Five Players You Forgot Played For The Bruins: Part One

(Photo Credit: Boston Globe | bostonglobe.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

It’s always fun to look back at Bruins’ history and notice players you had no idea played for the team. Sometimes, you recognize that name and suddenly remember the short time they did have with the Bruins. Regardless, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at some players you probably forgot played with the Bruins.

Simon Gagne

(Photo Credit: Toronto Star | thestar.com)

That’s right, Simon Gagne was a Bruin back in the 2014-2015 season and appeared in 23 games wearing a Bruins jersey while collecting three goals and four points before retiring from the National Hockey League. Although his career was about finished by the time he arrived in Boston, he has had quite the NHL career.

The 6’1, 195-pound forward, began playing for the Philadelphia Flyers from 1999-2010, playing in a total of 691 games and posting 264-271-535 with a +140 rating. On July 19th, 2010, Gagne was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Matt Walker and a fourth-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Gagne spent the season with Tampa Bay before signing with the Los Angeles Kings as a free agent. That year, Gagne was used more as a depth forward, especially after missing most of the season due to a head injury. Regardless, he played four playoff games, and the Kings ended up winning the Stanley Cup in 2012, making Gagne a Stanley Cup champion.

He appeared in 11 games with the Kings that next season before being traded back to Philadelphia for a fourth-round pick. After that season, he played impressively at the Boston Bruins training camp and inked a one-year deal. Although his time spent in Boston was cut short, it would’ve been great to have had a prime Gagne at one point in the lineup.

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Drew Stafford

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Drew Stafford had a quick cup of coffee with the Bruins after being traded by Winnipeg for a sixth-round pick on March 1st, 2017. He suited up in a Bruins uniform 18 times that year and produced four goals and eight points with a +8 rating.

Stafford began his NHL career with the Buffalo Sabres in 2006 and played from 2006-2015, playing in 563 games while producing 145-177-322 numbers, before being traded to the Winnipeg Jets. After spending a full season with Winnipeg, the following year, he was traded to the Bruins, then in 2017 signed to the New Jersey Devils as a free agent. He played his final two years in the NHL with New Jersey, suiting up for 116 games and posting 13-15-28 numbers.

Throughout his 13-year NHL career, Stafford played for four teams, appearing in a total of 841 games while posting 196-232-428 numbers before retiring from the NHL.

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Blake Wheeler

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For those that don’t know, Blake Wheeler was drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes as the fifth-overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, but signed to the Boston Bruins as a free agent in 2008 and began his NHL career in a Bruins jersey. He had a successful rookie campaign with Boston from 2008-2009, racking up 21 goals and 45 points with a +36 rating in 81 games.

He continued to play with Boston for the next two seasons until being traded to the Atlanta Thrashers on February 18th, 2011, with Mark Stuart going to Atlanta in exchange for Rich Peverly and Boris Valabik. The Bruins went on to win the Stanley Cup that year.

Wheeler suited up in a Thrashers jersey for the remainder of the 2010-2011 season before being transferred to the Winnipeg Jets after the Atlanta franchise relocated. Wheeler has been a top-notch winger for Winnipeg ever since. So far, he has appeared in 687 games with Winnipeg and has produced 207-427-634 numbers with a +58 rating. The 33-year-old forward is currently signed to Winnipeg until 2024, with a current cap hit of $8.25M.

Rick Tocchet

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Rick Tocchet spent a short amount of time with the Bruins from 1996-1997 after being traded to the Bruins by the Los Angeles Kings for Kevin Stevens. During the 1995-1996 season, Tocchet appeared in 27 games with the Bruins and contributed 16-8-24 numbers.

The following season, the power-forward played 40 more games with the Bruins, producing 16-14-30 numbers before being traded to the Washington Capitals. He was traded along with Bill Ranford and Adam Oates in exchange for Jim Carey, Anson Carter, Jason Allison, and a third-round pick (Lee Goren) in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. After his time with the Bruins, Tocchet finished his career playing with Washington, Phoenix Coyotes, and the Philadelphia Flyers from 1997-2002.

Throughout his 18-year career in the NHL, Tocchet played in 1,144 games while posting 440-512-952 numbers with 1,815 PIM. He is now the current head coach for the Arizona Coyotes.

Maxime Talbot

(Photo by Jana Chytilova | Freestyle Photography | Getty Images| nationalpost.com)

The former Pittsburgh Penguins grinder ended up in Boston at the tail-end of his career from 2014-2016. The Bruins saw grit and leadership that could help the team, especially during playoffs. During his tenure with the Bruins, he suited up for 56 games while producing just ten points while spending time with the Providence Bruins (AHL) as well.

Talbot began his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2005-2011, winning the Stanley Cup in 2009 while playing in 338 games and posting 52-56-108 numbers. He was then signed to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011 as a free agent and then was traded a few years later in 2013 to the Colorado Avalanche. He was then traded to the Bruins in 2015, where he finished the rest of his NHL career.

Later, he signed with Avangard Omsk (Russia) in 2018 to continue his playing career. Throughout his 11-year NHL career, he became a Stanley Cup champion, and played a total of 704 games with 91-113-204 numbers.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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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Bruins Sign D Prospect Victor Berglund To ELC

 

(Source: Allehanda.se)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

This afternoon Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced that the team has signed Swedish defense prospect Victor Berglund to a three-year, entry-level contract (ELC). Per CapFriendly, the deal carries an average annual value (AAV) of $850,833 and a cap hit of $818,333.

The 20-year-old is coming off a season with MODO Hockey of the Swedish professional league, Allsvenskan, that saw him post career-highs in games played (52), goals (10), assists (12), points (22), plus-minus (plus-18), and penalty minutes (28). In two playoff games, Berglund was a plus-one with two penalty minutes.

Last season, the 6-foot, 180-pound defenseman registered four goals and nine assists for 13 points in 50 games with MODO. A native of Ornskoldsvik, Sweden Berglund notched 15-28-43 totals in 151 career Allsvenskan contests over four seasons.

Boston selected the Berglund with the 195th overall pick in the seventh round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. During the 2018-19 season, the right-shot blueliner suited up in four games for the Providence Bruins, posting a goal and an assist.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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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Flat NHL Salary Cap Could Have Current Bruins Departing This Offseason

( Photo Credit: Darcy Finley / NHLI Via Getty Images )

By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Covid-19 virus has put a close to the remaining National Hockey League games in the 2019-20 regular season and prompted the forward movement of a 24-team Stanley Cup playoff format. With a loss of the 181 games that the league was supposed to complete before the coronavirus pandemic hit, the financial burden is probably going to be felt for the next two to three years. The return to play idea for the NHL is not only good for the league and players but also a way to recover lost revenue. I believe if the remaining regular-season games and playoffs in 2020 were canceled altogether, that financial burden could be felt even further.

All NHL teams are going to be affected with the potential of the $81.5 million league-mandated salary cap not rising for the foreseeable future, especially the teams that spend up to the ceiling every year. The Boston Bruins are one of those teams that have a lot on their plate when it comes to contract negotiations whenever the upcoming offseason happens. Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney already knocked one negotiation off the list with a one-year contract extension with backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak, but with an estimated $18 million to spend next season, his job is far from done.

Bruins players such as Anders Bjork (RFA), Jake DeBrusk (RFA), Matt Grzelcyk (RFA), Zdeno Chara (UFA), and more notably Torey Krug (UFA), are going to eat up a majority of that remaining cap space. This could hinder the Boston club with minimal funds available for further roster movement. With the above players mentioned needing new deals, this could be an opportunity to shed some funds to address future needs. The names I’ve listed below are just ideas that may save a few bucks with not entertaining returns to the Bruins organization and even using buy-out scenarios. These potential moves could also be for roster spots of developing players with the Providence Bruins that are about to cross the threshold of NHL careers at cap-friendly salary numbers.

Par Lindholm UFA After 20/21 Season

( Photo Credit: Nic Antaya For The Boston GlobeVia Getty Images )

Lindholm has been a serviceable member of the Bruins organization, but his role on the team as a revolving 12th or 13th forward has me thinking it’s time for a change. In 40 games with the Boston club in 2019-20, the 28-year-old forward posted 3-3-6 numbers and has career totals of 4-15-19 in 105 NHL games. Par has one more year full season under contract, but even though his $850K isn’t a huge issue, he could be placed on waivers or bought out to free up a roster spot. If the Bruins were to entertain a buy-out option, per the Cap-Friendly.com website, the team would owe him $283K for the next two seasons.

Kevan Miller UFA

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Miller who’s been with the Bruins organization since the 2011-12 season starting his professional career in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins is currently in his final year of a four-year contract. Kevan’s been a warrior throughout his time in Black & Gold but injuries and setbacks trying to get healthy have me thinking the 32-year-old’s time in Boston might’ve come to an end. With the salary cap not going up, any dollar value he could garner should be used for a healthy younger asset and relieve the bottleneck of developing blueliners rising from the AHL. With the Bruins cap problems, Miller might have a better opportunity elsewhere in the NHL with roster availabilities to continue the veteran’s career.

Joakim Nordstrom UFA

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Nordstrom has been another serviceable player for the Bruins organization, but when a team is up against it, and roster availability is needed, this might be the last time we see the 28-year-old Swedish native. An effective penalty killer and a player Head Coach Cassidy could rely on up and down the lineup will be tough to walk away from, but when thinking about the future sustainability of the team, moves like this have to be considered. Nordstrom is currently in the last year of his two-year contract, which paid him $1 million per season. To save money and a roster spot, I could see the B’s looking to Providence to fill his position with a developing member of the club and cheaper dollar value.

Brett Ritchie RFA

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Although the Ritchie project didn’t exactly work out for him and the Boston organization he is an RFA that was sent down to the Providence Bruins midseason to find his game pre-covid-19 regular-season pause. Even though Ritchie was sent down to the AHL, a majority of his NHL salary followed along with it and remained on the NHL Bruins salary cap. To save money I don’t believe a return to the B’s is a good idea moving forward. He’s a 26-year-old forward and is arbitration-eligible which is a scary thought when thinking about saving money. In my opinion, it would be beneficial for both sides to walk away making him available to seek work in the NHL elsewhere because I don’t believe he’d entertain future contract negotiations to report back to the AHL next season.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 181 that we recorded below on 5-30-20! 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: Peter Cehlarik Leaves Bruins, Signs With Lugano

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(Photo: Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Now former Boston Bruins forward prospect Peter Cehlarik has reportedly agreed to a terms with HC Lugano of the Swiss National League. The 24-year-old was slated to become a restricted free agent this summer after his one-year deal with an average annual value (AVV) of $700,000 runs out.

Last month, Cehlarik spoke with Slovak media about his frustrations with the Bruins organization after traveling to his native country to wait out the pandemic. The left-shot forward did not seem too pleased with his usage under Boston head coach Bruce Cassidy during his stints with the big club.

“I can’t cross the line to persuade Bruins [coach] Bruce Cassidy for good,” Cehlarik said at the time. “Sometimes I felt as if he was just waiting for my mistake to send me back to the farm.

“They know what they are doing. They’ve invested years of development in me. It’s all about trust from a coach I don’t get. I still hear that I’m ready for the NHL, I have it, but when it goes like this, I need a change and a new start. It is high time.”

The left-winger has suited up in just three games with the Bruins this season, notching just one assist and posting a minus-one rating. In 48 games with the Providence Bruins, Boston’s American Hockey League affiliate, he has 16-21-37 totals in addition to a plus-three rating in 48 games.

On Nov. 2, 2019, Cassidy was candid with the media about his thoughts on Cehlarik’s performance after a matchup with the Ottawa Senators, saying: “If [Cehlarik]’s going to stay in the National Hockey League, you’ve got to play to your strengths, and I thought he had opportunities to make plays. He made a few here and there, but I thought he left some on the table. At the end of the day, the details we’ll keep getting after him about, so overall, I thought he was okay.”

Boston’s bench boss also noted he feels Cehlarik’s ideal spot in the lineup is next to a “skilled centerman.” After failing to make the team out of camp, Cehlarik was placed on waivers to be assigned to Providence, and went unclaimed.

On his career, the 90th overall pick in the third round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft has five goals and six assists for 11 points in 40 NHL games, as well as a plus-11 rating. In 185 AHL contests, Cehlarik has 59-77-136 numbers in addition to a plus-20 rating. Over nine Calder Cup Playoffs games, he recored three goals and one assist.

Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron skated with Lugano during the 2012-13 lockout. In 21 games with the club before the NHL returned, Bergeron registered 29 points (11g, 18a).

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 180 that we recorded below on 5-25-20! 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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Bruins Alumni: Happy Birthday Matt Hunwick

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By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

Happy 35th Birthday To Former Boston Bruins Defenseman Matt Hunwick!

Matt Hunwick was born on May 21st, 1985, in Warren, Michigan. He began playing for the U.S. National Team Development Program (U-17, NAHL & U-18) as a 16-year-old defenseman from 2001-2003 and was impressive in the 91 games he played, racking up 13-23-36 numbers. Once Hunwick turned 18 years old, he joined Michigan (CCHA) and posted 1-14-15 numbers in 41 games, catching the attention of several NHL teams before entering the draft. The 5’11, 200-pound defenseman would go on to be drafted by the Boston Bruins in the seventh round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

After being drafted, Hunwick continued to play for Michigan (CCHA) from 2003-2007, appearing in 122 games and producing 23-59-82 numbers. The Bruins saw what the versatile defenseman could bring to the team and assigned him to the American Hockey League to develop with the Providence Bruins (AHL) for the 2007-2008 season. Hunwick had a stellar performance in Providence, producing 23 points with a +16 rating in 55 games played before getting the call-up to play in his first National Hockey League action with the Bruins, where he played in his first 13 NHL contests.

The following season, Hunwick played just three games with Providence (AHL) before cementing his position in the Bruins lineup, playing in 55 games and producing 6-21-27 numbers with a +15 rating in his first full NHL campaign.

Following a successful rookie campaign, Hunwick struggled to find his magic in 2008-2009 with the Bruins, producing just 14 points with a -16 rating in 76 games played. The next season, Hunwicks’ journey with the Bruins would last only 22 more games before being traded to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Colby Cohen. The defenseman finished the year suiting up in 51 games for Colorado, collecting ten assists. Although he struggled to find his offensive touch that was apparent in his rookie year, Colorado took the chance and inked a deal with the defenseman for the next few years.

From 2011-2013, Hunwick was used as a depth piece, and throughout those two seasons played in 76 games and collected 12 points. In 2013-2014, the defenseman would appear in just one game that season with Colorado before being sent down to play for the Lake Erie Monsters (AHL) for the remainder of the year. After his contract with Colorado expired, Hunwick entered free-agency and was quickly signed by the New York Rangers on a one-year deal. He was a solid defenseman for New York, posting 11 points with a +17 rating in 55 games played but was set to hit free-agency again as New York decided not to renew his contract in 2015.

Once again, Hunwick had no problem finding a job once the market opened, inking a two-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Throughout the next two seasons, Hunwick suited up for 115 games and produced 29 points during that time but could not reach an agreement for a contract extension forcing the defenseman to hit the free-agent market again in 2017. On July 1st, the NHL teams came knocking on his door, and Hunwick immediately signed a two-year deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Hunwick split his ice-time throughout the 2017-2018 season as a depth-player, suiting up for 42 games and producing ten points. On June 27th, though, Hunwick was packaged up with Conor Sheary and was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. The defenseman would go on to play just 14 games with Buffalo in 2018-2019 before officially announcing his retirement from the NHL after suffering a severe neck injury.

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Throughout his 12-year career in the NHL, Hunwick suited up for 535 games and finished with 25-94-119 numbers. Now, Hunwick works with the University of Michigan hockey team as a volunteer assistant coach. Happy birthday, Matt Hunwick!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 179 that we recorded below on 5-17-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

With Halak Locked Up, Bruins Have $18M To Solidify 2020-2021 Roster

( Photo Credit: ESPN | espn.com )

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

With the 2019-2020 season on pause due to the unprecedented pandemic, Don Sweeney has all the time in the world to weigh out all of his roster options and began the firework ceremony for the Bruins a few days ago with the re-signing of goaltender Jaroslav Halak. The netminder agreed to a team-friendly, one-year deal with a cap hit of $2.25M ($1.5M bonus if Halak plays ten games), solidifying the Bruins’ dominant goalie tandem for another year.

With yet another vital player on the Bruins roster taking a pay cut to stay with the team, Sweeney knows he has the advantage with contract negotiations. In my opinion, I don’t see him overpaying anybody at this point. With that being said, the Bruins have $18M left in cap space, and I believe Sweeney will continue to use the “winning culture” argument to sign his players under a team-friendly deal.

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Torey Krug (UFA)

Without a doubt, the Bruins’ main priority should be to re-sign 29-year-old defenceman, Torey Krug. There has been plenty of speculation on what Krug is worth, but if he wishes to stay in Boston, he will need to take a team-friendly deal and has claimed he is willing to do that. His current cap-hit stands at $5.25M.

Krug is a vital piece to the Bruins blue-line and continues to quarterback one of the top power-play units in the league. Before the world was put on pause, Krug had a stat line of 9-40-49 in 61 games played. He has managed to maintain 50+ point campaigns since the 2016-2017 season and has developed solid chemistry with his defensive partner, Brandon Carlo.

Injuries haven’t been a problem for Krug until the 2018-2019 season where he missed 18 games, and during the 2019-2020 season he had only missed a handful of games, so if he continued to remain healthy, he would’ve surpassed 70+ games played if the season had not been put on halt. Krug has been nothing but consistent his entire NHL career, so his argument will be strong, but the Bruins obviously cannot and will not dish out an $8M-$9M contract that he may be valued at. 

With Krug already being the top-paid defenceman on the Bruins, and David Krejci as the top-paid player on the Bruins ($7.25M cap-hit), I personally do not see Sweeney willing to offer him more than $7M per year. Therefore, if Krug decides to opt for a team-friendly discount to stay with the Bruins, I predict he will sign a contract worth $7M per year. 

Jake DeBrusk (RFA)

The 14th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Jake DeBrusk, has found himself in a peculiar position in regards to contract negotiations. Although he is known for his elite speed and goal-scoring ability, he has yet to remain consistent throughout the regular season. That will be the target area he will be looking to improve on according to a recent interview with Boston Bruins media.

After the acquisition of Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase, the left-winger found himself on the 3rd line with Charlie Coyle after spending most of his NHL career so far playing alongside David Krejci. So far this season, DeBrusk produced 19-16-35 numbers in 65 games played, a regression compared to his first two NHL campaigns. Even though DeBrusk has had trouble finding his spark so far this season, he posted a career-high 27 goals last season, proving he has the capability of being a 30+ goal scorer. If he can sustain steady chemistry with either Krejci or Coyle, I believe he will become a force to be reckoned with. 

With DeBrusk facing a regression this season and struggling to remain consistent, this will give Sweeney the upper hand in negotiations and could lead to offering a ‘prove-yourself’ bridge contract. With that being said, if both parties agree to terms, I predict he will sign a deal worth $3M per year.

Zdeno Chara (UFA)

The 43-year-old Iron Man, Zdeno Chara, recently stated in an interview that although he does not want to get ahead of himself, he believes he will be willing to return to Boston for another season. Let’s not forget, Sweeney has also made it clear last season that as long as Chara feels he is healthy enough for another season, they will offer him a deal. “As long as his game aligns with his pride and preparations that he wants to put forth to keep it at the level he’s accustomed to having it to then we are going to explore having him as part of our group. He’s an impactful player.”

Chara continues to be a valuable asset for the Bruins, scoring five goals and 14 points with a whopping +26 rating so far this season. He also maintains 20+ minutes of ice-time per game and plays a massive role in the Bruins penalty-kill unit. He is also the longest-serving captain for the Bruins (since 2006-2007), and his legendary leadership qualities continue to shape and influence the entire team, sustaining the successful system he has helped implement for many years. 

As long as Chara feels healthy enough to suit up after the conclusion of the 2019-2020 season, I predict he will sign a one-year deal worth $1.5M.

Kevan Miller (UFA)

The rugged 32-year-old defenceman hasn’t seen any NHL action since the tail-end of the 2018-2019 season, after suffering multiple knee-cap fractures in a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. According to Sweeney, he will not be expected to return this season or for the playoffs, given the NHL eventually resumes this season but also stated they are willing to offer Miller a deal if he entertains the idea of playing again.

With Miller heading to free agency, there is a chance other teams may be willing to pick him up, but with a small sample size over the past few seasons due to serious injuries, the Bruins could be the only contenders at this moment. 

The issue with re-signing Miller is finding him a place in the line-up, even as a depth player. Defencemen John Moore and Connor Clifton are continually fighting for a spot in the line-up, and with Miller often facing setbacks in his recovery, I do not see where he fits in the line-up anymore. I have always adored Miller as the fearless shut-down defenceman, but I predict he will not re-sign with the Bruins.

Matt Grzelcyk (RFA)

The 5’9, 174-pound defenceman has used his phenomenal skating ability and offensive-minded skills to cement his position in the Bruins’ lineup. So far this season, Grzelcyk posted career highs in goals (four), assists (17), points (21), power-play points (seven), blocks (67), hits (56), and games played (68). He also carries a heavier work-load, averaging a little over 18 minutes of on-ice time per game so far this season. 

Grzelcyk also plays a vital role in the Bruins’ second power-play unit as well as their penalty-kill squad. Although fans often overlook the value of Grzelcyk due to his size, there is no doubt he is a valuable piece to the Bruins’ blue-line and has continued to improve each year. He currently has a cap hit of $1.4M.

It would benefit the 26-year-old defenceman if the 2019-2020 season resumes and finishes appropriately, but regardless, I believe Grzelcyk has proven himself as a valuable asset for the Bruins. I predict he will sign a deal worth $2.5M per year.

Anders Bjork (RFA)

Anders Bjork has built a lot of hype regarding his potential since his successful run with the University of Notre Dame from 2014-2017, amassing 40-69-109 numbers in 115 games played. Since turning pro in 2017, the left-winger has split his time between the Providence Bruins (AHL) and Boston Bruins, but unfortunately, his first two seasons were cut short due to shoulder injuries requiring major surgery.

So far this season, Bjork found his rhythm and has managed to stay healthy, suiting up for 58 games and posting 9-10-19 numbers. Although consistency has been a struggle for the forward this season, he has flashed moments of his incredible talent and speed. A message was sent to the 23-year-old forward after the acquisition of Ritchie, and Kase forced Bjork to the press box for a stretch of games, reminding the winger that there is plenty of room for improvement before he can cement a permanent position in the line-up.

Even with the current NHL season on hold, Bjork has been taking the time to re-watch games and note how he can improve his performance, according to a recent interview with the Bruins’ media.

“That’s always been a motivator. But with the trades and going out of the line-up right after that, I feel like I’ve got to put my work in to earn my spot back. That’s the culture on the team, for sure. That’s how we’ve been successful. Guys are constantly pushing each other. You have to if you want to play…. My game wasn’t exactly where it needed to be at before this pause, so I have time to work on it as much as I can.”

With a small sample size stapled with two season-ending shoulder injuries, Bjork knows he needs to make up for lost time quickly. According to Cap Friendly, his current cap-hit stands at $925,000, and he will also be eligible for salary arbitration after the conclusion of the current season. If both parties agree to terms, I predict he will sign a deal worth $1.5M per year.

Joakim Nordstrom (UFA)

The 2015 Stanley Cup champion, Joakim Nordstrom, has been a critical piece to the Bruins fourth-line and penalty-kill unit. Although the forward is more known for his blue-collar shifts than his offensive abilities, he has been a reliable 13th forward that makes an impact when slotted into the line-up. So far this season, Nordstrom has suited up for 48 games, notching four goals and seven points with 31 blocks and 91 hits. 

With the acquisition of Ritchie and Kase, Nordstrom has found himself in the pool of depth players along with Anton Blidh, Par Lindholm, Karson Kuhlman, and Bjork, who is continually trying to crack the line-up. With the emergence of younger players like Trent Fredric and Jack Studnicka in Providence, the competition is becoming incredibly tight in Boston, and with the salary cap staying flat at $81.4M, it seems the writing’s on the wall for Nordstrom. I predict he will not re-sign with the Bruins. 

In a perfect world, my predictions would leave the Bruins with $2.5M leftover, enough room in case players like Krug and Debrusk end up taking $500,000-$1M extra depending on how the deals work out of course. 

It is also important to note that Sweeney could opt to use a compliance buyout on a player or orchestrate a trade to free cap space. Buying out or moving a player like Moore ($2.75M cap-hit until 2024), for example, could significantly help in creating more cap space.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 177 that we recorded below on 5-3-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

Bruins And Goaltender Halak Come To Terms On One-Year Extension

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By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

As the National Hockey League remains on pause without a certain point of a return due to the Covid-19 worldwide pandemic, the Boston Bruins announced today that the club has agreed to a one-year contract extension with backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak. As seen below in the notification from the Boston Bruins official Twitter account the deal is worth a salary cap hit of $2.25 million, which is a cap-friendly deal from his last contract which paid him $2.25 million per season on a two-year deal.

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For the past two seasons for the Bruins team leading up to this unfortunate stoppage in life, the 34-year-old Halak has appeared in 71 games with a record of 40-17-10 with a 2.36 goals-against-average and .921 save percentage. Out of those 71 appearances, the veteran netminder has started in 66 games for Boston when starting goaltender Tuukka Rask needed a break as the aging netminder himself seems to thrive under the 1A-1B system. Halak who continues to play for his fifth team in his NHL career has impressive numbers in his 14-year career posting a record of 272-167-58 with a 2.48 GAA and .916 Save%.

By having Halak back for another season and under what many thought he could get on the open free agent market whenever the 2019-20 offseason actually happens, this is another way Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney is a genious. By getting these players under what they want for salaries with the strong words of “winning culture” it leaves space to re-sign other free agents like UFA Torey Krug, RFA Jake DeBrusk, RFA Matt Grzelcyk and so on. This will also likely mean the services of Max Lagace in Providence have come to an end making him a free agent again whenever the season officially is over and free agency actually begins.

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By this move, it creates a solid minor-pro tandem at the American Hockey League level in Rhode Island. With Dan Vladar who was playing phenomenally from the beginning of December 2019 to the Covid-19 work stoppage, and recently signed Jeremy Sawyman who left the University of Maine to sign a three-year entry-level contract to solidify the 1-A, 1-B in Providence, Lagace at this point of skepticism seems to be the odd-man-out. Before the stoppage, Lagace had a 2019-20 regular-season record or 22-7-3 with a 2.37 GAA and .919 Save%. assuming this all comes to fruition, that would leave prospect netminder Kyle Kyser to report to the ECHL if and when a new affiliation agreement becomes official. The current one-year agreement with the “AA” minor-pro ECHL affiliate Atlanta Gladiators was officially over with the cancelation of the remaining games of the 2019-20 season.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 176 that we recorded below on 4-27-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Boston Bruins: A Hat-Trick of Birthdays

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PHOTO CREDITS: (MADDIE MEYER/GETTY IMAGES)

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

Today, April 28th, 2020, three current Boston Bruins players all become a year older and celebrate their birthdays – David Krejci, Connor Clifton, and Jeremy Lauzon.

F David Krejci

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

David Krejci was born on April 28th, 1986 in Sternberk, Czechoslovakia. Krejci started his hockey career in the early 2000s playing with numerous U18 clubs in the Czech Republic – performing at over a point-per-game pace for each season. In 2003-2004, David scored 23-37-60 totals in 50 games with HC Kladno U20. This propelled him to the 2004 NHL Entry Draft where the Bruins selected him 63rd overall in the second round.

In the 2004-05 season, Krejci joined the Gatineau Olympiques in the QMJHL to further his development as a new Bruins prospect. He played two seasons with the Olympiques, posting 49-95-144 numbers in 117 games as well as 12-29-41 numbers in 27 playoff games.

Krejci didn’t make his mark on the Boston Bruins organization until the following season when he scored 74 points in 69 regular-season games with the Providence Bruins in the AHL and scored the most playoff assists as a rookie with 13 helpers in 13 games during the ’06/’07 postseason. David played in six games with Boston but didn’t make a true impact until the next year where he skated in 56 games for the Boston Bruins.

Since then, Krejci has played in 911 regular-season NHL games, scoring 207 goals and 479 assists for 686 points. Krejci added a Stanley Cup to his resume as he led the NHL in playoff goals (12) and points (23) to help the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011. Krejci’s 103 playoff points ties him with Patrice Bergeron for the second-most points in the postseason in Boston Bruins history.

This season, the 6-foot, 187-pound forward has 13-30-43 totals in 61 games before the COVID-19 pandemic put a pause on the NHL. Recently, David Krejci stated that he would like to continue playing hockey when his current contract expires in July of 2021. Whether or not Krejci plays with the Bruins after the deal ends is yet to be seen, but he will go down as one of the better Bruins of recent memory. Happy 34th Birthday, David Krejci!

D Connor Clifton

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Billy Hurst / USA Today)

Connor Clifton was born on April 28th, 1995 in Long Branch, New Jersey, USA. Clifton started his hockey journey in various United States hockey programs including the EmJHL, EJHL, and USHL. Throughout those different leagues, Clifton never played a large number of games per season but kept working. In 2012-13, Connor played with the U.S. National U18 Team in the United States Development Program (USDP) where he scored 8-15-23 numbers in 66 games.

Following that, the 5-foot-11, 174-pound defenceman was drafted 133rd overall (5th round) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft by the Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes. Being such a late draft selection, Clifton made his way to the NCAA to play for Quinnipiac University where he would spend the next four seasons ending in 2016-17. After two slow seasons, Clifton scored 28 points in 43 games for the Bobcats in 2015-16. That was the same season that Quinnipiac defeated Harvard to win the ECAC Championship, with Clifton winning the Tournament MVP.

Clifton captained the team in 2016-17, his final year in the NCAA, as he put up another 14 points in 39 games. After opting for free agency, Connor Clifton signed an AHL contract with the Providence Bruins and began his AHL career in 2017-2018. He posted 4-9-13 numbers in 54 games but went pointless in four playoff meetings. On May 3rd, 2018, the Boston Bruins signed Clifton to a two-year NHL contract, allowing him to play with the NHL team.

The New Jersey native played the bulk of the 2018-29 campaign in the AHL once again but did see 19 games of regular-season hockey with the NHL club, tallying one assist. However, it was on the Bruins’ 2019 Stanley Cup Finals run where he made an impact. “Cliffy Hockey” scored two goals and three assists in 18 playoff games and played a solid defensive game, laying heavy hits and making a name for himself with injuries on Boston’s blueline.

His performance earned him a three-year, $1 million AAV deal to re-sign with the Bruins in this past offseason. Unfortunately, though, Clifton only played 31 games in the NHL as he dealt with an upper-body injury for a large chunk of the season and then the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt on the NHL season just as Clifton was finding his way back into the lineup. Regardless, Connor will be a future regular on Boston’s d-core. Happy 25th Birthday, Connor Clifton!

D Jeremy Lauzon

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Jeremy Lauzon was born April 28th, 1997 in Val-d’Or, Quebec, Canada. Lauzon’s young hockey career started in 2010-11, playing for a few different organizations in Quebec, Canada. In 2013-14, Lauzon joined the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), where he came out of the gate with 5-11-16 numbers in 55 games and four points in 9 playoff appearances.

Lauzon had a more impressive sophomore season in the QMJHL, putting up 36 points in 60 games as a defenceman. Those numbers did something for the Bruins organization who selected the 6-foot-2, 205-pound 52nd overall (2nd round) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

The following season, in 2015-16, Boston returned Jeremy to the QMJHL where he scored 50 points during the regular season, earning himself an entry-level deal from Boston in November of 2015. In the playoffs that year, Jeremy posted 1-7-8 totals in 9 playoff games as Rouyn-Noranda won the QMJHL Championship, booking them a spot in the infamous Memorial Cup tournament. Lauzon’s Huskies made it all the way to the Finals but fell short to the London Knights.

Following one more season with the Huskies in the 2016-2017 campaign, Jeremy Lauzon finally joined the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. Lauzon, unfortunately, missed 22 games with a concussion but still played in 52 games, scoring 7 points. Lauzon made his NHL debut in the 2018-19 season and scored his first career goal in that same year.

This season, Lauzon proved to be a solid piece of Boston’s depth defensive core as he held his own in 19 games played when the other blueliners were out with injuries. In February of 2020, General Manager Don Sweeney re-signed Lauzon to a two-year contract extension worth an annual average of $850,000. Happy 23rd Birthday, Jeremy Lauzon!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 176 that we recorded below on 4-27-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins Will Have Challenging Offseason With New Salary Cap Reports

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( PHOTO CREDIT: Stephanie Gois on Pinterest )

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

With the NHL on pause due to the current COVID-19 pandemic that is essentially putting the entire world on hold, there have been a large number of questions regarding the future of the 2019-2020 regular-season as well as the subsequent postseason and how it may have an impact on the 2020-2021 campaign.

Today, April 17th, 2020, St. Louis Blues reporter Andy Strickland tweeted that the players of the league were informed on a call that the salary cap will remain the exact same for the upcoming season, flatlining at $81.5 million. Strickland went on to say that there were many ideas and scenarios presented to the players, including this one, and there are “several variables” that played a part in this decision.

Going back to earlier in the season, on March 4th, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly announced that the salary cap would increase from the current $81.5 million to anywhere from $84 million to $88.2 million. This, of course, was before the COVID-19 pandemic, and it created a sense of security for teams around the league who have numerous players with expiring contracts come July 1st. One of those teams that would have benefited greatly from a raise in salary cap? The Boston Bruins.

Below is the full list of Boston Bruins players that have expiring deals come July 1st, 2020 as per CapFriendly:

NHL Roster:

  • F Anders Bjork – RFA
  • F Jake DeBrusk – RFA
  • F Joakim Nordstrom – UFA
  • D Torey Krug – UFA
  • D Zdeno Chara – UFA
  • D Kevan Miller – UFA
  • D Matt Grzelcyk – RFA
  • G Jaroslav Halak – UFA

AHL Roster (Providence):

  • F Brett Ritchie – RFA
  • F Zach Senyshyn – RFA
  • F Karson Kuhlman – RFA
  • F Ryan Fitzgerald – UFA G6
  • F Brendan Gaunce – RFA
  • F Peter Cehlarik – RFA
  • D Jakub Zboril – RFA
  • D Wiley Sherman – RFA
  • D Alex Petrovic – UFA
  • G Daniel Vladar – RFA
  • G Maxime Lagacé – UFA

For simplicity’s sake, in this article, we will only take a look at the eight players on the current Boston Bruins NHL roster and not the ones in the American Hockey League as the majority of them can be placed on a qualifying offer. According to @bruinscapspace on Twitter, the B’s will have roughly $20 million in available cap space to sign players this offseason.

Starting off, it is very likely the Bruins do not re-sign goaltender Jaroslav Halak. At 34-years-of-age, Halak is making $2.75 million, but with his impressive performances in both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns, Halak has proven that he deserves a pay raise, and he can very well be a solid starting goaltender for a franchise who’s looking for a more experienced netminder. With funds running dry and the potential for goalies such as Daniel Vladar to become the new backup goaltender behind Tuukka Rask, it makes the most sense to move on from Halak.

To add to my releases, I do not see the Bruins re-signing forward Joakim Nordstrom. The 28-year-old has been making $1 million for each of the past two seasons and has been a solid depth player for the B’s, but it’s a spot that can be replaced by a depth player from the Baby Bruins. His short tenure with the Black and Gold is valued and appreciated, but it is, unfortunately, time to move on.

This brings us to the two restricted free-agent forwards – Jake DeBrusk and Anders Bjork. DeBrusk has been a consistent 40-point scorer (he was only five points away from hitting 40 again this season) and last season in his sophomore campaign, scored 27 goals. Again, I look to @bruinscapspace on Twitter, who created a simple graphic on some comparable contracts for DeBrusk.

The comparables listed make it appear that DeBrusk could be looking at an average cap hit of somewhere around the $3.5 million number on likely a three or four-year contract. At a young age, DeBrusk has been a good top-six winger for the Bruins but has also faced times of inconsistency throughout his tenure. Those inconsistencies are what brings his salary cap number down. I have DeBrusk re-signing with the Bruins on a three-year, $3.5 million AAV contract. 

Anders Bjork is the other RFA forward on the Bruins roster that will return. Bjork is finishing up his entry-level contract and has played 108 regular-season games for the B’s, scoring 14-20-34 numbers during that time. Bjork has 19 points in 58 games this year, meaning he won’t ask for a large salary. For a comparable, the Penguins re-signed Zach Aston-Reese when he was 24 (Bjork is 23) for $1 million AAV for two years. Aston-Reese had a 0.38 points-per-game average in 59 games, whereas Bjork has a 0.31 points-per-game average in 108 games played. I have Anders Bjork re-signing with the Bruins on a two-year, $1.25 million contract. 

Now, the defencemen. With a doubt, the blueline of the Bruins has been the number one talking point in regards to the offseason with powerhouse defender Torey Krug and captain Zdeno Chara each on expiring deals as well as the young offensive Matt Grzelcyk and the injury-riddled Kevan Miller. With today’s news of the new salary cap, it appears to be unrealistic for all four to re-up their deals.

Earlier this month, General Manager Don Sweeney said that if the NHL season does resume this year, that defenceman Kevan Miller will likely not be healthy enough to return to the team. However, in an article by 985TheSportsHub.com writer, Ty Anderson, Sweeney said, “Our intentions are for Kevan to be 100 percent healthy so he can resume when we start the next season. We know Kevan is a UFA, so we will entertain the opportunity to bring Kevan back, and he will also entertain whether or not he wants to be back.”

Injuries have prevented Miller from playing in over a full calendar year, and for that reason, he is expendable in my eyes and I believe the Bruins will not re-sign him prior to the July 1st deadline.

At 26-years-old, Charlestown, Massachusetts native Matt Grzelcyk is the future of the Bruins defensive core and in my humble opinion, is a must re-sign. In 68 games this year, Grzelcyk has 4-17-21 numbers, a new career-high in goals, assists, and points. Grzelcyk, like Krug, is a 5-foot-9, left-handed defenceman who is primarily known for his puck handling and offensive capabilities. With room to improve as well, Grzelcyk is one of those players teams would love to have on their backend. I have the Bruins re-signing Matt Grzelcyk on a two-year, $2.5 million contract. 

Zdeno Chara has been the captain of the Boston Bruins since the 2006-07 season and ever since, has been the backbone of the leadership core in every way possible, guiding the way for countless rookies on the roster to make their mark on the league. However, at 43-years-old, Father Time is going to catch up on Chara eventually. Retirement is very likely around the corner but I doubt it happens this offseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Zdeno still averaged 21:01 minutes on the ice this year, proving he is still capable, so I predict he re-joins the Bruins organization. The only way this happens is on a one-year, $1.5 million contract. 

Finally, Torey Krug. Krug is the quarterback of the power-play and the driver of offense on the blueline. At 29-years-old, the Michigan native has 337 career points in 523 regular-season games and put up 9-40-49 totals in 61 games prior to the pause. With the signings above, the Bruins would have $11.25 remaining in available cap space. Krug has made it clear he would rather remain a Bruin and the message seems to be the same on the management side as well. The Bruins could re-sign Krug on a seven-year, $7 million contract, leaving just around $4 million in cap room to get depth players or even a backup goalie if they feel Vladar cannot take the role.

Before we conclude, it is fair to note that comparisons of other players league-wide are nearly impossible given the worldwide circumstances. Times are not the same whatsoever so these numbers can fluctuate entirely. In addition, the Bruins could pull off a trade if they so feel necessary to free up more cap space or pick up another piece heading into the upcoming season.

Things could be a lot worse for the Boston Bruins, but with the talent in Providence and the strong depth, it makes more players a bit more expendable. However, predictions like these are very difficult to predict and these upcoming months will be fascinating to follow.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 174 that we recorded below on 4-12-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Report: Boston Bruins Sign Undrafted NCAA Defenseman Ahcan

( Photo Credit: Dan and Margaret Hickling | uscho.photoshelter.com )

By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

The Bruins have reportedly come to terms on an entry-level contract with Jack Ahcan. The deal would most likely be for two years, consistent with similar college UFA’s. Ahcan, a five-foot eight-inch, left-shot defenseman, was playing for St. Cloud State University prior to the school’s cessation of on-campus and sports activity due to the spread of SARS-CoV-2. He had led the Huskies as team captain through 33 games during the 2019-2020 season, his senior year.

Ahcan has logged seven goals to compliment 18 assists from the Huskies’ back-end. His point total is good for third on the roster and first among his peers along the blue-line. Through his four years at St. Cloud State, Ahcan accumulated 21 goals, 103 points and a plus 13 rating in 144 games. He became the third defenseman in team history to earn 100 or more points and has set a record for blue-liners with 82 assists. Aside from his offensive production, Ahcan has proven to be a key piece to the Huskies indicated by his reputation in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

 

The Minnesota native has received numerous awards for his efforts in the NCHC including being named Defensive Player of the Week three times and earning a spot on the All-NCHC Second Team in both 2018 and 2019 as well as the 2016-2017 All-NCHC Rookie Team. He was also a part of the United States World Junior Championship Team that won Gold in 2017 as a teammate to current B’s star Charlie McAvoy.  His efforts on the ice and intangibles off of it have not gone unnoticed among NHL teams.

Although undrafted, Ahcan has been invited to several teams’ development camps in order for scouts to gain a closer look at the player and to give him a glimpse of what it takes to be a professional athlete. He participated in camps with the Los Angeles Kings in 2017, Columbus Blue Jackets in 2018 and the Colorado Avalanche in 2019, but was either not offered a deal or elected not to sign in each of those years. His offensive mindset and vision, skating ability and no-quit attitude have frequently been highlighted as his key traits.

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Ahcan’s listed height and weight put him in the category of “diminutive;” a four-letter word in the NHL that helps to explain why teams have passed on him in drafts and have played coy on offering contract opportunities to the collegiate senior. Even in the modern NHL, size is considered a factor and most certainly for the defense as they often are expected to bring an in-your-face, physical element to dissuade some of the most highly skilled players in the world from treading on those dangerous areas inside the house. In spite of his size, Ahcan’s strengths of excellent vision, skating, and leadership qualities are typical of a Bruins college UFA signing.

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Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has implemented a system of fast neutral- and defensive- zone play that emphases protecting the slot and crease while aggressively pressuring attackers when outside of that zone to regain control of the puck to transition play quickly into the other end of the rink. General Manager Don Sweeney has done his best to acquire players to develop that will fit that mentality in the draft and in free agency. The team has additionally made his character a key consideration for prospective players and those leadership qualities have influenced signing decisions on other players like Karson Kuhlman in 2018 and Nick Wolf earlier in March 2020. Ahcan’s on-ice successes are indicative of his ability to conform to all of those requirements, both in two-way, decisive play and team-building intangibles.

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Regardless of what happens for the rest of the NHL’s regular- and playoff- seasons, Ahcan will have an opportunity to join a defensive-corps that will be in flux on the left flank in the fall of 2020. He will face stiff competition from the B’s current prospects and will most likely see duty in Providence for the Bruins’ AHL affiliate. If the season is restarted when normalcy has returned to the US and the world, he may get an opportunity to join the Providence Bruins on run for the playoffs and the Calder Cup this calendar year. Regardless of when he’s able to don a black and gold sweater for either team, Bruins’ management and fans should be happy they were able to secure a quality prospect for essentially nothing as they hope that he can develop into an impact player at the highest level.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 171 that we recorded below on 3-23-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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