Bruins Should Steer Away From Trades This Offseason

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY)

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

During the weeks before the NHL Draft and the beginning of Free Agency, the Boston Bruins were one of the main teams involved in some of the biggest rumors – especially when it comes to the signing of big-name free agents such as Ilya Kovalchuk and John Tavares.

To the disappointment of many Bruins fans, not a single headlined name decided to pack up their bags and move to Boston. (Unless you consider Joakim Nordstrom or John Moore big names). Instead, the Bruins settled on bottom-six, depth players that may or may not make a difference. Some of the other players involved in the free agency list will bring great talent and change to their new team.

Even with the so-called lackluster offseason up to this point, many people within the fanbase feel that the Bruins need to look to other NHL organizations and make the necessary deals to improve what is believed to be a sub-par team. However, a trade that has any value whatsoever coming back to the roster, would mean some valuable players currently on the Bruins roster would have to be shipped out of Boston.

Torey Krug

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Matt Stone)

One of the biggest trade baits the B’s own as of today is 27-year-old defenceman Torey Krug, who has two years remaining on a $5,250,000 contract. Krug has been a consistent forty-point scorer since he played in his first National Hockey League season back in 2013-14.

Season Tm GP G A PTS +/-
2011-12 BOS 2 0 1 1 0
2012-13 BOS 1 0 1 1 -1
2013-14 BOS 79 14 26 40 18
2014-15 BOS 78 12 27 39 12
2015-16 BOS 81 4 40 44 9
2016-17 BOS 81 8 43 51 -10
2017-18 BOS 76 14 45 59 0
Career 398 52 183 235 28

Since joining the Bruins, Krug has become the main man for the offense on the blueline, especially on the power-play. Out of his two-hundred-and-thirty-five career points, 102 of them are on the man-advantage. Known to many as the quarterback on the backend, Krug has been the leading scorer among Bruin defensemen since the 2014-15 season, where Dougie Hamilton once led the team that year.

There are very few players who can handle the puck like Torey Krug and considering his size, his value is unlike many others on Boston’s roster. Krug is one of the most reliable defenders on the league, mainly due to the scoring that we previously discussed. But the speed and stick-handling of the Michigan native are rarely matched. Even highly praised young gun Charlie McAvoy cannot quite match the offensive capabilities of Torey at this point of his career.

That brings up another point to avoid a Krug trade. The leader of the Bruins organization, Zdeno Chara, is another year closer to the dreaded retirement. Even with his tremendous physical attributes, the 41-year-old will have to leave the game of hockey eventually. Once that time comes, the Bruins will lack the leadership on the defensive end. Torey Krug could be the mentor to the upcoming youth such as McAvoy, Carlo, Vaakanainen, Zboril and the rest of the younger defencemen when it comes to being offensive on the blueline.

Torey Krug has become a common face in the Black and Gold sweater and trading him could be a mistake going forward.

 

Brandon Carlo

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports)

Brandon “Bad Luck” Carlo is another defenceman often involved in trade ideas from fans all over. The phrase “Bad Luck” has been associated with Carlo due to the untimely injuries that he has faced at the end of the season for the last two years. Right before the playoffs begin, Brandon Carlo has suffered an injury that forces him to miss the entirety of the postseason.

In the 2016-17 campaign, Carlo quickly became a regular on the Bruins defense, playing in all 82 games – the majority of which were alongside captain Zdeno Chara. Posting 6-10-16 numbers in the time span, blocking 115 shots and landing 87 hits. During that first year, Carlo finished third on the entire roster in average time on ice, with an average of 20:49 minutes played on the ice. However, in the final game of the season, against the Washington Capitals, Carlo took a hard hit from Capitals’ forward Alex Ovechkin, giving Carlo what would be deemed later as a concussion.

The Bruins would then lack the services of Carlo, who they had become comfortable with on their blueline over the course of the season, for all six games of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Fast forward one year later. Brandon Carlo would be on the road to playing another full year before suffering a fractured left ankle in a March 31st game against the Florida Panthers. Once again, Brandon would be forced to miss all of the playoffs.

Prior to the injury, the Colorado native only had six points with zero goals scored, but his six-foot-five, 208-pound frame added power and defense to the Bruins d-man depth. Carlo nearly averaged twenty minutes on the ice again, capping off at 19:14. The time he spent on the ice allowed players such as Zdeno Chara to be on the bench more, keeping Chara a bit more alive during games. Brandon did finish third on the Bruins roster for most blocked shots, blocking a total of 84 shots in the 2017-2018 season.

According to Leftwinglock.com, Carlo did play with fellow trade-rumored defenceman, Torey Krug, the most out of any other d-man within the Bruins lineup. While with Krug on the point, the two of them were on the ice for thirty goals for and only twenty against.

Brandon Carlo adds versatility to the blueline of the Boston Bruins and like Krug, could bring some consequences to the B’s if they do decide to trade him away.

David Krejci & David Backes

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PHOTO CREDITS: (BOB DECHIARA/USA TODAY SPORTS)

I grouped the combination of David Krejci and David Backes together because they both cannot be traded at this time for the same reason – contract stipulations.

As per CapFriendly, both Backes and Krejci have full no-move clauses, meaning they cannot be traded, waived, or assigned to the minors without their personal consent.

The rumors for moving Krejci and/or Backes mainly arose during the John Tavares sweepstakes about a week ago. As many people know, the Bruins were one of the final teams left in the sweepstakes, but could not quite land the 27-year-old star. Clearly, Boston did not have much room salary cap-wise to land Tavares, a backup goaltender, and some bottom-six role players, so a trade needed to be finalized in order to sign Tavares.

David Krejci and his $7.25 million cap hit as well as David Backes and his $6 million cap hit were among those rumored to be shipped out of Boston in order to free up the necessary space needed to fill all the holes mentioned previously. However, the no-move clause prevents any trade without the consent of either Backes or Krejci.

That special agreement made when the contract was signed is decreased to a limited no-trade clause for both players come the 2019-2020 season. For Krejci, he must provide a list that includes 50% of the current teams in the NHL that he can be traded to. If the number is odd, then he is ordered to round down.

For Backes, he will have an eight-team trade list in ’19-’20, followed by a fifteen-team trade list in 2020-2021. Either way, neither player can be moved unwillingly during this offseason. Plus, David Krejci is coming off an improved season where his point-per-game went up to 0.69 points-per-game from the 0.66 points-per-game he had a year prior. Krejci has also found success with left-winger Jake DeBrusk in the past year, bringing up the value of both players.

Finally, if the Boston Bruins feel that the contract + age of Krejci and Backes do not make sense for the future plans of the organization, then what team around the NHL will want to pay the same amount of money for the same player. The stars do not align when it comes to trading away David Krejci or David Backes – at least not right now.

So to end this all off, the Boston Bruins should avoid any trades just for the sake of making trades. The past has not been kind when the Bruins make rushed moves because of a lackluster offseason to begin with. Remember, the 2017-2018 Bruins were not expected to be as good as they were. Not entirely saying that Boston will be a Cup-favourites next season, but they might just be a playoff contender. Even without John Tavares.

Boston Bruins, Sean Kuraly Agree To Three-Year Deal

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PHOTO CREDITS: (AP Photo)

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

The Boston Bruins have announced today, July 3rd, that restricted free agent Sean Kuraly to a three-year contract worth $1.275 million per season.

Kuraly recently joined the Bruins back in 2015 in a trade involving the San Jose Sharks. The Bruins sent recently acquired Martin Jones to the Sharks in exchange for Sean Kuraly and San Jose’s 2016 1st Round Pick in the NHL Entry Draft (Trent Frederic).

Drafted 133rd overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Kuraly never got the change to play in the big leagues. He spent the majority of his time post-draft in the NCAA with Miami University, where he scored 93 points in 154 career games. The first year after the trade to the Bruins, Kuraly remained with Miami University, racking up 23 points in 63 games that year.

The next season, however, Kuraly would get the opportunity to play in the American Hockey League with the Boston Bruins’ affiliate team, the Providence Bruins. Joining the P-Bruins at age 24, Kuraly would play in only eight games, scoring a single point with Providence, before getting the call to join the Bruins in the National Hockey League. During the five games he played in November, Kuraly would fail to score a point. The lack of production would find him back in Providence for a good portion of the season.

Again in April, Kuraly would get another opportunity to prove his worth in Boston due to a lower-body injury to Jimmy Hayes. In his first game back in the NHL on April 2nd, Kuraly would assist on a Zdeno Chara goal, signifying his first career NHL point. Sean played in another two games during the regular season of ’16/’17 but managed to remain off the score sheet.

Sean Kuraly would stay with the team heading into the playoffs, skating in both Game One and Two against the Ottawa Senators. Having not played in the third or fourth game of the series, Kuraly would get yet another chance to perform in the postseason in Game Five, replacing Ryan Spooner who was not quite ready to enter the lineup following an injury.

It would be Game Five where Sean Kuraly won over the hearts of the Boston fan base, scoring two goals including the double-overtime winner that cut the Senators’ series lead to 3-2. In addition, Kuraly’s post-goal celebration showed the passion that this man possesses.

In August of 2017, Sean Kuraly was interviewed by the Columbus Dispatch during the Bruins’ training camp, wondering if the two goals in the playoffs would earn him a spot in the upcoming season.

“It starts all over again,” he said. “Did I help myself by scoring two goals in the playoffs and playing my role? Absolutely. But it really does start over. We have so many good, young players going to camp.” 

Turns out, Sean would indeed impress the Bruins management, earning a full-time spot on the Bruins’ bottom-six. Kuraly would play in all of the first 76 games, before dealing with an upper-body injury prior to the playoffs. The injury would cost him seven games, but he managed to be ready for Game One versus Toronto.

In the seventy-six games of the regular season, Sean finished with 6-8-14 totals with a -5 rating. He would finish third on the team for most hits, (143), behind only Kevan Miller and Noel Acciari. Kuraly had a good takeaway to giveaway ratio considering the lack of ice-time, ending the year with 32 takeaways and only 28 giveaways.

The playoffs would not be as legendary as the 2017 Playoffs, however, he would still score four points (two goals), in the twelve postseason games.

Heading into the 2018-2019 season, Kuraly positions himself in a good spot for a third-line center role. Due to the loss of Riley Nash and Tim Schaller in free agency, Kuraly seems like the best option to man the middle on the third-line. Regardless, the signing of Kuraly is a steal for both term and salary. Below is the current cap space of the Bruins following his signing.

So, was the Kuraly signing a good one? Let me know on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj.

Boston Bruins: Prospect Olivier Galipeau Brings Intriguing Talent

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PHOTO CREDITS: (The Northern Light Archive)

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

There are two things in the National Hockey League that often just do not mix – the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens. Throughout the storied history of both Original Six franchises, moves have been made that is agreed upon by both sides such as Ken Dryden to the Habs or even Claude Julien to Montreal in most recent years.

However, there have been very few occasions where the Bruins and Canadiens experience any sort of betrayal from a player. Well, on June 27th, 2018, the Montreal Canadiens may have very well felt that betrayal when Montreal, Quebec native Olivier Galipeau denied the opportunity to play in the Canadiens’ development camp and agree to a one-year AHL contract with the Providence Bruins.

Olivier Galipeau is one considered a veteran of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, playing in five consecutive seasons with three different teams. The overage defenceman has created a solid reputation with scouts and analysts as one of the best offensive defenders in the QMJHL.

The Montreal-native kicked off his QMJHL career with the Val d’Or Foreurs. In the next four seasons, he would continually produce decent season totals, finding his best hockey in the final two seasons with the Foreurs. In the 2015-16 regular season, Galipeau scored nine goals and thirty-seven points in 56 games, adding an impressive +29 rating in the process.

In the short six-game playoff run that same season, Olivier scored only one goal but assisted on eight, finishing the postseason with nine points. The following season would be split between the Foreurs and his new team, the Chicoutimi Sagueneens due to a trade that was made at the 2016-17 QMJHL Trade Deadline.

Because he was captain with Val d’Or, Galipeau was awarded the “C” on his sweater. The second-half of the ’16/’17 season was not the best for him, however, scoring only fourteen points in the thirty games he skated in. In turn, it was the first-half of the past 2017-2018 season that Galipeau truly showed his talents as a defenseman. In just 37 games with the Sagueneens, Galipeau racked up 15-25-40 totals and a +18 rating. The stellar play brought up his trade value heading into the 2018 QMJHL Trade Deadline.

When the trade season began for the QMJHL, the favorites to win the QMJHL Championship make the necessary trades to further solidify their chances on winning the top prize in the Eastern-Canadian junior hockey league. One of the top favorites – the Acadie-Bathurst Titan – managed to land one of the best players in the league for a ton of future draft picks.

Olivier Galipeau was sent from Chicoutimi to Acadie-Bathurst for a 2018 4th Round Pick, a 2019 2nd Round Pick, a 2019 3rd Round Pick, a 2020 3rd Round Pick, and a 2020 5th Round Pick.

The change of scenery did not mean a change in results for Galipeau. In the final 30 games of the year, Galipeau finished with 10-24-34 totals – guaranteeing him first place in defenceman scoring for all of the QMJHL over the entirety of the 2017-2018 campaign. Not only would he have his best career regular season, but his playoff run with the Titan would be stellar as well.

His twenty points in twenty playoff games helped earn the Titan the QMJHL Championship and secured them a spot in the 100th Mastercard Memorial Cup. Galipeau would notch three assists during the tournament, as the Titan would win the Memorial Cup in Regina.

Following his performance in the Memorial Cup, the hype surrounding his name arose. Numerous fans from different fanbases wanted his services, especially the Montreal Canadien fans. To have a young offensive defenceman from Montreal would be a dream come true for many Habs fans, even though he may not earn an NHL roster position with the Canadiens.

The decision to leave the Montreal camp in favor of signing with the Bruins confuses many people, but according to TVA Sports reporter Mikael Lalancette, he believed that he would be in the Canadiens development camp but Boston came in out of nowhere and offered him the contract late in the afternoon. The Bruins would then send Galipeau on a flight to Boston the next morning.

Credit for the signing could very well be given to Boston Bruins QMJHL scout, Alain Bissonnette, who once spent eighteen years as a head scout in the Q. Bissonnette won a Memorial Cup of his own back in 2012. It is very possible that he noticed something to like, insisting the Bruins to sign him as soon as possible, inevitably “stealing” him from the Canadiens.

While he may not be an immediate difference maker for the P-Bruins, he can add some much-needed depth on the blueline for the years to come. It will be interesting to follow the career of Olivier Galipeau while he wears the Providence Bruins sweater.

Boston Bruins: John Tavares Signing Should Be Avoided

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Author: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

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

As the NHL Offseason passes the NHL Entry Draft, the rumors of free agent signings arise left, right, and center, but often the names of those players do not peak the interest of many fans. However, during the 2018 NHL Offseason, some big names become unrestricted free agents on July 1st.

Forward Ilya Kovalchuk was the main player in the rumor mill prior to the draft, but on Saturday, June 23rd, numerous sources confirmed that Kovalchuk will sign with the Los Angeles Kings on a three-year contract worth $18.75 million.

The days before the announcement brought some interesting possibilities for Kovalchuk’s return to the NHL, following a five-year absence to play in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) with the St. Petersburg SKA. Surprisingly, the Boston Bruins appeared to be one of the favorites to sign the Russian forward. However, Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney would not budge on a contract that exceeded two years according to The Athletic analyst Pierre LeBrun.

Once the news of the deal emerged, it became clear that signing a 35-year-old player to that contract did not make sense in terms of the Bruins’ future plans. At the end of the deal, Kovalchuk will be thirty-eight years of age, sparking the question as to if he can produce at a high level when that time comes.

But for the Boston Bruins, free agency was not quite done just yet. The news came out from multiple sources including The Athletic’s Arthur Staple, TSN’s Darren Dreger, and Sportsnet’s John Shannon that the Boston Bruins were also in on the John Tavares sweepstakes and would get the opportunity to interview the current captain of the New York Islanders.

At first glance, signing Tavares would make the Bruins a standout threat in the Eastern Conference and possibly the league heading into next season. When you imagine the top-six that includes Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak, DeBrusk, and Tavares, all you need is that definite answer on the second-line right-wing, and the Bruins may have the best top-six in the NHL.

However, just simply signing Tavares will not work for Boston. Moves within and possibly outside the organization must occur for the Bruins to make the blockbuster deal. As of June 25th, the B’s have $11,984,333 in available cap space, without the likes of Anton Khudobin (who may not re-sign with the team) and some bottom-six players that also require new deals, the Bruins cannot just sign Tavares to a contract with what they have salary cap wise.

The options for salary-cap relief begins at either David Backes or David Krejci. Backes has three years remaining on his $6 million contracts and at 34-years-old, the price may be too steep to keep. However, Backes still has a no-trade clause for the entirety of the 2018-19 season and it will remain that way until the 2019-2020 season where his deal includes a modified no-trade clause. This would require Backes to waive the agreement in order for the Bruins to move him this free agency.

On the flip side of that, not many teams will be eager to bring on the salary of Backes for another three seasons, as the league continues to shift to a faster, younger style of hockey. Unfortunately for Backes, his six-foot-three, 221-pound frame is not particularly fast.

The other possible trading asset is David Krejci. Like Backes, Krejci has a no-trade clause for the upcoming season, with a modified no-trade clause coming into effect during the 2019-20 campaign. Krejci also has only three years remaining on his contract, at a much higher price of $7,250,000 annually.

Along with the contract stipulations that may prevent a David Krejci trade, is the fact that Krejci has found success with left-winger, Jake DeBrusk. During the twelve playoff games, Krejci scored three goals and produced seven assists for ten points. The chemistry he built with DeBrusk is something to be noted heading into the future.

Although, with Krejci’s age and his past of injuries, an upgrade at center with the emergence of John Tavares would drastically better the team – considering the 27-year-old is coming off of an 84-point season with the Islanders.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

While salary cap becomes an issue in the short-term, it may also become an issue for the years to come. According to TheHockeyWriters.com, John Tavares has been offered an eight-year contract worth roughly $88 million by the Islanders prior to his interview period with the other teams that he has chosen. While there are no other confirmations that an offer similar was made, it is safe to assume that Tavares will be on the lookout for $10 million or more for at least seven years. With some other incentives, the price and term may be adjusted accordingly, but that could be your base for Tavares’ deal.

Without any trades, the Bruins would be putting themselves in a tight situation in accordance to the salary cap. With no current backup goaltender and some holes left to fill, the Bruins still need extra salary cap space. For the future, however, the problems would only continue to accumulate.

Next season, the Bruins need to re-sign Ryan Donato, Danton Heinen, Charlie McAvoy, and Brandon Carlo – all of which are coming off of an entry-level contract where they make less than one million per season. At the same time, defenceman Adam McQuaid’s $2.75 million contract expires and it is likely the Bruins do not re-sign the 31-year-old, giving a little more room to work with.

But, the issues continue to pile up. Two years from now, Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk, Torey Krug, and Matt Grzelcyk will all be on expiring deals, causing some more pay raises to ensue. It is fair to note that with the continued growth of the National Hockey League over recent years, the maximum salary cap limit for a team may increase by a couple more million dollars, but with the long list of names to offer new contracts to, the raise in salary may not be enough.

If somehow Boston is able to unload David Backes or David Krejci, then the John Tavares trade seems logical and can truly benefit the team going forward. The signing would most likely end the talks of Rick Nash returning to the Boston Bruins, leaving the question of second-line right-wing. Will it be Anders Bjork? Another young player? Cheap free agent or even possible trade acquisition? That decision would be in the hands of management.

So when the thought of John Tavares in a Boston Bruins sweater comes around, consider the headaches of the future. While trades can go through to free up the salary restraints, it is unlikely that the big contracts on the current Bruins roster get shipped out for Tavares. At this point in time, the big fish does not make sense for the team.

 

When Will Bruins Marchand Learn?

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PHOTO CREDITS: (si.com)

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

When it comes to the Boston Bruins, you either love them or you hate them and it has been that way for all ninety-three years that the organization has existed. While more and more fans join the fan base on the daily, a large part of the hockey community still has a strong distaste for the hockey team based out of Massachusetts. Many fans of the Bruins would argue that they love the team because of the hate they receive from fellow hockey fans.

Of course, for the Montreal Canadien fans, the Toronto Maple Leaf fans, and even the Vancouver Canuck fans, hating Boston is just something that comes with cheering for their team. But for the other organizations in the National Hockey League, part of the reason for the hate of the Bruins is due to one specific player. Brad Marchand.

Over the past few years, Brad Marchand has brought controversy and dirty plays to the league and in many eyes, he should no longer be allowed to play the sport of hockey. While those claims are exaggerated, the belief for the punishment can be argued due to the repeated offenses by Marchand.

Below is the list of Marchand’s suspensions and fines as of June 12th, 2018.

  • March 2011 – Suspended Two Games – Elbowing on R.J. Umberger
  • December 2011 – $2,500 fine – Slew-foot on Matt Niskanen
  • January 2012 – Suspended Five Games – Low-bridge hit on Sami Salo
  • January 2015 – Suspended Two Games – Slew-foot on Derick Brassard
  • December 2015 – Suspended Three Games – Clipping on Matt Borowiecki
  • February 2017 – Fined $10,000 – Dangerous trip on Niklas Kronwall
  • April 2017 – Suspended Two Games – Spearing on Jake Dotchin
  • January 2018 – Suspended Five Games – Elbowing on Marcus Johansson
  • March 2018 – Fined $2,000 – Diving
  • April 2018 – Fined $6,000 – Cross-checking Andrew MacDonald

There is no question that Brad Marchand has made some wrong decisions on the ice and the results of his actions have had some negative effects on the team and the overall image that people have on him. Early on in his career, Marchand had to play a dirty-type of hockey in order to earn him playing time.

Yet, Marchand still possesses the hockey skill to be a talented scorer in any day of the NHL. In the final three years in his Quebec Major Junior Hockey League career, Marchand was always above point-per-game – scoring 80 points, 44 points, and 29 points while the number of games that he played decreased as the years progressed.

Brad’s play did peak the interest of the Boston Bruins, who drafted him 71st overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, however, he wouldn’t quite get his opportunity in the big leagues until the 2010-2011 season. Well, that season just so happened to be the season where the Bruins would win the Stanley Cup.

Marchand would score twenty goals in his rookie season with the Bruins – and would continue to hit the milestone for every other season except for the 2012-13 season, due to the lockout.

However, in the past few seasons, Brad has found a new level of scoring in the National Hockey League. Marchand has hit 85 points on back-to-back seasons (2016-17, 2017-18) and has nearly hit the 40 goal mark in both of those campaigns. The play of Marchand has seemingly increased and the team’s dependency on that stellar play has also increased as the seasons go on.

Marchand is one of the best players offensively during both five-on-five situations as well as shorthanded situations. Out of all the current active players in the National Hockey League, Marchand ranks first in most shorthanded goals scored with twenty-three. In addition, Brad has been in the league for a significantly less amount of time, seven-less seasons than the second player on that list.

 
Rank Player Career Start SHG
1. Brad Marchand 2009-10 23
2. Rick Nash 2002-03 22
Antoine Vermette 2003-04 22
4. Tomas Plekanec 2003-04 20
5. Eric Staal 2003-04 19

 

As mentioned previously, Marchand has rapidly become one player on the Boston Bruins that is relied on the most. In the past 2017-2018 season, Brad Marchand broke the record for most overtime goals in Boston Bruins history, with 11.

Not only would the Nova Scotia native surpassed a Boston Bruins record, but he would tie an NHL record – most overtime goals in a single season, scoring five in the ’17/’18 season. That ties him with Steven Stamkos, Jonathan Toews, and Alex Galchenyuk.

Outside of the NHL, Marchand has had great success in international play as well. In both the 2007 and 2008 IIHF World Junior Championships, Brad left with gold medals. Marchand would also take home two gold medals in 2016 – one in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in September, and another in the 2016 IIHF World Championships in May. Brad was arguably the top player for Canada during the World Cup of Hockey, scoring the game-winning goal in the final game against Team Europe and scoring the most goals in the entire tournament (5).

There is no doubt that Brad Marchand is an incredibly skilled player – especially offensively. He has no reason to play a dirty style that he used when he first made his appearance in the league. While he has voiced his apologies and his belief that he must be better, the results have not yet taken place.

Recently, Marchand has sparked more controversy due to the licking of opposing players’ faces during last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. Marchand was able to get off with only a warning from the NHL, but even prior to that step, the thought of licking the face of another player baffles every fan of hockey or any other sport for that matter.

Boston Bruins owner, Jeremy Jacobs, put that idea into perspective back in May.

“This is a player that, I can only think of 30 other teams that would love to have him, so there’s a margin that you give him. But, I think he’s used up this margin.”

You have to imagine that that margin is indeed shrinking for Marchand. The league has possibly let Marchand off the hook once too many times and with one more step over the line – there could be some big consequences for Brad coming. For the 2018-2019 season, Brad Marchand cannot be the dirty Marchand. No more low-end hits, no more spearing, no more slew-footing, no more elbows, and definitely no more licking.

Bruins Sign D Matt Grzelcyk To A Two-Year Deal

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

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

On June 15th, 2011, the Boston Bruins have announced their most recent signing during the 2018 NHL Offseason.

According to Boston Bruins on Twitter (@NHLBruins), the Bruins have signed defenseman Matt Grzelcyk to a two-year contract, with an average annual salary of $1.4 million.

Matt Grzelcyk was drafted back in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the Bruins in the third-round, (85th overall). Right after being drafted, Grzelcyk went on to play four consecutive years in the NCAA with Boston University, amassing ninety-five career points (26 goals, 69 assists) in 135 total games with BU.

Following the 2015-16 season in the NCAA, Grzelcyk would join the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League for the 2016-17 campaign. The d-man would produce 6-26-32 totals and a +13 rating in 70 AHL games, along with three assists in the seventeen playoff games that he played in.

That would lead into this past season, where Grzelcyk would find a main role on the Bruins’ blueline, playing with Kevan Miller 13.1% of the time (courtesy of leftwinglock.com). The 24-year-old Massachusetts native impressed in his first full National Hockey League season, scoring three goals and adding twelve assists for fifteen points in sixty-one games played.

Matt finished tied for third on the team for best plus/minus rating (+21), tied with Patrice Bergeron. One thing that surprised many fans and analysts about Grzelyck’s game, is his ability to carry the puck and stick handle with the best of the defencemen in the entire league. Matt finished the season with twenty-six takeaways and only twenty-four giveaways, giving him a plus ratio in that category.

While Matt Grzelcyk is an unrestricted free agent (RFA) this season, the Bruins clearly value his presence on the back end, signing him to this two-year deal. According to fellow BlacknGoldHockey writer, Drew Johnson ( on Twitter), the Bruins now have roughly $6.6 million left to spend, not including the expected salary cap raise. 

What are your thoughts on the Matt Grzelcyk signing? Let me know on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj!

 

This Day In Bruins History: Remembering The 2011 Stanley Cup

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Getty Images)

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

On June 15th, 2011, the Boston Bruins ended the 39-year long period without a Stanley Cup. Thirty-nine years that seemed like an eternity to the hardcore fans of the Bruins, but nonetheless, every single fan of Boston felt a kind of joy that is truly difficult to repeat.

Some would call it a Cinderella story and for good reason. The Bruins were not expected to win the Stanley Cup in the 2010-2011 season. The year prior, in the 2009-2010 season, the Bruins finished third in the Northeast Division, winning only 39 games. Into the playoffs, the Bruins would be eliminated by the Philadelphia Flyers in the second-round, a series in which they once possessed a 3-0 series lead.

Following the heartbreak in 2010, the Bruins came back in the ’10/’11 season with a better regular season record than the previous year. A 46-25-11 record would give the Bruins the top spot in the Northeast division, fourth in the Eastern Conference. The solid year, led by Milan Lucic who scored 30 goals and added 32 assists for a 62-point campaign.

Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas dominated for the B’s throughout the season as well. Racking up thirty-five wins, a save percentage of 0.935% and a goals against average of 2.28 along with nine shutouts – a career-high. His career year would earn him his second Vezina Trophy, edging out Pekka Rinne and Roberto Luongo.

Due to the play in the regular season, the Bruins would get the opportunity to play their bitter rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, in the first-round.

Round One vs Montreal Canadiens (BOS Won 4-3)

As Boston had home ice advantage to begin the playoffs, the momentum arguably was in the favor of the Bruins. However, the Canadiens would not allow the games on the road to ruin their chances at Stanley Cup glory. Montreal would win Games One and Two in Boston, holding the Bruins to only one goal within both games combined.

Heading up north into Montreal, Canada, the Bruins needed a win, preferably two before they made their way back to Boston for a hopeful Game Five. In Game Three, the B’s would indeed come out victorious, winning by a score of 4-2. Three days later, the two teams battled in a crucial game four. Either Boston goes back to the TD Garden down 3-1 in the series, or tied at two a piece.

In the closest game yet, the Bruins and Canadiens would enter their first overtime session of the series. For the B’s it was a big game. At one point during the contest, the black and gold trailed 3-1, only to comeback and tie the game 4-4, forcing the extra time. That’s when forward Michael Ryder won the game for the Bruins, tying the series.

Once again, the two Original Six franchises would engage in another overtime, this time in Game Five. However, they would need more than just one extra period, as it wouldn’t be until Nathan Horton, roughly halfway through the second overtime, buried the game-winner.

While the Habs would take the sixth game, Boston would strike back with what would be the final blow to the Montreal Canadiens, and to the series as Horton would once again score the game-winning goal in overtime in Game Seven.

Round Two vs Philadelphia Flyers (BOS Won 4-0)

If you were living under a rock for about a year or so, the second-round matchup between the Bruins and Flyers may have seemed like the Stanley Cup Playoffs were on re-runs. For the second-consecutive year, both teams would battle it out in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

It is an understatement to say that the Bruins did not take the Flyers lightly in the first game of the best-of-seven series, winning Game One 7-3. With the assistance of an overtime goal in Game Two by David Krejci, the Bruins would win both games at home, going to Philly with a 2-0 series lead.

Then, Boston would pick up a 5-1 victory in both Games Three and Four to sweep the Philadelphia Flyers. This series win was a huge confidence booster for the team, as they overcame the heartbreak that they felt just one year prior when they blew the same 3-0 series lead against the same Philadelphia Flyers team to lose in seven. This time around the Bruins finished the job in the fourth game, focusing their attention to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Round Three vs Tampa Bay Lightning (BOS Won 4-3)

Halfway through. Both teams entered the Eastern Conference Finals with similar success in the previous two rounds. Boston defeated Montreal in seven while Tampa defeated Pittsburgh in seven as well. Also, Tampa and Boston each swept their second-round opponents.

Thinking back on this series, I cannot remember a more nail-biting series than this one and I am willing to bet that the majority of Bruins felt almost the same way. The Lightning dominated the first game, winning 5-2. One thing to be noted though, the Boston Bruins of 2011 did not allow a deficit to hold them back. That idea stayed true heading into the second meeting of the Conference Finals.

Boston narrowly took a 6-5 victory, followed by a 2-0 shutout in the third game. Like the Bruins, the Lightning would not go down without a fight. Tampa would once again score five goals on the B’s, winning 5-3, but yet again, Boston would strike back and win 3-1 in Game Five.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

In their first elimination game of the series, Tampa Bay would barely win in Game Six, forcing another Game Seven.

Game Seven in the Eastern Conference Finals between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins was by far the most nerve-wracking of the games. After the first forty minutes, the score was still scoreless but the shots were greatly in favour of Boston. Dwayne Roloson stood on his head for the entire game, but so was Tim Thomas for the B’s on the other side of the rink.

Not a single player could solve the goaltenders, until Nathan Horton summonded his clutch element that he has already shown off during the earlier rounds of the playoffs, scoring the only goal the scoreboard would show with only seven minutes remaining in the third and final period.

And, that goal would lead to this moment, the moment the Boston Bruins realized that they were the 2011 Eastern Conference Champions.

Stanley Cup Finals vs Vancouver Canucks (BOS Won 4-3)

Only four wins separate the Boston Bruins from winning their sixth Stanley Cup since they joined the league back in 1924. Their opponent in the Final – the Vancouver Canucks – their very chance to win their first ever Stanley Cup in franchise history. The Canucks were coming off of a President’s Trophy win, leading the National Hockey League with a 54-19-9 record.

As with the entirety of the playoffs up to that point, the Bruins were not given as great of a chance as their opponent. Vancouver was deemed the favourites to win the Cup that year, especially when they made it to the final round. That hope for Canuck fans stayed true as they would win the first two games at home with two close wins.

Canadian media praised Vancouver and said it is now their Cup to lose. Well, the Bruins must have heard that, because they came out with a fire lit underneath them, winning Game Three by a devestating score of 8-1. Another reason for the explosion from Boston, was the injury of Nathan Horton. Horton won so many games for the Bruins all post-season long, and to see him go down from a bad hit by Aaron Rome, motivated the Bruins to play for Horton. The B’s would then shutout the British Columbia team 4-0 in the fourth meeting, making this series a best-of-three competition.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Getty Images)

In Game Five, the Canucks would squeak past the Bruins on home ice once again, winning 1-0. But, history would repeat itself back in Boston, as the Bruins would win Game Six 5-2. This would lead into a Game Seven where no team on the road would have taken a win.

With a fairly even few minutes to begin the first period of Game Seven, the Boston Bruins would be the first to score roughly fifteen minutes in. Patrice Bergeron would score the goal, silencing the crowd in Vancouver from that point forward. In the second-period, Brad Marchand would score a wrap-around goal to make this game 2-0.

Later in the frame, Patrice Bergeron would drive down the ice shorthanded, but somehow manage to bury the puck past Roberto Luongo, giving the Bruins a 3-0 lead with twenty minutes left to go in Vancouver. The Canucks would not be able to score at all in the game, Marchand would net an empty-netter and the Boston Bruins would win the Stanley Cup.

Goalie Tim Thomas would take home the Conn Smythe Trophy – the trophy for the MVP during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In 25 games – three series that went to Game Seven – Thomas finished with a 0.940% save percentage and a 1.98 goals against average. Not to mention four shutouts, including the final one in Game Seven.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)

As a hardcore fan of the Boston Bruins and hockey overall, I cannot believe that seven years has already passed by since this day. While the time has travelled past, the memories will never leave.

 

Will Bruins Zdeno Chara Continue To Be A Key Player Next Season?

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

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

Zdeno Chara is known throughout the league as one of the most dominating players to play against out of anyone else. The 6-foot-9 Slovak was the first captain in a long thirty-nine years to hoist the Stanley Cup for the Boston Bruins. His undeniable leadership has improved the game of many young players – especially in the past few seasons. Put his leadership qualities with the strength and skill that he possesses night in and night out and you have the recipe for one of the best Bruins of all time.

Not only does Chara have a physical presence unlike any other player in the league, but he has the conditioning to keep up that physical and defensive play for a long time during a game. Throughout his near 900-game career with the Boston Bruins, Chara has played an average of 25:03 per game. In recent years, however, the playing time of the Bruins leader has diminished, an apparent result of his increasing age.

Although, in certain aspects of his game, Chara has improved with age. This past season, Zdeno set a new career-high in most takeaways during the entire season, with 42. Chara racked up 141 hits during the 2017-18 season as well, placing him fourth on the whole team. Chara also scored three game-winning goals this past season, a stat he has achieved in six different seasons.

How Did It All Start?

Zdeno Chara was drafted in the third round, 56th overall to the New York Islanders back in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. Only one other player from that draft played in the ’17/’18 season, that was forward Matt Cullen who played 79 games with the Minnesota Wild. Zdeno Chara would play with New York from the 1997-98 season to the 2000-01 season, finishing with 6-23-29 totals in 231 games.

This led to the trade at the 2001 NHL Entry Draft between the Islanders and the Ottawa Senators. After finishing last in the NHL standings for the 2000-2001 season, the Islanders were awarded the 2nd Overall pick in the ’01 Draft. Even with the high selection, the Islanders would trade that pick (would become Jason Spezza), along with Bill Muckalt and Zdeno Chara for Ottawa’s Alexei Yashin.

The trade can go either way regarding who came out victorious in the deal. Yashin would go on to finish his career with the Islanders, producing 290 points during five seasons. Chara, on the other hand, would tally 146 points in 299 games over four seasons with the Senators, before being released to free agency in the 2006 NHL off-season.

Following the 2005-2006 regular season and playoffs, Zdeno Chara would not re-sign with the Senators during the off-season. Instead, Chara would agree to a five-year, $37,500,000 contract ($7,500,000 AAV) in the summer of 2006 with the Boston Bruins. The deal would be a massive pay raise for Chara, who earned just under two million the year prior in Ottawa.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)

During the course of the new contract, Chara would enter into his prime. In 398 games over the five seasons, Zdeno would accumulate 68-164-232 totals along with a +68 rating. Big Zee would earn his way into four consecutive All-Star Games, from 2006 to 2011. Chara would also appear in the 2012 NHL All-Star Game, making it five straight years.

In the 2008-09 campaign, Zdeno Chara would be awarded the James Norris Memorial Trophy, an award that honors the best defenseman in the National Hockey League over the course of the season. Chara beat out Mike Green and Nicklas Lidstrom for the award, ending Lidstrom’s streak of three consecutive James Norris Trophies.

Even with all the point totals and accolades, the highlight of Zdeno Chara’s five-year contract and most likely his career was lifting the Stanley Cup above his head on June 15th in Vancouver, Canada – ending the 39-year Cup-less drought in Boston.

During the historic Stanley Cup win, Chara accumulated nine points in the 24 games but was also a +16 rating throughout all four rounds – the best in the entire postseason for any player.

While 2011 was the final year on Chara’s five-year contract, the Bruins already signed the defenseman to a seven-year deal worth $45,500,000. In the 495 games on the agreement, Chara would score 70 goals, 151 assists for 221 points and a +124 rating. Chara would accumulate near 1000 hits, reaching the 960 mark over the seven years.

It was an impressive run for Chara, considering he started the contract at age 34. At 36-years of age, Chara would still be at prime form, finishing second in the James Norris Trophy race, losing the award to Blackhawks’ defenseman Duncan Keith.

Although he would fail to surpass his career total in points for a single season (52 set in the 2011-2012 season), Chara would consistently produce 20+ points, with only one exception in the 2012-13 lockout season where he scored nineteen points in the full 48 games.

As the 2017-18 season began, many thoughts surfaced, wondering if Zdeno Chara will hang up the skates at the end of the season. However, that would not be the case. This past March, on the 28th, Chara would re-sign with the Black and Gold to a one-year deal, with a cap hit of $5 million. Along with the $5 million of guaranteed salary, Chara also agreed to $1.75 million in performance bonuses.

Career Accolades:

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Getty Images)

1x Stanley Cup (2011)

1x James Norris Memorial Trophy (2008-2009)

1x Mark Messier Leadership Award (2010-2011)

3x NHL First All-Star Team (2003-04, 2008-09, 2013-14)

4x NHL Second All-Star Team (2005-06, 2007-08, 2010-11, 2011-12)

5x All-Star Game Participant (2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2011-12)

3x Golden Puck Winner as Best Slovakian Player (2008-09, 2010-11, 2011-12)

2x Silver Medal at IIHF Men’s Ice Hockey World Championships with Slovakia (2000, 2012)

Hardest Slap Shot as of June 7th, 2018 (108.8 mph set at the 2012 NHL All-Star Game)

NHL Totals:

Regular Season: 1423GP – 195G – 433A – 628P  | +240 Rating – 1839 PIM – 1650 Hits

Playoffs: 159GP – 16G – 46A – 62P | +41 Rating – 192 PIM – 351 Hits

Zdeno has represented his home country of Slovakia in three different Olympic Games (2006, 2010, 2014), scoring six points in 17 games. Most recently, Chara scored two goals in six games during the 2016 World Cup of Hockey for Team Europe, assisting his team to a second-place finish in the tournament, losing to Team Canada in the final game.

The current longest-tenured captain in the National Hockey League, Chara has proven that his size, skill, and valuable leadership can carry a team to success when it matters most. So, this begs the question, will Zdeno Chara continue to get better with age? Will he begin to fall off at the age of 41? Will he return for another year after the 2018-19 season? Only time can answer those questions. One thing is for sure though, Zdeno Chara is a legend and will always be a Boston Bruin.

Former Bruins Enjoying Success With Golden Knights & Capitals

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nbcsports.com)

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

It has only been about twenty days since the Boston Bruins were eliminated in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals to the Tampa Bay Lightning, but it already feels like forever since we saw the Bruins play an NHL game.

Since the loss to the Lightning, the Bruins have considered many decisions including who to re-sign, who to possibly trade, and who to possibly grab in free agency come July 1st. While all those topics are being discussed behind closed doors, the Boston media has shared their thoughts about the offseason for the B’s.

However, in the midst of all the rumors and hot takes, three former Boston Bruins are having tremendous playoff success with the newest franchise to enter the National Hockey League – the Vegas Golden Knights.

F Reilly Smith – VGK

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PHOTO CREDITS: (AP PHOTO/DAVID BECKER)

It is fair to say that Reilly Smith found his new home in Las Vegas, and not just because of the Vegas Strip. Smith has excelled with the Golden Knights, becoming one of their most-reliable forwards who can score goals, set up plays, and play a bit of defense as well. With the 2017-18 season being the first year of his new 5-year, $25 million ($5 million AAV) contract, Smith wanted to prove to the Golden Knights’ management staff that the trade acquisition made on expansion draft night, that it was indeed worth it.

Reilly Smith was drafted back in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft in the third round (69th overall) by the Dallas Stars. The Toronto, Ontario native played a total of 40 career games over the course of two seasons for the Stars, accumulating three goals and nine points during the span. In the summer following his most-active NHL season, Reilly Smith was packaged in a blockbuster trade that sent F Tyler Seguin, D Ryan Button, and F Rich Peverley to Dallas. Smith would join F Loui Eriksson, D Joe Morrow, and F Matt Fraser on a plane to Boston.

In Boston, Reilly would miss only a single game in two seasons, scoring a high of 51 points (20 goals, 31 assists) with a +28 rating in the 2013-14 season as well as another four goals and five points in twelve playoff games. The following season, Smith’s numbers dropped off, only producing 13-27-40 totals. Smith seemed to have trouble scoring the goals, but would be one of the hardest working Bruins on the roster.

On the first day of free agency in the 2014-15 offseason, the Boston Bruins would trade Reilly Smith and Marc Savard’s contract to the Florida Panthers for 6’5″ F Jimmy Hayes. Like he did with the B’s, Smith would hit the 50-point total again, earning him the five-year contract, but would fall off to a 37-point in the ’16/’17 campaign.

This would be lead to the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. Although Vegas did not choose Smith from the Panthers, they did manage to make a trade at the same time they selected F Jonathan Marchessault, Vegas sent Florida their 2018 4th-Round Pick for Reilly Smith.

Even while playing in only 67 games with the Golden Knights this season, he would set a career-high in points (60) and plus/minus rating (+31). Smith was also a threat on the power-play – scoring the third-most goals on the man-advantage throughout the entire team (7).

During the playoffs, Smith has been even more dangerous, producing 2-14-16 totals in fourteen games that took place over the first three playoff series. With the play, Reilly Smith was named as an alternate captain and continues to dawn the “A”.

Smith scored the game-winning goal in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals against the Winnipeg Jets, giving the Golden Knights a 3-1 series lead.

At the time of writing this article, Smith just scored his third goal of the postseason in Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals to put the Golden Knights ahead 3-2 in the second period, as well as his fifteenth assist of the playoffs, on William Karlsson’s first-period tally.

D Colin Miller – VGK

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Associated Press)

Similar to Reilly Smith, Colin Miller must be enjoying his time in Las Vegas due to his success and he does not seem to be stopping anytime soon. Part of the reason that Vegas has surprised so many people with their amazing inaugural season is the motivation of the players on the roster. The majority of the players on the team were deemed not good enough to remain on their old teams, and that is the exact case for Colin Miller.

Before the 2017 Expansion Draft, one of the main topics of discussion involving the Bruins was which players would they protect heading into the 2017-2018 season. All of the protected players by Boston were quite clear except for two players, Kevan and Colin Miller. As history has proven, the Bruins chose to keep Kevan Miller, while Colin was picked by the Golden Knights.

Miller was drafted back in the fifth round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the Los Angeles Kings. As he was drafted onto a championship-contending team, Colin was never given the opportunity to play in the National Hockey League with the Kings. In fact, Colin Miller would not get the taste of NHL hockey until the 2015-16 season, his first season with the Boston Bruins following a draft-night trade that sent Miller, G Martin Jones, and a 1st Round Pick in the 2015 Draft (D Jakub Zboril) in exchange for F Milan Lucic.

Colin would play 103 regular season games over two seasons for the Bruins, racking up 9-20-29 totals and 130 hits. However, Miller showed some promise, being a younger player than Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller and he had some talent on the offensive side of the puck.

But, when the Expansion Draft came along, the Vegas Golden Knights did not hesitate to select the Sault Ste. Marie native.

Since joining the Golden Knights, Miller has exploded, setting a career-high in goals, assists, and points. Miller finished the 2017-18 season with 10-31-41 totals and an impressive 165 hits during the entire season. Even into the playoffs, Miller has tallied three goals, including the first Stanley Cup Final goal in Vegas Golden Knights history.

G Malcolm Subban – VGK

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Many young players have come through Boston, but few of them went through as much criticism as Malcolm Subban. Following a difficult first career game versus the St. Louis Blues in February 2015, a game where he allowed three goals on only six shots, Subban would only get two games in the NHL with the Boston Bruins. Subban would allow another three goals in a loss to Minnesota.

In the American Hockey League, Subban was an average goaltender with the Providence Bruins, never really standing out nor losing a ton of games either.

Early on in the 2017-18 season, the Bruins found themselves with a question on the backup role, whether it would be Malcolm Subban or Anton Khudobin. This would, in turn, lead to the Bruins putting Subban on waivers in October.

Of course, while on the waiver wire, the Vegas Golden Knights decided to pick up the Toronto, Ontario goalie.

During the course of the season, Vegas had many injuries to the goaltender position. Five different goalies played in a game for the Knights all season, and Malcolm was one of them. Ironically, his debut with Vegas came from the team that drafted him 24th overall in the 2012 NHL Draft – the Boston Bruins. Subban would make 21 saves in a 3-1 victory over the Bruins. This would lead to five consecutive wins for Subban when he plays in net.

With all of the injuries to netminders on the Golden Knights, Subban quickly became the #1 goalie behind Marc-Andre Fleury, finishing the regular season with a 13-4-2 record, a .910% save percentage, and goals against average of 2.68. Following the early five-game winning streak, Subban went on a seven-game winning span in December, impressing the many people throughout the hockey community.

Subban is yet to play in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, due to the dominant run by Fleury for Vegas. However, management knows that Malcolm may be a viable option for the team if need be.

F Brett Connolly – WSH

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Brett Connolly was one of the top picks in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, going sixth overall to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Only a few selections earlier, Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin were drafted with the first two picks in the draft to Edmonton and Boston.

Following some strong point-producing seasons in the Western Hockey League with the Prince George Cougars, Connolly was believed to have the skills to make a difference on an already skilled Tampa Bay team. However, he never really impressed in Tampa, scoring two 15-point seasons, his career-high at the time. On March 2nd, 2015, Connolly was traded to the Bruins for two second-round picks, one in the 2015 Draft (Matthew Spencer) and the other in the 2016 Draft (Boris Katchouk).

Connolly would have to wait for the 2015-16 season to truly get his chance to play in the National Hockey League. Brett would play in 71 games for Boston that year, the most he ever played in the NHL in one season, scoring nine goals and 25 points during the time-span. Having not impressed the Bruins management enough, they chose not to re-sign the Campbell River, British Columbia native, letting him go to free agency.

On the very first day of the free agency period, the Washington Capitals signed Connolly to a one-year deal, worth $850,000. In the 66 games he played of the 2016-17 regular season, Connolly had 15-8-23 totals, a new career-high in goals. Connolly’s performance would lead to a new contract with the Capitals, a two-year deal with an annual salary of $1.5 million.

This past season, Connolly would set a new high in points for one season, reaching 27 points and back-to-back seasons with fifteen goals. Brett would then get the most playing time in the postseason, that he as ever had as a National Hockey League player. In 20 games in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brett has scored five goals, good for seven points. Connolly also scored the first goal of the Stanley Cup Finals for the Capitals, which tied the game at one a piece in the first-period.

So, even though the Bruins were knocked out in the first round, some former players who once dawned the Spoked-B are playing for their chance to win the 2018 Stanley Cup.

So to end off, hypothetically, who would YOU choose to come back and play for the Boston Bruins again?

Bruins Prospect Jesse Gabrielle To Play In The 100th Memorial Cup

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PHOTO CREDITS: (dobberprospects.com

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

Considered the hardest trophy to win, the Memorial Cup began back in March of 1919, when it was known then as the OHA Memorial Cup. The name “Memorial” was given to the trophy to remember the fallen Canadian soldiers who sacrificed their lives in World War One. When the Canadian Junior Hockey system divided into “A” and “B” categories in 1971, it was given to the highest class of junior hockey players.

In 1972, the tournament adopted a round-robin style, as we typically see in international tournaments. The champions of the Western Hockey League (WHL), Ontario Hockey League (OHL), and Quebec Major Hockey League (QMJHL) play against the host team with the two best during the round-robin battling in the finals to determine the ‘Memorial Cup Champion’.

The 100th Annual MasterCard Memorial Cup begins this Friday, May 18th in Regina, Saskatchewan. Sixty teams had the entire season to get to this moment, but only these four teams will get the opportunity to play in the Memorial Cup.

WHL Champions – Swift Current Broncos

The Swift Current Broncos were considered a team that could possibly have a chance to win the WHL Championship at the beginning of the season, but were often held back from the Moose Jaw Warriors, the Saskatchewan team that most people expected to make it into the final. However, thanks to the massive trade deadline acquisition of Stuart Skinner, the Broncos finished second in the WHL standings, becoming a quick favorite to win it all.

The Edmonton Oilers prospect led the league with six shutouts during the playoffs, captain Glenn Gawdin led the team in points during both the season and the playoffs. Not to mention having the WHL Coach of the Year Manny Viveiros behind the bench, controlling the team’s on ice performance. The Broncos set a Western Hockey League record for most playoff game played in one season (26) after back-to-back game seven series in the first two rounds, following with two consecutive game six wins to take home the WHL Championship.

This will be the third time the organazation will play in the Memorial Cup tournament, winning it back in 1989 in Saskatoon. The only other appearance for the Broncos was back in 1993.

OHL Champions – Hamilton Bulldogs

It’s fairly safe to say that this is uncharted territory for the new Hamilton Bulldogs. After being re-located back to Hamilton, Ontario following a 35-year run in Belleville as the Belleville Bulls, the Bulldogs became an Ontario Hockey League franchise in the 2015-16 season.

In the first season as the Hamilton Bulldogs, they missed the playoffs with a 25-35-8 record. With a quick turnaround the next season, the Bulldogs managed to squeak their way into a playoff berth, finishing the 2016-17 season with a 33-27-8 record, good for fourth in the East. Even with the improvement, the Bulldogs would lose in the first round to the Kingston Frontenacs in six games. The defeat would not slow them down heading into this past regular season.

During the 2017-18 season, the Hamilton Bulldogs finished with the second-best record in the OHL, with a 43-18-7 record. This would lead the team to a solid postseason run. Hamilton would knock off the Ottawa 67s, Niagara Ice Dogs, and the Kingston Frontenacs (rematch of the year prior) all in five games. The dominant playoff success would eventually give OHL fans what they wanted to see from the beginning – Hamilton vs the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, the best team during the regular season. With near ease, the Bulldogs would eliminate the Greyhounds in only six games, winning Game Six by a score of 5-4 on home ice.

This will be the first ever appearance in the Memorial Cup for the Hamilton Bulldogs.

QMJHL Champions – Acadie-Bathurst Titan

After a disappointing second-round exit in the 2016-17 QMJHL playoffs to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, the Acadie-Bathurst Titan would come back with a vengenace in the 2017-18 regular season. Coming off a 39-23-6 record (6th in the league) for the ’16/’17 campaign, the Titan would win 43 of the 68 QMJHL games this past season, finishing second in the year-end league standings. They only trailed one team – the team who beat them in the previous playoffs, the Blainville-Boisbriand Armanda.

This little rivalry would grow even more as both the Titan and Armanda would meet once again in the QMJHL finals. Before this, however, the Titan would defeat the Chicoutimi Saguenéens in six games, sweep the Sherbrooke Pheonix, and complete another sweep in the semi-finals against the Victoriaville Tigres.

Following a Game One loss, the Titan would come out victorious in Games Two, Three, Five, and Six to eliminate Blainville-Boisbriand and win the QMJHL Championship. Throughout the season and the playoffs, defence has clearly been the top strength for the Titan. Their backend is filled with older CHL players who have more experience.

Host Team – Regina Pats

The Pats are only in the Memorial Cup because they are the CHL team that is hosting the tournament. Back in 2017, it was announced that Regina, Saskatchewan would host the event, beating out Hamilton, Ontario and Oshawa, Ontario. The Pats are the league’s oldest franchise, with play dating back to 1917. Regina has appeared in a record 16 Memorial Cup tournaments and also have appeared in the most Memorial Cup finals (13). The franchise has won the trophy on four occasions – 1925, 1928, 1930, and 1974.

This year, the Pats finished the league with the seventh-best record (40-25-7), good for a playoff berth in the WHL postseason. However, the run to a WHL championship would end abruptly, losing in seven games to the eventual WHL Champion, the Swift Current Broncos. The loss stung a bit more than usual for the Pats. They took Game Six on home ice by a whopping score of 7-3, only to lose in Swift Current, 4-3 in the final Game Seven.

While the Regina Pats seem like just another CHL team in the 100th Memorial Cup, they actually have some connections to the current Boston Bruins – prospect Jesse Gabrielle.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Keith Hershmiller)

Jesse Gabrielle was the Boston Bruins’ 105th overall draft selection (4th Round) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The 6’0″ 205-pound, Moosomin, Saskatchewan native impressed Boston scouts enough with a 25-point season in 33 games the year before his draft with Brandon Wheat Kings, and another 19 points in 33 games with the Regina Pats also in the 2014-15 season.

It wasn’t until after he was drafted that he impressed in the WHL. With the Prince George Cougars in the 2015-16 season, Gabrielle scored 40 goals and added 35 assists for a 75-point year in only 72 games played. Then again in the 2016-17 campaign, he would finish with 35-29-64 totals in 61 games along with a +17 rating.

The solid two seasons with the Cougars would pay off, as Gabrielle began his 2017-2018 season with the AHL’s Providence Bruins. However, due to poor attitude in the locker room, he would be healthy scratches in many games, causing him to only play in 21 games last season with the Boston affiliate team. In that span, he would struggle – only one goal and four points.

In January of 2018, the Boston Bruins announced that they would send down Gabrielle to the Western Hockey League. Just days before, Gabrielle was traded from the Prince George Cougars to the Regina Pats, who wanted Jesse for their Memorial Cup run.

Gabrielle would play in 27 regular season games with the team, producing 13-6-19 totals in that span. The move added scoring depth to the Pats, something they wanted heading into the playoffs. Unfortunately for Regina and Gabrielle, he would sustain an injury in the final weekend. Jesse would be a scratch for the Pats in Game One of the playoffs against the Broncos.

Gabrielle would get to play two games in the first round, his first coming in Game Three. Gabrielle was held off of the scoresheet, in a 4-1 loss. Gabrielle would not be slotted into the Pats’ linup for the next three games, but would indeed make his second appearance in the 2018 WHL Playoffs in Game Seven, where he again failed to tally a point and only landed a single shot on the net.

Clearly, Regina was eliminated in the first round in that Game Seven, which is the main cause of Swift Current winning the WHL Championship and earning their spot in the 100th Memorial Cup. Jesse Gabrielle has had since April 2nd to recover from the injury that was hindering his playing time in the WHL Playoffs.

Still, there are rumours around Twitter that Gabrielle may still be on the Pats’ injury list, but according to numerous podcasts across the hockey community, Gabrielle is expected to play in the tournament and is also expected to play a big role in a possible successful result for the Regina Pats.

It is very possible this Tweet is not true, but it is a good idea to consider the possiblity of Gabrielle not playing.

A strong Memorial Cup (if he does play) could bring him back on the Providence Bruins roster for the 2018-2019 regular season. This is a big opportunity for Jesse to get back into the position he was once in just a short time ago.

The action begins this Friday as the Regina Pats take on the Hamilton Bulldogs at 8:00pm Regina (Central) time. On Saturday, the Acadie-Bathurst Titan will play the Swift Current Broncos at 2:00pm Central time. The six round-robin games will come to an end on Wednesday, May 23rd with a tie-breaker game (if required) on Thursday, May 24th. As of May 17th, the Final for the 2018 Memoral Cup will be on Sunday, May 27th at 5:00pm Central time.