Bruins Sign Forward Colby Cave

( Photo Credit:   Alan Sullivan Photography )

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Boston Bruins announced today that the club has come to an agreement with forward Colby Cave.  The 6′-1″ 201-pound Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada native signed a two-year, two-way extension worth $675,000 at the National Hockey League level. Cave, a 23-year-old restricted free agent ended his three-year entry-level contract that he signed in early April of 2015 this year and is expected to be in the running for the American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins captaincy vacancy with the departure of former B’s defenseman Tommy Cross. Fellow Black N’ Gold Productions colleague Jen Stasio mentioned Cave and a few others that could be considered for the leadership role in her article ( CLICK HERE ) on July 6, 2018.

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

The undrafted forward came to the Bruins organization after a five-year career with the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League where he appeared in 287 games posting 95-107-202 numbers. Spending a majority of his pro career with the Bruins top minor-pro affiliate in Providence, Cave has contributed 37-60-97 numbers in his three seasons in the AHL. Colby has seen some time in the NHL as an emergency call-up but has zero points in three appearances but could be considered for the third line center role for the upcoming 2018-19 season for the Bruins organization. If Cave doesn’t make the NHL club out of B’s training camp he’ll once again be an important member of the depth of this organization and a leader as he served as an assistant captain for the last two seasons with the Baby B’s.

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

Bruins Vladar Is Ready For Full-Time Role In Providence

(Photo Credit:   Alan Sullivan Photography)

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Last season the American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins agreed to accept goaltender Jordan Binnington on loan from the St. Louis Blues organization because the team from The Show Me State didn’t have a top minor-pro affiliate throughout the 2017-18 campaign. For the upcoming 2018-18 season the Blues new AHL affiliation will be with the San Antonio Rampage and all team players that were scattered around North America in search of ice-time for one season will be welcomed back to the organization with a new home in the great state of Texas.

With news of the Blues developing youth and depth veterans returning, yesterday the St. Louis team announced that they’ve agreed to a one-year, two-way contract worth a reportedly  ( Unconfirmed per Cap-Friendly ) $650K at the National Hockey League level. While on loan playing in Providence, the 24-year-old Binnington appeared in 28 games for the B’s posting a 17-9-1 record, a 2.05 Goals-Against-Average, and .926 Save Percentage working with depth netminder Zane McIntyre.

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

The departure of Binnington back to the Blues organization creates a fantastic opportunity for Boston Bruins prospect goaltender and 2015 third-round draft pick Dan Vladar. The 6′-5″ 185-pound netminder has spent the first two seasons of his minor-pro career with the Bruins “AA” minor-pro affiliate the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL after signing his three-year, entry-level contract in April of 2016. Atlanta was a great place for the now 20-year-old Vladar to learn the pro game as both goaltending positions were occupied at the higher AHL level in Providence.

In 59 games with the Gladiators team, Dan posted a record of 22-27-2, a 3.42 GAA, and .899 Save% but his time in the AHL with the Baby B’s has been impressive when called upon for emergency coverage. With Vladar’s limited time with Providence, he’s shown he can handle the higher competition and step up when needed with a better-structured core in front of him over the lower-level ECHL Atlanta franchise. In 12 AHL appearances with the B’s spanning over two seasons, he posted a 6-2-1 record with an impressive 2.42 GAA and .922 Save%.

When it comes to ranking the goaltending depth, I can see Vladar taking a huge step in his development in the upcoming AHL season and be given more time in the crease over future teammate Zane McIntyre. The 25-year-old McIntyre has one-year remaining on his current two-year deal and will most likely be the last year in the Bruins organization as netminders in the developing systems below will seemingly push him out of the picture and that roster spot may be needed for continued progression forward for a younger player such as goaltender Kyle Keyser who will spend at least another season in the Ontario Hockey League with the Oshawa Generals.

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

McIntyre, who was drafted in the sixth-round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft has played at the AHL level for three seasons now and has a record of 61-29-10 and a 2.41 GAA and .914 Save% in 109 career games. His best season with Providence came in his second season in the league (2016-17) when he posted a 21-6-1 record and took home AHL All-Star game recognition and the Leagues best goaltender when it came to save-percentage. His ability to perform at the NHL level is most likely the reason why the organization is preparing to move on from his talents as he’s only appeared in eight games posting a 0-4-1 record and hasn’t seen the ice at the highest level of hockey in the world since the 2016-17 season when he was called up, and former Bruins backup goaltender Anton Khudobin was sent down for his season-long struggles.

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

It’s hard for me to calculate just when a goaltender like Vladar is going to make an impact in the NHL, especially with starter Tuukka Rask under contract for another three seasons and the recent free agent signing of veteran netminder Jaroslav Halak for two years is an interesting predicament. A young goaltender like Vladar needs the benefit of playing more games and with the upcoming hockey season being the last year of his entry-level contract, I can see the Bruins organization take the approach like they did with McIntyre and sign him to a two-year, two-way extension and reevaluate the situation. Vladar is certainly a work-in-progress, and it remains to be seen if he can be the next netminder to take over as a franchise player if in fact Rask is not extended past the 2020-21 season.

Dan has a great attitude on and off the ice and has certainly gained the trust throughout his development from Bruins management who’ve spoken highly of him at every development camp he’s attended since 2015. Vladar had this to say in an article ( CLICK HERE )by Boston Globes Matt Porter at last week’s development camp from the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Massachusetts. “I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be, whether it’s in Atlanta or Providence or here for the playoffs,” said Vladar, who served as Boston’s third-string emergency goalie for Round 2 of the playoffs against Tampa Bay and did not see action. “I feel comfortable everywhere. I just try to stop the puck. That’s all that matters.”

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

Bruins Studnicka To Attend Canadian WJC Summer Camp

(Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Hockey Canada announced today that they’ve released a list of 40 players that were invited to this summers Sport Chek World Junior Showcase. Amongst the list of young developing players that were invited is Boston Bruins forward prospect Jack Studnicka who was born in Tecumseh, Ontario and currently a member of the Ontario hockey Leagues Oshawa Generals. The eight-day event from the Sandman Centre in Kamloops, British Columbia will feature teams from Canada, Finland, Sweden, and the United States will play an eleven game mini-tournament from July 28th to August 4th, 2018.

Hockey Canada Head Scout Brad McEwen had this to say below about the upcoming camp and whats expected from this year’s event in Kamloops in an article on hockeycanada.ca

“The Sport Chek World Junior Showcase gives us an excellent opportunity to begin the evaluation process and for the staff to familiarize themselves with the players before the new season kicks off,” said McEwen. “We also get to see the players in competition against the teams who will be returning to Vancouver and Victoria this December. It’s a unique opportunity, and we’re looking forward to making the most of it as we kick off our journey to the 2019 World Juniors later this month.”

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

The 6′-1″ 179-pound forward has spent his Canadian Junior career with his Generals team and contributed 150 points in 192 games. His best season offensively came in the  2017-18 campaign where he posted 22-50-72 numbers in 66 games and was named team captain before the regular season started. The 19-year-old was selected by the Bruins in the second-round of the 2017 National Hockey League Entry Draft from Chicago, Illinois with the 53rd selection and is very close to making his NHL debut. If the talented center who was ranked 120th in last year’s NHL Central Scouting final rankings doesn’t make the NHL Bruins roster for the upcoming season, he’ll head back for further development with his OHL team.

When I attended last weeks annual Bruins development camp from the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton. Massachusetts, Studnicka didn’t disappoint the Bruins brass, fans in attendance, and Boston Sports Media from above. In an article by Boston Herald Bruins beat writer Steve Conroy last week ( CLICK HERE ) during last weeks camp, Studnicka had these things to say about his future in the Bruins organization.

“It’s always been my dream to play in the NHL and looking at the roster, there are spots there that are up for grabs,” Studnicka said yesterday after the hour-long practice. “I’m going to put my head down, go to work and hope for the best.”

“My second year, my NHL draft year, there were a lot of nerves. It was a big year for me,” said Studnicka. “But I think I showcased myself, and I think I gave teams a glimpse of what the future is to hold. Boston obviously saw that. Last year, my third year, I think I took a huge step. I thought I controlled the play a lot. I thought I controlled the locker room. I worked as hard as I could, and I think I was more dominant in my third year.”

“Going in there and putting up a point per game definitely helps. It’s in the back of my head,” said Studnicka. “But the important thing is to stay level-headed in a situation like that. I’m still a 19-year-old kid who’s got a lot to learn and a lot of room to grow in his game.”

“Going back to the OHL and developing more there, I’d like to be a dominant player,” he said. “If that happens, I hope to win a championship there. But my main goal is sticking with the big club.”

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

This summer showcase will be a tremendous experience for the future NHL’er as he tries to solidify a roster spot on the Canadian 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship team. The annual IIHF under-20 tournament will kick off in late December of 2018 and filter into January of 2019 and be hosted by two beautiful British Columbia cities such as Vancouver and Victoria. The events will be held at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver and Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria.

The Bruins center last dawned the Red and White colors of his country in the 2016-17 season for his under-18 team posting three goals in three games. Studnicka wasn’t invited to the 2017 38-player Canadian camp in Plymouth, Michigan but is sure to get noticed and be heavily considered for the honor of representing his Canadian country against the worlds best players at his age level.

Bruins Sign Defenseman Moore To Five-Year Contract

(Photo Credit:  NHL.com)

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

As the National Hockey Leagues free agent frenzy continues after the today’s noon deadline, the Boston Bruins announced today that the club has signed free agent defenseman John Moore to a five-year contract worth a reportedly $2.75 million per season.

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

The 27-year-old Illinois native was drafted in the first-round by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2009 and has spent time with other organizations in his seven-year pro career. Originally started his career with the mentioned Blue Jackets, the 6′-3″ 210-pound blueliner has certainly made his way around the NHL via trades playing for the New York Rangers, Arizona Coyotes, New Jersey Devils, and now like mentioned above a reportedly free agent signing with the Boston Bruins. In 447 career NHL games, Moore has produced 32-67-99 numbers with his best career year being the 2016-17 where he posted 22 points in 63 games played.

There’s also speculation that this was a sign and flip move from Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney to use as a trade chip to address certain needs on the top-six offensive core with the news of Rick Nash departing either to retire or test the free agent waters elsewhere in the NHL.  Although this signing is not very popular in Bruins nation, the signing does address a need when considering the lack of left shooting defenseman on the team and that’s been heavily rumored as a target dating back to the trade deadline in February of this year.

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

For those that love that analytical angle of our game, check out these metrics below.

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

Report: Bruins Sign Free Agent Wagner

(Photo Credit:  Getty Images)

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Reports out today say the Boston Bruins have signed free agent forward Chris Wagner to a two-year deal worth a reportedly $1.25 million per season.  The Walpole, Massachusetts native has spent a majority of his professional hockey career with the Anaheim Ducks organization bouncing between the National Hockey League club and their top minor-pro affiliates in the American Hockey League.

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

Drafted by the Ducks in fifth-round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft the 27-year-old right-shooting center has appeared in 174 career NHL games posting 17-12-29 numbers. The 6-‘0″ 198-pound heavy hitting forward was offensively skilled in his early development particularly in the Eastern Junior Hockey League with the South Shore Kings posting 34-49-83 numbers in the 2009-10 season before joining Colgate University where he contributed 26-44-70 totals in his two-year NCAA career. Wagners best season at the collegiate level was the 2011-12 year when he notched 51 points in 38 games.

 

Before entering the NHL Free Agent Frenzy as an unrestricted player, he spent a majority of the 2017-18 season with the Ducks before being shipped to the New York Islanders via trade for Jason Chimera in February of 2018. with the Islanders he posted  one goal in 15 games. Hard to tell so early in the Bruins offseason where General Manager Don Sweeney and Head CCoachBruce Cassidy see where he fits in the 2018-19 lineup when the puck drops in October but even though he plays the game with physicality, he plays the game right with not getting penalized often.

 

Boston Bruins 2018 Development Camp Wrap-Up

(Photo Credit:  Alan Sullivan Photography)

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

First and foremost I’d like to start my Boston Bruins Development Camp Wrap-Up article by showing my gratitude for the opportunity that was given to me this week from the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Massachusetts. I was given media access to cover the B’s annual mid-summer event and want to thank the Bruins organization, particularly the organizations public relations department for their acceptance and guidance during this week’s festivities.

As a person from the outside striving to gain access to future events, I learned an awful lot from the veteran heavy hitters in the press box like the Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa,  NHL.com / CBSBoston’s Matt Kalman, Providence Journals Mark Divver, 98.5 The Sports Hubs Ty Anderson,  the Standard-Times New Bedford Mick Colageo, and CLNSMedia’s Jimmy Murphy just to name a few on how to conduct myself surrounded by other media professionals. I’m truly grateful for the hospitality from those mentioned above, and it was an experience I’ll never forget.

In this article below I’d like to point out several Bruins prospects that stood out to me while in attendance at the Brighton facility during the four-day event this week. I’m also going to add what the scouts had said in the past leading up to their day when the Bruins selected them in their respected National Hockey League Entry Draft year to spice things up for those readers that want to learn more about the next generation of Bruins players.  Out of the 18 players that attended this year’s camp that the Bruins have rights to, it was difficult to narrow the choices down as there were so many positive things from all the attendees, but hope you enjoy my favorites moving forward.

-Forwards-

Martin Bakos  –  Right Wing

(Photo Credit:  Boston Globe / Lane Turner Globe Staff)

The undrafted 28-year-old forward was signed to a one-year, two-way contract in the middle of June 2018, and comes to camp as the oldest player. The 6′-2″ 198-pound Slovakian native spent his entire hockey career playing overseas in leagues such as his home Slovakian clubs, the Kontinental Hockey League, and most recently the Czech Pro League.  Before jetting over to North America for the first time, Bakos appeared in 52 games for his Bili Tygri Liberec club posting 14-26-40 numbers.

At this year’s development camp, I saw positive things from the right winger, and a few things that stood out to me was his skill and speed. He has the size to be that prototypical power-forward but also the hands and hockey IQ to be an asset on any of the teams throughout the B’s organization. With pretty much the complete package for a European import, Bakos used this camp and should continue to work hard during the long summer offseason to get used to his surroundings. The adjustment to the smaller ice and split-second decisions won’t be easy, but Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney believes there’s enough time between now and September to work on those attributes that the team was attracted to.

Curtis Hall  –  Center

(Photo Credit:  Alan Sullivan Photography)

Hall, a 6′-3″ 201-pound New Jersey native, is an American / Canadian dual citizen was selected in the fourth-round of this year’s Entry Draft and previously spent the last two seasons in the United States Hockey League with the Youngstown Phantoms. In 113 career games with Youngstown, the 18-year-old center posted 20-32-52 numbers and has committed to play hockey in the Ivy League as a freshman for the upcoming 2018-19 season for the Yale University Bulldogs. Although he was selected by the Flint Firebirds in the 10th-round of the Ontario hockey Leagues Priority Selection, the Jersey-born forward has always wanted to play in the NCAA Men’s Division 1 somewhere close to home, and with New Jersey being so close to Connecticut, the decision wasn’t a hard one.

Curtis brought an overwhelming amount of skill to his first ever pro-development camp and really impressed me and many others who had the chance to watch his ability on the ice all week. He’s got tremendous speed, stickhandling ability, and a pro release. His vision and calmness in open ice and tight situations along the boards was a couple of things that definitely caught my eye and look forward to watching him progress in his development by watching many of his games when he appears in his first year of collegiate hockey in the fall.

Jakub Lauko  –  Center / Left Wing

(Photo Credit:  Alan Sullivan Photography)

One of the fastest skaters selected in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, the 6′-0″ 179-pound Czech Republic native certainly turned heads at camp for a European skater selected in the third-round in 2018. Mostly playing in the Czech system with his Pirati Chomutov club teams growing up to the pro-level in 2017-18, he registered 3-6-9 numbers in 42 games teaming up with adult players and even though his numbers weren’t high, he’s got all the attribute of a young developing forward you want to see moving forward.

Besides his speed, what really attracted me to this player during the development camp week was his creativity with his hands and the ability to showcase those mitts while skating in full stride. He shields the puck well along the boards and in open ice skating towards the net positioning his body where defenders can’t reach around to disturb his progression to get a shot on goal. His release and shot are another animal as he finds the right time to put the puck on the net whether crossing the blue line or goal line extended.

Jack Studnicka  –  Center

(Photo Credit:  Alan Sullivan Photography)

Selected in the second-round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, the 6′-1″ 172-pound forward made his second appearance at the Bruins development camp and continued to impress those fortunate enough like myself who have seen him at the Warrior Ice Arena the past two summers. The 19-year-old was a first-year team captain for his Ontario Hockey Leagues Oshawa Generals and ended the 2017-18 season with 22-50-72 numbers.

After his Generals team was eliminated in the second-round of the OHL playoffs to the hands of the Niagara Ice Dogs, Studnicka joined the American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins for five regular-season games contributing impressive 1-4-5 totals while gaining great experience with the NHL Bruins top minor-pro affiliate. In Jack’s OHL career he’s appeared in 192 games all with Oshawa posting 44-106-150 numbers in that duration.

Studnicka has an uncanny ability to make an opposing player look silly almost everytime he possesses the puck. His tool-box of skills are all there, and it’s no doubt why the Bruins selected him to begin with. He has speed and an outstanding amount of offensive talent to see the complete 200-foot sheet of ice regardless if he has the puck or not. His composer and hockey IQ whether all alone or being double covered is something to see for yourselves as he has the ability to make things happen quickly while seemingly stickhandling in a phone booth.  Could very well be a dark-horse to make the NHL club for the upcoming season, but also couldn’t hurt to continue his development one more year in the OHL then be eligible for the AHL the season after if necessary.

-Defensemen-

Axel Andersson  –  Right Defense

(Photo Credit:   Alan Sullivan Photography)

Selected by the Bruins in the second-round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, the 6′-0″ 179-pound blueliner has the ability to produce offensively while getting back in the D-Zone to be that shutdown type of player.  The 18-year-old Sweden native played last season with the SuperElit Djurgardens IF J20 club and produce 6-25-31 numbers in 42 games. The 2018 World Junior Championship Bronze Medal winner for team Sweden was recently selected in Canadian Hockey Leagues Import Draft from the Kitchener Rangers, but rumors have it that he’s not going to report to the OHL club but might return to Europe to continue his development.

This kid blew me away at camp this week with his speed and vision of the ice. His edgework and positioning in the D-Zone really stood out to me but that explosive stride transitioning to the offensive was a treat to watch. I enjoyed mobility and how strong he was mainly in short ice three on three drills. His puck possession during the week was off the charts and has incredible timing when it comes to those tape-to-tape stretch passes. Definitely going to be a player to keep an eye on in the next few years as he continues to grow and hone his skills to prepare for any level of professional hockey.

Urho Vaakanainen  –  Left Defense

(06/26/2018- Boston, MA) Urho Vaakanainen skates at the Boston Bruins development camp at Warrior Arena on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. Staff Photo by Matt West

Another solid selection when it comes to adding depth to the Bruins organizations future, the first-round choice in 2017 from the NHL Entry Draft in Chicago, Illinois had another outstanding development camp for the second consecutive year. The 6′-1″  185-pound defenseman from Finland spent the 2017-18 season in the Finnish Liiga League with the SaiPa club posting 4-7-11 numbers in 43 games. Vaakanainen signed an entry-level contract in mid-June of 2018 and is expected to join the AHL Providence Bruins in the upcoming 2017-18 season. He’ll make a serious push to challenge for that left shot blueline spot that this B’s team seems to foam at the mouth over but if he doesn’t make the NHL in his first try, he’ll get some substantial pro experience with the Bruins top minor-pro team with Providence.

Vaakanainen is another solid defensive prospect that showed his skills this week and continues to work on his game and physical stature. Although not known for his offensive abilities, Urho can play that prototypical “shutdown” style and reads the ice very well to be ready and position himself appropriately when his team gives up the puck, and the opposing players work their way into his defensive zone. As a 19-year-old he still has time to gain more muscle and size, but as of now, he’s rock solid when it comes to clearing another teams players at the top of the crease creating havoc for his goaltender. Decent puck possession abilities and smooth passer and skater for that fast jump out of his defensive zone.

-Goaltenders-

Kyle Keyser

(Photo Credit:  Alan Sullivan Photography)

Signed to a three-year entry-level contract back in October of 2017, the 19-year-old finished his third year with the Oshawa General in 2017-18 and had career highs as the teams starting netminder. Even though his best year in the OHL was rattled with two concussion injuries, the 6′-2″ 182-pound goaltender from Coral Springs, Florida managed to post a 28-13-0 record with a 3.16 Goals-Against-Average and .904 Save Percentage. Keyser, an undrafted netminder, will most likely report back to his OHL Generals team for another year of development in 2018-19 but can be eligible for the AHL Providence team the year after.

Kyle is a very competitive goaltender and showed off his skills throughout this week of camp. He does need to work on some things a bit more to complete his overall game, but there were signs of excellence and quickness that I thought stood out to me. His lateral movements from post to post were outstanding, and his blocker side was strong, but his glove hand can be a cause for concern but enough time at his age to correct.  I like how aggressive he is when challenging opposing shooters and his athleticism to quickly get back into the play for a follow-up shot or rebound. Look for him to have better numbers in the OHL next season if he can remain healthy for the duration.

Jeremy Swayman

(Photo Credit:  Alan Sullivan Photography)

After a surprising 2017-18 freshman year with the University of Maine Black Bears, the 19-year-old Anchorage, Alaska native made an immediate impact with his NCAA Division 1 team when outplayed veteran starter Robert Mcgovern to start the regular season.  After having one-year success in the USHL with the Sioux Falls Stampede to prepare for the collegiate level, the 6′-2″ 187-pound Swayman went on to post a 15-12-3 record a 2.72 GAA and .921 Save%. Jeremy was the recipient of many NCAA and Hockey East Awards but his play in 2017-18 and the amount of rubber he saw early in the year caught the eyes of Team USA’s World Junior Championship coaching staff when he got the invite to Buffalo, New York as a third-string netminder.

Selected in the fourth-round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft from Chicago, Illinois, Swayman made his second-straight development camp appearance and showcased his skills very well. In my opinion, he’s a very well trained reactionary goaltender that has outstanding athleticism who knows when to be aggressive cutting down the angles but also smart enough to read the play coming towards him with appropriate positioning.  Like Keyser above, he tracks the puck well down low and has a quick blocker and glove hand. Jeremy has worked hard with former Black Bear Alumni Bruins Goaltending Development Coach Mike Dunham and internal Maine crease coach Alfie Michaud, and I expect to see him have a better season in 2018-19 during Hockey East play.

Dan Vladar

(Photo Credit:  Alan Sullivan Photography)

Vladar made his third-straight development camp appearance this week after being selected in the third-round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The 6′-5″ 196-pound Czech Republic native was another successful product of the developing ranks in the USHL with the Chicago Steel even though he wasn’t eligible to play in the NCAA. Dan signed a three-year entry-level deal in April of 2016 and has spent a majority of his early professional career with the Bruins “AA” Premier affiliate in the ECHL with the Atlanta Gladiators. In his time with Atlanta, Vladar appeared in 59 games posting a career 22-27-2 record, a 3.42 GAA and .899 Save%. When called up to the higher AHL level with the Providence team, Vladar has played much better with a better structured defensive system to produce a record of 6-2-1, impressive 2.42 GAA and .922 Save%.

This summers development camp event was by far the best I’ve seen from the big, athletic netminder. He continues to work hard with goaltending coaches Bob Essensa and Mike Dunham, and with goaltender-on-loan Jordan Binnington most likely heading back to his St. Louis Blues organization, Vladar is expected to split the 2018-19 season in Providence with veteran AHL goaltender Zane McIntyre who will be in his last year under contract and future uncertain.

With Vladars’ tall stature, he takes up most of the bottom of the net when retrieving pucks in the crease but could use more work on his glove hand. He doesn’t have to be an aggressive goaltender with his height but stays square to the puck and has decent rebound control. One of my favorite things about his playing style is how he deals with opposing players at the top of the crease. Most of the time he can see over them when the puck is at the point but has the smarts to drop down and ultimately take away any second chance opportunities.

Happy Birthday To Bruins Legend Ken Hodge Sr.

Photo Credit:  Getty Images / Walter Looss Jr.

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

On this day in Boston Bruins history, we celebrate the birthday of Garden Legend and former 50 goal scorer Ken Hodge. Born in Birmingham, England on June 25, 1944. Hodge got his start in the NHL with the Chicago Black Hawks after posting 127-137-264 numbers in the Ontario Hockey Association with the St. Catherines Black Hawks in 192 career games. His first three seasons in the National Hockey League were a slow adjustment period but changed that for the better when he joined the Bruins organization via trade that sent himself, Phil Esposito and Fred Stanfield to Beantown before the 1967-68 season began.

The 6′-2″ 214-pound right winger would make an immediate impact after his welcome to the Bruins organization, orchestrated by the superior knowledge of bench boss and longtime B’s General Manager Harry Sinden. Hodge would post 25-31-56 numbers in his first year with the Black and Gold that would set the tone for a stellar hockey career in Boston which landed him two Stanley Cups, and 289-385-674 numbers in 652 career games with the B’s.  After nine seasons with the Bruins which ended on a sour note with many appearances in Head Coach Don Cherry’s doghouse, he was traded to the New York Rangers in May of 1976. He would play two more seasons in the NHL before hanging up the skates after trying to salvage his hockey career in the American Hockey League with the New Haven Nighthawks in 1977-78 and the Binghamton Dusters in 1979-80.

Happy 74th Birthday To Ken Hodge Sr. and Thanks For The Memories!

  Photo Credit:  Wikipedia

Bruins Sign Slovakian Martin Bakos

Photo Credit: MICHAEL ERICHSEN / BILDBYRÅN

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Per 98.5 The Sports Hubs Bruins beat writer Ty Anderson, the Boston Bruins have signed 28-year-old Slovakian forward Martin Bakos to a one-year, two-way contract for the upcoming 2018-19 hockey season. Likely a depth signing to add to the developing depth and may be a solution for current “restricted” and “unrestricted” free agents in Providence of the American Hockey League if their services are no longer needed.

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

The 6′-2″ 198-pound versatile forward has spent his entire hockey career overseas for and had 14-26-40 numbers during the 2017-18 regular season appearing in 52 games for the Bili Tygri Liberec Clu in the Czech pro-league. In 146 career games in the Czech league, he has 43-56-99 numbers and 19-19-38 totals when playing in the Kontinental Hockey League in 102 games.

The right-shooting Bakos originally signed to play in the Swedish Hockey League for the upcoming season but seemed to have a change of heart when the Boston Bruins came calling to bring another player over for a taste of North American hockey.  As mentioned above, this could be a signing for players potentially departing the organization to seek jobs elsewhere in hockey. With names like Austin Czarnik, Justin Hickman, Colby Cave, and Anton Blidh’s futures up in the air, this is a great time to get depth players from Europe and other areas of the world into the system given enough time to get adjusted to the smaller rinks and what’s expected in terms of training from the B’s organization.

Below Are A Few Videos Showing The Skill-Set Of The Recently Signed Bruins Forward

Bruins Get A Deal Done With Prospect Vaakanainen

Photo Credit:  NHL.com

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

With a little over a week to go until the 2018 National Hockey League Entry Draft, the Boston Bruins end all speculation today with the announcement that the club has signed 2017 first-round defensive prospect Urho Vaakanainen. The 6′-1″ 185-pound Finnish defenseman was selected in with the 18th selection from last years Entry Draft from the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The 19-year-old is coming to America now that his three-year entry-level contract worth $975K per season was agreed on earlier today.

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

The talented defensive prospect of the Bruins has had an impressive career developing his skills primarily in his home country and international tournaments. Vaakanainen helped Team Finland to a gold medal in the 2016 under-18 World Junior Championships then followed that up winning silver with the same U-18 team during the 2017 games. In the Finnish pro Liiga league with his SaiPa club, he contributed 4-7-11 numbers in 43 games last season, and in his career overseas with SaiPa he’s posted 7-16-23 totals in 109 appearances.

I believe this is a solid signing for the Bruins and the depth of the organization. It remains to be seen what level of pro hockey the young defenseman will land in the upcoming 2018-19 campaign, but it will be his first competitive action in the smaller rinks of North American hockey.  He’ll train well during the long summer offseason beginning with the team’s annual development camp at the end of the month, and will undoubtedly challenge veteran defenseman that are under contract next season for a roster spot.

In my opinion, it can never hurt a player of his age to act like a sponge and soak up everything he can with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. I know a player like Brandon Carlo played his first year after leaving Tri-City of the Western Hockey League, but he wasn’t challenged with the decrease in ice size. International ice measurements are a little over 205-feet by 98-feet while most rinks in North American rinks are 200-feet by 85-feet so there is a significant adjustment for players coming over from overseas.

Providence Head Coach Jay Leach who was a defenseman himself is having good success with fellow defensive prospects such as the former number one pick Jakub Zboril and second-round selection Jeremy Lauzon in 2015. I know it’s a different situation and position all together but often ask myself if current NHL Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk would’ve had as good of a season in 2017-18 if he didn’t properly develop in the AHL for his first pro-level experience? I’m sure he’d be a fantastic player but might not have had the year the Bruins faithful saw last season.

Below Are What The Experts Are Saying About The Bruins New Addition To The Organization.

The Draft Analyst Steve Kounianos had this scouting report on Vaakanainen in a March 2017 article he posted about the skilled blueliner.

Vaakanainen is the latest edition of poised Finnish two-way defenders who seem to grasp the nuances of the position far better than the bulk of their peers. While it’s easy to compare him to 2016 NHL first rounder (and fellow countryman) Olli Juolevi, Vaakanainen comes across as more polished and reliable within the 200-foot game. A wonderful skater with a fluid stride, he is calm and steady with the puck and will peel back in the face of pressure rather than force things. His passes are short, crisp and strategic, and he can use the boards with both precision and effectiveness. Vaakanainen has a hard shot and is being groomed to quarterback a power play, but we were more impressed with his play while anchoring Finland’s top penalty-killing unit and refusing to float away from his slot responsibilities. He seems to have the puck on a string, and playing in Finland’s top circuit reveals a young man who is clearly one of the most mature of any first-year draft eligible. Vaakanainen won’t be a franchise rejuvenator all by himself, but we expect him to solidify one of the top two pairs for either a mediocre team or a contender.  – The Draft Analyst

Dobber Prospects writer Mike Drover had this scouting report on the Finnish defenseman in an article wrote in July of 2017 shortly after the Bruins selected him.

Playing last season for Jyvaskala of SM Liiga, Vaakanainen established himself as an elite stay-at-home defender with an NHL stride. He’s got the great hockey sense and plays to his strengths, his skating, his poise with the puck, and his defensive prowess. Vaakanainen was considered by many to be the most complete defensive defenseman coming into the draft. Vaakanainen excels on the penalty kill, the ability to shut down the rush play, and is generally not a liability with the puck. Vaakanainen hasn’t shown elite offensive skill at this point in his career, scoring only two goals and nine assists in 55 total games played last season. There are questions about whether Vaakanainen will be an offensive liability in the near term. Urho has a hard but inaccurate shot from the point but possesses good passing and decent on-ice vision.

Despite the knocks to his offensive game, the prevailing thought here is that the Bruins have acquired a solid defenseman with plenty of upside. Vaakanainen is a pick that makes a lot of sense for the Bruins who already have two great, young offensive defenders in Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy.  –  Dobber Prospects

The Hockey News provided us with this insight below about Urho’s game and areas of concern.

Excels at the defensive aspects of playing along the blueline, such as shot-blocking ability, shutdown qualities and sound decision-making with the puck. Is a solid puck mover with a fairly projectable frame. His offensive game will never be his calling card, so he is unlikely to ever become a No. 1 rearguard in the National Hockey League. Needs to add weight and get stronger to maximize his shutdown appeal. He’s a Reliable, shutdown defenseman with some upside.  – The Hockey News

Bruins Legend John McKenzie Passes Away At 80

Photo Credit:  Flickr.com

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Last night the Boston Herald reported that Boston Bruins legend John “Pie” McKenzie passed away at the age of 80 with his family by his side from his Wakefield, Massachusetts residence. The popular Bruin was a key member of the old Big, Bad, Bruins team that was a thorn in the side of many National Hockey League teams from the mid-1960’s to the early 1970’s.

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

The two-time Stanley Cup Champion spent seven of his twelve years in the NHL with the Boston Bruins appearing in 453 games contributing 169-227-396 numbers. As a skilled agitator, the 5′-9″ 170-pound forward was always there to stick up for his teammates and wasn’t afraid to get physical with his 700 penalty minutes in his Bruins career. His NHL totals are 206-268-474 with 917 penalty minutes in 691 career games. McKenzie would leave the Bruins after he helped the organization win it’s fifth Stanley Cup (second in three seasons) to land an opportunity in the World Hockey Association where he spent time with five teams before hanging up the skates after the 1978-79 season where he posted 47 points in76 games for the New England Whalers.

Born in High River, Alberta, Canada, the rugged, crafty right winger caught the eye of Chicago Blackhawk scouts after he posted 48-51-99 in his second season with his Ontario Hockey Association’s St. Catherines Teepees Junior team. His first year after playing second tier time in the Western Canadian junior programs he made an immediate impact posting 70 points in 52 games. After his 99 points 1957-58 season he would play 32 games in the show only posting seven points in his limited role in Chicago.

After retirement, McKenzie was the Head Coach of the Berklee College of Music Ice Cats that were newly formed in 2007. He was also a hockey developmental advisor for the NCAA University of Massachusetts Lowell Riverhawks for a short time.

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

Below Are McKenzie’s Career Acheviements And Facts Per The Great Folks At Wikipedia.com

  • Played in 691 NHL games, totaling 206 goals, 268 assists and 917 penalty minutes
  • Played in 477 WHA games (7th all-time), totaling 163 goals, 250 assists and 413 points (16th all-time)
  • Played in the NHL All-Star Game in 1970 and 1972
  • Played in the Summit Series for Team Canada in 1974 against the Soviet Union
  • His #19 was retired by the Hartford Whalers, making him — unusually — one of only three players whose number was retired by an NHL franchise for which he never actually played (the other two being J. C. Tremblay by the Quebec Nordiques and Frank Finnigan by the modern-day Ottawa Senators). It was widely believed at the time since McKenzie’s contributions to the WHA Whalers were modest, that the honor was a public relations sop to the Boston Bruins’ fan base for which Whalers management was competing.
  • In 2010, he was elected as an inaugural inductee into the World Hockey Association Hall of Fame in the “Legends of the Game” category.[2]