Bruins’ Free Agent Options If Torey Krug Does Not Re-Sign

(Photo Credit: Radio | Radio.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter! @andrewlindrothh

The National Hockey Leagues’ free-agent market is scheduled to open on October 9th at noon ET, or at least seven days after finishing the Stanley Cup Finals, whichever happens first. The Boston Bruins’ General Manager Don Sweeney, has his work cut out for him this off-season, and his most significant task is deciding on re-signing Torey Krug, or let him walk and use that extra cap space on other free agents.

According to Cap Friendly, the Bruins have roughly $15M available in cap space, but Sweeney may want to leave around $2M-$3M leftover if injuries occur. With that being said, the Bruins will have approximately $13M available for re-signing players like Krug, Jake DeBrusk, Zdeno Chara, and Matt Grzelcyk.

Krug spoke to media recently and stated he is not interested in a one-year deal and wants to cash in on his value by signing a long-term contract. I predict the Bruins have a chance to sign Krug to a 5+year deal worth $7M-$7.5M per year, but the defenseman knows his value is worth more than that. If Krug doesn’t believe what the Bruins offer (if they even do) is enough, he will walk and get anywhere between $8M-$9.5M per year from another team.

As of this moment, there are a plethora amount of UFA and RFA players the Bruins could look at, many big names and even more depth-pieces. I’m not sure if Sweeney is looking to continue building by adding a few depth-pieces or make a big signing whether it be a forward or defenseman to replace Krug. For a complete list of all 31 teams’ UFA and RFA players, Sporting News has it covered here. Here are some free-agent options for the Bruins if Krug decides to walk.

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Evgenii Dadonov (F/UFA)

(Photo Credit: The Rat Trick | therattrick.com)

Evgenii Dadonov has shined the past three seasons with the Florida Panthers. Over the past three years, Dadonov has played 225 games, contributing 81-101-182 numbers, 25 power-play goals, and 47 power-play points.

The 31-year-old forward is set to become a UFA, and his last contract was a three-year deal worth $4M per season. I’m not an expert on predicting a player’s value in terms of AAV (average annual value), but the Bruins could make an offer worth $5M-$5.5M per season. Although he may be worth more in the open market, I do not see the Bruins over-spending on any player.

The Bruins could use Dadonov on the power-play and David Krejci’s’ or Charlie Coyles’ right-wing. Ondrej Kase began to create solid chemistry with Krejci and Jake DeBrusk during the Carolina Hurricanes series. Still, he is often injured and, before arriving in Boston, had only played a career-high 66 games back in 2017-2018. DeBrusk has also shown many potentials but has not shown consistency in his offense, so a player like Dadonov could help spark any of those lines.

Mark Borowiecki (D/UFA)

(Photo Credit: National Hockey League | nhl.com)

Mark Borowiecki could be a reasonable defensive option for the Bruins. If Krug decides to leave, I imagine Grzelcyk will pair with Brandon Carlo and split power-play duties with Charlie McAvoy. The Bruins’ third defensive-pairing isn’t solidified, but Borowiecki could be an option to consider along with Connor Clifton, John Moore, or Jeremy Lauzon. His last contract was a two-year deal worth $1.2M AAV, so he would not be a massive cap casualty to the Bruins.

The 6’1, 207-pound defenseman plays a very physical brand of hockey and isn’t afraid to stick up for his teammates. These are player attributes Sweeney has been looking for and was hoping Brett or Nick Ritchie could be that player, but they have not worked out so far.

Borowiecki also had offensive career-highs this past season, scoring seven goals and 18 points in 53 games played. He also averages over 200 hits per season, and just last season had a career-high 120 blocks. I believe he is a reliable option for the Bruins if Sweeney deems it necessary to sign additional depth defensemen.

Conor Sheary (F/UFA)

(Photo Credit: National Hockey League | nhl.com)

Conor Sheary would be a reliable forward option that could spark the bottom-six. The Winchester, MA native, first suited up in the NHL for 44 games during the 2015-2016 season and contributed enough to help lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to capture the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017. He also eclipsed his career-highs during the 2016-2017 season, scoring 23 goals and 50 points with a +24 rating.

The 5’8, 175-pound forward has a lot of speed to his game and could fit in well with either Coyle or Kuraly. Sheary just finished a three-year deal worth $3M AAV and is set to become a UFA.

$3M+ per year is most likely too steep for the Bruins, especially for a bottom-six forward, but he can also be utilized on the second line with Krejci in case DeBrusk doesn’t stay consistent. After achieving 20+goals just a few seasons ago, Sheary has shown the potential to be a productive middle-six/bottom-six forward.

Vladislav Namestnikov (F/UFA)

(Photo Credit: The Athletic | theathletic.com)

Vladislav Namestnikov is another forward the Bruins could consider in the free-agency. The 27-year-old forward is trying to find his offensive consistency and a team to grow with long-term. This past season, Namestinikov suited up for three different teams (NYR, OTT, COL), playing 65 games and contributing 17 goals and 31 points.

Namestnikov ended the season with the Colorado Avalanche and is set to become a UFA. He is finishing up a two-year deal worth $4M AAV. For a forward who has yet to hit the 50 point mark in his career, anywhere near $4M AAV is well out of the Bruins price range. If Sweeney could get Namestnikov to take a reasonable discount on a prove-yourself contract, we could see Namestnikov possibly reach his full potential.

Not only could Namestnikov be slotted onto any of the Bruins’ lines, but the team can also use him on the power-play and the penalty-kill unit. This past season, he also led the league in short-handed goals (four).

Brenden Dillon (D/UFA)

(Photo Credit: NHL Player Association | nhlpa.com)

Last but not least, if Krug does not re-sign with the Bruins, Brenden Dillon would be a reliable option to beef up the blue-line. The 6’4, 225-pound defenseman uses his size to his advantage and makes it very difficult to play against, especially in a playoff series. Dillon was traded to the Washington Capitals shortly before the 2019-2020 season paused, but is now set to become a UFA. His last contract was a five-year deal worth $3.27M AAV.

Dillon suited up for 69 games this past season, contributing 14 points, 74 blocks, and 194 hits. Before the trade deadline this past season, the Bruins were linked to having considerable interest in Dillon, so now that he is set to hit the open market, Sweeney will have his chance once again.

It’s important to note that Dillon is 29-years-old and may be looking to cash in on his value at full. Sweeney may not be keen on paying more than $3M+ per season but could use the winning culture argument to sign Dillon on a discount.

Overall, there are a plethora of options the Bruins could consider. There are also a lot of players who are RFAs that may not sign with their current team, giving the Bruins even more options. I also predict Sweeney will be attempting to make trades during the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. With that being said, the Bruins’ future is up in the air, but that is not necessarily a negative thing. I’m very excited to see what Sweeneys’ plan is to improve this team.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 193 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

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Five Players You Forgot Played For The Bruins: Part Three

(Photo Credit: Boston | archive.boston.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

It’s always fun to look back at Bruins’ history and notice players you had no idea played for the team. Sometimes, you recognize that name and suddenly remember the short time they did have with the Bruins. Regardless, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at some players you probably forgot played with the Bruins. You can view part one and part two of this series here.

Dominic Moore

(Photo Credit: Metro US | metro.us)

Dominic Moore had more than a cup of coffee with the Bruins and even played all 82 games during the 2016-2017 season. Although Moore was on the Bruins in recent years, he is a name that you forget wore a Bruins uniform at some point during his career. During the 2016-2017 season with Boston, the forward produced 11 goals and 25 points.

Moore began his National Hockey League journey in 2003-2004 with the New York Rangers when he appeared in his first five contests. He became quite the journeyman in the league, suiting up with ten different teams during his 13-year tenure in the NHL. After his deal expired with the Bruins in 2017, Moore played his final year in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs, suiting up for 50 games and producing 12 points. After his NHL career, Moore signed a contract with ZSC (Swiss) as a free agent in 2019.

Throughout his 13-year career in the NHL, Moore suited up for 897 games while contributing 106-176-282 numbers. He also won the Bill Masterton Trophy in 2013-2014.

Colton Orr

(Photo Credit: Getty Images | gettyimages.com)

One of the most feared enforcers, Colton Orr, started his career in the NHL with the Boston Bruins after signing as a free agent in 2001. He split his time between the Providence Bruins and Boston, but mostly spent his time with Providence, amassing 543 PIM in 126 games during that time. He got his first piece of National Hockey League action when he made his debut in 2003-2004, but only went on to play just one game with Boston that season. He played just 20 games with the Bruins in 2005 before being claimed on waivers by the New York Rangers.

The 6’3, 222-pound forward played for the New York Rangers from 2005-2009, suiting up in 224 games while producing 11 points and 522 PIM. After his time in New York, Orr signed to the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent in 2009. He continued to play for the Maple Leafs for the remainder of his career while making occasional visits to their AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, until 2015. Orr played 232 games for the Maple Leafs while contributing 13 points and amassing 637 PIM.

Throughout his 11-year career in the NHL, Orr posted 12-12-24 numbers with 1,186 PIM. Although no longer actively playing, Orr has taken the role of a coach. In 2019, he was named head coach of the Connecticut Whale in the National Women’s Hockey League.

Dave Andreychuk

(Photo Credit: Twitter/Boston Bruins | Twitter.com/bruinsnhl)

As weird as it is, Dave Andreychuk wore the Spoked-B at some point in his career. He spent a short time with the Bruins during the 1999-2000 season after signing as a free agent. During that time, he played 63 games with the Bruins. He posted 19-14-33 numbers before being traded to the Colorado Avalanche with Raymond Bourque in a blockbuster trade, sending Brian Rolston, Martin Greiner, Samuel Pahlsson, and a 1st round pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft to the Bruins.

Andreychuk had a phenomenal career in the NHL that I could not sum up in one paragraph, but I remember him fondly while growing up in Tampa, FL, especially when he won the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004. He played for six different teams throughout his career and currently holds the record for most power-play goals in the NHL (274).

Throughout his 23-year career in the NHL, Andreychuk played in 1,639 games while contributing an astounding 640-698-1,338 numbers with 1,121 PIM. He became a Stanley Cup Champion before the end of his career and was inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame in 2017.

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Sergei Gonchar

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Sergei Gonchar is a name you don’t often see in Bruins’ history, but he is an alumnus through the 15 games he played for the Boston Bruins. The defenseman was traded to the Bruins by the Washington Capitals before the trade deadline in 2004. Gonchar collected four goals and nine points with the Bruins before joining the Pittsburgh Penguins the next season.

Gonchar began his NHL career with the Washington capitals and played with the team from 1994-2004 before being traded to Boston. After his time in Boston quickly expired, he went on to play for Pittsburgh from 2005-2010, suiting up for 322 games, contributing 54-205-259 numbers, and winning the Stanley Cup with the team in 2009. From 2010-2015, Gonchar went on to play for the Ottawa Senators, Dallas Stars, and then finished his NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens.

Throughout his 20-year NHL career, Gonchar appeared in 1,301 games while posting 220-591-811 numbers and 981 PIM. After retiring from his playing career, he became an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017 and is still serving as one of their assistant coaches.

Brett Connolly

(Photo Credit: Puck Prose | puckprose.com)

Brett Connolly suited up for the Bruins in recent years, first appearing in five games in 2015 after being traded by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Connolly continued his journey in Boston for most of the 2015-2016 season, suiting up in 71 games and producing 9-16-25 numbers. After his season in Boston, the forward hit the free-agent market in 2016 and was immediately picked up by the Washington Capitals.

Connolly began his NHL career playing for Tampa Bay from 2011-2015, appearing in 134 games and posting 18-14-32 numbers. After playing in Boston, Connolly signed with Washington as a free agent and played for the team from 2016-2019, suiting up for 217 games, contributing 52-44-96 numbers, and winning the Stanley Cup in 2018. After his time in Washington expired, Connolly signed the Florida Panthers as a free agent in 2019 and is ready to help his team for a playoff run starting August 1st. Throughout his nine-year NHL career so far, Connolly has played in 496 games and contributed 98-90-188 numbers.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 185 that we recorded below on 7-12-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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!

Five Players You Forgot Played For The Bruins: Part Two

(Photo Credit: Game Worn Auctions | gamewornauctions.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

It’s always fun to look back at Bruins’ history and notice players you had no idea played for the team. Sometimes, you recognize that name and suddenly remember the short time they did have with the Bruins. Regardless, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at some players you probably forgot played with the Bruins. You can view part one of this series here.

Marty Turco

(Photo Credit: Times Union | timesunion.com)

Yes, Marty Turco wore the bright gold leg pads for the Bruins during the 2011-2012 season. The netminder signed with the Bruins as a free agent on March 5th, 2012. He only appeared with the Bruins for five games and won two of those.

Turco began his career with the Dallas Stars and played with the team throughout most of his career. His rookie season from 2000-2001, led the league with 1.90 GAA and .925% save percentage. He led the league again in 2002-2003 with 1.73 GAA and .932% save percentage. He played with Dallas from 2000-2010 until his contract expired and decided to hit the free-agent market. He was then picked up by the Chicago Blackhawks during the offseason and played until the end of the season, then signed to the Bruins as a free agent in 2012.

Throughout his 11-year NHL career, Turco played in 543 games and won 216 of them, averaging 2.36 GAA and a .910% save percentage. He officially announced his retirement from the hockey world on January 17th, 2013.

Chris Nilan

(Photo Credit: Stanley Cup of Chowder | stanleycupofchowder.com)

To me, Nilan wearing the Spoked-B has never felt right. The Boston-native was traded to the Bruins by the New York Rangers in 1990 and played for them until Montreal claimed him on waivers in 1992. He appeared in 80 games with Boston while producing 11-14-25 numbers with 463 PIM.

He began his NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens in 1979 and played with them until 1988 when he was traded to the New York Rangers. During his time as a Canadien, he played in 523 games while posting 88-87-175 numbers with a whopping 2,248 PIM. He led the league in penalty minutes two seasons in a row from 1983-1984 (338 PIM) and 1984-1985 (358 PIM).

After his time with Montreal, he spent the next few seasons with the New York Rangers before being traded to the Bruins. Throughout his 13-year NHL career, Nilan played in 688 games while posting 110-115-225 numbers with an astounding 3,043 PIM.

Brian Gionta

(Photo Credit: Stanley Cup of Chowder | stanleycupofchowder.com)

Oddly enough, Gionta did have a short stint with the Bruins, and it was just two years ago back in 2018. His time in Boston lasted only 20 games during the 2017-2018 season and shortly retired after the season ended. The 5’7, 175-pound forward, had a memorable career though.

Gionta spent most of his career with the New Jersey Devils from 2001-2009, appearing in 473 games while producing 152-160-312 numbers with a +62 rating. He also became a Stanley Cup champion during his second year in the NHL after the New Jersey Devils won in 2003. After his contract expired in 2009, he signed to the Montreal Canadiens as a free agent and played with the team until 2014. His contract had expired during the off-season and was signed by the Buffalo Sabres. He played for Buffalo from 2014-2017, then was signed late in the 2017-2018 season by the Bruins.

The Stanley Cup champion announced his retirement from professional hockey on September 18th, 2018. Throughout his 16-year NHL career, he appeared in 1,026 games while producing 291-304-595 numbers with a +35 rating.

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Jarome Iginla

(Photo Credit: Black N’ Gold Hockey | blackngoldhockey.com)

If you’ve always been a fan of Iginla, how could you ever forget the one season with the Bruins? Iginla signed with the Bruins as a free agent in 2013 and suited up for 78 games while contributing 30-31-61 numbers with a +34 rating. Unfortunately, this would be the only season the power-forward plays with Boston.

Iginla spent most of his career as the captain for the Calgary Flames from 1996-2013, playing in 1,219 games and posting 525-570-1,095 numbers. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2013 for Kenny Agonisto, Ben Hanowski, and a first-round pick (Morgan Klimchuk) in 2013 NHL Entry Draft. That following season, he inked a deal with the Bruins and did a tremendous job. Unfortunately, Iginla wanted to keep his options open and signed a contract with the Colorado Avalanche in 2014.

The 6’1, 210-pound forward played for Colorado until being traded in 2017 to the Los Angeles Kings for a fourth-round conditional pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. After finishing the season with the Kings, Iginla decided to hang them up and officially retire from the hockey world.

Throughout his 20-year NHL career, Iginla suited up for 1,554 games and posted 625-675-1,300 numbers. As of yesterday, the NHL announced Iginla to be apart of the 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame and fellow Black N’ Gold writer, Lucas Pearson, wrote about it and can check it out here. Congratulations on an astounding career, Jarome Iginla!

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Zac Rinaldo

(Photo Credit: The Hockey News | thehockeynews.com)

Tough guy, Zac Rinaldo, was traded to the Bruins during the 2015 off-season for a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He played for just one season, appearing in 52 games and scoring three points with 83 PIM.

He spent half of his NHL career with the Philadelphia Flyers from 2011-2015, suiting up in 223 games while producing 8-16-24 numbers with 572 PIM. After his time in Philadelphia, he has become an NHL journeyman, spending the last five seasons between four NHL teams and several American Hockey League (AHL) teams.

This past season, he played with the Calgary Flames but will most likely be hitting the free-agent market this off-season. Throughout his eight-year NHL career so far, he has played in 370 games while producing 18-24-42 numbers and racking up 753 PIM.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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!

Five Players You Forgot Played For The Bruins: Part One

(Photo Credit: Boston Globe | bostonglobe.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

It’s always fun to look back at Bruins’ history and notice players you had no idea played for the team. Sometimes, you recognize that name and suddenly remember the short time they did have with the Bruins. Regardless, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at some players you probably forgot played with the Bruins.

Simon Gagne

(Photo Credit: Toronto Star | thestar.com)

That’s right, Simon Gagne was a Bruin back in the 2014-2015 season and appeared in 23 games wearing a Bruins jersey while collecting three goals and four points before retiring from the National Hockey League. Although his career was about finished by the time he arrived in Boston, he has had quite the NHL career.

The 6’1, 195-pound forward, began playing for the Philadelphia Flyers from 1999-2010, playing in a total of 691 games and posting 264-271-535 with a +140 rating. On July 19th, 2010, Gagne was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Matt Walker and a fourth-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Gagne spent the season with Tampa Bay before signing with the Los Angeles Kings as a free agent. That year, Gagne was used more as a depth forward, especially after missing most of the season due to a head injury. Regardless, he played four playoff games, and the Kings ended up winning the Stanley Cup in 2012, making Gagne a Stanley Cup champion.

He appeared in 11 games with the Kings that next season before being traded back to Philadelphia for a fourth-round pick. After that season, he played impressively at the Boston Bruins training camp and inked a one-year deal. Although his time spent in Boston was cut short, it would’ve been great to have had a prime Gagne at one point in the lineup.

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Drew Stafford

(Photo Credit: National Hockey League | nhl.com)

Drew Stafford had a quick cup of coffee with the Bruins after being traded by Winnipeg for a sixth-round pick on March 1st, 2017. He suited up in a Bruins uniform 18 times that year and produced four goals and eight points with a +8 rating.

Stafford began his NHL career with the Buffalo Sabres in 2006 and played from 2006-2015, playing in 563 games while producing 145-177-322 numbers, before being traded to the Winnipeg Jets. After spending a full season with Winnipeg, the following year, he was traded to the Bruins, then in 2017 signed to the New Jersey Devils as a free agent. He played his final two years in the NHL with New Jersey, suiting up for 116 games and posting 13-15-28 numbers.

Throughout his 13-year NHL career, Stafford played for four teams, appearing in a total of 841 games while posting 196-232-428 numbers before retiring from the NHL.

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Blake Wheeler

(Photo Credit: Zimbio | zimbio.com)

For those that don’t know, Blake Wheeler was drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes as the fifth-overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, but signed to the Boston Bruins as a free agent in 2008 and began his NHL career in a Bruins jersey. He had a successful rookie campaign with Boston from 2008-2009, racking up 21 goals and 45 points with a +36 rating in 81 games.

He continued to play with Boston for the next two seasons until being traded to the Atlanta Thrashers on February 18th, 2011, with Mark Stuart going to Atlanta in exchange for Rich Peverly and Boris Valabik. The Bruins went on to win the Stanley Cup that year.

Wheeler suited up in a Thrashers jersey for the remainder of the 2010-2011 season before being transferred to the Winnipeg Jets after the Atlanta franchise relocated. Wheeler has been a top-notch winger for Winnipeg ever since. So far, he has appeared in 687 games with Winnipeg and has produced 207-427-634 numbers with a +58 rating. The 33-year-old forward is currently signed to Winnipeg until 2024, with a current cap hit of $8.25M.

Rick Tocchet

(Photo Credit: Game Worn Auctions | gamewornauctions.com)

Rick Tocchet spent a short amount of time with the Bruins from 1996-1997 after being traded to the Bruins by the Los Angeles Kings for Kevin Stevens. During the 1995-1996 season, Tocchet appeared in 27 games with the Bruins and contributed 16-8-24 numbers.

The following season, the power-forward played 40 more games with the Bruins, producing 16-14-30 numbers before being traded to the Washington Capitals. He was traded along with Bill Ranford and Adam Oates in exchange for Jim Carey, Anson Carter, Jason Allison, and a third-round pick (Lee Goren) in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. After his time with the Bruins, Tocchet finished his career playing with Washington, Phoenix Coyotes, and the Philadelphia Flyers from 1997-2002.

Throughout his 18-year career in the NHL, Tocchet played in 1,144 games while posting 440-512-952 numbers with 1,815 PIM. He is now the current head coach for the Arizona Coyotes.

Maxime Talbot

(Photo by Jana Chytilova | Freestyle Photography | Getty Images| nationalpost.com)

The former Pittsburgh Penguins grinder ended up in Boston at the tail-end of his career from 2014-2016. The Bruins saw grit and leadership that could help the team, especially during playoffs. During his tenure with the Bruins, he suited up for 56 games while producing just ten points while spending time with the Providence Bruins (AHL) as well.

Talbot began his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2005-2011, winning the Stanley Cup in 2009 while playing in 338 games and posting 52-56-108 numbers. He was then signed to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011 as a free agent and then was traded a few years later in 2013 to the Colorado Avalanche. He was then traded to the Bruins in 2015, where he finished the rest of his NHL career.

Later, he signed with Avangard Omsk (Russia) in 2018 to continue his playing career. Throughout his 11-year NHL career, he became a Stanley Cup champion, and played a total of 704 games with 91-113-204 numbers.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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!

Providence Bruins Announce Winners Of Team Awards

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

Every year the Providence Bruins (AHL) hosts their awards for their players who exemplified excellence and leadership throughout the season. If you followed Providence in any way this season, then you’ll recognize a few of these names and might have predicted who would win a particular award. Some players won more than one award and blew away people’s expectations. There is a good chance some of the players you see here today might crack the Bruins roster for the 2020-2021 campaign. Here are the winners of Providences’ awards!

Rookie of the Year Award – Jack Studnicka

(Photo Credit: Boston Globe | Bostonglobe.com)

The ‘Rookie of the Year’ Award presented by Cross Insurance goes to the one obvious choice, Jack Studnicka. Since graduating from juniors and getting the promotion to Providence, the 21-year-old forward has showcased his talents at the AHL level and even at the NHL level when called upon for two games where he also collected his first career NHL point.

Studnicka not only produced offensively 5-on-5 and on the power-play but was an absolute brute on the penalty-kill unit and led the AHL in shorthanded goals this season (seven). He also led Providence in goals, assists and points this season. He took the professional hockey world by storm this year, and I believe if anybody deserves a chance in the Boston Bruins lineup this upcoming season, it is Studnicka. Congratulations, Studnicka!

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Fan Favorite Award – Dan Vladar

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The ‘Fan Favorite’ Award presented by Electrical Wholesalers goes to goaltender Dan Vladar. He has been apart of the organization since being drafted by the Bruins in the 3rd round of the 2015 NHL Draft. He has split his time between the Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL) and Providence since his career in the organization but had his most stellar campaign in 2019-2020.

The 6’0, 185-pound goalie led the AHL in goals-against average (GAA) with 1.79 and in save percentage with a whopping .939%. Vladar also set a career-high 14 wins at the AHL level while collecting three shutouts. He has seemed to find his game this past season. With Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask holding down the goalie tandem for 2020-2021, Vladar will be looking to spend another year in Providence, given he re-signs his soon-to-be expired contract after the NHL season. Congratulations, Vladar!

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Three Stars Award – Brendan Gaunce

(Photo Credit: Causeway Crowd | causewaycrowd.com)

The ‘Three Stars’ Award presented by AAA Insurance is an award for the player with the most ‘Three Stars’ nominations this season, and it goes to Brendan Gaunce. He led the team in first star, second star, and overall nominations this season. The 6’2, 207-pound forward was a spark plug for his team all season long and placed third in points with Providence (18-19-37 numbers). Gaunce has been very reliable for Providence, and when he was called up to the Bruins for a game and was able to produce a point.

Gaunces’ contract expires at the end of the NHL season and will be a restricted free-agent (FA). I believe another one-year deal will get done, and they will be able to rely on Gaunce to help with the development of their younger prospects and serve as a depth piece for the Bruins. Congratulations, Gaunce!

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Leading Scorer Award – Jack Studnicka

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

The ‘Leading Scorer’ Award presented by National Grid is awarded to Jack Studnicka. As mentioned above, Studnicka led Providence in goals (23), assists (26), and points (49) this season. Averaging 0.81 Pt/G with three power-play goals and seven shorthanded goals, there is no doubt Studnicka will be the offensive spark the Bruins have been looking for within their young pool of prospects.

If Studnicka doesn’t crack the Bruins lineup the next campaign, then expect for him to be putting up even more points than this past year with Providence. At this rate, he will be a point-per-game player at the AHL level and can produce 40-50 points within his rookie year in the NHL, in my opinion. The opportunities and possibilities are endless for this rising star. Congratulations, Studnicka!

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Plus/Minus Award – Josiah Didier

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

The ‘Plus/Minus’ Award presented by RI Medical Imaging goes to the player who led the team in plus/minus, Josiah Didier. New defensive addition, Didier, has done a tremendous job of holding down the blue-line for Providence this season and has earned this reward for finishing with an impressive +32 rating. The 6’3, 207-pound defender has been consistent throughout his first campaign with Providence and is a solid depth piece for the Bruins blue-line.

Didier also re-signed with Providence on a two-year deal before the season ended and will be looking to repeat that same success in the next two seasons. Players like Didier exemplifies leadership in the locker room, and that presence alone can help take Providence to the next level, especially during the playoffs. Congratulations on your hard work, Didier!

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Hendricks Memorial Fan Appreciation Award – Paul Carey

(Photo Credit: The American Hockey League | theahl.com)

The Hendricks Memorial ‘Fan Appreciation’ Award goes to the player who shows exemplary leadership & on-ice performance, and this award goes to Providence captain, Paul Carey. There is no doubt, returning captain Carey deserves this award. He plays a significant role in molding and teaching the younger prospects in the organization and remains productive as a forward as well, finishing second on the team with points.

The 6’1, 196-pound forward appeared in 60 games this season while racking up 22 goals and 39 points with a +9 rating. Carey also played in 30 games with Providence in 2018-2019 and produced 33 points during that time. Carey serves as a leadership role for the young prospects as well as an offensive plug for Providence. The 31-year-old has one more year left on his contract and will most likely serve that time with Providence unless he is called upon by the Bruins. Congratulations, Carey!

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Best Defenseman Award- Josiah Didier

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

The ‘Best Defenseman’ Award presented by Dunkin’ Donuts goes to Didier, who collects his second award. Along with being team-best in plus/minus, he also led the AHL in that same category. Didier played in 61 games this season and contributed 3-12-15 numbers with 79 PIM.

Didier will be a crucial piece to Providence, especially during the playoffs next season because of his experience after winning the Calder Cup with the Charlotte Checkers in 2018-2019. He collected four assists in 19 playoff games during that championship year. With his defensive skills, leadership, and physicality, he will be able to help Providence to their first Calder Cup Championship since 1999. Congratulations, Didier!

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Team MVP Award – Jack Studnicka

(Photo Credit: Boston Globe | bostonglobe.com)

The ‘Team MVP Award’ presented by Metlife is awarded to Jack Studnicka. The 21-year-old forward walks away with three team awards from the 2019-2020 campaign and rightfully so. In his first year in the AHL, he led his team in goals (23), assists (26) and points (49), while leading the entire league with shorthanded goals (7) and setting a new team record in that category.

If Studnicka remains healthy and performs well at camp this year, I expect him to be slotted into the Boston Bruins lineup almost immediately. I don’t think his rookie year was a fluke, and his hard-work ethic is going to reward him soon. There is no question Studnicka deserves this award. Congratulations, Studnicka!

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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’ Top 5 Underrated Draft Picks Of The Decade

(Photo Credit: The Boston Globe | bostonglobe.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

Every year, one of the most significant events in the National Hockey League occurs; the Entry Level Draft. Draft picks play an incredibly important role in a General Manager’s Strategy to improve his hockey team. Some picks carry high expectations from the start, and others become well over-looked. The Boston Bruins are well known for having three straight 1st round draft picks in 2015 and only one so far being a full-time NHLer. But, they have had other selections even in later rounds that ended up becoming a hidden gem for the organization that nobody would’ve predicted right away, or at all.

Many of these young talents boast so much potential, and others fly right under the radar of discussion. Today, I will be diving deep in the debate on who I believe are the most underrated draft picks for the Bruins this past decade (2010-2019). Please note, these are in no particular order.

Jakub Lauko (F) 3rd Round, 77th Overall Pick – 2018 Draft

(Photo Credit: The Boston Globe | bostonglobe.com)

Jakub Lauko is a versatile forward that brings a lot of energy and momentum to his game. After being drafted, he reported to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and played for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL) as an 18-year-old forward. The 6’0, 195-pound forward suited up for 44 games and posted 21-20-41 numbers with a whopping +34 rating from 2018-2019.

Lauko played a significant role for the Huskies (QMJHL) during their playoff run, contributing 6-7-13 numbers with a +10 rating in 19 games played, helping the team to win the President’s Cup in 2019. The Huskies went on to compete for the Canadian Hockey League’s championship, the Memorial Cup. They ended up winning the championship with Lauko taking home the CHL Ed Chynoweth Award for most points in the memorial cup (2-6-8 numbers in five games). With such an impressive rookie season, the Bruins decided to call him up to the Providence Bruins for further player development.

Most Bruins fans really caught a glimpse of Lauko’s work ethic and scoring potential during the 2019 NHL pre-season when he scored a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers. Since then, the forward has spent little time with Providence for the 2019-2020 season due to suffering back to back concussion and knee injuries. Lauko had battled back and returned with Providence for some games before the unprecedented pandemic ended the American Hockey League (AHL) season. He finished his first AHL season with 5-4-9 numbers with a +3 rating in 22 games played.

I believe Lauko has a massive up-side to his potential; he has an incredible work ethic, scoring ability, and isn’t afraid to be a physical player either. In a few years, Lauko could develop to be a very reliable mid-six forward for the Bruins in the near future.

Jeremy Swayman (G) 4th Round, 111th Overall Pick – 2017 Draft

(Photo Credit: News Break | newsbreak.com)

Swayman was a 4th round gem for the Bruins and could be a starter/backup for the Bruins in the next season or two. The 6’3, 185-pound goaltender has spent the past few seasons with the University of Maine and has found tremendous success. Swayman was named to the NCAA (East) All-Rookie Team in 2017-2018 after finishing the season with 2.72 GAA and a .921% save percentage.

This past season, Swayman had his most stellar year yet, playing 34 games and contributing a 2.07 GAA and a whopping .939% save percentage, ultimately winning the Hobey Baker Award (player of the year). He also won the 2020 Walter Brown Award as a top American-Collegiate college hockey player in New England, NCAA Goaltender of the Year, NCAA Top Collegiate Goalie (Mike Ritcher Award), NCAA (Hockey East) Player of the Year, and NCAA (New England) Most Valuable Player. With Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak entering the final year of their contracts, Swayman could be looking to make a significant impact within the organization sooner rather than later.

Swayman decided to forgo his senior year at Maine and signed his entry-level contract with the Bruins. Maxime Legace and Daniel Vladar both have expiring deals, so I imagine Swayman will be playing with whomever Don Sweeney ends up re-signing in Providence. The quiet 4th round selection might end up being part of the long-term solution for the Bruins’ future goaltending.

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Anders Bjork (F) 5th Round, 146th Overall Pick – 2014 Draft

(Photo Credit: National Hockey League | nhl.com)

Bjork is a speedy and creative player that has the potential to be a mid-six forward for the Bruins, in my opinion. After being drafted, Bjork committed to the University of Notre Dame and played from 2014-2017 but surrendered his senior year to ink his entry-level deal with the Bruins. Bjork had his most impressive campaign during his last year with Notre Dame, contributing 21-31-52 numbers with a +17 rating in 39 games played. Since then, Bjork was one of the Bruins’ most promising rookies but became plagued with season-ending injuries from 2017-2019, limiting his ice-time with Providence and Boston.

Bjork was finally able to showcase his talent at the NHL level this season, to manage a full-time position in line-up throughout most of the 2019-2020 season, suiting up for 58 games and posting 9-19-19 numbers with a +5 rating. He began to become a healthy scratch for stretches near the end of the season due to inconsistencies, but the left-winger has shown to be a difference-maker at the NHL level.

I hope that the Bruins can come to terms with Bjork this upcoming off-season, and they choose to protect him during the 2021-2022 expansion draft as well. For a 5th round selection, Bjork was an absolute steal for the Bruins.

Trent Frederic (F) 1st Round, 29th Overall Pick – 2016 Draft

(Photo credit: ESPN | espn.com)

Even though Frederic is a 1st round selection, I believe he is an underrated pick that deserves a lot more credit, especially after a strong 2019-2020 campaign with the Providence Bruins. Frederic is a diverse player and can spark his team in a lot of different ways. The 6’2, 203-pound forward, provides a lot of physicality to the line-up and led the AHL in penalty minutes (148) during the 2019-2020 campaign. Although many Bruins fans know Fredric for his rookie game with the Bruins that involved a fight with Winnipeg Jets’ Brandon Tanev, he has the potential to be a strong two-way player through development with Providence.

Before the AHL season ended due to the unprecedented pandemic, Frederic suited up for 59 games and contributed 8-24-32 numbers with a +10 rating. Although the forward has been placed on the wing with the Bruins more often than as a center, either position he can play well as long as he is not shy, isn’t afraid to be physical and uses his large frame to his advantage.

Even though Frederic has played a total of 17 games at the NHL level without yet producing a point, he has improved substantially and could be looking to crack the bottom-six line-up for the Bruins in the next season or two. Frederic has one year remaining on his Entry-Level Contract and will use this upcoming season to prove himself worthy of this thriving organization.

Matthew Grzelcyk (D) 3rd Round, 85th Overall – 2012 Draft

(Photo credit: Bleacher Report | bleacherreport.com)

Although this underrated category is in no particular order, I can safely say that Matthew Grzelyck turned out to be one of the Bruins’ most underrated draft picks of this decade, in my opinion. Not only has Grzelyck cracked the line-up the past few seasons as a full-time NHLer, but the undersized defenseman proved much of the hockey world wrong.

After being drafted, the 5’9, 175-pound defender committed to Boston University and played from 2013-2016, appearing in a total of 87 games and contributing 23-67-89 numbers with an astounding +61 rating. He also scored the game-winning goal for Boston University to win the Beanpot Championship in 2015.

Bruins’ fans can be relentless in their opinions about Grzelcyk because of his physical stature and the fact that he doesn’t hit everything on site. Still, fans undermine his puck-moving and scoring abilities. If Krug chose not to re-sign with the Bruins this off-season, then Grzelyck would be one of the best options for the central power-play unit unless Bruce Cassidy decides to use five forwards. His skating ability also does not grow on trees by any means. When watching him play, he becomes elusive around other forwards pressuring him. He’s able to get out of tight space situations and break out the defensive zone without giving up the puck.

In the past three seasons, Grzelyck has appeared in 195 games and posted 10-44-54 numbers with a +45 rating while managing an average of 18:07 on-ice time. During the 2019 playoffs, Grzelyck produced four goals, eight points, and 17 blocks in 20 games. The defender is continually improving year after year, and with his contract expiring at the end of this season, the Bruins should focus on re-signing him.

Unfortunately, if Grzelyck were to re-sign for at least two more years, he would most likely become exposed during the 2021-2022 expansion draft. Grzelyck holds more value than most people perceive, and I believe he can become a franchise defenseman for the Bruins if he keeps up his production.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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 Alumni: Happy Birthday Matt Hunwick

( Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images | gettyimages.com )

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

Happy 35th Birthday To Former Boston Bruins Defenseman Matt Hunwick!

Matt Hunwick was born on May 21st, 1985, in Warren, Michigan. He began playing for the U.S. National Team Development Program (U-17, NAHL & U-18) as a 16-year-old defenseman from 2001-2003 and was impressive in the 91 games he played, racking up 13-23-36 numbers. Once Hunwick turned 18 years old, he joined Michigan (CCHA) and posted 1-14-15 numbers in 41 games, catching the attention of several NHL teams before entering the draft. The 5’11, 200-pound defenseman would go on to be drafted by the Boston Bruins in the seventh round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

After being drafted, Hunwick continued to play for Michigan (CCHA) from 2003-2007, appearing in 122 games and producing 23-59-82 numbers. The Bruins saw what the versatile defenseman could bring to the team and assigned him to the American Hockey League to develop with the Providence Bruins (AHL) for the 2007-2008 season. Hunwick had a stellar performance in Providence, producing 23 points with a +16 rating in 55 games played before getting the call-up to play in his first National Hockey League action with the Bruins, where he played in his first 13 NHL contests.

The following season, Hunwick played just three games with Providence (AHL) before cementing his position in the Bruins lineup, playing in 55 games and producing 6-21-27 numbers with a +15 rating in his first full NHL campaign.

Following a successful rookie campaign, Hunwick struggled to find his magic in 2008-2009 with the Bruins, producing just 14 points with a -16 rating in 76 games played. The next season, Hunwicks’ journey with the Bruins would last only 22 more games before being traded to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Colby Cohen. The defenseman finished the year suiting up in 51 games for Colorado, collecting ten assists. Although he struggled to find his offensive touch that was apparent in his rookie year, Colorado took the chance and inked a deal with the defenseman for the next few years.

From 2011-2013, Hunwick was used as a depth piece, and throughout those two seasons played in 76 games and collected 12 points. In 2013-2014, the defenseman would appear in just one game that season with Colorado before being sent down to play for the Lake Erie Monsters (AHL) for the remainder of the year. After his contract with Colorado expired, Hunwick entered free-agency and was quickly signed by the New York Rangers on a one-year deal. He was a solid defenseman for New York, posting 11 points with a +17 rating in 55 games played but was set to hit free-agency again as New York decided not to renew his contract in 2015.

Once again, Hunwick had no problem finding a job once the market opened, inking a two-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Throughout the next two seasons, Hunwick suited up for 115 games and produced 29 points during that time but could not reach an agreement for a contract extension forcing the defenseman to hit the free-agent market again in 2017. On July 1st, the NHL teams came knocking on his door, and Hunwick immediately signed a two-year deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Hunwick split his ice-time throughout the 2017-2018 season as a depth-player, suiting up for 42 games and producing ten points. On June 27th, though, Hunwick was packaged up with Conor Sheary and was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. The defenseman would go on to play just 14 games with Buffalo in 2018-2019 before officially announcing his retirement from the NHL after suffering a severe neck injury.

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Throughout his 12-year career in the NHL, Hunwick suited up for 535 games and finished with 25-94-119 numbers. Now, Hunwick works with the University of Michigan hockey team as a volunteer assistant coach. Happy birthday, Matt Hunwick!

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!

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!

With Halak Locked Up, Bruins Have $18M To Solidify 2020-2021 Roster

( Photo Credit: ESPN | espn.com )

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

With the 2019-2020 season on pause due to the unprecedented pandemic, Don Sweeney has all the time in the world to weigh out all of his roster options and began the firework ceremony for the Bruins a few days ago with the re-signing of goaltender Jaroslav Halak. The netminder agreed to a team-friendly, one-year deal with a cap hit of $2.25M ($1.5M bonus if Halak plays ten games), solidifying the Bruins’ dominant goalie tandem for another year.

With yet another vital player on the Bruins roster taking a pay cut to stay with the team, Sweeney knows he has the advantage with contract negotiations. In my opinion, I don’t see him overpaying anybody at this point. With that being said, the Bruins have $18M left in cap space, and I believe Sweeney will continue to use the “winning culture” argument to sign his players under a team-friendly deal.

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Torey Krug (UFA)

Without a doubt, the Bruins’ main priority should be to re-sign 29-year-old defenceman, Torey Krug. There has been plenty of speculation on what Krug is worth, but if he wishes to stay in Boston, he will need to take a team-friendly deal and has claimed he is willing to do that. His current cap-hit stands at $5.25M.

Krug is a vital piece to the Bruins blue-line and continues to quarterback one of the top power-play units in the league. Before the world was put on pause, Krug had a stat line of 9-40-49 in 61 games played. He has managed to maintain 50+ point campaigns since the 2016-2017 season and has developed solid chemistry with his defensive partner, Brandon Carlo.

Injuries haven’t been a problem for Krug until the 2018-2019 season where he missed 18 games, and during the 2019-2020 season he had only missed a handful of games, so if he continued to remain healthy, he would’ve surpassed 70+ games played if the season had not been put on halt. Krug has been nothing but consistent his entire NHL career, so his argument will be strong, but the Bruins obviously cannot and will not dish out an $8M-$9M contract that he may be valued at. 

With Krug already being the top-paid defenceman on the Bruins, and David Krejci as the top-paid player on the Bruins ($7.25M cap-hit), I personally do not see Sweeney willing to offer him more than $7M per year. Therefore, if Krug decides to opt for a team-friendly discount to stay with the Bruins, I predict he will sign a contract worth $7M per year. 

Jake DeBrusk (RFA)

The 14th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Jake DeBrusk, has found himself in a peculiar position in regards to contract negotiations. Although he is known for his elite speed and goal-scoring ability, he has yet to remain consistent throughout the regular season. That will be the target area he will be looking to improve on according to a recent interview with Boston Bruins media.

After the acquisition of Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase, the left-winger found himself on the 3rd line with Charlie Coyle after spending most of his NHL career so far playing alongside David Krejci. So far this season, DeBrusk produced 19-16-35 numbers in 65 games played, a regression compared to his first two NHL campaigns. Even though DeBrusk has had trouble finding his spark so far this season, he posted a career-high 27 goals last season, proving he has the capability of being a 30+ goal scorer. If he can sustain steady chemistry with either Krejci or Coyle, I believe he will become a force to be reckoned with. 

With DeBrusk facing a regression this season and struggling to remain consistent, this will give Sweeney the upper hand in negotiations and could lead to offering a ‘prove-yourself’ bridge contract. With that being said, if both parties agree to terms, I predict he will sign a deal worth $3M per year.

Zdeno Chara (UFA)

The 43-year-old Iron Man, Zdeno Chara, recently stated in an interview that although he does not want to get ahead of himself, he believes he will be willing to return to Boston for another season. Let’s not forget, Sweeney has also made it clear last season that as long as Chara feels he is healthy enough for another season, they will offer him a deal. “As long as his game aligns with his pride and preparations that he wants to put forth to keep it at the level he’s accustomed to having it to then we are going to explore having him as part of our group. He’s an impactful player.”

Chara continues to be a valuable asset for the Bruins, scoring five goals and 14 points with a whopping +26 rating so far this season. He also maintains 20+ minutes of ice-time per game and plays a massive role in the Bruins penalty-kill unit. He is also the longest-serving captain for the Bruins (since 2006-2007), and his legendary leadership qualities continue to shape and influence the entire team, sustaining the successful system he has helped implement for many years. 

As long as Chara feels healthy enough to suit up after the conclusion of the 2019-2020 season, I predict he will sign a one-year deal worth $1.5M.

Kevan Miller (UFA)

The rugged 32-year-old defenceman hasn’t seen any NHL action since the tail-end of the 2018-2019 season, after suffering multiple knee-cap fractures in a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. According to Sweeney, he will not be expected to return this season or for the playoffs, given the NHL eventually resumes this season but also stated they are willing to offer Miller a deal if he entertains the idea of playing again.

With Miller heading to free agency, there is a chance other teams may be willing to pick him up, but with a small sample size over the past few seasons due to serious injuries, the Bruins could be the only contenders at this moment. 

The issue with re-signing Miller is finding him a place in the line-up, even as a depth player. Defencemen John Moore and Connor Clifton are continually fighting for a spot in the line-up, and with Miller often facing setbacks in his recovery, I do not see where he fits in the line-up anymore. I have always adored Miller as the fearless shut-down defenceman, but I predict he will not re-sign with the Bruins.

Matt Grzelcyk (RFA)

The 5’9, 174-pound defenceman has used his phenomenal skating ability and offensive-minded skills to cement his position in the Bruins’ lineup. So far this season, Grzelcyk posted career highs in goals (four), assists (17), points (21), power-play points (seven), blocks (67), hits (56), and games played (68). He also carries a heavier work-load, averaging a little over 18 minutes of on-ice time per game so far this season. 

Grzelcyk also plays a vital role in the Bruins’ second power-play unit as well as their penalty-kill squad. Although fans often overlook the value of Grzelcyk due to his size, there is no doubt he is a valuable piece to the Bruins’ blue-line and has continued to improve each year. He currently has a cap hit of $1.4M.

It would benefit the 26-year-old defenceman if the 2019-2020 season resumes and finishes appropriately, but regardless, I believe Grzelcyk has proven himself as a valuable asset for the Bruins. I predict he will sign a deal worth $2.5M per year.

Anders Bjork (RFA)

Anders Bjork has built a lot of hype regarding his potential since his successful run with the University of Notre Dame from 2014-2017, amassing 40-69-109 numbers in 115 games played. Since turning pro in 2017, the left-winger has split his time between the Providence Bruins (AHL) and Boston Bruins, but unfortunately, his first two seasons were cut short due to shoulder injuries requiring major surgery.

So far this season, Bjork found his rhythm and has managed to stay healthy, suiting up for 58 games and posting 9-10-19 numbers. Although consistency has been a struggle for the forward this season, he has flashed moments of his incredible talent and speed. A message was sent to the 23-year-old forward after the acquisition of Ritchie, and Kase forced Bjork to the press box for a stretch of games, reminding the winger that there is plenty of room for improvement before he can cement a permanent position in the line-up.

Even with the current NHL season on hold, Bjork has been taking the time to re-watch games and note how he can improve his performance, according to a recent interview with the Bruins’ media.

“That’s always been a motivator. But with the trades and going out of the line-up right after that, I feel like I’ve got to put my work in to earn my spot back. That’s the culture on the team, for sure. That’s how we’ve been successful. Guys are constantly pushing each other. You have to if you want to play…. My game wasn’t exactly where it needed to be at before this pause, so I have time to work on it as much as I can.”

With a small sample size stapled with two season-ending shoulder injuries, Bjork knows he needs to make up for lost time quickly. According to Cap Friendly, his current cap-hit stands at $925,000, and he will also be eligible for salary arbitration after the conclusion of the current season. If both parties agree to terms, I predict he will sign a deal worth $1.5M per year.

Joakim Nordstrom (UFA)

The 2015 Stanley Cup champion, Joakim Nordstrom, has been a critical piece to the Bruins fourth-line and penalty-kill unit. Although the forward is more known for his blue-collar shifts than his offensive abilities, he has been a reliable 13th forward that makes an impact when slotted into the line-up. So far this season, Nordstrom has suited up for 48 games, notching four goals and seven points with 31 blocks and 91 hits. 

With the acquisition of Ritchie and Kase, Nordstrom has found himself in the pool of depth players along with Anton Blidh, Par Lindholm, Karson Kuhlman, and Bjork, who is continually trying to crack the line-up. With the emergence of younger players like Trent Fredric and Jack Studnicka in Providence, the competition is becoming incredibly tight in Boston, and with the salary cap staying flat at $81.4M, it seems the writing’s on the wall for Nordstrom. I predict he will not re-sign with the Bruins. 

In a perfect world, my predictions would leave the Bruins with $2.5M leftover, enough room in case players like Krug and Debrusk end up taking $500,000-$1M extra depending on how the deals work out of course. 

It is also important to note that Sweeney could opt to use a compliance buyout on a player or orchestrate a trade to free cap space. Buying out or moving a player like Moore ($2.75M cap-hit until 2024), for example, could significantly help in creating more cap space.

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!

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!!

Boston’s Unknown Talent: Par Lindholm

( Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports )

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

July 1, 2019, marked the first day of NHL free agency. NHL fans across the nation have hopes and dreams of their team signing the most attractive named talents. Unfortunately, the NHL salary cap limits numerous teams in who they can sign. Most General Managers will sign for needs rather than wants. The Bruins’ General Manager (Don Sweeney) had $12 million in cap space when free agency began, with three restricted free agents awaiting new deals: Charlie McAvoy, Danton Heinen, and Brandon Carlo.

Most fans and analysts were convinced Sweeney would have to trade a current roster player in order to sign all three. Thankfully, he was able to sign all three to team-friendly deals and had a few extra million dollars leftover. Noel Acciari had been a staple on Boston’s fourth line but received a hefty raise from the Florida Panthers in the off-season. The Bruins found themselves with a need for trustworthy bottom-six talent. With the leftover cap room, Sweeney signed a few inexpensive role players: Brett Ritchie and Par Lindholm.

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Par Lindholm entered the league as an undrafted free agent, signing his first NHL deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2018. The 26-year-old Swedish forward played in the Swedish Elite League from 2014 through 2017, racking up 148 points and a plus 42 rating in 193 games. He has the ability to play both left-wing and center, which is a coveted trait amongst NHL players. He featured in 61 games with the Leafs, before being traded to Winnipeg at the deadline for Nicolas Petan. Lindholm only played 4 games with the Jets and became a free agent in 2019.

The contract with Boston is a low-risk, high-reward situation. They aren’t investing much into Lindholm, but if he can help in small areas it will pay dividends for the team down the road. Elliotte Friedman (Canadian Sportsnet journalist) writes a weekly article called “31 Thoughts” explaining league news and his reaction to all NHL stories. In his latest article, he gave Lindholm an unexpected but warranted praise: “There is one player in the NHL with more than 100 minutes of ice-time who has not been scored against. It is Boston’ Par Lindholm. Jinx!” Unfortunately, this accolade was broken when the Capitals defeated the Bruins on November 16, but it highlights and recognizes his contributions that go unnoticed. It’s great to watch highlight-reel goals and tic-tac-toe passing, but the ability to resist the offense from scoring is equally as important and endearing.

This type of play is no surprise to Sweeney since he had done his homework on Par before signing him. “We only had one left-shot centerman, (Lindholm is) very good on faceoffs, also kills penalties, certainly in his previous years in Sweden he had 18 goals,” I don’t believe he’ll score just one.” Seventeen games into the season, Lindholm has scored that one goal and fittingly enough, it came against his former team.

Thankfully, he wasn’t signed for his offensive game; but instead for stats that never seem to gain the recognition it deserves. His NHL career has just begun but he has yet to post a total season’s negative stat in the plus/minus column. He’s logging an average of 11:08 of ice team a year, which is normal for a bottom-six forward. If he can give the Bruins 11 shutout minutes a night, this can catapult his teammates in situations that allow them to win the game.

Face-offs are also incredibly important to a team’s success. If a team cannot win the necessary face-offs, it could be the difference between a win or a loss. An example of a key situation is when a team (say the Capitals for argument sake) trail the Bruins and pull the goalie for an extra attacker. The strategy in these situations for a head coach starts with the grouping he wants to deploy. Normally, a coach will deploy a group that tends to kill penalties because the Capitals extra attacker is a man-advantage situation. The head coach also ensures his lineup consists of more than one center-man in case his number one center is thrown out of the face-off dot for a violation.

Patrice Bergeron is, unfortunately, a repeat offender of these violations (deservedly so or not), so Head Coach Bruce Cassidy will want a player like David Krejci or Par Lindholm on the ice for his replacement for the key defensive zone draw. If Bergeron, Krejci, or Lindholm cannot win the defensive zone face-off, the Capitals could get a quality scoring opportunity. Successful teams do the little things right and these successful plays often come from under-the-radar players. Lindholm is a career 49.3% face-off winner, which is a necessary and trait for a bottom-six forward especially on special teams. The best players generally have a face-off percentage of 52% for the year.

Lindholm will certainly not be winning any awards in the near future or be featured on the NHL Network’s Top 5 Goals of the Week. But, he will be doing all of the little things that don’t show up on the score sheet. He was able to work third line duties while the Bruins recover from the injury bug, so there’s an opportunity for him to build on other areas in his game. He has returned to fourth-line duties. Regardless of the line, he plays on, Lindholm has won face-offs, denied scoring opportunities, and kills penalties; which is exactly the reason Sweeney called him on July 1.

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Grading The Bruins’ Forwards At The Quarter Point Of The Season

Image result for patrice bergeron stats

(Jim Davis/Boston Globe Staff)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

The Boston Bruins have been one of the best teams in the NHL to begin the season. They’ve gotten contributions from up and down their lineup and have seen a plethora of players take the next step in their NHL careers. Now that the season is over a quarter of the way through, it seems like a good opportunity to dive into how each and every forward on the Bs have played so far. FYI, defense and goalies will be coming shortly.

Patrice Bergeron – A+

The man just seems to get better with age. At the ripe old age of 34, the four-time Selke winner is having yet another great season. With eight goals, 16 assists and his great defensive day in and day out, the center is well on his way to be a Selke finalist once again. After a minor injury scare, Bergeron didn’t miss a beat and put up five assists in two games after the injury which is great news for the Bruins.

Brad Marchand – A+

When you’re on pace for a 139 point season, how can you not receive an A+ grade? After his season ended on a very sour note with that mental lapse in Game 7, everyone’s favorite rat has come back and looks better than ever. I find myself mesmerized when he has the puck, his ability to slip through defenders is incredible. He’s able to use that to generate offense and it’s a big reason why he’s such an effective penalty killer.

David Pastrnak – A+

The league leader in goals is doing it all this year. With 20 goals already, he’s primed to usurp his career-high in goals (38) this season. It’s crazy to think that after a 38 goal, 81 point campaign someone can still improve but Pastrnak really does look like an improved player. He’s cut down on some turnovers, seems to miss the net less and is clearly developed into one of the league’s top goal scorers. His one-timer has gotten to Alex Ovechkin level and it’s really something special to watch.

(James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)

David Krejci – B+

Yet again, David Krejci is quietly putting together another great season. Despite going through different winger after winger after winger, which I feel like we say every single year, the Czech native has managed to put up four goals, 11 assists to go along with a +15 rating in 17 games. We saw some vintage Krejci in the final minutes of last night’s game against the Wild and I can smell yet another 70 point year if we get a healthy Krejci (knock on wood).

Jake Debrusk – B-

After a very lackluster start to the season where he put up just one assist in seven games, Mr. Celly is beginning to pick things up as of late. In his past 11 games, the 23-year-old has four goals with three assists and whatever rust he had to begin the season is clearly gone. If the duo of Debrusk and Krejci can find some consistency to their right, there’s no reason to think Debrusk’s play will not continue to improve.

Brett Ritchie – C

Don Sweeney has a very good track record with plucking random depth from other teams and turning them into successful players. While he hasn’t been a game-changing player, Brett Ritchie been able to play from line two through line four and has thrown in some offense and physical play. After scoring on his first shot in his first game, the former Star is already just two points shy of his total of six from last year. 

(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Charlie Coyle – B

Charlie Coyle has been everything the Bruins wanted when they traded for him at last year’s trade deadline. He’s provided the Bs with the ability to roll four centers they can trust. He has everything you need in a third-line center: size, speed, strong two-way ability, good vision and an underrated shot (that he needs to use a whole lot more). He’s been able to get some good chemistry going with Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork so as the season goes on, I’d only expect their chemistry to grow.

Danton Heinen – B+

The amount of hate Danton Heinen gets is incredible. Day in and day out, he is one of the Bruins’ best forecheckers and is great at simply diging pucks out of the corner to create some offense. He was recently rewarded for his puck-retrieving ability by getting the nod over Jake Debrusk on the top powerplay and it’s paying dividends. He’s done all of the little things right and now he’s finally beginning to see some results. 

Here are two early plays where he demonstrates his puck retrieval, both of which turn into goals:

Anders Bjork – B

Anders Bjork is finally cementing himself as an everyday NHL player. After back to back seasons ending in injury, Bjorkie is here to stay. Despite not putting up massive numbers (three goals and an assist in 15 games) Bjork is providing very much needed stability to the third line. He looks stronger, smarter and more confident with the puck and just like Heinen, more results will continue to come.

(Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

The Fourth Line (Sean Kuraly, Chris Wagner, Joakim Nordstrom) C+

Yea this may seem like a cop-out to include all three into one rank but when healthy, they’ve been rolled out as a line for a large majority of the time. They haven’t been quite as effective as last year, but have continued to start about 67% of their shifts in the defensive zone against many opposing top players. The combined four goals and -8 rating isn’t going to show how defensively sound they have been but with the prowess of all three players and what we saw them do last year, a little more offense would be a nice boost to the Bruins’ roster. 

Par Lindholm – C-

Despite only having one goal in 13 games, I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Par Lindholm so far. Interestingly enough, up until the Bruins last game against the Washington Capitals, the Swede was the only player in the NHL that hadn’t had a goal scored on him at even strength. He was brought in as a decent option for the bottom-six and has been that so far.

NHL: Preseason-Philadelphia Flyers at Boston Bruins

(Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

Zach Senyshyn – B

It’s a real shame we didn’t get to see more of Zach Senyshyn this season because in his short stint, there was a lot to like. He was able to pick up two assists in four games and that could’ve certainly be more if he didn’t get injured (and there wasn’t a certain thing called instant replay). I think it’s time for people to stop calling the former 1st-rounder a bust and let the kid show why the Bruins went after him.

Karson Kuhlman – C+

No points in his eight games but his speed and work-ethic were always there. He was able to generate many chances but his puck luck just wasn’t there. Hopefully, Kuhlman can wow us some more after returning from his injury. 

David Backes – C

Backes predominately worked on his skating over the summer and after a slow start, he was starting to find his game again. Specifically, he looked great in the game against the Sharks right before his unfortunate injury. His leadership will always be there but the biggest question is his health. It’ll be interesting to see what transpires when he gets healthy.

These next few players I haven’t given their own little paragraphs simply because they haven’t played enough games, each of the following have played three or fewer games.

( Photo Credit: Getty Images )

Cameron Hughes – C- Only played one game but didn’t look too out of place on the fourth line. Paul Carey – C- Copy and paste above from Hughes. Peter Cehlarik – C Cehlarik’s time in Boston is running down. He’s looked solid in his minimal games, picking up an assist in that time, but it’s clear the Bruins’ system and Cehlarik haven’t clicked. Trent Frederic – C- He was able to layout six hits in just 12:52 minutes of ice-time. He plays his game hard and I’d like to see more of him next season.

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