Do The Bruins Have A Potential Trading Partner In The Calgary Flames?

( Photo Credit: )

By: Dan Anderson | Follow Me On Twitter @DanAnderson5970

As the aging core lineup for the Boston Bruins has limited time to win another Stanley Cup, Don Sweeney has been busy trying to find the right combination of players to put the team over the top. Trades for Rick Nash and Ondrej Kase in recent seasons have not worked as planned. With free agency pending October 9th, 2020, the Bruins are looking, aggressively, for upgrades.

One such team that the Bruins could target is the Calgary Flames, and two players specifically: Noah Hanifin and Johnny Gaudreau. Hanifin is a similar player to Brandon Carlo in both age and playing style but plays left defense. There is a difference in contracts in that Carlo becomes an RFA after next season while currently making $2.85M. Hanifin is under contract through 2024 at $4.95M. With Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara both UFAs as of October 9th, and Matt Grzelcyk an RFA at that time, John Moore is currently the only left defenseman on the roster.

Would the Bruins consider a straight-up trade? In theory, Hanifin and McAvoy become the first line, Grzelcyk and likely Jeremy Lauzon become the second line, with Chara coming back for one more year paired with Connor Clifton on the third line. Calgary might like this trade to add a right-handed shot, as they currently are overloaded with left shooting defensemen.

Gaudreau is apparently on the trading block. Arguably their best player, he isn’t far removed from thirty plus goal seasons and close to one hundred points. He would undoubtedly be an immediate upgrade if the Bruins decided to trade Jake DeBrusk, an upcoming RFA, who will be looking for a pay raise over his 863K rookie deal. Gaudreau is four years older and carries a contract that pays him $6.75M through the 2021-2022 season. Both Gaudreau and Hanifin played at Boston College for Jerry York’s Eagles. Hanifin was born in Boston.

While on paper, this deal would appear to favor the Bruins short term, Gaudreau and Hanifin for Carlo and DeBrusk with other possible add ons, there are some concerns. If this trade is made, it is highly unlikely the Bruins could sign Torey Krug. Might his rights be part of the deal? I don’t know that Krug would want to play there, but Calgary doesn’t have an offensive defenseman. Calgary is also weak at left wing, with ex-Bruin Milan Lucic on the third line, and at center, where the Bruins have several prospects. Could Nick Ritchie be sent to Calgary? Gaudreau would address some offensive concerns but adds another smaller player to a team trying to get bigger. Adding cap space might be attractive for the Flames as they are likely rebuilding.

The Bruins are also light on picks early in this year’s draft with no first or second-round choice currently. Calgary is without their third, and fourth-round picks this year, so a draft pick exchange would seem unlikely and make a possible trade harder, but it’s not hard to see why the Bruins might want to add both Hanifin and Gaudreau.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 194 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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Charity Endeavors | Boston Bruins Edition

(Photo Credits: NHL Bruins)

By Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @ pastagrl88

With the Boston Bruins officially out of the running for the Stanley Cup this year and life returning somewhat normal for the team, the organization has continued with their noted charity efforts. In case you missed it, those personalities involved with the Bruins team have raised money in recent outings.

As the COVID-19 Pandemic continuing to affect the world and our daily lives, the organization had to cleverly adjust to what is currently the new norm. The Boston Marathon, the oldest and most iconic races was postponed this year, however, that did not stop the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) in honoring those that would’ve run.

They recently offered the Boston Marathon Virtual Experience, which ran from September 5th through the 14th. With more than 17,800 participants from 96 countries, they were asked to complete 26.2 miles in their own neighborhood. The event also raised funds for COVID-16 first responders. One of those participants was Ryan Sweeney, whose father is Bruins alum Bob Sweeney. He ran the marathon as part of the Bruins Foundation team. As the country remembered the events that unfolded on September 11th, 2001, Sweeney ran in honor of his aunt Amy Sweeney, who passed away on that date.

Collaborating with multiple charity organizations, the Boston Bruins Foundation has raised over $30 million dollars through many events. The Foundation is dedicated to the health and wellness throughout the community as well as advocating for children and their families. Recent events include the Patrice Bergeron Pucks and Paddles initiative and the Special Olympics Massachusetts.

On Wednesday, September 9th, the Boston Bruins held the 17th Annual Golf Tournament at Pine Hills in Plymouth, MA. All proceeds will benefit the Bruins Foundation and the Boston Bruins Alumni Association as well as the Special Olympics Massachusetts.

Those in attendance included the Foundation’s President and former Bruins forward Bob Sweeney, NESN analyst and former Bruins winger Andy Brickley, Former Bruins goalie and analyst for NESN Andrew Raycroft, Former B’s defenseman Gord Kluzak, Hall of Famer Joe Mullen, former forward and head coach Steve Kasper, former Boston defenseman and analyst Bob Beers, Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, NESN analyst Barry Pederson and Dropkick Murphy’s singer Ken Case to name a few. There were also current employees and Special Olympics athletes that participated in the event.

“I think we’re really fortunate to have this golf tournament…and do what we love to do which is raise money and play golf and see all the boys. It’s special for us.”

Former Bruins winger Andy Brickley

The Foundation also offered fans a chance to participate in the first Virtual Boston Bruins Golf Tournament benefiting Special Olympics of MA where you could play a round by yourself or with a group for a socially distant game of golf. The event ran from September 7th through the 13th.

Lastly, the Foundation is offering a virtual raffle for the 5th Annual “Bowl with a Bruin & Friends” Tournament to raise money for the Boston Bruins Foundation Pan Mass Challenge Bike Team as well as for The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 194 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Is Bigger Actually Better For Next Seasons Boston Bruins?

( Photo Credit: Stuart Cahill / MediaNews Group / Boston Herald )

By: Matt Barry | Follow Me On Twitter @oobcards

The Boston Bruins have been one of the top teams in the National Hockey League for the last decade. The Bruins have been to three Stanley Cup Finals and won the ultimate prize in 2011. Boston has done it with a solid nucleus led by captain Zdeno Chara and assistant captains Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. Over a ten year period, the team has had two varying styles. Former head coach Claude Julien preached a more conservative style based on fair defensive play and careful exit from the defensive zone. The Bruins perfected this style in winning the Stanley Cup in 2011 and advancing to the Cup Finals in 2013, only to lose a heartbreaking Game 6 to the Chicago Blackhawks.

But Julien’s style was wearing thin in Boston, and management wanted the Bruins to play a more up-tempo style with more speed and skill and jettisoned Julien for Bruce Cassidy. Cassidy implemented a more offensive attack that emphasized advancing the puck ahead and attacking, which would elevate the skill set of goal scorers Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.  Bergeron also experienced an increase in point production under Cassidy. Under Cassidy, the Bruins have a .682 points percentage and have been an elite team. It is hard to argue that the change in style has been an excellent move for the organization.

However, in the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals against a heavier, more physical St. Louis Blues team, the Bruins seemed to wear down, which resulted in a Game 7 home loss and a missed opportunity that could haunt the organization for years. The loss also had many diehard Bruins fans screaming for something they always harp on, “They need to be more physical!! Now, after a second-round exit courtesy of a bigger Tampa Bay Lightning team, the Bruins are faced with a decision of whether to find more speed and skill to coincide with today’s fast NHL or get back to their roots, which is physical, heavier play.

Traditional Boston Bruins fans love blue-collar players who play hard and sacrifice every night, even they lack elite talent. This is why fans loved Milan Lucic, but great frustrated with David Krejci. Krejci is entering the argument of a top ten player in Bruins history, while Lucic’s game is now in Calgary and has deteriorated quickly. But it is hard to tell Bruins fans that the game has changed. Players in today’s game have a hard time playing heavy and banging bodies every night for eighty-two games plus the postseason. The league has become more about puck possession and speed. The Bruins have been amongst the best in the league in both categories, but have eventually lost to bigger, stronger teams.

So what does general manager Don Sweeney do now? The team has some holes to fill and could use a right-wing to play with Krejci and some bottom-six depth. The Bruins could fill these needs within the organization with 21-year-old Jack Studnicka and maybe grinding center Trent Frederic. The other alternative would be a go outside the organization to improve the club and add some scoring and more physicality. Other young prospects in the Boston system are more diminutive like Karson Kuhlman and Zach Senyshyn, and neither player may be an upgrade from what is there now. The Bruins tried to add some size at the trading deadline by acquiring Nick Ritchie in exchange for Danton Heinen.  Ritchie did not bring much of a physical presence and had difficulty generating offense. The result was a reminder that acquiring bigger, physical players is not enough.

So, from here, Sweeney and team president Cam Neely, the ultimate power forward in a much different NHL of years ago, must find some scoring touch to create more balanced scoring and increased productivity in five on five play. While doing this, the Bruins must get bigger to fend off teams like the Lightning. Bruins fans would love a big winger like Josh Anderson (6’3”, 222-pounds) from the Columbus Blue Jackets or Zack Kassian (6’3”, 207-pounds) from the Edmonton Oilers. Maybe one of those wingers finds a home in Boston and settles in on a line with Krejci or third-line center Charlie Coyle. But there is always the concern that one of these heavy power forwards becomes another Nick Ritchie rather than Cam Neely, regardless of how much Bruins fans clamor for more “old-time hockey.”

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 194 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

In Hindsight, 2020 Playoffs Looked Like Many Past Bruins Campaigns

( Photo Credit: Stan Grossfeld / Globe Staff )

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

There’s no masking it for the Boston Bruins.

Not now during the pandemic of 2020. Not then during the pandemonium of 2019 (pictured above). And not way-back-when, panning back to the mid 70’s, late 80’s, early 90’s and forgettable “00” oughts (when the team was often panned).

When it comes to playoff performance, the B’s have only ever hit their “peak” twice since 1970 — first in 1972 as a followup to the historic Orr-in-Four Cup run. And then once more in 2011 when this current Bruins core was in its prime.

So, how is it that Boston teams within these past fifty years of Hub Hockey are always primed for playoff success, yet rarely ever achieve it (and you best “B”-lieve I’m talking about the ultimate playoff success of winning the Stanley Cup; none of these “learning moment” milestones)?

You could blame it on the coaching over that timespan — everyone from Harry Sinden to Bruce Cassidy with the likes of Don Cherry, Gerry Cheevers, Terry O’Reilly, Mike Milbury and Claude Julien in-between to name a few B’s bench bosses.

BUT… many are HHOF-caliber coaches (if not Jack Adams Award-winners like the recently-lauded Cassidy) and most, if not all, got the Bruins to the Cup Finals once or twice (including Julien who was a part of the aforementioned celebratory ’11 success).

Then how about ownership and management? Surely the B’s brass and money men should shoulder the load of early playoff exits and late-round collapses over the last half-century, especially when they bungled so many trade deadlines and salary caps (finger-pointing at you Monsieurs Sinden & Chiarelli)!

THEN AGAIN, the B’s nearly did win three more Stanley Cups under their leadership (’88, ’90 and ’13) with less-tenured GM’s like Mike O’Connell and Don Sweeney also making near-Cup-winning runs (and yes, the pre-lockout ’04 Bruins team was one of the best I’ve seen). So it can’t be that, can it?

Let’s lay the blame on the players then! If you’ve got perennial All-Stars, top scorers, elite defenders and Vezina-worthy goaltenders with names like Orr & Espo / Moog & Lemelin / Bourque & Neely / Bergy, Marchy & Big Z … then there’s no way your team can turn up more L’s than W’s in big games, important moments and clinching finales, right?

Unfortunately, wrong (with uncomfortable attention payed to the ill-fated “Too Many Men on the Ice Game” of 1979, the “Lights Out at the Garden Game” of 1988, the gut-wrenching “Game 7 OT Oopses” of 2009 & 2012, and the “Must-Win Home Heartbreaks” of 1971, 1982, 1993, 1998, 2004, 2010, 2013 and most recently 2019).

YET, we all understand no team can win every year (unless of course you’re the Canadiens, Islanders or Oilers of your era) and that the Bruins did have their fair share of more-than-memorable comebacks, OT thrillers and series victories that truly felt like winning the Cup. And why most were against the Toronto Maple Leafs will always be a point never worth questioning but always worth smiling about!

SO, how can we truly knock our fan favorites, our boys who always bleed Black N’ Gold no matter the jersey, just because some years they come up short of that all-too-familiar ultimate goal?

Because… and I hate to say it since I’m so often guilty of it… it’s easy and we’re used to it; sure as hell more used to it than seeing the B’s win, close it out, move on and hoist the Cup. In fact, in my Reagan Era-born lifetime alone, I’ve now watched four other celebrations where Lord Stanley’s coveted chalice was kept from my beloved Bruins. Add in my father, it’s seven disappointments. Add in my late grandfather, it’s twelve!

SURE, there were a few parades in Boston during that stretch (only six altogether) but not enough to cover up the almosts, the could-have-beens, the this-was-ours moments that were missed. There will never be enough of those for Bruins fans.

( Photo Credit: Adam Glanzman / Getty Images )

And that’s okay. We want to win. We love to win. We expect to win, especially in the 21st-century now dubbed the “Boston Sports Dynasty” years. But until we win again… playing the blame game and panning our team is something we’ll continue to do.

Because, like the B’s coming up short against the Lightning (add the years 2018 and 2020 to the growing list of game-related gripes), we’re good at it. Always have been. Always will be.

There’s no masking it in Boston.

Check out the latest BN’G Podcast Episode 194 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!

And 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!

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Truths Of Bruins Kase

( Photo Credit: Matt Slocum / AP File )

By: Jack Gotsell | Follow me on Twitter @jackgotsell

Ondrej Kase was not the reason why the Bruins were eliminated from the playoffs but the Bruins choosing to acquire him was. Blake Coleman was acquired by the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Kyle Palmeri stayed put in New Jersey. Those are two players that could have made an impact on the Boston Bruins. Instead, we sit here in the off-season, still needing to acquire some secondary-scoring being among the primary concerns.

There are some positives to Kase’s game, and he could be an asset moving forward. However, the negatives are clear and need to be addressed by the Bruins organization. Here is the good, the bad, and the ugly truths about the Bruins’ decision to acquire Ondrej Kase.

The Good

The Corsi loves Kase because he is good in his defensive zone and can create a lot of chances. In 49 games for Anaheim this season, he had 54.66 CF%. Kase has speed and can push the pace to create lots of opportunities. For a smaller player, Kase can find space and get open and has created many chances while he is on the ice.

The 24-year old right-wing can shoot the puck at will. The Bruins were struggling to get shots on net these playoffs in the second round, and Kase was one exception to that. Kase also can go into the dirty areas and come away with the puck more often than not.

Kase is an all-around forward with speed, a quick and happy trigger finger, the ability to be hard and come away with the puck possesses the ability to maintain puck possession in his offensive zone, and has a solid defensive game. For a 24-year old player, he has a ton going for him. The question, however, looms, is he a top-six forward?

The Bad

Kase had a history of not being able to finish in Anaheim. Nothing he’s done since he arrived here is an indication that he can change that. Getting the puck to the net has never been a concern for Kase. Unfortunately, just getting the puck on the net does not show up on the scoreboard; scoring goals does, which is an area where Kase has struggled. Krejci needs a finisher, and unless Kase becomes that, he’s wasting space on the second line. 

Can Kase change and become a contributor on the second line? Not so sure, and his commitment to the game is in question after the poor decision he made before Boston entered into the Toronto bubble. With a global pandemic going on, Kase decided to involve himself in an unsanctioned workout and saw himself quarantined and unable to skate with the Bruins for almost all of the team activities leading up to and including the first two round-robin games. That poor decision makes you question his commitment and caused him to not be in the greatest shape for the playoffs. 

To sum up, the bad Kase is injury prone and has a concussion history that is out of his control. He missed playing time when he first arrived in Boston dealing with an injury and sickness. This is not the first time Kase has missed playing time due to injury, as much of his days in Anaheim were spent on the disabled list. In 2018-2019 he missed 18 games with a concussion, played in 30 games, and then missed the rest of the season with a torn labrum. 

The Ugly

The ugly truth is that we moved out of the first round of this year’s NHL draft and gave up prospect Axel Anderson for Kase. Cushioning this blow, we also moved four and a half million of David Backes six million dollar contract. However, in making this move, Sweeney looked to sure up Krejci’s right side of the second line. 

It turns out that there is still a hole to be filled on the Bruins second line and that Kase may not be the guy the Bruins were looking for. Krejci and DeBrusk need a finisher, and that’s not Kase. Kase appears to be more of a third-line player with his inability to finish at a top-six level. 

It turns out that there is still a hole to be filled on the Bruins second line and that Kase may not be the guy the Bruins were looking for. Krejci and DeBrusk need a finisher, and that’s not Kase. Kase appears to be more of a third-line player with his inability to finish at a top-six level. Don Sweeney will look to make significant changes this off-season based on his press conferences to create secondary scoring. There will be limited cap space with the need to re-sign Matt Grzelcyk and fill the void that looks like it will be left by Torey Krug and possibly Zdeno Chara. They may look to re-sign DeBrusk at a reasonable price this off-season.

At the 13:00 mark Conor Ryan and Evan Marinofsky talk about upgrading the top-six via trade.

If DeBrusk and the Bruins cannot come to terms, there is the possibility of DeBrusk being shipped out of town and the Bruins trying to build their second line from scratch with center David Krejci in the last year of his contract. The ugly truth is the Kase experiment looks like a failure. Not to say he can’t be a great third line wing, but he is not looking like a top-six player on a Stanley Cup contending team in the present. Kase is not the caliber player of Nathan Horton or Marcus Johansson and is not the right-wing the Bruins have been seeking for years.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 194 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

Boston Bruins Prospect Season Review: Robert Lantosi

Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr

By: Tim A Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Next up on my list of prospect season reviews is a guy that you may or may not have heard of, Robert Lantosi. The young winger came to Providence on an AHL only deal in 2019-2020 to see if he could earn an ELC. Lantosi spent all of 2018-2019 playing in his home country of Slovakia playing for HK Nitra of the Tipsport Liga, which is Slovakia’s highest hockey league. While there, in 56 games, he netted 20 goals while dishing out 38 assists for 58 total points (stats courtesy of EliteProspects). Now that you have an idea of where Lantosi came from, let’s dive into his 2019-2020 season.

Lantosi started the 2019-2020 season on an absolute tear. He recorded a point in six of his first nine games. In those first nine games, he netted three goals while dishing out four assists for seven total points (stats courtesy of the AHL). It was an ideal start to the season for a player trying to get recognized by the organization. Lantosi showed right away that he is a highly-skilled player. Not only that, but he’s also speedy. He can chase down pucks and create using his speed. It was an excellent first season in Providence for Lantosi. In 50 games, he netted 11 goals while dishing out 20 assists for 31 total points (stats courtesy of EliteProspects).

2019-2020 was 100% the type of season you want to see a young player on an AHL only contract have. Lantosi was one of the Providence Bruins’ most consistent players all year. The young winger proved that he was a high-energy, high-skill player who was incredibly fun to watch. Lantosi creates space and scoring chances in the offensive zone. He can get the puck to the open player while also having the speed to outskate opponents. The young winger from Slovakia is a pleasure to watch. He stood out a lot this season during most of Providence’s games.

The Boston Bruins were so impressed with Lantosi that on August 6th, they signed him to a one-year ELC. According to Mark Divver, there was talk that a few teams were willing to give Lantosi an NHL contract. Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney found a gem in Lantosi. The young winger played his way into an ELC after being on an AHL only contract. He also grabbed the attention of the rest of the league while doing so. The only real question that remains is where does Lantosi go from here?

I think that Lantosi will probably spend most of next season in Providence, while also being an emergency call-up in case of injury. Beyond next season I believe Lantosi ends up being a bottom-six fixture in the Boston Bruins lineup. His skill and energy make him a perfect candidate for that. This guy is one you have to keep an eye in Providence next season. If you do, you will not regret it. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO Bs GO!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 194 that we recorded below on 9-13-20! 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!

Who Could The Bruins Receive For Jake DeBrusk?

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

Due to COVID-19, the NHL has neither increased nor decreased the salary cap, making it a flat cap. The stagnant cap number puts even more pressure on general managers to make necessary moves for future years.

The Bruins are entering the 2020 off-season with $15M in cap space. Their priority list is large needing to sign unrestricted free agents Joakim Nordstrom, Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller, and Torey Krug and restricted free agents Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzylcek, Zach Senyshyn, and Karson Kuhlman.

The Black N Gold crew have written numerous articles on the Bruins’ future signings. Jake DeBrusk’s future with the Bruins relies on Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara because of the limited cap space. If Krug decides to sign elsewhere, the Bruins find themselves with more money to spend, but a sudden need to replace scoring on the blue line. If Krug decides to stay, the Bruins’ cap space is significantly smaller, making DeBrusk likely sign a bridge deal. However, if DeBrusk is unwilling to sign a bridge deal, a trade could be in his future.

If Krug were to receive a better offer elsehwhere, the Bruins’ left-handed blue line depth would deplete. The Bruins rostered left-handed defensemen include John Moore, Chara, and Grzelcyk, which will not cut it. The Bruins, however, will have at least $7M to spend on a new face.

The impending free agent defensemen class is plentiful, but not with a seamless Krug replacement. Alex Pietrangelo, Tyson Barrie, and Justin Schultz round out the top three D-men on the board, but they’re all right-handed shots. T.J. Brodie and Dimitri Kulikov are available left-handed defensemen, but neither come close to matching Krug’s offensive numbers.

The limited free agent pool likely turns Don Sweeney to the trade market. A near-perfect replacement for Krug is Shea Theodore (as mentioned in a recent article). The Vegas Golden Knights’ defenseman recently signed a 7-year, $36.4M contract, which carries a $5.4M cap hit. The Bruins would pay Theodore $200K more than Krug’s current deal for the next four years. Theodore ended the year with 46 points in 71 games and would fill Krug’s shoes nicely with his offensive prowess and great vision.

Acquiring Theodore sounds like a long shot after he just re-signed to a long-term contract. However, the Knights were just bounced from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in five games after failing to score consistently and could look to the trade market for scoring.

The Bruins would send DeBrusk’s rights to Vegas, which enables the Knights to re-sign the left-wing before free agency. The trade could be a one-for-one, though it’s more likely the teams would throw in draft picks, having the Bruins tossing in a mid-round selection.

Another great Krug replacement is Oscar Klefbom out of Edmonton. Klefbom is a former first-round pick who’s had an up and down career with the Oilers. The 27-year old left-handed defenseman has two years remaining on his 7-year, $29M contract that carries a $4.167M cap hit. He ended the year with 34 points, which is four points shy of his career-high. Unfortunately, he has been plagued by a few injures the past three years, but a change of scenery could help the young blueliner reshape his game.

The Oilers badly need a dynamic winger for their superstar Connor McDavid. McDavid would welcome DeBrusk with open arms if the Bruins were to strike a deal. The Oilers have $10.5M in cap space and can certainty afford DeBrusk’s next contract. Again, draft picks would be part of the agreement and maybe even AHL prospects.

Now let’s switch gears and assume Torey Krug and the Bruins agree on a contract that leaves the Bruins with $8M cap space, and DeBrusk is not willing to sign a bridge deal. The remaining money split between Zdeno Chara and Grzelcyk leaves the Bruins with approximately $4M in cap space. The Bruins need for a left-handed defenseman is no longer as imperative, and Sweeney could set his sights on another need: consistent wing scoring.

There have been some discussions that the Winnipeg Jets are willing to trade Patrick Laine. He was the second overall draft choice in 2016 and had a cap hit of $6.75M. He is a restricted free agent, and has been in his coach’s doghouse too often this past season.

There’s a presumption the Jets are listening to offers, and the Bruins should most certainly inquire. However, the Jets will expect AT LEAST a first-round draft selection (which the Bruins don’t have until 2021), a top prospect (John Beecher, Jack Studnicka, Urho Vaakanainen), and a top-nine forward (Jake DeBrusk, Ondrej Kase).

The Bruins may be able to sell the Jets on David Krejci for Laine, along with other assets, of course. The former 70-point right-winger would undoubtedly make the Bruins a tough team to beat and alleviate the top line’s pressure to create all the scoring opportunities. It’s a mystery whether Sweeney would even entertain the the steep price tag to pry Laine from Winnipeg.

The other side of the coin is Patrick’s contract. Laine will want a contract north of his previous 2-year, $13.5M deal. The Bruins can afford that if they trade out players who own more massive cap hits, like David Krejci. They could undoubtedly trade John Moore and try to scrape away at the cap ceiling, but it’s more likely they’ll have to rid themselves of a larger contract to squeeze under the cap.

The Bruins could also walk away from signing Krug and make the deal for Laine, but that leaves a giant hole on the blue-line. Keeping Krug almost definitively puts them out of the running for a player of Laine’s caliber. Sweeney needs the future cap space, mainly if the salary cap stays flat in the coming years.

One trade target the Bruins have a reasoanle shot at acquiring for DeBrusk is Anthony Mantha. The Detroit Red Wings had the worst record in the NHL last season and robbed of the first overall pick. They have $34M in cap space and can certainly afford whatever number DeBrusk has in mind. Mantha is also a restricted free agent and a former first-round draft choice. He is a behemoth left-wing at 6’5, 234 pounds, and has breakaway speed. He ended last season on the Wings first line but would almost certainly play on the Bruins second or third line.

Mantha is coming off of his rookie deal of 3-years, $2.77M. DeBrusk and Mantha have had comparable point totals in the past three seasons: DeBrusk netting 120 points in 203 games and Mantha with 134 in 190 games. Mantha has more points in fewer games, making him an enticing option.

The Wings require a profound identity change and a fresh start. They’ve fallen to the bottom of the standings dramatically and could use a jump start from a new face, who learned from some of the game’s best leaders, and who’s performed deep into the playoffs. The Bruins could send DeBrusk and a mid-round draft choice or prospect in exchange for Mantha and a low-round draft choice.

Another potential trade target for Jake DeBrusk is Minnesota’s, Kevin Fiala. Fiala was also a former first-round draft selection in 2014 by the Nashville Predators. Fiala had a tough time finding his game in Nashville, only playing 204 games and scoring 97 points. The Swiss forward was traded to Minnesota for Mikael Granlund last season. Fiala has one year left on his 2-year, $6M contract and will still be a restricted free agent.

The change of scenery benefited the 24-year old. Fiala potted 67 points in 83 career games with the Wild. He scored 23 goals last season and has participated on the Wild’s first power-play unit.

So why would the Wild give up a player they just acquired? The Minnesota Wild hired Paul Fenton (former Predator Assistant GM) in 2018, which was viewed as a great hire around the NHL. Fenton acquired Fiala after overseeing his development in Nashville. A surprise move a year later, the Wild fired Fenton after finishing fifth in the wild card standings.
The Wild hired former Dallas Stars great, Bill Guerin, within a month of firing Fenton. Wild’s ownership created an environment where mediocrity is not going to cut it, putting even more pressure on Geurin.

The Wild snuck into the Return to Play pool only to be eliminated by the Vancouver Canucks in the first round. Guerin needs to show his ownership he has a plan to further this team’s future, and making a trade for a player like DeBrusk would benefit both parties. The Wild could make DeBrusk their number one left-wing and sign him for the next five to six years and genuinely integrate himself as a mainstay.

Thankfully for the Bruins, Fiala’s cap hit is significantly lower than what DeBrusk has asked for, and the Bruins can afford him, barring a salary dump of John Moore. They’ve also had a great trade rapport with the Wild when they acquired Charlie Coyle two seasons ago. Fiala would make for a great second-line winger and a power-play beneficiary.

The Bruins would ask for a bit more in return than Fiala’s return, such as a mid-round draft choice or prospect. The move delays the contract conversation one more year, but it would allow the Bruins a bit more flexibility without shelling out two large contracts this off-season.

It’s no surprise that Sweeney has his work cut out for him each year because that is what it takes to avoid a mid-league finish in the standings. There may be one or two moves Sweeney makes that will shock the NHL, and it’s necessary. The Tampa Bay Lightning outmatched the Bruins in a 4-1 series victory, and their size and inconsistent scoring played a significant role. If the Bruins want to keep up with the Tampa Bay Lightning for years to come, the time to make the moves is now.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 194 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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Question Marks Surround Left Side Of Bruins’ Second Defense Pair

(Photo: Brian Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

With the Boston Bruins’ President’s Trophy-winning 2019-20 season now over, general manager Don Sweeney and the rest of the Boston brass head into the offseason with several question marks looming over the roster. How will management address the lack of depth scoring (again)? What will happen with the team’s restricted free agents? Or perhaps the most pressing question that snuck up on the Bruins: what will the left side of defense look like next season?

Admittedly, I did not have the foresight to take a look at the Bruins’ situation down the left side on the backend until recently. Prior to the pandemic, I had thought there would be no way that Boston would let Torey Krug walk or that Zdeno Chara would be without a contract heading into next season. Yet here we are — all signs point to Krug leaving to sign a big ticket elsewhere, and although Chara wants to return, he is still on the brink of unrestricted free agency.

In the most likely scenario, in my opinion, Krug walks and Chara re-signs at a reasonable cap hit and short term. If that is the case, Boston is still left with a gaping hole in the team’s top four at even-strength.

For context with some incoming advanced stats, courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, Corsi basically measures how much a player’s team controls the puck when they are on the ice, and anything below 45% is generally considered to be below average, while anything above 55% is typically seen as elite.

Chara still has value in a limited role. Sure, his even-strength numbers have dipped in recent season – the 43-year-old sported a Corsi-for (CF%) of 46.7% at even-strength during the regular season (down from 53.8% during the 2018-19 season), and a CF% of 36.8% during the playoffs this season (down from 40.4% during last year’s postseason). However, the big man can still provide value on the penalty kill – he was and still is Boston’s biggest workhorse on the kill – in a limited even-strength role, and in the room, of course.

What does this limited role for Chara look like? Presumably, it would be on the third pair next to a guy like Connor Clifton or Jeremy Lauzon. That leaves spots up for the taking on the second pair to Brandon Carlo’s left and on the top pair next to Charlie McAvoy.

Matt Grzelcyk seems like the clubhouse favorite to slot in next to McAvoy up top as of right now; the pair excelled in two years together at Boston University and have looked good together in a small sample size in the NHL. When together, the two boasted an insane CF% of 59.06% at five-on-five play, during this year’s playoffs, and a CF% of 59.69% at even-strength over the last three regular seasons. In short, when together McAvoy and  Grzelcyk are possession monsters for the Bruins, and with more high-end minutes with guys like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, analytics darlings in their own rights, on the ice with them they should only flourish even more.

This all leaves Carlo without a defense partner on the second pair. While the Bruins have in-house options that might step up in Urho Vaakanainen, Lauzon, or Jakub Zboril, it remains to be seen if those guys would be ready to leap into such a key role. Lauzon proved that he is NHL-ready this season as he assumed a role on the bottom pair next to Grzelcyk during the second half of the season, and excelled for the most part, especially with his physicality, mobility and intensity.

Meanwhile, Zboril has slowly, but steadily, progressed in Providence over the last few seasons. P-Bruins head coach Jay Leach mentioned that the 23-year-old was “probably” the team’s best defenseman by the end of the year, and was one of the last cuts from Boston’s training camp before the season after having an excellent showing. He’s got some sandpaper to his game and can move the puck well; however, consistency is an issue, aside from whether or not he can make the jump. Another snag is that the left-shot d-man has been loaned to HC Kometa Brno in his native Czech Republic as a timeline for next season in both the AHL and NHL is unclear.

Looking at Vaakanainen, there is no question about the promise in his game, from the skating ability to the intelligence. In a very small sample size in the NHL, he did not look out of place. Again, the only concern with Vaakanainen, and Zboril, is whether or not a full-time leap to the NHL is in the cards this season. For Lauzon, the question is if he can shoulder the extra responsibility and tougher defensive matchups.

The Bruins may even be able to look to external options via free agency depending on how much cash is leftover from the re-signing period, whenever that happens. After a quick visit to CapFriendly to look at defensemen set to hit the UFA market, options like T.J. Brodie, Joel Edmundson, Erik Gustaffson, and Brenden Dillon stand out.

Who knows, maybe if, or when, training camp rolls around, one of the young defensemen is poised to seize the apparently open roster spot, impresses, and makes the team out of camp. Or perhaps the Bruins land a free agent that can plug the hole. Until then, all we can do is speculate about how the left side, especially on the second pair, will be addressed.

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!

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 Bruins HC Bruce Cassidy Wins 2020 Jack Adams Award

PHOTO CREDITS: (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

Boston Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has officially been named the winner of the 2020 Jack Adams Award, the trophy given to the best head coach during the 2019-20 regular season.

Cassidy became the bench boss of the Bruins back in the 2016-17 season following the departure of longtime coach Claude Julien. Prior to his hiring, Cassidy was the Head Coach for Boston’s AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins, for five seasons – only missing the postseason once.

Cassidy coached only 27 games in ’16/’17, but with the change of coaching the Bruins went 18-8-1 and managed to claw their way into the playoffs, ending a two-year playoff drought. While the Bruins fell short to the Ottawa Senators in six games, it became clear Cassidy was the right fit for the organization.

In 2017-18, the Bruins won 50 games for the first time since the 2013-14 season and made it to the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs before losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning. In ’18-’19, Bruce Cassidy led the B’s to another near 50-win campaign, finishing the year with a 49-24-9 record. While the Bruins failed to secure the top spot in the Atlantic Division, they managed to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets and swept the Carolina Hurricanes en route to the Stanley Cup Finals, losing to the St. Louis Blues.

That brings us to this year. Boston was undeniably the best team during the course of the regular-season prior to the pause in result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Bruins finished as the only franchise to reach the 100-point plateau and as result, won the league’s Presidents’ Trophy. With a plethora of injuries throughout the campaign, Cassidy kept the train on the tracks and with the “Next Man Up” mentality, allowed the Bruins to remain contenders in the Eastern Conference.

Bruce Cassidy joins Don Cherry (1975-76), Pat Burns (1997-98), and Claude Julien (2013-14) as the only head coaches in Boston Bruins franchise history to be named the Jack Adams winner.

Philadelphia Flyers’ Alain Vigneault and Columbus Blue Jackets’ John Tortorella finished second and third respectively in the voting done by broadcasters across the league.

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.

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!!

The Future of Boston’s Left-Handed Defensemen

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

The Tampa Bay Lightning sent the Boston Bruins home early, leaving all of us wondering what the future will hold. After each team’s playoff exit, conferences are held to detail each player’s injuries and each player’s future. Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara are unrestricted free agents and could find themselves in different jerseys come next season.

Torey Krug has stated the type of deal he is seeking but is open to a hometown discount. Chara is 43 years old and has recently announced he wants to play another year and prefers it to be in Boston.

Naturally, Bruins’s twitter exploded with scenarios and everyone’s thoughts on Boston’s two players’ futures. I created a twitter poll for Bruins fans to give their take on what they want next season.

The first selection of keeping both defensemen seemed to be the prevailing choice, but Krug’s price tag scares Bruins fans. We will dive into each scenario and explain the repercussions that they would have on the team.

Keeping both Chara and Krug would require both players to sacrifice the money they’d make on the open market. Torey Krug reportedly is seeking $8M per-year over a 6-7-year timeframe. The Bruins have $15M in cap space after re-signing Anders Bjork to an extension last month. The Bruins need the remaining cap space to sign restricted free-agents, Matt Grzelcyk and Jake DeBrusk, and unrestricted free agent Joakim Nordstrom.

If the Bruins want a chance to sign most of these players, The Bruins cannot afford Krug’s $8M per year salary. His last deal was worth $5.25M per year, which means he will take no less than $6M per year in his next contract.

Bruins management, mainly General Manager Don Sweeney, has created an environment where his star players make below fair market value because they have bought into a certain mentality. David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Berergon have a combined average annual value (“AAV”) of $19.7M, resulting in impeccable signings.

These deals have given Bruins fans skewed visions into players’ values because there is a sense that incoming and roster players shouldn’t make more than their beloved players. Unfortunately, that is not the case for some players, especially given their recent contracts.

Krug will receive at least $7M on the open market, which would put him as the highest salaried defenseman, and tied for second-highest salary on the team, only behind David Krejci. Krug has stated he is open to a hometown discount but doesn’t want to cut himself too short, which is exceptionally reasonable. If the Bruins and Krug can agree on $6.75M over the next five years, both sides would benefit. Krug would increase his AAV by $1.5M, and the Bruins still have enough salary cap to fit in their remaining players.

If the Bruins sign Krug to this deal, they would have $8.25M remaining to re-sign their 14-year captain to another team-friendly deal. Chara has made close to $100M in his 23-year career and is coming off a 1-year, $3.75M deal, with a cap hit of $2M. The rest of the money’s embedded in player bonuses.

The Bruins could re-sign Chara for another 1-year, $1.5M-$2M deal, which would be immense for both sides. The Bruins would be retaining the Hall of Fame defenseman for another year to mentor young defensemen vying for a spot and play on the third pairing and penalty kill situations.

Chara has had an incredibly fruitful career, especially in a Bruins uniform. He is a one-time Stanley Cup champion and former Norris Trophy winner. He will undoubtedly be an NHL Hall of Famer and likely have his number retired with the Bruins.

Big Z is getting older and can still be an incredible force on the ice, especially if he plays 18-19 minutes per game. It is time to pass the defensive torch to Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, but that doesn’t mean Chara should retire. He still adds tremendous value to the organization and can always be a factor game in and game out.

If the Bruins offer Chara this contract and Krug’s discounted deal, they would have approximately $6.5M remaining to re-sign Grzelcyk, Nordstrom, and DeBrusk. $6.5M would be tight to re-sign these players, mostly since DeBrusk’s agent has gone on record saying his client wants $6M per year. The Bruins could offer DeBrusk a bridge deal and Grzelcyk around $2M per year, leaving a little over $1M for Nordstrom. Even this scenario makes their cap situation tight, meaning Sweeney may have to make a few difficult decisions if he wants to retain Krug and Chara.

The second option in the poll has the Bruins retaining just the captain, which received 39% of the votes, making it the most popular selection. Fans who want to keep just Chara are more than likely unwilling to pay Krug the money he seeks. The $7M plus price tag would alleviate Don Sweeney’s hand in making difficult decisions. Black N Gold writer, Andrew Lindroth, recently posted an article about the potential replacements for Krug.

A few names Andrew did not mention that the Bruins could target in free agency are Travis Hamonic, T.J. Brodie (both from Calgary), and Tyson Barrie (Toronto Maple Leafs). The latter two have similar cap hits to Krug’s expiring one, while Hamonic would be significantly cheaper.

Krug’s departure would allow the Bruins to develop their young defenseman. Charlie McAvoy and Grzelcyk could round out the top pairing, Carlo and a prospect for the second line, and Chara and Connor Clifton as the third pairing. The Bruins power-play would look a little different next year but wouldn’t suffer much.

Charlie McAvoy is the Bruins number one defenseman for years to come, and he has shown he’s capable of handling power-play one duty. Matt Grzelcyk could take over power-play two responsibilities and is a similar player to Krug. He is not as offensively gifted but makes up for it in other areas.

Krug’s departure would net Don Sweeney, one of the largest cap situations, without signing roster mainstays. It would be too enticing to see what Sweeney would do with the money.

The third selection in the poll, which keeps just Krug, received 14% of the votes, making it the least popular option. In this scenario, the Bruins would be walking away from greatness to develop young defensemen. Chara has stated he wants to retire as a Bruin, and the move would only save about $2M on the books.

The Bruins defensive pairings would be significantly smaller in size. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s defense created havoc for the Bruins because of their size and strength. The Bruins need both attributes if they want to compete in their division, and the answer is not in John Moore, who could attain a roster spot if Chara walks.

The final selection received 19% of the votes and would result in both defensemen walking. If both Krug and Chara were to play on different teams next year, the Bruins would have a ton of money to use. However, their left-handed defensemen’s depth would suffer, and the Bruins would need to make quick bids to impending free agents.

The free-agent pool has very few left-handed shot defensemen. T.J. Brodie is the only left-handed shot defenseman of the group above. Joel Edmundson of the Carolina Hurricanes is also available, but given the capital, the Hurricanes spent on him, it’s unlikely he leaves Carolina.

The Bruins could also look to the trade market to replace one, if not both. A near-perfect replacement for Krug would be Shea Theodore of the Vegas Golden Knights. The 25-year old is a left-handed defenseman with a cap hit of $5.2M for the next five years. He’s increased his point total every year since he began in 2015. The Bruins would need to concoct a sweet deal for the Knights to agree by including Jake DeBrusk’s rights and a mid-round draft selection.

Another potential trade target is Edmonton’s Oscar Klefbom, who is a former first-round selection. He has a $4.167M cap hit for the next three years and has had an up-and-down career with the Oilers. Granted, the Oilers have had inconsistent years, but Klefbom could benefit from a change in scenery. His career-high point total is 38, and he has power-play experience. The Oilers could ask for DeBrusk’s rights or a sign-and-trade with Krug. Connor McDavid would be quite pleased with either.

If the Bruins can’t strike a deal or sign a free agent, the Bruins would only have John Moore and Matt Grzelcyk as their NHL-ready left-handed shot defensemen. John Moore was scratched most of the playoffs and only played in 24 games this past season. The Bruins have left-handed defensemen in their system, but only one is NHL-ready.

Jakub Zboril is likely heading overseas next season with the AHL’s season in question. Nick Wolff and Jack Ahcan have yet to play in the AHL, which making them unlikely candidates for the NHL roster. Urho Vaakanainen is the final left-handed shot defensemen in the system. The 21-year old Finn was drafted 18th overall in 2017. He’s played seven games in two years for the Bruins, spending most of his time in Providence. Black N Gold’s writer, Tim Richardson, detailed Urho’s past season in the AHL. Tim regards Urho as “an elite stay-at-home defenseman” who should have a spot on the Bruins roster quite soon.

Don Sweeney has addressed the Krug situation but is unwilling to comment on the details.

It’s normal business practice to hold off on contract negotiations until the season is over. Though, it’s a bit concerning because Sweeney isn’t speaking like a man who is confident the player will stay. It’s possible the Bruins and Krug can strike a deal soon, but Krug would almost certainly be playing elsewhere next season if he tests free agency. Bruins management may have told Krug he can see his worth and come back to them to see for the Bruins to potentially match an offer.

Allowing the two defensemen to leave is the worst choice in the poll. The Bruins don’t seem to have a plausible plan in place for the two key departures, and it opens the doors to a “wait and see” approach. There would be too many items in play with this choice, and there’s not enough time given the prolonged playoffs.

Before the poll, the most logical choice was keeping Chara and Krug. The Bruins could have another go with the aging core. Now that the survey has ended, it seems each day the Bruins are heading towards keeping just Chara. Sweeney has acknowledged the Bruins lacked five v five scoring against Tampa Bay, which isn’t all on the defensemen. The forwards are just as much to blame, but Sweeney could use the cap space with Krug’s departure to acquire a goal-scorer. NHL teams are allowed to make trades with one another if they’re not currently in the playoffs, and the free agency period is a month away. It seems Sweeney is willing to make a deal even if it changes the makeup of the 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

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!!