Boston Bruins 2018 Development Camp Wrap-Up

(Photo Credit:  Alan Sullivan Photography)

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

First and foremost I’d like to start my Boston Bruins Development Camp Wrap-Up article by showing my gratitude for the opportunity that was given to me this week from the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Massachusetts. I was given media access to cover the B’s annual mid-summer event and want to thank the Bruins organization, particularly the organizations public relations department for their acceptance and guidance during this week’s festivities.

As a person from the outside striving to gain access to future events, I learned an awful lot from the veteran heavy hitters in the press box like the Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa,  NHL.com / CBSBoston’s Matt Kalman, Providence Journals Mark Divver, 98.5 The Sports Hubs Ty Anderson,  the Standard-Times New Bedford Mick Colageo, and CLNSMedia’s Jimmy Murphy just to name a few on how to conduct myself surrounded by other media professionals. I’m truly grateful for the hospitality from those mentioned above, and it was an experience I’ll never forget.

In this article below I’d like to point out several Bruins prospects that stood out to me while in attendance at the Brighton facility during the four-day event this week. I’m also going to add what the scouts had said in the past leading up to their day when the Bruins selected them in their respected National Hockey League Entry Draft year to spice things up for those readers that want to learn more about the next generation of Bruins players.  Out of the 18 players that attended this year’s camp that the Bruins have rights to, it was difficult to narrow the choices down as there were so many positive things from all the attendees, but hope you enjoy my favorites moving forward.

-Forwards-

Martin Bakos  –  Right Wing

(Photo Credit:  Boston Globe / Lane Turner Globe Staff)

The undrafted 28-year-old forward was signed to a one-year, two-way contract in the middle of June 2018, and comes to camp as the oldest player. The 6′-2″ 198-pound Slovakian native spent his entire hockey career playing overseas in leagues such as his home Slovakian clubs, the Kontinental Hockey League, and most recently the Czech Pro League.  Before jetting over to North America for the first time, Bakos appeared in 52 games for his Bili Tygri Liberec club posting 14-26-40 numbers.

At this year’s development camp, I saw positive things from the right winger, and a few things that stood out to me was his skill and speed. He has the size to be that prototypical power-forward but also the hands and hockey IQ to be an asset on any of the teams throughout the B’s organization. With pretty much the complete package for a European import, Bakos used this camp and should continue to work hard during the long summer offseason to get used to his surroundings. The adjustment to the smaller ice and split-second decisions won’t be easy, but Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney believes there’s enough time between now and September to work on those attributes that the team was attracted to.

Curtis Hall  –  Center

(Photo Credit:  Alan Sullivan Photography)

Hall, a 6′-3″ 201-pound New Jersey native, is an American / Canadian dual citizen was selected in the fourth-round of this year’s Entry Draft and previously spent the last two seasons in the United States Hockey League with the Youngstown Phantoms. In 113 career games with Youngstown, the 18-year-old center posted 20-32-52 numbers and has committed to play hockey in the Ivy League as a freshman for the upcoming 2018-19 season for the Yale University Bulldogs. Although he was selected by the Flint Firebirds in the 10th-round of the Ontario hockey Leagues Priority Selection, the Jersey-born forward has always wanted to play in the NCAA Men’s Division 1 somewhere close to home, and with New Jersey being so close to Connecticut, the decision wasn’t a hard one.

Curtis brought an overwhelming amount of skill to his first ever pro-development camp and really impressed me and many others who had the chance to watch his ability on the ice all week. He’s got tremendous speed, stickhandling ability, and a pro release. His vision and calmness in open ice and tight situations along the boards was a couple of things that definitely caught my eye and look forward to watching him progress in his development by watching many of his games when he appears in his first year of collegiate hockey in the fall.

Jakub Lauko  –  Center / Left Wing

(Photo Credit:  Alan Sullivan Photography)

One of the fastest skaters selected in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, the 6′-0″ 179-pound Czech Republic native certainly turned heads at camp for a European skater selected in the third-round in 2018. Mostly playing in the Czech system with his Pirati Chomutov club teams growing up to the pro-level in 2017-18, he registered 3-6-9 numbers in 42 games teaming up with adult players and even though his numbers weren’t high, he’s got all the attribute of a young developing forward you want to see moving forward.

Besides his speed, what really attracted me to this player during the development camp week was his creativity with his hands and the ability to showcase those mitts while skating in full stride. He shields the puck well along the boards and in open ice skating towards the net positioning his body where defenders can’t reach around to disturb his progression to get a shot on goal. His release and shot are another animal as he finds the right time to put the puck on the net whether crossing the blue line or goal line extended.

Jack Studnicka  –  Center

(Photo Credit:  Alan Sullivan Photography)

Selected in the second-round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, the 6′-1″ 172-pound forward made his second appearance at the Bruins development camp and continued to impress those fortunate enough like myself who have seen him at the Warrior Ice Arena the past two summers. The 19-year-old was a first-year team captain for his Ontario Hockey Leagues Oshawa Generals and ended the 2017-18 season with 22-50-72 numbers.

After his Generals team was eliminated in the second-round of the OHL playoffs to the hands of the Niagara Ice Dogs, Studnicka joined the American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins for five regular-season games contributing impressive 1-4-5 totals while gaining great experience with the NHL Bruins top minor-pro affiliate. In Jack’s OHL career he’s appeared in 192 games all with Oshawa posting 44-106-150 numbers in that duration.

Studnicka has an uncanny ability to make an opposing player look silly almost everytime he possesses the puck. His tool-box of skills are all there, and it’s no doubt why the Bruins selected him to begin with. He has speed and an outstanding amount of offensive talent to see the complete 200-foot sheet of ice regardless if he has the puck or not. His composer and hockey IQ whether all alone or being double covered is something to see for yourselves as he has the ability to make things happen quickly while seemingly stickhandling in a phone booth.  Could very well be a dark-horse to make the NHL club for the upcoming season, but also couldn’t hurt to continue his development one more year in the OHL then be eligible for the AHL the season after if necessary.

-Defensemen-

Axel Andersson  –  Right Defense

(Photo Credit:   Alan Sullivan Photography)

Selected by the Bruins in the second-round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, the 6′-0″ 179-pound blueliner has the ability to produce offensively while getting back in the D-Zone to be that shutdown type of player.  The 18-year-old Sweden native played last season with the SuperElit Djurgardens IF J20 club and produce 6-25-31 numbers in 42 games. The 2018 World Junior Championship Bronze Medal winner for team Sweden was recently selected in Canadian Hockey Leagues Import Draft from the Kitchener Rangers, but rumors have it that he’s not going to report to the OHL club but might return to Europe to continue his development.

This kid blew me away at camp this week with his speed and vision of the ice. His edgework and positioning in the D-Zone really stood out to me but that explosive stride transitioning to the offensive was a treat to watch. I enjoyed mobility and how strong he was mainly in short ice three on three drills. His puck possession during the week was off the charts and has incredible timing when it comes to those tape-to-tape stretch passes. Definitely going to be a player to keep an eye on in the next few years as he continues to grow and hone his skills to prepare for any level of professional hockey.

Urho Vaakanainen  –  Left Defense

(06/26/2018- Boston, MA) Urho Vaakanainen skates at the Boston Bruins development camp at Warrior Arena on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. Staff Photo by Matt West

Another solid selection when it comes to adding depth to the Bruins organizations future, the first-round choice in 2017 from the NHL Entry Draft in Chicago, Illinois had another outstanding development camp for the second consecutive year. The 6′-1″  185-pound defenseman from Finland spent the 2017-18 season in the Finnish Liiga League with the SaiPa club posting 4-7-11 numbers in 43 games. Vaakanainen signed an entry-level contract in mid-June of 2018 and is expected to join the AHL Providence Bruins in the upcoming 2017-18 season. He’ll make a serious push to challenge for that left shot blueline spot that this B’s team seems to foam at the mouth over but if he doesn’t make the NHL in his first try, he’ll get some substantial pro experience with the Bruins top minor-pro team with Providence.

Vaakanainen is another solid defensive prospect that showed his skills this week and continues to work on his game and physical stature. Although not known for his offensive abilities, Urho can play that prototypical “shutdown” style and reads the ice very well to be ready and position himself appropriately when his team gives up the puck, and the opposing players work their way into his defensive zone. As a 19-year-old he still has time to gain more muscle and size, but as of now, he’s rock solid when it comes to clearing another teams players at the top of the crease creating havoc for his goaltender. Decent puck possession abilities and smooth passer and skater for that fast jump out of his defensive zone.

-Goaltenders-

Kyle Keyser

(Photo Credit:  Alan Sullivan Photography)

Signed to a three-year entry-level contract back in October of 2017, the 19-year-old finished his third year with the Oshawa General in 2017-18 and had career highs as the teams starting netminder. Even though his best year in the OHL was rattled with two concussion injuries, the 6′-2″ 182-pound goaltender from Coral Springs, Florida managed to post a 28-13-0 record with a 3.16 Goals-Against-Average and .904 Save Percentage. Keyser, an undrafted netminder, will most likely report back to his OHL Generals team for another year of development in 2018-19 but can be eligible for the AHL Providence team the year after.

Kyle is a very competitive goaltender and showed off his skills throughout this week of camp. He does need to work on some things a bit more to complete his overall game, but there were signs of excellence and quickness that I thought stood out to me. His lateral movements from post to post were outstanding, and his blocker side was strong, but his glove hand can be a cause for concern but enough time at his age to correct.  I like how aggressive he is when challenging opposing shooters and his athleticism to quickly get back into the play for a follow-up shot or rebound. Look for him to have better numbers in the OHL next season if he can remain healthy for the duration.

Jeremy Swayman

(Photo Credit:  Alan Sullivan Photography)

After a surprising 2017-18 freshman year with the University of Maine Black Bears, the 19-year-old Anchorage, Alaska native made an immediate impact with his NCAA Division 1 team when outplayed veteran starter Robert Mcgovern to start the regular season.  After having one-year success in the USHL with the Sioux Falls Stampede to prepare for the collegiate level, the 6′-2″ 187-pound Swayman went on to post a 15-12-3 record a 2.72 GAA and .921 Save%. Jeremy was the recipient of many NCAA and Hockey East Awards but his play in 2017-18 and the amount of rubber he saw early in the year caught the eyes of Team USA’s World Junior Championship coaching staff when he got the invite to Buffalo, New York as a third-string netminder.

Selected in the fourth-round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft from Chicago, Illinois, Swayman made his second-straight development camp appearance and showcased his skills very well. In my opinion, he’s a very well trained reactionary goaltender that has outstanding athleticism who knows when to be aggressive cutting down the angles but also smart enough to read the play coming towards him with appropriate positioning.  Like Keyser above, he tracks the puck well down low and has a quick blocker and glove hand. Jeremy has worked hard with former Black Bear Alumni Bruins Goaltending Development Coach Mike Dunham and internal Maine crease coach Alfie Michaud, and I expect to see him have a better season in 2018-19 during Hockey East play.

Dan Vladar

(Photo Credit:  Alan Sullivan Photography)

Vladar made his third-straight development camp appearance this week after being selected in the third-round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The 6′-5″ 196-pound Czech Republic native was another successful product of the developing ranks in the USHL with the Chicago Steel even though he wasn’t eligible to play in the NCAA. Dan signed a three-year entry-level deal in April of 2016 and has spent a majority of his early professional career with the Bruins “AA” Premier affiliate in the ECHL with the Atlanta Gladiators. In his time with Atlanta, Vladar appeared in 59 games posting a career 22-27-2 record, a 3.42 GAA and .899 Save%. When called up to the higher AHL level with the Providence team, Vladar has played much better with a better structured defensive system to produce a record of 6-2-1, impressive 2.42 GAA and .922 Save%.

This summers development camp event was by far the best I’ve seen from the big, athletic netminder. He continues to work hard with goaltending coaches Bob Essensa and Mike Dunham, and with goaltender-on-loan Jordan Binnington most likely heading back to his St. Louis Blues organization, Vladar is expected to split the 2018-19 season in Providence with veteran AHL goaltender Zane McIntyre who will be in his last year under contract and future uncertain.

With Vladars’ tall stature, he takes up most of the bottom of the net when retrieving pucks in the crease but could use more work on his glove hand. He doesn’t have to be an aggressive goaltender with his height but stays square to the puck and has decent rebound control. One of my favorite things about his playing style is how he deals with opposing players at the top of the crease. Most of the time he can see over them when the puck is at the point but has the smarts to drop down and ultimately take away any second chance opportunities.

2018 Bruins Prospect Development Camp Provides The Potential For Optimism And Excitement

(06/26/2018- Boston, MA) Oskar Steen takes a shot at the Boston Bruins development camp at Warrior Arena on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. Staff Photo by Matt West(Photo Credit: Matt West)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Days one through three provided plenty of great hockey and excitement for all in attendance, including myself. Development camp is an awesome opportunity for those who attend to see Bruins prospects and camp invitees, as some are unable to watch them play during their respective seasons much or at all. This is of course on top of the opportunities for growth and recognition it provides for the players in attendance across the camps of all 31 NHL teams.

The crop of young players in attendance at Warrior Ice Arena was one that didn’t disappoint and brought players from all over, including but not limited to the NCAA, OHL, QMJHL, SHL, and OJHL. The main standouts for me were Oskar Steen, Jack Studnicka, Jakub Lauko, Jeremy Swayman, and Curtis Hall, amongst a few others. This doesn’t mean that any players not included were bad or didn’t stand out to me.

Oskar Steen

The speedy Swede, Oskar Steen, stood out yet again, just like last year at camp. His quickness and speed allow him to evade defenders and create space to unleash his impressive wrist shot. The 2016 sixth-round pick arsenal was put on display at the 2018 World Junior Championships as well, with two goals and two assists in seven games en route to a silver medal with Team Sweden.

His speed and desire to have the puck on his stick could lead to him being an effective penalty killer at the pro level. Steen is still just 20-years-old as well, so the room to grow as a player and mature physically in his pursuit of an NHL job is certainly there.

Jack Studnicka

Stud is in his last name, folks. A 2017 Bruins second-round pick, Studnicka killed it at camp after an impressive 2017-2018 campaign with Oshawa Generals. The 19-year-old Canadian kid has his sights set on an NHL gig for the 2018-2019 season, and for good reason. His competitiveness, playmaking skills, and smooth skating make him a tough player to contain.

His 22-50-72 stat line in 66 games was good for a spot in the top-30 OHL scorers at number 27 on the list in the company of high-end prospects like Owen Tippett and Robert Thomas, to name a couple. 2018 second overall pick Andrei Svechnikov was in that range as well. But, he only played just 44 games, compared to everyone around him on the leaderboard being in the 50’s and high 60’s in games played.

There is a chance Riley Nash isn’t back with the Bruins in the near future, as he is an unrestricted free-agent come July 1. The Bruins’ third line center void is up for grabs if Nash goes elsewhere, with players such as Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Trent Frederic, and one of the new guys Martin Bakos also amongst the group that will vie for that third-line ice-time. With that being said, cracking the roster will not be easy for Studnicka. If he doesn’t make the NHL roster, he will need to go back to Oshawa in the OHL per the NHL/CHL Player Agreement, which would prohibit him from going to the AHL due to the fact that he is under the age of 20.

Jack Studnicka watch is on.

Jakub Lauko

A new talented Czech in Jakub Lauko joined the fold when he surprisingly fell in the Bruins’ collective lap at 77th overall. Lauko is a first-round talent in the eyes of some, and I am onboard with that. Just look at what Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley had to say after drafting Lauko:

“We had him on our list as a first-round pick. We’re ecstatic to get a player like this at that point in the draft.”

Getting a first-round talent late in the first-round certainly makes the Bruins brass feel better about not having a first-round pick this year. What sticks out past his dynamic skill set, and speed is his confidence in himself as a player and desire to make teams regret passing on him. This drive and determination alone should have Bruins fans on the edge of their seats eagerly waiting to see what Jakub Lauko can do at the NHL level.

After being drafted, Lauko had this to say about how he felt about his draft position, “I expected to be higher,” said Lauko (6 feet, 179 pounds), a left-shot who can play center or wing. “But now I can prove to everyone that I am one of the biggest steals in the draft.”

How can one not love that confident mindset and positional versatility? Fast forward to day two of development camp where he did his best Anze Kopitar vs. Tim Thomas impression against Kyle Keyser and succeeded in doing so.

 

From my perspective, I think it’s fair to say that Jakub Lauko was one of the best, if not the best player on the ice for much of the duration of the first three days of camp.

The offensive instincts are there on top of his bulldog mentality and willingness to work in the gritty areas and play physically. I can’t think of anything that worries me with Jakub Lauko as a player. He just has the makings of a successful NHL player with time to improve even more past development camp, get stronger and to mature.

Lauko said after the draft in the video above that he is willing to take on any challenge and talks about his appreciation of fellow Czech’s within the organization in David Pastrnak, David Krejci, and prospect Daniel Bukac – who Jakub has known since he was around seven-eight-years-old. On top of his offensive prowess, Jakub is confident that he is one of the fastest players in the draft, he’ll block shots, and he doesn’t shy away from going at it with players that are bigger than him. How did he fall into the late third-round of the draft?!

Lastly, I’ve said it on Twitter, so I’ll stress it again here.

There is plenty of room on the ‘Laukomotive’.

Curtis Hall

First and foremost, Curtis Hall’s hair. My goodness, what a mane.

Curtis Hall comes to Bruins development camp with a playstyle reminiscent of current Bruin David Backes, who Hall models his game after.

Jeff Cox (@JeffCoxSports on Twitter) of the New England Hockey Journal, wrote the following about Hall this past January, “Hall, who has spent some time playing right wing in international competition, feels more comfortable at center. He tries to emulate Boston Bruins versatile forward David Backes, who also plays center and right wing.” Positional versatility and buzzsaw on the wing or down the middle like David Backes? I’d take that.

Throughout days one to three of development camp, Hall used his large 6-foot-3, 196-pound frame fight for puck possession and score in close proximity to the net, or with his sweet wrist shot. Another thing that stands out is his work ethic, which goes hand-in-hand with his willingness to fight for pucks and create an offensive flow for himself and/or those around him.

Yale University will be an excellent place for Hall to grow as a player and a person in the NCAA’s Big Ten. Adding more strength to his already impressive frame will make him a nightmare to play against, especially in the physical game at the next level.

Pavel Shen

The Russian centerman Pavel Shen rounded out the 2018 draft class for the Boston Bruins at 212th overall. What stood out to me with Pavel Shen was his smooth skating ability, puck skills, and how it looked as though he wasn’t overcomplicating how he handled himself on the ice. It is understandable for players to be nervous in their first go at an NHL development camp, Pavel Shen didn’t seem nervous to me, he looked pretty comfortable to me out there.

The ‘Shensation’ as I now like to call him, looks to hold solid value as a seventh-round pick near the very conclusion of the draft. Below is a video that I found to very cool, take a look.

Whether it was the first Bruins 1-on-1 in Russian or not, it was very cool to see something like this in an interview with two young players – Pavel Shen is 18-years-old, Philip Lagunov is 19-years-old.

Martin Bakos

The oldest player in the group, Martin Bakos comes to camp as the oldest player from Slovakia and the Czech pro league. The Bruins signed Martin Bakos to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700,000 back on June 14, shortly after, he was invited to development camp at age 28. An interesting start to his Bruins career to say the least.

Unsurprisingly, he looked comfortable right from the get-go as a 28-year-old veteran in a sense. His confidence with the puck is very present whenever he is on the ice and he clearly has a very solid hockey IQ in the offensive and defensive parts of his game.

As mentioned earlier, if Riley Nash does, in fact, move on from the Bruins in free-agency, Bakos is certainly a candidate for the third-line center position. It will be very interesting to see how he progresses over the summer and into the regular season. Keep an eye out for Martin Bakos.

Martin Bakos, certified surgeon with those hands.

Karson Kuhlman

Karson Kuhlman is a player that myself amongst a growing amount of people are starting to believe can contribute at the NHL level. This isn’t to say that if not, Providence would be a step-down, but rather it is a statement that he is making a name for himself early in his career as a Bruin.

He was definitely a leader as a 22-year-old at camp with many guys who are younger than him – he would help warm up the goalies at times during camp and anyone who looked closely could see his vocal nature on the ice. Not to mention, he works extremely hard whenever he is on the ice and the desire to be a difference maker is very much present in how he operates as a hockey player.

A high character kid with speed and a great shot to go with experience as a winner at the University of Minnesota Duluth – particularly the two National Championship appearances, including one National Championship title in which he won MVP.

The Goalies: Jeremy Swayman, Kyle Keyser, and Daniel Vladar

Jeremy Swayman

Honestly, all three goalies put solid performances forward in the first three days, but Jeremy Swayman with his athleticism and quickness, in particular, stole the show in my eyes, in a sense.

Swayman made great strides throughout his freshman year as a University of Maine Black Bear. Swayman put forward a great freshman season at UMaine – after 31 appearances, yes 31 appearances as a freshman, Swayman finished the season with a 2.72 goals against average and .921 save percentage. That’s not something to glance over and forget about, that is seriously impressive.

Kyle Keyser

Kyle Keyser’s aggressiveness and quickness in the crease are impressive attributes within his arsenal. He had a consistently solid first three days and is the youngest of these three goalies. On day three, Keyser made an incredible save on a 2-on-1 chance from Jack Becker. A teammate of fellow Bruins prospect Jack Studnicka this past season, Keyser will look to continue his progression in Oshawa for a three season. The 19-year-old goaltender from Coral Springs, Florida, has amassed 73 appearances over two seasons in Oshawa – with 47 of them coming last year.

That’s a pretty tough save to make in a high-pressure situation.

Daniel Vladar

Three things that Daniel Vladar likes are the hit TV series ‘The Office’, hockey, and modeling his game after Bruins starting goalie Tuukka Rask (6-foot-3), as well as Nashville Predators veteran goalie, Pekka Rinne (6-foot-5) – two large goalies, like Daniel. His movement in the crease is impressive for someone of his size, like Rask and Rinne and with a keen eye, one can definitely see similarities in their playing styles. Just ask BNG team member Thomas Nystrom (@nahstrom on Twitter) or Boston Sports Journal Bruins writer Anthony Gulizia, as he wrote about Vladar, Rask, and Rinne not too long ago.

The oldest of the goalie group, Vladar is well-spoken with a giant goaltending frame with good crease awareness and vision to go along with it who will look to build on his development in Providence this upcoming season.

Camp Invitees: Stephen Baylis, Henry Bowlby, and Teemu Kivilhalme

Stephen Baylis

Stephen Baylis, Henry Bowlby, and Teemu Kivilhalme stood out to me amongst the solid group of camp invitees at camp. Although they may never join the Bruins organization, their solid performances at camp certainly helped their chances of landing a spot in professional hockey someday, whether that is within the Bruins organization or not.

Stephen Baylis is a 23-year-old forward from Bowling Green State University. He showed solid hands, a good skating stride, and he played heads-up hockey.

Baylis will head back to Bowling Green State University for his senior year this fall to continue to his developmental path.

Henry Bowlby

Henry Bowlby is an incoming sophomore at Harvard University from one of Minnesota’s hockey hotbeds in the city of Edina. As a freshman at Harvard, he scored eight goals and added as many assists, good for 16 points in 24 games. Not too shabby for a freshman. Bowlby’s quickness, soft hands, and shooting ability were on display at camp and really caught my eye.

Bowlby can be found in the video below displaying his quickness and skills with the puck on his stick in tight below wearing number 75.

Henry Bowlby is definitely a player that I will continue to monitor. If he progresses nicely at Harvard and Bruins management keeps an eye on him, maybe he could land a contract in Boston someday and join Harvard teammate and current Bruin, Ryan Donato in the organization.

Teemu Kivilhalme

Now here is a player with an interesting background that led him to Boston for development camp – Teemu Kivilhalme. Teemu was drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL draft by the Nashville Predators, played three seasons at Colorado College, left college a year early to play for Kärpät in Finland and never signed with Nashville. The next step? Prospect development camp with the Boston Bruins.

On day one of camp skated towards a barrier on the blue line, stumbled right in front of the barrier on a zone-entry drill and recovered very quickly to evade the barrier and plant a wrist-shot in the top-left corner of the net. Some may not have noticed it, but his quick recovery and impressive finish made me watch him closer as camp went on. He is a smooth skater with a quick shot. He wasn’t overly flashy with anything, but showed a structured and calm playing style throughout the first three days.

Kivihalme is set to play for Kärpät again next year and is most definitely a player to monitor for me due to his skill set and his interesting path to get where he is today.

Be optimistic and get excited if you somehow aren’t already – because outside of the NHL and AHL rosters that are in pretty good shape, there is plenty of depth in the Bruins’ prospect core. Plus, there is the possibility of one, if not multiple of the camp invitees in attendance becoming members of the Bruins organization someday.

Will The Bruins Need A New Assistant Coach?

 

Joe Sacco

Joe Sacco (Credit: leagueittous.com)

By: Drew Johnson   |   Follow Me on Twitter @doobshmoob

The idea has been tossed out there, and it is starting to gain some traction.

After losing head coach David Quinn to the New York Rangers, Boston University is looking for a replacement to lead their reputable ice hockey program. It has been suggested that Boston Bruins assistant coaches, Jay Pandolfo and Joe Sacco, may be candidates.

There are arguments for and against for the two men behind Boston’s bench to consider the change.

Why The Speculation?

Pandolfo and Sacco both have reason to highly consider taking the job as the Terrier’s next head coach. Both know first-hand of BU’s reputation having played for the university in their collegiate hockey carriers.

Sacco’s play with the Terriers earned him a selection in the fourth round of the 1987 NHL Entry Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Bruins’ assistant coach scored 14 goals and 22 assists in his freshman year, improving to 28 goals and 24 assists by his junior year – his last with the university.

Sacco went on to appear in 738 NHL contests, tallying 94 goals and 119 assists before starting his coaching career. He landed his first NHL coaching job with the Colorado Avalanche, manning the reigns from 2009 to 2013. He then became the assistant coach of the Buffalo Sabres for a single season before joining the Bruins.

Joe Sacco - Avalanche

(Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America)

Pandolfo totaled 79 goals and 124 assists during his playing carrier with BU across four seasons. He, like Sacco, went on to play in the NHL. Pandolfo spent the majority of his professional career with the New Jersey Devils before playing his last two seasons with the New York Islanders and the Bruins.

The Bruins’ assistant coach has been just that throughout his two-year coaching career. Pandolfo has no experience as a head coach which likely does not place him at the top of BU’s list of candidates, but it could be a reason for the alumn to chase the opportunity.

Sacco, on the other hand, does have experience as a bench boss, though he has no experience coaching a college team. His head coaching stint with the Avalanche was not exactly pretty – the experience resulted in a 130-134-30 record.

A speculated reason for Sacco and Pandolfo to consider the role with his old school is money, seeing as though BU would likely pay a higher salary than the Bruins would pay for an assistant coach.

The Will To Stay

While there are certainly positives to taking the open position, there a number of persuasive reasons to stay with Boston’s NHL team.

One indisputable fact is how bright the future is for the boys in black and gold heading into the 2018-19 season. Players like Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy, Danton Heinen, Ryan Donato, Anders Bjork, Brandon Carlo, and Matt Grzelcyk have many expecting the Bruins to be a cup-contending team for some time.

Pairing these youngsters with an already solid core, including Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Torey Krug, David Krejci, and David Pastrnak, the team sure seems stacked on paper. Certainly a squad capable of taking the Eastern Conference – a feat they nearly completed with an impressive second half of the 2017-18 campaign.

There is also a better opportunity for promotions as an assistant coach. There are certainly a number of NCAA head coaches that move on to become coaches in the NHL – heck, that’s the reason the Terriers are looking for one themselves. However, an assistant coach is a favorable candidate if they already have experience in the league.

One would think that becoming an NHL head coach is something Sacco is looking to become again, and something Pandolfo may eventually want to grow into. Either path may lead the two to such a destination, but why not stick with what’s working and what is winning right now?

If one is offered and decides to take the job at their old school, the Bruins will be looking for a replacement. However, one current member of the organization’s staff is ruled out of a promotion if that is the case:

Both Sacco and Pandolfo are certainly candidates for the open coaching position at BU, but the Bruins are a team on the up-and-up, and that success could persuade the two assistant coaches to stay.

Bruins Wisely Sign Connor Clifton to NHL Deal

 

(Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

By: Drew Johnson | Twitter: @doobshmoob

The Boston Bruins signed defenseman Connor Clifton to a two-year NHL deal. The former Quinnipiac Bobcat played for the Providence Bruins last season.

Clifton & the U.S. National Development Team

Clifton first played with the U.S. National Development Team during the 2011-12 season. In eight games he contributed with a goal and earned a plus-minus rating of minus-two.

That same season, Clifton played with the Jersey Hitmen of the EJHL. In 28 games he registered one goal and 11 assists, earning 46 penalty minutes.

Clifton rejoined the U.S. National Development Team during the 2012-13 season, appearing in 25 games. This time around, the defenseman potted three goals and six assists and maintained a plus-11 rating.

Clifton was drafted 133rd overall by the Phoenix Coyotes during the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Eventually, however, the defenseman decided not to sign a contract with the Coyotes.

He then attended Quinnipiac University to play hockey for the Bobcats. Judging by his performance with the NCAA Division I team, it is no wonder Clifton had the confidence to test the waters of free agency.

Clifton at Quinnipiac

Having attended Quinnipiac University myself, I got the opportunity to watch Clifton in the latter two years of his collegiate career. The now 23-year-old captained the Bobcats during his senior year, a season in which he tallied seven goals and seven assists in 39 games.

The blueliner has the ability to pitch in offensively while simultaneously finding strength in his own zone. Clifton is also well known for his physical play, throwing hits whenever he is given the chance.

During his junior year, Clifton had his best season in terms of offensive stats, notching seven goals and 21 helpers in 43 games. The defenseman accumulated a plus-20 rating. Throughout Quinnipiac’s playoff run that season, Clifton had four multi-point games.

The most prevalent downside to Clifton’s game can be a lack of discipline. Consider this hit back in 2016:

However, Clifton seems as though he is getting this under control. In his freshman year, the defenseman accumulated 106 penalty minutes in 36 games. Comparatively, Clifton only gathered 35 penalty minutes in 54 games during his first season with Providence.

Throughout his career at Quinnipiac, Clifton put up 19 goals and 37 assists in four collegiate seasons.

Clifton & the Bruins

The New Jersey native has been a solid addition to the AHL Bruins. Clifton appeared in 54 games with Boston’s AHL affiliate during the 2017-18 campaign, pitching in offensively with four goals and nine assists. He also maintained a plus-minus rating of plus-11.

Clifton has what it takes to make to the NHL, whether that winds up being with the Bruins or another team. A Bruins comparable is Kevan Miller or Adam McQuaid due to his toughness and willingness to be a physical force. However, Clifton has more of an offensive upside.

The defenseman will have a shot at cracking an NHL team’s bottom pairing. Look for him to gather some attention at development camp this summer.

Will Clifton make it to Boston next season? Probably not – he still needs time to continue growing his game in Providence. But it is very likely that you will see him skate on NHL ice before he calls it quits.

Bruins Prospect Trent Frederic Records First Pro Goal

(Brighton, MA 07/07/17) #57 Trent Frederic jumps over a rope during Bruins development camp at the Warrior Ice Arena. Friday, July 7, 2017. Staff photo by John Wilcox.

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Last night in a thrilling 5-4 Providence Bruins overtime victory over Atlantic Division-leading Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 2016 first-round draft selection Trent Frederic scored his first professional goal in his second American Hockey League game. The first of many goals from this talented young man from the St. Louis, Missouri area came at the 11:05 mark of the second period and was unassisted as seen in the Tweet below followed by some interesting insight from @BruinsNetwork account owner Anthony Kwetkowski.

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The top-shelf tallie is just a small sample size of what this 6′-5″ 2015-pound forward can do with only two games with the top minor-pro affiliate of the Boston Bruins. Before joining his Providence team, the now 20-year-old center chose to shorten his colligate hockey career with the University of Wisconsin Badgers after his sophomore year for the next level in the higher ranks of professional play. In 66 games playing in the NCAA Big-Ten Conference, the 29th selection from the National Hockey Leagues Entry Draft from Buffalo, New York contributed 65 points (32-33-65) under the exceptional tutelage of former NHL’er and Badgers current Head Coach Tony Granato.

Granato had this to say to Wisconsin State Journal’s Todd D. Milewski in his article on March 14, 2018, after Frederic went public with his decision to leave school and turn pro.  “Trent Frederic is 100 percent an NHL player. No question in my mind,” Granato said. “Does Boston want him to play in Providence for the remainder of this year and 40 games next year, similar to what Minnesota just did with Luke? Only they know that plan, and that plan changes fast.””Does it leave a void at center ice for us temporarily? Absolutely,” Granato said. “You take Trent Frederic out of your lineup, a guy that probably could have got 25 or 30 goals in college hockey next year, you don’t just all of a sudden find another one in your backyard.”

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Tony also mentioned the loss and value in taking a player of Frederic’s caliber out of the lineup for the 2018-19 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey season. “Does it leave a void at center ice for us temporarily? Absolutely,” Granato said. “You take Trent Frederic out of your lineup, a guy that probably could have got 25 or 30 goals in college hockey next year, you don’t just all of a sudden find another one in your backyard.”

Many Bruins fans didn’t approve of his selection in the first-round and believed he was a reach for possibly being a mid-second-round projection, but it’s heavily rumored the Anaheim Ducks were going to select him with the 30th pick from intel gathered on that particular 2016 draft day. It was a solid pick in my opinion and continues the additions to the depth up the middle of this franchise even though the center position throughout the organization may be over-filled.

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Frederic had this to say about his departure from the Big-Ten team and movement closer to the east coast and dream of reaching the top professional league in the world. “I wish I would have won some more games and left a bigger mark on the program,” Frederic said. “That’s one of the reasons I wanted to come back. It was really hard to leave. “But I just thought in my heart, that’s where I wanted to go. I want to make the National Hockey League, and I thought this was the best opportunity for me.”

Trent had decent success at the international level appearing in the World Junior Championships with his 2016 U-18 team which captured a bronze medal contributing seven points in seven games (4-3-7) and took home another bronze medal at the 2018 U-20 WJC scoring five points in seven games. His four-goal game from this year’s tournament from Buffalo, New York can be seen below in the video provided below.

Providence first-year Head Coach Jay Leach told Providence Journal’s Bruins beat writer Mark Divver after he skated in his first pro game on March 18, 2018, against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. ‘He didn’t even skate with us (before today). He literally skated with three guys yesterday. So we just kind of threw him in. Clearly has ability. I’m excited to get him into some practices this week, so he can really get used to the way we play….

The 39-21-3-2 Providence Bruins are back in action tonight in the second straight game in as many nights against the 42-16-4-5 Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. The B’s are 1-2-0 against Lehigh Valley and in six games last season went 2-2-2-0, and both teams are seemingly going to avoid playing each other in the AHL’s Calder Cup Playoff first-round matchup when the season ends. Including tonight’s game, the Bruins have 11 regular season contests before returning to the postseason a place the B’s had decent success reaching the Eastern Conference Finals ultimately losing to the stronger Syracuse Crunch last spring.

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What do the Bruins have in Matt Grzelcyk?

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By: Spencer Fascetta | Follow Me on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey

Take a look at the Bruins’ defense corps this year. 300-year-old Zdeno Chara is logging significant minutes, while his toddler of a partner, Charlie McAvoy, looks like he’s been in the league for nearly a decade. I’ve already gone in-depth with our good friend Brandon Carlo, which you can read here, but he is a steady, young, Top 4 guy. Torey Krug is one of the most dynamic blueliners in the game, which I discuss in depth here. If anyone told you Kevan Miller had developed into a reliable two-way weapon, you would have booked them a one-way trip to a mental institution. Adam McQuaid, well, you can read my feelings on him here. They really haven’t changed much since then. They just made a deal for Nick Holden, who I give some thoughts on here. You forgot Paul Postma existed. That leaves Matt Grzelcyk, the pint-sized Boston native who forced his way into the lineup halfway through the season and has made quite the case to remain there.

NHL: Boston Bruins at Pittsburgh Penguins

Photo: Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

That being said, there seems to be a bit of groupthink that Grzelcyk is not very good, and not only should be a nightly scratch in favor of McQuaid or Holden but that he probably doesn’t have a long-term future on the Bruins. There are a few contributing factors here. For one, he’s small. The Boston fan base has had the privilege of watching Torey Krug work his magic for the past 5 years, and have thus developed an unrealistic expectation that every undersized defenseman should be in that mold. To this point, Grzelcyk certainly has not displayed the level of dynamics Krug has. As I have stated in previous articles, I also feel as if the Boston fanbase clings to it’s Big Bad Bruins heritage like it’s a liferaft. Unfortunately, that liferaft has a 3-foot gash in the side of it and has been sinking faster and faster as the years have gone on. It is one of the reasons they are infatuated with Adam McQuaid, despite the countless pieces of information that state he is a below-replacement-level option.

 

In that vein, I thought I’d put together another one of my excessively long pieces on Matt Grzelcyk to convey to you, the reader, how good he actually is. As always, I used the fabulous database available at Corsica.hockey, and compiled them filtered datasets into my own massive database, simply for the ease of manipulation. This particular data was gathered on March 22nd, 2018, and I limited the data to any defenseman who has logged at least 500 minutes of ice time thus far this season. This, in theory, limits the dataset to defensemen who have played at least half of the season at the NHL level. The secondary dataset is comprised of the pairings data from Corsica, looking at the four players Grzelcyk has spent significant time with as a defense partner this year – Brandon Carlo, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, and Charlie McAvoy. The visuals are created through Tableau. If there is size scaling on the graphs below of the marks, it is by time on ice (pairings data) and time on ice percentage (individual data), the percentage of a team’s total time on ice a player is used in. Phew! That’s a long preamble. Told you I had a rambling tendency!

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Photo: Angela Spagna

Let’s get started by looking at the individual-player data. The first graph depicts the relationship between Corsi For per Hour (CF/60) and Corsi Against per Hour (CA/60). Corsi For per Hour is describes shot attempts generated for a player’s team while they are on the ice per every 60 minutes of play, and Corsi Against per Hour is the opposite – the number of shot attempts allowed by a player’s team while they are on the ice. This isolates a player’s impact on shot attempt generation in the offensive and defensive zones. In general, you want your CF/60 to be higher than 50, and your CA/60 to be below 50. Defensemen spend more time in their own end than forwards, and overall more time on the ice than forwards, so it makes sense to see that a majority of them are +50 CA/60 players. It’s a positive that so many defensemen are +50 CF/60 players as well. This would indicate that a majority of defensemen in the NHL who reach at least 500 minutes played are competent two-way players.

Corsi ForAgainst per Hour

What you will likely find interesting is that there are two Bruins I have highlighted that are -50 CA/60 players in addition to being +50 CF/60 players (there are in fact 3, Kevan Miller also falls in this range, but is much, much closer to the 50% line) – Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy. Every other marked player on this graph is a presumptive Norris Trophy candidate this season. So, what does this mean? Well, it means that McAvoy and Grzelcyk are both quite good at generating shots for their team, but they are able to balance that with being two of the best shot suppression defensemen in the entire NHL – as rookies. Not only that but Grzelcyk, at least according to this measurement, is the BEST (no, that is not a typo) shot suppression defenseman in the entire NHL. This comes with two caveats. For one, he has not played a full season in the NHL yet. In addition to that, when he has been in the NHL this season,a he hasn’t started to receive Top 4 minutes until the past week and a half, and that elevation in playing time was in direct response to the rash of injuries the team has suffered of late. Both of these facts contribute tomaller sample size than I would have liked. Regardless, the fact remains that he is a premier defensive defenseman at this point in his career.

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Photo: Steven Ryan/Getty Images

“But, wait!” you exclaim. “You just said he wasn’t getting significant minutes, he’s probably being sheltered!” Aha! I see you come prepared. So, I adjusted CF/60 and CA/60 by the quality of competition. This analyzes the CF/60 and CA/60 of all of the players who have been on the ice for the other team at the same time as the player in question. Based on this, Grzelcyk falls around the middle of the pack. You can see that Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug play some of the toughest minutes in the NHL, and Grzelcyk is not a massive amount behind the two. By no means does he play “sheltered” minutes; he just doesn’t have to try to shut down the league’s best on a game to game basis.

Corsi ForAgainst per Hour (Quality of Competition)

Let’s take a peek at the kind of players Grzelcyk has played with so far. Based on this graphic, yes, Grzelcyk does seem to have the benefit of playing with strong teammates. This should come as no surprise – the Bruins have (arguably) the best defensive forward of all time in Patrice Bergeron, and are consistently a strong defensive team. However, he falls in a similar range as McAvoy and Predators captain Roman Josi.

**Sidenote: I feel really badly for Erik Karlsson. Nobody has been forced to play with worse defensive players than him this year, and it isn’t even close. He hasn’t gotten a ton of help offensively thus far either. Looks like Ottawa may want to buckle up, this may take a while to fix.

Corsi ForAgainst per Hour (Quality of Teammates)

Let’s take a look at how efficient this group is at converting its expected goal output. Grzelcyk far outpaces the field in this case – he has far and away the highest goals for the percentage of this group, which is a measure of the number of goals that are scored by his team out of all goals scored while he is on the ice. Grzelcyk is near 75% – meaning the Bruins have scored 3/4 of the goals scored while he has been on the ice. His expected goals for percentage is still well above 50%, which tells me that although some regression should be expected, it should not be quite as extreme as one would think.

Expected vs Actual Goals For %

We’ve discussed his impact on both shots for and against, but how well does he take care of the puck? Well, let’s take a look at takeaways and giveaways per hour. Surprisingly, he falls into the defensively sound quadrant here, as he averages more takeaways than giveaways per hour. Contrast that with Norris candidates such as Drew Doughty, who falls into the risky quadrant (more giveaways than takeaways), and Grzelcyk falls firmly into the upper echelon of NHL defensemen. He actually is better at taking the puck away from his opponents than Charlie McAvoy, Victor Hedman, PK Subban, Torey Krug, John Klingberg, and the aforementioned Doughty. Pretty good company.

Giveaways vs. Takeaways per Hour

Well, is he benefitting from sheltered zone starts? As compared to his peers, only slightly. I want to point a few things out though. He gets SIGNIFICANTLY fewer offensive zone starts than Torey Krug (who, rather absurdly, gets nearly half of his zone starts in the offensive zone), and in fact, receives fewer than Charlie McAvoy. Additionally, he is THE BEST defenseman concerning shots for percentage, which is the percentage of all shots taken by his team out of the total number of shots taken while he is on the ice. When he’s on the ice, the B’s are taking nearly 60% of the shots.

Shots For % vs Ozs%

I mentioned earlier that Grzelcyk had benefitted from playing with high-end defensive-forwards such as Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. But what about his defensive partners? Well, looking at CF/60 and CA/60 of the 4 defensive pairings he has been a part of, all of them fall into the -50 CA/60 and +50 CF/60 quadrant. He and McAvoy may be one of the most dominant defensive pairings we have seen in Boston in quite a while.

Pairings Corsi For versus Corsi Against per Hour

How dominant is the McAvoy/Grzelcyk pairing? The former Boston University Terrier teammates have nearly 90% of the goals scored by either team while they are on the ice. He did the impossible and made Adam McQuaid look like an offensive threat. Kevan Miller has been a brilliant compliment.

Pairings Expected Goals For Percentage versus Goals For Percentage

Let’s take a look at their Corsi differential and Shot Differential. He and Carlo give up more shots than they generate, and are *ahem* less than good regarding Corsi. While the McQuaid pairing is decent as it pertains to shot differential, they are not very good regarding possession. Unsurprisingly, the McAvoy/Grzelcyk duo has been good in both aspects. However, the more surprising thing might be the sheer dominance the Miller/Grzelcyk pairing has shown. They are comfortably a definite possession pairing, but they obliterate the competition when it comes to shot differential. That’s absurd.

Pairings Goal Differential vs Corsi Differential

 

Who’s still with me? Well, congratulations – you’re one of the few. Let’s attempt to take all of this information, and answer the question I posed at the beginning: What do the Bruins have in Matt Grzelcyk? Based on my statistical analysis, Grzelcyk looks like an elite two-way defenseman, which is excellent at taking the puck away from his opponents and one of the best in the league at shot generation and production. Based on the vaunted eye-test, I see a young defenseman who realizes he is undersized and is able to use a ludicrously high hockey IQ to compensate for his physical limitations. His stick positioning is consistently brilliant, and he might make the best outlet pass in the league. No, that’s not hyperbole. He seems to be gaining confidence offensively, but he is a little tentative when it comes to jumping up into the rush. I expect this will come with time and experience. Grzelcyk might be the 2nd best defensive prospect the Bruins have, and I’m aware of how ridiculous that sounds. But yes, I think he’s better than Jakub Zboril, better than Jeremy Lauzon, better than Urho Vaakanainen, and better than Brandon Carlo. It’s not overly close. The only thing standing in his way is the perception that he is just another small defenseman.

Enjoy this piece? Check out my work here, and consider taking a gander at my YouTube Channel, where I react to most Bruins games, and discuss NHL news with an analytics twist. Feel free to like, share, and subscribe!

 

Bruins Bleed Crimson, Sign Sherman to ELC

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Photo Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY

By: Spencer Fascetta | Follow me on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey

The Bruins really like all of these good Harvard boys… The team announced today that they signed their second Harvard player to an Entry-Level Contract in less than a week, as 2013 5th Rounder Wiley Sherman inked his 2-year ELC just days after teammate Ryan Donato signed his. Sherman’s contract does not begin until the 2018-19 season, and will report to the Providence Bruins on an Amateur Try-Out contract for the remainder of the 2017-18 season.

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Photo Credit: John Connolly/Boston Herald

Sherman, 22, was originally drafted by the Bruins out of the Hotchkiss School, in Lakeville, Connecticut in the 5th Round in the 2013 NHL Draft, 150th Overall. The towering 6’7″ defenseman lives up to his name, as Wiley weighs in at a mere 220 pounds despite his massive frame. The Connecticut native has spent the last four years patrolling the blueline for the Harvard Crimson, posting a career high of 13 points (all assists) in his junior season. Overall, Sherman recorded 7 goals and 26 assists for 33 points to go along with 60 career penalty minutes in 137 career games for the Ivy League juggernaut. The entry-level deal, beginning next season, is expected to be a 2-year commitment, adding to an already stacked defensive depth chart within the organization. Sherman joins a deep Providence team for the stretch run as they look to make yet another deep run in the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Bruins Sign Donato To Entry-Level Deal

 

PHILADELPHIA, PA – JUNE 28: Ryan Donato meets his team after being drafted #56 by the Boston Bruins on Day Two of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 28, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Boston Bruins announced earlier this evening that they’ve signed prospect and Harvard University forward Ryan Donato to an entry-level contract.  This year was a career season for the Crimson Junior as he posted 26-17-43 numbers in in 26 games and was the ECAC Player of The Year and a nominee for the prestigious Hobey Baker Award given to the best NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Athlete annually. The 21-year-old was also selected to the United State hockey team that played at the 2018 Winter Olympics and played very well with six points in five games (5-1-6).

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Donato, a second-round selection of the B’s in 2014 has really taken a huge step in his development over the past year and deservingly generated a great deal of hype from those professional opinions down to the fans that pay close attention to the developing youth on a yearly basis. Although I knew Ryan was going to be signed at some point in 2018, my projection of when was way off as I had him coming to the National Hockey League during the offseason as I believed the Bruins would go with the roster that’s had so much success in 2017-18. Regardless of my projected timeline, I’m very excited to have him with this team and look forward to seeing him when he makes it on the roster with 12 games remaining in the regular season and upcoming playoff schedule.

This is what Ryan had to say shortly after signing his entry-level deal with his beloved Boston Bruins…..

“I am excited to announce that today I have fulfilled a lifelong dream, signing a NHL contract to play for the Boston Bruins,” Donato said in a statement. “While I am beyond thrilled for this next opportunity, it comes with a bittersweet feeling, as my time as a student-athlete at Harvard comes to a close. I am so thankful for every day I have spent at Harvard and the remarkable people I have met along the way, from the classroom, to the ice, and beyond. It has truly been a privilege to wear the Harvard jersey and represent my school alongside such incredible teammates and coaches. My time in the Harvard hockey program has provided me with some of my closest friends and fondest memories, and I will strive to continue representing Harvard well from afar as I enter this next stage of my life.

“While no longer on campus, I am so proud to consider myself a member of the greater Harvard community, and I am still fully dedicated to working towards another lifelong dream of mine: a degree from the university that has given me the best three years of my life.”

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With the current injuries on the Bruins coming down the stretch, this is a solid depth move for the organization with players like David Backes, Patrice Bergeron, and Jake DeBrusk returns up in the air with a dozen games to go before the Mid-April Stanley Cup Playoffs begin, the addition of the young Donato wasn’t exactly shocking. Regardless of how much action he gets into, he has to be a serious candidate at this point to make a full-time NHL player next season as current players that will be unrestricted free agents this summer might not be coming back and creating a permanent spot for him in 2018-19.

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I’ve seen many games that Ryan’s played at the NCAA level and every Bruins development camp that he’s attended and in my opinion, he’s got the skills of an NHL player now, and the pedigree is there with his father and former Crimson coach for the last three seasons Ted Donato who spent several seasons in Black and Gold cannot be denied. The way this kid can skate and stickhandle in traffic is second to none, and he does possess an NHL release. Now his development has brought him to the highest level in the world and can’t wait to see him play NHL opponents shortly as he’s been rumored to get his first taste of the top tomorrow night when the Columbus Blue Jackets come to the TD Garden in Boston. I have to go with a few professional analysts and say I doubt he plays against the Jackets tomorrow night without practicing with the team. Wednesday on the road in St. Louis is a better opportunity in my opinion as he’ll be more acclimated to his new club.

Bruins Prospect Swayman Shines Despite Sweep From Providence College

Photo Credit:  Hero Sports

By: Josh B.   |   Follow Me On Twitter @ToCauseway

The verdict is in: UMaine Goaltender Jeremy Swayman considers a hot dog a sandwich.

The Boston Bruins’ 4th round selection in 2017 (111th overall) was in Providence this weekend with his teammates from the University of Maine to face-off against the Friars in the Hockey East Quarterfinals. Despite an early lead in Game 1 of the best of 3 series, the Black Bears fell prey to a sneaky comeback from the Providence College squad. In a winner take all game the following night, the Friars took the early lead and nearly ran the Black Bears out of the building and back to Alfond Arena in Orono, Maine with 3 early goals and one waved off due to goaltender interference. The Black Bears surged in the second with 2 goals less than a minute apart, but the comeback would fall short.

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Despite a sour note to end their hopeful season on, the UMaine Men’s Ice Hockey team has plenty of positive takeaways in the 2017-2018 campaign. With an 18-15-4 record, the Black Bears have had their first winning season since 2013-2014 where they went 16-15-4. This season also marks the deepest the Black Bears have gone in the playoffs since 2006-2007.

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Fittingly, the Black Bears beat their cross-border rival New Hampshire Wildcats in the opening round of the Hockey East playoffs advancing to their quarterfinal Providence showdown. UMaine snuffed out the UNH Wildcats on back-to-back nights Friday and Saturday of last week by the score of 4-1 and 3-2 respectively.

Unfortunately, this year’s era of good feelings came to an end in the Ocean State.

In football they say “Defense wins championships”; in Hockey, the tender between the pipes can be the difference maker for your season. A hot goalie can carry you, while a cold one can sink you.

Jeremy Swayman knows this; he’s been the key to this year’s UMaine Men’s Ice Hockey season. Despite the losses in Providence, Swayman stopped 37 of 41 shots (0.902 SV%) Friday night, and 38 of 41 shots (0.926 SV%) Saturday night. Considering the jump the Friars came out with both nights, Swayman acquitted himself admirably with the amount of rubber he faced.

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The Anchorage, AK native has plenty to be proud of this season: His 16 W’s are the most by any Freshman Maine goaltender since Ben Bishop in 2005-2006. From Dec. 2nd 2017 to Jan. 19th of this year, he had 8 consecutive games of 30+ saves. During the World Junior Championship, he was elected to represent his country in Buffalo with team USA. He has been named NCAA’s “Rookie of the Week” last November, this past January, and the previous week. On Dec. 11th of 2017, he was named NCAA’s “Player of the Week.” Swayman also helped break a multi-game losing streak at Boston University’s Agganis Arena dating back to January 28th, 2012; Not only did Swayman help secure the win, but he also blanked the Terriers for only the 5th shutout in 130 contests between the two clubs.

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Bruins Nation was introduced to Swayman on Saturday, June 24th, 2017. When I spoke to him, he recounted the experience fondly. Because of the time difference between the Draft in Chicago, IL, and his home in Anchorage, AK, the news came down around 6 AM local time. “[The call] was pretty surreal…When you get called [in the Draft] let alone to the Bruins, an Original Six team, the great history behind it.” Surrounded by family, the first inkling he was drafted by the Bruins was friends texting him congratulations. “[It was] the best day of my life.”

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July is a special month in the offseason for Bruins fans and media, as draft selections and prospects along with invitees attend Bruins Development Camp which is open to the public: a glimpse into the future of the Black and Gold. Jeremy Swayman appreciated the on-ice portions of the 4-day long event, where he was introduced to Bob Essensa, Bruins goalie coach. “He critiqued every little thing he saw” noted Swayman, who was grateful for the attention to detail. “I took it to heart, and still use it in my game today.” Swayman also spoke glowingly of the friendly but competitive environment of Development Camp under the watchful eye of the Bruins brass. He reminisced about hitting it off with fellow prospects Ryan Donato who reached out to him before development camp, Jesse Gabrielle, Trent Frederic, and ex-Bruins prospect Ryan Lindgren (now a New York Rangers prospect). In Development Camp 2018, Swayman said he looks forward to working with the coaches, Bob Essensa especially, in a more one-on-one setting.

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Swayman was a UMaine commit before he was drafted, but Development Camp brought him together with a future Maine teammate months before he took to the ice in Orono. Robert “Bub” McGovern was an invite to Bruins Development Camp, where he and Swayman got acquainted before the NCAA season began: “It was a surprise for both of us. When I got the call from a couple of the scouts, [they said] ‘Hey we’re actually bringing your goaltending partner in,’ It was great, I got to start the relationship before the season even started.” Upon arrival in Orono, ME, Swayman worked closely with assistant coach and former UMaine goalie coach Alfie Michaud. “He’s been tremendous. I can’t speak enough about him. He’s really more than a goalie coach, he’s been my mentor, he’s been my role model. If I have any problems, I go straight to him… I know we’re gonna have a great, long relationship together.”

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Looking toward the future, Swayman is content to let Don Sweeney steer the helm of his development. “It’s absolutely a Sweeney decision. I firmly believe they have the best interests [in mind] for me. If they want me to develop here, I have no problem with that, I absolutely love it at Maine growing as a player and a person as well.”

Time will tell how soon Swayman makes it to Providence or Boston, but in the meantime, the University of Maine – Orono has a rising star in its midst.

Bruins Sign Frederic To Entry-Level Contract

(Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Boston Bruins have announced that they’ve signed prospect forward Trent Frederic to a three-year entry-level contract. The 6′-3″ 216-pound St, Louis, Missouri native recently finished his sophomore season at the University of Wisconsin where he appeared in 66 games posting 65 points. The 20-year-old 29th selection of the B’s in 2016 also signed an Amateur Try-Out agreement and will report to the American Hockey Leagues  Providence Bruins for the remaining 15 games.

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