Bruins Game 9 Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs

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PHOTO CREDITS: (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

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

For the second-consecutive game, the Boston Bruins take on the Toronto Maple Leafs. This time, however, the arena is different as the two teams make the move to the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins lost the last time out, 4-3 in overtime in Toronto, but was able to secure a point without second-line center David Krejci (upper-body) in the lineup.

Toronto has had a game since the win over Boston, losing 4-3 in overtime themselves against the Columbus Blue Jackets off of a penalty-shot winner in the OT session. The Maple Leafs are third in the Atlantic division with a record of 5-3-2.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Tuukka Rask 3-0-1 1.72 GAA .946 SV% Last Game: 33 Saves in 4-3 loss vs TBL (SO)

TOR: Michael Hutchinson (Likely) 0-1-1 3.97 GAA .886 SV% Last Game: 28 Saves in 4-3 loss vs WSH

Who’s Hot:

Tuukka Rask is starting in his 500th career NHL game tonight against the franchise who drafted him 21st-overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Rask has been great for the Bruins this year, remaining undefeated in regulation with a record of 3-0-1. Tuukka has a 1.72 GAA (3rd in NHL*) and a .946 save percentage (3rd in NHL*) with one shutout back on October 12th against the Devils.

*minimum of four games started

Mitch Marner leads the Maple Leafs in points this season with 3-9-12 numbers in ten games so far, riding a two-game point streak coming into tonight’s contest as well. On Saturday, Marner finished the night with two assists against Boston – including the game-winning shot that hit Morgan Rielly in front, giving him a primary assist. Marner has been a force, as usual, and he seemingly thrives against the Bruins. Watch for that again tonight.

David Pastrnak was awarded the First Star of the Week according to the National Hockey League and rightly so. The 23-year-old Czech Republic native has dominated the NHL with nine points in three games last week – seven of them being goals. His nine goals on the 2019-20 season puts him tied for first in league and Pastrnak is also top-five in points with 15 in only eight games. Pastrnak put up a goal and an assist in Saturday’s loss to the Leafs.

Who’s Not:

With Frederik Andersen getting the start last night for the Blue and White, it is very likely that we see backup goaltender, Michael Hutchinson in between the pipes for the third time this season. So far, the 2008 3rd-round pick of the Boston Bruins has a win-less record of 0-1-1. Hutchinson has only started twice, but made five saves on five shots against the Lightning in replacement of Andersen who was pulled. With a GAA of 3.97 and a SV% of .886, Hutchinson has not be the best in net when he does get his chance.

Sean Kuraly is yet to find the back of the net in the 2019-2020 campaign, putting up only two assists in the opening eight games. Kuraly had a particularly poor game on Saturday, turning the puck over on numerous occasions with one breakout attempt directly leading to a Toronto goal. Kuraly is one of the better depth players in the NHL, but is starting off the year on a slower pace than expected from a Bruins team needing depth support.

Charlie McAvoy is atop the Bruins roster regarding the younger players, no doubt, but he has not performed at the peak of his potential this season so far. McAvoy has only one assist and is a -1 rating through eight games and against the Leafs last weekend, he made numerous turnovers and seemed out of position on a few rushes by Toronto. Boston needs him to be more consistent tonight and for the games to come.

Milestone Watch:

Boston Bruins:

  • G Tuukka Rask is playing in his 500th career NHL game
  • F Patrice Bergeron is two assists away (498) from 500 career NHL assists
  • F David Pastrnak is one point (299) from 300 career NHL points

Toronto Maple Leafs:

  • F Auston Matthews is three assists away (97) from 100 career NHL assists

Bruins vs Maple Leafs Outlook:

Saturday’s game was an entertaining game between these two teams with both teams getting chances on either end and both teams having solid goaltending throughout the course of the game. This time around, both teams will be putting out different starting goaltenders and will be playing in a different arena – bringing the possibility for another competitive game.

The Bruins managed to earn a point in the loss, keeping them tied in points with Toronto, but are ahead of the Canadian team due to their lack of total games played in comparison. Boston will be looking to win a regulation game on home-ice to take a full two points. Even early on in the season, these points are huge considering the level of competition in the NHL’s Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.

Earlier today, the Bruins announced that forward David Krejci (upper-body) has been placed on the injured-reserve and will not play tonight. In response, the organization recalled forward Anders Bjork from the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League to fill the vacant roster spot. Joakim Nordstrom was on the ice for practice, but no word on if he will return to the lineup. Karson Kuhlman did not practice and will likely miss tonight’s game after blocking a shot from DeBrusk in the last game.

The Bruins and Leafs are expected to have yet another strong game, even with the absence of Krejci and Tavares respectively. There are opportunities available for young players now, especially Bjork, to prove his worth in the depth charts and make a case for a top-six role.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm EST in the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Projected Lines:

Boston Bruins:

Toronto Maple Leafs:

The above lines for the Maple Leafs are for their game last night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Things may change, but expect Hutchinson to get the start.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 150 that we recorded on 10-20-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Former Bruins Forward Lee Stempniak Announces Retirement

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

Today, October 1st, veteran forward Lee Stempniak officially announced his retirement from the National Hockey League after spending the past thirteen seasons in the league for various franchises.

Lee Stempniak was drafted in the in the fifth-round (148th overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the St. Louis Blues, but did not make his NHL debut until the 2005-06 season, accumulating 14-13-27 numbers in 57 games played with the Blues. Stempniak would play a full three seasons with St. Louis before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in November of 2008 in exchange for Alexander Steen and Carlo Colaiacovo.

In Toronto, Stempniak played a combined 123 games before being shipped off to the then-Phoenix Coyotes in a trade deadline move in 2010. Over the course of his career, Stempniak played for ten teams across the league and many of which were because of trades during the trade deadline period of the regular season. Below is the full list of teams the West Seneca, New York native played for.

  • St. Louis Blues (2005-2009) – 57-73-180 
  • Toronto Maple Leafs (2009-2010) – 25-36-61
  • Phoenix Coyotes (2010-2011) – 33-23-56
  • Calgary Flames (2011-2014) – 31-52-83
  • Pittsburgh Penguins (2014-2014) – 4-7-11
  • New York Rangers (2014-2015) – 9-9-18
  • Winnipeg Jets (2015-2015) – 6-4-10
  • New Jersey Devils (2015-2016) – 16-25-41
  • Boston Bruins (2016, 2019) – 3-7-10
  • Carolina Hurricanes (2016-2018) – 19-30-49

During his NHL career, Lee Stempniak played in 911 regular season games, amassing a combined total of 203 goals, 266 assists for 469 points. The majority of his career was spent in St.Louis where he played a total of 233 games followed by the Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Evidently, the 36-year-old was never a high-scoring player within the National Hockey League, but brought some decent depth scoring to teams that were trying to contend or needed an additional piece to their roster in the case of injuries. When it comes to the Boston Bruins, Stempniak did not have a long tenure with the B’s. He only played in a combined total of 21 games, scoring three goals and seven assists for ten points.

In an official press release, Lee Stempniak said the following regarding his decision to retire from the NHL. Quote comes from the NHLPA.

“I am honoured and privileged to have played in the NHL for 13 seasons and I am extremely grateful to have lived my dream every day throughout my career. I would like to thank each and every organization, all of my coaches and the staff members for your help over the years. A special thank you to all of my teammates. I will miss our friendships, laughter and camaraderie.

Thank you to my parents, Larry and Carla, for sacrificing so much to make my dreams a reality. I have learned from your example, and that is the standard for the father I aspire to be. My brother, Jay, thank you for your support and friendship. I am forever grateful to my wife, Lindsay and our three children, Reese, Lucy and Brooks. Without your love, extreme sacrifice and unwavering support throughout all the moves, I would not have enjoyed playing as long as I did.

After living in ten cities, I am looking forward to spending time with my family, settling in Boston and being a father.”

Lee Stempniak will always have roots in Boston, Massachusetts and we at the Black N’ Gold Hockey website wish him the best on all his future endeavours outside of hockey.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 147 that we recorded on 9-29-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins F Anton Blidh Out Four Months After Shoulder Surgery

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

On September 24th, 2019, the Boston Bruins have confirmed that forward Anton Blidh will be forced to miss four months of playing time after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder.

The injury came in the Bruins’ first preseason meeting against the Philadelphia Flyers last week and it was rumored that the injury may require surgery. As news comes in today, it is now clear that Blidh underwent successful surgery to repair a ligament in his right shoulder at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) by Doctor Tom Holovacs.

The 24-year-old winger was drafted by the Boston Bruins in the 6th Round (180th Overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and has been a staple as a depth forward in the organization, playing 263 career regular-season games with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League, amassing a 41-38-79 numbers dating back to the 2015-16 season.

Last year, Blidh was named assistant captain of the P-Bruins, finishing the 2018-19 campaign with 10-13-23 totals in 74 games. Over the course of his professional career, Blidh has played in a combined twenty-one games in the National Hockey League with the Boston Bruins, scoring only one goal and one assist for two points. Elite Prospects’ Erik K. Piri said the following about Blidh back in 2014.

“Blidh is a gritty winger who plays with a lot of energy. Can kill penalties and is a terrific shot blocker. Also owns some offensive instincts and a willingness to go hard to the net. Loves to agitate and rile up opponents.”

Before joining Providence, Blidh spent his time with a variety of different teams in his home country of Sweden with his best point-producing season coming in the 2013-14 campaign where he scored 11 goals and 14 assists for 25 points in 27 games for the Frölunda HC J20 in the SuperElit league.

Back in May of this year, the Boston Bruins re-signed the Mölnlycke, Sweden native to a two-year, two-way contract extension worth $700,000 per season. That deal is scheduled to expire at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season. For the Bruins, this is a tough injury as Blidh was a solid member of the Providence Bruins forward core and could have been a potential recall in the case of an injury to a forward in the big leagues.

If his recovery goes smoothly and efficiently, we should see Anton Blidh back in a sweater, likely for the Baby Bruins in the AHL in the early stages of the 2020 calendar year. For more information on Blidh, David Krejci, and other Boston Bruins injury reports, news, and updates, make sure to give me a follow on Twitter, (@tkdmaxbjj ), and check back frequently on the Black N’ Gold Hockey website.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 146 that we recorded on 9-22-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins’ Prospect Beecher Shined At World Juniors Summer Showcase

John-Beecher

( Photo credit Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images )

By: Ian Frazier | Follow Me On Twitter @ifrazier95

Boston Bruins fans must be feeling pretty good right now after reading the reports and watching recent YouTube videos about the team’s 2019 National Hockey League first-round draft selection John Beecher. The 18-year-old Elmira, New York native was labeled as a draft steal to some experts when he was selected 30th in late Junes NHL Entry Draft from Vancouver, British Columbia. The jury is still out on him, but with the way Beecher played in the 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase held at the Team USA Arena in Plymouth, Michigan, the B’s scouting staff certainly got this one right when addressing future needs.

Beecher looked like an absolute beast compared to other prospects his age. As shown in the video above, he was able to win puck battles on the boards as well as score a couple goals down low. He also battled hard on faceoffs and generated a nice breakaway goal that was made possible by his fast acceleration down the ice beating two defenders. During his time at WJSS, he developed great chemistry alongside fellow Bruins’ prospect Curtis Hall showing their nice one-two punch that was on display during the domination of Finland 7-1. One of his biggest attributes on display was his overall team awareness. He knew exactly where his teammates were and was able to make crisp passes or be able to skate in and help contain the puck near the crease. From what he has shown so far, many hockey insiders believe his style of play is very similar to Sean Couturier with additional speed and size.

With Beecher showing flashes of top six potential, this should be great news for Bruins center David Krejci going forward. Krejci has had seasons where he struggled to have consistent scoring due to the lack of explosiveness on his right side and someone like Beecher could bring that explosiveness to the black and gold and could fill the much-needed position soon. The Bruins had a few prospects the last few seasons try out there with Jackob Forsbaka Karlsson being the most recent. JFK, however, decided to go back to Sweeden to help his development. In the meantime they found a solid replacement with Bruins forward Karson Kuhlman to hold down the fort until someone like Beecher is ready to be called up. Beecher is scheduled to transfer to the University of Michigan where he will play for the Wolverines during the 2019-20 NCAA season.

Over the past few seasons, players like this have been a much-needed asset for many teams and Beecher may be the next in line that fits that mold. One thing is for sure though, Bruins fans should be excited about him, and they should be happy knowing that Sweeney may have found a future solution at second-line right wing. We still don’t know for sure if Beecher is a long-time solution for the club down the road, but the future looks bright for this young man. Time will tell!

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

Allred: Top-10 Bruins Prospects

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

As a diehard Boston Bruins fan, I also pay close attention to the organization’s prospects in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins and lower levels of developmental hockey around the world. I believe it’s important for B’s fans to not only be up to date with what’s going on with the National Hockey League team in Boston but also who’s standing out in the prospect pool and about to cross the threshold of future NHL professional careers.

These top-ten ranking below are my thoughts on where I see these prospects in the B’s developing depth with minimal if no games in the NHL. This was a great idea from our Senior writer Mike Cratty who came to our writing team of 17 members for that offseason content and to keep the B’s conversation going. Check out the two previous prospect ranking articles from Mike Cratty HERE, and writer Lucas Pearson’s rankings Here to see the difference in opinions when it comes to this offseason topic. Without further ado, here are my Top-10 Boston Bruins Prospect Rankings.

10) Jakub Zboril

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com )

Sometimes first-round NHL drafted players don’t get to the highest level in the world after leaving the draft podium, but with NHL contracted players ahead of Zboril it gives time to properly develop. The now 22-year-old two-way defenseman has one-year remaining on his current entry-level contract before becoming a restricted free agent. Jakub will most likely spend another season with the Providence Bruins where he’s played in 124 career games posting 8-30-38 numbers. In two career NHL games during his callups from the AHL, Zboril went pointless but did get a taste of the NHL which could drive him to seriously compete for a spot at training camp in September.

9) Zach Senyshyn

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com )

Another young player with tremendous upside when he was selected in the first round in 2015 along with the aforementioned Zboril. In my opinion, Senyshyn has the attributes to be an NHL’er, but the pipeline ahead of him hasn’t been easy to crack the code to be a regular. With one-year remaining on his entry-level deal Zach is going to have to work harder than ever to get the attention of the Bruins brass high above to address a serious need on the right side of the B’s forward core.

In 132 career AHL games with Providence, the 22-year-old has 26-24-50 numbers and in two games during the 2018-19 campaign got his first career NHL goal when he was called up and played in a 3-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild. I can see Senyshyn playing a majority of next year in Providence, but he could also get more looks during this upcoming 2019-20 NHL season.

8) Jeremy Lauzon

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com )

Jeremy is another prospect that is being hindered by the bottlenecking factor of this Bruins organization, especially for a depth defenseman. Lauzon is on the last year of his entry-level deal and overly not sure of his NHL timeline with the core ahead of him. I’d expect he’s going to have a solid camp and will impress those who are constructing a winner in the next regular season campaign but another season in Providence developing is what I see in my crystal ball. Lauzon did play in 16 games at the NHL level during the 2018-19 season and thought he played well earning his first and only NHL goal in that timeframe. With Providence appearing in 81 games the former 2015 second-round selection posted 2-12-14 numbers in his career thus far in the AHL.

7) Trent Frederic

( Photo Credit: Team Shred Photography )

By far, one of my favorite prospects in the Bruins system. Frederic has speed and creativity, but above all, he plays with that edge that can get him into the NHL Bruins lineup no matter what forward line. He has good speed with or without the puck, and his strength in the faceoff circle is another tremendous attribute when winning draws in critical situations.

The 2018-19 season was Frederics first full season of AHL hockey and as a rookie in the league contributed offensively with 14-11-25 numbers. I still believe that Trent’s game can only get better with his time developing in Providence but did have a few good looks in his first career NHL games in the 2018-19 season where he spent 15 games with the Boston club failing to register a point.  Frederic is another big kid with serious upside as a 21-year-old and can definitely see his offensive numbers getting better with the upcoming season with two more full seasons under his current entry-level contract.

6) Kyle Keyser

( Photo Credit: TheAHL.com / NBCSports.com )

Signed to an entry-level contract as an undrafted free agent back in October of 2017 after losing former Bruins prospect netminder Malcolm Subban via the waiver process to the Vegas Golden Knights. Since Keyser’s addition to the future plans of the Bruins crease, the Coral Springs, Florida native has really impressed me and continues to pass other goaltending prospects that were drafted in previous years.

Keyser is a 20-year-old netminder who’s eligible for the AHL action in the upcoming season. With Zane McIntyre out of the picture and the Bruins signing Maxime Legace to a one-year deal to add to the netminding depth there are rumors he could start his minor-pro career in the ECHL. The AHL full time is not out of the realm depending on what the B’s want to do with goaltender Dan Vladar. Kyle had a career year last season playing for the OHL’s Oshawa Generals where he tied his career-high in games played with 47 and a record of 32-8-0 with a 2.45 goals-against-average and .915 save percentage.

5) Axel Andersson

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

One of the more intriguing defensive prospects, in my opinion.  Drafted in the second round in 2018, Andersson was quickly signed to an entry-level contract after the close of the teams annual Development Camp. The 6′-0″ 180-pound defenseman has impeccable skating abilities along with impressive edge work. He has a high hockey IQ and the ability to snap tape to tape stretch passes for quick transition offensively.

Andersson is not a point-producing blueliner, but that part of his game could be incorporated with his time in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Moncton Wildcats a team who selected him in the 2019 CHL Import Draft where he went 30th overall in the first round. From the folks I talk to in the Moncton, New Brunswick Canada area is that he’s going to be heavily relied on the backend and could see top-line minutes in all situations.

4) Jakub Lauko

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Probably one of the most exciting prospects when it comes to raw talent. Lauko’s speed and puck control in full speed has been a pleasure to watch in his first development camp and his games in the “Q” with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. After he was selected in the third round of the 2018 NHL draft, he joined the Huskies club a year later as the Rouyn-Noranda club had his rights from drafting him in the CHL import draft. Lauko and the Huskies would go onto have one of the best seasons known to be with the team being the best in the QMJHL during the regular season, capturing the Presidents Trophy in the playoffs, and marching into Halifax, Nova Scotia to take home the Memorial Cup,

In 44 games for the Huskies, Lauko contributed with 21-20-41 numbers and 6-7-13 totals in the postseason. He’s definitely a work in progress and will be in the pro ranks soon enough, but I’m a firm believer in properly developing players and could see him back with the Huskies for the upcoming 2019-20 season. The AHL is another possibility but like I said another solid year in the QMJHL defending the outstanding President Trophy and Memorial Cup-winning year wouldn’t be a bad idea.

3) John Beecher

( Photo Credit: by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images )

Beecher is a 2019 first-round draft pick that has intimidating size and speed for an 18-year-old that’s about to start his NCAA hockey career at the University of Michigan in the fall of 2019. With players like Studnicka, Lauko, and Keyser excused from the 2019 Bruins Development Camp festivities, Beecher had the spotlight on him as the new kind in the system. His power forward mentality and creativity for a bigger player has been something to watch that’s for sure. His tremendous upside was on full display in the 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase held in Plymouth, Michigan where he was in the top-six of the tournament scoring for earning 4-1-5 numbers in five games played.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what this type of player he becomes at Michigan in his first year of collegiate hockey. If he can earn five points in five games on a team highlighted with names like Cole Caufield, Arthur Kaliyev, and Joel Farabee, the young Beecher could see an increased role with the NCAA Wolverines in a top-six powerhouse role under the tutelage of Head Coach Melvin Pearson and play with fellow B’s prospect Jack Becker.

2) Urho Vaakanainen

( Photo Credit: NBC Sports )

If any prospect defenseman is ready to cross the threshold of a long NHL Bruins career, it’s former first-rounder Vaakanainen. Due to an unfortunate head injury to start the 2018-19 NHL regular season, Urho would come back to the game later after recovering from a concussion to play the remaining games of the year with the Providence Bruins. The 20-year-old Vaakanainen started his pro career with Providence and was called up in October of 2018 due to injuries at the NHL level.

After only two NHL games and zero points, Urho suffered a concussion and didn’t return to the game for two months. When he did return to the game, he was placed in Providence where he played the remainder of the 2018-19 AHL season. Vaakanainen’s return would be in mid-January of 2019 and in 30 games to close the regular season Urho posted 4-10-14 numbers. As mentioned above a few times, current NHL contracts in Boston could hinder Vaakanainen from an NHL return for the upcoming season but the rumors of B’s defenseman going on the LTIR to start the year, Urho could easily make a return to the NHL lineup without a doubt.

Jack Studnicka

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Drafted in the second round of the 2017 NHL Draft, Studnicka has worked extremely hard the last couple of seasons trying to make the NHL out of training camp. This year he could very well be in the mix for a forward position, but with the current depth up the middle, jack very well could see time on the wing if needed. The 6′-1″ 172-pound natural center has spent the last four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League and last season posting 12-22-34 numbers in 30 games for the Oshawa Generals before being shipped to the Niagara Icedogs via trade where he posted 24-25-49 numbers in 30 games played.

Between Oshawa where Captain Jack played three seasons prior and Niagara for a 30 game stint, Studnicka had his best offensive numbers posting 36-47-83 totals for his best OHL career season surpassing his previous career-high of 72 points in the 2017-18 campaign. As a person that like to see Bruins prospects properly develop, I’d like to see Studnicka play at least a full season in the AHL because if the B’s organization is seriously considering moving him to a wing position, he should learn that transition in Providence with what’s looking like a very impressive lineup for the upcoming season.

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

How The Bruins Stack Up In The East For 2019-20 Campaign?

(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer – Getty Images)

By: Ian Frazier  |  Follow Me On Twitter @ifrazier95

With the offseason in full gear, teams around the league have started preparations for the 2019-2020 season. The Bruins, while having a quiet offseason so far, have made a couple of minor moves to help their depth out like bringing back Steve Kampfer and Connor Clifton as well as signing free agent Brett Ritchie and Par Lidholm. While we await the news on both McAvoy and Carlo lets take a look at how the Bruins match up with the rest of the eastern conference as of today.

Atlantic Divison 

The Bruins’ division so far this offseason have made upgrades and has some question marks too. The Tampa Bay lightning are the favorites to win the division again, and it would be silly to think the Bruins are on their level after the last regular season’s finish. While the Lightning did lose a key defenseman in Stralman, they added a decent defenseman in Luke Schenn as well as Nolan Foote in the draft. They also signed ex-Hurricane goalie Curtis McElhinney and ex-Devil Scott Wedgewood. They still have the rest of the original gang from last season returning with the question mark being Point and how much will Tampa Bay pay him and for how many years? As it stands right now, the Bruins goaltending duo of Rask and Halak is right on par with Tampa’s, but Tampa still has better forwards up and down the roster, and their defense is a bit stronger than the Bruins so don’t expect the Bruins to pass them for the division crown this year.

The Bruins’ other closest opponent the Maple Leafs right now is a bit of a question mark team. Their additions of Kerfoot and Barrie give them a much-needed boost on both offense and defense, however, they lose Kadri and are still waiting for the shoe to drop on Mitch Marner who seems to want to get a huge payday. Berrie provides a nice offensive game to the Leafs defense and skates well, but with the loss of Zaitsev to Ottawa and the failure to address their back end this offseason, the Leafs defense is once again hit or miss. Expect the Bruins to take advantage of this as the Leafs will have to rely on offense (again) to carry them which will help the Bruins slip past them in the standings as the Leafs drop some important games down the stretch due to a weaker than average defense.

As far as the rest of the division goes, nobody knows. Buffalo, Ottawa, and Detriot are not in the same stratosphere as the Bruins right now, and while Florida has signed Bobvrosky, they still have many holes which won’t be enough to catch the Bruins, but maybe could sneak them into a wildcard spot. We will have to wait and see.

Metropolitan Division

The Metro is where things get dicey in the east. New Jersey went on a spending spree adding Wayne Simmonds and P.K Subban to go along with Taylor Hall and Travis Zajac. They buffed their depth with taking a special talent Jack Hughes with the first overall pick. Expect New Jersey to be right in the mix along with the Bruins as their offense just became more dynamic, and their defense became stronger with the addition of Subban. The Washington Capitals, as we know, have been the Bruins’ biggest kryptonite the past few seasons and will once again be in the mix for a top seed along with the Bruins. It is imperative the Bruins solve Holtby this year, which is a tall task for them, but it can go a long way with later down the line when the Bruins have to play for seeding. The New York Rangers also became a bigger threat after drafting Kappo Kako and sign Panarin. With Lundqvist still in the cage, the Rangers are no slouches to contend for a wildcard spot. Bruins have more depth and firepower than the Rangers but expect them to be right in the thick of things.

The rest of the division is a toss-up. In honesty, every single team in the Metro could make the playoffs this year, and the Bruins have separated themselves from half the division, they still have to keep two sets of eyes on it just to make sure no one is sneaking up behind them or they have an early playoff matchup with one of the teams.

It’s hard to exactly judge where the Bruins will stand towards the end of the season, but as of right now they are still a top 5 team in the east, but they need to make sure the Carlo and McAvoy contracts get done if they want to stay that way. Look for Boston to be right in the playoff mix by midseason again with basically the same core and goaltending duo.

Potential Trade Targets For The Bruins This Offseason

(Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images)

By: Lucus Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

With free agency just around the corner, the Bruins will continue to look for additions to their roster. While the cap is certainly still an issue, I thought up of a few players whose names have been around the news and could fit in well in black and gold.

Chris Kreider

The Boxford Massachusetts native Kreider has been linked to the Bruins for a while now and would certainly fit well with the Bruins. The biggest issue for the UFA to be is that neither he or Bruins current second line left winger Jake DeBrusk can really play on the right side. We saw Debrusk a few times at right wing and he didn’t look very comfortable there. With that being said, Kreider is still a bonafide top-six winger that the Bruins could really use. If the price is right (which is key because there will be multiple teams chomping at the bit for this forward) the Bruins should try to pull the trigger on Kreider.

(Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Jimmy Vesey

Yet another New York Ranger from Massachusetts. Boston was a major contender in the Vesey sweepstakes a few years ago, but he elected to sign in New York instead. Regardless, with the addition of youngsters Kappo Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov, the Rangers are looking to move a forward and Vesey seems to be one of the guys they’d like to move. He would be a relatively cheap asset to acquire that would fit into the Bruins middle-six very well. He’s a big body at 6’3, can play both wings, and has hit the 16 goal mark in each of his three seasons in the NHL. Maybe a couple mid-round draft picks, and a decent prospect like Peter Cehlarik could get a deal done.

Jason Zucker

Zucker sits at #2 on the TSN Trade Bait board at the moment, so it seems like there’s a very good chance he gets dealt and the Bruins look to be one of the teams going after him. Zucker has failed to hit 20 goals in a season just once since he became a full-time NHLer in 2014. After a breakout season in the 2017-18 where Zucker was able to light the lamp 33 times, Zucker had a bit of a down year, totaling just 42 points throughout the campaign. Unlike Kreider who will be a UFA at the end of the season, Zucker is locked up for another four years at a respectable $5.5 million per year. With the Wild looking to get younger, the Bruins 2020 1st round pick or some of the many NHL ready prospects the Bs boast could certainly be used to acquire Zucker.

Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi wants to be traded, per a report from TSN.

(Photo Credit: Kim Klement – USA TODAY Sports)

Jesse Puljujarvi

Darren Dreger has recently reported that the 21-year-old wants out of Edmonton and it seems like a perfect “buy low” opportunity for the Bruins. The 2016 4th overall pick hasn’t had much success with the Oilers, totaling just 37 points and a -10 rating in 139 games, but didn’t get a ton of ice time playing primarily 3rd line minutes with minimal use on the powerplay. It’s been rumored the Oilers could move him if they got a top nine forward back in return so whether the Bruins are willing to give up a solid roster player for a question mark like Puljujarvi is yet to be seen, but if they can turn around the young Fin’s career, he would be a perfect fit on David Krejci’s right with his 6’4 frame.

Nikolaj Ehlers

This last player hasn’t been linked to the Bruins at all, but man would he look good in black and gold. His name has been thrown around in a lot of rumors throughout the league. He was locked up long term in 2017 and is entering the second year of his seven-year, $42 million deal. He is still very young at 23 years old, and despite a down year this year, he looks to be a potential star in the making with two 60 point seasons already under his belt. Now Ehlers would cost more than the rest of the players on this list but is definitely the best fit long term. With the Jets trading Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers heading to free agency, Winnipeg would more than likely look for a right-handed defenseman in return. The only problem for the Bruins is that their two most attractive options (Charlie Mcavoy and Brandon Carlo) look to be major pieces for the Bruins future. Maybe the Bruins can figure out something, but it’s more than likely that the Jets will find a better fit than the Bruins, still an interesting thought though.

Bruins Select John Beecher 30th Overall In The 2019 NHL Entry Draft

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(Photo: Rena Laverty / USA Hockey)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

The Boston Bruins have selected center John Beecher with the 30th-overall pick in the first round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. The Elmira, New York native is a product of the United States National Development Team Program, where he spent the last two seasons.

Last season, the 18-year-old posted 43 points (15 goals and 28 assists) in 63 games for the U.S. National U18 team last season as well as 6-14-20 totals in 27 games for the USNTDP Juniors (USHL)–all the while playing behind the likes of guys like Jack Hughes and Alex Turcotte. Beecher posted three goals and one assist for four points in seven games with Team USA at the World Junior Championships en route to a bronze medal.

In 2017-18 the 6-foot-3, 209-pound forward tallied 17 goals, 24 assists, and 41 points in 60 games while playing with the U.S. National U17 Team. Beecher also registered nine goals and 16 assists in 34 games for the USNTDP Juniors. While playing for Salisbury School (USHS-Prep) in Connecticut in 2016-17, Beecher racked up 24 points (12 goals and 12 assists), skating in 30 games.

A University of Michigan recruit for the 2019-20 season, Beecher is a very strong skater, especially considering his size, with a good shot and nice instincts. He has room to grow offensively, especially in terms of his creativity, but is a strong forechecker and penalty killer; playing in the NCAA at Michigan will serve him well.

Five Potential Fits For The Bruins With The 30th Overall Pick

Image result for connor mcmichael

(Photo Credit: MIKE HENSEN, The London Free Press)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

The 2019 NHL Entry Draft will get underway this Friday, a long-awaited day for many hockey fans. Who will go first? Jack Hughes? Kaapo Kakko? Who will go third after those two? Those questions and many more will be answered.

Don Sweeney’s time to shine for the Bruins will come much later in the first round and beyond than those decisions in relation to top prospects like Hughes and Kakko.

The Bruins hold the 30th overall pick in the first round. Below you will find five players that I believe would be great fits for the Bruins near the end of the first round. I will save my number one guy for last, although some of you probably already know who it is.

Albin Grewe – C/RW – Djurgårdens IF J20 – SuperElit

Amongst many questions that this Swedish forward fielded at the NHL Draft Combine, one of them was to say who a player he likes was. His answer? Bruins forward Brad Marchand. Grewe spoke to 23 of the 31 NHL teams at the combine. When you watch Grewe play, you’ll see the similarities to him and Marchand.

Their frames are very similar, Grewe is slightly taller than Marchand, and their both tenacious, shifty wingers who are tough to knock off the puck. If you look at his profile on eliteprospects.com, you’ll see things like this:

“He’s a strong skater, who’s relentless on the forecheck, and a serious trash talker who gets under the skin of his opponents each night, EPrinkside.com 2019

“He is at the top of the food chain, a t-rex, eats everything and thinks everything is under him, Robert Ohlsson (Coach) 2018

Getting under the skin of his opponents is certainly similar to Marchand, but what I like the most is what his coach, Robert Ohlsson had to say. What an epic way to be described. My first thought when first evaluating Grewe as a player was that he plays like a junkyard dog, but being the top of the food chain and being a t-rex are perfect descriptions. Grewe earns his space and isn’t afraid of much, and when he finds a scoring chance, he has good vision and a very quick release.

Last season with Djurgårdens IF J20 of the SuperElit league, Grewe was over a point-per-game player with 34 points (13-21-34) in 25 regular season games. He can also play both center and right wing. Who doesn’t love versatility? In my eyes, Grewe would be a perfect fit with the style of play that the Bruins bring to the table as a whole. Below you can find highlights of Grewe playing internationally for Team Sweden from this past year.

(Video Credit: bigwhite06 on YouTube)

Philip Tomasino – C – Niagara IceDogs – OHL

This one is sort of unlikely, but the draft can be unpredictable. I say this because there is a good chance that Philip Tomasino will not be on the board at pick 30. But if he is, Don Sweeney and crew should totally consider drafting him.

Fun fact about Tomasino, for a brief time this past season he was a teammate of Bruins prospect Jack Studnicka. This was after Studnicka was traded from the Oshawa Generals to the Niagara IceDogs of the OHL. Studnicka gave Tomasino some pointers before the combine. Tomasino spoke to 30 teams at the combine

Tomasino: NHL combine interview (Audio provided by @markscheig on Twitter):

https://www.dropbox.com/s/fl7pi6tmryvn715/Philip%20Tomasino.m4a?dl=0

Another fun fact, Tomasino is still only 17-years-old, and will be until July 28. What strikes me the most about Tomasino is his skating ability. His stride is not only smooth, but his speed is effortless it seems, and he has a soft set of hands to boot.

Last season was a breakout season for Tomasino, tripling his 24 points from the year before with 72 (34-38-72) in 67 games.

His combination of being a prolific skater and puck handler makes him very hard to knock off the puck, making life tough for opposing players. The Bruins’ prospect core could use another top center prospect to go with Jack Studnicka and Trent Frederic, and Tomasino would be a great pick if available at 30th overall.

(Video Credit: HSD Prospects on YouTube)

Nathan Légaré – RW – Baie-Comeau Drakkar – QMJHL

Nathan Légaré is another player who may not be available at 30th overall, but could be on the Bruins radar if he drops that far. He is a pure sniper, who was second in the QMJHL in goal scoring this season with 45 goals, only trailing the newest Providence Bruin Samuel Asselin who had 48 goals.

Like Tomasino, Légaré tripled his point total from the year before, going from 29 points to 87 (45-42-87) in 68 games and established himself as a deadly CHL scorer. The way he skates, shoots, and handles the puck is reminiscent of Colorado Avalanche star forward Nathan MacKinnon. This is not me saying Légaré is going to be as good as MacKinnon, but I definitely see similarities in their skill sets.

Légaré would give the Bruins a top-flight young scorer on the right side, something they could certainly use along with right-wing prospects like Zachary Senyshyn and Oskar Steen.

(Video Credit: Hockey Prospects Center on YouTube)

Bobby Brink – RW – Sioux City Musketeers – USHL

Like Tomasino, Bobby Brink is also still 17-years-old, but until July 8. As the trend continues, there is a solid chance that Brink is not on the board at 30th overall. But, if he is, it would be a no-brainer for Don Sweeney to take such an electric young winger.

Brink was one of the top players in the USHL this season. With 35 goals, 33 assists, and 68 points in 45 games, Brink’s goal totals were good for second in the league, top-20 in assists, and fourth in points. Lastly, his impressive 1.58 points-per-game was third in the league behind Alex Turcotte and Jack Hughes, who are both top-5 prospects in the draft.

He is a small, shifty winger who is a threat to score every time he touches the puck thanks to a very quick release and hard shot. Two seasons from now, he will take his talents to Denver to play for the perennial Frozen Four-bound Denver Pioneers in the NCAA. Whichever team drafts Brink is drafting a polarizing, young scorer who is only going to improve over time.

(Video Credit: Hockey Prospects Center on YouTube)

Connor McMichael – C – London Knights – OHL

Here’s my guy, my ideal fit for the Bruins at 30th overall, Connor McMichael. Playing mainly third line minutes for the London Knights last season, McMichael managed to post a scoring line of 36-36-72 in 67 games — that’s pretty impressive. He spoke to 29 teams at the combine.

McMichael: NHL combine interview (Audio provided by @markscheig on Twitter):

https://www.dropbox.com/s/t0n2s2ben21d4q4/Connor%20McMichael.m4a?dl=0

McMichael possesses high-end skating ability, hands, and explosiveness that makes him extremely hard to contain. When asked at the combine who some players he models his game after are, he mentioned Sean Monahan, Bo Horvat, and Auston Matthews. I see the Auston Matthews in his game the most out of the three. Again, this is not me saying McMichael is going to be as good as Matthews, but I definitely see similarities in the way McMichael skates, shoots, and carries the puck.

On top of his offensive prowess, McMichael can handle himself well in all three zones, making him a threat wherever he is on the ice. His high hockey IQ not only allows him to score a lot, but also find his linemates and create high danger scoring chances. He holds the potential to be a legitimate threat in all three zones, which will make him a tough player to gameplan for. All of these things make McMichael a potential can’t miss guy for Sweeney if he drops to 30th overall.

(Video Credit: Hockey Prospects Center on YouTube)

Sweeney and crew could go for one of these guys at 30th overall, or go totally off the board. If he goes with one of these five guys, I’ll be thrilled, and I think you should be too. It will surely be interesting to see how things pan out this weekend in Vancouver. It’s going to be an exciting two days.

Bruins Offensive Draft Possibilities Per The Draft Analyst

( Photo Credit: Amazon.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

As a diehard Boston Bruins fan one of my favorite times of the year is the National Hockey League Entry Draft. This summers festivities are set to kick off from Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia with the first round on Friday night June 21st and wrapping up rounds two through seven on Saturday, June 22nd. The B’s have five of seven selections in this years event losing the second-round pick to the New Jersey Devils in the Marcus Johansson 2019 trade deadline deal and the fourth-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2018 deadline deal that brought former Bruins Tommy Wingels to Boston.

So as of right now with under a week to go until Bruins Manager Don Sweeney and other members of his staff step to the podium with their first-round pick at number 30, the B’s will go into day two from Vancouver selecting in the third-round (#92), the fifth-round (#154), the sixth-round (#185) and ending the two-day trip to the West Coast of Canada picking in the seventh-round (#192) a pick from the New York Rangers in the Adam McQuaid trade in September of 2018.

Now, not being an NHL Entry Draft expert myself, I enjoy following and reading those who do extensive amounts of research to properly form an opinion about a player and add personal rankings to their work. The Draft Analyst Steve KournianosThe Draft Analyst Steve Kournianos has been doing his own personal hockey prospect ranking for the last four years and does a fantastic job. In this years 2019 rankings I found his Bruins draft possibilities very interesting and wanted to do a write up of the players he mentioned.

To purchase your own copy of The Draft Analyst 2019 Draft Report for a low cost of $5, please go to thedraftanalyst.com website All information in BOLD in this article does not belong to myself or BNG team and is shared with permission from The Draft Analyst website owner Steve Kournianos.

Below are The Draft Analyst Bruins offensive draft possibilities and opinions of what this team needs when it comes to future assets lining up with potential departures of current roster players.  Hope you all Enjoy!

Forwards

The Draft Analyst said in his draft report that this 2019 NHL Entry Draft is going to be loaded with power play specialists. He mentions the Bruins are riddled at the center depth outside of 2017 second-round pick Jack Studnicka and could always use another two-way forward with goal scoring capabilities or plays with a pass first mentality. Have a look at these players as TDA thinks they’d be solid additions the the Bruins future needs.

Ryder Donovan

( Photo Credit: DuluthNewsTribune.com )

TDA Player Rank: 56th

Here’s what The Draft Analyst had to say about the 6’-3” 184-pound versatile forward from Duluth, Minnesota. Check out this prospect and many others from TDA Report HERE. Last season the 18-year-old Donavan played in 23 games for Duluth East High School posting 12-25-37 numbers. After his commitment was over with his high school team he appeared in nine games in the USHL with the Dubuque Fighting Saints only producing one assist.  Donavan is committed to the University of Wisconsin for the 2019-20 NCAA Division 1 season.

A jersey-flapping winger with size and a massive reach, Donovan is a smart playmaker with excellent puck-protection skills. He played on the top line and first units for both the power play and penalty kill. He puts forth a consistent effort every shift, and the intensity of his forecheck can at times mistake him for a depth-line checker than an offensive force. All areas of Donovan’s skating are outstanding — his first-step quickness, ability, balance, lateral movements and edge work work in concert to get him a least a stride or two out of an opponent’s reach. Donovan’s vision and passing abilities are advanced, and he is more than capable of turning any shift into a scoring opportunity. He times his backdoor or cross-ice passes perfectly, and he can stick fake an opening from a clogged lane. Donovan can play physical and finish his checks with authority, plus sacrifice his body in efforts to hunt down pucks. The only concern was when you consider his size, Donovan was not as dominant as one would have thought, especially in the state tournament. Still, the skill, speed and size combine for a tantalizing option that might be enough to sneak him into the late first round.

John Farinacci

( Photo Credit: New England Hockey Journal )

TDA Player Rank: 45th

Here’s what The Draft Analyst had to say about the 5’-11” 185-pound center from Red Bank, New Jersey. You can see this prospect and other fantastic TDA Reports HERE. Last Season the 18-year-old forward had 12-21-33 numbers for Dexter Prep School in Brookline, Massachusetts. Farinacci is committed to play at Harvard University for the 2019-20 NCAA season.

A poised, cerebral playmaker with excellent vision and strong hockey sense, Farinacci is a New Jersey native headed to Harvard in the fall. He’s an outstanding stickhandler through neutral zone traffic, but he’s also capable of speeding his way into open ice and making high-percentage plays. Farinacci was Team USA’s top-line center and power-play facilitator at the under-18 Ivan Hlinka Tournament, and being an alternate add for the NTDP makes him used to the spotlight. He handles pressure extremely well and is counted on to take (and win) big faceoffs or match up against opposing top lines. Farinacci is a very good penalty killer who keeps his stick active and seems confident in making risky reads that break up cross-point passes. His straight-line speed is above average but he’s shifty and quick in tight spaces, and is proficient at snapping off quick, accurate shots through traffic. It’s cliché to say a Harvard-bound kid thinks the game at a high level, but Farinacci is consistent in his effort in all three zones, and his choices with positioning usually are on the money.

Connor McMichael

( Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images )

TDA Player Rank: 25th

Here’s what The Draft Analyst had to say about the 5’-11” 174-pound center from Ajax, Ontario Canada. Check out this prospect and so many other 2019 NHL Draft eligible players from TDA HERE. Last season the 18-year-old center played in his second season in the OHL and his first with the London Knights where he posted 36-36-72 numbers in 67 games.

McMichael is an intelligent two-way puck magnet who serves a dual-threat inside the offensive zone thanks to his outstanding vision and knack for creating turnovers that lead to quality scoring chances. Hamilton made him the 11th overall pick in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection and was the centerpiece in the trade that brought Robert Thomas over from London. The stats may say he has been more of a finisher this season than a playmaker, but his ability to turn seemingly harmless possessions in the offensive zone into high-danger opportunities is something that keeps opponents honest. Still, his 36 goals (26 at ES/SH) were second only to Arthur Kaliyev in terms of OHL first-year draft eligibles and tied for the London team lead with 2019 NHL first rounder Liam Foudy. McMichael has great hands and roofs the puck from in tight, and he can pick the corners with his wrister. He makes a lot of touch, backdoor or no-look passes, and his jukes and gear shifting while keeping his head up is similar to a point guard crossing over a weak-ankled defender. There’s a lot of Marc Savard to his game, and he likely puts up bigger numbers once his role is expanded.

Antti Saarela

( Photo Credit: Iltalehti.fi )

TDA Player Rank: 67th

Here’s what The Draft Analyst had to say about the 5’-11” 183-pound center from Laitila, Finland. This is the fourth annual TDA Report so go and check out Steve’s archived reports HERE. Last season the 17-year-old forward had 7-8-15 numbers for the U20 Jr. “A” SM-Liiga Lukko club in 21 games and in the same year jumped up a level to play in the Lukko Pro team in the Finnish Liiga league contributing 2-8-10 in 24 games.

A thick, sturdy two-way center with top-six potential for the way he impacts the game at multiple levels. For starters, Saarela is a physical pivot; one who uses strength and power to separate bigger players off the puck. He likes to deliver hard hits anywhere at any time, to the point where he can come across as a heat-seeking missile. Playing with this type of physicality doesn’t hide his contributions as a top-line center who can create chances or finish from in close. Saarela plays a similar game to his brother Antti, who was a third-round pick of the Rangers in 2015. He has very good speed, strong balance with a quick first step, plus he can accelerate through traffic in the neutral zone. He enters the zone clean and controlled, and although defenders have to respect his outside speed, Saarela also has a penchant for fearlessly taking the puck strong to the net. He has a firm grasp of his duties a center and does not tip his hand during odd-man rushes. Saarela having soft hands and good vision comes in handy in those situations.
Saarela is one of the better 200-foot centers in the draft. He is an excellent penalty killer who is very good on faceoffs and keeps his feet moving throughout the duration of the kill. His hard work while down a man leads to shorthanded chances, but he’s also a tenacious forechecker who is comfortable gunning for big hits without giving away much in positioning.

A huge amount of thanks again goes out to The Draft Analyst Steve Kournianos for his continued efforts to educate interested fans that want to learn more about the NHL’s next ones. Please consider giving him a follow on Twitter using the hyperlink above and bookmark his thedraftanalyst.com website. Also, check out his fantastic The Draft Analyst Podcast that can be found on worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts and SoundCloud.