Bruins Enjoy Solid Depth At Center

Boston Bruins v Philadelphia Flyers

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By Carrie Salls | Find me on Twitter @nittgrl73

The 2018-2019 season began with the question of who should be the Bruins’ third-line center. The first five months of the season was used to experiment with a number of options. Even when Boston traded fan-favorite Ryan Donato to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for East Weymouth-native Charlie Coyle not long before the trade deadline in February, many had their doubts about whether a permanent solution had been found.

Although Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy has taken a look at Coyle in preseason as a potential fit for the second-line right wing position, Coyle has shown in game action that he is still a force at center and can continue to be a key piece of a dominant bottom six.

Assuming Coyle does start the season the way he ended the last campaign, at 3C, that means the Bruins will likely have one of the best lineups down the middle in the National Hockey League. Along with Coyle, veterans Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci and fourth-line stalwart Sean Kuraly have proven their worth to the team time and time again.

Cassidy touched on the importance of depth at center in a recent press conference. The coach sounded like he would love to see Coyle fill the third-line pivot role, with Karson Kuhlman or another player slotting in on Krejci’s right wing on the second line instead of Coyle.

With veterans Bergeron and Krejci leading the way, Coyle winning over the fans and coaching staff and Kuraly showing that he is the quintessential fourth-line center that can bring a spark of energy and eat up hard minutes while providing offense in clutch moments, the Bruins seem to be entering the 2019-2020 season with a solid core at center.

However, Bergeron and Krejci are aging, and Bergeron is entering yet another season bothered with nagging injury issues. Krejci was also injured early in the first period of Monday night’s preseason tilt against the Flyers, although initial reports following the game indicated that Krejci’s lower body injury was not considered serious.

In addition to this already stellar lineup, the Bruins added more depth during the offseason with the signings of free agents Brett Ritchie and Par Lindholm, and David Backes can also comfortably take shifts at center if needed.

Looking past the next few seasons, Boston appears well-positioned to continue to be strong up the middle when Bergeron and Krejci retire. The team’s prospect stable boasts a few players in various stages of development, including Trent Frederic, Jack Studnicka and 2019 first-round draft pick John Beecher, who look to have the  size, speed and skill that is needed to succeed at the position in today’s NHL.

Although a number of current Boston and Providence Bruins face free agency after the 2019-2020 season, Bergeron, Krejci and Kuraly, Frederic and Studnicka are not among them. Even if the team is unable to keep Coyle in the Spoked-B beyond this season, having three of those four key components of the offense still under contract is good news for the team.

Bruins’ Chara Unsure About Opening Night Status

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By Carrie Salls | Find me on Twitter @nittgrl73

Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara gave an update on his status for the beginning of the 2019-2020 season following captains’ practice on Friday. The 42-year-old defenseman said the answer to the question of whether he will suit up on opening night, Oct. 3, in Dallas depends on how he progresses through camp.

Bruins fans will remember that Chara missed time in the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals after suffering a jaw injury. Although he returned to play in the series, he donned a full-face shield and wrote answers to reporters’ questions because the injury made talking difficult. Chara revealed following the playoffs that he did have surgery to repair jaw fractures.

A broken jaw was not the only injury Chara was nursing. Boston general manager Don Sweeney said in June that Chara also had repairs done on his elbow.

Chara also missed game four of the Eastern Conference Finals, the game in which the Bruins swept the Carolina Hurricanes to advance to the Cup Finals. The exact nature of the injury that kept him off the ice for that game was less clear, and it ultimately did not keep Chara from starting the St. Louis series before suffering the jaw injury.

Injury woes do not seem to be slowing the captain’s preparation for the upcoming season. He has been at both practices held this week at Warrior Ice Arena and was spotted there without the full shield that he was wearing to protect his injured jaw in the finals. Chara even shared video of some of his workouts on social media over the summer.

The good news is that it sounds like Chara currently hopes he will be ready to go. Hopefully that is a good sign that any time he does miss at the start of the season will be minimal.

Backes Appears Ready for Bruins Camp

Carolina Hurricanes v Boston Bruins - Game Two

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By Carrie Salls | Find me on Twitter @nittgrl73

One of the most polarizing figures of the 2019 offseason, David Backes appeared on the ice at Warrior Ice Arena Wednesday morning for captains’ practice. A day earlier, it was reported by WEEI’s Matt Kalman that Backes’ agent said the veteran forward is “healthy and ready to go” for Bruins camp, which begins Sept. 12.

The controversy surrounding Backes’ continued tenure in Boston stems from the fact that he still has two years left on his contract, with $6 million owed this year, while his production has significantly declined. Last year, Backes put up just 20 points, including seven goals and 13 assists in 70 regular season games. He added five more points in 15 games during the Bruins’ playoff run, but spent a good bit of the postseason watching from the press box as a healthy scratch.

The contract issues, coupled with the fact that the team has yet to re-sign restricted free agents Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, has left many fans calling for Backes to be dealt to another team willing to take on at least a portion of his contract to clear cap space. Rumors also abounded throughout the latter part of the summer that Backes would need surgery, possibly requiring the team to place him on long-term injured reserve and at least temporarily clearing his contract off the books. However, Backes’ camp put those rumors to rest.

If the reports from the 35-year-old Backes’ agent weren’t enough to satisfy skeptical fans, the alternate captain’s participation in Wednesday’s practice seemed to confirm that he is indeed ready for the season to begin. Backes was one of 31 players at that practice, a majority of whom were players expected to be in camp for the Bruins next week.

Now that it seems clear that Backes is staying in Boston at least to start the 2019-2020 season, it is fair to wonder just where he will fit in the Bruins lineup. A likely landing sport for Backes, who came to Boston in 2016 after several years with the St. Louis Blues, would be on the fourth line. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney even indicated in July that the fourth line could be a good spot for Backes given his past success there.

If Backes is to fill a fourth-line role, that means the Bruins coaching staff will have to make some difficult decisions about who to play and who to sit. Sean Kuraly is all but a lock to be the regular fourth-line center, although he showed last season that he can comfortably slide to left wing as well. That leaves a logjam of Joakim Nordstrom, Chris Wagner, Brett Ritchie and perhaps Par Lindholm fighting for regular playing time in the one remaining slot.

One valuable attribute Backes brings to the team is his leadership and experience. His teammates have been quick to point out his role in their development. Most recently, Kuraly talked about Backes’ significant impact on his young career.

Of course, Backes’ leadership abilities are not alone enough to justify him earning a regular spot in the lineup over younger players who may be able to contribute more scoring. However, with a roster still heavily split between younger still-developing players and veterans, it will help the team as a whole.

Like last season, Backes may be asked to play a fill-in role and to step up in situations where a little extra fight is needed, or he may indeed be rotated in regularly on the fourth line. No matter what role he plays, it is becoming increasingly more certain that he will be in the Spoked B this season.

Prospects Challenge to Showcase Bruins’ Future

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By Carrie Salls | Find Me on Twitter @nittgrl73

With Boston Bruins preseason games just a couple of weeks away, the Bruins will once again participate in the Prospects Challenge, which will take place Sept. 6 through Sept. 9 at the HarborCenter in Buffalo. This will be the fifth straight year that the Bruins put a team on the ice for the event. The full roster and schedule for this year’s rookie camp and Prospects Challenge can be found at the end of this story.

The 2019 challenge and rookie camp will feature Bruins prospects such as Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic, Jakub Lauko, Pavel Shen, Oskar Steen, Axel Andersson, Urho Vaakanainen, Kyle Keyser and Dan Vladar, as well as Anders Bjork who returns after missing much of the past two seasons recovering from injuries.

The Prospects Challenge, rookie camp and captain’s practice are traditionally the first opportunities fans get a chance to catch a glimpse of the return of hockey action before the full team assembles. This year, rookies will report for camp on Sept. 5 before making the trip to Buffalo for the Prospects Challenge. Training camp for all players begins on Sept. 12.

Like last year, the Bruins’ young talent will face off against prospects for the Buffalo Sabres, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New Jersey Devils. In the 2018 Prospects Challenge, the Bruins sent a team to the challenge that included forwards Anders Bjork, Trent Frederic, Karson Kuhlman and Zach Senyshyn and defensemen Connor Clifton, Jeremy Lauzon, Urho Vaakanainen and Jakub Zboril.

Notable Bruins who have participated in the Prospects Challenge in previous years include Jake DeBrusk, Sean Kuraly, Danton Heinen, Matt Grzelcyk, Brandon Carlo, Peter Cehlarik, Anders Bjork, Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson.

In 2018, the Devils were able to defeat the future Boston stars, while the Bruins emerged victorious in the games against the Penguins and the Sabres. In the 2017 edition of the tournament, the Bruins also won two of three games, beating Pittsburgh and New Jersey but losing to Buffalo in the second of the three games of that year’s round-robin competition.

Each participating team will play three games during the 2019 installment of the challenge. The schedule for the event and the Bruins’ roster can be found at the end of this article.

According to an announcement released by the Bruins on July 24, fans interested in attending the 2019 Prospects Challenge can purchase tickets for $10 either through the Buffalo Sabres Box Office at the KeyBank Center, online at Sabres.com or by phone at 1-888-223-6000.

The Buffalo Sabres, who are once again hosting the tournament, said in an Aug. 30 release that fans inside the local Buffalo market can stream the games Buffalo is playing in live on Sabres.com.

Boston Bruins 2019 Prospects Challenge Roster

Forwards: Samuel Asselin, Anders Bjork, Scott Conway, Trent Frederic, Jacob Gaucher*, Dante Hannoun*, Cameron Hughes, Joona Koppanen, Robert Lantosi, Jakub Lauko, Tom Marchin, Pavel Shen, Oskar Steen, Jack Studnicka and Alex-Olivier Voyer*.
Defensemen: Axel Andersson, Max Martin*, Riley McCourt*, Andrew Perrott*, Jordan Sambrook*, Wiley Sherman, Alexey Solovyev, Urho Vaakanainen and Cooper Zech.
Goaltenders: Taylor Gauthier*, Kyle Keyser and Dan Vladar.

*Player attending on an invite basis

2019 Prospects Challenge/Rookie Camp Schedule:

Thursday, September 5 (Warrior Ice Arena, Brighton, Mass.)

-Rookie Camp opens

-On-ice rookie practice, 11:15 a.m.

-Rookies will be available to media after practice

Friday, September 6 (HarborCenter, Buffalo, N.Y.)

-Morning skate, 9 a.m.

-Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Boston Bruins, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 7 (HarborCenter, Buffalo)

-Morning skate, 10:30 a.m.

-Buffalo Sabres vs. Boston Bruins, 7 p.m.

Sunday, September 8 (HarborCenter, Buffalo)

-Boston Bruins practice, 12:30 p.m.

Monday, September 9 (HarborCenter, Buffalo)

-Boston Bruins vs. New Jersey Devils, 9:30 a.m.

Bruins NCAA Prospects Head Back to School

2019 NHL Draft - Portraits

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By Carrie Salls | Find me on Twitter @nittgrl73

It’s back-to-school time again. Six Boston Bruins prospects are currently playing or committed to play NCAA hockey, this season including John Beecher, Jack Becker, Cam Clarke, Curtis Hall, Dustyn McFaul and Jeremy Swayman.

Beecher was selected by the Bruins in the first round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and will begin his collegiate hockey career at the University of Michigan this season. He will join Becker in Ann Arbor. Becker will be a junior in 2019-2020.

Beecher, a center/left wing, comes to Michigan after spending the 2018-2019 season moving from the United States National Team Development Program to the U.S. National Under 18 Team to the Under-18 World Junior Classic team. The now 18-year-old Beecher amassed a total of 67 points in a combined 97 games.

Becker is a 22-year-old Minnesota-born center who was selected by the Bruins in round seven of the 2015 Entry Draft. He has played in a total of 69 games during his first two seasons with the Wolverines, accounting for 15 points in each of his freshman and sophomore years.

Clarke is entering his fourth year at another Michigan school, Ferris State University, where he has seen game action each of his first three seasons with the Bulldogs. He is a 23-year-old defenseman from Tecumseh Michigan and was drafted by Boston in the fifth round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

Clarke posted a career high 11 points for Ferris State in 2016-2017, his freshman season, followed by seven points and eight points, respectively, the next two seasons. He has appeared in a total of 99 games so far in his collegiate career.

Ohio native Hall and Alaska product Swayman are two Bruins prospects who are playing their college hockey in New England. Hall is entering his sophomore year at Yale University, and goaltender Swayman will be playing in his third season at the University of Maine.

Hall is a 19-year-old center from Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Last season, his first with the Yale Bulldogs, he put up five goals and six assists in 24 games. Hall was drafted by the Bruins in the fourth round of the 2018 draft.

Swayman, the lone netminder of the group, is 20 years old and was selected by Boston in the fourth round of the 2017 draft. He has posted impressive numbers in his first two seasons with the Black Bears. He finished the 2017-2018 season with a 2.72 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. Last season, Swayman had a 2.77 GAA and a .919 save percentage.

According to McFaul’s profile on Elite Prospects, he is committed to play at Clarkson University and is expected to begin his freshman campaign there this year. McFaul is a 20-year-old Waterdown, Ontario-born defenseman. He has played the past two seasons for the Pickering Panthers of the Ontario Hockey League, posting a total of 35 points in 86 games. He was selected by Boston in the sixth round of the 2018 draft.

Grzelcyk Ready to Go for Bruins

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By Carrie Salls | Find me on Twitter @nittgrl73

The 2018-2019 season did not end well for Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk. Grzelcyk himself may not remember much of what happened after a hit in game two of the Stanley Cup Finals that sent his head careening off the boards and forcing him to be helped off the ice, but Boston fans surely do.

After that fateful hit, Grezelcyk was placed in concussion protocol. He resumed practicing with the team after a couple of games, but most of that time was spent in a red non-contact jersey. He was finally cleared to return to action for game seven and actually scored the Bruins’ only goal in a heartbreaking loss.

Interviewed after game seven, a visibly shaken Grzelcyk broke down in front of reporters when describing how it felt to be sidelined for so much of the series. Minutes after the series ended, the pain of the loss was still very fresh in the minds of Grzelcyk and his teammates.

The good news is (yes, there is good news here), Grzelcyk is raring to go for the 2019-2020 campaign. And, with so many questions remaining about the make-up of the Bruins’ defensive corps leading into camp, the 25-year-old Charlestown native is one piece of the puzzle that is solidly in place. He recently said that he took some time off after the season to let himself fully recover from any lingering effects of the concussion he suffered, but he now feels good and ready to go.

Heading into the final year of a two-year deal signed in July 2018, Grzelcyk is in a great position to have a break-out season. With captain Zdeno Chara returning for at least one more season, but likely to see reduced minutes as he approaches his 43rd birthday in March, Grzelcyk is a prime candidate to share some, if not quite a bit, of that extra load. With injuries dominating the blue line throughout much of the season, he’s already shown that he is more than capable of stepping up when needed.

Of course, last season was a tough one for Grzelcyk himself from a physical standpoint. In addition to the concussion suffered in the final round of the playoffs, Grzelcyk missed a few weeks with an apparent arm injury suffered March 10 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Although the team and fans were relieved that tests revealed no broken bones or significant structural damage, the injury still kept Grzelcyk out of the lineup during a key stretch of the season.

Grzelcyk played 66 of 82 games in 2018-2019, but still managed to increase his points total to 18 points last season from 15 scored in his first season in Boston, in which he played in 61 games. Those numbers aren’t staggering, but considering that Grzelcyk played most of the season on the third pairing with a revolving door of defensive partners, they are solid. Also, he stepped up big in the playoffs, including a two-goal effort in game two of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Bruins fans also know that statistics don’t tell the whole story. Grzelcyk is known for his ability to move the puck, and that trait can be invaluable. Even though he has suffered injuries, listed at 5′ 9″ and 174 pounds, Grzelcyk has shown that he does not shy away from puck battles or hits from larger players. If he can stay healthy, I expect Matt Grzelcyk to take advantage of every opportunity that comes his way in the upcoming season.

Bruins Fan Fest Begins August 16 in Maine

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(Photo Credit: NHL.com/Brian Fluharty)

By Carrie Salls | Find Me on Twitter @nittgrl73

Summer, and the National Hockey League offseason, is winding down as we enter mid-August. That means it won’t be long until Bruins players and coaches begin returning to Boston to get ready for camp and gear up for the 2019-2020 season. It also means it is time for the Bruins’ Third Annual Fan Fest Tour to hit the road to several locations throughout New England.

This year, Fan Fest will travel to seven locations, kicking off on Aug. 16 in Portland, Maine, and making stops through Aug. 25 in Manchester, N.H., Burlington, Vt., Leominster, Mass., Springfield, Mass., Hartford, Conn., and Providence, R.I. The full 2019 Fan Fest Tour schedule can be found at the end of this article.

According to the Bruins, one extra location was added to this year’s tour after Leominster, Mass.’s George Marchetti was selected as the winner of a children’s Spoked-B logo drawing contest. In addition to the honor of bringing the tour to his hometown, Marchetti won tickets to watch the Bruins play at TD Garden at one game in the upcoming season.

Each stop is scheduled to feature current Bruins, coaches, executives and NESN personalities. They will “play games and mingle with fans, sign autographs, take photos, participate in Q&A sessions and much more,” the team announced on July 23. Details on which specific players, coaches and television personalities will be scheduled to appear on the tour had not been released by the team as of Aug. 15.

In addition to the ever-popular player autograph and photo sessions, Fan Fest offers a variety of other Bruins-themed activities for attendees. The tour, which was first held in 2017, includes events and activities for children and adults.

“Fans will be able to participate in skills and drills on synthetic ice rinks, pose for photos in a mock Bruins locker room and have the opportunity to partake in NESN virtual reality experiences,” the team said.

For younger Bruins fans in attendance, Boston Bruins BFit will lead kid-friendly fitness activities at each city. Also, the Bruins Academy Zone will offer face painting, poster making and Bruins trivia for kids.

To help keep fans cool in the August heat while raising money for the Boston Bruins Foundation, Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream will be selling its Power Play Fudge ice cream at Fan Fest. Attendees can cool down with the sweet treat in exchange for a $1 donation to the foundation.

There is no cost for admission to any of the tour stops, although the team is encouraging attendees to pre-register to avoid delays in getting into the event. More information on attending Fan Fest and registration forms can be found at BostonBruins.com/FanFest.

The full schedule for the Third Annual Bruins Fan Fest, which is subject to change, is as follows:

Friday, August 16

Edward Payson Park, Catafalque Drive, Portland, Maine, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday, August 17

Arms Park, 10 Arms St., Manchester, N.H., 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sunday, August 18

Jeffords Hall Lot, 63 Carrigan Dr., Burlington, Vt., 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Thursday, August 22

Doyle Field, 100 Priest St., Leominster, Mass., noon to 4 p.m.

Friday, August 23

Forest Park, 200 Trafton Rd., Springfield, Mass., noon to 4 p.m.

Saturday, August 24

Connecticut State Capitol, 210 Capitol Ave., Hartford, Conn., noon to 4 p.m.

Sunday, August 25

Alex and Ani Center, 2 Kennedy Plaza, Providence, R.I., noon to 4 p.m.

Where Does Lindholm Fit in Bruins Lineup?

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals

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By Carrie Salls | Find me on Twitter @nittgrl73

Not much has been said about Par Lindholm since the Bruins signed the 27-year-old Swedish forward to a two-year deal on July 1. Understandably, Bruins fans’ attention has been focused on whether, and how, the team can manage to sign restricted free agent defensemen Charlie McAvoy and/or Brandon Carlo to new contracts and less so on depth signings.

Lindholm, who can play both center and wing, was one of two unrestricted free agents signed by Boston general manager Don Sweeney when free agency began at the beginning of July. Fellow signee Brett Ritchie has been mentioned as a good candidate to fill a vacant bottom-six forward role, depending on how the Boston coaching staff elects to construct the lines. But, what about Lindholm’s potential role on the team?

Last season, Lindholm played 61 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs, contributing 11 assists and one goal and a plus-five rating in that time. He also played in four games for the Winnipeg Jets. He had one assist in his brief stint in Winnipeg.

From 2007 through the 2017-2018 season, Lindholm played in Sweden. His time there included time with junior teams, international play and the Swedish Hockey League. Lindholm’s career high in points came in his last season in Europe, when he potted 18 goals and 29 assists for a combined 47 points for Skelleftee AIK.

After just one season playing hockey in North America, it is fair to say Lindholm is still trying to translate his success in Europe to the National Hockey League. The Bruins will be his third team in an NHL career that is just over one-year long.

The $825,000 contract he signed with Boston indicates that Lindholm and the Bruins recognize that he is still a work in progress. The cap-friendly deal and scoring potential make him a good investment for the Bruins, if they can find a role for him.

It’s no secret that the Bruins already have one of the best fourth lines in the NHL. Sean Kuraly and Joakim Nordstrom are virtual locks to see regular playing time on that line. Unfortunately for Lindholm, there is already a healthy slate of veterans lining up to take a crack at the third slot on the energy line.

Chris Wagner, who played much of the 2018-2019 season on the fourth line, is the odds-on-favorite to reclaim the spot he shared with Noel Acciari, who signed with the Florida Panthers in July. Sweeney has indicated that David Backes may also see playing time on the fourth line, and, depending on the make-up of the third line, Ritchie could be in the mix as well. These projections do not even take into account the prospects looking to impress in the preseason and stick with the big club.

With so many options in Boston, Lindholm will likely face his fair share of competition in camp if he hopes to show the front office that he is worth of regular playing time. He does bring a few valuable weapons to the fight, as he is a left-shot center who is known for his penalty killing and defensive prowess and success at the face-off dot.

Despite the stiff competition, Lindholm seems to relish the chance to contribute. Whether he has what it takes to stand out above the rest in the competition to replace Acciari and Marcus Johannson remains to be seen.

Senyshyn’s Future in Boston Unclear

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By Carrie Salls | Find me on Twitter @nittgrl73

It feels like Zach Senyshyn has been in the Bruins organization forever. The last of three first-round picks made by the Bruins in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Senyshyn was also the last of the group to earn a call to show what he can do on the NHL level. Although, like Senyshyn, draft classmate Jakub Zboril has seen very little time with the big club, Zboril’s chance came a bit sooner than Senyshyn’s. The other 2015 first-rounder, Jake DeBrusk, is entering his third season in Boston.

As far as Senyshyn is concerned, his biggest chance to make a name for himself so far came at the end of the 2018-2019 season, after the Bruins had clinched a playoff spot and were looking for options to rest the team’s stars and keep them healthy for the postseason. His first NHL goal was scored in that brief stint, but even that milestone was an inauspicious one for the 22-year-old winger. Senyshyn scored an empty-netter in the waning minutes of a game against the Minnesota Wild.

Still, it was a goal, scored in the NHL with his parents on-hand. And, it should not be overshadowed by the fact that Senyshyn seemed to relish his opportunity to show the Bruins’ brass what he can do. He approached his brief time in the NHL with poise, not letting the moment or his nerves get the better of him, and had a few quality chances and made an impact when he was on the ice.

That being said, big questions remain as to whether Senyshyn is ready and able to break into the NHL roster for the beginning of the 2019-2020 season. As part of the seemingly constant debate on who should play on David Krejci’s right wing, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney did offer some hope earlier this summer that Senyshyn could be thrown into the mix.

Much of Senyshyn’s future in the Bruins organization will depend on what role the coaches and front office want him to fill. If he is relegated to the hard-minutes, grinder role that it seems Providence coach Jay Leach would like to see from the Ottawa native, that could make “Senny’s” road to the NHL a bit bumpier. The Bruins have stocked up on bottom-six players in the past couple of years, all while already boasting arguably the best fourth line in the league.

With Sean Kuraly, Chris Wagner, Joakim Nordstrom, veteran David Backes and newcomer Brett Ritchie already providing Boston with hard-hitting options for those roles, and, perhaps most importantly to Senyshyn’s future, with several years of NHL experience already under their belts, it seems unlikely Senyshyn will break through that way unless an injury bug hits the team’s third and fourth lines.

How Sweeney sees Senyshyn potentially fitting into the search for a reliable second-line right ring, be it as a player that could slot into that position himself or a replacement for Danton Heinen or another player who would be moved there, remains to be seen. Senyshyn certainly has the speed to make an impact somewhere in the middle of the lineup, as well as the physical skill to make him an asset further down in the mix.

Although he is moving into the fifth season since being drafted by the Bruins, Senyshyn chose to return to the Ontario Hockey League for a couple of years after he was drafted and has actually only played two full seasons in Providence. In that time, he has racked up a total of 50 points. His points total fell slightly to 24 in the 2018-2019 season from 26 the year before, but he potted more goals this past season, with 14, compared to 12 the previous season.

Of course, a third season in Providence, at least to start the upcoming campaign, could only help Senyshyn’s development. However, he is coming into the final year of his entry-level contract. With restricted free agency looming, this season may be Senyshyn’s last chance, whether in camp or during a call-up, to prove that he deserves to stay in Boston for the long haul.

Will Bruins Sign McAvoy or Carlo Before Camp?

NHL: Dallas Stars at Boston Bruins

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By Carrie Salls | Follow Me on Twitter @nittgrl73

August is upon us. With only about a month remaining until the players and coaches begin returning to Boston and training camp gets underway for the 2019-2020 season, the Bruins still have not signed key restricted free agents Charlie McAvoy or Brandon Carlo to new contracts. In fact, it doesn’t appear that team president Cam Neely and general manager Don Sweeney have done much at all since making a few unrestricted free agent signings on July 1, at least nothing that has been reported.

The first mention from team management about the status of talks with Carlo and McAvoy was not a particularly promising one, as vice president Cam Neely seemed to indicate Thursday that there is a chance that one or both of the blue liners may not be with the team at the beginning of camp.

Potential bridge deals aside, it stands to reason that the Bruins do not currently have enough cap space available to sign both young defensemen. A few other teams have found buyers for players who, like Boston forward David Backes, have expensive contracts but whose contributions to their teams have diminished. However, it appears the window may be closing, if it hasn’t already, on finding a team willing to take some or all of Backes’ contract off the Bruins’ hands.

There are a few issues that likely make moving Backes challenging, to say the least. One is that he has a no movement clause, so the Bruins would either have to make a deal with a team to which Backes has previously agreed or ask him to waive the clause. Teams may also be asking for a high draft pick to accompany the aging winger. After losing a first-round draft pick in the Rick Nash trade, general manager Don Sweeney understandably seems to be reluctant to go that route again. Boston also is not in a position to swap one expensive contract for another, like the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames did in their recent Milan Lucic for James Neal trade.

If freeing up space from Backes’ contract is not an option, it makes sense that the team would turn to a trade to find the money to come to terms with both McAvoy and Carlo. Potential trade pieces could include Torey Krug or David Krejci, most notably. Back-up goaltender Jaroslav Halak could also provide some cap relief if dealt, albeit not as much as Krug or Krejci.

Certainly none of these options are ideal for the Bruins. That, coupled with the team’s decided defensive depth, may be why Neely seems somewhat resigned to the reality that Carlo and McAvoy could start the season as holdouts.

The team has the most leverage in negotiating with McAvoy, as other teams cannot “offer sheet” the 21-year-old first-pairing defenseman. However, if McAvoy is looking at the contracts signed this summer by other young defensemen and asking the Bruins for most or all of the available cap space, that leaves the door open for Carlo to sign a potential offer sheet from another team.

The summer has been slow league-wide, with several bigger-name restricted free agents still un-signed. Offer sheets have also been in very short supply. So, it may not be just the Bruins who are taking their time in shoring up their rosters for the upcoming season.

It may be safe to assume at this point that neither player is willing to accept a bridge deal, especially given the going rate for future stars like McAvoy and Carlo. The Bruins front office definitely finds itself in a difficult position. The coming weeks will tell if a solution can be found.