Bruins Re-Sign Forward Peter Cehlarik

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(Photo: Fred Kfoury III / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Bruins general manger Don Sweeney announced this morning that Boston has re-signed forward Peter Cehlarik to a one-year, two-way deal. The winger’s contract will carry an NHL cap-hit of $700,000.

The Zilina, Slovakia native has mostly spent the past three seasons with the Providence Bruins of the AHL with various cameo appearances with the varsity club in Boston after signing his entry level contract and coming overseas to North America in 2016.  In 137 games played in the AHL over that span, the 23-year-old registered 43 goals and 56 assists for 99 points as well as a plus-17 rating. Additionally, in 37 career games played in the NHL, Cehlarik has 5-5-10 totals with a plus-5 rating.

Last season, Cehlarik tallied 38 points (12 goals and 26 assists) for Providence in 53 games, matching his career-high for points in the AHL. In 20 games for the Bruins last year, the forward notched 6-4-10 totals, highlighted by a two-goal performance against the Philadelphia Flyers in his season debut.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound winger was selected by Boston 90th overall in the third round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. The subject of trade rumors and other speculation a few times in his career, this new deal is likely one more chance for Cehlarik to make a meaningful, lasting impact with the big squad in Boston. It is also worth noting that should Cehlarik not make the NHL roster out of training camp and need to be sent down to the AHL, he will need to clear waivers before reporting to Providence.

Report: Johansson Not In Talks With Bruins Ahead Of Free Agency

NHL: San Jose Sharks at Boston Bruins

(Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter @yanlatz

At the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals, Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney was optimistic that he would come to terms with Marcus Johansson and his representation on a deal. Up until late last week, the Bruins were still in the mix along with a handful of other teams. However, it is now being reported by Darren Dreger of TSN that 10 or more teams are in contact with the 28-year-old forward from Sweden and the Bruins are not one of those teams.

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Johansson will become an unrestricted free agent on July first as the NHL Free Agency frenzy begins after the Bruins acquired Johansson from the New Jersey Devils on trade deadline day for a 2019 second-round pick and a 2020 fourth-round pick.

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He will likely get a raise on his $4.6 million that he received last season and with the Bruins cap situation they just simply cannot afford to pay Johansson. Johansson praised the city of Boston and the Bruins organization and expressed interest in re-signing but will likely be wearing another sweater in the 2019-2020 season.

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His tenure with Boston got off to a rough start. On March 5, 2019, Johansson was injured in just his fourth game with the Bruins. He was hospitalized after a collision with Carolina Hurricanes forward Michael Ferland and later diagnosed with a lung contusion. He went on to miss 10 games in March for the Bruins after the injury.

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During his brief time in Boston, Johansson put up one goal and two assists in 10 regular season games played. But, his impact was really felt in the postseason. Johansson quickly built chemistry with B’s forward Charlie Coyle on the third line for Bruce Cassidy. In 22 playoff games, Johansson scored four goals to go along with seven helpers and 11 points and scored some huge goals for Boston like his insurance marker in the first period of game seven against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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He also connected with Charlie Coyle with incredible passes on the tying and overtime game-winning goals in game one of the second round series against Columbus. The line of Danton Heinen, Charlie Coyle, and Marcus Johansson were often the Bruins most effective line during the long Stanley Cup run. With the “perfection-line” and the David Krejci line often struggling to find the back of the net, the Johansson line was productive in their forecheck and goal-scoring and he will definitely be missed by the Bruins next season.

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As a result, Don Sweeney’s search for wingers continues heading into Free Agency on Monday and the rest of the offseason. Sweeney will certainly be busy as the Bruins have a number of UFA’s and RFA’s that they will try to come to terms with before the start of next season.

Sweeney has extending qualifying offers to restricted free agents Danton Heinen, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Peter Cehlarik, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson as well as extending offers to pending unrestricted free agent Noel Acciari and a 2-year extension for defenseman Steven Kampfer.

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July first is always an interesting and exciting day in the NHL so follow along with our Black ‘N Gold Hockey team for all the latest free agency news.

Check out last weeks Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 133 below!

Bruins Extend Qualifying Offers To Six Players

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Maddie Meyer / Getty Images Sport / Getty)

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

As July 1st, or better known as the start of NHL Free Agency Frenzy, gets closer and closer, teams around the NHL are looking to re-sign the players that are going to be around for a long time. Boston has some key players within the system that are going to become free agents, however, the biggest names – Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Danton Heinen – are all restricted free agents (RFA).

In order to retain negotiating rights on these RFAs and others within the Bruins organization, Boston had to extend qualifying offers to six players. For a brief description on what exactly a qualifying offer is, below is a statement from CapFriendly.

  • A qualifying offer is an official Standard Player Contract (SPC) offer which shall be 1 year in length, and which can be subject to salary arbitration should the player be eligible.

  • Clubs have until the later of June 25th or the first Monday after the Entry Draft to submit Qualifying Offers.

  • Qualifying Offers apply to Group 2 and Group 4 free agents.

  • Submitting a Qualifying Offers gives the prior club the right of first refusal to match any offer sheet submitted, or receive draft pick compensation.

  • If the player rejects the qualifying offer, they remain an RFA and their rights are retained by the team.

  • If a player does not receive a qualifying offer, the player becomes a UFA. – CapFriendly.com

As mentioned above, if the player decides to reject the offer, then he remains an RFA and can negotiate a new deal with the team. For the players that did not receive an offer at all, then they will enter the free agent market as a UFA and teams can no longer receive draft compensation in return.

Here are the six players that the Boston Bruins extended a qualifying offer to:

The qualifying offer depends on the salary that the player made in the previous season with their respective club. More on that from CapFriendly below:

  • The qualifying offer is calculated from the players base salary (NHL salary minus signing bonus), and at minimum must meet the seasons minimum salary requirements:

    • 110% of the base salary if the base salary is less than or equal to $660,000

    • 105% of the base salary if the base salary is greater than $660,000 or less than $1,000,000. However, this qualifying offer cannot exceed $1,000,000.

    • 100% of the base salary if the base salary is equal to or greater than $1,000,000.

    • CBA Reference 10.2 (a) (ii) – CapFriendly.com

On their website, there is a tool that allows you to select a player that is currently an RFA and what exactly their qualifying offer is worth. Here are the results of that. It should be noted as well that all qualifying offers are only one year in length.

  • D Charlie McAvoy – $874,125
  • D Brandon Carlo – $874,125
  • F Peter Cehlarik – $735,000
  • F Ryan Fitzgerald – $787,500
  • F Danton Heinen – $874,125
  • F Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson – $874,125

Players can choose to accept the contract if the salary works for them in hopes for earning a larger deal once the one year expires. Forwards Ryan Fitzgerald and Peter Cehlarik will most likely agree to the qualifying offer that has been presented to them.

Evidentally, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Danton Heinen will decline the qualifying offer as they are proven NHL players and will get a large payday very soon. By declining the offer, they remain RFAs and the Bruins do indeed keep their rights within the system.

Another player that will likely decline this qualifying offer is forward Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson who announced in May of this year that he has signed a contract with Vaxjo of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) for the 2019-20 campaign. GM Don Sweeney said in a press release that Forsbacka Karlsson wishes to be closer to his family while continuing his hockey development. This declining of the qualifying offer means that Boston will hold onto his rights for the time being.

Within the entire Boston Bruins organization, only one player did not receive a qualifying offer and that is forward Gemel Smith who skated in 47 games with the Providence Bruins, putting up 16-24-40 numbers. Smith will enter the 2019 Free Agent class as an unrestricted free agent.

July 1st is less than one week away and the free agency frenzy is only getting more and more interesting. Make sure to stay locked on Black N’ Gold Hockey for the latest on the Boston Bruins.

Check out this week’s Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast Episode 132 below!!

Bruins’ Sweeney Named GM Of The Year

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Photo Courtesy Of The Boston Herald

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney won General Manager of the Year on Wednesday night in Las Vegas during the NHL Awards ceremony. Sweeney beat out Hurricanes General Manager Don Waddell and Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong for the honor, becoming the first Bruin to win the award since its inception in 2010. Since Sweeney took over as the General Manager in 2015, the B’s have compiled a record of 143-75-28 which ranks third in wins and points in the entire league over that span. Sweeney has been a part of the Bruins front office since 2006.

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Sweeney oversaw the construction of a squad that finished in second place in the Eastern Conference and tied for second in the entire league in 2018-19. The Bruins compiled a record of 49-24-9 this past season and advanced to the Conference Final for the eight time since the round was introduced in 1982. The Bruins also clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Final for the third time in the last decade and first since 2013. Despite the Bruins losing over 250 man games this season due to injury, Sweeney was able to make the right moves to keep the team near the top of the league standings almost all year.

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His trade deadline acquisitions of Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson proved to be two of his best moves as General Manager as both players were outstanding during the B’s long playoff run. Coyle totaled nine goals and seven assists for 16 points in the playoffs after posting just two goals and four assists for six points in 21 regular season games. Johansson posted just one goal and two assists for three points in ten games in the regular season and then exploded for four goals and seven assists for 11 points in 22 playoff games.

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Sweeney was incredibly thankful for the award and credited the Bruins organization, “I really believe this is an acknowledgement of the Boston Bruins organization,” he said. “I was very fortunate that Mr. Jacobs, Charlie, and Cam gave me this opportunity. And the incredible, devoted coaches and players, people I get to work with every day should share this as well.”

Sweeney also credited his twin boys, Jared and Tyler as inspirations for the award. “From the time they were born at one pound and six ounces,” he said, harkening back long ago to the anxious days of their birth. “But most importantly, to my beautiful wife, she has been the rock of our family. She has selflessly supported all of my career aspirations and I share this with her tonight as the special person she is.”

Sweeney’s work this season was incredibly solid and while he did make a few moves that were head scratching to some people, those moves ultimately worked out. The signings of Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom last July turned out to be some of his better free agent signings in recent years. The addition of Jaroslav Halak was very helpful as he was able to play effectively enough to allow Tuukka Rask to stay fresh for the long playoff run. The additions of college free agents Connor Clifton and Karson Kuhlman proved to be very good moves especially in the playoffs as the two of them played very significant roles. We will see this offseason if Sweeney can pull off any more shrewd moves to get this team to bring some hardware back to Boston next June.

How the Boston Bruins Constructed their Stanley Cup Roster

Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Jake Debrusk puts on a team jersey after being selected as the number fourteen overall pick to the Boston Bruins in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

(Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

There’s no denying that this Bruins Stanley Cup roster is incredible, but how did they all get to the Bruins? Let’s take a look at their journeys to Boston.

Brad Marchand

Drafted by the Bruins in the 3rd round, 71st overall in the 2006 NHL Draft. The Bruins actually acquired this pick from the New York Islanders during the draft for their 4th and 5th round picks (who amounted to a whole lot of nothing).

Patrice Bergeron

Drafted by the Bruins in the 2nd round, 45th overall in the 2003 NHL Draft.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 27: David Pastrnak is selected twenty-fifth by the Boston Bruins in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 27, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

David Pastrnak

Drafted by the Bruins in the 1st round, 25th overall in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Jake DeBrusk

Drafted by the Bruins in the 1st round, 14th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft.

David Krejci

Drafted by the Bruins in the 2nd round, 63rd overall in the 2004 NHL Draft. Krejci was actually another player the Bruins traded up to the draft. They acquired this pick during the draft for a 3rd, 4th, and 9th round pick.

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(Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports Images)

David Backes

Originally drafted by the St. Louis Blues 62nd overall in the 2003, Backes left the Blues and signed with Boston July 1st, 2016, signing a five year, $30 million deal.

Marcus Johansson

Originally drafted by the Washington Capitals 24th overall in 2009, Johansson was traded to the New Jersey Devils in the 2017 offseason for a 2nd and a 3rd round pick. He was then traded to the Bruins at this trade deadline in exchange for a 2nd and a 4th round pick.

Charlie Coyle

Drafted by the San Jose Sharks 28th overall in 2010. He was a key piece in bringing Brent Burns to San Jose, getting dealt to the Minnesota Wild with a 1st and Devon Setoguchi for Burns and a 2nd rounder. Right around the trade deadline this year he was dealt to the Bruins for Ryan Donato and a conditional 4th rounder.

Danton Heinen

Drafted by the Bruins in the 4th round, 116th overall in the 2014 NHL Draft.

(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Joakim Nordstrom

Drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 3rd round, 90th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft. He was later traded to the Carolina Hurricanes before the 2015 season with Kris Versteeg and a 3rd rounder for a couple prospects and a 5th round pick. In 2018 he signed a two year, $2 million deal with the Bruins.

Sean Kuraly

Drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the 5th round, 133rd overall in the 2011 NHL Draft. He was traded to the Bruins before the 2016 season

Noel Acciari

Acciari was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Providence College in 2015.

Chris Wagner

Drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the 5th round, 122nd overall in the 2010 NHL Draft. After a small trade to Toronto and a couple of waiver claims later, Wagner ended up back on the Ducks. At the trade deadline last year he was dealt to the New York Islanders for Jason Chimera and after the season, he made his way to Boston, signing a two year, $2.5 million contract.

Karson Kuhlman

After four seasons at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Kuhlman signed with the Bruins in 2018 as an undrafted free agent.

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(USA TODAY Sports Images)

Zdeno Chara

Originally drafted by the New York Islanders in the 3rd round, 56th overall in the 1995 NHL Draft. He was traded with Bill Muckalt and the 1st round pick that became Jason Spezza for Alexei Yashin. As a UFA in 2006, he signed with the Boston Bruins and has been with them ever since.

Charlie McAvoy

Drafted by the Bruins 14th overall in 2016 NHL Draft.

Torey Krug

Another undrafted free agent signed by the Bruins in 2012 after three years at Michigan State.

(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Brandon Carlo

Drafted by the Bruins in the 2nd round, 37th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Matt Grzelcyk

Drafted by the Bruins in the 3rd round, 85th overall in the 2012 NHL Draft

Connor Clifton

Originally drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in the 5th round, 133rd overall in the 2013 NHL Draft, Clifton never signed a deal with the Coyotes and elected to sign with the Bruins in 2018.

(James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports)

John Moore

Originally a 21st overall pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2009 NHL Draft. He was involved in a big trade when he went to the New York Rangers with Derick Brassard, Dereck Dorsett and a 6th rounder for Marian Gaborik. He was later dealt to the Arizona Coyotes with Anthony Duclair, a 1st and 2nd rounder for Keith Yandle and was signed by the New Jersey Devils in 2015. He finally made his way to Boston in 2015, signing a 5 year, $13.75 million contract.

Steven Kampfer

Kampfer was actually drafted in the 4th round, 93rd overall in 2007 by the Anaheim Ducks and ended up being basically gifted to the Bruins in a trade in 2010 for future considerations. After a couple years (and a Stanley Cup win) Kampfer was traded to the Minnesota Wild for Greg Zanon in 2012, and was signed by the New York Rangers in 2014. He was traded again later that year to the Florida Panthers for Joey Crabb and in 2016, was traded back to the Rangers for Dylan McIlrath. Kampfer was brought back to Boston before this season with a 4th and a 7th round pick for Adam Mcquiad.

(Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Tuukka Rask

We all know the story here. Originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs 21st overall in 2005, Rask was traded to Boston before playing a game with Toronto for Andrew Raycroft.

Jaroslav Halak

First drafted in 2003  in the 9th round, Halak spent a lot of time with Montreal until he was traded in 2010 to the St. Louis Blues for Ian Schultz and Lars Eller. He was then traded three times in 2014, the first being to the Buffalo Sabres along with William Carrier, Chris Stewart, a 1st and 3rd round pick for Steve Ott and Ryan Miller. Halak was then flipped to the Washington Capitals with a 3rd round pick for Michal Neauvirth and Rostislav Klesla. Finally, his FA rights were traded to the New York Islanders for a 4th round pick before free agency began. In 2018 he signed a two year, $5.5 million deal with the Bruins.

In all, this Bruins team is made up of 37% (nine) drafted players, 21% (five) acquired through trade, and 42% (10) free agency signings, although it is worth noting that four of the ten free agency signings were college free agents.

Charlie McAvoy’s Game Three Is Exactly What He And The Bruins Want Moving Forward

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PHOTO CREDITS: (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

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

The Boston Bruins now trail their Eastern Conference Semi-Finals series with the Columbus Blue Jackets two-games-to-one and there are many different theories and ideas as to why the Bruins have lost two of the three games to the second wild-card team in the Eastern Conference.

Some suggest that the lack of production from David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand is the reason while others may think that secret or unspecified injuries are the reason. After the loss in Game Three on the road, one player was one-hundred-percent not blamed (and he really shouldn’t be if he is), defenseman Charlie McAvoy.

Before Game Three, McAvoy has had a pretty solid 2019 postseason for the Bruins and he is truly showing that he can handle the big minutes that top-two defencemen in the NHL need to be able to handle. In the opening best-of-seven series against the Maple Leafs, the 21-year-old averaged 24:04 of ice-time, scoring one goal and adding two assists for three points in the seven games.

Between Games One and Two in the Second Round against Columbus, McAvoy averaged 27:33 minutes, highlighted by a 30:39-minute game in the double-overtime loss back in the second game. McAvoy trailed only Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo for the most minutes in that game, but his play was something to note heading into Tuesday’s contest in Columbus.

In Game Three, Charlie played in a team-high 24 minutes, led the team in recorded hits with five, and had the third-most shots on goal by defencemen on the Bruins roster. In addition to all of that, McAvoy’s skating and puck handling was on full display, often joining the rush as almost a fourth forward, setting up high-quality scoring chances because of it. During the third period of play with Boston down 2-1 on the scoreboard, McAvoy made a slick, no-look pass to Noel Acciari that beat Sergei Bobrovsky, but rang off of the post and went into the corner.

If Acciari buries that beautiful play, the game is tied and the two teams would have most likely made their way to a third-consecutive overtime session. It was a hard break for a Boston team that let the Blue Jackets come out on home ice with a two-goal lead, but made an effort near the end of the second period and the entirety of the third to even up the score and force that overtime period.

Regardless of the outcome of the game and regardless of how the series currently stands, Charlie McAvoy did everything in his power other than scoring goals to give Boston the lead in the series. Former Bruin Riley Nash has been on the wrong end of some heavy hits by the B’s and McAvoy was yet another contributor to that. In the dying seconds of the second period, not long after DeBrusk’s tally, the Long Beach, New York native sent Nash to ice in exploding fashion with a clean, shoulder-to-shoulder collision.

Charlie McAvoy was a crucial part to the small successes that Boston found in the Game Three defeat. As previously stated, McAvoy handled the puck with ease around oncoming defenders and managed to help the Bruins secure some offensive zone time – a feat that seemed difficult to accomplish at numerous times in not only this game, but the first two meetings as well. His zone entries were clean, feet were always moving, and his passes were clean – turning the puck over on only one occasion compared to the four turnovers he committed in Game Two.

Boston Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy praised the efforts of McAvoy in the post-game press conference as well, as this quote taken from Shawn Hutcheon (@ShawnHutcheon) suggests.

“Excellent. He was all over the ice. Dominant. He wanted to be a difference-maker without being reckless. Really, really good. Charlie was a big reason why we were in the game.”

A topic that was often included in these conversations about McAvoy’s stellar performance on Tuesday night was that McAvoy usually does not play like this consistently and if he does, could be a strong asset to Boston as this series progresses further and further. Bruins Network (@BruinsNetwork) included that perfectly in a Tweet below.

Similar to Acciari’s post shot, McAvoy ripped one off of the red iron as well in the game. His speed and skill with the puck allowed a clean entry into Columbus’ zone, but his solid wrist shot hit the post behind a standing Bobrovsky. Just another digressive attack that demonstrated his confidence that he possessed throughout the sixty-minute hockey game.

Even in a losing effort, the end result for Charlie McAvoy could be a winning one in the long run. On July 1st, the young defender’s contract officially expires and he will become an unrestricted free-agent. As of the end of the 2018-19 regular season, McAvoy has played in 117 career NHL regular season games, amassing 14-46-60 numbers within that time span as well as 13 points in 28 NHL playoff games.

Following a recent poll on my Twitter page, 51% of voters predict McAvoy’s contract to be anywhere from $4.1 to $6 million annually, with many people suggesting that the length of the deal plays a role in that annual salary as well. The next highest percentage, at 35%, suggested a $6.1 to $7 million price gap.

On CapFriendly’s “comparable” tool on their website, I took a look at players similar to McAvoy when he will sign his new contract. Such parameters included a 21-year-old, right-handed defenceman with 60 points in 117 games making $5.5 million on a six-year contract. Of course, those numbers are going off of the Twitter results and do not result in a definite, expected number.

The best match for McAvoy according to CapFriendly is Arizona Coyotes d-man, Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Ekman-Larsson signed his deal back in March of 2013 when he was 21 years of age. At the time of signing, OEK had only 56 points in 157 games played. The website’s tool has both players matching at 97.1%.

Now, my first issue with this was the idea of the points scored. With the statistics provided above, Charlie McAvoy possesses a 0.51 points-per-game average while Ekman-Larsson had only averaged 0.35 points-per-game when he signed for $5.5 million for six seasons. In response, I re-adjusted my sliders for the attributes that I wanted to be considered the most, including career games played, points, and age. Below were my top 5 results. You can also CLICK HERE for the official CapFriendly table.

  • 98.1% – ARI D Jakub Chychrun – 21yrs – 118GP – 34pts – $4.6 million/6yrs in 2018
  • 97.1% – MIN D Jonas Brodin – 21yrs – 127GP – 31pts – $4.1 million/6yrs in 2014
  • 96.7% – NJD D Adam Larsson – 21yrs – 128GP – 27pts – $900,000/1yr in 2014
  • 96.6% – MIN D Brent Burns – 21yrs – 108GP – 22pts – $825,000/2yrs in 2006
  • 96.2% – ARI D Oliver Ekman-Larsson – 21yrs – 157GP – 56pts – $5.5 million/6yrs in 2013

Taking a look at the annual salaries, clearly the contracts of both Adam Larsson and Brent Burns are highly unlikely for McAvoy at this point in his career, but they do have a strong resemblance to McAvoy’s current situation. Jakub Chychrun, to me, makes the most sense. However, due to McAvoy having a significantly higher career point total as well as having a larger role on the Bruins team than Chychrun did, I personally see his contract around Ekman-Larsson’s.

For Charlie McAvoy, if his Game Three performance can be continued out for the remainder of the postseason, he can truly have some bargaining power on General Manager Don Sweeney and the rest of the Bruins management. For the Boston Bruins, even if they have to pay more than possibly expected at the start of the season, it is a win for them because they will have another young, solid defenceman of the future to build around once the likes of Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug move on.

Tonight, the Bruins are back on the ice against the Blue Jackets in Game Four. Puck drop is currently scheduled for 7:30pm EST. Can Charlie McAvoy play as dominantly as he did only two nights ago? Will the Bruins tie the series at two, heading back to Boston? They’re all just questions, but soon, they will become answers.

Bruins Extend Affiliation With Providence, So Is ECHL Deal Next?

( Photo Credit: Commercial Construction & Renovation )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins came to an agreement last week on a ten-year extension with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. This agreement with the top minor-pro affiliate of the B’s was one that just made sense from both sides. One, geographically having prospects and others so close to areas of operations is never a bad idea for emergency purposes, and two you can’t beat the fan support and the consistently high attendance numbers when the team is playing at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

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The Providence Bruins have been one of the most successful franchises when it comes to minor-pro development and has been a pipeline of the NHL B’s since the 1992-93 season. Previous to last weeks agreement the Providence club has amassed a record of  1030W-782L-96T-84OTL-60SOL in 2,053 games played over 26 years as an affiliate of the parent Boston Bruins team.  Providence has seen it’s a fair share of current Boston Bruins players such as Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, and Tuukka Rask. Since the teams, inaugural season (1992-93) the Bruins have seen three regular-season titles, five division championships, one conference championship, and of course the franchise’s only Calder Cup Championship that the club captured after the 1998-99 regular season campaign.

This is not the first time a successful minor league franchise called the city of Providence home. The NHL Bruins also housed developing players of interest with a team called the Providence Reds who per HockeyDB.com had affiliations in the AHL’s inaugural campaign in 1936 to 1938 and making returns in 1958 to 1962, and for the final time from 1963-64  to the 1968-59 season. The Reds were no joke back in the day as the organization saw nine regular-season titles, 13 division championships, and four Calder Cups. Hockey Hall of Famers such as goaltender Frank Brimsek (1937 to 1939), forwards Milt Schmidt (1936-37), and Ed Westfall (1963-64).

The 2018-19 regular season for the Providence team is quickly coming to a close with six games remaining. The B’s have a 35-24-8-3 record after 70 games and sit in the fourth position in the Atlantic Division and currently occupy the seventh position when you look at the Eastern Conference and the Calder Cup Playoff outlook. The Providence club looks to secure a postseason birth for the seventh straight season after being knocked out for three consecutive years prior to the current postseason streak.

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This season has certainly been a challenging one for second-year Head Coach Jay Leach, and the AHL Bruins from key developing players departing via emergency recalls to player injuries and finding suitable replacements to fill the roster. I believe in the current path of development from an organizational standpoint, but if you ask me how deep this Providence club can go in the postseason I’d love to think they can go all the way but with the up and down the regular season I’s be certainly happy with a Conference Final. Providence visited the third round briefly during the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs losing to the eventual Conference Champions Syracuse Crunch who beat the B’s in a best of seven series 4-1.

Regardless of my personal prediction or hope for a conference final appearance the Jekyll and Hyde home vs. road playoff schedule has to get better with the regular season records on either side of the coin. As mentioned the B’s have six games remaining and have done a fantastic job on home ice thus far with a record of 27-7-4-1 but have been sub-par away from the Dunk compiling a 13-17-4-2 record. Aside from the home and road rollercoaster this season the Bruins are going to have to figure out what’s not working on the road and figure it out quickly. The Checkers have a home record of 23-6-5-0 and the way things are lined up with travel the Checkers could easily get the first two games at home with an elimination contest back at the Dunk for game three. Lets’ hope that doesn’t happen.

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Above is a playoff primer courtesy of theahl.com website. As you can see a postseason appearance for the seventh straight time is not going to be easy especially against the leagues best Charlotte Checkers who already clinched a playoff spot with a regular season record of 46-16-7-1 good for 100 points thus far. These two teams have a 2018-19 regular season series of  4-3-1 with Providence winning only twice at Bojangles Coliseum and needing more than 60 minutes to get it done. The Bruins record at home against the Checkers is actually not bad if the B’s can extend the first round series and play another home game.  Home cooking at the Dunk this season against the Charlotte club has produced a record of 2-1-1.

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What’s next for the Boston Bruins and the future plans for an ECHL affiliation?

This is a topic that I’ve been thinking about a lot and trying to crack the code of what’s going on with the decision of where this Bruins organization could place prospect if needed at the ECHL level? First and foremost I believe the Atlanta Gladiators have a fantastic franchise and a return to the state of Georgia is always a good possibility. Another option is to find a location closer to areas of operation particularly with the above mentioned Providence club and the need for a constant pipeline of players that are able to participate quickly and play at the AHL level in emergency situations.

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One area of New England that I’m paying close attention to is the city of Manchester, New Hampshire and the current dumpster fire that’s going on with the ECHL Manchester Monarchs franchise. This metro area once was one of the Northeasts best-attended venues when the AHL Monarchs were in the Queen city before the NHL’s LA Kings came and took the AHL club and ECHL club and swapped them around making the trip for prospects in a matter of hours instead of lengthy cross country travel. Since the AHL moved westward it seems like the fan base walked out with it as season ticket numbers and overall fan attendance has dwindled to what seems like 500 fans.

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As a former season ticket holder of the AHL Monarchs and personal experience gathered from a fun place to enjoy a hockey game, it’s disturbing to hear that the ECHL is just not the product for this area and if something can’t be done soon they might miss their window to gain popularity again in the New Hampshire city with so much tradition in the sport. Purely speculating here but news in January of 2019 had the ECHL Manchester Monarchs seeking for new ownership and later reports of the organization ceasing operations for the 2019-20  season.

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I know that the current agreement with the Monarchs and their affiliation with the Lod Angles kings is ongoing and seems to be in good order regardless of the ownership news but minor-pro deals are pretty much fly by night operations and walk away from deals as seen in the past from a franchise like the AHL’s Portland Pirate and their agreement with the Cross Insurance Arena. If the Kings would like to place another minor-pro franchise closer to California, this would be a tremendous time to revitalize the Manchester hockey fandom with representation from one of New England’s most popular and respected professional franchises.

Now just spitballing here but if the Bruins were to in fact be affiliated with an ECHL franchise in Manchester I’d have to believe the numbers would be better than the current product just knowing that the Bruins label would be involved. Also, a key factor is how many actual prospects would be involved as the current number of Bruins property playing with the Atlanta club is zero. This season B’s prospects Jesse Gabrielle and Joona Koppanen were the only ones to play in Atlanta as they spent a few games there at the start of the season. Gabrielle was later reassigned to play with the Wichita Thunder halfway through this season.

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With a new Collective Bargaining Agreement coming up with the players and owners going toe to toe again soon, I believe it would be wise for both to come to common ground and agree on adding 10 more contracts to the max contracts allowable which are currently set at 50 contracts. What an increased number of contracts could do in my opinion is add more spots to develop and make better use of the ECHL and the availability that NHL teams have with their Premier “AA”  affiliations. This will certainly increase development at the middle levels and could accelerate the progression of deserving players for looks and evaluating purposes. Ten extra contracts to play with would be a fantastic way to sign undrafted players worldwide and ones that just finished college and available to be signed as free agents.

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Bruins Look Good For Contract Negotiations Thanks To Bergeron, Others

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( Photo Credit: Robert Mayer/ USA TODAY Sports )

By: Cam McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter @CSthinks

Professional hockey is absolutely a business. Money is connected to every move that is made, and labor laws stipulate that each player must be compensated for their work for each organization. The balance between spending money and maintaining a deep, effective roster, is a very delicate one.

Such is the reason that often times, teams that sign multiple superstars to lucrative contracts are often left vulnerable to weaknesses in other areas. You know, the areas that they’re not rapidly throwing dollar bills at (or for Canadian teams, the areas that they’re not rapidly throwing dollar bills at, eh).

In this area, General Manager Don Sweeney is at a pretty significant advantage when it comes to negotiating chips in contract discussions with players entertaining the idea of playing in Boston. These negotiating chips are the team-friendly contracts of his three most prolific point scorers in Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Brad Marchand. And, in light of the most recent contract extension reached by the Bruins front office, Zdeno Chara’s contract might be one to point to as well.

If the Bruins’ four most valuable (debatable in a couple cases) players are willingly getting paid less than what they would make if they hit the open market, then any future contract negotiations essentially boil down to whether or not the players in question value playing and winning in Boston more than money.   If I’m Don Sweeney, and any player attempts to negotiate for a contract north of $7 million per year, then I’m asking one question.

“Okay, so how much better do you think you are than Patrice Bergeron? You know, Patrice Bergeron? Our point-per-game first line center who has won four Selke Trophies and brought this team a Stanley Cup? The guy who has consistently been regarded as a top-5 player in the entire league? Yeah. He makes a little over $6 million per year. How much better than him do you think you are again?”

Okay, a few questions.

Now, is that an oversimplification? Absolutely. Did I get a little carried away? Maybe. Do I have great hair? You’re damn right I do.

But that’s neither hair nor there.

The point is that any player that requests more money out of an organization whose top players have already proven that they care more about succeeding and winning in Boston than a few (million) extra bucks… well, they might not be a great fit. If the culture is built around winning and paying players fairly provided that they all buy into a winning philosophy and style of play, then there simply is no room for prima donnas, who are out to make more money than they will ever need at the expense of the team’s success.

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( Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/ Getty Images )

Patrice Bergeron is the Bruins’ best hockey player and has been for quite some time now. He might be as highly regarded as any one player in the National Hockey League. And year after year, he affirms through his contract that he does not presume to be better, or more important than the Bruins’ organization or the success that they strive for.

So how would any player on the Bruins feel entitled to more than Bergeron? David Pastrnak, the Bruins leading goal scorer for much of the year and most lethal powerplay threat is attached to a similar contract, despite being much more valuable on the open market. When asked if he was disappointed about his contract and having potentially left money on the table, Pastrnak responded without a moment’s hesitation that he was not. He’s just living his dream.

When Torey Krug’s contract is up, there is certainly a possibility that he heads elsewhere to make as much cash as he can. If he does, then good for him. But it would be a mistake for all parties involved for him to stay and out-earn the Bruins most valuable players. Krug is exceptionally gifted offensively, and as such is a valuable member of the Bruins. But he is, by no standard, more valuable than any of the aforementioned players who have attached themselves to contracts that make the Bruins a better team.

Fair play, fair pay.

The contracts of the B’s first line, in addition to Zdeno Chara’s contract extension, set the bar for the young talent that are approaching their next contract negotiations. If each decides to get paid for what they are worth to the team, then the next man in line will get paid fairly as well. But my guess is that anyone that tries to squeeze the Bruins for as many pennies as possible might not get what they’re hoping for. And we might not see too much of them in the future.

If you’re looking for proof that this type of business model can be successful for a professional sports team, then may I interest you in a serving of the New England Patriots? Every year, they pay players fairly to do a good job, they have immense success, and then the same players leave to get paid more than they are worth to never win another Super Bowl. Or something to that effect.

Either way, if I’m Don Sweeney, then I’m feeling pretty good about contract negotiations, thanks to my top dogs.

Playing for Boston might not make any one player the richest in the league, but it will certainly give them a chance to be part of a winning culture.

And after all, it’s very seldom that you hear of a child beginning to play hockey due to his burning desire for money. You play hockey for the love of the game, and the desire to compete and win alongside like-mind teammates.

That sounds better, anyway.

 

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What Do The Bruins Gain With Carey/Frederic Over Cehlarik?

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Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports

By: Cam McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter: @CSthinks

I will not sit here and pretend to be some kind of savant who has superior knowledge over NHL GMs when it comes to the business side of hockey. The extent of my knowledge on the business side of an NHL team could be summed up by the phrase, “pay the better guys more money.”

With that out of the way, my focus shifts to the prolonged influx of Providence Bruins that have been gracing the lineup of their older brother (or sister) team over the course of this season. Names like Vaakanainen, Clifton, Frederic, Lauzon, Kuhlman, Forsbacka-Karlsson, Zboril, Bjork, Smith, Stempniak, and now Carey, have all found shelter from the AHL storm for at least a few nights this season. Some have shown more promise than others. Some have demonstrated that they are not yet ready for the NHL. Some showed the raw talent that has yet to be harnessed into an effective system within the confines of a team.

And almost all of them have demonstrated that their names are difficult to pronounce. Kudos to Gemel Smith, Connor Clifton, and Paul Carey for making it easy on me.

Importance

With the Bruins settled fairly squarely in a playoff spot barring any sort of colossal blunder to finish the season, the quest for home ice is one that cannot, in my opinion, be under-emphasized. Currently, the Bruins are the meat in the Tampa/Toronto sandwich (there are so many better ways to say that, but I’m very hungry). This group of three teams (TB, BOS, TOR) currently sits as three of the top five teams in the entire league.

With the notion that Toronto will almost certainly be the first-round matchup for the Black and Gold, a rational hockey observer will take note of how things have changed since last season’s matchup with the Leafs. Matthews and Marner are both having career years, and John Tavares has brought even more offensive punch to the lineup. With Morgan Reilly gaining another year’s experience, Toronto is a better team than they were last year. This makes home ice all the more important for the Bruins to secure.

This doesn’t happen without a strong finish—something that will require a lineup that is most conducive to effective and sustained play. As things look now, the influx of players from Providence– most recently Trent Frederic and Paul Carey (along with Connor Clifton)– constantly joining then leaving the Bruins does not seem most conducive to success down the stretch for the team.

 

Win Now.

The Bruins have a team that is good enough to pursue a “win now” approach. While many might rightfully slot Tampa as a stronger team entering the playoffs, it is well within the realm of possibilities that Boston squeaks out a win in a seven-game series against the Bolts. I mean, this is sports. Don’t be ignorant.

For a team that needs to place significant importance on maintained success heading into the postseason, their lineup is changing far too much. Spotty, three-game stints for more than half a dozen AHL-ers might be something that is more fathomable when the playoffs and home ice is so close within reach. If the Bruins were out of playoff contention, then, by all means, I might say “go nuts” and maybe even support a scenario where the P-Bruins and the big club even switch jerseys and have a fun little time! But that’s not the case. Also sounds like a decent idea for a screenplay. So I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.

Consistency.

Anyone who has played hockey at a high level understands that chemistry, consistency, and familiarity with those around you are all conducive to enhanced on-ice performance. With the exception of Karson Kuhlman and Cehlarik, no call-up from Providence has been able to quickly gel with the line-mates with whom they are placed. This speaks volumes about the versatility of each of these two.

The events of the past few days have defied logic in the sense that the Bruins are now relying on players unfamiliar with the Bruins personnel and style of play to join the squad and move things forward. Chemistry is fostered through players being given sufficient time to learn one another’s play styles. Sure, it would be awesome if everyone knew one another’s tendencies on the ice after just shaking hands. But to my knowledge, we don’t have the technology to make that happen yet. And thus, that is not how things work.

Peter Cehlarik got sent down to Providence after Bruce Cassidy made him put on his seatbelt, securing him to the bench, for the third time in less than two weeks. Cehlarik was afforded a bafflingly short leash, and by all accounts actually played a strong style of hockey when he was allowed to be on the ice. He found early chemistry with David Krejci, and more recently proved to be a compatible linemate for newcomer Charlie Coyle amidst an absolute jumble of forwards thanks to injuries. Coyle and Cehlarik strung together shifts that consisted of sustained possessions, offensive zone time, and that resulted in offensive zone face-offs. While not a whole lot of scoring resulted from the play of these two, it’s difficult to produce when you are secured to the bench.

While the handling of Cehlarik is a touch bothersome, it has been clear that of the AHL call-ups this season, he has been far and away the most effective. Which makes it even more frustrating that he has been sent to Providence in favor of Paul Carey and Trent Frederic. Frederic had around 10 games with the Bruins earlier in the season. He showed toughness, strong skating, and a good compete level. But what shone through even more than these things was that he was both raw, and not ready to join Bruins regularly.

Carey is new to the Bruins organization, and has shown consistent production and reliability at the AHL level. However, he has seen time in just five NHL games this season, amassing zero points with zero goals, and zero assists. There is a lot more to hockey than point production. But Cehlarik has proven that he brings more than scoring, so the decision to go with an untested call-up inserted into the lineup when consistency and chemistry are at a premium is a real kick in the shin.

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Photo Credit: David Zalubowski/ AP

Moving forward.

I hope I’m wrong about the drawbacks of the recent activity between Providence and Boston. If I’m wrong, then we win.

Here’ the thing, though: I don’t think I’m wrong. I will be absolutely shocked if suddenly Trent Frederic and Paul Carey outshine Peter Cehlarik’s 200-foot game in their time with the Bruins.

If I’m right, then not only will the Bruins suffer, but they will have thrust more young prospects (Carey is not all that young) into the fire before they were ready. Confidence is a real thing that coaches and GM’s should be expected to manage, and if these prospects are treated with the same zero-tolerance policy that Cehlarik was, then we might see a tucking of tails among them.

In any case, it’s unreasonable to expect a player to find their groove in their first game or two. Unless that player is Dean Youngblood.

But even he was given a short leash by his coach.

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Four Boston Bruins Players That Could Win The 7th Player Award

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

Every year, the New England Sports Network, better known as NESN, releases a fan vote where fans of the Boston Bruins can vote for who they think should be awarded with the annual 7th Player Award. The 7th Player Award is awarded to the Boston Bruin who “has performed above and beyond expectations”. In years past, the team honour is handed out at the end of March, so the countdown is on for the winner.

Before we get into who should win the award for the 2018-19 season, let’s take a quick look at the past winners of the last decade. Information regarding this is courtesy of Ice Hockey Fandom.com. 

  • 2008-09 David Krejci
  • 2009-10 Tuukka Rask
  • 2010-11 Brad Marchand
  • 2011-12 Tyler Seguin
  • 2012-13 Dougie Hamilton
  • 2013-14 Reilly Smith
  • 2014-15 David Pastrnak
  • 2015-16 Brad Marchand
  • 2016-17 David Pastrnak
  • 2017-18 Charlie McAvoy

Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Charlie McAvoy are the most recent winners of the award and for good reason. Marchand exploded three years ago with a 37 goals and a new career-high in points with 61. David Pastrnak also had a great year when he won it back in 2016-17, scoring 34-36-70 numbers from his 26 the year prior. Finally, last year, Charlie McAvoy scored 32 points in his debut NHL season and truly came out as one of the best young offensive d-men in the league.

In the past, the award has been handed out at the end of March, just ahead of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in April. We are already over a week into the third month of the new calendar year, so now is the perfect time to take a look at some of the players who can with the 2018-19 7th Player Award.

Jaroslav Halak -> 18-10-4, 2.33 GAA, .924 SV%, 4 Shutouts

When Anton Khudobin did not agree to a new contract with the Boston Bruins following the 2017-18 season, the concern came as to who the Bruins were going to fall on for the role of the backup goaltender position. Ideas of younger, prospect goaltenders from either the Providence Bruins or other affiliate teams were thrown around, but it was the free-agent market that would provide the solution for this new-found problem.

Boston signed journeyman goaltender Jaroslav Halak to a two-year contract with an annual average salary of $2.75 million. Last season, Halak finished up his fourth season with the New York Islanders, the fourth NHL team of his 13-year career. Halak finished last season with a 20-26-6 record, a 3.19 GAA, and a .908 save percentage – not great numbers.

Lucky for Bruins fans and himself, Halak turned a new leaf while wearing the Spoked-B sweater and is showing glimpses of top-level play, the type of play that we saw from him during his time with the Montreal Canadiens. Early on this season, starting goaltender Tuukka Rask was not on his game. He was struggling in net and was losing more often than he was winning. However, Jaro Halak made an appearance and took over the show in the meantime, keeping the Bruins afloat in the NHL’s Eastern Conference playoff race.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NBC Sports)

Head Coach Bruce Cassidy mentioned the fact that he may look to split the number of games that Rask and Halak play down the final stretch and that shows that Halak has done enough to earn starts when it matters. When the original signing was made, many people, including myself was not a fan mainly due to his performance in the previous season but he has exceeded everyone’s expectations and should be a favourite for the 7th Player Award because, without him, Boston may not be second in the Atlantic division.

Chris Wagner -> 66GP, 12G – 6A – 18P, 4th Liner

Chris Wagner never once scored ten goals in his five-year NHL career. In fact, he never scored more than 15 points in a single season, a mark he once hit in 64 games with the Anaheim Ducks last year in 2017-18.

When the Bruins signed Wagner, the Walpole, Massachusetts native to a two-year deal on the opening day of free agency, the signing of Joakim Nordstrom and the hope that the young, up-and-coming players within the Bruins organization will get more NHL minutes, it seemed like Wagner was going to be a spare tire – a depth piece for injuries or for a replacement for a player who is struggling but no, Wagner has become a near-permanent member of the 2018-19 Bruins.

Part of the reason for his success is the help of his linemates, Sean Kuraly and Noel Acciari, who have helped bolster the game of Wagner to a level never seen before in the NHL. The trio has brought a high level of intensity and energy to the bottom-six while being able to add in a few goals here and there. Additionally, Wagner leads the Bruins with 226 hits, a stat that ties him for 6th most in the National Hockey League.

In today’s NHL, all four lines of any team need to have the ability to score goals when they are so required to do so, yet provide a level of physicality and defence that can keep them in the thick of things. Chris Wagner has been a big reason for the success of that line and he deserves to be in the conversation for the 7th Player Award. No one expected the performance of Wagner to be this solid and a brief stroll in past Twitter comments will highlight that.

David Krejci -> 69GP, 19G – 41A – 60P, +3 Rating

Without a doubt, David Krejci is one of the best second-line centres in the NHL and is one of the best playmakers in the league for the past few seasons. It may seem hard for a player of that stature to win an award that presents the player that has exceeded expectations, but he needs to be in the conversation.

Since putting up 17-46-63 numbers in the 2015-2016 campaign, Krejci seemed to be on a decline for point production. In 2016-17, Krejci scored 54 points in a full 82-game season followed by a 44-point year last year in only 64 games played. However, with the growing chemistry with left-winger Jake DeBrusk, Krejci is on pace for just over 71 points this season. That total would be the second-highest single-season point total for Krejci since his 22-51-73 effort back in 2008-09 – ten seasons ago.

In that 2008-09 season, Krejci averaged 0.89 points-per-game. In comparison, Krejci is averaging 0.87 points-per-game, the third-highest PPG average in his 13-year NHL career. Krejci has found 15 of his points on the man-advantage, meaning the bulk of his numbers have come from five-on-five play, a huge attribute to take into consideration.

Throughout the past few seasons, the Sternberk, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) native has been on the receiving end of hard criticism but quite clearly, he has used that as motivation for his success this season. The 32-year-old has three game-winning goals this season, including the overtime goal in the 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on March 5th. Linemate Jake DeBrusk said the following about his chemistry with Krejci right after the game versus Carolina.

“I think when you play with a guy for almost 2 years now, you generate that w just games played & different things like that. He’s been playing great all year. He’s the biggest reason why I’ve had success personally as well. To have a guy like that in my corner is something that I don’t take for granted.” – Quote from Shawn Hutcheon (@ShawnHutcheon on Twitter)

David Krejci exceeded the expectations that were placed on him back in September before the puck dropped to begin the regular season. His name is back in the minds of teams across the league if they so happened to forget about him and he has been a factor for the success of the Bruins.

Sean Kuraly -> 66GP, 6G – 11A – 17P, 4th Liner

Sean Kuraly joins linemate Chris Wagner on this four-player list because, in a way, they have to be. Kuraly and Wagner, with the inclusion of Acciari, have surprised most Bruins fans and hockey fans throughout the league with their energy, tenacity, and offensive capabilities while throwing in the occasional hit or fight.

Sean Kuraly came to Boston on June 30th, 2015 in a trade with the San Jose Sharks that sent goaltender Martin Jones off to California and Kuraly with a 2016 1st Rounder (Trent Frederic) to Boston. Martin Jones was acquired by the B’s from the L.A. Kings in exchange for beloved Bruin, Milan Lucic only a few days prior.

Kuraly didn’t play with Boston until 2016-17, skating in eight games, scoring a single point. Kuraly was given an opportunity in the 2017 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals against the Ottawa Senators and he earned his way into the hearts of Bruins fans all over with two massive goals, one of which in the second overtime session in Game 5 of that series, forcing a Game 6.

After that remarkable game for Kuraly, he ended up playing 75 games during the 2017-18 season, scoring six goals and eight assists for a total of 14 points. In the offseason of this past year, Kuraly signed on the dotted line to a three-year, $3,825,000 contract extension, securing himself a position on the NHL roster for the time being.

Kuraly has done that and more. The Dublin, Ohio, USA native has matched his career-high in goals (6) and set a new career-high in points (17) and has played in twelve less games than in last year’s season. The threat of the fourth-line could be courtesy of the always hard-working Sean Kuraly. Kuraly still possesses that clutch goal-scoring talent, scoring two game-winning goals so far in 2018-19 – both coming in back-to-back games against the Sabres on December 29th and the Blackhawks in the Winter Classic on January 1st.

Kuraly has been one of those quite but deadly pieces to the puzzle that is the 2018-19 Boston Bruins – which can come across as a pleasant surprise for him, the management, and the fanbase.

My Winner: Chris Wagner

It seems like when the Bruins are down a goal late in the hockey game, scrambling to find their legs and score the tying goal or even the winning goal, Chris Wagner is inadvertently in the thick of things when the goal eventually crosses the red line. Wagner has scored the game-tying goal on three different occasions, two of which in the third and final period. Also, in each of those games where he scored the tying marker, the Bruins went on to either win the game or lose in a shootout.

I’ll be 110% honest here – I was fully anticipating Chris Wagner to be scratched for more games than he played and to see limited ice time when he is indeed in the lineup. Losing out on Tavares and Kovalchuk in free agency, at the time, it appeared as though Sweeney and the rest of the B’s management staff had no one else and wanted to go for depth. Tim Schaller, the now Vancouver Canuck, did not re-sign, but it looked like Nordstrom would replace him. Instead, the Bruins have a physical, gritty fourth-liner that has been big when scoring meaningful goals this season.

Chris Wagner is my personal pick to win this year’s 7th Player Award, who do you think wins the annual accolade? Was it one of the players I listed or does another player come to mind? Let me know via Twitter (@tkdmaxbjj) or on FaceBook comments!

Side Note: In the poll above, I listed D Brandon Carlo as an option, yet he is not on my list. I personally expected Carlo to be good this year, so he did not necessarily ‘exceed’ my expectations, but he has been great.

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGiant for your next Boston Bruins game. Click the link below, and when purchasing any event ticket, from the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL to concerts and shows, please use discount code BNGP to save a little money. Thank You! 

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