Bruins’ Rask, Halak Awarded Jennings Trophy For 2019-20 Season

NHL: Boston Bruins at Washington Capitals

(Source: NESN)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Boston Bruins goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak have officially been named the recipients of the William M. Jennings Trophy for the 2019-20 season, annually awarded to the goaltenders on the team with the fewest goals allowed during the regular season. Rask and Halak become the third duo in franchise history to earn the Jennings Trophy, joining Tim Thomas and Manny Fernadnez (2008-09), and Andy Moog and Reggie Lemelin (1989-90).

Boston’s duo allowed 167 goals-against during the regular season, the fewest in the NHL, seven clear of Dallas’ Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin (174). The Arizona Coyotes and Columbus Blue Jackets tied for the third-fewest goals-against with 183 each.

On the season, Rask finished with a 26-8-6 record and a 2.12 goals-against average (GAA), the best in the league among qualified goaltenders. The 33-year-old’s .929 save percentage sits second in the league behind Khudobin’s .930 marker. Rask also pitched five shutouts, one shy of Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck, who led the league with six.

The Savonlinna, FIN, native made a total of 1,189 saves on the year, allowing only 85 goals in 41 appearances. Rask previously won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender for the 2013-14 season.

Halak concluded the season with three shutouts, the fourth-most in the league, to go along with a record of 18-6-6 and a .919 save percentage over 31 appearances. The 35-year-old posted a 2.39 GAA, which finishes as fifth-lowest in the league. A native of Bratislava, SVK, Halak made 905 total saves and surrendered just 73 goals.

This mark’s the second time in his career that Halak has won the Jennings Trophy, having earned it alongside Brian Elliot during the 2011-12 season while playing for the St. Louis Blues. Halak and Elliot gave up 165 goals that season. Halak becomes the tenth goaltender to win the award multiple times, joining the likes of Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur, and Dominik Hasek.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 180 that we recorded below on 5-25-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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Bruins Prospect Jack Studnicka Selected To AHL All-Rookie Team

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(Source: providencebruins.com)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Boston Bruins prospect and Providence Bruins standout Jack Studnicka has been named to the American Hockey League (AHL) All-Rookie Team for the 2019-20 season as voted by coaches, players, and media around the league, per an announcement on Tuesday afternoon.

Goaltender Cayden Primeau (Laval), defensemen Joey Keane (Hartford/Charlotte) and Brogan Rafferty (Utica), as well as forwards Alex Formenton (Belleville) and Josh Norris (Belleville) round out the All-Rookie selections.

The 53rd overall selection to Boston in the second round of the 2017 National Hockey League (NHL) Entry Draft, Studnicka posted 23 goals and 26 assists for 49 points in 60 games for the P-Bruins en route to the Atlantic Division crown. The 21-year-old tied the AHL rookie record for shorthanded tallies with seven.

The Tecumseh, Ont. native has skated in two career NHL games with Boston, making his debut on Nov. 26 against the Montreal Canadiens, where he recorded an assist on Danton Heinen’s third period goal in an 8-1 win on the road.

In four seasons between the Oshawa Generals and Niagra Ice Dogs of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), Studnicka registered 80 goals and 153 assists for 233 points in 252 contests. Bruins past and present to have made the AHL’s All-Rookie squad include Zdeno Chara (1998), Jaroslav Halak (2007), Austin Czarnik (2016), and Frank Vatrano (2016).

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 179 that we recorded below on 5-17-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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NHL Postpones 2020 International Events, Including Bruins-Predators Prague Showcase

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Source: NHL / Twitter

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

The National Hockey League and Players’ Association announced on Friday morning that the league has postponed its 2020 international events to the 2021 season due in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other teams included in the Global Series, the Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators were supposed to kick off the 2020-21 campaign at O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic.

Before meeting the Preds in Prague, Boston was slated to wrap up training camp in Manheim, Germany, and face off against Adler Manheim at SAP Arena in an exhibition contests. Nashville was scheduled to travel to Bern, Switzerland, and play an exhibition showcase against SC Bern at PostFinance Arena to conclude camp.

Boston’s David Krejci and David Pastrnak are both natives of the Czech Republic, while Nashville’s Roman Josi and Yannick Weber are from Switzerland.

The Columbus Blue Jackets and Colorado Avalanche were set to meet in a pair of regular season games later in the fall at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland. Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen and Joonas Donskoi as well as Columbus’ Markus Nutivaara and Joonas Korpisalo are all natives of Finland.

Last fall as part of the 2019 Global Series, the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks began the 2019-20 seasons in Prague after finishing their training camps in Switzerland and Germany, respectively. In November, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Buffalo Sabres squared off in a pair of regular season games in Stockholm, Sweden.

The 2020 Global Series would have marked the fourth-straight season that the NHL and ninth overall that the NHL has traveled to Europe to play regular season games.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 177 that we recorded below on 5-3-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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Alexander Khokhlachev, Still Bruins Property, Traded In KHL

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(Photo: Ilya Smirnov / photo.khl.ru)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Former Boston Bruins prospect Alexander Khokhlachev has been traded in a one-for-one swap in the Kontinental Hockey League. The 26-year-old was dealt from Spartak Moscow to Avangard Omsk in exchange for forward Sergei Shirokov.

This season with Spartak, Khokhlachev posted 14 goals and 18 assists for 32 points in 56 games in addition to 2-3-5 numbers in six playoff contests. Through four seasons in the KHL, the Moscow native has 56-73-129 totals in 187 games to go along with two goals, six helpers, and eight points in 25 playoff games.

Selected 40th overall by Boston in the second round of the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft, Khokhlachev departed North American hockey after the 2015-16 campaign, where he tallied 23-45-68 totals in 60 American Hockey League contests with the Providence Bruins. The Russian was a prolific scorer at the AHL level with 61 goals and 110 assists for 171 points in 197 AHL contests under Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, who apparently has a strong relationship with “Koko.”

The five-foot-11, 187-pound forward could not seem to get his success to translate to the NHL: zero points in nine games with a minus-four rating. When Khokhlachev got looks with the big club, former Boston head coach Claude Julien fed him limited ice time.

During the 2017-18 season, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet and Hockey Night in Canada reported that a return to Boston could be in the fold for Khokhlachev, and according to Mark Divver, team representatives met him overseas that winter to “talk things over.”

At the time, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney even acknowledged that Khokhlachev “indicated to us originally during the year that he was interested [in returning to Boston].” However, it seems fair to say that a return is probably not imminent at this point in time.

The Bruins hold Khokhlachev’s NHL rights until he is 27 years old, so long as the team submits a qualifying offer each year. Khokhlachev will turn 27 on September 9, 2020.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 176 that we recorded below on 4-27-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins G Prospect Jeremy Swayman Wins Mike Richter Award; Named First-Team All-American

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(Photo: University of Maine Athletics)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Boston Bruins goaltending prospect Jeremy Swayman has been named the recipient of the Mike Richter Award, annually awarded to the top goaltender in Division I, for the 2020-21 season. Swayman was also named a First-Team All-American.

Swayman earned Hockey East Player of the Year after a standout season with the University of Maine Black Bears, totaling 1,099 saves, the most of in Division I. Swayman’s 782 conference saves, the most by a Hockey East netminder since the 2010-11 season, and .932 conference save percentage led the league.

Swayman’s .939 overall save percentage was good enough for second in the nation. The junior also carried an overall record of 18-11-5 (12-9-3 Hockey East), posting 25 games with at least 30 saves and five contests with at least 40 stops.

Boston’s fourth round pick (111th-overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Swayman was also named a Hockey East First Team All-Star, and part of the All-USCHO Second Team. What’s more, the 21-year-old was named the recipient of the Walter Brown Award as the top American-born college hockey player in New England.

The Anchorage, AK native signed an entry-level contract with the Bruins last month, forgoing his senior year at Maine. Upon signing his ELC, Swayman joins a cast of goaltenders within Boston’s system, including prospects Dan Vladar and Kyle Keyser, vying to become the successor to Bruins netminders Tuukka Rask, 33, and Jaroslav Halak, 35.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 173 that we recorded below on 4-4-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Former Bruin Colby Cave Passes Away At 25

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(Photo: Steve Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Edmonton Oilers forward and former Boston Bruin Colby Cave died on Saturday morning after being hospitalized for a brain bleed earlier this week. He was 25.

Cave’s wife, Emily, confirmed the news through a statement on Saturday morning, saying “Both our families are in shock but know our Colby was loved dearly by us, his family and friends, the entire hockey community and many more.”

Cave was put into a medically induced coma after being airlifted to Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto and having surgery to remove a colloid cyst, which was causing pressure on his brain. Earlier in the week Emily Cave said in an Instagram that the family could not visit the hospital due to the COVID-19 crisis and post that the family needed a “miracle.”

Cave skated in 67 career NHL games over four seasons with the Oilers and Bruins, posting four goals and five assists for nine points. In 11 games with Edmonton this season, Cave scored one goal.

With Boston, the Battleford, Sask. native tallied 1-4-5 totals in 23 games. Originally an undrafted free agent, Cave signed a three-year entry level contract with the Bruins in April 2015. His NHL debut came on Dec. 21, 2017.

Cave scored his first NHL goal on Dec. 17, 2018, in the Bruins 4-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Edmonton claimed him off waivers during the 2018-19 campaign.

Cave skated in 283 American Hockey League contests over six seasons between the Bakersfield Condors (2019-20), Edmonton’s AHL affiliate, and the Providence Bruins (2015-2019), Boston’s AHL affiliate, where he served as an assistant captain for three seasons.

This season with the Condors, he had 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points in 44 games. On his career, Cave posted 54-84-138 numbers in the AHL.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 173 that we recorded below on 4-4-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

 

 

 

Ranking The Top 10 Bruins Games Of My Lifetime

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(Photo: Associated Press)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Well, tonight would have been Game 1 of the playoffs for the Boston Bruins in all probability. I probably would have worn one of my jerseys to classes before drowning myself in hype videos in my dorm room and heading to the nosebleeds at TD Garden insanely early. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis has the world on pause – for good reason – so no hockey, no playoffs, and no sports, at least for right now.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to live in the Greater Boston Area for my entire lifetime – not even 20 years – go to school in the city, cheer for the best teams in the world, and witness some of the most unparalleled moments in sports history, making for lasting memories.

The Bruins have contributed in large part to those instances, and with so many contests to choose from, I took stab at ranking the best games I’ve had the privilege to see. So without further ado, here is my ranking of the top 10 Bruins games of my lifetime:

10. Bruins @ Senators – 2017 First Round Game 5

Much to the surprise of everyone, the Bruins capped off a wild run to close out the regular season under Bruce Cassidy and made the playoffs for the first time in two years. This series truly felt like the Bruins against the world, with a young, exciting team ahead of schedule with their retool going up against the red-hot Ottawa Senators. Game 5 was the embodiment of that mentality.

The B’s gave up two breakaway goals, both sending an already rocking Canadian Tire Centre into a frenzy – man, that place can get loud despite the attendance issues. With their backs against the wall, the young guns found a way to shine through with David Pastrnak showing the first sign of life before Sean Kuraly, who strictly scores big goals, announced himself to the world.

This was during April vacation of my junior year in high school, and I was on a service trip in New Rochelle, N.Y. with the school’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity. That trip was a blast, and one of the best moments was staying up until about 1 a.m. huddled around my iPad, watching double-overtime and seeing the first “Kuraleap.”

9. Bruins vs. Leafs – 2019 First Round Game 7

After the Bruins forced Game 7 with a thrilling Game 6  victory on Easter Sunday over the Toronto Maple Leafs last year, in what might be one of my best spur of the moment decisions, one of my roommates and I decided to drop a small fortune on nosebleed tickets to be at the Garden that Tuesday. Save for a second period surge from Toronto, the Bruins utterly dominated that game and the Garden was a madhouse. Speaking of the “Kuarleap,” I remember thinking to myself “what if Kuraly scores on this rush?” Sure enough, he did, and the roof popped off the building.

8. Bruins vs. Canucks – 2011 SCF Game 3

After losing the first two games of the series in Vancouver and seeing Nathan Horton get obliterated by Aaron Rome’s late, head-hunting hit, the Bruins could have easily folded. However, in a testament to how special this 2011 team was, Boston rallied and owned the Canucks from the drop of the puck in the second period. The sheer beating that was put on Alex Burrows, Daniel Sedin, and the scoresheet makes this one of my favorite games to rewatch.

7. Bruins vs. Leafs – 2019 First Round Game 2

This was the first Bruins playoff game I ever attended, and aside from Game 7 of the 2019 First Round and of the 2019 Finals, I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about a hockey game. The Bruins absolutely took it to the Leafs in this one, both on the scoresheet and in the physicality department, and the Garden was absolutely rocking. After this win, maybe because I was riding the high of being at a crazy game, I was certain Boston would make a deep playoff run last season.

6. Bruins vs. Leafs – 2018 First Round Game 7

Similar to some other games against Toronto that I’ll mention later on in this piece, the Bruins found themselves facing an uphill battle. After a back and fourth opening frame and a second period Marchand, Tuukka Rask and the B’s would like to have back, the Boston was down heading into the third period, and it looked like the Leafs’ potent offense was just too much.

Early in the final 20 minutes, Torey Krug tied things up and breathed new life into the Garden. From there, Jake DeBrusk would make his mark as a rookie, scoring what is easily one of the biggest goals of his career. The Bruins once again proved better than the Leafs when the lights were brightest, and the image of DeBrusk celebrating on his knees after is goal remains iconic.

5. Bruins vs. Canadiens – 2011 First Round Game 5

From Michael Ryder’s glove save, to Tim Thomas robbing Brian Gionta, to Horton scoring the first of his heroic goals, this is another game that seemingly had it all. Tight action for almost the entirety of the night before the teams got tired and things opened up in the second overtime made for exciting drama. Jack Edwards’ call of, “Moen to Gionta . . . Oh! Tim Thomas! Goes right to him to steal it!” as well as his call of Horton’s 2OT winner still send chills down my spine every time I hear them.

4. Bruins vs. Canadiens – 2011 First Round Game 7

And now we find arguably Horton’s biggest goal in a Bruins uniform. People had already fired Claude Julian and dismantled the core in preparation for if the Bruins lost this game. Two quick goals from Johnny Boychuck and Mark Recchi made the Garden go bonkers before the Canadiens clawed their way back, and the game eventually wound up in overtime. A perfect pinch by Adam McQuaid and excellent reads from Milan Lucic and Horton alike combined for one of the most iconic goals of that magical playoff run.

3. Bruins @ Canucks – 2011 SCF Game 7

It was a bit tough to have this game outside of the top two just because of its importance to the franchise, but the entertainment of the top two gives them an edge. Nonetheless, the Bruins finally clinching the Stanley Cup remains the peak of my Boston sports fanhood. The way Boston dismantled the Canucks in Game 7, really for each of their four wins in the series, makes this a classic. There are few things I want more in this world than to see the B’s raise the Cup once again.

2. Bruins vs. Leafs – 2013 First Round Game 7

This one is easily the craziest and most improbable comebacks I have ever seen. The Bruins had collapsed to the lowly Leafs, Phil Kessel got his revenge, and Cody Franson had his coming out party. All of that was a given until Horton scored about midway through the third period to spark the rally.

From there, Milan Lucic would dominate, and Patrice Bergeron continued to build his legacy in Boston hockey lore. I don’t think I’ll ever be unable to recite Jack Edwards’ calls of each of Bergeron’s goals word for word.

1. Bruins vs. Lightning – 2011 ECF Game 7

Following the greatest comeback I’ve ever witnessed, we have the greatest game I’ve ever witnessed. This was the perfect hockey game – high stakes, constant action and flow, no penalties, great goaltending, and a clutch goal. In an exciting seven game series that saw all but two games with at least four combined goals scored between the two teams, this tight, defensive chess match had everyone on the edge of their seats for the entire 60 minutes. Doc Emerick’s call of Horton’s goal, as well as the way Boston dissected Tampa’s one-three-one forecheck will forever replay in my mind when I think of this game.

Obviously, some games might get snubbed from the ranking, so I’ve also put together some honorable mentions that I feel deserve to be recognized and talked about at the very least:

HM: Bruins vs. Blue Jackets – 2019 Second Round Game 5

The Bruins playing Columbus in the second round of the 2019 playoffs may be one of the weirdest matchups I can remember, right up there with the Senators, but it didn’t make the series any less exciting. Fresh off a historical upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Blue Jackets were the hottest team remaining in the playoffs, and the Bruins seemingly couldn’t find any answer for Sergei Bobrovsky, until Game 5. After the Bruins extended their lead in the third period, Columbus fought back to tied things up, but Marchand and Pastrnak combined on a two-on-one to win the game late and leave hardly a shred of doubt that Boston would take care of business in Game 6.

HM: Bruins vs. Penguins – 2013 ECF Game 4

I remember all the talk about the big, bad Penguins coming to town and that the Bruins stood no chance in this series. However, Boston flipped the script on Pittsburgh and controlled the series since puck-drop of Game 1. Fueled by a city on the mend, an improbable first round comeback, Gregory Campbell laying it all on the line, and the need to prove Jarome Iginla wrong, the B’s outmatched the Pens in every way. Lights-out goaltending from Rask and McQuaid’s shining moment as a Bruin powered Boston to a sweep in Game 4.

HM: Bruins vs. Flyers – 2010 Winter Classic

A snowy and buzzing Fenway Park, coupled with some classic uniforms – pun intended – made for one of the best atmospheres at a Winter Classic. A goaltending duel between Thomas and Michael Leighton, a dramatic game-tying goal from Recchi, and a something-out-of-nothing overtime winner for Marco Sturm, who also had a knack for big goals, makes this a highlight package that is a go-to for me.

HM: Bruins @ Leafs – 2019 First Round Game 6

The Bruins were on the ropes heading into a rabid Scotiabank Arena for this one. The Leafs finally had a real chance to exorcise their demons with a series-clinching win on home ice, and things didn’t look great for Boston after an early goal from Toronto. But with quality goaltending from Rask and timely goals from DeBrusk and Marchand, the B’s snuffed out the Leafs for a textbook road win, taking the momentum back to Boston.

I’m sure I missed some quality games where this list is so playoff-heavy, and pretty recent for that matter – maybe it’s just that these are the games I have the clearest memories of. Nevertheless, is there a particular regular season game I missed, or another playoff classic I overlooked? Drop a comment and let me know your picks!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 173 that we recorded below on 4-4-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

 

Bruins, Jacobs Announce Plan To Compensate TD Garden Employees During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Photo: (Jim Michaud / MediaNews Group / Boston Herald)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

On Saturday morning, the Boston Bruins and the Jacobs Family announced a plan to compensate part-time gameday TD Garden employees due to the NHL’s current hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan is based around a fund of $1.5 million, should the remaining six games on Boston’s schedule go unplayed.

The NHL announced 10 days ago on Thursday, March 12, that the 2019-20 season was  suspended until further notice to try to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), following the lead of the NBA. The suspension of the season left part-time arena employees, especially those who may depend on their hourly wages, in the dark.

Over the last week or so, the remaining 30 NHL franchises and other professional sports organizations announced plans to compensate employees who would be affected, or at least made statements regarding the situation, leaving the Bruins as the only organization to contribute their voice to the matter. The lack of action on the Jacobs’ part over the last 10 days led to backlash and pressure from Bruins fans and members of the media.

Jeremy Jacobs, 88, and his family, most notably his son Charlie, have owned the Bruins since purchasing the team for a mere $10 million (by today’s standards) in 1975. Since, under his control, the Bruins brought the Stanley Cup back to Boston in 2011, and made six other trips to the Stanley Cup Final (1977, 1978, 1988, 1990, 2013, and 2019). Jacobs, who is also the chairman of Delaware North, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017 under the builder category. In September, prior to Boston’s season, Jacobs announced his plans to confer ownership of the franchise to his children.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 170 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins G Prospect Jeremy Swayman Named Hockey East Player Of The Year

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Photo: University of Maine Athletics

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Bruins goaltending prospect Jeremy Swayman was named Hockey East Player of the Year per a league announcement on Thursday morning. Swayman signed his entry-level contract with Boston on Tuesday, forgoing his senior year at the University of Maine.

The now former Black Bears standout posted one of the best seasons by any goaltender in college hockey, totaling 1,099 saves, the most of in Division I. Swayman’s 782 conference saves, the most by a Hockey East netminder since the 2010-11 season, and .932 conference save percentage led the league.

The Anchorage, AK, native’s .939 overall save percentage was good enough for second in the nation. The junior also carried an overall record of 18-11-5 (12-9-3 Hockey East), posting 25 games with at least 30 saves and five contests with at least 40 stops. With the strong campaign, Swayman is firmly in the conversation to receive the Mike Richter Award, given annually to the goaltender voted to be the most outstanding in Division I.

The Player of the Year honor comes as yet another distinction for Boston’s fourth round pick (111th-overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft as he was named a Hockey East First Team All-Star, and part of the All-USCHO Second Team. The 21-year-old was a also named the recipient of the Walter Brown Award as the top American-born college hockey player in New England, and as a top 10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, given annually to the nation’s top college hockey player.

Upon signing his pro deal earlier this week, Swayman joins a cast of goaltenders, including Dan Vladar and Kyle Keyser, vying to become the successor to Bruins netminders Tuukka Rask, 33, and Jaroslav Halak, 35.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 169 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

 

Breaking Down The Bruins’ 2020 Trade Deadline

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LEFT: Nick Ritchie (37) (Photo: Harry How / Getty Images North America)
RIGHT: Ondrej Kase (25) (Photo by Steve Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Another trade deadline in the National Hockey League has come and gone. With it, we saw the most trades in the history of the deadline (32) and only the second time that 55 total players have been involved in deals.

Once again, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was active in the trade market, with rumors of Boston being in on Ondrej Kase, Joe Thornton, Kyle Palmieri, Chris Kreider, and more heading into the deadline. Like last year’s trade involving Charlie Coyle and Ryan Donato, Sweeney consummated a trade with a few days to spare before the main event on Monday, acquiring Kase from Anaheim on Friday before dealing for Nick Ritchie on Monday.

Here are the details of the deals that Boston made before the 3:00 pm deadline on Monday afternoon:

Friday Feb. 21, 2020

To Anaheim:

F David Backes (25% retained), D Axel Andersson, 2020 1st-Rounder

To Boston:

F Ondrej Kase

Personally, I really like this deal for the Bruins. Either way, Boston was going to have to give up a higher end draft pick at this year’s deadline, and this year’s first was going to be a late pick in all probability. As far as Axel Andersson, while I think he has NHL potential, I’m not sure that he would have been able to contribute to Boston anytime soon, especially considering how loaded the Bruins are in terms of defense prospects. Anaheim gets two good pieces for their rebuild in the first and Andersson.

As for Backes, it feels like a miracle that Sweeney was able to clear his contract off the books, considering he still has a year left. While it would have been nice to completely move it out, only retaining 25% ($1.5 million) is still a huge win for the Bruins moving forward into this coming offseason with pending unrestricted free agents like Torey Krug and Jaroslav Halak and restricted free agents like Jake DeBrusk and Anders Bjork. It was certainly disappointing how Backes’ time in Boston went, but the former Blues captain is a great guy, by all accounts, and will likely get a chance to play in Anaheim.

Although he’s suited up in just one game for the Bruins, the acquisition of Kase has the makings to be an incredible bargain bin deal. The numbers have not really popped off the page this season for the 24-year-old (7-16-23 in 49 games), but there’s reason to believe he will improve his output on a team like Boston, especially if he is playing on David Krejci’s wing.

First off, Kase is an analytics darling, and shoots the puck a ton, registering 135 shots on goal this season and averaging 2.76 shots per game. However, his shooting percentage sits at 5.2% – not great. In Anaheim, Kase bounced around the lineup and was asked to play different roles on each line, but with stability, and the type of talent that Boston can put on the ice each night, it is reasonable to expect the shooting percentage and results to improve – he certainly has the talent for it.

Whats more, the 2014 seventh rounder is under contract at just $2.8 million until the end of next season, and even then Kase will only be an RFA. Also, after scoring 20 goals in the 2017-18 season, (maybe) not coincidentally the last time the Ducks iced a playoff team, Kase has struggled with staying on the ice consistently. If he can stay healthy with the Bruins, and his offensive output improves, the Bruins will have made out like gangbusters.

Monday: Feb. 24, 2020

To Anaheim

F Danton Heinen

To Boston:

F Nick Ritchie

Of course, as I write this article, Ritchie follows a minus-two, zero-shot performance on Tuesday with a goal and an assist against the Stars on Thursday, but either way, I’m not sure how to wrap my head around this one. Sure, the writing was on the wall for Heinen’s time in Boston – his confidence was totally out the window, he was not doing enough offensively, and it felt like he was on the outside looking in – so I support getting him a fresh start. However, the return of Ritchie in a one-for-one swap is where things get a little puzzling.

Like Kase, the numbers have not been dazzling for Ritchie this year, although the advanced stats are solid. The 10th-overall pick in the 2014 draft, Ritchie now has 9-12-21 numbers through 43 games, on pace for about 13-17-30 totals. His career-high for goals (14) came in his first full NHL season in 2016-17, while his career-high in points (31) came last season, his third full season – the previous two seasons he tallied 28 then 27 points.

I will commend Sweeney for the foresight in terms of this coming off-season, like the Kase deal. Compared to Heinen ($2.8 million through next season), Ritchie ($1.49 million through next year) is under a friendlier contract, will be an RFA next summer, and addresses a need within the organization as he brings a bigger body, more physicality, and interior scoring, when he’s clicking.

 

Admittedly, I genuinely want Ritchie to succeed in Boston – I think he could easily become a fan favorite and could hit some of that untapped potential – but it feels like this move has extreme boom or bust potential. Ritchie looked great on Thursday after Tuesday’s not-so-great showing, but I think consistency is a valid concern, especially after the national reaction seemed to label Ritchie as a weighty underachiever with a tendency for the dumb penalty. For me, Ritchie feels a lot like Matt Beleskey in terms of being a big, left-shot wing with a heavy style of play and having a very low floor and a high ceiling, but again, I seriously want to see this move pan out for the Bruins.

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Overall, I think the Bruins made out fine at the deadline, and although I’m a bigger fan of the Kase deal, both trades have boom or bust potential. Sure, it was a little disappointing not to see Kreider or Palmieri end up in the Black and Gold, but we’ve seen bargain bin additions work out in spades for the Bruins in the past (see: Coyle, Marcus Johansson). Boston is certainly better than they were at this time last week, but its worth noting how the rest of the Eastern Conference contenders, like Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Washington, and even Carolina, loaded up.

So, did the Bruins do enough compared to the rest of the field? We’ll have to wait and see, but there’s no doubt that this team still has Stanley Cup potential. The stretch run and the playoffs should be electric. Buckle up.

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