NHL Player Safety To Look At Tuesday’s Hit On Vaakanainen

cut-1photo courtesy of NHL.com

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced that they will have a hearing today with Ottawa Senators’ Mark Borowiecki for the forearm he threw at Bruins’ rookie defenseman Urho Vaakanianen on Tuesday night.

The 1st period play took place when the Bruins were unable to capitalize on a loose puck in Ottawa’s crease. Vaakanainen entered the scrum from the blue line and Borowiecki put his left elbow/forearm into the back of the young Bruins’ helmet. There was no penalty called on the ice. Vaakanainen continued to play in the first but never returned for the rest of the game and it was announced he had suffered a concussion.

This occured in 19-year-old Urho Vaakanianen’s second NHL game.

“They’ll look at it. It’s a flying elbow. For me, and listen, I’m not in the heat of the battle. It looked fairly deliberate. He saw the player coming. But that’s not for me to decide. It’s unfortunate for Urho because he’s concussed. But at the end of the day, that’ll move up he food chain and somebody will have to make a decision on whether it’s suspendable or not.”

Bruins Head Coach, Bruce Cassidy

Others were more critical and direct with their thoughts on the play:


Thomas Nyström, Contributor.

Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom

LEAKED: Bruins Winter Classic Jerseys Revealed

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Image courtesy of icethetics.co 

By: Thomas Nyström | Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom

Icethetics.co is reporting that a ‘confidential source’ gave them a look at the much talked about jerseys for the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks 2019 Winter Classic to be played on January 1, 2019 at Notre Dame Stadium.

A typically creditable and reputable reference for all hockey jersey-related news and notes, I strongly believe that what Icethetics is showing us is for real. This is pretty close to what has been expected for Bruins fans. Details on design elements and other notes can be seen on their article below:

I have seen other designs and mock-ups and concepts using similar designs that I personally liked better, however I will withhold final judgement until I see it on a player and in the Bruins Pro Shop.

But tell us what you think!

Thomas Nyström, Contributor.
Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom

2017-2018 Boston Bruins: A Team Too Memorable To Lose

Carolina Hurricanes Vs Boston Bruins At TD Garden
photo: John Tlumacki, Boston Globe/Getty Images

By Thomas Nyström | Follow on twitter @nahstrom

This season has shown us a number of things for the Boston Bruins, one being that the team doesn’t quit. Multiple times throughout the 2017-2018 campaign we have seen the B’s mount comeback after comeback, third period shockers, and thrilling finishes. They now find themselves in a one game hole going into Friday evenings contest and will need to do it once more — this time with a lot more at stake than any mid-season matchup. This gutsy effort will need to come in undoubtedly the most important game of their entire season. The talent is there to make any comeback they may face. We’ve seen it many times this season and has been the major reason fans have fallen in love with this roster. Although pessimism has crept into the minds of some fans, most who have watched them since October know that this series isn’t over. That said, Friday’s result will have a lot to do with how we view this team going into game 5 on Sunday back in Tampa.

Boston scored three goals in 1:17 to shock Carolina. March 2018.

One prevailing thought has been racing though my mind since Wednesday nights 4-1 loss that put the Bruins back 2-1 in the series, and I think it’s an important storyline to consider:

This team is too memorable to go out in the second round.

Failing now would be a massive letdown for the organization and the fans who have watched one of the most lovable, exciting, and defiant Bruins teams of recent memory. If the Bruins go out, they cannot go out quietly.

Now what do I mean by saying this? Simple. We’ve had some seasons and individual efforts that, in essence, were erased by falling short in the playoffs (or worse, the cup finals). Despite all the storylines this year: The depth and youth producing, Charlie McAvoy’s ascension in lieu of injuries and mid-season surgery. The reinvention of Zdeno Chara. Tukkaa Rask’s slow start being erased by fantastic play from Anton Khudobin followed by one of the hottest streaks of Rask’s entire professional career. A team that fought for first place in the conference until the very end even though preseason prognosticators (myself included) didn’t even think they’d get into the playoffs. Bergeron’s unbelievable play despite injuries and missed time. David Pastrnak’s emergence as an elite scorer and point producer. Countless injuries and hurdles that were surpassed as the core of the team held it together and triumphed when on paper it seemed impossible… Despite all of this, we sit a game back in the second round to a team that Boston spent the entire season chasing, and it would seem to be a let down if they can’t come through once more.

I will repeat: The 2017-2018 Boston Bruins are too memorable to fade into the forgotten. A team of destiny and distinction, a team we should be talking about for years to come. A banner caliber team. They have the talent and documented execution to have this squad be a benchmark for the coming years. We recognize that the future is bright but it would be a shame if the light of this season should prematurely dim. Did this come a year earlier than expected? Perhaps if you posed that question a few months ago. But not anymore. It’s here now.

These Boston Bruins are not fit for a second round exit.

This team must prevail Friday night and this series. This team must not be resigned to oblivion, and it will take every effort to ensure that is not the case.


Thomas Nyström, Contributor.

Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom

Report: Brandon Carlo Out With Broken Fibula, Estimated Two Month Recovery

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Photo: vipleyo.com
By Thomas Nyström | Follow on twitter @nahstrom
According to his sources, Joe McDonald of the Boston Sports Journal is reporting that Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo suffered a broken left fibula in this afternoons 5-1 win over the Florida Panthers.

The injury happened when Carlo was in the defensive corner going after the puck one-on-one with the Florida’s Aleksander Barkov midway through the third period. Carlo’s left skate got pinned under himself as he fell with a seemingly fair amount of his weight coming down on it.

Carlo was stretchered out, and at the time appeared calm leaving Bruins fans a glimmer of hope that the injury wasn’t season ending. As it turns out, that unfortunately may not be the case. A broken fibula typically takes 6 weeks to heal, and his timeline is likely to be 6-8 weeks and then potentially return to skating.

After the game Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy understandably did not offer update on his condition. Expect that announcement coming soon. Matt Grzelcyk should be expected to receive an increased workload, and Nick Holden’s acquisition at the deadline just got further justification.


Thomas Nyström, Contributor.

Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom

Bruins Week That Was: B’s Pass A Huge Road Test Despite Numerous Trials

Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 2.33.13 PMPhoto:Trevor Hagan/The Canadian Press via AP
By Thomas Nyström | Follow on twitter @nahstrom

In my ongoing series of columns surrounding the remaining Bruins regular season and expectations, today I’m going to dive into their most recent stretch of road games. As stated in the previous installment, this past week was a sizable test for the banged-up B’s as they traveled to St. Louis, Dallas, Minnesota, and Winnipeg. All of whom have playoff aspirations and  as such, quite a lot to be playing for.

“On tap after that is Dallas, Minnesota, and Winnipeg. Each team is playoff bound or at the very least in the hunt right now and will be putting forth playoff caliber efforts against a banged-up B’s lineup. I fully believe that despite the thin roster on this road trip, Boston has the ability to take 4 out of 8 points from these quality opponents.”

Thomas Nyström, 03/21/2018
https://blackngoldhockey.com/2018/03/21/a-rational-look-at-injuries-and-the-remaining-boston-bruins-schedule/

Lets take a look and see how the Bruins did, comparatively.

Wednesday, March 22 @ STL
2-1 OT Loss, 1pt.
Goal for Ryan Donato (2), Anton Khudobin takes a tough L.

Friday March 23 @ DAL
3-2 Win, 2pts.
After allowing the first two goals of the contest the Bruins fired back with tally’s from Brad Marchand (32), Tim Schaller (11), and David Pastrnak (29). Marchand also had assists on both goals.

Sunday March 25 @ MIN
2-1 OT Win, 2pts.
Goals for David Pastrnak (30) and Brad Marchand (33). Other than Marchand scoring his 5th OT winner of the season the story was the return of Patrice Bergeron who got credited with two assists in the game. Tuukka Rask played brilliantly all night.

Tuesday March 27 @ WPG
5-4 SO Loss, 1pt.
Goals for Ryan Donato (3), Danton Heinen (14), David Pastrnak (31), Torey Krug (14). Marchand collected two assists. In the shootout the Bruins marched out Donato, Pastrnak, Marchand, and Heinen with Donato getting the only tally. Anton Khudobin in net.

Results for the trip: 2-0-2, 6 points.

A wildly successful road trip as the Bruins took points in every contest despite playing without many key players. The team showed tenacity and had no quit in them. This grueling schedule has had little impact on their on-ice performance although the injuries have continued to pile up. Outside of the fire that we’ve all seen within the Bruins roster, one thing we will all look back on this road trip and remember is the numerous amount of errors in officiating and, in some cases, the subsequent disciplinary lapses on behalf of NHL Player Safety. Without getting into that in the way I probably should — the NHL has undeniably let down the Boston Bruins far too many times as of late. Be it the goal call that dumfounded even the most intelligent and respected NHL analytical minds, or the complete imbalance as far as hits, penalties and especially those that should or could be considered suspension-worthy. The truly unfortunate thing is that it is becoming a big part of the narrative surrounding the team.

The organization (and fans) have to move on quickly and concentrate on what is ahead. The players, however, are without a doubt putting their grievances on their shoulders and playing with more and more edge each night. The old adage being “don’t poke the bear”. Well, consider it poked. With reinforcements on the way in Zdeno Charra, David Backes, Charlie McAvoy, ect.. this team is about to get even more dangerous.

To take 6 of 8 possible points from the quality opponents they just faced this past week, and on the road for that matter, is especially encouraging. Perhaps even more important points lay ahead of them on Thursday. The Atlantic Division’s first place Tampa Bay Lightning come to TD Garden at 7:00 pm et and the Bruins have to be salivating at the thought that a regulation victory will give them first place in the division and only 6 games remaining after Thursday night. The game will also mark the first time since the start of the season that the Bruins will have evened their games played totals to Tampa Bay as the recent schedule for Boston has claimed their games at hand advantage, or disadvantage depending on how you look at it. Boston still has one more contest lined-up against the Lightning and it’s in Tampa, so taking advantage of home-ice tomorrow night is incredibly vital.

To say that it’s crunch-time is borderline redundant. Bruins fans around the world are staring a first-place finish in the face and home-ice for the playoffs would be a huge accomplishment for a team that has far surpassed even the most optimistic expectations set in off-season.

Speaking of which, let’s take another look at the BNG predictions made March 7th;

Thomas Nyström: 111 points
Court LaLonde: 116 points
Lauren Campbell: 112 points
Spencer Fascetta: 110 points
Mike Cratty: 113 points
KG: 113 points

Current Bruins record: 47-17-11, 105 points.

7 Games left, a possible 14 points. It would appear that they’re going to surpass my expectations. Again. And I couldn’t be more thrilled to tell you I’m wrong.


Thomas Nyström, Contributor.

Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom

A Rational Look at Injuries and the Remaining Boston Bruins Schedule

dm_180319_Donato_first_goal364Photo: ESPN
By Thomas Nyström | Follow on twitter @nahstrom

We were all warned. Hell, I even warned you that the upcoming schedule was daunting a few weeks ago: https://blackngoldhockey.com/2018/03/07/predicting-the-rest-of-the-season-bruins-final-record/

Here’s the updated remaining schedule:

Wednesday March 22 @ STL 8:00 PM ET
Friday March 23 @ DAL 8:30 PM ET
Sunday March 25 @ MIN 7:30 PM ET
Tuesday March 27 @ WPG 8:00 PM ET
Thursday March 29 vs TBL 7:00 PM ET
Saturday March 31 vs FLA 1:00 PM ET
Sunday April 1 @ PHI 12:30 PM ET
Tuesday April 3 @ TBL 7:30 PM ET
Thursday April 5 @ FLA 7:30 PM ET
Saturday April 7 vs OTT 7:00 PM ET
Sunday April 8 vs FLA 7:30 PM ET

 

My prediction in that previous article was the Bruins would end with 111 points. With 11 games remaining an sitting 12 points shy of my prediction at 99 points.. Boston needs to play .500 hockey to hit that mark. Looking at the remaining opponents, travel, and relentlessness of the ‘every other day’ nature of the calendar — I still believe that’s precisely what we will get.

The schedule lines up that they play every other day with exception to next weekend where they play back-to-back; Saturday @ Florida at 1:00 pm followed by an immediate northbound flight to take on Philadelphia for another early game with puck drop happening at 12:30 pm. After that comes the first of two key games against Tampa Bay — this one at home, the later date scheduled to be played in Tampa. Now before we even get to that, the Bruins have a troublesome road trip that they are currently in the midst of starting tonight in St. Louis. On tap after that is Dallas, Minnesota, and Winnipeg. Each team is playoff bound or at the very least in the hunt right now and will be putting forth playoff caliber efforts against a banged-up B’s lineup. I fully believe that despite the thin roster on this road trip, Boston has the ability to take 4 out of 8 points from these quality opponents. I expect Boston to split the two remaining games against Florida, because well, it’s the Panthers and we all saw the game last week. The back-to-back day games are very hard on the traveling team.. and I wouldn’t be surprised if they drop the Philadelphia game. While we know how unbearable ‘hockey-twitter’ can be after a B’s loss, we must take everything into account and not jump off the Zakim Bridge if Boston struggles against a very good team like Winnipeg.

That said, let’s take a rational look at what to expect with the injuries to this Bruins roster as we near the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Although there were reports that we may expect to see Patrice Bergeron return from injury on this current road trip that ends next Tuesday, a more reasonable expectation — or really, a hope would be he rejoins the line-up at home on Thursday March 29th when the Bruins host Tampa Bay. Boston themselves shared footage of Bergeron getting ice time in and running drills on his own just a few days ago. Regardless, a foot fracture is a substantial injury to any player, especially one like Bergeron who is arguably the best two-way forward in the sport.

No updates regarding Jake DeBrusk, or at least nothing of substance. The ‘upper-body’ designation does very little in the way of telling us anything about a) the injury b) his timeline. If this is a concussion he could be out the rest of the regular season as we’re winding down to single-digit games by the end of the weekend. Unfortunate timing for Jake as he was on a tear before his injury with 9 points in his last 8 games. The Bruins would certainly benefit if that switch can be flipped again entering the playoffs.

My goodness did David Backes have a rough couple of days last week. It seemed like the hockey gods were against David for a bit there and then to cap it off he suffered a nasty laceration from an errant blade to the thigh that required 18 stitches. While that will take some time to heal naturally and to be tended to incase of any set-back such as infection, Backes may be out of the line-up until the playoffs as well, although I feel as though we will see him for a few tune-up games in the final week of the regular season.

Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy have been sorely missed at times over the last stretch of games. Chara could be back by the end of the week although I would suspect that since Boston is on the cusp of clinching a playoff spot as early as tonight in St. Louis, head coach Bruce Cassidy may hold him out of the line-up an extra game. Remember that just prior to the injury there was debate on whether or not to give the big man a few games off to reset. Meanwhile, Charlie McAvoy has been quietly going about his work to get back on the ice. The severity of his knee injury wasn’t made entirely known, but all indications are that he will be ready to go come playoff time. Similarly to Backes, McAvoy may get on the ice in the final few regular season contests to ‘test the waters’, if you will. Seeing the defensive first line out there again would no doubt be a sigh of relief for Bruins fans.

dcbbaf89-2446-487f-949e-d459cda158ab_TVASPORTS_WEBSee? Isn’t this nice?
Photo: www.tvasports.ca/

Lastly and perhaps least concerning would be the injuries to Rick Nash and Adam McQuaid who are both considered day-to-day. Bruce Cassidy also hasn’t been shy about handing out ‘maintenance days’ which may be a contributing factor to the way he’s handling both individuals. He is fully aware that in two weeks it will be all hands on deck as his Boston Bruins look to start what we all hope will be a deep playoff push.


Thomas Nyström, Contributor.

Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom

Breaking: Bruins’ Lose David Backes to 3 Game Suspension

cut.jpgPhoto: nhl.com

By Thomas Nyström | Follow on twitter @nahstrom

The National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today that Boston Bruins RW David Backes has been suspended for three games the hit Tuesday on Detroit’s Frans Nielsen. The suspension is without pay and under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and based on his average annual salary Backes will forfeit nearly $97,000.

The incident took place with 16 seconds left in the first period. At the time, Backes was assessed a minor penalty for roughing and served the majority of the penalty at the start of the second period.

If the organization decides to recall a right-winger from Providence for depth, one would think it could be either Zach Senyshyn or Jordan Szwarz.


Thomas Nyström, Contributor.

Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom

Predicting The Rest of The Season: Bruins Final Record

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Photo: Elise Amendola, AP

By Thomas Nyström | Follow on twitter @nahstrom

Last nights 6-5 overtime win over the visiting Detroit Red Wings marked the beginning of the stretch-run for the rest of the regular season. It was also the first of what will be a Bruins game every other day until the end of the schedule. This will no doubt be a trying and tough few weeks for the Boston Bruins as it includes a lot of travel and hard opponents including two trips to Florida to face the Panthers who are hot as of late and sitting just two points out of a wild card spot. While in the area, the B’s will face the conference leading Tampa Bay Lightning twice as well. Additionally, both teams from the sunshine state will make at least one trip to the TD Garden —  Tampa Bay for one game, Florida twice (one being a make-up game) — so we’re looking at 7 of the final 18 games against just them alone.

Tomorrows contest with the Philadelphia Flyers whom are 6-2-2 in their last 10 and sitting in 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division. Looking ahead at the schedule at other games against playoff / playoff caliber teams include Columbus at home, plus Minnesota, Winnipeg, Dallas, Philadelphia and St. Louis on the road.

So feasibly, what can we expect for the Bruins in terms of record at the end of the season? Earlier this week I put up a twitter poll in preparation for this article and the results were quite definitive.

 

Before I layout my prediction we must consider a number of contributing factors, first let’s take a look at the remaining schedule:

Thu. March 8 7pm vs PHI
Sat. March 10 1pm vs CHI
Sun. March 11 12:30pm @ CHI
Tue. March 13 7pm @ CAR
Thu. March 15 7:30pm @ FLA
Sat. March 17 7pm @ TBL
Mon. March 19 7pm vs CBJ
Wed. March 21 8pm @ STL
Fri. March 23 8:30pm @ DAL
Sun. March 25 7:30 @ MIN
Tue. March 27 8pm @ WPG
Thu. March 29 7pm vs TBL
Sat. March 31 1pm vs FLA
Sun. April 1 12:30pm @ PHI
Tue. April 3 7:30pm @ TBL
Thu. April 5 7:30pm @ FLA
Sat. April 7 7pm vs OTT
Sun. April 8 7:30pm vs FLA

So lets start right off the clip with the biggest story of the week: Charlie McAvoy missing time due to his left MCL sprain. Remember this: Charlie is being evaluated in 4 weeks. Until then he’s expected to be in a brace and not skating. Best case scenario is that the next month goes by and he’s cleared and he’s right back on the top pairing with Zdeno Chara. Bad news, that isn’t going to happen. We would all love to see it, but the idea of McAvoy returning by April 1st at Philadelphia is probably an unreasonable ask for him. If he gets looked at, feels right enough to get some work in then we might see him for the final weekend of the season when the Bruins finish off the season with Ottawa and Florida. Silver lining here is the defensive depth is going to get quality time in, and in no short supply with the brutal schedule the Bruins are staring in the face.

Patrice Bergeron is also being evaluated in a few weeks, and with the fracture that he suffered is also unable to skate. We’re well aware of the fact that Bergeron is a professional and will not take much time to get right back into game shape following his hiatus. Possibly looking at some reduced minutes initially, or perhaps just simply getting a few extra games off leading up to the playoffs.

Lastly, just consider the quality of opponents and the on/off schedule Boston has left. Some less than desirable travel days loom, and there will not be a lot of time to rest up. There will be more injuries, hopefully nothing major but there are going to be guys banged up without question. It will be interesting to see how coach Bruce Cassidy handles his rotations and scratches over the next few weeks.

Boston Bruins record as of Wednesday, March 7th is 41-15-8, with 90 points.

All that said, here’s where I see it:

The most anticipated and undoubtedly important games remaining come against the Tampa Bay Lightning. 18 games left for a maximum of 36 points out for the taking. With 3 games against conference leading Tampa Bay, I predict the Bruins will go 1-1-1 head-to-head in March and April. The Lightning are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games including a current win streak of 3 games. This team is legit, no one doubts that. The Bruins are no slouches either, and will take three points out of the Bolts. It’s not an easy call to predict an OT loss with Boston’s recent success in extra frames, but Tampa Bay will take it if that one is on their home ice. Contrarily, I feel the same that if a game went to overtime in Boston, it would be the Bruins taking the extra point.

Another key matchup would be the two games remaining against Philadelphia. One home on March 8th and one on the road April 1st. The Flyers are a more dangerous team than their record may suggest. Certainly their goal differential isn’t ideal at +4, but this team can surprise people. Although they failed to use the deadline as a way to bolster their roster for the playoffs with GM Ron Hextall admitting the prices for rentals were too high for his liking stating they were in this ‘for the long haul’, and he wasn’t going to make ‘emotional decisions’. Probably the correct play on his part as Philadelphia aren’t necessarily considered true cup contenders — but they sure are built to play spoiler if teams aren’t careful. I believe the Bruins have enough depth to take the full 4 points from them, but wouldn’t be shocked if they split the difference with the Flyers.

A stretch we should also be looking at is March 21st through March 27th where within that seven days the Bruins travel to St. Louis, Dallas, Minnesota, and Winnipeg who are all strong teams in the West. Only the Blues are currently on the outside looking in with regards to the playoffs — however they only sit 2 points outside of the wild card. If the Bruins come to each of these games and match the hunger and compete level I would call taking 5 out of a possible 8 points as being a ‘win’ for that road trip. Oh, and incase you were wondering their next game coming off that is against Tampa Bay. Are we all starting to see how insane this schedule is about to be? Good grief.

And now my prediction:

The final stretch: 10-7-1 in the final 18 games, good for 21 points.
Overall 2017-2017 record: 51-22-9, with 111 points.

Here are some other predictions from our BNG Staff:

Court LaLonde  53-19-10, 116 points
Lauren Campbell  52-22-8, 112 points
Spencer Fascetta  50-22-10, 110 points
Mike Cratty  52-21-9, 113 points
KG  51-20-11, 113 points

If McAvoy and Bergeron were were healthy then the prediction would be 117 points on the nose. I even believe thats still possible, as predicted by our own Court LaLonde,  because of the depth, and players like Rick Nash and Jake DeBrusk getting hot. Brad Marchand being — well, himself. The 4th line being one of the best and most productive in the NHL. Even the defensive depth like Nick Holden and Matt Grzelcyk getting increased playing time is not a bad thing if you take into account that the ultimate goal is a deep playoff run.

Regardless, playing slightly above .500 hockey which is below our true expectations for this team but reasonable for what they face over the next 4 1/2 weeks. If the Bruins play .500 hockey from tomorrow’s game and through the end of the season we shouldn’t be surprised, though I’m sure panic would rain down on hockey twitter in the form of blaming a goaltender, an aging defender, or unproven youth. Remember folks, when they’re hot you love every single piece of this team — as you should.

Let’s all take this final stretch for what it really is. It’s a test. A test that Sweeney and Cassidy appear ready to handle.

Thomas Nyström, Contributor.
Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom

Bruins’ Rookie Charlie McAvoy Exits Game With Apparent Injury

Photo: Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY

By Thomas Nyström | Follow on twitter @nahstrom

Defenseman Charlie McAvoy exited the game Saturday in the first period with a ‘lower body injury’ on a blade trip to the right skate from the Montreal Canadians’ Brendan Gallagher, although He was almost immediately ruled out for the game. After the slash McAvoy went straight into the tunnel and to the locker room. Defensive linemate, Zdeno Chara was paired with Brandon Carlo on the next shift.

Until we know more on the injury the assumed pair for Chara would be Carlo, or perhaps Adam McQuaid. We will have more insight on this as the story developes.

Thomas Nyström, Contributor.
Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom

What’s Next For Bruins Austin Czarnik?

cutPhoto: nhl.com

By Thomas Nyström | Follow on twitter @nahstrom

Twenty-five-year-old Austin Czarnik has seen his share of I-95 in his young career. Having signed a one-year two-way contract on July 17, 2017, Czarnik knew what he would likely be asked to do — and to his credit, he has handled his role in the organization with class as well as production. In his 10 games with Boston this season he has 4 points off of 4 assists. During his most recent call-up in early February, he registered two assists in a total of 43:21 of ice time thru 59 shifts in games against Toronto, Detroit, New York Rangers, and Buffalo. His short stay with Boston ended with a -1 rating for the stretch. Comparatively, Czarnik has played 44 games thus far in Providence this season with 14 goals, 33 assists for a +/- rating of +20.

Czarnik has benefited greatly from stable playing time at the AHL level and therefore has been serviceable in his NHL call-ups. His value is arguably higher than ever, and the 5’9 C/RW will likely make himself more on his next contract than the $675,000 he’s currently signed for. An RFA at year’s end, Czarnik is out of options for his two-way deal this season, and the acquisitions at the deadline of Rick Nash and Tommy Wingels will certainly play into whether or he see’s another call-up this year.

Should Czarnik resign with the organization this off-season there is a good chance he cracks the Bruins’ top nine, the question is for how long. There are other center prospects in the pipeline with arguably higher ceilings such as Ryan Fitzgerald and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson both of whom are younger and likely to get NHL minutes. Behind that comes even more prospects at the position worth a good look such as Ryan Donato who will almost certainly see time in Boston next season.

Though a longshot at this point, Jack Studnicka has been lighting it up in the OHL for the Oshawa Generals to the tune of 60 points in 58 appearances this season. The 19-year-old will likely see Providence time at the very least. Trent Frederic was a piece the Bruins didn’t want to move at the deadline. This doesn’t even include the wingers in the system as Czarnik has also lined up at RW and there is youth behind him there as well: Jordan Szwarz, Zach Senyshyn, Alexander Khoklachev, Peter Cehlárik, the list goes on. This team is as deep in the system as it has been in a long time.

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Regardless of where he lines up, the future at forward appears crowded, and Czarnik may find himself the odd man out unless the minds monitoring his development see improvement on some of the downsides of his game. This includes his attempted shot totals as he sits around 10 attempts per 60 minutes. While he inserts himself well in playmaking situations, he is more of a possession center than a true goalscorer.

Ideally, the team retains him with 2-3 year contract at a reasonable cost and should Bruce Cassidy find himself struggling to find him a consistent spot then Don Sweeney will be in a better position to address his future (or lack thereof) with the organization. Make no mistake: they made the right decision to send him down to Providence before the contract got more complicated and risked having some level of control at year’s end regarding free agency.  He is without question a valued asset, and many (including myself) would be disappointed to see him go elsewhere, but this is crunch time for Austin Czarnik if he wants to stick with the club going forward.

Thomas Nyström, Contributor.
Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom