Providence Bruins 2020/21 Roster Predictions – Part #1 The Forwards

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

In part one of my American Hockey League Providence Bruins 2020/21 roster predictions, I’ll provide an opinion of what an upcoming regular season lineup could look like in a Head Coach Jay Leach system. I’m keeping in mind that the offseason has yet to be determined. Not knowing what’s to happen in free agency is a bit tricky, so please take my thoughts with a grain of salt and bare with me.

On paper, the potential roster of the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins top minor-pro affiliate is certainly intriguing throughout with recent youth additions and league advancement with player promotions. In the first article in this mini-series, I’d like to focus on the 12 forwards that I believe will provide the most offensive punch in the upcoming season whenever when the AHL gets back up and running.

Below are three scenarios of line combinations that I came up with as an idea of how things can fluctuate with promotions to the NHL and departures of last season’s roster. At the minor-pro levels of hockey, having backup plans is never more important when thinking of middle depth competitiveness and sustainability.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Scenario #1 – What if Jack Studnicka Gets Promoted?

As someone who’s followed Jack Studnicka’s hockey career since being selected in the second round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, I do feel his time is coming quickly concerning advanced placement. I’m confident in the Bruins staff that if the NHL is a potential destination next season, he’ll be placed in a position to not only succeed but also continue to develop. He needs to be playing consistently, and if his role is a 13th or 14th forward, I think that role as a revolving forward would be a detriment to said development. Below is my lineup if Jack makes the Boston club out training camp for the upcoming season.

#24 Hughes – #7 Frederic – #20 Kuhlman

#13 Lauko – #29 Steen – #28 Carey

#16 Gaunce – #11 Asselin – #9 Senyshyn

#45 Koppanen – #27 Woods – Voyer

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

There are two areas of the third line that I’d like to mention as potential departures. We don’t know if the Bruins and forward Brendan Gaunce are going to agree on another deal to place him back in the AHL when he could seek a better path for NHL work in free agency. The other is the idea of bringing back Zach Senyshyn, who I strongly agree they should but will be exposed to the waiver process if his services are needed in Providence if he doesn’t make the team out of camp.

If Gaunce and Senyshyn don’t make returns to the Providence lineup next season, this is where that backup plan comes into play. When talking about the right-wing position possibly vacated by the former 2015 first-round pick Senyshyn, I think of a player like Robert Lantosi who can fill that position seamlessly. The 5′-11″ 185-pound Lantosi is currently in the final year of his one-year AHL only contract and posted 11-20-31 numbers in 50 games in his first season of North American Pro Hockey.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Now moving onto the Gaunce departure theory. If the 26-year-old chooses to leave for better pastures, I believe a solid replacement would be former Brown University forward and left shooting left-winger Tommy Marchin. The 6′-2″ 216-pound Michigan native played his first professional season since leaving the Ivy League has played with Providence a total of 12 games in two seasons posting 2-0-2 numbers. Marchin played his first full pro season this year with the Bruins “AA” minor-pro ECHL affiliate the Atlanta Gladiators. In 49 games for the Glads, he posted impressive 27-21-28 numbers and looks like he could fill the bottom six if a left-wing position is available. Marchin is currently on an expiring AHL only contract, but I mention him as a solid backup option if he’s retained.

Sticking with the third line in this scenario is the mention up the middle with Samuel Asselin. The 21-year-old left shooting center currently has one-year remaining on his AHL only contract. In 53 games with the ECHL Atlanta club, this season, the 5′-9″ 185-pound forward did very posting 26-26-52 numbers in his first year of professional hockey after leaving the QMJHL a year prior. Asselin will be a reliable option with the upshift if Studnicka finds a roster spot with Boston.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Another thing to consider here and wanted to mention something before moving on, but the Karson Kuhlman contract negotiations should be interesting as an RFA this offseason. Obviously, an upshift would occur if he made the NHL roster or didn’t want to return to the Boston organization with the progressive bottleneck in Providence. I believe the Bruins are going to re-sign Karson to keep him in the fold, but is he legitimately going to stay with the limited path upward? Kuhlman has tremendous upside for a shifty, speedy forward, but (Hate Saying This!) he might have better NHL success elsewhere. Maybe even getting a deal worked out with Minnesota for a fourth-round draft pick from the Minnesota Wild to return him to the state he was born.

Scenario #2 – What If Studnicka Remains In Providence For Further Development?

As mentioned, I’m a massive fan of Studnicka and what he’s done thus far as a developing asset with the Bruins organization and hope he secures a roster spot in the NHL next season first and foremost. What if he doesn’t make the final cuts out of the NHL Bruins training camp whenever that may be and needs to be sent down to Providence to continue working on an already highly skilled set of attributes? Here’s what a potential AHL Bruins lineup could look like with a Captain Jack return to Rhode Island.

#13 Lauko – #23 Studnicka – #20 Kuhlman

#24 Hughes – #7 Frederic – #28 Carey

#16 Gaunce – #29 Steen – #9 Senyshyn

#45 Koppanen – #27 Woods – Voyer

To me, this is a solid lineup above and one that, in my opinion, has unfinished business. Due to the Covid-19 shutdown, the Providence team played well in the early parts of the season and really turned it up with a 12-game winning streak marching up the Atlantic and Eastern Conference. Who knows what would’ve come for this team in 2019-20 Providence club this year, but it was certainly fun to watch, and a long Calder Cup run was absolutely possible. The only change I’d make from the lineup obviously if Jack returns is the addition of a new Providence player that the AHL club signed earlier this spring.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Voyer signed a two-year AHL only contract in April of 2020 and will be entering his first full season of minor-pro hockey after posting decent numbers in the QMJHL with the Sherbrooke Phoenix. The Sherbrooke, Quebec native posted 44-44-88 numbers in 63 games for the Phoenix franchise, which was a career-high. Sherbrooke is the second team Voyer has played for in his QMJHL career. The rugged 6′-2″ 192-pound right-winger started his Canadian Hockey League career with the Rimouski Oceanic, where he appeared in 158 games and contributed 22-35-57 numbers. His offensive production would almost double when he was moved to his hometown. Voyer Would play the past two seasons with the Sherbrooke club and posted 73-73-146 totals in 131 Phoenix games.

Forward Reesignments & Unfortunate Departures

Pavel Shen – A fast forward who just completed year one of his first season of North American hockey as the first Russian drafted out of the Boston organization since the selection of Alexander Khokhlachev in 2011. Shen had a decent AHL rookie season, but I believe he’d benefit from a full season in the ECHL with Atlanta next season. The 6′-1″ 183-pound forward has two more seasons remaining in his entry-level deal and continues to be a work in progress. He was demoted to the ECHL after being outplayed in the Providence forward rotation last season and believe he should at least start with the Gladiators for the upcoming 2020/21 campaign.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Brett Ritchie – This is an interesting scenario with Brett’s future with the Boston Bruins organization. Ritchie is a hard worker and certainly wants to work hard to get back to the NHL. With that being said, I don’t see an option with both sides agreeing on more time in the minors for him. I can see either he gets moved for a late-round draft pick, or the Bruins flat out walk away from his future services or cap space he could be asking for if retained. His salary should go in every effort to re-sign NHL players like Torey Krug, Jake DeBrusk, and Matt Grzelcyk, to name a few. The potential $81.5 flat cap just has me see the Boston club moving on from him.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Ryan Fitzgerald – This one is going to kill me moving forward because I believe Ryan is a dependable middle-depth professional, but the road has certainly been tough trying to get to the NHL. Fitzy is an unrestricted free agent during this offseason, and with four bottom-six forwards already at the NHL level contracted for another year, I find it hard to believe he’d come back to play in the AHL. Honestly, the kid has busted his ass but keeps getting overpassed for looks, and like I’ve said so many times, he might be better off leaving for better opportunities. Ryans had some bad luck with injuries throughout his entry-level contract and the one-year extension he signed last summer. I actually thought Fitzgerald would’ve been a perfect low cap hit promotion before the Mayor Chris Wagner signed long-term. Regardless of my opinion, if Fitzy does, in fact, leave the Bruins organization, I hope nothing but the best for him.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

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!

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 Depth Players That Deserve Contract Extensions

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney certainly has his hands full when it comes to restricted and unrestricted free agents whenever the “official” National Hockey Leagues offseason happens. Boston’s future sustainability depends on whether or not contracts go well or not with potential re-signings of current NHLer’s like Anders Bjork (RFA Arbitration Eligible), Zdeno Chara (UFA), Jake DeBrusk (RFA), Matt Grzelcyk (RFA), Torey Krug (UFA), Kevan Miller (UFA), and Joakim Nordstrom (UFA).

To me, out of the players mentioned above, the priorities have to come down to Bjork, DeBrusk, Krug, and Grzelcyk to be extended for either short-term bridge or longer-term contracts. Regardless of work that has to be done at the NHL level to stay competitive and compliant with a potential flat salary cap at $81.5 for two to three seasons, it’s not going to be easy. With a rumored $18 million in cap space preparing for the upcoming 2020/21 campaign, I have a feeling the organization, along with some players, might have stalled talks leading up to 11th-hour panic decisions.

Not all offseason negotiations during the upcoming offseason are going to be hair pulling or check your blood pressure stressful moments. For example, take a look at the excellent CapFreindly.com website and scroll down to players coming off entry-level contract deals that could easily accept qualifying offers and one or two-year two-way extensions. Below are my thoughts of what players I’d like to see the Boston organization keep in the fold when it comes to development and having that “break glass” in case of emergency availability close by for another year or two.

Brendan Gaunce

( Photo Credit: Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images )

One of the Providence Bruins bright spots last season and his first with the NHL Bruins organization. Gaunce agreed to a one-year, two-way contract on July 1st, 2019, after spending four seasons in the Vancouver Canucks organization. Brendan was a solid middle-depth signing that brought a lot to the Providence Bruins line when talking about an aggressive style game and offensive capabilities.

Starting the 2019-20 AHL regular season with Providence on the right foot going 3-1-4 in his first five games, he hit a bit of a speed bump to his fast start on the back-to-back weekend trip north of the border. When the Rhode Island club traveled to Laval, Quebec, to play the affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens, Gaunce would suffer a severe head injury. Laval forward, Michael McCarron hit Brendan with a center ice blindsided hit, which led to the then 25-year-old concussed and gruesome facial lacerations.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Gaunce, who’s an absolute warrior at 6′-2″ and 217-pounds, only needed 22 days to get healthy enough to return to the ice with extra facial protection, of course. Brendan got back in the lineup and immediately produced offensively like the injury never happened. His return to the AHL Bruins lineup, he contributed 1-1-2 numbers in a 4-1 road victory against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and would continue the year as a valued asset to Providence Head Coach Jay Leach up and down the roster.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

As a veteran forward in the developmental ranks, Brendan never went more than four games without a point, and in fact, his offensive production kicked it up a notch in the send half of the 2019-20 campaign. Starting with an assist on February 9th, 2020, in a 2-1 overtime loss to Sound Tigers, Brendan went the next ten games (27 Days) riding a career-high scoring streak where he posted 7-7-14 in that timeframe. With the cancelation of remaining games and Calder Cup Playoffs due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Gaunce finished the 2019-20 regular-season with 18-19-37 numbers in 52 games. Brendan was everything the Bruins expected as a minor-pro system addition and a go-to if an emergency recall was needed. In one game with Boston last season, he contributed an assist in his first NHL game since he was with Vancouver, where he appeared in three in the 2018-19 season.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

If I were the general manager of the NHL Bruins and if Gaunce would accept an extension to stay within the organization, he’d undoubtedly be a low-risk, high-reward signing. Either a one-year deal or a two-year stay, I can see Gaunce coming back and possibly having a better year than the previous shortened season. He has tremendous leadership skills, along with offensive ability. He could definitely be a candidate if retained for the next Providence Bruins captaincy if current team leader Paul Carey departs after next season.

Karson Kuhlman

( Photo Credit: Steve Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images )

A sneakingly good signing from the skillful eyes of the Boston Bruins scouting staff, Kuhlman’s addition has added a significant amount of speed and talent to the forward depth of this organization. The 5′-11″ 185-pound versatile forward has been a useful plug-and-play no matter where the soon to be 25-year-old has been asked to play. Karson is a tremendously hard worker and never gives up, which is a driving force the B’s should seriously consider bringing back for extended development.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

He might be undersized and young, but he’s displayed a significant number of leadership qualities thus far in his young hockey career. Before coming to the Bruins as a free agent the Minnesota USA, native wore letters in three of his four seasons playing NCAA Division 1 hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He might not light up the AHL or NHL scoreboard with point production consistency, but he adds a decent element of speed when inserted at either level. Most coaches will say that it’s not all about getting marks on the scoresheet on a nightly basis, but did that player do something that most didn’t notice to make an impact during the contest. Kuhlman’s uncanny skillset on the forecheck has been a valued asset no matter what level he’s played in.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

As many NHL Bruins fans have seen at the highest level in the world, Kuhlman has done pretty much everything Boston Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has asked of him. In his limited time with Boston, he’s appeared in 36 games contributing 4-7-11 numbers playing in 11 contests in 2018-19 and another 25 in 2019-20. Karson was never a massive point producer at any level of developmental hockey and in fact, his best pro season with Providence was in the 2018-19 campaign where he notched 12-18-30 totals in 58 games played along with an impressive +23 on the year.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Kuhlman’s speed and upside are certainly worthy of a contract extension and believe Cassidy has high respect for his work ethic, which might have serious consideration keeping him in the fold. Replacements are going to be needed with future roster departures at the NHL level, so why not take a low-risk contract with Kuhlman? I’d say a $1.5 million two-year, two-way contract extension allows the Bruins accessibility to capture lightning in a bottle and promote quickly if Karson kicks up his offensive production at the AHL level.

Zach Senyshyn

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com / @AHLBruins )

To many Bruins fans, the mention of Boston prospect Zach Senyshyn brings up trying times and a bit of a reach at the NHL Entry Draft table back in the summer of 2015. Regardless of what Zach has done in the B’s organization, he’s consistently being labeled as a “draft bust” and a huge mistake. There’s no doubt, better-talented players, and ones that have risen to the NHL sooner rather than later were passed over in the first round. This certainly wasn’t B’s General Manager Don Sweeney and scouting staff’s most beautiful moment, but what was done is done and have to move on.

I know I’m going to be in the minority here with my opinion, but I believe Senyshyn has provided an excellent service to the Bruins organization. He’s another player that hasn’t exactly blown anyone to the moon with the stats since leaving the 2015 Draft Podium at the, but his work ethic and aggressiveness to be better has been second to none. Providence Head Coach Jay Leach has used Zach up and down the B’s lineup to act like a sponge and learn all aspects of the game. His game with and without the puck attributes has been something both sides have been working on since his arrival to the AHL.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Before turning pro, he spent three seasons with the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds starting his Canadian Hockey League career as a fourth-liner in his rookie year tallying 26 goals on a deep Soo club, to follow up the next two years with the Greyhounds posting two 40 goal seasons (45 & 42) before turning pro in 2017-18. In his OHL career, all with the Hounds he posted 114-63-177 numbers and so far in his AHL career he’s contributed 33-33-66 numbers in 174 games.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Senyshyn is currently in the last year of his entry-level contract, and his speed and offensive skillset continue to be a work-in-progress and believe he’ll be re-signed during the offseason. The tricky part of a deal with a player like Zach is if he’s in fact extended, he’ll have to go through the waiver process if he doesn’t make the NHL team out of training camp. I’m not sure how much the Bruins would want to invest when it comes to money and term for a younger player that one might not have a spot at the NHL level, and number two a player who most likely won’t survive the 24-hour waiver process he’d have to go through returning to the AHL.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

If Senyshyn’s re-signed and able to squeak through waivers much like the path that former Bruins prospect Peter Cehlarik did, I can see the Boston organization offering Zach a $1.8 million contract. I believe a two-year, two-way deal will be beneficial and, with the term, can see him securing an NHL roster spot by the end of a two-year extension. His speed and stride is something that you can’t just walk away from. Senyshyn’s ability to create space quickly away from opponents with or without the puck is something I’d certainly like to keep around. He could even be a solid third-line or even second winger in the future if everything works out, of course, but I commend the path that the Bruins have gone with the now 23-year-old 6′-1″ 196-pound forward.

Jakub Zboril

( Photo Credit: David Kirouac / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images )

Much like Senyshyn above, this wasn’t Boston’s finest hour when they went to the NHL Draft podium three times mid-first round in 2015. Zboril is another player that has absorbed the pro level of hockey with a seeming grain of salt and no rush mentality. Jakub has all the characters of being a lower pairing defenseman right now, but his path to the highest level in the world has taken a lot longer than most want to fathom.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

As a later developing pro, Zboril, by far, had his best season this year before the Covid-19 pandemic halted life as we know it. Call it a contract year scenario, but I noticed something special in the final year of his entry-level contract that brings me to this mention of the B’s bringing him back. More of a stay-at-home defenseman, Zboril does have some offensive capabilities as he ended his third season in Providence, tying an AHL career-high of 19 points he posted for three consecutive years.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Zboril is a player that is always learning something new no matter what level of developmental hockey. In a defensive-minded Jay Leach system, Jakub can adapt to the three defensive pairings no matter where slotted. His aggressive style and defensive prowess this season has gotten tremendous attention not only from me but other media members in Providence who also spend a great deal in the press box evaluating talent. Jakub isn’t a perfect defensive player and does have moments where I shake my head, but his ability to get back in the play and recover from a mistake is commendable. Accountability is at the highest of his game attributes and is not one to pass the blame when an error in judgment is made on or off the puck.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

If I was to give an extension to Jakub, I’d go another year or two with him with potential departures at the NHL level in the future. Zdeno Chara is always a candidate when talking about a roster spot if and when he retires. John Moore and his roster spot are still up for conversation and which young player can come in and cover for the declining blueliner. Or how about the upcoming Seattle Expansion draft, and if a current Bruins player on defense is appealing to the newest NHL franchise, who’s set to draft an initial lineup next summer? Zboril is a player that can easily slot into an NHL lineup with space availability, of course, and will be a backup plan for the foreseeable future if he’s retained. When it comes to a dollar value, I will look at the $1.5-$2 million range for Jakub’s extended services.

Also, keeping in mind any future negotiations with Zboril will also be heavily considered when thinking about his waiver priority. If retained for further services, he’d need to pass through waivers to be placed in Providence, and with the current situation ahead of him when it comes to NHL contracts, that’ll likely be the destination. Personally, I hope the B’s do whatever it takes to keep him around as an ace in the hole but would also hate to lose him and not seeing his full NHL potential.

Dan Vladar

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Probably the biggest re-signing for the Boston Bruins staff out of any mentioned above when it comes to middle depth sustainability in the crease. With one more year of NHL starter Tuukka Rask remaining in his contract and the recent extension to backup Jaroslav Halak, the NHL level is covered when it comes to netminding duties. This provides an adequate amount of time for further development of 2015 third-round selection Dan Vladar and recently signed to entry-level contract Jeremy Swayman out of his junior year at the University of Maine.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Vladar, who’s in his last year of his ELC, really took a stranglehold in his development during the 2019-20 regular-season campaign. After a slow start to the soon to be 23-year-old Czech Republic native, he encountered an injury In the seasons first cross border roadie in Laval, Quebec which left him with a high ankle sprain. Dan’s season record began with the 0-1-1 record giving up six goals in three games, so there’s no real-time for an injury to happen, but in the end, it was, in fact, beneficial, to say the least.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

During Vladar’s recovery, which lasted a whole 45 days before he returned from his ankle sprain also was a student of the game during that duration when help from above came down lending professional advice. NHL Bruins Goaltending Coach Bob Essensa and assistant Mike Dunham took advantage of the young goaltenders “downtime” while rehabilitating for countless hours of video sessions breaking down his game while minimizing his crease movements. As a 6′-5″ 185-pound athletic netminder, Essensa and Dunham broke down his game with technology to teach the big Czech netminder a new way of manning the crease and using his size to his benefit.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

When Vladar returned to the ice after his lengthy injury, he absolutely put on a show blanking the 2018-19 Calder Cup Champion Charlotte Checkers 4-0 with 36 saves and first star honors. After Dan’s No-No on December 1st, 2019, at the Bojangles Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, he would go onto post a regular-season record of 14-7-1 with a stingy and league-leading 1.79 goals-against-average and .936 save percentage. He also ended the 2019-20 regular-season campaign with three shutouts.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Before the coronavirus shut everything down, Vladar was on his way to having his best career year between the pipes. I know it’s a small sample size of his potential, but in my opinion, with the tutelage of Essensa and Dunham and how he came back strong and determined has me believe he will definitely be re-signed. With the stretch of games from the start of December to mid-March, Vladar was clearly the best goaltender in that duration and started turning heads when thinking about future NHL placement. Extending Vladar for two more years not only locks him up for another full AHL season and audition, but it also makes him a serious candidate when considering future options with Halak and Rask and expiring contracts.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

A two-year, two-way contract worth around $2 million is certainly not out of the realm for keeping a netminder like Vladar around. Also, keep in mind that my guess on what Vladar and others mentioned when talking about a contract is the dollar value and what the particular player will earn at the Level if lucky enough to spend time at the highest level in the world. When spending time in the AHL, obviously, that number goes down to a range of $70K to $150K depending on the two-way contract structure, and bonuses entailed.

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!

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!

AHL Bruins Offseason Departures Could Open Doors For Current ECHL Talent

( Photo Credit: AJC.com )

By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

As many of you know, the ECHL canceled the remainder of the 2019-20 regular-season and Kelly Cup Playoffs in mid-March well before the higher American Hockey League followed suit in mid-May with their remaining season and postseason cancelations. The Covid-19 pandemic has put a chokehold on many sports in North America for the past few months. It continues to wreak havoc on them returning anytime soon, with the number of athletes testing positive lately.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Regardless of the coronavirus battle, which legitimately was the end of minor-pro hockey for the foreseeable future, players were showcasing their skills in the ECHL for jobs at a higher level. Take, for instance, the Boston Bruins “AA” minor-pro affiliate Atlanta Gladiators. Before everything came to a screeching halt, the Gladiators went from being near the bottom of the South Division to postseason hopefuls. Although the 2019-20 efforts of the Atlanta club were due to a team getting healthy and coming together, three players stood out to me and should be considered for re-signing and possible placement in the AHL next season.

With contract negotiations coming up with forwards Ryan Fitzgerald (UFA), Brendan Gaunce (RFA), Robert Lantosi (AHL Only Contract), Brett Ritchie (RFA), and even possibly Zach Senyshyn (RFA), a few options to play elsewhere might open up with the current Bruins depth. If some of these players I mentioned above choose to find another path for regular work at the National Hockey League level, here’s a few suggestions below of players that could be reliable replacements. Another huge advantage to my upcoming player mentions is the fact that both Boston and Providence organizations have had the “eye test” from scouts close by and could continue to serve a purpose in the middle depth of the organization already with decent resumes.

Samuel Asselin

( Photo Credit: Gwinnett Daily Post / Taylor Trebotte / Atlanta Gladiators )

I thought Samuel had a fantastic 2019-20 regular-season campaign that had him going up and down Interstate I-95 a few times from Atlanta to Rhode Island. Spending a majority of time during his first year of professional hockey with the Gladiators, the skilled, speedy forward posted 26-26-52 numbers in 53 games and was one of a few of the go-to’s all season when the Glads needed a strong offensive spark.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

For those who need a little catching up, Asselin signed a two-year AHL only contract in early June of last year and went through the rigors of NHL Bruins Development Camp in late June, Rookie Camp, and Prospects Challenge games in Buffalo, NY. last fall. The talented centerman spent time on the NHL Bruins training camp roster unable to survive the first cuts. Samuel would report to the AHLBruins 2019 training camp down in Rhode Island, ultimately getting sent to Atlanta who’s season started in mid-October. Before the Providence Bruins came calling for Asselin’s services he ended his QMJHL career (82-118-200 in 247 GP) leading the “Q” with 48 goals during the 2018-19 season after a trade from Acadie-Bathurst Titan where he won a 2018 Memorial Cup to lighting it up with goals for the Halifax Mooseheads the following season.

If by any chance, unrestricted free agent Ryan Fitzgerald is unfortunately lost in free agency to create a better NHL career path for himself, I could see a player like Asselin taking over Fitzy’s roster spot and possibly his role on the bottom six for Head Coach Jay Leach. Asselin not only possesses speed and a great pair of hands but also a grit factor and not afraid to get in the dirty areas along the boards and around the crease to create offensive opportunities. Asselin has one more year under his AHL contract. With his hard work in Atlanta, this past season deserves a chance over giving the job to a journeyman veteran that the Providence organization seems to find with decent overall success.

Samuel got into five AHL games as a first-year pro, and I thought he played well in the areas of the lineup where Providence Head Coach Jay Leach shuffled him around. Asselin spent the later have of November with the top minor-pro affiliate of the NHL Bruins and in those five games posted three assists which got him his first pro points and ended his first pro point streak which continues if and when he gets into another game next season.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Scott Conway

( Photo Credit: Gwinnett Daily Post / Taylor Trebotte / Atlanta Gladiators )

Conway is an interesting story that has his hockey career beginning in England as a young man and a country who’s global interest in the sport was and continues to trend upward in popularity. Scott’s father Kevin Conway had a successful OHL career (129-139-268 in 175GP) in the early 1980s but only got as high in North American professional hockey as the International Hockey League, which at the time was lower than the AHL. Father Kevin’s hockey success would kick it up a notch when he went overseas to play in the United Kingdom in the late 1980s. The elder Conway played in leagues abroad, such as the BD1 (522-430-952 in 152GP), the BHL (372-363-735 in 208GP), BISL (60-63-123 in 125GP, and finally the EPIHL where he posted 186 points in 85 games.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Younger Scott did play his youth hockey overseas. Still, his game would take a significant step higher in his development when he came to North America and participated in tier 1 leagues such as the NAHL (18-36-54 in 57GP), the USHL (33-35-68 in 57GP) and upward to the NCAA Division 1. Scott would commit to Penn State University for the 2014-15 season and appeared in 34 games posting 10-16-26 numbers. He’d be dismissed from Penn State after leading all rookies on the team in scoring for violating team rules. The following season after the Nittnay Lion’s departure, Conway, who was eligible for the BCHL, would go onto and play on the powerful Penticton Vees team. The 6′-0″ 185-pound forward would seemingly turn things around and become an assistant captain for the Vees club and posted 56-60-116 numbers in 56 games during the 2015-6 season.

The Boston and Providence organizations would benefit significantly from his proximity in the New England area when it comes to scouting as Scott was accepted to attend Providence College and go onto a decent three-year NCAA career. In 119 games with the Friars Club, he posted 40-35-75 numbers before signing a one-year AHL contract with the Providence team. Starting his pro career in ECHL Atlanta, Conway would go onto have a good year with the Gladiators contributing 17-16-33 numbers in 39 games as a first-year professional. After starting his pro career on a five-game point streak (7-0-7) with the Gladiators from mid-October to the end of the month, Scott would get called up to Providence. While with the Rhode Island team, Conway would spend November 2019 with Providence (11 Games), contributing 3-1-4 totals. Scott would get two other recalls to the AHL on separate occasions earning just one assist.

With the cancelations of the AHL and ECHL seasons due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 25-year-old Conway is set to be a free agent. With some priority contracts to take care of during the AHL Providence offseason, Scott would be a solid backup plan in case players like Brendan Gaunce, or another Center/left-wing isn’t retained.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Tommy Marchin

( Photo Credit: Gwinnett Daily Post / Dale Zanine / Atlanta Gladiators )

Marchin is another player who’s currently in the last year of his contract with the conclusion of the AHL and ECHL remaining regular-season games and respected postseasons. Tommy is a product of the USDP program participating in the U-17 & U-18 teams during the 2012-13 campaign. After playing Tier 1 hockey in the USHL with the Lincoln Stars in 2013-14 (6-12-18 in 52GP) and Muskegon Lumberjacks the season after (23-23-46 in 56GP), the 6′-2″ 216-pound left-winger left the United States midland for the East Coast.

The Michigan native packed his bags after a successful two years in the USHL for the bright lights of Division 1 NCAA Men’s hockey action in the smallest state in the Union, Rhode Island. Marchin committed and successfully played in the ECAC’s Ivy League with Brown University, where he appeared in 115 games, contributing 40-36-76 career numbers while captaining his Senior season before turning pro in 2018-19. Being practically across the street from the Dunkin” Donuts Center in downtown Providence, the AHL team didn’t have to travel far to scout the developing 24-year-old potential low-risk forward.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

After having zero points in seven games after his NCAA commitment was through with the 2018-19 Brown season, the rugged forward got into his first cup of coffee at the pro level earning zero points. The following season (2019-20) in his second game of a recall from Atlanta, Marchin notched his first two and currently only AHL goals. So far, in 12 career games with Providence, he has 2-0–2 totals, but his full minor-pro rookie season with the Gladiators was a pleasant surprise for the ECHL greenhorn.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Before the Coronavirus put a wrench in the gears of professional sports in mid-March, Marchin appeared in 49 games for the NHL’s “AA” minor-pro affiliate of the Boston Bruins. He was another offensive threat, such as Asselin mentioned above. With Tommy’s size and speed as a power forward for the Gladiators, he posted 21-27-48 numbers and another rugged player not afraid to use the body in or out of the dirty areas and is known for finishing his checks with bone-crunching force.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The NHL Bruins have also called upon Marchin to participate in the 2018 Development Camp held at the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Massachusetts. I thought he did well in the four-day camp sessions and was eager to absorb instructions as a player older than most attendees. To me, I think it would be worth another one-year AHL only deal for Marchin to increase his development but also the means to keep a close eye on him under the Boston regime. Like I said with Conway above, this idea could be just another reliable backup if negotiations with depth players go array.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

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!

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 Announce 2019-2020 Award Winners

gettyimages-1146667880-594x594

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

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

At the end of each season, the Boston Bruins hand out numerous awards within the organization to the players who best exemplify the criteria. Today, June 18th, the Bruins released the 2019-2020 winners of these team awards.

Eddie Shore Award – D Brandon Carlo

Eddie Shore was a 14-year veteran of the Boston Bruins during the late 1920s and early 1930s, winning two Stanley Cups and being selected to eight All-Star games. Shore was the embodiment of a hard-working, tough Bruin and for that reason, the organization created an award in his name. The Eddie Shore Award, presented by the Gallery Gods, is awarded to the player who best demonstrated “exceptional hustle and determination throughout the season”. This year’s winner – defenceman Brandon Carlo.

Carlo, 23, played in the third full season of his young career and in only 67 games, set a new career-high in goals, assists, and points with 4-15-19 numbers. Playing 20:29 minutes per-game, Carlo has become a pivotal piece to Boston’s defensive core and will be a solid defensive defenceman of the future as well. This award goes to show the effort he puts in on a night-to-night basis and how he put his all on the ice to help the Bruins win. He joins forward Jake DeBrusk who won the award last season.

John P. Bucyk Award – F Patrice Bergeron

John Bucyk is one of the greatest Boston Bruins of all-time. Having played 1436 career regular-season games (2nd-most in franchise history) and his 21 seasons as a Bruin along with his 1369 career points and two Stanley Cups, “The Chief” is a perfect image of the Boston Bruins, having been apart of the organization for 62 seasons now. For that reason, this award is named after him and is awarded to the player with “the greatest off-ice charitable contributions”. This year’s winner – forward Patrice Bergeron.

Bergeron, 34, is not only one of the most respected Bruins, but most respected NHL players, and part of that is due to his incredible off-ice contributions to his community and people who are in need. While Bergeron has often been involved in great charity work, it is a recent gesture that showcased his class. Following the death of George Floyd, Patrice Bergeron made a lengthy, heartfelt statement regarding racial inequality and donated $50,000 – $25,000 to the Boston NAACP and $25,000 to Centre Multiethnique de Quebec in Canada.

In addition to the award, Bergeron will be awarded $1,000 from the Boston Bruins Alumni Foundation to donate to a charity of his choice. Throughout his career, the Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec, Canada native has truly exemplified class and respect to everyone on and off the ice and is very well-deserving of this award. This is his second time winning the award, (other in 2006-07) and joins Zdeno Chara who won the award last season.

Elizabeth Dufresne Trophy – F David Pastrnak

The Elizabeth C. Dufresne Trophy is commonly awarded in the final home game of the regular season, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that is not possible. However, for many years, this trophy has been awarded to the Boston Bruin “with the most outstanding performance during home games”. This year’s winner – forward David Pastrnak.

Pastrnak, 24, has emerged as one of the top scorers in the National Hockey League, winning the Maurice Richard Trophy for most goals in the league this season (tied with Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin). According to Hockey Reference, Pastrnak scored 28-21-49 numbers in 35 games on TD Garden ice in 2019-20, showcasing how dominant he is when at home. This is the first time Pastrnak has been awarded this trophy, ending Brad Marchand’s three-year streak.

Bruins legend Raymond Bourque won this trophy seven times (a franchise-best), while Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr each won it five times and Milt Schmidt and Rick Middleton won it four times each. While he has a long way to go to get there, David Pastrnak is proving at a young age that he can be a dangerous player for years to come in the NHL.

98.5 The Sports Hub Three Stars – F Pastrnak, G Rask, F Marchand

Finally, the Boston Bruins Three Stars that go to the top three players that were the team’s best performers during home games this season. The winners – forward David Pastrnak, goaltender Tuukka Rask, and forward Brad Marchand.

David Pastrnak was awarded the first star for his 28 goals, 21 assists, and 49 points at home in ’18/’19. Pastrnak finished as the 3rd Star last year, showing his improvement as a young forward in the league. The second star goes to Tuukka Rask who finished with a stellar 14-2-6 record on home ice with a 2.15 GAA and a .926 save percentage to go along with his three shutouts. This is the sixth time Rask has been named one of the Three Stars on the Bruins.

Finally, Brad Marchand scored 14 goals and a team-high 27 assists for 41 points in TD Garden this campaign and once again proved how dangerous he is when at home. This is Marchand’s fifth time being named in the top three stars of the Bruins and his fourth-straight season as well.

In addition to these team awards, the Boston Bruins also won the President’s Trophy, David Pastrnak was named a co-winner of the Maurice Richard Trophy, and both Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak won the William M. Jennings Trophy. Tuukka Rask is also talked about being one of the favorites to win the Vezina Trophy, David Pastrnak is expected to be a nominee for the Hart Trophy, and Patrice Bergeron could potentially be a candidate for the Frank J. Selke Trophy.

All in all, it has been a successful regular-season for the 2019-2020 Boston Bruins and the chase for the greatest prize in hockey, the Stanley Cup, is about to get underway.

Information and statistics used in this article courtesy of hockeyreference.com, nhl.com, wikipedia.com, and @nhlbruins on Twitter.

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!

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!

Returning or Cancelled? Future of the 2019-20 NHL Season

cut (56)

PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

It was mid-March, teams around the NHL finished trades to acquire new players only a couple weeks prior at the Trade Deadline, and the race for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs was heating up by the day. The Boston Bruins were atop the NHL standings with a 44-14-12 record, becoming the only team to reach the 100-point plateau. Then, on March 12th, the National Hockey League made the difficult, but necessary decision to put the 2019-2020 campaign on “pause”.

Only a few days prior, the league was discussing plans to host games as normal but prevent fans from attending the games in a way to continue the schedule, but hopefully limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus that was infecting, at that time, hundreds-of-thousands of people worldwide. However, on March 11th, Rudy Gobert of the NBA’s Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in the game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Utah Jazz to be postponed before tipoff.

Amid concerns of who Gobert might have come into contact with in the time of contracting the virus and him testing positive, the NBA postponed their season almost immediately. This decision put immense pressure on the remaining professional sporting leagues to either suspend or to continue operations. As mentioned above, the NHL made the tough choice to put the 2019-2020 regular-season and subsequent playoffs on “pause”.

Putting a league’s operations on “pause” is a very broad statement. It was impossible to know how long the pause would last, considering the entire world had no idea what the COVID-19 pandemic would continue to do. Not wanting to give up hope, the NHL made sure to keep the idea of returning a possibility in their official press release on March 12th, stating, “Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup”

That message has stayed consistent for the National Hockey League. No deadlines or specific dates have been set on a return, but also no confirmation has been announced or the season not returning. In an interview with NHL Network on April 30th, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, “We’re going to have to take things one step at a time because the health and well-being of our players is paramount to anything we’re focused on.” Also, stating, “I don’t think anybody knows for certain.” when asked about possible return-to-play scenarios.

gettyimages-945519906-594x5941

PHOTO CREDITS: (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Within that same interview, Bettman said that while the NHL and NHLPA continue to discuss the chance to return, they have also been talking about what the 2020-2021 season will look like. Of course, if the season did resume, it would not be on the same schedule as a typical NHL season looks. By now, teams would be nearing the end of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and other teams would be looking ahead to the offseason. A return in ’19/’20 means we are seeing hockey in likely July or August, and how long that will go for is uncertain.

“We have a great deal of flexibility in terms of when we can start,” Commissioner Bettman said. “There’s no magic for next season of starting in October as we traditionally do. If we have to start in November or December, that’s something that will be under consideration. – NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, NHL.com

In that case, I personally would expect the All-Star festivities to be canceled as well as the week-long break to be shortened or taken out of the schedule altogether. This is assuming the league will look to play a full 82-game campaign.

Throughout this timeline of the season being put on pause to the current date, players have been asked to self-quarantine, meaning they have not been able to train in the same way that a professional athlete needs to. Recognizing that fact, Bettman also said that the next step is to open training facilities for “small group activities” to get players back into game-ready shape.

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Media Day

PHOTO CREDITS: (NBC Sports)

In an article by ESPN on May 4th, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN in an email that they are hoping to organize these training sessions in the “latter half of May” but right now, it “remains to be seen”. In that same article by ESPN, it was mentioned that the NHL continues its search for cities to play games if a return does take place. Rather than having each team play in their home city, all teams would play in “centralized locations” to limit travel and player contact with other people.

Among those arenas include the homes of the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Vegas Golden Knights. Other locations, like British Columbia, have reached out to the league to “bid” for their arena to be a potential playing spot for summer hockey.

Another question in play is the NHL Entry Draft, an event that commonly takes place in late June, just before the start of free agency on July 1st. Bettman has tossed around the idea of a virtual draft, similar to that of the NFL, NWHL, and WNBA, and also suggested that such technology would take at least a month to prepare. General Managers throughout the league have differing opinions on it, but Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney stayed down the middle, saying, “I have my own preferences but that being said, I think the league has to make their decision about what’s best for the overall decision making than any teams that have a personal preference, and I have to respect that.”

https___causewaycrowd.com_wp-content_uploads_getty-images_2017_07_990710794

PHOTO CREDITS: (Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

In my humble opinion, I feel the season will resume because it almost has to. The NHL has lost a large amount of revenue, and the players have worked hard from October to March to battle for playoff positions, stats, and a chance at the Stanley Cup. To take that opportunity away is tough given the circumstances, but it would be unfortunate if there is a chance to keep the season going at some point this calendar year. Without question, the health and safety of everyone is of the utmost priority, and a return should only be done if it does not put people in more danger.

Gary Bettman made sure to reiterate, “But as soon as possible means under the right circumstances, and for that, we’re going to take our guidance from the governments at all levels and from the medical people.”

Though there has not been confirmation on when the games will resume, some sites have pushed out odds on when the season would start again. Articles found here will indicate that we will most likely see the season start in August. Good idea to check back in a few weeks to see if there are any new updates on that prediction but it is safe to assume that the season will not be cancelled at this point.

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!!

Boston Bruins: A Hat-Trick of Birthdays

unnamed (1)

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

gettyimages-1094292024-612x612

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

clifton-1024x651

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

GettyImages-1077891838

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

9b401addf7af531f735f592a8a0d84fa

( 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!!

Bruins Alumni: Happy Birthday Tommy Wingels

Tommy-Wingels-Bruins

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

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

Happy 32nd Birthday to Former Boston Bruins Forward Tommy Wingels!!

Tommy Wingels was born on April 12th, 1988 in Evanston, Illinois, United States. Tommy began his hockey career at sixteen when he joined Team Illinois U18 team in the MWEHL (Midwest Elite Hockey League), scoring 12 points in 15 games back in 2008-09. After a season in the USHL with the Cedar Rapids Roughriders, Wingels joined the Miami University of Ohio Redhawks.

After his first season in 2007-2008, Wingels was drafted 177th overall (6th round) by the San Jose Sharks in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. From 2007-08 to 2009-10, Wingels played a combined 127 games for the NCAA team, finishing with 43-56-99 numbers including a 42-point season in ’09/’10 when he was captain of the Redhawks. Following this final year, he agreed to an entry-level deal with the Sharks.

In 2010-11, the 6-foot, 201-pound forward played in five games for the Sharks but spent the majority of his time in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Worchester Sharks where he scored 17-13-30 numbers in 69 games played. During the 2012-13 lockout season, Wingels took to the Finnish hockey league, Mestis, playing with KooKoo for 18 games. When the NHL season resumed, Wingels returned to San Jose where he scored 13 points in 42 games.

Tommy played three-and-a-half more seasons in California until January 2017 when he was traded to the Ottawa Senators for Zach Stortini, Buddy Robinson, and a 2017 7th Round Pick. Being on an expiring contract, Wingels hit the free-agent market that offseason for the first time in his NHL career, signing a one-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks. He failed to spend a full season with the Hawks before he was shipped to the Boston Bruins at the 2018 Trade Deadline for a 2019 5th Round Draft Pick.

Tommy Wingels finished out his season with the Bruins, scoring two goals and three assists for five points in 18 games and went pointless in four games during the 2018 postseason. While his NHL career did not work out as planned, Wingels signed with Genève-Servette HC of the National League in Switzerland and has been there for two seasons. In the current 2019-20 campaign, the now 32-year-old has put up 16-23-39 numbers in 44 games before the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 448 regular-season games, Tommy Wingels scored 61 goals and 82 assists for 143 points over eight years in the National Hockey League with the San Jose Sharks, Ottawa Senators, Chicago Blackhawks, and the Boston Bruins. Happy Birthday, Tommy Wingels!

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!!

Boston Bruins: Happy Birthday Torey Krug

usa_today_12814724.0

PHOTO CREDITS: (Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports)

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

Happy 29th Birthday to Boston Bruins Defenceman Torey Krug!!

Torey Krug was born on April 12th, 1991 in Livonia, Michigan, United States. At the age of seventeen, Krug started off playing for the Indiana Ice in the United States Hockey League (USHL), scoring 10-37-47 numbers in 59 games in the 2008-09 campaign, setting an Indiana Ice record for most points by a defenceman.

In 2009-10, Krug joined Michigan State University as a fifth or sixth defenceman on the roster, but before long, Krug skated in all 38 games that year and put up 3 goals and 21 points. That point total placed him second in rookie scoring on the team and led all CCHA first-year defenceman in points. In his second year, Krug was named the captain of the team and was named to the First-Team All-CCHA and was voted the CCHA’s Top Offensive Defenceman.

The 2011-12 regular-season was the final one for Krug with the Spartans and was also his best, as he scored 12 goals and 22 assists for 32 points in 38 games played. Krug was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award and tied for the scoring title, making him the first defenceman to win the scoring title in the league since Wayne Gagner in 1986-87. Torey’s stellar collegiate performance led him to be one of the most sought-after free agents for NHL teams, thus signing with the Boston Bruins on an entry-level contract in 2012.

The 5-foot-9, 195-pound defender played only two games for the B’s in the 2011-12 season, and only one regular-season game in the following 2012-13 campaign, spending the majority of the time with the Providence Bruins where he produced 45 points in 63 games. Torey Krug finally made his mark on the NHL in the 2013 playoffs when he scored four goals and two assists in 15 playoff games – all of the goals coming in the semi-finals against the New York Rangers.

Seeing the success he had in the postseason, the Bruins used Krug in their regular-season lineup for 79 games in the ’13/’14 campaign, allowing him to put up 14-26-40 totals in that time as well as another impressive ten points in twelve playoff games. From this point on, Krug has become a dynamite offensive threat on the Bruins’ blueline, constantly putting up 50+ points per season.

As of 2019-2020, Krug’s best season came in the 2017-2018 year when he recorded 45 assists and 59 points in 76 games. In 2019-20, Krug has 9-40-49 numbers in the 61 games before the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a pause of league operations. On March 27th, 2019, Torey became the all-time leader in points by an American-born player in Boston Bruins history. Also, in Game Three of the Stanley Cup Finals, Krug became the first player in Boston Bruins history to score four points in a Finals game.

Torey has been in a lot of Bruins news as of late, mainly due to his contract that expires on July 1st, 2020. On April 7th, Krug said, “I really hope I haven’t played my last game as a Boston Bruin” in a video call and that idea was reiterated by General Manager Don Sweeney who stated, “I dearly hope that Torey hasn’t played his last game this year or going forward”, in a video conference on April 10th.

“Every negation has its own timeline. We’re hopeful that we’ll find a resolution with Torey and [his agent Lewis Gross]. At this point, we haven’t been able to do so. But it’s very amicable and we’ve made our feeling perfectly clear that we respect and acknowledge what Torey has done and what he’s capable of doing for the Boston Bruins. We hope that continues.” – GM Don Sweeney, April 10th, 2020

In 535 games for the Boston Bruins, Torey Krug has 67 goals and 270 assists for 337 points along with a +23 rating in addition to 11 goals and 35 assists for 46 points in 62 playoff games. Happy Birthday, Torey Krug!

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!!

Bruins Alumni: Happy Birthday Jim Nill

8eda524bd7cd44f5ae613fdedf1f9bdf_front

PHOTO CREDITS: (kronozio.com)

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

Happy 62nd Birthday To Former Boston Bruins Forward Jim Nill!

Jim Nill was born on April 11th, 1958 in Hanna, Alberta, Canada. Jim began his hockey career back in 1974-75 with the Drumheller Falcons of the AJHL (Alberta Junior Hockey League), posting 30-30-60 numbers in 58 games that season. At the age of 17, Nill joined the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WCHL (now known as the WHL), scoring 16 points in 62 games during his first season.

Over the next two seasons in Medicine Hat, Nill scored a 47-point season followed by an impressive 93-point season where he scored 47 goals and put up 8-7-15 numbers in 12 playoff games before being eliminated by the Billings Bighorns in the Division Finals. This subsequently led to him being drafted 89th overall (6th round) in the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft by the St. Louis Blues.

In 1978-79, Nill played 17 games for the University of Calgary, racking up another fifteen points. The very next year, Nill only played international hockey for his home country of Canada. The 6-foot, 185-pound winger played in six games at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. Canada finished sixth in men’s hockey during those games and Nill would put up three points during the tournament.

It was until the 1981-82 season that Jim Nill would finally get the taste of hockey in the National Hockey League. For the St. Louis Blues that season, Nill scored nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points and 127 penalty minutes in 61 games played. In March of ’82, Jim Nill joined Tony Currie, Rick Heinz, and St. Louis’ 4th Round Pick in 1982 in a deal to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for goaltender Glen Hanlon.

Nill played a combined 124 games with the Canucks over three NHL seasons, posting a 17-23-40 stat-sheet before being shipped once again – this time to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Peter McNab. He never really impressed in the two years he spent in Boston, scoring only 15 points in 76 games from the 1983-84 season to the 1984-85 season. It was in 1985 when Nill was traded to the Winnipeg Jets for Morris Lukowich.

The majority of Jim Nill’s NHL playing career came in Winnipeg, where he skated in 141 regular-season games throughout four seasons of hockey. The journeyman forward was traded one last time to the Detroit Red Wings in the winter of 1988 for right-winger Mark Kumpel. Jim put up 31 points in 122 games with the Wings, only for him to be sent down to the Adirondack Red Wings of the American Hockey League (AHL). He retired from professional hockey in 1991.

While most would be done with hockey at this point, Nill was not, and at the age of 33, he joined the Ottawa Senators as an amateur scout and not long after, promoted to a professional scout. He later joined the Detroit Red Wings to oversee player development and amateur scouting and was with the team for four Stanley Cups (1997, 1998, 2002, and 2008).

In April 2013, the Dallas Stars hired Jim Nill to be their new General Manager and after only a few months on the job, he made one of the biggest blockbuster trades in recent memory, sending forward Loui Eriksson, defenceman Joe Morrow, forward Reilly Smith, and forward Matt Fraser to the Boston Bruins in exchange for superstar forward Tyler Seguin, forward Rich Peverley, and defenceman Ryan Button.

As of today, Jim Nill remains the General Manager of the Stars and has helped them become one of the top teams in the Central Division with a record of 37-24-8 before the COVID-19 pandemic pause. Happy Birthday, Jim Nill!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 173 that we recorded below on 4-4-20! 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!!