Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Sign Multiple Free Agents

5d4a5eddc03a64feba497e82_0806-atg19-full

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

By: Ian Frazier | Follow me on Twitter @ifrazier95

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bruins Renew Affiliation With The Atlanta Gladiators

5c0203d5b4cda-image

(Photo Credit: Amanda Bingham / gwinettdailypost.com)

By: Ian Frazier | Follow me on Twitter @ifrazier95

Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced today that the organization has renewed its affiliation with the Atlanta Gladiators for the 2019-20 season. The Bruins originally made the first affiliation agreement back in the 2015-16 season and now enter their third affiliation after 2017-18’s renewal with this announcement.

Gladiators head coach Jeff Pyle states that “this affiliation with Boston and Providence has provided great support for all clubs involved, and we look forward to developing the relationship and providing good young players for depth from our side that can help all of us be successful as well as bring more Gladiators and Bruins fans together at matches.” Gladiators team president Jerry James states that the club is “excited to share great hockey history with Boston and be able to extend the fanbase in the Atlanta metro area and surrounding communities.”

The Gladiators first began as the Mobile Mystics located in Mobile, Alabama from 1995-2002. In 2003 the franchise relocated to Georgia where they played in Gwinnett County and therefore were renamed the Gwinnett Gladiators. That name might sound familiar to some as they were the ECHL affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers back in the day. When the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg and became the Jets, the club changed their name to the Atlanta Gladiators to give Atlanta a hockey team that supports the growing community. They also served as the ECHL affiliate of the Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Sabres, and Coyotes at one point. Also, both the South Carolina Stingrays and the Reading Royals served as the Bruin’s affiliates in the past

Because of this renewed affiliation, the Bruins can continue to designate players in their development system to the Gladiators. This should provide some much-needed development time for any prospects the Bruins feel they need to see more growth out of before they are ready to be called up to Providence. Keep in mind that the Bruins are not allowed to send down players from the NHL directly to the ECHL. They would have to choose which prospects in their development system to send to the ECHL. The prospects chosen are mostly ones that the Bruins don’t see being ready for the NHL, but they would like to keep them in their system. Therefore they can send them down to the ECHL to get some playing time. Many goalies in the system can be sent to the ECHL to develop “pro-like” skills and give the club something to keep an eye on down the road. Many goalies that have played in the NHL today have started their careers in the ECHL.
Sweeney says he “thanks the Gladiators franchise for the renewed affiliation and we like to extend our gratitude to the many associates of the ECHL club and we would like to thank the community of Duluth, Georgia for its unwavering support of the Gladiators and the Bruins.”

The Bruins should have some prospects in the system that don’t fit right now that would benefit spending a couple of seasons in the ECHL before they get a crack at Providence. One thing for sure is that the renewed Bruins/Gladiators affiliation should bring some more fans who live near Atlanta together as well as attract some new ones.

Bruins’ Prospect Beecher Shined At World Juniors Summer Showcase

John-Beecher

( Photo credit Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images )

By: Ian Frazier | Follow Me On Twitter @ifrazier95

Boston Bruins fans must be feeling pretty good right now after reading the reports and watching recent YouTube videos about the team’s 2019 National Hockey League first-round draft selection John Beecher. The 18-year-old Elmira, New York native was labeled as a draft steal to some experts when he was selected 30th in late Junes NHL Entry Draft from Vancouver, British Columbia. The jury is still out on him, but with the way Beecher played in the 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase held at the Team USA Arena in Plymouth, Michigan, the B’s scouting staff certainly got this one right when addressing future needs.

Beecher looked like an absolute beast compared to other prospects his age. As shown in the video above, he was able to win puck battles on the boards as well as score a couple goals down low. He also battled hard on faceoffs and generated a nice breakaway goal that was made possible by his fast acceleration down the ice beating two defenders. During his time at WJSS, he developed great chemistry alongside fellow Bruins’ prospect Curtis Hall showing their nice one-two punch that was on display during the domination of Finland 7-1. One of his biggest attributes on display was his overall team awareness. He knew exactly where his teammates were and was able to make crisp passes or be able to skate in and help contain the puck near the crease. From what he has shown so far, many hockey insiders believe his style of play is very similar to Sean Couturier with additional speed and size.

With Beecher showing flashes of top six potential, this should be great news for Bruins center David Krejci going forward. Krejci has had seasons where he struggled to have consistent scoring due to the lack of explosiveness on his right side and someone like Beecher could bring that explosiveness to the black and gold and could fill the much-needed position soon. The Bruins had a few prospects the last few seasons try out there with Jackob Forsbaka Karlsson being the most recent. JFK, however, decided to go back to Sweeden to help his development. In the meantime they found a solid replacement with Bruins forward Karson Kuhlman to hold down the fort until someone like Beecher is ready to be called up. Beecher is scheduled to transfer to the University of Michigan where he will play for the Wolverines during the 2019-20 NCAA season.

Over the past few seasons, players like this have been a much-needed asset for many teams and Beecher may be the next in line that fits that mold. One thing is for sure though, Bruins fans should be excited about him, and they should be happy knowing that Sweeney may have found a future solution at second-line right wing. We still don’t know for sure if Beecher is a long-time solution for the club down the road, but the future looks bright for this young man. Time will tell!

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 139 that we recorded on 8-2-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Sticher.

How The Bruins Stack Up In The East For 2019-20 Campaign?

(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer – Getty Images)

By: Ian Frazier  |  Follow Me On Twitter @ifrazier95

With the offseason in full gear, teams around the league have started preparations for the 2019-2020 season. The Bruins, while having a quiet offseason so far, have made a couple of minor moves to help their depth out like bringing back Steve Kampfer and Connor Clifton as well as signing free agent Brett Ritchie and Par Lidholm. While we await the news on both McAvoy and Carlo lets take a look at how the Bruins match up with the rest of the eastern conference as of today.

Atlantic Divison 

The Bruins’ division so far this offseason have made upgrades and has some question marks too. The Tampa Bay lightning are the favorites to win the division again, and it would be silly to think the Bruins are on their level after the last regular season’s finish. While the Lightning did lose a key defenseman in Stralman, they added a decent defenseman in Luke Schenn as well as Nolan Foote in the draft. They also signed ex-Hurricane goalie Curtis McElhinney and ex-Devil Scott Wedgewood. They still have the rest of the original gang from last season returning with the question mark being Point and how much will Tampa Bay pay him and for how many years? As it stands right now, the Bruins goaltending duo of Rask and Halak is right on par with Tampa’s, but Tampa still has better forwards up and down the roster, and their defense is a bit stronger than the Bruins so don’t expect the Bruins to pass them for the division crown this year.

The Bruins’ other closest opponent the Maple Leafs right now is a bit of a question mark team. Their additions of Kerfoot and Barrie give them a much-needed boost on both offense and defense, however, they lose Kadri and are still waiting for the shoe to drop on Mitch Marner who seems to want to get a huge payday. Berrie provides a nice offensive game to the Leafs defense and skates well, but with the loss of Zaitsev to Ottawa and the failure to address their back end this offseason, the Leafs defense is once again hit or miss. Expect the Bruins to take advantage of this as the Leafs will have to rely on offense (again) to carry them which will help the Bruins slip past them in the standings as the Leafs drop some important games down the stretch due to a weaker than average defense.

As far as the rest of the division goes, nobody knows. Buffalo, Ottawa, and Detriot are not in the same stratosphere as the Bruins right now, and while Florida has signed Bobvrosky, they still have many holes which won’t be enough to catch the Bruins, but maybe could sneak them into a wildcard spot. We will have to wait and see.

Metropolitan Division

The Metro is where things get dicey in the east. New Jersey went on a spending spree adding Wayne Simmonds and P.K Subban to go along with Taylor Hall and Travis Zajac. They buffed their depth with taking a special talent Jack Hughes with the first overall pick. Expect New Jersey to be right in the mix along with the Bruins as their offense just became more dynamic, and their defense became stronger with the addition of Subban. The Washington Capitals, as we know, have been the Bruins’ biggest kryptonite the past few seasons and will once again be in the mix for a top seed along with the Bruins. It is imperative the Bruins solve Holtby this year, which is a tall task for them, but it can go a long way with later down the line when the Bruins have to play for seeding. The New York Rangers also became a bigger threat after drafting Kappo Kako and sign Panarin. With Lundqvist still in the cage, the Rangers are no slouches to contend for a wildcard spot. Bruins have more depth and firepower than the Rangers but expect them to be right in the thick of things.

The rest of the division is a toss-up. In honesty, every single team in the Metro could make the playoffs this year, and the Bruins have separated themselves from half the division, they still have to keep two sets of eyes on it just to make sure no one is sneaking up behind them or they have an early playoff matchup with one of the teams.

It’s hard to exactly judge where the Bruins will stand towards the end of the season, but as of right now they are still a top 5 team in the east, but they need to make sure the Carlo and McAvoy contracts get done if they want to stay that way. Look for Boston to be right in the playoff mix by midseason again with basically the same core and goaltending duo.

How Last Season’s Deadline Changes Sweeney’s Approach?​

8995de0004114807bc891e61ee5d7ec7-8995de0004114807bc891e61ee5d7ec7-0

( Photo credit: Steven Senne / Associated Press )

By: Ian Frazier | Follow me on Twitter @ifrazier95

As most Bruins fans know, the deadline for NHL season is always an interesting time for the black and gold. Many players have been traded for and never panned out like Andrej Meszároš or the infamous Zach Rinaldo, both of which were quick experiments that failed to deliver any results. As more trade deadlines came and went, Bruins fans started to wonder if there was a repeated pattern of trading for non-impact level players as well as swinging and missing out on some bigger names they have been linked to.

During the 2019 season, however, that all changed. During the week of the trade deadline at the end of February, the Bruins traded prospect Ryan Donato to the Minnesota Wild for Charlie Coyle, a player who hasn’t really lived up to his potential in Minnesota. Many Bruins fans at the time questioned the move as they seemed to surround themselves in the hype that was Ryan Donato. They ultimately in the short term were proven right as Donato would go on a mini point streak with the Wild and Charlie Coyle looked invisible on the ice.

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

Then on deadline day, the Bruins acquired Marcus Johansson from the New Jersey Devils for a second-round pick in the 2019 draft and a fourth-round pick in the 2020 draft. Many Bruins fans were puzzled with this one as many saw that JoJo (Johansson’s nickname) was injury prone and also was on the receiving end of a controversial hit involving Brad Marchand earlier in the season that sidelined him for a while. After playing a couple games with the Bruins, JoJo got hurt and was sidelined again for a bit which left fans wondering was giving up two draft picks at the time worth it for what possibly was going to be a rental?

As the Bruins punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup playoffs, they were eager to go on a deep run with this core and believed they had the depth to do it. All of a sudden, Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson were a dynamic duo helping the Bruins redefine their offensive attack with a now solid third line! As the playoffs rolled along, the two additions quickly became fan favorites as they contributed to most of the team’s scoring output when the top line had a bad night or a bad shift. Head coach Bruce Cassidy finally had multiple lines up and down the roster that he could roll out and go on a deep run with and that’s exactly what the Bruins did.

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

While the Bruins didn’t capture the ultimate prize at the end, the trades of Coyle and Johansson provided a much-needed jolt of offense that was critical to reaching game seven of the Stanley Cup final. Knowing how well their trades worked and how far the Bruins went general manager, Don Sweeney has to be feeling pretty good knowing he traded for a rental that brought them within sixty minutes of a title and a nice depth piece in Coyle who is versatile and still under contract for the 2019-2020 season. Sweeney always has the team’s best interest in mind and would be willing to stand pat or make trades as needed to improve the lineup. Knowing Sweeney struck gold at this past trade deadline as well as being awarded GM of the year, expect Sweeney to enter next season’s trade deadline with a different attitude which maybe could land the next big thing in Boston, who knows?

Exploring ECHL Affiliates for Bruins’ 2019-2020 Season

( Photo Credit: ECHL.com )

By: Ian Frazier | Follow me on Twitter @ifrazier95

With the 2018-2019 season coming to a close and the Bruins still playing for the Stanley Cup, the offseason is right around the corner for the black and gold.

Down in the ECHL, the Bruins’ affiliate Atlanta Gladiators had a disappointing season by missing the Kelley Cup playoffs by only a few points. While their season comes to a close and the Kelley Cup is in the hands of the Newfoundland Growlers, the negotiation period is about to open up for NHL teams to discuss affiliation deals with ECHL clubs. The Atlanta Gladiators contract is ending with the Bruins and therefore leads us to the question of “who do the Bruins look to sign an affiliation contract with?” Below are a few options to consider.

Atlanta Gladiators

Quite simply the easiest team to link with the Bruins due to their current contract ending and with the familiarity between both front offices. The Bruins could simply sign a renewal contract on the dotted line and continue to partner with the Gladiators.

Greenville Swamp Rabbits 

Located in South Carolina, the Swamp Rabbits have been chomping at the bit to grab an affiliate for years as they have been independent for the last three seasons. The south has become a new age hockey region with the surges of the Hurricanes and Lighting so maybe it’s worth dipping into the “snowbird” fans down in the Carolina’s.

Rapid City Rush

Located in South Dakota, Rapid City has been an interesting team in the last couple of years in terms of affiliation. They originally started as the affiliate to the Minnesota Wild until Vegas came into the league and then they were assigned to them until Vegas signed an affiliation contract with the Fort Wayne Komets. This team has a very good financial situation with just signing a five-year contract extension to remain in the ECHL. A Bruins affiliation could help extend that contract longer if the Bruins are partnered with them in the next few years when the next ECHL team contract is up.

What about other teams? 

As many of you New England locals know, the Manchester Monarchs were also an ECHL team located in the New Hampshire area and would have been an option as an affiliate. Unfortunately, the organization folded last offseason due to financial difficulties once the LA Kings dropped their affiliation with them, and they struggled to gain any attendance boost after the fact.

The same thing can be said about the Quad City Mallards who were located in Iowa and Illinois (City is located right on the border). Quad City used to be affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks until they opted out of the contract due to them suspending operations.

When the offseason starts, the Bruins will have some interesting choices when it comes to affiliates, and Jeremy Jacobs will have some decisions to make. Look for the affiliate announcement in July if the Bruins go for a new partnership or earlier if they decide to resign the agreement with Atlanta.