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.

Check out our new Black N’ Gold Prospect Podcast episode that we recorded on December 4th, 2019! Our BNG Prospects Pod can be found on the same RSS Feed as our original Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast, which can be found on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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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.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 155 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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Boston’s Luck With NHL’s Offside Rule

(Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

In 1929, the NHL implemented the offsides rule, which players abide by to this day. Rule 83.1 in the current NHL handbook states, “Players of the attacking team must not precede the puck into the attacking zone. The position of the player’s skates and not that of his stick shall be the determining factor in all instances in deciding an off-side. A player is off-side when both skates are completely over the leading edge of the blue line involved in the play.” The rule was created to ensure a level playing field and allow players to defend their goal, without having to worry about an attacker cherry-picking behind them.

If a player is deemed offsides entering the zone, the whistle will be blown by an on-ice official and a face-off will occur. The ensuing face-off will take place outside the attacking zone or in the attacker’s defensive zone, depending on intent. In 2016, the NHL Board of Governors allowed its coaches to challenge an offsides ruling if it resulted in a goal. The amendment to the rule has created a frenzy of unhappy players, coaches, and organizations, and confusing explanations.

Hockey has always relied on referees to call its game fairly and objectively. Referees have been trained by the NHL to uphold the rule book and keep order on the ice. On-ice officials are entrusted to call a fair and unbiased game. This has, however, created an opportunity for human error. As the players become bigger, faster, and stronger, so does the game. It is always a criticism from the average hockey fan that the game is “too fast” and the puck is “hard to follow.” On-ice officials need to adapt to the changes and ensure their calls are correct. One bad judgment call by the referee can change the landscape of an entire game. With the emergence of challenging in-game video review across all sports, the NHL decided it was time to allow their referees to review offsides.

The challenge was implemented because in many instances (some in key games) a play should have been offsides and a goal was scored. The NHL wanted to give the referees a chance to reverse the call if, upon video review, their original ruling was wrong. When a coach requests a challenge, the referees stop the game, call the NHL review headquarters in Toronto, and have a phone call about the play. Referees talk to Toronto as they look at the play on an iPad, which most have scrutinized. Challenges have taken anywhere from three to ten minutes. As a whole, game-play slowed down significantly and coaches took advantage of the break to give players a breather. The NHL changed the penalty of a failed offsides from a loss of a time-out to a two-minute minor penalty.

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With the decrease in challenges, scrutiny increased in turn. Your Boston Bruins have been at odds with this rule numerous times, especially in the playoffs. In-Game 1 Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2018, Brad Marchand entered the attacking zone with the puck and ended up scoring on the play. His teammate, Patrice Bergeron, was run into by a Maple Leafs player. Bergeron’s right skate was in the zone, and his left skate appeared to have dragged on the blue line. As 83.1 further states in the NHL rule book, “A player is on-side when either of his skates is in contact with, or on his own side of the line, at the instant, the puck completely crosses the leading edge of the blue line regardless of the position of his stick.”

 

Bergeron’s skate is simultaneously entering the zone as the puck enters the zone. Stop the video at 41 seconds and the puck is clearly in the zone, while Bergeron’s skate is touching the blue paint. The NHL’s rule book states this is a good goal, but the referees and the NHL called the goal back upon video review. Any camera angle showing the replay on the jumbotron or on the at-home TV broadcasts are the same cameras the NHL sees. So Bruins fans are left wondering, why was this called no-goal? These plays are happening during the most crucial time in the sport, and goals are held to the interpretation of the referee on an iPad.

More recently, Weymouth-native Charlie Coyle scored what looked like a good goal in the eyes of the rule book in Montreal on November 6, 2019.

 

In this instance, rule 83.1 allows Coyle’s goal. “A player actually controlling the puck who shall cross the line ahead of the puck shall not be considered “off-side,” provided he had possession and control of the puck prior to his skates crossing the blue line.” Control of the puck means the act of propelling the puck with the stick, hand, or feet, which Coyle displays. Players nowadays are talented enough to use their skates as a way to pass the puck to their stick, which is considered possession. The referees and NHL determined Coyle did not have possession, even though he corralled the puck from his skates to his stick upon entering the zone.

Interestingly enough, a similar play occurred in 2016 between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Washington Capitals.

 

Evgeny Kuznetsov (Washington Capitals forward) entered the zone and lost the puck for a brief moment. Moments later, Evgeny’s teammate, Alex Ovechkin, scored the game-winning goal. The NHL reviewed the goal and the goal was upheld, meaning the NHL determined Kuznetsov had possession of the puck while entering the zone even though he did not have it on his stick for a moment.

The NHL is inconsistent with their calls. Ovechkin’s goal stands when, for a moment, Kuznetsov did not have clear puck possession, but Coyle’s goal is overturned when he, too, had possession. Many around the league feel the referees do not want to reverse their own call, especially if the replay is inconclusive. Even further, when referees give an explanation, it is too vague and does not explain the decision. Herein lies the problem.

This past Tuesday, the NHL and General Managers met at their annual November meeting. The meeting is designed to review how the year has progressed and discuss any rule changes that need to be reviewed during their annual March meetings. Rules are changed, created, or deleted during these March meetings. “Commissioner Bettman said a discussion on the offside rule, possibly regarding the way it is written in the rulebook and how it is being applied in video replay through a coach’s challenge, will be one of the many topics the GMs will talk about.” Don Sweeney, General Manager of the Boston Bruins, is a lock to be one of the many GMs to voice his displeasure with the rule and how it’s being evaluated.

It is unclear what the NHL will do (if anything) to change the challenge process. The most likely scenario is that the NHL will hear out its General Managers now and see how the current year progresses with the rule. If the on-ice ruling has a significant hand in how a game ends this year, the NHL will have more pressure from the public eye to make a change. Unfortunately, the NHL and its fans will have to wait until March for an actual revision. Even so, a new rule may not go into effect until next season. The NHL needs to educate its fans, referees, and organizations on all scenarios that come from the offside challenge. The calls need to be consistent and free of mistakes. The NHL comes down to a game of inches and a crucial call can create a controversial outcome.

Check out our new Black N’ Gold Prospect Podcast episode 6 that we recorded on November 17th, 2019! Our BNG Prospects Pod can be found on the same RSS Feed as our original Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast, which can be found 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!!

Game Preview: Boston Bruins vs. Philadelphia Flyers 11/10/19

Image result for boston bruins vs philadelphia flyers(Photo Credits: Getty Images/NBC Sports)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

After being fed a full plate of humble pie this past Friday in Detroit, the Boston Bruins are back home as they face the Philadelphia Flyers at the TD Garden. Boston has lost its last two games and will be looking to get back on track.

TEAM UPDATES

Knowing full well they played a lackluster game against Detroit, the boys in Black and Gold were back to work this morning at the Warrior Arena. Both Joakim Nordstrom and Par Lindholm, who have been nursing injuries and infections are back in the lineup tonight. Peter Cehlarik, who has been filling in, will be sent back down to Providence. Steven Kampfer will be a healthy scratch. John Moore was also seen skating in a red non-contact jersey. Brett Ritchie was not seen skating this morning, while Jake DeBrusk continues to be out, as he is nursing a lower-body injury. Charlie Coyle will be playing wing alongside David Krejci.

 

HARD STATS

Despite dropping their last two games, the Bruins currently lead the Atlantic Division with an 11-3-2 record, while the Flyers are 9-5-2. In their last 10 games, Boston is 6-2-2 while Philadelphia is 7-2-1. The loss to Detroit marks the first time that the Bruins have lost consecutive games in regulation this season so far. David Pastrnak saw his 13-game point streak end Friday night after having an assist removed from his record.

The Bruins will have a chance to get their legs and mojo back as they face a Flyers team, who are trying to extend their winning streak to four games. Boston’s Pastrnak is tied for first in the league with 30 points; he also leads in goals (15) and in power-play goals (9). Brad Marchand is third in the league with 18 assists, while Captain Zdeno Chara is also third in the league for plus-minus at 13.

Goaltender Tuukka Rask is now third in the league for goals-against-average (1.99) and is tied at third with a 0.933 save percentage. Expect Jaroslav Halak in net for the Bruins tonight. The 34-year-old goaltender is 4-1-1 with a 2.83 goals-against average and a 0.917 save percentage. This will be the first meeting between the two teams. Expect Carter Hart in net for the Flyers. Hart has a 2-0 record against Boston and is 5-3-1 with a 2.82 goals-against-average and has a 0.889 save percentage.

Image result for boston bruins vs philadelphia flyers(Photo Credits: Getty Images)

Boston is still first in the league on the power-play, however, Philly is slightly better at the penalty kill and is ninth in the league, compared to the Bruins 12th position. Flyers’s Sean Couturier has six points in the last six games, while Boston’s Patrice Bergeron has nine-points in six games. Defenseman Torey Krug has points in his last five games while Brad Marchand has 28 points in his last 15 games.

The Flyers Travis Konecny leads the team with 17 points and assists (10), while Oskar Lindblom leads the team with eight goals. Pastrnak leads the Boston teams in goals (15) and in points (30); Marchand leads the team with 18 assists.

PROJECTED LINEUPS-BOSTON

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Heinen – Krejci – Coyle

Bjork – Lindholm – Senyshyn

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

 

Chara – Clifton

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – McAvoy

 

Halak

Rask

 

PROJECTED LINEUPS -PHILADELPHIA

Riemsdyk —  Giroux —  Farabee

Lindblom — Couturier — Konecny

Twarynski –Hayes –Voracek

Andreoff –Raffl — Pitlick

 

Provorov –Niskanen

Gostisbehere — Braun

Sanheim — Myers

 

Carter Hart

Brian Elliott

 

WHEN TO WATCH: Tonight with puck drop at 7:00 PM, TD Garden

WHERE TO WATCH: NESN, ESPN+, NBCSP

 

 

Boston Bruins Prospect Player Profile: Jack Studnicka

Boston Bruins Development Camp

(Photo Courtesy of David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Jack Studnicka was drafted in the second round, 53rd overall in the 2017 NHL Draft. The Winsdor, Ontario native was coming off a pretty good season the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) at the time of his selection. He was seen as a strong, and speedy two-way forward who could play the penalty-kill, power-play, and five-on-five. It’s easy to why Studnicka was drafted in the second round, now let’s dive into what he did leading up to and after he was selected 53rd overall.

The 2016-17 season was Studnicka’s second with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL. The young forward was hoping to build his draft stock and he did just that. In 64 games with the Generals, he netted 18 goals and dished out 34 assists for 52 total points and a plus/minus of minus six. The Ontario native also seemed to turn it on when the lights were brightest in the playoffs. In the team’s 11 playoff games he netted five goals and dished out 10 assists for 15 total points and a plus/minus of minus one. It was an excellent season for Studnicka to build upon going forward.

The 2017-18 season was the young forward’s first since being drafted by Boston. Going into the season Oshawa would reward Studnicka’s play and leadership ability by putting the “C” on his sweater. The newly appointed Captain would reward the team’s decision and excel for the Generals. In 66 games he netted 22 goals while dishing out 50 assists for 72 total points and a plus/minus of 18. In Oshawa’s five playoff games he netted one goal and dished out four assists for five total points and a plus/minus of zero.

It was such a good season for Studnicka, that the team gave him his first taste of professional hockey. In five games with Providence, he netted one goal and dished out four assists for five total points and a plus/minus of two. It was an excellent season for the Ontario native, who proved to be one of the teams top prospects. He was able to show off not only his defensive awareness but also the soft hands that help fuel his scoring ability.

With the Bruins’ offensive depth in the system, the team decided to send Studnicka back to Oshawa for the 2018-19 season. Still appointed as the Generals’ Captain, the young forward would only play in the 30 games with Oshawa before being traded to the Niagra IceDogs. At the time of the trade, the Ontario native had played in 30 games with the Generals’ netting 12 goals and dishing out 22 assists for 34 total points and a plus/minus of 10.

The trade to the Niagra IceDogs seemed to light a fire under Studnicka. Dawning the “A” on his sweater, he would play in 30 games for Niagra netting 24 goals and dishing out 25 assists for 49 total points and a plus/minus of eight. This means for the entire season, Studnicka played in 60 games netting 36 goals and dishing out 47 assists for 83 total points and a plus/minus of 18. He would also play in Niagra’s 11 playoff games netting five goals and dishing out 6 assists for 11 total points and a plus/minus of four.

The young forward would also play in Providence’s four playoff games netting a goal and dishing out an assist for two total points and a plus/minus of two. It was an excellent 2018-19 campaign for Studnicka which really solidified his status as a top prospect in not only the Boston Bruins organization, but the entire NHL. His defensive awareness, speed and scoring ability make him a lethal forward. He is certain to be the Bruins’ lineup for many years to come.

This season will be an interesting one for Studnicka. He’s going to be given every opportunity to win a spot on Boston’s roster out of training camp. There are a few factors that will go into this decision. The first is how well he plays in training camp and the preseason games. The second is where do the Bruins envision him playing going forward. If he plays well enough at the center position, you could see the team move Charlie Coyle to the wing. The team might also value Studnicka more at the wing position and could play him there if they feel his offensive ability is too good to send down to Providence.

Ultimately I believe Studnicka will spend the beginning of the season in Providence but I believe he will end up getting called up to Boston mid-season. It’s easy to see why the Boston Bruins and fans alike are excited about this young forward. He could be a foundational top-six forward for the Bruins for the foreseeable future. I am excited to see how he plays in his first full professional season. I hope everyone enjoys the preseason because regular season hockey is right around the corner. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter, and as always GO, Bs, GO!

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NHL Player Media Tour: Bruins Edition

 

2015 NHL Player Media Tour(Photo Credits: Claus Andersen/Getty Images North America)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

The countdown is on, the new season is thisclose to starting and familiar faces that embody the Boston Bruins team are more than ready to hit the ice with fresh legs. With the NHL European Media Tour under their belt, a few of the Bruins players are currently in Chicago attending the 2019 NHL/NHLPA North American Player Media Tour. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask and defenseman Torey Krug are this year’s attendees where they partook in a day filled with photos, videos and interviews:

The annual event takes place before the start of each season and features many players that represent their respected teams. It’s also an opportunity for those participating to be exposed to the national media and offers a chance to meet other elite players. From past events, the best of the best are invited to the Media Tour and this year, two of the Bruins’ best were invited. Both  Krug and Rask are coming off a tough Stanley Cup Series that saw the team fall one-short shy of winning the cup. The loss still resonates with many on the team  and will undoubtedly serve as the push they’ll need this new season. For Torey Krug, (who will be one of the top defenseman in the  market when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer) this last season “was big for me and my development and my growth. I feel like I’m just hitting my prime.”

Krug ended his regular season with a career-high of 47 assists in 64 games played. He also garnered 53 points-his second best of his career. Last season he ended with 59 points. Last postseason, the 28-year-old had 18 points with 16 assists and netted two goals during the Playoff run.

32-year-old Tuukka Rask is coming off of having one of his best seasons, even earning top marks in the NHL Network’s Top Players list, coming in at number five on the top goalie rankings. Rask also landed on number 44 on the the top 50 players list. He ended his regular season with a 27-13-5 record with a 2.48 goals-against-average and a .912 save percentage. Postseason, the Bruins goaltender was stellar, boasting an average of .934 saving-percentage with a 2.02 goals-against-average in 24 games.

As NHL Network analyst Darren Pang noted on Rask:

“I think every year he gets better…He seems to be under the heat so often and the criticism comes at him, but I watch Tuukka Rask and [he’s] fundamentally good, his demeanor is calm, he makes glove saves now where he just makes it look easy. Pucks coming into his body and he doesn’t even go down…He’s got really nice patience in the net.”

Much like Krug and the rest of the team, the Game Seven loss still stings a bit. In speaking with WEEI’s Matt Kalman, Rask reflected on last season and looking ahead :

“I don’t think you ever get over that, still getting flashbacks. But you know you got to realize it’s only sports, and it is what it is…I think the mental aspect is the biggest thing, especially if it’s a disappointing loss like that. You have to just kind of unwind and try to forget about hockey as much as you can. But then again you only have two ½, three months until the next season starts and you’ve got to take a month for your body to recover.”

“But I think mentally, it’s just such a grind, hockey season, you know you play 82 games plus 25 possibly, so mentally it’s very draining. And the fresher mentally you can be, the better off you are I think.”

September 12th marks the start of Training Camp and with Rask and Krug going through the media gauntlet  during the Player’s Tour, here’s hoping the trip to the windy city helps them unwind as they return to face the grueling 82-game schedule.

Boston Bruins 2019-20 Breakout Candidates

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(Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

Training camp is right around the corner, and the Bruins are almost back. From David Pastrnak to Brandon Carlo, it seems almost every year a player “breaks out” and really exceeds expectations. Here’s six who I think have a good shot and having big years for the black and gold.

Jake Debrusk

In his rookie season, Jake Debrusk tallied 43 points in 70 games, good for 8th in point-per-game out of all rookies. He added to those numbers by notching six goals and eight points in an excellent playoff showing. In just his second NHL season, Debrusk was able to light the lamp 27 times in only 68 games. After two solid seasons mixed with equally solid playoff runs, Jake Debrusk seems poised to take the next step in his NHL career and really have a big year. All of that may depend on who plays to the right of David Krejci. If Debrusk, Krejci and one of David Pastrnak (who would be my choice to play with the two) Charlie Coyle, Danton Heinen or an unmentioned winger can develop some good chemistry, a 30 goal, 60 point campaign is not out of the question. 

(Photo Credit: STEVE BABINEAU/NHLI VIA GETTY IMAGES)

Danton Heinen

It baffles me how many people dislike Danton Heinen. He began his tenure with the Bruins with a great rookie season where he notched 16 goals and 47 points to go with a +10 rating in 77 games (outscoring the aforementioned Jake Debrusk).  The following year did not begin the way Heinen would have liked, in his first 40 games he reached the back of the net just four times and added six assists but the second half of his year was a different story. The 24-year-old was able to score seven goals and 24 points in his final 37 games and was apart of arguably the Bruins best line in the playoffs with Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson. He’s one of the best defensive forwards on the Bruins and constantly does the little things right, and I really think this is the year that things will start to go his way.

Jack Studnicka

Probably the most well-known talent out of all forwards in the Bruins’ farm system, Jack Studnicka has all the tools to become a really good player in the NHL. I praised him in my “Top-10 Bruins Prospects” piece, and after an outstanding year in the OHL and strong play in the World Juniors for Team Canada, Studnicka seems to be a strong contender to make the big club this season.

If he’s able to crack the roster, I’d love to see him (and the two players you will see below) play alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. We’ve seen what that duo has done for players like David Pastrnak, a struggling Danton Heinen and others in the past. If Studnicka is able to make the big club and have a role on the team, a 40 point season is certainly obtainable.

NHL: Preseason-Philadelphia Flyers at Boston Bruins

(Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

Zach Senyshyn

This coming season will be Senyshyn’s first season with a legitimate chance to make the Bruins roster. The 6’1 winger hasn’t blown anyone away in his two years in Providence, but as a two-time 40 goal scorer in the OHL, the skill is certainly there. We saw a glimpse of what Senyshyn could do at the tail-end of the season, and he didn’t look out of place at all and was able to light the lamp once (albeit an empty netter, but still good to see). Just like Studnicka, a stint on the top line could be huge for Senyshyn, and a big right-shot winger could prove to fit very well.

Anders Bjork

Anders Bjork has had a tough go in his first two years playing pro hockey. After bouncing back and forth between the NHL and AHL, Bjork’s past two years have been unfortunately cut short due to shoulder injuries. If we’re able to see a healthy Anders Bjork in the NHL this year, I expect big things. The former Notre Dame star is arguably the most talented player in the Bruins’ system and has the speed to make it in today’s NHL. While he struggled in the NHL last season, totaling just three points in 20 games, he had quite a bit of success playing with the top line the season before which is where he should be playing if he’s able to edge out the previous two players and make the roster I see big things for this year.

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(Photo Credit: nhl.com)

Matt Grzelcyk

Matt Grzelcyk isn’t on this list because I think he’s going to turn into the next Torey Krug and put up a 60 point season. He’s on this list because this year is the perfect year to give Gryz a bigger role on the team. It seems the big man Zdeno Chara is nearing the very end of his career and we’ve seen that his age is starting to catch up with him. This past season, the Charlestown native developed into the Bruins’ best 5v5 defenseman and really showed he was ready for more than a bottom-pairing role. If coach Bruce Cassidy is able to rotate the duo of Chara and Grzelcyk with Charlie Mcavoy, Gryz should have his best, and most impactful season yet.

 Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 142 that we recorded on 8-25-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE For Link To Our YouTube Channel! 

Bruins ECHL Affiliate: Atlanta Gladiators Sign Multiple Free Agents

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(Photo Credit: Offical ECHL Atlanta Gladiator’s Hockey Club)

By: Ian Frazier | Follow me on Twitter @ifrazier95

The Atlanta Gladiators have been quite busy with free-agent transactions, a few of which are big-ticket players. The ECHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins opened up the league’s free agency period by hitting the market signing several players. From forwards to defense, the Gladiators made many moves to bolster their roster for the 2019-20 season.

To start, the Gladiators signed a pair of free-agent forwards Anthony Collins and Logan Nelson. These two are no strangers to playing the Gladiators since last season they both played for their rivals the Indy Fuel. Collins, a 29-year-old forward out of Langley, British Columbia is about to play in his seventh season in the ECHL and first with Atlanta. Last season with the Fuel, Collins managed to score zero goals and record one point on one assist and 94 penalty minutes in thirty-one games played. He is being brought in to be a rotational forward who will serve as a bottom-six. Nelson, the 25-year-old gritty forward out of Rogers, Minnesota, spent the beginning of last year with the Orlando Solar Bears before being traded to the Indy Fuel. He recorded 16 goals, 25 assists for 41 points in 64 games during the 2018-19 season and was also a big factor in Indy’s Kelly Cup playoff push last spring.

On defense, the Gladiators locked up a pair of their in-house free agents by re-signing Zach Malatesta and Jack Stander to new contracts. Malatesta might sound familiar as he is a Boston native and played Junior Hockey for the Boston Jr. Bruins and is now playing for Atlanta. As he begins his third season with the club, he has six goals, 27 assists for 33 points in 108 games. He was very durable last season in which he played all 72 games of the ECHL season. Stander, the 24-year-old out of Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, played hockey at Canisius College in New York before transferring to Atlanta. Last season he scored three goals, with 12 assists totaling 15 points. Both of them are key members of the Gladiators defense, and it was imperative they get them locked up early as soon as possible.

A couple of big pieces were also added to the roster by signing defenseman Jake Flegel and forward Thomas Frazee. While Flegel returns from last year’s roster, Frazee is a big addition to the team. Flegel, the 27-year-old defenseman from Ajax in Ontario, Canada played at Adrien College in Michigan before he transferred to the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) and then the ECHL. After one game last season in the SPHL, he joined the Gladiators where he recorded three goals and added three assists for six points. Frazee, the 29-year-old forward from Vancouver, British Columbia is considered one of the bigger names on the market in ECHL free-agency this season. He was on the Gladiators during the 2015-16 season tallying 16 goals, 31 assists for 47 points in 71 games.

The following year he recorded a career-high 19 goals, with 20 assists totaling 39 points in 60 games before he went on loan to the San Antonio Rampage in the AHL. He entered the last offseason as a free agent and decided to sign back with Atlanta after fielding many offers from other teams. He put up 15 points in 12 games on 5 goals and 10 assists. Because of his dynamic ability to play as a team supporter, the Gladiators re-signed him this offseason after he tested free agency. Expect Frazee to get top-six minutes going forward in 2019-20.

The Gladiators were busy in free agency, and we will see how these players this upcoming season as the Gladiators hope to make a long postseason run after falling short of the playoffs last year.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 141 that we recorded on 8-18-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE For Link To Our YouTube Channel! 

Allred: Top-10 Bruins Prospects

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

As a diehard Boston Bruins fan, I also pay close attention to the organization’s prospects in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins and lower levels of developmental hockey around the world. I believe it’s important for B’s fans to not only be up to date with what’s going on with the National Hockey League team in Boston but also who’s standing out in the prospect pool and about to cross the threshold of future NHL professional careers.

These top-ten ranking below are my thoughts on where I see these prospects in the B’s developing depth with minimal if no games in the NHL. This was a great idea from our Senior writer Mike Cratty who came to our writing team of 17 members for that offseason content and to keep the B’s conversation going. Check out the two previous prospect ranking articles from Mike Cratty HERE, and writer Lucas Pearson’s rankings Here to see the difference in opinions when it comes to this offseason topic. Without further ado, here are my Top-10 Boston Bruins Prospect Rankings.

10) Jakub Zboril

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com )

Sometimes first-round NHL drafted players don’t get to the highest level in the world after leaving the draft podium, but with NHL contracted players ahead of Zboril it gives time to properly develop. The now 22-year-old two-way defenseman has one-year remaining on his current entry-level contract before becoming a restricted free agent. Jakub will most likely spend another season with the Providence Bruins where he’s played in 124 career games posting 8-30-38 numbers. In two career NHL games during his callups from the AHL, Zboril went pointless but did get a taste of the NHL which could drive him to seriously compete for a spot at training camp in September.

9) Zach Senyshyn

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com )

Another young player with tremendous upside when he was selected in the first round in 2015 along with the aforementioned Zboril. In my opinion, Senyshyn has the attributes to be an NHL’er, but the pipeline ahead of him hasn’t been easy to crack the code to be a regular. With one-year remaining on his entry-level deal Zach is going to have to work harder than ever to get the attention of the Bruins brass high above to address a serious need on the right side of the B’s forward core.

In 132 career AHL games with Providence, the 22-year-old has 26-24-50 numbers and in two games during the 2018-19 campaign got his first career NHL goal when he was called up and played in a 3-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild. I can see Senyshyn playing a majority of next year in Providence, but he could also get more looks during this upcoming 2019-20 NHL season.

8) Jeremy Lauzon

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com )

Jeremy is another prospect that is being hindered by the bottlenecking factor of this Bruins organization, especially for a depth defenseman. Lauzon is on the last year of his entry-level deal and overly not sure of his NHL timeline with the core ahead of him. I’d expect he’s going to have a solid camp and will impress those who are constructing a winner in the next regular season campaign but another season in Providence developing is what I see in my crystal ball. Lauzon did play in 16 games at the NHL level during the 2018-19 season and thought he played well earning his first and only NHL goal in that timeframe. With Providence appearing in 81 games the former 2015 second-round selection posted 2-12-14 numbers in his career thus far in the AHL.

7) Trent Frederic

( Photo Credit: Team Shred Photography )

By far, one of my favorite prospects in the Bruins system. Frederic has speed and creativity, but above all, he plays with that edge that can get him into the NHL Bruins lineup no matter what forward line. He has good speed with or without the puck, and his strength in the faceoff circle is another tremendous attribute when winning draws in critical situations.

The 2018-19 season was Frederics first full season of AHL hockey and as a rookie in the league contributed offensively with 14-11-25 numbers. I still believe that Trent’s game can only get better with his time developing in Providence but did have a few good looks in his first career NHL games in the 2018-19 season where he spent 15 games with the Boston club failing to register a point.  Frederic is another big kid with serious upside as a 21-year-old and can definitely see his offensive numbers getting better with the upcoming season with two more full seasons under his current entry-level contract.

6) Kyle Keyser

( Photo Credit: TheAHL.com / NBCSports.com )

Signed to an entry-level contract as an undrafted free agent back in October of 2017 after losing former Bruins prospect netminder Malcolm Subban via the waiver process to the Vegas Golden Knights. Since Keyser’s addition to the future plans of the Bruins crease, the Coral Springs, Florida native has really impressed me and continues to pass other goaltending prospects that were drafted in previous years.

Keyser is a 20-year-old netminder who’s eligible for the AHL action in the upcoming season. With Zane McIntyre out of the picture and the Bruins signing Maxime Legace to a one-year deal to add to the netminding depth there are rumors he could start his minor-pro career in the ECHL. The AHL full time is not out of the realm depending on what the B’s want to do with goaltender Dan Vladar. Kyle had a career year last season playing for the OHL’s Oshawa Generals where he tied his career-high in games played with 47 and a record of 32-8-0 with a 2.45 goals-against-average and .915 save percentage.

5) Axel Andersson

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

One of the more intriguing defensive prospects, in my opinion.  Drafted in the second round in 2018, Andersson was quickly signed to an entry-level contract after the close of the teams annual Development Camp. The 6′-0″ 180-pound defenseman has impeccable skating abilities along with impressive edge work. He has a high hockey IQ and the ability to snap tape to tape stretch passes for quick transition offensively.

Andersson is not a point-producing blueliner, but that part of his game could be incorporated with his time in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Moncton Wildcats a team who selected him in the 2019 CHL Import Draft where he went 30th overall in the first round. From the folks I talk to in the Moncton, New Brunswick Canada area is that he’s going to be heavily relied on the backend and could see top-line minutes in all situations.

4) Jakub Lauko

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Probably one of the most exciting prospects when it comes to raw talent. Lauko’s speed and puck control in full speed has been a pleasure to watch in his first development camp and his games in the “Q” with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. After he was selected in the third round of the 2018 NHL draft, he joined the Huskies club a year later as the Rouyn-Noranda club had his rights from drafting him in the CHL import draft. Lauko and the Huskies would go onto have one of the best seasons known to be with the team being the best in the QMJHL during the regular season, capturing the Presidents Trophy in the playoffs, and marching into Halifax, Nova Scotia to take home the Memorial Cup,

In 44 games for the Huskies, Lauko contributed with 21-20-41 numbers and 6-7-13 totals in the postseason. He’s definitely a work in progress and will be in the pro ranks soon enough, but I’m a firm believer in properly developing players and could see him back with the Huskies for the upcoming 2019-20 season. The AHL is another possibility but like I said another solid year in the QMJHL defending the outstanding President Trophy and Memorial Cup-winning year wouldn’t be a bad idea.

3) John Beecher

( Photo Credit: by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images )

Beecher is a 2019 first-round draft pick that has intimidating size and speed for an 18-year-old that’s about to start his NCAA hockey career at the University of Michigan in the fall of 2019. With players like Studnicka, Lauko, and Keyser excused from the 2019 Bruins Development Camp festivities, Beecher had the spotlight on him as the new kind in the system. His power forward mentality and creativity for a bigger player has been something to watch that’s for sure. His tremendous upside was on full display in the 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase held in Plymouth, Michigan where he was in the top-six of the tournament scoring for earning 4-1-5 numbers in five games played.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what this type of player he becomes at Michigan in his first year of collegiate hockey. If he can earn five points in five games on a team highlighted with names like Cole Caufield, Arthur Kaliyev, and Joel Farabee, the young Beecher could see an increased role with the NCAA Wolverines in a top-six powerhouse role under the tutelage of Head Coach Melvin Pearson and play with fellow B’s prospect Jack Becker.

2) Urho Vaakanainen

( Photo Credit: NBC Sports )

If any prospect defenseman is ready to cross the threshold of a long NHL Bruins career, it’s former first-rounder Vaakanainen. Due to an unfortunate head injury to start the 2018-19 NHL regular season, Urho would come back to the game later after recovering from a concussion to play the remaining games of the year with the Providence Bruins. The 20-year-old Vaakanainen started his pro career with Providence and was called up in October of 2018 due to injuries at the NHL level.

After only two NHL games and zero points, Urho suffered a concussion and didn’t return to the game for two months. When he did return to the game, he was placed in Providence where he played the remainder of the 2018-19 AHL season. Vaakanainen’s return would be in mid-January of 2019 and in 30 games to close the regular season Urho posted 4-10-14 numbers. As mentioned above a few times, current NHL contracts in Boston could hinder Vaakanainen from an NHL return for the upcoming season but the rumors of B’s defenseman going on the LTIR to start the year, Urho could easily make a return to the NHL lineup without a doubt.

Jack Studnicka

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Drafted in the second round of the 2017 NHL Draft, Studnicka has worked extremely hard the last couple of seasons trying to make the NHL out of training camp. This year he could very well be in the mix for a forward position, but with the current depth up the middle, jack very well could see time on the wing if needed. The 6′-1″ 172-pound natural center has spent the last four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League and last season posting 12-22-34 numbers in 30 games for the Oshawa Generals before being shipped to the Niagara Icedogs via trade where he posted 24-25-49 numbers in 30 games played.

Between Oshawa where Captain Jack played three seasons prior and Niagara for a 30 game stint, Studnicka had his best offensive numbers posting 36-47-83 totals for his best OHL career season surpassing his previous career-high of 72 points in the 2017-18 campaign. As a person that like to see Bruins prospects properly develop, I’d like to see Studnicka play at least a full season in the AHL because if the B’s organization is seriously considering moving him to a wing position, he should learn that transition in Providence with what’s looking like a very impressive lineup for the upcoming season.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 139 that we recorded on 8-2-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Sticher.

Pearson: Top-10 Bruins Prospects

VICTORIA , BC - DECEMBER 21: Jack Studnicka #23 of Team Canada raises his stick to salute the fans following a game versus Team Slovakia at the IIHF World Junior Championships at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre on December 21, 2018 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)

(Kevin Light/Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

Recently fellow Black N’ Gold writer Mike Cratty had an idea to simply rank the Bruins prospects and suggested that we all take a stab at ranking the Bs farm system. His rules were simply that there were no players on AHL only deals (like Cooper Zech) and that Anders Bjork and Karson Kuhlman weren’t eligible for the list. Make sure you read Mike’s article here, but without further ado, here’s my list.

10. Jakub Zboril

Just because the Bruins may have missed out on players like Thomas Chabot and Matthew Barzal doesn’t mean they did not get anything of value with those picks in that infamous 2015 draft. With the ridiculous amounts of injuries that plagued the Bruins defense, we all got to see Zboril in a little NHL action. He looked pretty good in his two games with the big club and after back to back solid years in the AHL, it’s not time to give up on this promising young Czech man.

9. Zach Senyshyn

From one criticized pick to another, Senyshyn is not a bust just yet. While he hasn’t had the most outstanding numbers in the AHL (with 50 points in 132 games) but was a two-time 40 goal scorer in the OHL. We saw a glimpse of the Ottawa native in a couple of games to end the season, and he looked far from out of place in Boston. It will be very interesting to see how Senyshyn will play with his first true shot at cracking the top 9 in Boston.

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Boston Bruins

(Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

8. Trent Frederic

Unlike the previous two players, we got to have an extended look at Trent Frederic in the NHL. He was far from dominant in his 15 game stint, failing to register a point in all 15 games, but showed that he had the grit and work ethic of an NHL player. I think Frederic will 100% become a regular NHLer but whether that is in the top or bottom six has yet to be seen. A full year of top-six minutes in the AHL would do wonders for Frederic’s game.

7. Kyle Keyser

I’m a huge fan of Keyser. Last year with the Oshawa Generals he boasted the second-best save percentage (.915) in all of the OHL and was even better in the playoffs where he posted a .925 save percentage in the Generals 15 game playoff run. Keyser was able to make the World Junior Championships with the US and start their first two games but was unfortunately struck with an illness before the team’s third game and didn’t play again in the tournament due to teammate Cayden Primeau’s stellar play. At just 20 years old, Keyser has a real chance to take the reigns from Tuukka Rask a few years down the line if he continues to impress in his development.

(Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)

6. Oskar Steen

After a year in the SHL where he had a grand total of six points in 45 games, Steen had a breakout season in the for Farjestad BK where he was able to notch 17 goals and 37 points in 46 games, good for 10th in the SHL. What was even more impressive about that season was that the nine players above Steen had an average age of 30, the youngest being 26 while Steen is still just 21. With his speed and agility, I’d lookout for the young Swede to be an under the radar fit for the Bruins big league roster this year.

5. Jeremy Lauzon

In his short stay in the NHL, this season Lauzon impressed a lot of people. He isn’t the flashiest player, but is really solid in his own end and showed a lot of playmaking ability in his years in the QMJHL, tallying 40 assists in 46 games during his final season. If the Bruins didn’t have such a logjam at defense, Lauzon would certainly be on the Bruins roster this year.

(Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

4. Jakub Lauko

Lauko continues to look more and more like a steal as we continue to see him grow. Originally projected to go in the middle of the second round, Lauko fell to the Bruins in the 3rd round of the 2018 draft. The 19-year-old notched 41 points in 44 games and helped the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies win the President’s Cup this past year. His blazing speed and hockey IQ sets him apart from most of the competition and should set him up to be a really solid NHL player.

3. John Beecher

I’m not going to lie, when I saw that Arthur Kaliyev dropped all the way to pick 30, I really wanted the Bruins to hop all over him. When I learned that the Bruins drafted yet another player that was expected to go later in the draft I was honestly pretty disappointed but man, every single day I learn more about Beecher I continue to love this pick more and more. Beecher was overshadowed heavily by players like Jack Hughes, Cole Caufield, and Alex Turcotte but still put together a solid season playing outside of the top six in the US developmental program, putting up 43 points in 63 games. Most recently Beecher has raised a lot of eyebrows at the World Junior Summer Showcase where he has displayed his speed, agility and two-way prowess while impressing many people.

Urho Vaakanainen

(Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

2. Urho Vaakanainen

It really is a shame that Vaakanainen had to get cheap shot early in just his second NHL game because we didn’t get to truly see what the young Fin had in store, but there’s no question that the Bruins have something in store with this defenseman. The 18th overall pick in the 2017 draft is a strong skater and is very reliable in his own zone with the ability to move the puck very well. Vaakanainen is already a two-time gold medalist, winning the U-18 and U-20 championships with team Finland.

1. Jack Studnicka

I thought for a while on who deserved the top spot on this list, but ultimately, I chose Studnicka. Last season Studnicka began his season with the Oshawa Generals, averaging above a point per game but really stepped up when he was traded mid-season to the Niagra IceDogs where he was able to light the lamp 24 times and add 25 assists in just 30 games. Even when he was on team Canada at World Juniors with players like Morgan Frost, Cody Glass and Barret Hayton, he was able to stand out and catch the eye of everyone. Bob McKenzie said following a game that “It was pretty obvious that Jack Studnicka was the best player on the ice,” quite the praise for a guy that wasn’t playing top minutes on the team. A year after missing out on the 3rd line center position, Studnicka will once again look to crack the Bruins roster and make his mark in the NHL.

Honorable Mentions: Axel Andersson, Pavel Shen, Jacob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Peter Cehlarik, Cameron Hughes, Jeremy Swayman