Report: Boston Bruins Offer D Alex Petrovic a PTO Deal

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

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

Earlier today, Alex Thomas of Boston Hockey Now wrote an article that highlighted the idea that the Boston Bruins have offered seven-year NHL defenseman Alexander Petrovic a Professional Tryout Contract.

Alex Petrovic is a 27-year-old defender from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada that has spent the majority of his career to date with the Florida Panthers. The 36th overall draft selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Panthers has played in 263 regular-season games since the 2012-13 campaign and has accumulated five goals, 45 assists for 50 points total since his debut.

Petrovic’s tenure with Florida ended in December of 2018 when he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Chris Wideman and a conditional 2019 3rd Round Pick. After only playing nine games in 2018-19 with the struggling Oilers, Petrovic hit the free-agent market this past July 1st and has since been offered a deal.

Also included in Alex Thomas’ article for Boston Hockey Now, there is interest the Carolina Hurricanes and the Calgary Flames to sign the defenceman. It is unlikely that the Bruins use Petrovic for an NHL role when the season begins in October, so what is the purpose for the PTO?

For one, signing veterans to tryout contracts gives some more incentive to the younger prospects in the Bruins organization to play to their highest level during the NHL Training Camp that begins within the coming month. Petrovic may also be able to add some personal insight to these younger players and add some strength to the locker room in that regard.

If the Boston Bruins do like Alex Petrovic is some form, it would be likely that he is signed to an AHL contract only if he does indeed agree to a true contract. Bruins President Cam Neely discussed the issues they are having signing RFA defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo and in that case that it goes into the season, the Bruins will have to find some extra players to fill in those roles temporarily. Whether or not Petrovic is the right player for that replacement role, is yet to be seen.

According to Hockey Reference, the 6-foot-4, 216-pound Petrovic has a 49.9% Corsi For% (48.4% in 2018-19) and a 50% Fenwick For% (48.3% in 2018-19) all while at even strength. Not known whatsoever for his offensive talents, the big defenceman can bring some physicality and a defensive style to the depth defensive role.

Not great numbers, but someone who could maybe earn some minutes in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins if his upcoming training camp performance means anything to his future. In a lot of PTOs, the player does not sign a full contract with that team when the tryout expires. If this report indeed comes true as Alex Thomas is reporting, then I assume this is the case with Alex Petrovic as well.

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

Report: Bruins Invite Sherbrooke Phoenix Winger To Rookie Camp

( Photo Credit: Phoenix De Sherbrooke / PublicationSports )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

There’s a report out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League that Sherbrooke, Quebec native Alex-Olivier Voyer has been invited to participate in the 2019 Boston Bruins rookie camp. An invite like this is a great way for a young player to get looks from Bruins management if additions are needed at the minor-pro levels. This audition is also a chance to see Voyer in games action as he’ll most likely have a roster spot for the upcoming rookie camp festivities this fall. Rookie camp starts on Thursday, September 5th  at the Warrior Ice Arena and shortly after these invites and Bruins prospects will spend the rest of rookie camp at the annual Prospects Challenge Round-Robin Tournament held at the Harborcenter in Buffalo, New York starting on Friday, September 6th.

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The 20-year-old right-winger played in 68 games for his hometown Sherbrooke Phoenix club having a career year in 2018-19 posting 29-29-58 numbers in his first season with the Phoenix since being traded to his birth city. The four-year QMJHL veteran was drafted by the Rimouski Oceanic in the first round of the league’s entry draft where he was selected 15th overall in the first round. Voyer played his first three seasons of his “Q” career with Rimouski posting 22-35-57 numbers in 158 games before the June 1st trade that sent him packing for home.

Olivier-Voyer is a big rugged forward that is listed at 6′-2″ 192-pounds per EliteProspects.com and in his complete QMJHL career has posted 51-64-115 numbers in 226 games. If he does well and impresses the Bruins brass, he could very well get an invite to the American Hockey League Providence Bruins training camp set to kick off as soon as the B’s National Hockey League camp is over.

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Richardson: Ideal Bruins Lineup On Opening Night: Version One

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(Photo Courtesy of Winslow Townson / USA TODAY Sports)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Earlier this week fellow Black N’ Gold writer Mike Cratty had the idea to give out his ideal lineup Opening Night. He then posed the question to the rest of us and it’s turned into a nice series. Other Black N’ Gold writers Garrett Hayden, Max Mainville, and Yanni Latzanakis have followed suit giving their lineups. I have linked their respective articles at the end of this one so you can check them out if you have not yet.

First Line: Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

I am starting out pretty standard here with the Boston Bruins top line. When all three players are healthy this is one of the best lines in the entire league. While keeping this trio together seems obvious, there has been some debate amongst fans whether Boston should or not. This is because at times during this past season Pastrnak has been moved down to the second line with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci.

David Pastrnak is arguably the most important player on the Bruins offense. In the past, I have been an advocate for moving him down to the second line. My reason for this was that I felt the team needed to spread the wealth and scoring between lines. However, the simple fact is the chemistry this trio has on the ice is unmatched by any line in the NHL. Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak set the offensive tone for the team and produce too much to break-up.

Second Line: DeBrusk – Krejci – Coyle

The second line right-wing has been a position that the Bruins have been looking to fill for a few years now. Despite the carousel of players that have played on the right-wing, both DeBrusk and Krejci have produced at high levels. My solution is one that may be outside the box but I think Charlie Coyle is the answer to fix the right-wing. Coyle was acquired by the Bruins before the trade deadline last season in a deal that sent Ryan Donato to the Minnesota Wild.

Since then, he played excellently for our boys in black and gold especially during their run to the Stanley Cup Final. Adding him to the top six will strengthen it tenfold. DeBrusk and Krejci are locked into their position on the second line. Krejci, finally fully healthy had one of his best seasons in a long time. DeBrusk has proven to be very good in his first two seasons with Boston. Despite a less than stellar postseason that due in part to a concussion sustained in the first round, I fully expect him to bounce back and have a great 2019-2020 campaign. These line combinations would give the Bruins one of the best top six’s in the NHL.

Third Line: Heinen – Studnicka – Senyshyn

I know that some of you may think that I am absolutely insane for saying this. However, this line has the potential to be very good. Jack Studnicka is one of the Bruins top offensive prospects even though he’s only 20 years old. In 60 games in the OHL last season, he netted 36 goals and dished out 47 assists for 83 total points. He also played in Providence’s four playoff games netting one goal and dishing one assist for two points. He has the potential to be very good for Boston, and I think he takes a big step forward this year.

Zach Senyshyn is another guy who is debated a lot amongst fans. He’s spent two full years in Providence and some people are ready to call him a bust. I am not one of those people. I think the young speedster could make a huge impact on the Bruins this season. He has a ton of scoring ability (114-63-177 in 195 games in the OHL) while that hasn’t quite translated into the AHL or NHL yet, I think it will. He was able to get in two games with the big club last season and he looked good scoring a goal in one of the games. His speed combined with Studnicka’s ability could be lethal for Boston. Heinen was recently re-signed to a two year deal with Boston. He’s one of their best defensive forwards and he would pair nicely with this young line.

Fourth Line: Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

This fourth line has the potential to be one of the best in the NHL. Joakim Nordstrom proved to be extremely valuable especially during their deep playoff run. He’s very good defensively, while also providing some offense when the opportunity presents itself. Sean Kuraly is one of my favorite current players. He had an excellent regular season and when he came back from injury in the playoffs, it was a spark the Bruins needed. He’s tenacious and a really good hockey player. He will be the one that makes this line go.

Chris Wagner’s production was a welcomed surprise for Bruins fans this past season. He also played well in the playoffs, but an injury cut his postseason short. He’s another guy who is always around the puck creating opportunities for Boston. As I said earlier, this line has the potential to be the best fourth line in hockey. They grind the opponents down and are quick to capitalize on any mistakes made by their opposition.

Extra Forwards: Lindholm – Ritchie

Par Lindholm and Brett Ritchie were both signed once free agency opened earlier this month. Lindholm will provide good depth off the bench in case of injury. He has some decent offensively ability and can also play on the penalty kill which may end up being important this season. Brett Ritchie will likely provide some size for the lineup if it is needed throughout the season. At 6’4″ and 220 pounds he’s a big body that can throw a hit or two across the ice.

First Pairing: Chara – McAvoy

This is another one of those no brainers in the Bruins lineup. Zdeno Chara has been the number one defenseman and captain for over a decade. Even at the age of 42, the native Slovakian provides top-line minutes and ability. McAvoy, on the other hand, is the future number one defenseman for the Bruins. You could even argue that the way he played in the playoffs, that the torch has been passed and the Long Beach native is already the number one guy. Either way, this will without a doubt be the top pairing.

Second Pairing: Krug – Carlo

This is a perfect second pairing for the Boston Bruins. Brandon Carlo has been very good for the Bruins in his first three years as a true defensive defenseman. The Colorado Springs native really proved himself during his first taste of the playoffs. He was excellent and played a pivotal role in getting Boston to the Stanley Cup Final. Krug, on the other hand, is one of the better offensive-minded defensemen in hockey. The former Michigan State Spartan also runs the power play unlike anyone else. He perfectly complements Carlo’s game and completes the second pairing.

Third Pairing: Grzelcyk – Clifton

Matt Grzelcyk has proven to be one of the most consistent defensemen for the Bruins in every facet of the game. He had an excellent 2018-19 season and played very well during the run to the Stanley Cup Final. After being arguably the most improved playing in Providence this season, Connor Clifton emerged during the 2018-19 playoff run. The New Jersey native, like Grzelcyk, is very good in every facet of the game. These two young defensemen will make a great second pairing for the Boston Bruins.

Extra Defensemen: Kampfer – Moore – Miller

Steven Kampfer signed an extension at the end of last month. The Michigan native provides really good depth for the Bruins. The good thing about Kampfer is that he can sit out a few games, and be very solid starting when needed. John Moore will likely not be ready to start the season due to shoulder surgery he had once the season ended. Kevan Miller is another guy that likely won’t be ready to start the season due to a bad knee injury he sustained last season.

Goaltenders: Rask – Halak

Tuukka Rask was one of the main reasons why the Boston Bruins were one win away from being Stanley Cup Champions in 2018-2019. The Finnish goaltender was superb throughout the playoffs. One of the big reasons why he was so good during the postseason run was that he was able to rest a lot of games in the regular season because of how good Jaroslav Halak was. Tuukka Rask is at the top of his game come playoff time when he can start under 50 games during the regular season. Having Rask and Halak was essentially split the regular-season workload is something that makes Boston’s goaltending so good.

Other Black N’ Gold Writers’ Ideal Lines

Check out Mike’s article HERE.

Check out Garrett’s article HERE.

Check out Max’s article HERE.

Check out Yanni’s article HERE.

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Mainville: Ideal Bruins Lineup On Opening Night: Version One

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PHOTO CREDITS: (The Canadian Press)

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

Before I dive into this piece, I would like to credit fellow Black N’ Gold writers Mike Cratty (@Mike_Cratty on Twitter) for the idea and would also like to further you to take a look at both Mike’s and Garrett’s (@thesportsguy97 on Twitter) article on the same idea. Keep a lookout on the website for more opening-day article lineup ideas.

Click HERE for Mike’s article.

Click HERE for Garrett’s article.

First Line: Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Throughout the Bruins fan universe, the issues in the top-six typically fall on the right side. The duos of Marchand-Bergeron and DeBrusk-Krejci are near locks for opening night but the answers on the remaining pieces need to be found. Even though he showed struggles in the postseason at times, Head Coach Bruce Cassidy continued to slot David Pastrnak on the right side of the first line.

Without a doubt in anyone’s mind, Pastrnak will soon become the star of the Bruins’ offense for possibly the next decade and the more time he can play with Marchand and especially Bergeron, the more his value to the team and organization can skyrocket. That line, when hot, is one of the best lines in the entire National Hockey League and the thought of having that consistently is intriguing.

Second Line: DeBrusk – Krejci – Kuhlman

During the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals, the Boston Bruins relied heavily on their depth scoring, goaltending, and defense to help them last to the final Game Seven. Boston’s top six forwards failed to score points on a night-to-night basis and the lack of scoring in the elimination game was the reason for the loss on home ice.

Down 3-2 in the series, Cassidy threw a curveball at the St. Louis Blues in Game Six by placing speedy forward Karson Kuhlman on the second line and he played great. Kuhlman scored the third goal of the game with a blistering wrist shot past Jordan Binnington that gave Boston a 3-0 lead in the game.

Kuhlman’s 5-foot-11, 185-pound frame finally brought some speed and finesse to a line that was lacking those attributes when David Backes was alongside DeBrusk and Krejci. Similar to Pastrnak, time with a veteran like Krejci mixed in with the big-time experience that he already has under his belt, Kuhlman can be a good player on that line.

Third Line: Heinen – Coyle – Ritchie

This line is such a massive question mark on the right side yet again. At this stage, I put free-agent signing Brett Ritchie on this line for one reason – size. The 26-year-old Ritchie stands at six-foot-four and weighs 220 pounds. Throughout the different lineup predictions on the internet, Ritchie is commonly considered to be a depth forward and while that remains a possibility, I believe he has a better shot at making the lineup over some of the younger wingers in the system.

Alongside Ritchie, Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle had found some chemistry since Coyle’s entrance into the Boston Bruins roster around the trade deadline and that should continue. Heinen has proven to be a defensively responsible forward and with a consistent center that can play deep in the zone, it may only help the young forward more in the short and long run.

Fourth Line: Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

If there was a line that was etched in stone – it’s this one. The fourth line of the Boston Bruins has been crucial for the better part of the last decade and in each of their Cup Finals appearances in 2011, 2013, and 2019, the Bruins have had a strong line that rounds out the forward core.

With Noel Acciari departing Logan International in Boston to Florida during the Free Agency Frenzy, it will be without a doubt that these three players will man the pivotal bottom line for a good portion of the 2019-2020 season.

Extra Forwards: Lindholm

Another one of the Bruins’ depth signings on July 1st, former Toronto Maple Leaf and Winnipeg Jet, Par Lindholm signed a two-year contract for $850,000 per season with Boston as a depth player. The Swedish forward adds versatile play with a penalty-killing ability that has value when injuries come along.

First Pairing: Chara – McAvoy

Franchise defenceman with future franchise defenceman. Zdeno Chara might be 42 years of age but his game does not represent that number. While he does often get caught frozen in time by the faster forwards in the league, he brings a presence that strikes fear into players even today. Chara will continue to mentor McAvoy this season as it could very well be the last season where that is an option.

Second Pairing: Krug – Carlo

The second pairing of Krug and Carlo is the type of combination teams dream of on their blueline. Torey Krug is one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL today, especially on the power-play. That said, Krug has had issues on the defensive side of the ice and even though he has improved recently, he is not fantastic in that role. Brandon Carlo, however, secures that pairing. Carlo was arguably the best d-man wearing the Spoked-B in the 2019 Playoffs and he is only 22 years old.

Third Pairing: Grzelcyk – Clifton

Matt Grzelcyk scored the only goal in the Game Seven loss to the St. Louis Blues, but he brought more than just that lone tally in the postseason. Grzelcyk is a solid defenceman in almost all facets and Clifton has matched that as well. Both young blueliners have come out of seemingly nowhere over the course of the past few seasons – earning them a roster spot for the start of the ’19/’20 campaign.

Extra Defensemen: Kampfer – Miller – Moore

Steven Kampfer recently extended his contract with the Bruins and rightly so – he adds good depth for when the inevitable injuries strike again, something every team requires to be successful. With no clear timeline on John Moore (shoulder surgery) and Kevan Miller (knee), we must assume that they are not ready for the opening night on October 3rd.

Goaltenders: Rask – Halak

Tuukka Rask carried Boston to the Stanley Cup Finals for much of the playoff run and that success could be attributed to the regular season play of backup goalie Jaroslav Halak. With the two netminders nearly splitting the 82-game season in half, Rask was able to get needed rest and not overwork himself like he has when the team does not have an adequate backup behind him. If the two can avoid the haunted injury bug, I’d expect another stellar season from the two goaltenders.

As the offseason continues to progress with more and more news as well as the upcoming NHL Training Camp, these lines could very well take a turn before puck drop against the Dallas Stars.

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Providence Bruins Sign Lee Stempniak to Professional Tryout

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photo credit: Brian Babineau / NHL / Getty Images

By: Mandi Mahoney | Check me out on Twitter @phonymahoney

Providence Journal hockey writer and Rhode Island hockey expert Mark Divver announced today that the Providence Bruins signed forward Lee Stempniak to a professional tryout (PTO). Despite the fact that Stempniak has been practicing with the Bruins’ NHL squad since before the start of the season, this is an American Hockey League transaction only.

Stempniak, a National Hockey League journeyman, has played for ten different NHL clubs, which is tied for second-most in the league’s history. In a trade deadline deal on February 29, 2016, Stempniak was traded to the Bruins in exchange for a second and fourth-round draft pick. It was the third year in a row that Stempniak was dealt at the NHL’s trade deadline, as he was known to be a good addition to bring needed scoring punch to teams’ lineups. In his 19 regular season games for Boston, he scored three goals and assisted on seven, totaling ten points as a Bruin. Boston would go on to miss the playoffs that season, unfortunately, and despite a good showing in his 19 games, Stempniak would not be re-signed by General Manager Don Sweeney.

Stempniak signed with the Carolina Hurricanes in the summer of 2016 and scored 40 points in 2016-17 while playing all 82 games of the season. Last season, however, did not go so well for Stempniak, as he was plagued by injuries, missing 45 games. Ultimately, he scored three goals and notched six helpers for a total of nine points in 37 games for Carolina last year. Given the rough season he had, the 35-year-old wing was hard pressed to find any takers during free agency last summer, despite scoring 469 points in 909 career NHL games. Stempniak has called Boston home since graduating from Dartmouth in 2005.

This is a good move for Providence to gain some NHL and veteran experience for their lineup, however, it is an AHL tryout only, so Stempniak will not be taking an NHL roster spot with the Bruins unless he’s signed to a National Hockey League contract. Stempniak was invited to camp last year and had a good preseason with the Bruins, along with fellow bottom six forward Daniel Winnik. He was not signed, however, as the Bruins were stacked with a plethora of youngsters who would likely be filling out the bottom six for the Black and Gold. Obviously, it would not have been advantageous to the organization to dress a player of advancing age rather than continue to develop their youth.

Per Providence Head Coach Jay Leach, Stempniak will suit up for the P-Bruins at home tonight against the Toronto Marlies, and Sunday against the Springfield Thunderbirds, which will also be played at home, at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. One would think the Bruins are unlikely to sign Stempniak to an NHL contract since he’s been practicing with them for a half year at this point, but there is a distinct  possibility that the New York native could be looked toward for help in their bottom six, as the Bruins are in dire need of secondary scoring, and Don Sweeney has yet to make any trades this season. If Stempniak can capitalize on the opportunity and doesn’t look outmatched in the AHL, it would not be totally crazy for him to see NHL action again.

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Bruins Place G Tuukka Rask On Retroactive IR, Recall G McIntyre

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Associated Press)

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

Off the hands of the All-Star Weekend in San Jose, the Boston Bruins have announced some roster moves ahead of their game against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, January 29th. In addition to some forward breaking news that can be found on blackngoldhockey.com, the Bruins announced today that goaltender Tuukka Rask has been placed on injured reserve retroactive to January 19th and goaltender Zane McIntyre has been called up from the AHL’s Providence Bruins.

In the final game before the nine-day break, goaltender Tuukka Rask was involved in a scary collision with New York Rangers forward Filip Chytil, resulting in Rask leaving the game with what appeared to be a concussion. Jaroslav Halak replaced Rask in the game and the Bruins went on to lose 3-2 the final score.

The extended break for the Bruins may have been the best thing possible for Rask and the organization. It has been confirmed today that Rask has indeed suffered a concussion from the collision and in today’s NHL, concussions are taken quite seriously as they should be. The time off has allowed the Bruins doctors and trainers to properly diagnose Rask and Rask has not had to miss any games in the meantime.

While the Bruins have ruled Rask out of the game against the Winnipeg Jets tomorrow, they have not ruled out a possible return for Thursday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers. The retroactive injured reserve placement means Rask can return to the Bruins lineup whenever he feels that he is ready. To replace him against the Jets, Boston has called up goalie Zane McIntyre on an emergency basis.

McIntyre has played in twenty-seven games with the Providence Bruins, compiling a record of 16-8-3 with a goals-against-average of 2.74 and a save percentage of .887%. The 165th overall selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Bruins has made eight NHL appearances, going 0-4-1 in that time span along with a 3.93 goals-against-average and a .858 save percentage.

In my opinion, Boston will go with Halak against the Jets, as he is the better goaltender and has done well this season. McIntrye will most likely serve as a backup goaltender for the inevitable future but the possibility is there for him to get his first National Hockey League start in goal in the 2018-19 season.

Returning from the All-Star festivities, it is now crunch time for the B’s as we enter the final stretch of the ’18/’19 regular season. Boston currently sits in the first wild-card position, two points behind the Montreal Canadiens for third place in the Atlantic Division, but the Bruins do have two games in hand. Boston also has a five-point lead on the Buffalo Sabres who are the best team that is currently outside of the playoffs. Every game from this point on has its consequences and the healthy return of Tuukka Rask is needed to make that push for the post-season.

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Bruins Prospect Ryan Fitzgerald Named To AHL All-Star Classic

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PHOTO CREDITS: (ahl.com)

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

The Providence Bruins announced today, January 3rd, 2018, that forward Ryan Fitzgerald has been named to the 2019 AHL All-Star Classic on January 27-28, 2019 in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Ryan Fitzgerald is in the middle of arguably his best season while in the American Hockey League. The 24-year-old North Reading, Massachusetts native has 7-19-26 totals in thirty-four games this season, leading all Providence Bruins players in assists and points. His seven goals on the year rank him fourth on the team for goals as well.

Before Fitzgerald joined Providence in the 2016-17 season, he played in four consecutive seasons in the NCAA with Boston College. In his 152 career NCAA contests, Ryan tallied 66 goals, 66 assists for 132 points. Fitzgerald’s best season came back in 2015-2016 where he scored forty-seven points (24 goals, 23 assists) in only 40 games played.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Gregory Vasil/Getty Images)

Fitzgerald was drafted by the Bruins in the 4th Round (120th Overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and was signed to a two-year entry-level contract in the Spring of 2017. The Bruins management liked his play with Boston College, deciding to sign him to that deal that allowed him to play in the AHL, where he has been for the past two seasons.

As fellow Black N’ Gold writer, Tim Richardson said in his Prospect Profile on Fitzgerald, the 5-foot-9 forward was expected to go in the second-round in 2013. Heading into his draft, Fitzgerald was that two-way player that almost every team would like to have in their centre core. He possessed good hockey IQ and defensive awareness on the ice but could also pitch in offensive such as he has done with Providence this season.

Entering his first All-Star game, Fitzgerald has an entire family of hockey players. Father Tom Fitzgerald played in 1097 career National Hockey League games, seventy-one of which with the Boston Bruins back in 2005-06. NHL forwards Jimmy and Kevin Kayes as well as Matthew and ex-NHLer Keith Tkachuk are Fitzgerald’s cousins according to Elite Prospects.

Many people in the Boston Bruins fanbase have urged management to try Fitzgerald in the NHL if (when) another injury hits the Bruins forward core. Fitzgerald seems to be more responsible defensively compared to some of the Bruins already on the roster and yet, he can still score goals and make plays as mentioned already.

Do you think that Ryan Fitzgerald should get a shot with the NHL Bruins at some point this season if an injury comes up again?

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World Juniors 2019: Bruins Prospects Heading Into Quarter-Finals

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PHOTO CREDITS: (saultsports.com)

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

The 2019 World Junior Championships have truly been entertaining so far this year. From dominating performances such as the 14-0 by Canada over Denmark and Slovakia’s 11-2 win over Kazakhstan. Valiant comeback efforts such as the United States scoring four unanswered goals in the final ten minutes to force overtime versus Sweden. And of course, the feel-good stories like the support of the underdogs – Team Kazakhstan as every shot, save, and goal were met with loud, roaring cheers.

The Boston Bruins, like many NHL teams, are well represented in the tournament. Jakub Lauko and Daniel Bukac on the Czech Republic, Jack Studnicka on Canada, Kyle Keyser on the States, Pavel Shen on Team Russia, and the addition of Urho Vaakanainen just before the tournament to Team Finland. Not only are these players playing in the tournament, but they are playing a crucial role for their respective countries.

G Kyle Keyser – United States

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PHOTO CREDITS: (JONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

As one of the favourites to win the gold medal when the under-20 tournament concludes, the United States used the four preliminary games to judge who gets the starting role in between the pipes because once the team makes it into the Quarter-Finals, it is not too common to switch goaltenders as you would see in the National Hockey League regular season.

Keyser’s teammate, Cayden Primeau, is the other goaltender that is looking to grab that starting role. The Montreal Canadiens’ 2017 seventh-round selection played two games and so did Bruins’ goalie prospect Keyser. Keyser played two games – the 5-4 OT loss to the Swedes and the 2-1 win over Slovakia on Boxing Day.

Keyser’s 1-1-0 record alongside his 0.87 save percentage and 2.95 goals-against-average is ranked as the second-worst for goaltenders heading into the Quarter-Finals. Only Switzerland goalie, Akira Schmid has worse statistics so far in the World Juniors. It is fair to note that the five goals he allowed versus Sweden drastically impacted those numbers.

Against the Swedes, Keyser made many solid saves off of poor plays by his defensemen. The Swedish players had numerous 2-on-1s that were stopped by Keyser and his saves arguably gave the team the drive to come back and tie the game.

With that said, Team USA announced that Cayden Primeau, the other American goaltender, will get the start in the crease for the United States in their Quarter-Final game against the Czech Republic. Yesterday, Head Coach Mike Hastings said it was a coin toss as to who will get the starting role as both goalies earned it, but clearly, he decided to go with the Canadiens prospect due to his strong 4-to-1 win over Finland.

F Jakub Lauko – Czech Republic

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

Drafted 77th overall (3rd Round) by the Boston Bruins in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, forward Jakub Lauko has had a successful season with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), scoring 12-14-26 totals in 26 games this season before being called to the World Juniors.

While at the U20 World Junior Championships, Lauko has one goal and one assist in four preliminary games. The 18-year-old forward scored his lone goal of the tournament in the 4-0 win over Denmark on New Year’s Eve. The tally ended up being the game-winning goal for the Czechs. Lauko also helped out in the opening game of the tournament, recording his only assist thus far on the overtime-winning goal against Switzerland.

Lauko has been good on the other end of the ice too. In the same game as his assist versus the Swiss, Lauko made a great defensive block on a 2-on-1 that kept the game tied around the midway point through the third period of play. Without that Lauko block, the Swiss may take a 2-1 lead and may end up winning the hockey game.

D Daniel Bukac – Czech Republic

Only one team in the World Juniors this year has two Bruins prospects on its roster – the Czech Republic and it seems more and more that the Bruins like having Czech players when you look at David Pastrnak and David Krejci on the full-time Boston roster up in the NHL.

As with the already-mentioned Jakub Lauko on the forward core, the Czechs have 6-foot-5, 209-pound defenceman Daniel Bukac on their blueline as well. The Bruins drafted Bukac with their seventh-round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft. The former player in the Western Hockey League joined the Niagara Ice Dogs of the Ontario Hockey League in the 2018 CHL Import Draft.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Doug Westcott)

Bukac is not known as an offensive defenceman by a stretch of the imagination. With his big frame, he is a solid shutdown defender on the back end and that was mentioned by the Ice Dogs General Manager, Joey Burke, when they added Bukac to their roster.

“Daniel is a big addition for our club. He provides help in an area we needed to improve in. A proven player at this level who brings size, defensive prowess as well as strength, adds a special dynamic to our group. Anytime you can add an NHL drafted player,  it always makes an impact. We look forward to the pedigree Daniel will bring. This is yet another exciting signing for us this offseason, and Daniel will be fun to watch in Niagara.”

Bukac has six points (two goals, four assists), in twenty-four games with the Ice Dogs before going to the WJC. Bukac has one assist in the World Juniors, against Denmark, when he assisted on the fourth and final Czech goal in the 4-0 win. Bukac has also been one of the top penalty-killers for the Czech Republic, who has a third-best 85.71% success rate on the penalty-kill.

Bukac, Lauko, and the Czech Republic battle Kyle Keyser and the United States in today’s quarterfinal.

D Urho Vaakanainen – Finland

Coming off a concussion that he suffered during his brief tenure in the National Hockey League, the eighteenth-overall draft pick in 2017 by the Boston Bruins joined his national country of Finland for the World Juniors.

Due to his NHL experience earlier in the year, Finland knew that they had to play Vaakanainen in a top role on the defensive core due to the lack of experience on the rest of the team. For the majority of the preliminary games, Vaakanainen played in the most minutes over all of the other Finnish players.

Dawning the “A” on his sweater, Vaakanainen also added two assists in the four games – in a 5-1 win over Slovakia on December 29th and assisted on the only goal by Finland in the 4-1 loss to the United States. Below are some scouting reports on the Finnish defenseman.

“An intelligent, two-way defender…reads the play really well, has his head up all the time and makes quick decisions with the puck.” – Futureconsiderations.ca 2017

“He has good puck moving ability and strong offensive upside. He is also a good skater and can rush the puck up ice with confidence.” – Hockeyprospect.com 2017

Urho Vaakanainen and Team Finland will play Jack Studnicka and the Canadians in the second quarterfinal of the day.

F Jack Studnicka – Canada

Before the tournament started, many analysts covering the competition said that Jack Studnicka was the best player in the pre-tournament events including the multiple games that Canada played in.

While Studnicka did not play at the high-scoring level that say, a Maxime Comtois on Team Canada has, but he has been key on the Canadian power-play, even though it has struggled. Studnicka played right in front of the opposing net on that man-advantage, in a position called the “bumper spot”. Someone else who is great in that spot on the ice on the Bruins, a guy by the name of Patrice Bergeron.

Studnicka is currently on a point-per-game status, scoring four points in four games. Three of those points are assists, but he did add a goal back on December 26th in the 14-0 Boxing Day shutout over Denmark. Jack continues to be one of the better players on Canada’s bottom-nine forward core.

The Bruins drafted Studnicka in the second-round, fifty-third overall in the 2017 NHL Draft. He is currently playing in the Ontario Hockey League with the Oshawa Generals, where he had 12-21-33 totals in 29 games before being sent to Vancouver/Victoria for the World Juniors.

F Pavel Shen – Russia

The final prospect of the Bruins to be listed and he just happens to be on the team who took the first place in Group A, after a narrow victory over Canada on New Year’s Eve. Shen has played a big part in Russia’s success in the tournament so far. Shen is currently tied for second on the team in points with four points in four games.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

In the December 31st game against Canada, a game between two undefeated countries and that would decide who wins Group A, Pavel Shen had a game that put himself on the hockey map. The Russian drafted in the 7th Round back in this past draft scored the game-winning goal late in regulation off of a nice zone entry, drive to the net and a goal past DiPietro of Canada.

Shen’s goal-scoring talent has been shown in the past, such as when he scored three goals and one assist in six games during the CIBC Canada/Russia Series, where the top Russian prospects play the best CHL players in the three different leagues (WHL, OHL, QMJHL). Shen has the ability to score and he can do it well.

Many have said that Shen is a sleeper player in the tournament and one of the underrated prospects in the Bruins system. If his development continues the way it has, he very well could make the Providence Bruins and maybe even the Boston Bruins in the near future. Pavel Shen and Russia play Slovakia in the Quarterfinals tonight.

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Bruins Vaakanainen Added To Team Finland For World Junior Championships

NHL: OCT 23 Bruins at Senators

PHOTO CREDITS: (Boston Sports Journal)

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

The Boston Bruins will have another prospect representing them in the 2019 World Junior Championships from Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. According to many sources, including Chris Peters of ESPN, defenceman Urho Vaakanainen will be joining his native Team Finland for the tournament.

This is a huge addition to Finland as they gain a big defender with some National Hockey League experience under his belt. Vaakanainen was Boston’s first-round draft selection (18th overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The six-foot-one, 185-pound Joensuu, Finland native has played the majority of his hockey career in the Liiga hockey league.

In 109 career Liiga games played, Vaakanainen has tallied 7-16-23 totals, including another four points in twenty-three postseason games. Prior to being selected by the Bruins in 2017, Urho had some success on the international stage with Finland. In the under-18 World Championships, he posted three goals and three assists for six points in five games.

The Bruins management decided to play Vaakanainen in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins to begin the 2018-19 season. After only six games where he put up two assists, Vaakanainen was recalled by Boston due to the number of injuries to the NHL Bruins’ blue line. All of a sudden, Vaakanainen went from playing out in Finland to playing on an NHL roster.

Unfortunately, the young d-man only played two games before an elbow by Mark Borowiecki nailed him in the head, giving him a concussion. At the time of the injury, Vaakanainen was averaging roughly nine minutes a game, with a 60.7% Corsi For percentage.

In response, the NHL’s Player Safety suspended Borowiecki for one game and was forced to forfeit just over $6,000 for the elbow. It was a very unlucky situation for Vaakanainen who was seemingly just finding his game. Since this occurrence back in October, Vaakanainen has been out of the lineup and has not been cleared by doctors due to that concussion until now.

With Boston continually winning games and players such as Chara and Miller making strides to returning to the lineup, it would seem selfish for the Bruins not to lend Vaakanainen to Finland for the World Juniors. Experience on the world stage is something that most players do not have the opportunity to play in so for Urho, it may be quite crucial to the development of his evolving game. Below are some prospect analysis quotes from different people.

“An intelligent, two-way defender…reads the play really well, has his head up all the time and makes quick decisions with the puck, Futureconsiderations.ca 2017″

“He has good puck moving ability and strong offensive upside. He is also a good skater and can rush the puck up ice with confidence, Hockeyprospect.com 2017″

Finland’s first game of the 2019 World Junior Championships is on Boxing Day against Sweden in Victoria, B.C.

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Bruins Colby Cave Representing Saskatchewan With Recent NHL Success

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

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

“Colby Cave gets his first career National Hockey League goal!” Jack Edwards’ legendary call during Monday’s win over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night will play loudly in the Cave household in North Battleford, Saskatchewan for many years to come. While I have not personally been in a situation, (clearly), where I scored an NHL goal, against Carey Price of all goaltenders, in the Bell Centre. But you can see the amount of excitement imploding from Cave once the rubber puck crossed the red line.

It was a nice goal too, not some lucky bounce off of three legs and just happened to bounce off the eventual goal-scorer, but a solid one-time goal. David Pastrnak circled the puck around the blue line, made a quick pass to Charlie McAvoy down near the faceoff circle, who sauced the puck to Cave in the slot for a sweet goal. Cave’s celebration after is something that easily puts a smile on your face.

Undrafted, Cave made his big impression on the Boston Bruins during his time in the Western Hockey League with the Swift Current Broncos. In 2011-12, Cave debuted with 6-10-16 totals in 70 games played. Just one year later, Cave quickly boosted his scoring numbers, hitting forty-one points (21 goals, 20 assists), in 72 games. He also tallied four points in five playoff games that season as well.

When then-captain Adam Lowry left the Broncos to the American Hockey League to play for the then-Winnipeg Jets AHL affiliate, the St. John IceCaps, Swift Current stitched on the “C” on Cave’s Bronco jersey. Cave said the following when he was awarded the captaincy.

“It’s a true honour to be named the captain of such a respectable organization,” says Cave.  “This organization goes back a long way. Just seeing some of the former captains and their names up on the wall, guys like Adam Lowry and Zack Smith, it’s quite an honour to be put into the same group as them. I hope to prove everyone right and keep this team on the right track and win some games.” 

And prove everyone right was indeed what Colby did. In the seventy-two regular-season contests during the 2013-14 season, Cave scored 33 goals and 37 assists for 70 points as well as a +20 rating. Once again in the following season, in 2014-15, Cave scored a WHL career-high 75 points (35 goals, 40 assists) in 72 games. The numbers led Swift Current in assists and second on the team for goals and points. The only player ahead of Cave in goals and points was fellow-Bruin, Jake DeBrusk, who had 81 points in 72 games.

While the Broncos never made it out of the first-round when it came to the playoffs, his regular season production was something that caught the eye of the Bruins organization. On April 7th, 2015, ex-Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli signed Cave to an entry-level contract, sending him to the Providence Bruins immediately.

In the 239 career AHL games with Providence over the course of over three seasons, Cave has produced 43-72-115 totals while being the assistant captain for the team for the last three consecutive seasons. The 2016-17 season was the best season for Colby in terms of production, scoring 35 points during the course of the campaign.

The entry-level deal that the Bruins signed Colby to back in 2015 expired over the offseason, but the Bruins re-signed the six-foot-one, 201-pound Saskatchewan native to a two-year, two-way deal. 

Following three NHL games last season, Cave’s true chance to get that first goal would be this season – during the middle of the Bruins’ injury bug. When Patrice Bergeron was placed on the injured reserve in mid-November, the Bruins were forced to call-up Colby Cave to the NHL team on November 20th. The number of injuries on the forward core left the organization almost no choice.

According to Frozen Pool by Dobber Sports, Colby Cave has seen the majority of his ice time with David Backes and Joakim Nordstrom (28.39%) as well as time with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak (24.37%). Cave tallied his first career NHL point with an assist against the Detroit Red Wings on December 1st, followed by another helper two games later against Tampa Bay.

All of Cave’s hard work through the juniors, minors, and big leagues eventually led to that goal that was showed at the beginning of this article. In addition, Cave pitched in with an assist, his first career multi-point night in the NHL.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (USA TODAY Sports)

Now, Patrice Bergeron was on the ice for Bruins practice on Wednesday, December 19th, making his inevitable return to the roster even closer. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy will most likely go back with the Marchand, Bergeron, Pastrnak line that dominated the league before Bergeron’s sternoclavicular/rib injury. David Krejci will probably be brought back down to the second-line, so where does Cave go?

At one point during the season, the simple answer would be to man the middle of the third line. However, the line of Ryan Donato, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, and Danton Heinen has been finally finding their groove, thriving on each other’s growing confidence of playing alongside one another. In the same idea, it would seem wrong in a sense to demote Cave to the Providence Bruins, but the fourth-line is essentially set – leaving no other real option.

Unfortunately, when the Boston Bruins are, for the most part, injury-free on the forward core, Colby Cave will most likely be demoted to the American Hockey League to re-join the Providence Bruins until his services are once again required in the big leagues. Cave’s two-way contract allows Boston to send him down without the fear of waivers and while Donato and JFK also have two-way deals, their recent success should keep them on the NHL roster.

Nonetheless, the Canadian province of Saskatchewan is proud to see Cave find success in the National Hockey League, even if it may be short-lived. Having been to North Battleford on many occasions and living only 2.5 hours away from the small Saskatchewan city, I can appreciate the efforts Cave and every other NHL player had to go through to make it to the position he is in today.

When Boston eventually becomes injury-free, does/should Colby Cave be the odd-man out, getting a trip to Providence or should it be another Bruin forward currently on the roster? Let me know via Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

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