Bruins Announce First Training Camp Cuts

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(Photo: Angela Spagna)

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.

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Boston Bruins Prospect Player Profile: Jack Studnicka

Boston Bruins Development Camp

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

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bruins 2019 Prospects Challenge Recap

Bruins rookie camp

( Photo Credit: Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald )

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

For the fifth year in a row, the Bruins sent a team to participate in the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo. This year’s edition split it right down the middle, finishing with a 1-1-1 record after three games versus prospects from the Penguins, Sabres and Devils organizations. I would like to say that it was a good opportunity for fans of the team to become more familiar with some of their prospects. Unfortunately, that was not the case, unless you were lucky enough to actually attend the Challenge in person.

That’s because the Bruins organization did not see fit to televise or stream any of the games. The Penguins and Sabres streamed the games locally, but most in the Boston area were unable to watch. Fortunately, the Devils broadcast the Monday game on YouTube, and it’s still available for your viewing pleasure. It would be great if the Bruins decided to remedy this situation going forward, but that’s a discussion for another day. On to the actual games.

On Friday afternoon the Bruins took on the Penguins, and the good guys managed to come out on top, 4-3. The game did not start off very well for the Bruins, with the team falling behind 2-0 after goals by Sam Miletic and Pittsburgh first-round pick, Samuel Poulin. Boston bounced back on goals from draft picks Jakub Lauko, and Jack Studnicka and camp invite Scott Conway. The Pens tied it on a score by Nathan Legaré late in the second period. Anders Bjork came to the rescue for the Bruins, scoring the game-winner on the PP with just two seconds left in regulation. It was a good showing for Bjork, who had an assist to go along with his goal. Jack Studnicka also had a score and a helper.

The second game was Saturday evening against the host Buffalo Sabres. The final score was the same as Friday, 4-3, but the hometown boys came out on the short end, despite a great offensive effort by C/W Oskar Steen. Buffalo opened the scoring on a goal by Rasmus Asplund. Steen tied it midway through the second period on a feed from diminutive camp invite Dante Hannoun before the Sabres scored three goals in less than four minutes. Two of the goals came from center Matej Pekar, a fourth-round pick in 2018. The Bruins closed the gap in the third period on two power-play goals, from Steen and QMJHL free agent signing Samuel Asselin. They had a number of good chances to tie the game in the last minute or so with goalie Dan Vladar pulled for the extra attacker. Unfortunately, they were unable to get the equalizer by 2014 draftee Jonas Johansson.

The final game was a breakfast tilt with an unusual 9:30am start time Monday morning against the New Jersey Devils prospects, including first overall pick, Jack Hughes. The Bruins dropped this one in OT, but I felt they were the better team for the majority of the game, particularly at even strength. Both regulation goals by NJ were scored on the PP. The Devils tallied the first goal of the game while on a 5 on 3 PP. I would term the calls that led to the two-man advantage as “generous.” The score came by Nathan Bastian off a tic-tac-toe passing play that goalie Kyle Keyser had no chance at.

The Bruins tied the game with less than 30 seconds to go in the first period on a Dante Hannoun goal (assisted by first pair d-men Urho Vaakanainen and Axel Andersson). Scott Conway put the Bruins ahead 2-1 midway through the second period. That was it for the regulation scoring until 8 seconds remained in the contest. NJ was on the PP (thanks to another iffy penalty call) and had the goaltender pulled when former Merrimack forward Ludvig Larsson tied the game. Larsson scored again, ending it two minutes into the OT, even though Boston had the better of the play and chances.

I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on the play of Jack Hughes. It’s very early in his pro career, but I have to say, I wasn’t overly impressed. He’s a very good skater, extremely quick, but appeared to be forcing a lot of plays. He fanned on a wide-open chance that would have been the go-ahead goal in the third period. Then in the OT, he failed to make a pass on a great 2 on 1 opportunity. I have no doubt that Hughes is going to be a fantastic player in the league, but I can’t help but think he would have been better off playing in college for at least a year like older brother Quinn. He was overshadowed, at least in this one game, by forwards Jesper Boqvist (36th overall 2017) and Mikhail Maltsev (102nd in 2016) who both played extremely well.

As much fun as it is to watch hockey again, that’s not really the point of these prospect games. With Training Camp starting today, the idea was to get these kids some playing time before training camp and to allow the staff to see if they think any of them can make the jump to the NHL. In the case of the camp invites, the teams want to see if there are any players they should bring on board. I will be basing my observations primarily on the game against NJ. I watched the game Saturday night versus Buffalo as well, but the quality of the stream I found left a little to be desired.

There were no huge surprises, in my opinion, but a few players made good impressions. I’m going to preface everything that comes after this by reminding people that it was only a prospect tournament. Players that performed well aren’t necessarily going to be superstars, and ones that did poorly are not necessarily busts. My colleagues at Black N Gold Hockey are doing a fine job giving in-depth looks at these prospects. There is no need to rehash that, but let’s take a quick look at how some of those prospects acquitted themselves.

 

Forwards:

Most of the kids up front that impressed at the Challenge were the names you would expect. Studnicka (1g/2a in 3gp) and Steen (2g/1a in 3gp) each had three points to lead the team, while Bjork had two points (1g/1a in 2gp). Lauko only had one goal in three games, but played well and showed his speed. Bjork (in the little I saw of him) was moving well and looked strong, which was to be expected given the experience advantage he has over the other prospects. There were few unheralded kids that I thought played well also. Scott Conway and Tommy Marchin, who both have AHL deals in place with PRO for the 2019-20 season were solid. Conway, who played his college hockey at Providence had two goals in his two games. Marchin, a Brown University product was held off the scoresheet, but every time he had the puck, he seemed to make the smart play, even if it was a just a cross-corner dump-in.

The player that surprised me the most this past weekend was an undersized wing, Dante Hannoun. He played his junior hockey for Prince Albert in the generally rugged WHL, and it showed. Despite being only 5’6″, and 165 pounds, he was fearless, taking hits and delivering some to much larger opponents. Hannoun was very quick, displayed a strong base, and was able to protect the puck well. He collected a goal and an assist in his two games and did not look out of place. He has not officially signed a deal yet, but based on comments from Bruins management, it appears that he will be somewhere in the system (possibly Atlanta).

On the flip side, a couple of kids that didn’t really stand out, in my opinion, were Robert Lantosi and Pavel Shen. Lantosi is a 23-year-old right shot wing who averaged more than a point per game in the highest Slovakian league last year. Shen, the Bruins 7th Round pick in 2018 looked a step slow. He was significantly better in the WJC’s this year for Russia, playing against his peers. It could just be that both Lantosi and Shen need time to get acclimated to the smaller ice surfaces and style of play in North America

Defense:

The prospect that stood out on the back end was definitely Cooper Zech. He had two assists in three games, but it was his skating and “escapability” that impressed me the most. He is calm with the puck, makes good decisions, and on the rare occasion when he doesn’t, he’s able to skate his way out of trouble. I think he is going to have a great rookie year in PRO and I’m looking forward to catching as many games as possible. Next up was Urho Vaakaneinen. He started off slow but seemed to get progressively better. Monday was his best game by far. He was very efficient on the defensive side and led several rushes into the offensive zone as well. He’s not flashy, but he moves extremely well and is very efficient.

It’s going to be tough for him to crack the NHL roster, but I believe he’s definitely the first man up in case of injury. Another guy I was really looking forward to seeing was 2018 2nd rounder, Axel Andersson. He only played in Monday’s game and looked a little tentative. The skill is there, and you can see flashes, but I think he just needs to be a little more consistent, which should come in time. Wiley Sherman was decent, but not really noticeable one way or another (which is not always a bad thing for a defenseman). Unfortunately, none of the camp invites on the blue line did much. On the positive side, as long as the contracts get done, the Bruins appear to have plenty of depth on defense at both the NHL and AHL levels.

That’s going to put a wrap on the 2019 Prospects Challenge. There was some good and some bad, but we will get a much better idea about what some of these kids are capable of over the next week or so as they hit the ice with the big boys at Bruins Training Camp. I’m not sure I see any of the guys from the Challenge roster breaking camp with the NHL team, but only time will tell.

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.

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For Bruins’ Bjork, Uncertainty Looms Ahead Of Training Camp

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(Photo: Paul Rutherford / USA TODAY Sports)

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.

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.

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Boston Bruins Prospect Player Profile: Jakub Lauko

Bruins Capitals Hockey

(Photo Courtesy of AP / Nick Wass)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

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!

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Kuhlman, Senyshyn, Others Among Potential Second Line Solutions For Bruins, Per Bruce Cassidy

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(Photo: David Berding / USA TODAY Sports)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Among several stories to come out of the Boston Bruins Foundation golf outing Monday afternoon was head coach Bruce Cassidy’s comments regarding the state of the second line right wing situation, which has been a glaring issue for the better part of five seasons now. Cassidy told the media that Anders Bjork, Karson Kuhlman, Zach Senyshyn, Brett Ritchie, and potentially more are all among options he will consider to fill the open roster spot on David Krejci’s right.

All of the guys mentioned above are also assumedly in the mix for the open spot on the third line with Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen, barring a shift in the lineup for either of those two; however, the main concern is obviously who will take the third spot alongside Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.

The clubhouse favorite seems to be Kuhlman as he had success with the aforementioned duo last season and even came up huge in the playoffs. In 11 regular season games, the Minnesota-Duluth product posted three goals and two assists for five points, spending most of his time on the second line.

Leading into the postseason, the second line with Kuhlman on the right posted eight five-on-five goals in 68:21 of ice-time, and the 23-years-old stepped in seamlessly when asked to either slot in on either the third or second line during the playoffs, notching 1-2-3 numbers in eight games, including this SNIPE in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final:

Next on the wheel of possibilities is Anders Bjork, who, after a strong showing at the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo, is looking to prove that he is ready for an NHL role after his first two seasons were cut short by a pair of shoulder surgeries. Bjork is essentially starting from scratch this season, and the Prospects Challenge should have served as a good opportunity to help get his legs under him ahead of camp.

With 15 points in 50 games with the varsity club, Bjork has shown flashes of what many thought he could be when given the chance to actually play in the top-six. However, starting the year off in Providence may not be the worst thing for him as far as his confidence and conditioning goes. The 23-year-old’s NHL experience likely gives him leg up on guys like Senyshyn and even Jack Studnicka or Oskar Steen, both of whom may also get a chance to show what they can do on the second line.

Speaking of Senyshyn, the 15th-overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft is an interesting case. Boasting gobs of speed, tenacity, and skill, Senyshyn has not quite lit the world on fire at the AHL level (26-24-50 in 132 games) after going off in the OHL (114-63-177 in 195 games).

However, in two NHL games at the end of the regular season last year, the 22-year-old was quite impressive and even scored his first NHL goal against Minnesota; although it was an empty-netter. The speedy Ottawa, Ontario native certainly has the skill set for potential success next to David Krejci, and he’ll get a shot to show he’s the man for the job in what will surely be a “prove it” year.

Ritchie was already going to be an interesting guy to keep an eye on during training camp, but with Cassidy specifically mentioning him in the running for second line right wing, the intrigue has only heightened. The 26-year-old signed with the Bruins at the start of free agency for a one-year, $1-million deal–a pretty low-risk, potentially high-reward signing.

It is unlikely that Ritchie will miraculously become the player that the Dallas Stars thought he could have turned into, a bruising middle-six, or top-six, winger, but he does fit the mold of guys who have found success next to Krejci in years passed (Lucic, Horton, and Iginla–not to say he is or will be as good as those guys, but the comparison is there). Ritchie’s best season was two years ago with Dallas where he scored 24 points (16 goals and eight assists); he moved around in the top-nine, but also spent a decent amount of time with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.

The 16 goals he scored three years ago is the key stat. If he can tap into that goal production playing with skilled guys like Krejci and DeBrusk, the Bruins may have found something, so we’ll have to see where this goes during camp.

Cassidy only explicitly mentioned the four guys I talked about above, but that’s not to say someone like the aforementioned Steen or Studnicka won’t get a look either. Although, Steen is still likely a few seasons of way from being fully ready to make the leap to the NHL since this will only be his first professional season in North America.

Likewise with Studnicka, the 20-year-old is set to begin his first full pro season since joining Providence’s playoff run after lighting up the OHL. The former Oshawa Generals captain has experience playing wing even though he is a natural center, and he has made it clear to the organization he will play wing if needed–the skillset on this kid increases the possibility of making an impact with the big club. However, it may be best for him to get even more seasoning playing center in Providence; more on where Studnicka might fit in a future article to look out for. Also, I haven’t even mentioned Peter Cehlarik, but rest assured he’ll probably get a shot considering the flashes he’s shown in his NHL experience.

With training camp set to kick off this week, the ongoing saga at second line right wing is certainly among the top storylines, and Cassidy’s comment only increased the interest around the open roster spot.  It really is anyone’s guess as to who will seize the two open roster spots up front. Everyone will surely be curious to see where this goes and who steps up as the next man for the job.

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!

Providence Bruins Get A Gem In Asselin

( Photo Credit: Vincent Ethier/LHJMQ )

By: Michael Robert |  Follow me on Twitter: @b_blackandgold

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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Report: Bruins, Charlie McAvoy Contract Talks To “Heat Up” In Coming Days

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PHOTO CREDITS: (JANA CHYTILOVA/GETTY IMAGES AND BOSTON BRUINS)

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

Earlier today, the Columbus Blue Jackets re-signed restricted free-agent defenceman Zach Werenski to a three-year contract worth $5 million per season.

Werenski was regarded as one of the top defensive RFAs on the available market and now that he has officially agreed to re-up his deal with the Blue Jackets, the other teams across the NHL with young blueliners on expiring contracts will be looking to compare their players to Werenski.

Not long after the news broke, TSN’s Bob McKenzie tweeted that both the Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Bruins will heat up talks with their RFA defenders – Ivan Provorov and Charlie McAvoy, even more so with training camp beginning later this week.

We are all aware of the current situation with Charlie McAvoy and the contract negotiations that have been going down this off-season. The problem is that the two parties have not engaged in as many talks as some wish. It has been made clear in several interviews and press releases that McAvoy loves it in Boston and truly wants it to be his home for the long-term future. Bruins management has made it quite clear that they ultimately share the same feelings and they feel a deal will happen eventually, even if talks are “stalled”.

The 22-year-old Werenski was the eighth-overall draft pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the Blue Jackets and has since scored 38-90-128 numbers in 237 career NHL games with Columbus including six points (1 goal, 5 assists), in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In 2018-19, the Grosse Pointe, Michigan native scored 11 goals and 33 assists for 44 points in 82 games played, but finished with his career-worst -12 plus/minus rating.

Charlie McAvoy has not played in nearly as many games as Werenski, even though the two players are less than five months apart in age. The reason – injuries has slowed down the production of McAvoy, but even still, has become a top-two defenseman for the Bruins and will likely hold that position for years to come. McAvoy scored 7-21-28 totals in only 54 games in ’18/’19, but averaged 22:10 of time-on-ice and a remarkable 24:30 TOI during the four-round playoff season.

Bob McKenzie also mentioned how the current narrative is a long-term contract is likely for the 21-year-old McAvoy due to his praise for Boston and the Bruins organization – with the trip to the Stanley Cup Finals being a big reason for that. As of this moment, we have no word on annual salary or years, but expect news this week regarding the future franchise defenseman.

For all Boston Bruins reports, breaking news, and updates, make sure to check on the Black N’ Gold Hockey website where all of our brilliant writers aim to get the news out for your eyes as soon as we hear of it.

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!

Mainville’s Full 2019-20 Boston Bruins Predictions

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Billy Hurst/USA TODAY Sports Images)

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

September has always been one of my favorite months of the year. The summer is winding down, the students start heading back to school, the leaves begin to fall off the trees, the sweaters and pants come out of the drawers while the tank-tops and shorts go back until next year. However, best of all, the return of the NHL hockey season is right around the corner.

Before the season officially begins in October, the events that come before the first puck drop of the year fall one after another. Rookie camp, training camp, preseason games – all while management scrambles to find the players who have proven enough to make it to the big leagues, to earn a spot in the NHL, but also send the players who failed to reach those expectations to lower levels of hockey.

This time last season, I published my official 2018-19 in-depth predictions – going over my lineups, statistics, final standings, and of course, the success of the playoff season. Taking a glance back at that article showed that I was wrong about a few things, but regardless, it is fun to do just that and look back. So without further ado, here are my official 2019-20 Boston Bruins Predictions. 

Lineups

This season more than ever, predicting the lineup of the Boston Bruins is a difficult task. The Bruins still do not have a proven top-six right-winger to play alongside David Krejci on the second line and with the loss of Marcus Johansson and Noel Acciari to free agency, the Bruins have some more holes to fill from their Stanley Cup Finals appearance this past June.

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Kuhlman

Heinen – Coyle – Ritchie

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

(Lindholm)

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Clifton

(Moore – IR, Miller – IR)

Goaltenders

Rask

Halak

Earlier this off-season, I published an entire article on Black N’ Gold Hockey regarding this dilemma and this was the lineup that I had settled on. For this current moment, I am going to leave it this way but let it be known, that I would without question, substitute a prospect from the system into Brett Ritchie’s third-line role. However, due to the fact that it will come down to performance in training camp, I will leave them off. I do see Anders Bjork making an entrance on that third line, so do not be too surprised if that comes to fruition as well.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)

Individual Statistics

Without a single ounce of doubt, the Boston Bruins have a plethora of talent in the system that can not only hold their own, but can put up numbers over the course of the 82-game NHL season. When it comes to making predictions a month out, individual statistics of these players are always the most difficult for me. Last season, I had Brad Marchand leading the team with 85 points – yet he turned in a 100-point season. Regardless, here we go.

Note: For these predictions, I am going to assume that no injuries are going to play an impact on any player and that Charlie McAvoy agrees to a contract before the season begins. Of course, both are not certain but it would be impossible to predict otherwise.

Top Three Scorers (Forwards)

Brad Marchand – 38G – 57A – 95P

David Pastrnak – 42G – 50A – 92P

Patrice Bergeron – 28G – 45A – 73P

Top Three Scorers (Defense)

Torey Krug – 5G – 45A – 50P

Charlie McAvoy – 14G – 35A – 49P

Matt Grzelcyk – 4G – 20A – 24P

I simply cannot put any other forward than the three superstars on the Bruins forward core when it comes to the highest point totals at the year end. Marchand had a tremendous 100-point season in 2018-19, but I do not think he will meet that mark. Pastrnak, on the other hand, will see a large increase from his 81 points last season due to his chance to play more than 66 games this year. Patrice Bergeron will increase in points as well for the same reason.

On defense, Charlie McAvoy could very well surpass Torey Krug this season for point totals as he only skated in 54 games in ’18/’19 – ten less than the veteran Krug. McAvoy will find his game, but I think with the power-play time of Krug, he will remain ahead of the young blueliner.

Regular Season Standings

Even with the changes throughout the league in the off-season, not too much should change in April when the final league standings on NHL.com are published. In the Eastern Conference, the Atlantic Division is one filled with three powerhouses in the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs. Aside from them, the talent drops off but will be picking up this year.

The other Eastern division, the Metropolitan, is one giant question mark. Franchises such as the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes can see large jumps in the standings while the Columbus Blue Jackets and even the Pittsburgh Penguins can see a worse position for the playoffs. My predictions for the standings here may be a little crazy, but truthfully, anything can happen. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this as well.

Atlantic Division:

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning
  2. Boston Bruins
  3. Toronto Maple Leafs
  4. Florida Panthers (1st WC)
  5. Montreal Canadiens
  6. Buffalo Sabres
  7. Ottawa Senators
  8. Detroit Red Wings

Metropolitan Division:

  1. Washington Capitals
  2. New York Islanders
  3. New Jersey Devils
  4. Carolina Hurricanes (2nd WC)
  5. New York Rangers
  6. Pittsburgh Penguins
  7. Columbus Blue Jackets
  8. Philadelphia Flyers

Possible Milestones for the Boston Bruins

Milestones are all over the sports world. Players breaking records set decades prior, teams reaching new marks that have never been seen before, or a player setting a new career-high or finally reaching that career goal total. With aging veterans, the Boston Bruins have quite a few players that can reach large career milestones.

Skaters:

  • F David Krejci – 200 Career Goals (Current: 194)
  • F Charlie Coyle – 100 Career Goals (Current: 93)
  • F Patrice Bergeron – 500 Career Assists (Current: 492)
  • F Brad Marchand – 300 Career Assists (Current: 297)

Goaltenders:

  • Tuukka Rask – 500 Career Games Played (Current: 495)
  • Jaroslav Halak – 50 Career Shutouts (Current: 47)
  • Tuukka Rask – 50 Career Shutouts (Current: 45)

Playoffs:

Not one person genuinely thought the Boston Bruins would finish 2018-19 as the NHL’s Eastern Conference Champion, let alone pushing the St. Louis Blues to Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals. With that said, it happened. The Boston Bruins are not favorites to win the Cup this season, but there is absolutely nothing that says that they cannot contend again.

Do not be surprised when the Bruins and Maple Leafs once again battle it out in the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals and it will go seven games and yet again, Boston will pull through on top. Toronto’s defense did not drastically improve and they have some holes around the lineup as well. I imagine the Bruins taking the series until Toronto improves defensively.

Everyone and their mother expected the Lightning to be a Finals-guarantee, but the defending President’s Trophy winners failed to win a single game in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, getting swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Look for them to comeback with a vengeance this season and I see them defeating the Bruins in the second-round. When at the very top of their game, Tampa Bay has given the B’s trouble and unfortunately that will be showcased in their best-of-seven series.

There you have it, my full prediction article for the 2019-2020 Boston Bruins season. Agree or disagree with any of it? Let me know via Twitter @tkdmaxbjj, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

 Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 142 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!

Prospects Challenge to Showcase Bruins’ Future

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(Photo Credit: The Sin Bin)

By Carrie Salls | Find Me on Twitter @nittgrl73

With Boston Bruins preseason games just a couple of weeks away, the Bruins will once again participate in the Prospects Challenge, which will take place Sept. 6 through Sept. 9 at the HarborCenter in Buffalo. This will be the fifth straight year that the Bruins put a team on the ice for the event. The full roster and schedule for this year’s rookie camp and Prospects Challenge can be found at the end of this story.

The 2019 challenge and rookie camp will feature Bruins prospects such as Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic, Jakub Lauko, Pavel Shen, Oskar Steen, Axel Andersson, Urho Vaakanainen, Kyle Keyser and Dan Vladar, as well as Anders Bjork who returns after missing much of the past two seasons recovering from injuries.

The Prospects Challenge, rookie camp and captain’s practice are traditionally the first opportunities fans get a chance to catch a glimpse of the return of hockey action before the full team assembles. This year, rookies will report for camp on Sept. 5 before making the trip to Buffalo for the Prospects Challenge. Training camp for all players begins on Sept. 12.

Like last year, the Bruins’ young talent will face off against prospects for the Buffalo Sabres, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New Jersey Devils. In the 2018 Prospects Challenge, the Bruins sent a team to the challenge that included forwards Anders Bjork, Trent Frederic, Karson Kuhlman and Zach Senyshyn and defensemen Connor Clifton, Jeremy Lauzon, Urho Vaakanainen and Jakub Zboril.

Notable Bruins who have participated in the Prospects Challenge in previous years include Jake DeBrusk, Sean Kuraly, Danton Heinen, Matt Grzelcyk, Brandon Carlo, Peter Cehlarik, Anders Bjork, Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson.

In 2018, the Devils were able to defeat the future Boston stars, while the Bruins emerged victorious in the games against the Penguins and the Sabres. In the 2017 edition of the tournament, the Bruins also won two of three games, beating Pittsburgh and New Jersey but losing to Buffalo in the second of the three games of that year’s round-robin competition.

Each participating team will play three games during the 2019 installment of the challenge. The schedule for the event and the Bruins’ roster can be found at the end of this article.

According to an announcement released by the Bruins on July 24, fans interested in attending the 2019 Prospects Challenge can purchase tickets for $10 either through the Buffalo Sabres Box Office at the KeyBank Center, online at Sabres.com or by phone at 1-888-223-6000.

The Buffalo Sabres, who are once again hosting the tournament, said in an Aug. 30 release that fans inside the local Buffalo market can stream the games Buffalo is playing in live on Sabres.com.

Boston Bruins 2019 Prospects Challenge Roster

Forwards: Samuel Asselin, Anders Bjork, Scott Conway, Trent Frederic, Jacob Gaucher*, Dante Hannoun*, Cameron Hughes, Joona Koppanen, Robert Lantosi, Jakub Lauko, Tom Marchin, Pavel Shen, Oskar Steen, Jack Studnicka and Alex-Olivier Voyer*.
Defensemen: Axel Andersson, Max Martin*, Riley McCourt*, Andrew Perrott*, Jordan Sambrook*, Wiley Sherman, Alexey Solovyev, Urho Vaakanainen and Cooper Zech.
Goaltenders: Taylor Gauthier*, Kyle Keyser and Dan Vladar.

*Player attending on an invite basis

2019 Prospects Challenge/Rookie Camp Schedule:

Thursday, September 5 (Warrior Ice Arena, Brighton, Mass.)

-Rookie Camp opens

-On-ice rookie practice, 11:15 a.m.

-Rookies will be available to media after practice

Friday, September 6 (HarborCenter, Buffalo, N.Y.)

-Morning skate, 9 a.m.

-Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Boston Bruins, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 7 (HarborCenter, Buffalo)

-Morning skate, 10:30 a.m.

-Buffalo Sabres vs. Boston Bruins, 7 p.m.

Sunday, September 8 (HarborCenter, Buffalo)

-Boston Bruins practice, 12:30 p.m.

Monday, September 9 (HarborCenter, Buffalo)

-Boston Bruins vs. New Jersey Devils, 9:30 a.m.