

(Photo Credit: Boston Globe | Bostonglobe.com)

The ‘Rookie of the Year’ Award presented by Cross Insurance goes to the one obvious choice, Jack Studnicka. Since graduating from juniors and getting the promotion to Providence, the 21-year-old forward has showcased his talents at the AHL level and even at the NHL level when called upon for two games where he also collected his first career NHL point.

Studnicka not only produced offensively 5-on-5 and on the power-play but was an absolute brute on the penalty-kill unit and led the AHL in shorthanded goals this season (seven). He also led Providence in goals, assists and points this season. He took the professional hockey world by storm this year, and I believe if anybody deserves a chance in the Boston Bruins lineup this upcoming season, it is Studnicka. Congratulations, Studnicka!

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Fan Favorite Award – Dan Vladar

(Photo Credit: National Hockey League | nhl.com)

The ‘Fan Favorite’ Award presented by Electrical Wholesalers goes to goaltender Dan Vladar. He has been apart of the organization since being drafted by the Bruins in the 3rd round of the 2015 NHL Draft. He has split his time between the Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL) and Providence since his career in the organization but had his most stellar campaign in 2019-2020.

The 6’0, 185-pound goalie led the AHL in goals-against average (GAA) with 1.79 and in save percentage with a whopping .939%. Vladar also set a career-high 14 wins at the AHL level while collecting three shutouts. He has seemed to find his game this past season. With Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask holding down the goalie tandem for 2020-2021, Vladar will be looking to spend another year in Providence, given he re-signs his soon-to-be expired contract after the NHL season. Congratulations, Vladar!

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Three Stars Award – Brendan Gaunce

(Photo Credit: Causeway Crowd | causewaycrowd.com)

The ‘Three Stars’ Award presented by AAA Insurance is an award for the player with the most ‘Three Stars’ nominations this season, and it goes to Brendan Gaunce. He led the team in first star, second star, and overall nominations this season. The 6’2, 207-pound forward was a spark plug for his team all season long and placed third in points with Providence (18-19-37 numbers). Gaunce has been very reliable for Providence, and when he was called up to the Bruins for a game and was able to produce a point.

Gaunces’ contract expires at the end of the NHL season and will be a restricted free-agent (FA). I believe another one-year deal will get done, and they will be able to rely on Gaunce to help with the development of their younger prospects and serve as a depth piece for the Bruins. Congratulations, Gaunce!

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Leading Scorer Award – Jack Studnicka

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

The ‘Leading Scorer’ Award presented by National Grid is awarded to Jack Studnicka. As mentioned above, Studnicka led Providence in goals (23), assists (26), and points (49) this season. Averaging 0.81 Pt/G with three power-play goals and seven shorthanded goals, there is no doubt Studnicka will be the offensive spark the Bruins have been looking for within their young pool of prospects.

If Studnicka doesn’t crack the Bruins lineup the next campaign, then expect for him to be putting up even more points than this past year with Providence. At this rate, he will be a point-per-game player at the AHL level and can produce 40-50 points within his rookie year in the NHL, in my opinion. The opportunities and possibilities are endless for this rising star. Congratulations, Studnicka!

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Plus/Minus Award – Josiah Didier

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

The ‘Plus/Minus’ Award presented by RI Medical Imaging goes to the player who led the team in plus/minus, Josiah Didier. New defensive addition, Didier, has done a tremendous job of holding down the blue-line for Providence this season and has earned this reward for finishing with an impressive +32 rating. The 6’3, 207-pound defender has been consistent throughout his first campaign with Providence and is a solid depth piece for the Bruins blue-line.

Didier also re-signed with Providence on a two-year deal before the season ended and will be looking to repeat that same success in the next two seasons. Players like Didier exemplifies leadership in the locker room, and that presence alone can help take Providence to the next level, especially during the playoffs. Congratulations on your hard work, Didier!

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Hendricks Memorial Fan Appreciation Award – Paul Carey

(Photo Credit: The American Hockey League | theahl.com)

The Hendricks Memorial ‘Fan Appreciation’ Award goes to the player who shows exemplary leadership & on-ice performance, and this award goes to Providence captain, Paul Carey. There is no doubt, returning captain Carey deserves this award. He plays a significant role in molding and teaching the younger prospects in the organization and remains productive as a forward as well, finishing second on the team with points.

The 6’1, 196-pound forward appeared in 60 games this season while racking up 22 goals and 39 points with a +9 rating. Carey also played in 30 games with Providence in 2018-2019 and produced 33 points during that time. Carey serves as a leadership role for the young prospects as well as an offensive plug for Providence. The 31-year-old has one more year left on his contract and will most likely serve that time with Providence unless he is called upon by the Bruins. Congratulations, Carey!

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Best Defenseman Award- Josiah Didier

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

The ‘Best Defenseman’ Award presented by Dunkin’ Donuts goes to Didier, who collects his second award. Along with being team-best in plus/minus, he also led the AHL in that same category. Didier played in 61 games this season and contributed 3-12-15 numbers with 79 PIM.

Didier will be a crucial piece to Providence, especially during the playoffs next season because of his experience after winning the Calder Cup with the Charlotte Checkers in 2018-2019. He collected four assists in 19 playoff games during that championship year. With his defensive skills, leadership, and physicality, he will be able to help Providence to their first Calder Cup Championship since 1999. Congratulations, Didier!

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Team MVP Award – Jack Studnicka

(Photo Credit: Boston Globe | bostonglobe.com)

The ‘Team MVP Award’ presented by Metlife is awarded to Jack Studnicka. The 21-year-old forward walks away with three team awards from the 2019-2020 campaign and rightfully so. In his first year in the AHL, he led his team in goals (23), assists (26) and points (49), while leading the entire league with shorthanded goals (7) and setting a new team record in that category.

If Studnicka remains healthy and performs well at camp this year, I expect him to be slotted into the Boston Bruins lineup almost immediately. I don’t think his rookie year was a fluke, and his hard-work ethic is going to reward him soon. There is no question Studnicka deserves this award. Congratulations, Studnicka!

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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’ Top 5 Underrated Draft Picks Of The Decade

(Photo Credit: The Boston Globe | bostonglobe.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

Every year, one of the most significant events in the National Hockey League occurs; the Entry Level Draft. Draft picks play an incredibly important role in a General Manager’s Strategy to improve his hockey team. Some picks carry high expectations from the start, and others become well over-looked. The Boston Bruins are well known for having three straight 1st round draft picks in 2015 and only one so far being a full-time NHLer. But, they have had other selections even in later rounds that ended up becoming a hidden gem for the organization that nobody would’ve predicted right away, or at all.

Many of these young talents boast so much potential, and others fly right under the radar of discussion. Today, I will be diving deep in the debate on who I believe are the most underrated draft picks for the Bruins this past decade (2010-2019). Please note, these are in no particular order.

Jakub Lauko (F) 3rd Round, 77th Overall Pick – 2018 Draft

(Photo Credit: The Boston Globe | bostonglobe.com)

Jakub Lauko is a versatile forward that brings a lot of energy and momentum to his game. After being drafted, he reported to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and played for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL) as an 18-year-old forward. The 6’0, 195-pound forward suited up for 44 games and posted 21-20-41 numbers with a whopping +34 rating from 2018-2019.

Lauko played a significant role for the Huskies (QMJHL) during their playoff run, contributing 6-7-13 numbers with a +10 rating in 19 games played, helping the team to win the President’s Cup in 2019. The Huskies went on to compete for the Canadian Hockey League’s championship, the Memorial Cup. They ended up winning the championship with Lauko taking home the CHL Ed Chynoweth Award for most points in the memorial cup (2-6-8 numbers in five games). With such an impressive rookie season, the Bruins decided to call him up to the Providence Bruins for further player development.

Most Bruins fans really caught a glimpse of Lauko’s work ethic and scoring potential during the 2019 NHL pre-season when he scored a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers. Since then, the forward has spent little time with Providence for the 2019-2020 season due to suffering back to back concussion and knee injuries. Lauko had battled back and returned with Providence for some games before the unprecedented pandemic ended the American Hockey League (AHL) season. He finished his first AHL season with 5-4-9 numbers with a +3 rating in 22 games played.

I believe Lauko has a massive up-side to his potential; he has an incredible work ethic, scoring ability, and isn’t afraid to be a physical player either. In a few years, Lauko could develop to be a very reliable mid-six forward for the Bruins in the near future.

Jeremy Swayman (G) 4th Round, 111th Overall Pick – 2017 Draft

(Photo Credit: News Break | newsbreak.com)

Swayman was a 4th round gem for the Bruins and could be a starter/backup for the Bruins in the next season or two. The 6’3, 185-pound goaltender has spent the past few seasons with the University of Maine and has found tremendous success. Swayman was named to the NCAA (East) All-Rookie Team in 2017-2018 after finishing the season with 2.72 GAA and a .921% save percentage.

This past season, Swayman had his most stellar year yet, playing 34 games and contributing a 2.07 GAA and a whopping .939% save percentage, ultimately winning the Hobey Baker Award (player of the year). He also won the 2020 Walter Brown Award as a top American-Collegiate college hockey player in New England, NCAA Goaltender of the Year, NCAA Top Collegiate Goalie (Mike Ritcher Award), NCAA (Hockey East) Player of the Year, and NCAA (New England) Most Valuable Player. With Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak entering the final year of their contracts, Swayman could be looking to make a significant impact within the organization sooner rather than later.

Swayman decided to forgo his senior year at Maine and signed his entry-level contract with the Bruins. Maxime Legace and Daniel Vladar both have expiring deals, so I imagine Swayman will be playing with whomever Don Sweeney ends up re-signing in Providence. The quiet 4th round selection might end up being part of the long-term solution for the Bruins’ future goaltending.

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Anders Bjork (F) 5th Round, 146th Overall Pick – 2014 Draft

(Photo Credit: National Hockey League | nhl.com)

Bjork is a speedy and creative player that has the potential to be a mid-six forward for the Bruins, in my opinion. After being drafted, Bjork committed to the University of Notre Dame and played from 2014-2017 but surrendered his senior year to ink his entry-level deal with the Bruins. Bjork had his most impressive campaign during his last year with Notre Dame, contributing 21-31-52 numbers with a +17 rating in 39 games played. Since then, Bjork was one of the Bruins’ most promising rookies but became plagued with season-ending injuries from 2017-2019, limiting his ice-time with Providence and Boston.

Bjork was finally able to showcase his talent at the NHL level this season, to manage a full-time position in line-up throughout most of the 2019-2020 season, suiting up for 58 games and posting 9-19-19 numbers with a +5 rating. He began to become a healthy scratch for stretches near the end of the season due to inconsistencies, but the left-winger has shown to be a difference-maker at the NHL level.

I hope that the Bruins can come to terms with Bjork this upcoming off-season, and they choose to protect him during the 2021-2022 expansion draft as well. For a 5th round selection, Bjork was an absolute steal for the Bruins.

Trent Frederic (F) 1st Round, 29th Overall Pick – 2016 Draft

(Photo credit: ESPN | espn.com)

Even though Frederic is a 1st round selection, I believe he is an underrated pick that deserves a lot more credit, especially after a strong 2019-2020 campaign with the Providence Bruins. Frederic is a diverse player and can spark his team in a lot of different ways. The 6’2, 203-pound forward, provides a lot of physicality to the line-up and led the AHL in penalty minutes (148) during the 2019-2020 campaign. Although many Bruins fans know Fredric for his rookie game with the Bruins that involved a fight with Winnipeg Jets’ Brandon Tanev, he has the potential to be a strong two-way player through development with Providence.

Before the AHL season ended due to the unprecedented pandemic, Frederic suited up for 59 games and contributed 8-24-32 numbers with a +10 rating. Although the forward has been placed on the wing with the Bruins more often than as a center, either position he can play well as long as he is not shy, isn’t afraid to be physical and uses his large frame to his advantage.

Even though Frederic has played a total of 17 games at the NHL level without yet producing a point, he has improved substantially and could be looking to crack the bottom-six line-up for the Bruins in the next season or two. Frederic has one year remaining on his Entry-Level Contract and will use this upcoming season to prove himself worthy of this thriving organization.

Matthew Grzelcyk (D) 3rd Round, 85th Overall – 2012 Draft

(Photo credit: Bleacher Report | bleacherreport.com)

Although this underrated category is in no particular order, I can safely say that Matthew Grzelyck turned out to be one of the Bruins’ most underrated draft picks of this decade, in my opinion. Not only has Grzelyck cracked the line-up the past few seasons as a full-time NHLer, but the undersized defenseman proved much of the hockey world wrong.

After being drafted, the 5’9, 175-pound defender committed to Boston University and played from 2013-2016, appearing in a total of 87 games and contributing 23-67-89 numbers with an astounding +61 rating. He also scored the game-winning goal for Boston University to win the Beanpot Championship in 2015.

Bruins’ fans can be relentless in their opinions about Grzelcyk because of his physical stature and the fact that he doesn’t hit everything on site. Still, fans undermine his puck-moving and scoring abilities. If Krug chose not to re-sign with the Bruins this off-season, then Grzelyck would be one of the best options for the central power-play unit unless Bruce Cassidy decides to use five forwards. His skating ability also does not grow on trees by any means. When watching him play, he becomes elusive around other forwards pressuring him. He’s able to get out of tight space situations and break out the defensive zone without giving up the puck.

In the past three seasons, Grzelyck has appeared in 195 games and posted 10-44-54 numbers with a +45 rating while managing an average of 18:07 on-ice time. During the 2019 playoffs, Grzelyck produced four goals, eight points, and 17 blocks in 20 games. The defender is continually improving year after year, and with his contract expiring at the end of this season, the Bruins should focus on re-signing him.

Unfortunately, if Grzelyck were to re-sign for at least two more years, he would most likely become exposed during the 2021-2022 expansion draft. Grzelyck holds more value than most people perceive, and I believe he can become a franchise defenseman for the Bruins if he keeps up his production.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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 Alumni: Happy Birthday Jack Shewchuk

(Photo Credit: Brantford & Area Sports Hall Of Recognition | https://www.brantfordareasportshall.ca)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

Jack Shewchuk was born on June 19th, 1917, in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. He began playing juniors as an 18-year-old defenseman, splitting his time between the Sudbury Cub Wolves (NOJHA) and Copper Cliff Jr. Redmen (NOJHA) from 1935-1937. After graduating from junior hockey, the Boston Bruins took a chance on the 6’1, 190-pound defender and signed him to a deal in October of 1937. Shewchuk was assigned to play for their American Hockey League affiliate, the Providence Reds, suiting up in 42 games with a statline of 4-3-7 with 69 PIM.

The following season, Shewchuk continued for most of the 1938-1939 season developing with Providence but was rewarded his first National Hockey League action, playing in three games that season. The Bruins would go on to winning the Stanley Cup that season, making Shewchuk a Stanley Cup champion at the age of 21. Shewchuk proved to be a reliable and fierce defender and cemented his position in the line-up for the 1939-1940 season. He went on to play 47 games while contributing two goals and four assists with 55 PIM.

The Boston Bruins being awarded the Stanley Cup in 1939 (Photo Credit: Ice Hockey Wiki Fandom | icehockey.fandom.com)

After a successful rookie campaign, Shewchuk began the 1940-1941 season with the Hershey Bears (AHL), playing in 31 games before being called back up to the Bruins and finishing the season with four points in 20 games played. The Bruins went on to dominate the playoffs and won the Stanley Cup again after sweeping the Detroit Red Wings in 1941. Shewchuk played a pivotal role on the blue-line despite the number of games he played that year and contributed to the Bruins immensely with his fearless style of play.

The Ontario-native started the 1941-1942 season with the Hershey Bears (AHL) before getting called back up to the Bruins, this time suiting up in 22 games while collecting two goals. He also appeared in five playoff games and ended up collecting his first and only NHL playoff point. The gritty and tenacious defender solidified his position in the line-up the next season, contributing 2-6-8 numbers with 50 PIM in 48 games. Shewchuk appeared in nine games during the playoffs before the Detroit Red Wings swept the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Boston Bruins locker room after winning the Stanley Cup in 1941. (Photo Credit: Ice Hockey Wiki Fandom | icehockey.fandom.com)

After taking off the 1943-1944 season due to joining the military for World War II, Shewchuk returned for one more season with the Bruins in 1944-1945, suiting up for 47 games and putting up 1-7-8 numbers with 31 PIM. After his tenure with the Bruins ended, he played two more seasons with the St.Louis Flyers (AHL), tallying 23 points with 92 PIM in 116 games played. For the next few years, Shewchuk played for the Kitchener Dutchmen (OHA-Sr.) and Brantford Redmen from 1946-1952. Shewchuk retired from the professional hockey world at the age of 35.

Jack Shewchuk passed away on May 15th, 1989, at the age of 71, in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. Throughout his six-year NHL career, Shewchuk finished with 9-19-28 numbers with 160 PIM in 187 games. Happy Birthday, Jack Shewchuk!

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