Bruins Bleed Crimson, Sign Sherman to ELC


Photo Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY

By: Spencer Fascetta | Follow me on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey

The Bruins really like all of these good Harvard boys… The team announced today that they signed their second Harvard player to an Entry-Level Contract in less than a week, as 2013 5th Rounder Wiley Sherman inked his 2-year ELC just days after teammate Ryan Donato signed his. Sherman’s contract does not begin until the 2018-19 season, and will report to the Providence Bruins on an Amateur Try-Out contract for the remainder of the 2017-18 season.


Photo Credit: John Connolly/Boston Herald

Sherman, 22, was originally drafted by the Bruins out of the Hotchkiss School, in Lakeville, Connecticut in the 5th Round in the 2013 NHL Draft, 150th Overall. The towering 6’7″ defenseman lives up to his name, as Wiley weighs in at a mere 220 pounds despite his massive frame. The Connecticut native has spent the last four years patrolling the blueline for the Harvard Crimson, posting a career high of 13 points (all assists) in his junior season. Overall, Sherman recorded 7 goals and 26 assists for 33 points to go along with 60 career penalty minutes in 137 career games for the Ivy League juggernaut. The entry-level deal, beginning next season, is expected to be a 2-year commitment, adding to an already stacked defensive depth chart within the organization. Sherman joins a deep Providence team for the stretch run as they look to make yet another deep run in the Calder Cup Playoffs.

B’s Ink Cameron Hughes to ELC

01.30.16 MHockey vs. AK26

Photo: Greg Anderson

By: Spencer Fascetta | Follow me on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey

The Bruins announced yesterday that the club signed forward Cameron Hughes to a 3-year Entry Level Contract that will begin in the 2018-19 season. Hughes, 21, just completed his senior season at the University of Wisconsin, where he amassed 23 goals and 69 assists for 92 points in 139 career games. An alternate captain his junior season, Hughes was named the captain before the start of his senior campaign and will join the Providence Bruins on an Amateur-Try-Out contract for the remainder of the season. The Badgers have had a difficult few seasons, and Hughes’ leadership, along with that of fellow B’s prospect and captain Trent Frederic has been key for the team to begin to regain its status as a premier program in the Big 10.


Photo: Greg Anderson

Hughes was originally selected by the Bruins in the 6th Round in 2015, 165th Overall, as an overage prospect, which means he had already passed through the draft at least once (once in his case) before being selected. Another player the B’s selected as an overager after his freshman year at college? Danton Heinen, 2014, 4th Round, 116th Overall. Not to say Hughes will be what Heinen has been, but it is a market inefficiency the B’s have clearly identified and are attempting to exploit. Hughes is the 4th member of his Badgers team to sign a pro contract following their 14-19-3 season, joining forwards Ryan Wagner (Chicago Wolves, AHL) and Matt Ustaski (Jacksonville Swamp Rabbits, ECHL), and defenseman Jake Linhart (Rochester Americans, AHL).

Flurry of Pre-Deadline Moves Continue For Boston


By Spencer Fascetta | Follow on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey

So, the Bruins have been a little active today. After the massive Rick Nash deal was consummated earlier this morning, the B’s announced that they had made three more transactions. Paul Postma and Chris Breen have both been placed on waivers (and Breen subsequently gave an NHL contract), and they have signed US Olympic Captain Brian Gionta to a 1-year, 1-way, $700,000 contract.


Photo Credit: Angela Spagna

Breen, 28, has been on an AHL only contract with the Providence Bruins this season. The Uxbridge, Ontario native was originally an undrafted free agent signing out of the OHL in 2010. After spending 4 seasons with the Calgary organization, he transitioned to the Bruins in 2014-15. In 44 games this season with Providence this season, he has 1 goal, 8 assists, for 9 points. Breen has 2 assists in 9 career NHL games, all with Calgary in 2013-14. Breen was placed on waivers because the Bruins have reportedly signed him to one-year, two-way contract, worth $650,000 for the remainder of the season, giving the B’s some blue-line depth they can recall if necessary later in the year.

Colorado Avalanche v Boston Bruins

Photo Credit: Brian Babineau

Postma, 29, was a free agent signing by the Bruins this offseason, signing a $725,000 1-way deal with the team. Originally taken in the 7th Round, 205th Overall by the then Atlanta Thrashers in 2007, this is Postma’s first season with an organization other than the Thrashers/Jets franchise in his career. After appearing in 65 games last year with the Jets (a career high), he has only found a place in the lineup for 12 games this year, contributing a single assist in that timeframe. It seems clear that Postma had lost the trust of the coaching staff of late, and the recent acquisition of Nick Holden from the New York Rangers made Postma the odd-man out.


Photo: Rochester Americans

Finally, the Bruins signed veteran Brian Gionta to a 1 year, $700,000 contract for the remainder of the season. The former Canadiens and Sabres captain has only played a single game of professional hockey this year, scoring a goal in his only appearance with the AHL’s Rochester Americans. The 39-year-old captained the United States at this year’s Winter Olympics and provided no points in the 5 games played by the team. A veteran of 1006 NHL regular season games, Gionta provides plenty of veteran experience in a depth role for the playoff-bound Bruins. He has tallied 32 goals and 36 assists for 68 points in 112 career playoff games. The 2003 Stanley Cup Champion (New Jersey) was taken by the Devils with their 3rd Round Pick, 82nd Overall, in 1998, and is expected to join the team when he returns from South Korea.

Bruins Make Deal With Rangers, But For What Purpose?

By: Spencer Fascetta                                                           Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey

The Bruins have acquired a player from the New York Rangers.


John Russell/Getty Images

No, not that one.


Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Nope, it’s not a forward.


MSG Photos

Nope, wrong defenseman. This is way more difficult than it should be.


NY Post/Getty Images

Yeah, I didn’t have them picking up Nick Holden either.

The Boston Bruins acquire defenseman Nick Holden from the New York Rangers, in exchange for defenseman Rob O’Gara and a 2018 3rd Round Draft Pick. Holden, 30, is in the final year of a 3-year contract he signed with the Rangers, at an annual cap hit of $1.65 million per year. Originally an undrafted free agent signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets, he has 12 points in 55 games this season and is coming off a career year of 11 goals, 34 points in 80 games. O’Gara, 24, was a 2011 5th Round Pick of the Bruins and is in the final year of his 2-year entry level contract after a full four years at Yale, where he won the first National Championship in school history. The third-year pro has yet to record a point in 11 career games at the NHL level and has 8 points in 43 games for Providence this season.

But, what are the Bruins getting? Well, Holden is, to put it lightly, a replacement level depth defenseman. This is the best case scenario. While it was unlikely that Rob O’Gara would have passed all of Jakub Zboril, Matt Grzelcyk, Brandon Carlo, Jeremy Lauzon, Urho Vaakanainen, AND Charlie McAvoy, and therefore didn’t really have a place on this team long-term, he still has value as a young, defensively sound defenseman. What the Bruins REALLY are doing is upgrading Paul Postma. As their 8th defenseman. In exchange for a 3rd Rounder and a mid-level prospect.


Are you out of your mind?

Before everyone jumps down my throat, here is what I am talking about as it relates to Holden. Here is what he looks like from a puck possession standpoint as compared to the 8 defensemen who have seen regular time this year for Boston.

Corsi For Percentages

As you can see, he is the only one of the group who is less than 50%, which means when he is on the ice, the other team possesses the puck more than his team does. Not only is the only one, but he is also the only one by quite a margin. But, as some Holden fans will tell you, you get good offense from him.

Expected Goals For Percentage

Unfortunately, no. Only Adam McQuaid is worse than Holden at producing goals for his team, and they are the only two who, in general, allow more goals against than they generate for per game. While it is unsurprising that McQuaid struggles with this, Holden is clearly less than ideal.Penalty Differential per hour

As a fun aside, I took a peek at his penalty differential per hour – essentially, the number of penalties he takes in comparison to the number he draws per 60 minutes of ice time. While this is the only area where he is demonstrably better than Paul Postma, he is still second worst, and it is a bit concerning that he is below Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller, two players who see much of their penalty taking come from fisticuffs.

But, it’s ok. We don’t need him to be world breaking, we just need him to fill a spot in the lineup. Right? RIGHT? Anyways, as you can see below, he almost exclusively starts his shifts in his own end. So, it is not encouraging that a player who starts in his own end most of the time cannot move the puck effectively out of his own end.

Zone Start Ratio

In all seriousness, he is the 8th best defenseman on this roster. A 3rd and a decent prospect is a lot to give up for a guy who is going to be your 8th best defenseman. And I could stomach him remaining in that role for the rest of the year, as this is probably a pure rental. But the concerning part is that there is a population of fans who seem to think Nick Holden is a new Top 4 defenseman who will supplant either Torey Krug or Brandon Carlo in that role. I hate to break it to you, but that is definitely not the case. Unfortunately, the price paid by Don Sweeney makes me think he falls into this camp. And if he isn’t, then he gave up a lot of value for a mediocre depth guy. Either way, the Bruins lost this trade. But at least they didn’t give up half of Causeway Street for McDonagh and/or Nash…

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BFR1 – Game 56 – Twilight Zone – VAN 6, BOS 1

BFR1 - Game 56 Pic

By: Spencer Fascetta                                                                           Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey


Well, that was a poor showing. In one of the longest BFRs of the season, I had a few thoughts on the shocking showings the Bruins have had in the last week, and the asinine trade deadline rumors surrounding the team.

A Bruins’ Depth Dissection


Photo Credit: Matthew J. Lee/Boston Globe

By: Spencer Fascetta                                                                           Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey

Much has been made in recent weeks about the Bruins’ supposed depth issues, and how they need to be addressed at the trade deadline. However, I believe that there is, in fact, a roster jam, the likes of which are quite difficult to manage. So, let’s figure this out.

The NHLers:

This group all belong in the NHL and have spent no time in the AHL this season. They are on 1-way contracts and are not waiver-exempt OR are on entry level contracts, and made the team out of training camp, but have yet to set foot in the AHL this season. For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that their spot in the lineup cannot be touched.

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk David Krejci Ryan Spooner
Tim Schaller Riley Nash David Backes
Noel Acciari

The Fringe:


Danton Heinen – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Exempt, Currently in Boston

Anders Bjork – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Exempt, Currently on IR

Sean Kuraly – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Eligible, Currently in Boston

Peter Cehlarik – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Exempt, Currently in Providence

Frank Vatrano – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Eligible, Currently in Boston

Austin Czarnik – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Exempt, Currently in Providence

Kenny Agostino –NHL Contract, Waiver Eligible, Currently in Providence

Jordan Szwarz – NHL Contract, Waiver Eligible, Currently in Providence

Matt Beleskey – NHL Contract, Modified No-Trade Clause, Currently buried in Providence

Bruins Senators Hockey

Photo Credit: Fred Chartrand

According to the table above, there are four forward spots on this roster that are relatively in flux. Two of those are easy. Danton Heinen is 4th in team scoring and should be receiving legitimate Calder Trophy consideration. He’s on the team, no question. Sean Kuraly has been part of the best 4th line the Bruins have had since the famed Merlot Line with himself, Schaller, and Acciari. I don’t foresee him going anywhere. That then leaves two forward spots for the remaining 7 guys that have played in the NHL this season. I don’t see Beleskey being recalled anytime soon, especially with the injury trouble he’s run into down in Providence. Unfortunately, that contract has the appearance of a sunk cost right now. Agostino has already been up and down this season and has cleared waivers every time. Although he has been good for the Baby B’s, he hasn’t done nearly enough while with the big club to indicate that he should be the next guy up. The same can be said for Jordan Szwarz, who I have never been tremendously thrilled with at the pro level. Just like that, we’ve pared the list down to four guys and two spots to be filled.

Frank Vatrano, Jonathan Bernier

Photo Credit: Mark J. Temill

These two spots are not going to be regulars at the NHL level, and that’s important to understand. Of the four remaining, Cehlarik and Bjork are still on their entry-level contracts – this means they are waiver exempt and will be for the remainder of their contracts. Austin Czarnik can spend literally a single day more on an NHL roster before he becomes waiver eligible – indeed, he was recalled specifically for the games he played in his most recent stint and promptly sent back to Providence immediately afterward so as to prolong his waiver-exempt status. Frank Vatrano is the only one who isn’t waiver exempt – because he likely would be claimed the second he gets placed on waivers, he gets the nod despite being underneath Bjork and Cehlarik in the pecking order. I don’t think Vatrano fits as a 4th liner, and he isn’t consistent enough to play in the Top 6. Unfortunately, this pigeonholes him to the point where it would be beneficial for Boston to explore what the trade market looks like for him. It’s always preferable to get an asset in return for a player rather than simply losing them on waivers. So, Vatrano is (currently) the 13th forward.


Photo Credit: Brian Fluharty/USA Today Sports

Much like Vatrano doesn’t fit as a 4th liner, I don’t think it behooves the Bruins to stick Anders Bjork in the bottom six and to give him zero powerplay time. In Providence, he can gain some confidence, and be a go-to guy. Unfortunately, Heinen has become what they thought Bjork would be much more quickly that Bjork has been able to. He has also had a few injury issues. He should spend the rest of the year in Providence unless multiple Top 6 forwards end up unable to play or injured.

Cehlarik is a little more nuanced. Based on this analysis, he would be the 14th forward, but I prefer to have him playing on a regular basis, not sitting in the press box every 3 out 4 games. He also has had a lot of poor injury luck throughout his career, so I’d like to see him get through a full season healthy before he makes the jump full time.

Washington Capitals v Boston Bruins

Photo Credit: Steve Babineau


Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug Brandon Carlo
Kevan Miller


The Fringe:

Matt Grzelcyk – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Exempt, Currently in Boston

Adam McQuaid – NHL Contract, Waiver Eligible, 2 years remaining, Currently in Boston

Paul Postma – NHL Contract, Waiver Eligible, 1 year remaining, Currently in Boston

Rob O’Gara – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Exempt, Currently in Providence


Photo Credit: John Wilcox/Boston Herald

Now, there are only 4 d-men who have seen the light of day this year who I feel are battling for position on the roster. Matt Grzelcyk has spent the least amount of time at the NHL level, yet he has been far and away the best of the group. He has done more than enough to force the Bruins to keep him not only in the NHL for the duration of the season but in the lineup on a night to night basis. That makes him the 6th defenseman. McQuaid isn’t going anywhere on this roster despite my hesitation with such decisions, so that makes 7.

Now, if you’ve been keeping count, that leaves a single roster spot available between Paul Postma, Rob O’Gara, Austin Czarnik, and Peter Cehlarik. Cehlarik and O’Gara are waiver exempt – they have a place in Providence, so that’s where they will be. Czarnik retains his waiver exempt status as long as he remains in Providence, so unless something changes drastically, I doubt we see any more of him this season apart from the occasional emergency loan recall (which allows for a recall for a brief period of time without having to pass through waivers in either direction). Now, I cannot confirm nor deny that Paul Postma still exists, but he appears to be that 21st skater on this roster, as he would likely be lost if placed on waivers. So, the three scratches would be (in an ideal world) McQuaid, Postma, and Vatrano.


Hopefully, this has cleared this up for anyone confused to why there seems to be quite a bit of roster shuffling as of late. I also hope that people can see that the Bruins do not and SHOULD not have to add anything at the trade deadline. They have plenty of depth as it is.


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