By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced the first round of cuts from Boston’s training camp this afternoon. Axel Andersson and Wiley Sherman have been assigned to Providence while Cooper Zech, Samuel Asselin, Chris Breen, Alexey Solovyev, and Brendan Woods will report to Providence training camp. Andersson and Sherman were “assigned” to the P-Bruins since they are on NHL entry-level contracts compared to the others, who are all on AHL deals.
The 21-year-old Andersson was selected by Boston with the 57th-overall pick in the second round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and will likely play his first season in North America this year, whether he skates with Providence or with Moncton of the QMJHL remains to be seen. However, returning overseas is also still an option for the Swedish defenseman.
Sherman was drafted by the Bruins in the fifth round of the 2013 entry draft (150th-overall). The Harvard product inked his ELC in the spring of 2018 and played his first full professional season last year, posting 2-3-5 totals with Providence as well as a minus-seven rating. The 6-foot-7 defenseman 33 total points (seven goals and 26 assists) in 137 NCAA contests.
Asselin (21) signed with Providence after a standout year with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL where he totaled 48 goals and 38 assists for 86 points in 68 games. Breen has been a mainstay on the Providence blue-line over the last five seasons, donning an “A” during each of the last four campaigns. During his tenure with the P-Bruins, the 30-year-old has 49 total regular season points as well as seven playoff points.
The Bruins won the bidding war for Zech, signing him to an AHL deal after the 20-year-old registered 8-20-28 numbers in 36 NCAA games during his first season with Ferris State. After joining the P-Bruins at the tail-end the season, the defenseman notched four assists in 12 games before tallying two goals in four playoff contests.
Woods, selected in the fifth round in 2012 by Carolina (129th-overall), has been a career AHL-er, posting 85 points in 262 regular season games between the Charlotte Checkers and the Utica Comets. The 27-year-old forward has seven penalty minutes in seven NHL games. Solvyev spent the last four years at Bentley University, where he recorded 46 points in 109 career NCAA games. The 25-year-old Russian is un-drafted.
Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 146 that we recorded on 9-22-19 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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One of the most popular names in training camp in recent weeks has been Anders Bjork. Thanks in large part to an impressive showing at the prospects challenge, Bjork has caught the eyes of many. His dynamic skill set and comfortability are still ever so present after two shoulder surgeries in as many years.
Bjork has seen time with Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle most recently, but there are still other options for him.
On the wing with Jack Studnicka in Providence
Whether it’s on the left-wing or the right, if Bjork and Studnicka both end up down in Providence to start the season, I would love to see what they could do together. Bjork and Studnicka are the two most dynamic forwards in the system and could seriously light it up together. The other winger could be any of a number of players, perhaps someone like Jakub Lauko, Ryan Fitzgerald, Cameron Hughes, or Oskar Steen.
If the coaching staff decides that playing in the AHL is best for Bjork to start, it would be best to equip him with skilled linemates such as the players listed above.
Despite not lighting it up on the scoresheet, it’s fair to say that Bjork has looked the most comfortable on the top line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Playing with two well-established veterans allows Bjork to learn and if he puts himself in the right spots to generate chances, score as well.
In time with the top line this past year, Heinen also looked pretty confident on the first line right-wing. With Bjork’s career off to a turbulent start with injuries, playing with two established veterans that he can learn from and potentially produce at a high-level with could be just what Bjork needs to ease into becoming a full-time NHL player.
This one isn’t very likely in my eyes, but it’s still possible. The way I see it, the second-line right wing job is Karson Kuhlman’s to lose. Alongside Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci last season, Kuhlman completed a second line that generated 7.00 GF/60 last season. That’s insane. His speed and forechecking ability also adds a lot to that line and makes the line difficult to deal with in the offensive zone.
The speed of DeBrusk and Bjork on Krejci’s wings is definitely worth exploring at some point though. It just probably won’t be right away to start the 2019-2020 season.
I think this is where Bjork will land to start the season. Bjork has been playing on Coyle’s left with Heinen on the right for the past week in practice, as well as last night against the Philadelphia Flyers. The three of them looked great together last night, consistently pushing the pace through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone.
Heinen Coyle Bjork 14 attempts for, 3 allowed through 2 periods. DeBrusk and Kuhlman can't get anything going with Studnicka. Vaakanainen is matching up with JVR, Voracek, Giroux, and Couturier and having little issue.
31 shot attempts. 31! Anders Bjork was a menace to deal with last night. His smooth skating and offensive abilities could add an important element to the third line. Coyle was a tank last year, especially in the playoffs. His big body, prowess in all three zones, and scoring abilities in a third-line role make him the ideal man for the job.
As the third-line center, Coyle established some serious chemistry with Heinen. The two looked very comfortable with each other again last night.
Where Heinen thrives is creating scoring chances for his linemates and limiting opponent scoring chances. He thrived in that area in a down year offensively for him last year. If Heinen can get back to around the 47-point mark he hit in his rookie season, do what he does best, and Bjork and Coyle can bring what they do best to the table, as previously mentioned, this has the potential to be a dominant third line.
Bjork spoke to Bruins reporter Eric Russo about Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen before last night’s preseason win for the Bruins over the Flyers.
🎥 Anders Bjork goes 1-on-1 during warmups to talk about tonight's preseason contest in Philly and playing on a line with Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen: pic.twitter.com/5MWRAXOSE4
Where Bjork lands is still to be determined over the next couple weeks, but there are certainly a lot of options for him. If he can stay healthy, he has high upside that is worth getting excited about.
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.
Jack Studnicka from Carey & Kampfer with 49 seconds left in regulation.
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!
By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12
Anders Bjork has not had the start to his professional hockey career that he, or anyone else for that matter, likely envisioned. Between inconsistency at the NHL level, a demotion to Providence that led him to miss the Winter Classic at his alma mater, and two season-ending shoulder surgeries, the forward is basically starting from scratch this season.
Surprising or not, the fact that Bjork was included on the Bruins’ rookie camp and Prospects Challenge roster should have been beneficial to his chances of having a good showing at training camp. The Notre Dame product said he was fully cleared to play in July and trained hard all summer; however, few things can simulate game speed, but the Prospects Challenge should have served as a great chance for Bjork to get his legs back under him ahead of what looks to be an extremely competitive training camp. From the way things sounded on Twitter (because most of the games were not streamed, of course), Bjork was among the standouts during the games in Buffalo.
Anders Bjork looks focused & renewed— impressive first period and he’s been bringing it every shift. Playing some intense, physical hockey along the boards. He’s skating with his head-up and utilizing his teammates very well. Wouldn’t know he had season-ending surgery. #NHLBruins
With 1.9 seconds left in a tied game, Anders Bjork fights through two Pittsburgh players in the slot, maintains possession, shoots and scores. Top-corner, glove-side. Pretty goal with some real nice velocity on it. #NHLBruins
The Mequon, Wisconsin, native is among other prospects, like Jack Studnicka, Zach Senyshyn, Peter Cehlarik, and more, who are looking to make a strong impression at camp and seize one of the two forward spots that are up for grabs. With 50 games of NHL experience under his belt, Bjork has a leg up on most of the others, likely aside from Cehlarik and Karson Kuhlman, though.
In those 50 games (5-10-15 numbers), Bjork has shown flashes of the skilled, speedy, all-zones force that many thought he would become in time with the Bruins. He looked most promising when playing on Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand’s right wing during his rookie season, but struggled when suiting up further down the lineup in a bottom-six role last season.
Entering the last year of his entry-level contract, the 23-year-old will not only be looking to stand out to secure a spot in the NHL, but also to earn a decent pay raise this off-season when his deal is up. So, if Bjork wasn’t motivated enough to prove that he still has the potential to become the player everyone once thought he could be after shining at Notre Dame, the added factor of it being a contract year almost certainly adds to the fire under him.
So where exactly does Anders Bjork fit within the Bruins’ organization? The answer to that question is hard to pinpoint. In an ideal world, the Bruins have the two wide open forward spots sorted out, which would allow Bjork to start the year in Providence to regain his confidence and get up to speed. However, this is not a perfect world, so it remains to be seen who might step up during training camp and seize the spots. Head coach Bruce Cassidy even specifically named Bjork as one of the guys in the running to slot in on David Krejci’s right on the second line; you can read about that in my last article here.
On paper, based on Bjork’s skillset alone, the obvious choice for where he would go in the NHL lineup would be in the top-six next to either Krejci or Bergeron, whom he has found success with in the past, as I previously mentioned. However, a third-line role next to Charlie Coyle would not be the worst thing in the world, especially considering Bjork would be making a significant upgrade from the start of last season when he flanked David Backes.
Long story short, Bjork needs to play meaningful minutes, whether it is in top-flight role in Providence, or a top-nine spot in Boston. With training camp beginning tomorrow, there is no doubt that he needs a strong showing at camp to ensure that he is still in the organization’s future plans.
Jakub Lauko was drafted in the third round, 77th overall in the 2018 NHL Draft. The young forward is someone who the Bruins felt could be the steal of the draft. Though his stats didn’t jump out at you, he still played well in the Czech Republic’s top league, Czech Extraliga. Lauko’s biggest asset when he was drafted was his speed. He’s able to use this speed to skate past defenders and drive to the net. Not only does he have elite speed, but he also has excellent on-ice awareness and a great finishing touch. These are three tools that not a lot of players possess. Now that we’ve gone a little into the why let’s dive into what Lauko did leading up to and after being drafted.
The 2017-18 season was the year before Lauko was drafted. The Czech Republic native was playing in the Czech Extraliga for Pirati Chomutov. He had made his debut with the club the previous year as a 16-year-old kid. That gives you an idea of how talented Lauko is. In 42 games with Pirati Chomutov, he netted three goals while dishing out six assists for nine total points and a plus/minus rating of -1. Despite the seemingly low point total, the Boston Bruins really liked what they saw from Lauko. The skill that really caught their eye though, was his speed. It’s Lauko’s biggest asset moving forward. Combining that with his scoring ability and it makes for a lethal combination.
After being drafted in 2018 Jakub Lauko was invited to training camp with the Boston Bruins. After a strong showing, he signed a three-year entry-level contract and was assigned to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL. The 2018-19 season with the Huskies would be a memorable one for the young forward. In 44 games with Rouyn-Noranda, Lauko netted 21 goals while dishing out 20 assists for 41 total points, and a plus/minus rating of +34. In the Huskies’ 19 playoff games, he netted six goals and dished out seven assists for 13 total points and a plus/minus rating of +10. The young speedster would lead rookies in playoff scoring which helped Rouyn-Noranda win the 2018-19 QMJHL Championship.
After winning the QMJHL Championship the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies would go on to play in the Memorial Cup tournament. The Memorial Cup is awarded to the CHL (Canadian Hockey League) Champion. The CHL is made up of three member leagues, the QMJHL (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League), the OHL (Ontario Hockey League) and the WHL (Western Hockey League). Each year, the champion from each league and a host team play in a round-robin style tournament to determine the Memorial Cup winner.
Lauko would end up leading the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies to a Memorial Cup Championship win. In the five games, he netted two goals and dished out six assists for eight total points and a plus/minus rating of +3. Lauko’s eight points would lead the tournament in scoring. It was a superb season for the native of the Czech Republic. He showed that he a lot of scoring ability that he’s able to pair with elite speed and on-ice awareness. Lauko has a ton of talent for being such a young player. If he can continue to develop at his current rate, then the Bruins’ assertion that he will be the steal of the 2018 draft will end up being true.
Going into this season there was some on where Lauko would play. Does he play in Providence or stay with Rouyn-Noranda? I expect the young forward to spend the entire season in Providence. The speedster has done all there is to do in the QMJHL and with a talent like his, it’s better to not rush him to the NHL before he’s ready. A full year in Providence will allow him to get acclimated to the Bruins’ system, and structure. It will also give him a chance to catch up to the speed of professional hockey. Thanks to his combination of speed, on-ice awareness, and finishing ability I think Jakub Lauko has a chance to be a special top-six forward for many years in Boston. I hope everyone is enjoying the off-season and feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!
The Bruins have remained fairly steady the last couple years when it comes to making any big changes, whether that be adding through free agency or looking to bring a change through any trades that would make an immediate impact. They have stuck to their guns and have been trusting the process of building from within, by drafting and developing players that slot into the roles they want to inject into the lineup.
Look no further than the way off-board pick of Trent Frederic at 29th overall in the 2016 entry draft as a prime example. They were so brazen as to even publicly state that they picked him there with the intention and of his projection to be a bottom-six player in their lineup. Why you would take someone you think is a bottom-six that high is beyond me, but I digress. And it turns out the young man continues to get better, faster, and stronger, almost like he has something to prove. Maybe this was their divine plan all along? We could go back to the hotly debated 2015 draft as well, where they took players that were projected far lower than where the Bruins snagged them. Regardless, they have shown time and time again to build the big league team through their system ranks instead of making any big splashes.
The odd time, they, as well as other clubs, take a chance on some players that linger on the outskirts, because why not? Worst case scenario they don’t progress into anything, and best-case scenario, they grow as a player under the tutelage of good coaching and trainers, and as they become men, they turn into an impact player. This is not a common happening. But, if there is a player I would put my money on to be one of the players in a small sample size to break the mold, it is Samuel Asselin.
Asselin was picked up this year by the Bruins as an undrafted overage player coming out of the QMJHL, playing his final season with the Halifax Mooseheads where he was also tagged with an “A” on his jersey for awesome. Well, an assistant captain, but this kid has skills as you saw in the video above. He is a smaller player coming in at 5’9 and 180 pounds, but in today’s game, this doesn’t tell the full story. This kid is quick, gritty, has great hands, attacks the net, is relentless on the puck, can make the plays, and has a great shot. Yes, he is a bit of all things good.
This description got me thinking of another player with the Bruins actually…..#63. I hate making comparisons because it isn’t fair to drop that on him thinking he will produce in the same way, but I believe the sky is the limit here with him, and he certainly can do great things. What remains to be seen is if he can translate it to the NHL level. He is currently on a contract that has him sticking in the AHL only, but what an opportunity to show what he can do and earn himself something better when this runs out.
Asselin has some impressive accomplishments coming with him to the Bruins. He was the leading goal scorer in the ‘Q’ in his final year, was a Memorial Cup Champion in 2018, and made it back to the Mem Cup finals again in his last season coming up just short while being the most dominant player in the tournament by far. He was also a member of the Titan when they were the QMJHL Champions and served as captain of the Cataractes in his third season in the league. Some other accolades he holds with him are being named to the CHL All-Star Team in 2017-18 and in 2018-19 was named to the QMJHL Second All-Star Team. He has also been leaving his mark on the recent Prospects Challenge in Buffalo. I can’t help but see some Marchand-Esque zip to his game.
Asselin is very self-aware and knows what he brings to the table:
“I can score, I can pass the puck, I think I’ve got pretty good vision but I can always play both sides [of the puck], I can play in my zone. I’m a good two-way forward. I think that’s my biggest asset,” Asselin described himself 10 months back.
In his first three seasons with Shawinigan, he put up 30 – 73 – 103 numbers in 167 games played. In that third season, he was moved to the Titan and played 10 games with them there posting 4 – 7 – 11 totals. The following season he was moved quickly to Halifax, where one could say he had a coming-out party of sorts, putting up an impressive 48 – 38 – 86 in 68 games. He had some solid players surrounding him there as well, like LaVoie, who went in the second round of this year’s draft to the Oilers.
This is very promising. While not having the prestige that some of these top prospects have, he most certainly is a gamer. I will go down as saying he is one of the best players in years to go undrafted and also has huge potential to make it to the NHL. Again, can he translate it to the NHL? If he can make this leap in the next couple years, with Marchand and some of the current core getting older, it would be perfect timing.
Death, taxes and Samuel Asselin scoring a goal in or around the crease. He just fought his way inside for position and roofed one over the shoulder of Johansson. Asselin has had a good weekend and his two-way skills are definitely a highlight. #NHLBruins
To wrap this up, and something all of us Bruins fans can love, Montreal was interested in signing him as well. Being the good and smart francophone that he is, he made the smart decision and chose the Bruins. A couple more things to leave you with just to make you smile.
Samuel Asselin recently signed a two-year contract with the Providence Bruins and admitted he wants to be “that pest” for the team.
Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 144 that we recorded on 9-8-19 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!
The 2019 Boston Bruins Rookie Camp begins on September 5th and a week later on September 12th, the official Bruins Training Camp begins. During these two main events of the offseason, players break-out and impress the likes of Don Sweeney and the other members of Boston’s management staff while others fail to meet the expectations and are cut from the camp or are sent down to the American Hockey League.
Lately, on the Black N’ Gold Hockey website, my fellow teammates have been listing their top-10 prospects within the organization and there are some great names to watch out for in the future. Urho Vaakanainen, Jack Studnicka, Kyle Keyser, Oskar Steen, and John Beecher are in the minds of most Bruins fans while others such as Anders Bjork and Zach Senyshyn are the players just on the cusp of making it, with their fair share of doubters surrounding them. On my own personal list, forward Karson Kuhlman is always on the top, or close to it at the very least.
Karson Kuhlman first caught the eye of the Boston Bruins during his time with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs where he spent four seasons. After only one season with the Bulldogs, Kuhlman was handed the “A”, becoming assistant captain – a position he held for two seasons before being promoted to team captain in the 2017-18 season.
That campaign was a solid one for the Esko, Minnesota, USA native, as the forward scored 13-7-20 numbers in 44 games but it was during the NCAA Championship where he really had a successful run. Kuhlman was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2018 NCAA Tournament following a goal and an assist in the 2-1 win over Notre Dame to win the championship. The now 23-year-old center was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team and also won the NCAA Sportsmanship Award.
On April 10th, 2018, General Manager Don Sweeney announced that the Bruins had signed Kuhlman to a two-year NHL contract and that he would be sent to the Providence Bruins on an Amateur Tryout Agreement, playing only two games, but did record an assist in the process.
In this past 2018-19 season, Kuhlman spent the majority of the hockey year with the P-Bruins, scoring 12 goals, 18 assists for 30 points in 58 games played. At the same time, Karson scored an additional five points in eleven games up in the big leagues, scoring his first career goal in only his second NHL game.
Karson’s speed and dangerous shot earned him some playing time in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, playing in a combined eight games. Kuhlman recorded one assist in five games against the Maple Leafs in the opening round, scored another assist in Game Three against the Columbus Blue Jackets and would not play another postseason game for Boston until Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals against the St. Louis Blues.
The Bruins were down the series three-games-to-two and the play of David Backes on the second line was not up to the standards required so Head Coach Bruce Cassidy went faster and put the youngster in with Krejci and DeBrusk and stepped up to the plate and put up Boston’s third goal of the game with a total of 13:07 of time on the ice. Kuhlman displayed his rocket of a wrist shot and showed his chemistry with Krejci and DeBrusk as the line finished the do-or-die night with three points.
For a brief time, we saw that the trio of DeBrusk-Krejci-Kuhlman has the combination of speed and skill along hockey IQ that can bring some additional scoring to the line. It has been a long time since Krejci has had a legitimate offensive threat on the right-wing, some would argue that he never has had one, but Kuhlman could eventually grow into that player that is so desperately desired with that leadership and veteran experience of Krejci.
Earlier this offseason, I published an article that outlined by ideal opening night lineup for the Boston Bruins and I had Kuhlman in that competitive spot. This allows the Bruins to keep David Pastrnak on the first line in an effort to continue the dominance that was found with his linemates, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. The fourth line can also stay the same, leaving the third line up for debate.
Having Kuhlman’s speed and skill on the second line would leave an opening for a young rookie on the third line alongside Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle. Whoever that ends up being will get the playing time but will not have the large responsibility as they would have in the top-six. Regardless, the upcoming Training Camp will be the time for these players to battle for their spot on the NHL roster. In my books, Kuhlman’s performance in the Finals was enough to earn him a little bit of an advantage over the other candidates listed above.
“Signed as a college free agent in 2018, Kuhlman enjoyed a successful first year of pro hockey, managing 30 points through 58 games with Providence in addition to five points in 11 NHL games while playing primarily on Boston’s second line. He captained the University of Minnesota-Duluth to the 2017-2018 National Championship, taking home tournament MVP honors in the process. Kuhlman’s offensive upside is limited, however, he has been touted as a strong leader everywhere he has played. He excels in board battles, has a decent shot and is seemingly always in position to make a play. Look for Kuhlman to push for a full-time role with the NHL Bruins next season.” – Chris Mazza
On my official Twitter page, (@tkdmaxbjj ), I posted a poll asking for your thoughts and opinions regarding the thought of throwing Kuhlman on the second line and the results were quite similar to mine. Either way, the efforts and production of the 2018-19 season for Kuhlman have created big opportunities – will he capitalize on them? Only time will tell.
#NHLBruins fans, what are your thoughts about forward Karson Kuhlman getting time with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk on the second line. He has had success on that line including a big Game Six vs STL in the Finals. Vote here: #BruinsFam#GoBruins#HockeyTwitter
Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 143 that we recorded on 9-2-19 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!
Here we are entering into September, a short few weeks away from hockey season. What better time than now to roll out an article series. This will slot the up and comers into a grading system that will give us a glimpse of what to expect as these young chaps look to climb the ladder. I will give my lineup position projection and ceiling for each player in each grade.
The prospects will be put into a grading system from A to D, and to wrap up this series, there will be a future projected Bruins lineup. The grade A prospects are your ultra high-end prospects that are sure to make their mark with the team and league right away. Highly touted through their path to the NHL and immediate, big impact players. Grade B prospects are the players that will have an impact with the NHL squad but may take some time to develop and find how their game fits into the big league. Grade C are prospects that have the skill to make the NHL team but need further development time and are not players that are sure to make the leap into the NHL. Grade D is prospect projects that have the skill to play but need some time put into them to further develop their skills and improve in all areas.
These are players that played well through their journey to the draft and have shown flashes of what they have, but have yet to find that consistency and level of play that really puts them into serious consideration for an NHL job (think full time AHL player or players that land in other pro leagues for their career). For Part 5, the projected Bruins roster, it will be with players currently in the system, not including any projected future draft picks or projected trades. For this, Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo will be considered as signed. The rest of the back end will have Zdeno Chara retired, Steven Kampfer will be off the roster, John Moore will be gone along with Kevan Miller will be gone. The forward corps will see Joakim Nordstrom, Brett Ritchie, Chris Wagner, and Par Lindholm gone. This is based solely off of me thinking these players arent here for the long haul for various reasons we won’t get into here. The foundation for the series is laid. Let’s get into this.
Grade A Prospects:
None. Zilch. Nada. Nil.
However you want to put it, the shelf in this cupboard is totally bare. Not one crumb left. I’ll admit it. This sucks. Although, I did throw up a poll and the community that voted is pretty evenly divided on this so far. Feel free to weigh in with your comments!
Many teams around the league have bright shiny toys in their system, unlike the Bruins. But this also comes at a price. The Bruins have been able to quickly adjust and retool on the fly, making them a competitive team every season that no team takes lightly. Many of the teams with bright and shiny things have those things because of some years of real suffering.
So there is a price to be paid. Totally overhaul and be content with not being a playoff team or in contention and hope you land some juggernauts in the draft in those years, or remain competitive and give yourself a shot while sacrificing the opportunity to grasp at some of these obvious top guns that come along. There is, of course, the exception where you land some real high-end players in spots you can’t believe they were had at. Examples Bergeron, Pastrnak, etc. Then there is the one thing we all want to forget, the 2015 draft. There were the projected obvious ones there, ready and ripe for the picking, that would have most definitely shaped out the Bruins future core for at least a decade or more. I don’t want to dwell on this as I still don’t know what they were thinking, so let’s just roll on, accept, and forget (or continue to try to).
Some of our beloved Bruins core is very near the end of their careers, or are getting into the tail ends of it. The Bruins scouting and development of what they do have, and will pick in the next one to three drafts, are going to be extremely important in this team remaining a competitive team that can be playing playoff hockey. This is barring any trades of course for top prospects or high picks. And of course, there is the chance of finding a gem deeper in the draft.
I wish there were some players to slot in here, but they just don’t exist right now. I hope you’ll follow along here for this ride as Part 2 in the series gets better for us, I promise!
Oskar Steen was drafted in the sixth round, 165th overall in the 2016 NHL Draft. When drafted, he was seen as a tough-nosed, gritty, undersized forward who had lots of scoring potential. Since being drafted, the native of Sweden has taken his lumps, despite that his stock has risen as fast any prospect over the past year. The 21-year-old has shown that he possesses great offensive ability that should translate well to the North American game. Let’s dive in and see what Steen has done since being drafted by the Boston Bruins.
2016-17 was Oskar Steen’s first full year in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) with Farjestad BK. The SHL is Sweden’s top league and boasts a lot of talented players. It can take young players a year or two to adjust to the league and really make an impact. This seemed to be the case for Steen, who had an up and down season for Farjestad BK. In 47 games, the Sweden native found the back of the net one time and dished out two assists for three total points and a plus/minus rating of -5. The young forward would also play in the teams seven playoff games not recording a point. Despite the low point total for the season, Steen did show flashes of why he was drafted.
The 2017-18 season was better for Steen, but still wasn’t quite what he wanted it to be. Despite this, the native of Sweden would show off his gritty play and unrelenting motor. In 45 games with Farjestad BK, the young center netted four goals and dished out two assists for six total points and a plus/minus rating of 0. In the team’s five playoff games he failed to register a point and had a plus/minus of -2. It’s positive that Steen was able to score more in this season that he was in his previous season. Overall, the season in the SHL was still not a bad one. Showing progress each year is what you expect from young prospects.
The young forward was also chosen to play for Sweden in the World Junior Championships. In seven games for Sweden, he netted two goals and dished out two assists for four points and a plus/minus of +5 helping lead Sweden to a silver medal. Steen looked good on the North American ice. This could actually be a better indicator of how his game transitions to the AHL or NHL because, in the SHL, they use International ice which is actually larger than North American ice. During the World Junior Championships, they played on the smaller North American ice. A style of play that is successful on the smaller ice, may not always translate to the bigger ice.
The 2018-19 season was a coming-out party for Oskar Steen. He had his best offensive season to date. The young forward’s development is exactly what you want to see from year to year from a prospect. Especially one drafted in the sixth round. In 46 games with Farjestad BK, he netted 17 goals while dishing out 20 assists for 37 total points and a plus/minus of +17. In the team’s 14 playoff games he found the back of the net two times and dished out five assists for seven total points and a plus/minus of +3. He ended up in the top 10 in the SHL in scoring. That’s a special season for a player at such a young age. Steen’s offensive ability is through the roof and he has potential to get even better. After this stellar season, he signed a three-year entry-level contract and will play in Providence.
Moving forward, I think we can expect a lot from Oskar Steen. I really like his game. He’s tenacious, hardworking and he’s willing to work for position against guys. The Bruins feel that his style of play will translate even better here than it did in Sweden. If this holds true, then the AHL and NHL will have their hands full trying to stop Steen. I think realistically the native of Sweden ends up being a very good second or third-line forward for the Boston Bruins. He may make is debut in Boston this season, but I’d expect him to play the full season in Providence. There is no need to rush him to the NHL roster before he’s potentially ready. Steen will definitely be a player to watch going forward! Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter, and as always Go, Bs, Go!
Cooper Zech is a name you might not recognize, and that’s because he is someone who wasn’t drafted by the Boston Bruins. In fact, he was not drafted at all. In March of 2019, the young defenseman signed a two-year AHL contract with the Providence Bruins after finishing his freshman season at Ferris State University. Zech is an undersized puck-moving defenseman from Michigan. The Bruins’ recent history with a player that fits that same mold is pretty good. So, let’s get into what Zech did before coming to Providence, and what the Bruins saw in him.
(Photo Courtesy of Odessa Jackalopes)
Cooper Zech spent the 2015-16 season with the Odessa Jackalopes of the North American Hockey League (NAHL). In 51 games with the Jackalopes Zech netted eight goals while dishing out 17 assists for 25 total points and plus/minus rating of 0. It was not a bad first season in the NAHL where Zech’s offensive ability was really on display. The Michigan native would go on to earn NAHL All-Rookie First Team and NAHL All-South Division Rookie Team honors.
The young defenseman would go on to play the 2016-17 season with the Odessa again, and in 41 games found the back of the net three times and dished out 29 assists for 32 total points and a plus/minus rating of +9. Zech would also play a part of that season in the United States Hockey League (USHL) with Muskegon Lumberjacks. In 25 games with the Lumberjacks Zech would dish out four assists for four total points, and plus/minus rating of -6. It was another solid year of development for Cooper.
Zech would go on to play the 2017-18 season in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) with the Wenatchee Wild, and he would have a stellar season. In 58 games with the Wild, the Michigan native would net 11 goals and dish out 58 assists for 69 total points. He would also play in 20 playoff games for Wenatchee netting four goals and dishing out 19 assists for 23 total points en route to leading the Wild to the BCHL Championship. Cooper would also be a BCHL First Team All-Star, he would also lead the league in assists, lead defenseman in assists, lead defenseman in points, and be named the league’s top defenseman. Zech really shined during this season and was able to prove what he could do.
(Photo Courtesy of Western Collegiate Hockey Association)
Cooper Zech would spend the 2018-19 season playing in his freshman season at Ferris State University for the Bulldogs. The young defenseman would make his presence felt early and often. In 36 games with the Bulldogs, he would net eight goals and dish out 20 assists for 28 total points and a plus/minus of +3. It would be the first time since 1987-88 a freshman led Ferris State in scoring. The excellent year earned Zech some accolades. He would win the NCAA Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Rookie of the Year and would also be named to the NCAA WCHA First All-Star Team and NCAA WCHA All-Rookie Team.
After his collegiate season ended, Zech had multiple offers from AHL teams. Ultimately he would choose to sign with Providence and was able to get into 12 regular-season games for the AHL club in 2018-19. In those 12 games, he would dish out four assists for four total points while playing very good defense. The Michigan native would also play in the team’s four playoff games netting two goals for two total points. In his short time playing for Providence, Zech looked really good on the ice. He looked comfortable in each zone, and he looked comfortable both with and without the puck. The game didn’t seem too fast for him, which can happen for players coming into the AHL for the first time.
STRIKE FIRST: One day after falling into a 2-0 hole in game one, the P-Bruins open the scoring in game two.
Going into this season, I believe we can expect big things from Cooper Zech. Despite only being 5’9, he plays without fear. He is quick on his feet and can play with or without the puck, though he’s more comfortable with it. Not only do I think he can be a very good hockey player, but the Bruins have also had success signing guys to AHL deals and developing them. Connor Clifton is a good example of that just this past season. Zech’s game is a lot like Torey Krug, and I believe he will be a player to watch this season in Providence. To me, he’s one of their most intriguing players heading into 2019-2020. As we get closer to the start of the season, remember the name, Cooper Zech. You could be hearing it a lot. As always, if you have questions or comments, feel free to send them to me on Twitter. I hope everyone is enjoying their summer and Go, Bs, Go!