An Early Look at 2018 Free-Agency, And Who Could Be The Next Bruin

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Photo: nhl.com

By Thomas Nyström | Follow on twitter @nahstrom

The front office of the Boston Bruins has shown that they have a strong grasp on the idea that the success of the franchise hinges on drafting and developing talent, retaining character individuals, and inserting capable veterans that fit their idea of roster needs with regards to maximizing roles. Part of that last bit comes with shrewd and thoughtful spending as one bad contract can set a franchise back for years in terms of cap flexibility and blocking youth from having a spot where they could potentially contribute on the NHL level.

That said, I feel it’s never to early to start looking at the 2018 free agent market. There will be a number of valuable assets to be courted by seasons end and in the spirit of staying ahead of the game, I have a short list of names General Manager Don Sweeney and company may target when the signing period begins this summer.

Here are some key veterans to keep your eye on, in no particular order:


Patric Hornqvist, RW

2017-18 Cap Hit: $4,250,000

Having watched him for a number of years with the Nashville Predators, Hornqvist has only scratched the surface when it comes to being recognized by the general NHL audience. Criminally underrated while being masked by his big-name counterparts in Pittsburgh these last few seasons, the right-winger has put together a body of work that many teams will no doubt find attractive this summer. While his name isn’t a ‘sexy’ addition for most fans, Hornqvist does all the little things that the Boston faithful would fall in love with. His willingness to shoot, hit, and get into the dirty areas and grind for possession always stood out to me. He’s an agitator on the ice and will draw penalties. He will get under the skin of the defensemen as he sticks his face in every cover-up the opposing goalie is forced into. Hornqvist is a hockey-player’s hockey player if you understand what I mean. His downside? His style of play puts in harm’s way often and at 31 years-old, injuries and general instances of getting banged up are commonplace. With youth behind him to fill gaps, Patric could find a valuable roll on a team that loves leadership and work-ethic.


Michael Grabner, RW

2017-18 Cap Hit: $1,650,000

30 year-old Michael Grabner is about as valuable a bottom-six winger can be in todays NHL. He possess above average speed and a strong level of hockey intelligence. Any coach appreciates his message being enforced night-in, night-out by a respected on-ice leader, and Grabner gives you just that. He’s very useful on the penalty kill, and is reliable in both 5-5 and 4-4 situations. Ultimately a ‘safe’ get for any potential suitor,  I would project him to look at going to a team that can contend quickly for reasonable money rather than go somewhere that a cup may be out of reach for a payday.


John Carlson, D

2017-18 Cap Hit: $3,966,667

Washington can’t let this guy go without a sizable effort to resign, can they? The Cap’s have had a tough stretch for their defensive unit as of late in losing Shattenkirk and Alzner last offseason. Add to that a handful of injury issues they’ve had to deal with this year, and Washington would appear to be borderline desperate to lock down Carlson to stabilize the blue line for a few more cup runs during Ovechkin’s tenure. While amassing above average minutes for a good amount of his season, Carlson has showcased his durability and value for his current team as well as a ton of potential suitors who will no doubt be slapping some chair-tops and waving him over in a few months. No brainer thing to say: Carlson is going to make a ton of money this summer.


Calvin de Haan, D
2017-18 Cap Hit: $3,300,000

This one won’t get many excited but a smart team will take a good look at him come July. Basically sheltered from the league playing in Brooklyn right now, de Haan has been a low-key favorite of the Islanders fans, and for good reason. He’s a worker, though nothing stands out about his play. Keep in mind that sometimes hearing little about a defenseman is a good thing. He keeps mistakes to a minimum, blocks shots, can possess the puck well, and is a reliable piece for any team in need. One reason he’s on this list is because everything you’d want in Nick Holden, who the Bruins recently dealt for, is actually there in de Haan. Additionally, if Boston moves a player like  Brandon Carlo at the deadline for a piece that may not be there next year, de Haan could be looked at to fill a role for the 2018-19 season and thereafter.


Antti Raanta, G

2017-18 Cap Hit: $1,000,000

Raanta is only 29, which is a good age for netminders in terms of experience and longevity for his next suitor. Also at that age teams know what they’re getting when it comes to skill level. Raanta is developed and could be a stable and afforded back-up behind Tuukka Rask. While Arizona is toiling this year, one bright spot has been the consistent play of Raanta. His numbers are among the best of his career and he has shown himself worthy of a job next season for a number of net-needy organizations. This move could be an affordable and sensible way to go should Anton Khudobin’s asking price be too high for Boston to bring him back.

Key Bruins free-agents this offseason include RFA’s: Ryan Spooner, Sean Kuraly, and Austin Czarnik as well as UFA’s: Riley Nash and Tim Schaller. It would be great to see Spooner and Nash back but their play has likely priced themselves out of Boston’s spending intentions. Additionally, while I would personally hate to lose him, Czarnik has doubled his value and deserves a shot as an NHL roster mainstay and unfortunately as things look right now on paper, it may not be in Boston.

In time we will see these storylines develop. For now it’s just all something we need to keep in the back of our minds, although undoubtedly the front office is way ahead of us all.

 

Thomas Nyström, Contributor.
Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom

Could The Bruins Be Better Off Pumping The Brakes At The Deadline?

(Photo Credit: Associated Press)

By Mike Cratty                             Twitter: @Mike_Cratty

For the past month or so, there has been no shortage of speculation surrounding the Boston Bruins. Whether it’s about there recent surge over the past 25+ games or trade rumors, the Bruins have sure been in the mill. But what about free agency? Staying put at the deadline may be a smart option if making a splash, to some degree, is in the cards. On the subject of free agency, the Bruins have plenty to work with internally, with $13,266,668 in cap space, as of now (refer to the second image).

(Source: @bruinscapspace on Twitter)

With their internal matters being the main priority, the next step would be to decide how to approach an interesting free-agent pool. There aren’t a ton of huge names in the free-agent market, but a few interesting names. These names stick out to me with the defense and not the forward department. There are names that I like in the forward free-agent pool, but I don’t see a screaming need to add to the forward core in free agency, or at the trade deadline. The Bruins have an absurd amount of capable depth forwards, many on the cusp of NHL readiness. Take Peter Cehlarik for example, or possibly Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson.

Ryan McDonagh has been the main name in trade rumors as of late. Despite the fact he has missed the last six games with an upper-body injury. We’ll have to wait and see if he is the guy, but regardless of where he goes, if anywhere, New York Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton is going to want a haul for him. He has good reason to. McDonagh is a top-pairing caliber defenseman on a pretty reasonable $4.7 million/year contract that is set to expire two summers from now.

Save trade assets including roster players, prospects, and draft picks and head into free agency instead? Control negotiations with your own players and approach the frenzy how you want to. That’s the decision Don Sweeney has to make in the next week.

Although the Bruins’ defensive core has been stellar this season, for the most part, bolstering it within reason is a no-brainer.

Three players that stick out to me on defense in free agency are John Carlson, Calvin de Haan, and John Moore. When considering the free agency route, one needs to account for the current cap situation of the team going forward.

John Carlson’s name is the most tantalizing of the bunch. A player who has been the number one guy for the Washington Capitals for quite some time, Carlson would be a massive addition to the Bruins’ top-four defensive core. Some players would have to be let go, and maybe some contracts would need to be moved to make his contract work, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities, although complicated. Currently is making $3,966,667 per year, he will be paid handsomely due to the progression of his game, likely in the $6-7.5 million range.

Here are some of the top defensive contracts in the NHL currently: http://www.spotrac.com/nhl/rankings/cap-hit/defenseman/ (Source: www.spotrac.com)

In my eyes, something like Kevin Shattenkirk’s $6,650,000 cap hit would be reasonable. Fairly similar production, outside of this season, similar age as well, both right-shot defensemen. Seems pretty reasonable to me. It’s no secret that free-agents need to be overpaid for a bit at times, especially when you’re on pace for a career year like John Carlson is. In the 2014-2015 season, Carlson finished with 55 points in 82 games, this year, in 58 games, he already has 45 points. If he keeps his pace up, he should break 55 points. Perfect timing for a big-time payday. Seeing him making more than a guy like Kevin Shattenkirk wouldn’t surprise me, approaching $7 million cap territory.

Calvin de Haan and John Moore fly under the radar more than a player of John Carlson’s status as one of the NHL’s better puck-moving defensemen. With the eye test, this is displayed due to their drastically different point outputs. But, all three defensemen possess the capability to move the puck effectively, with Carlson’s ability just leading to more offensive output than the others.

Starting with Calvin de Haan of the New York Islanders, who is set to make $3.3 million this season before he possibly hits the open market. At just 26-years-old, de Haan wields a strong defensive game with good skating ability and smarts. Unfortunately, a season which he could make a case for a nice free-agent payday has been cut short. Calvin de Haan has been out of the Islanders lineup since December 16 and will miss the rest of the season after shoulder surgery. Making his free agency case an interesting one without a huge sample size from a contract year. Before his injury, de Haan played in 33 games, tallying a goal and adding 11 assists, good for 12 points.

John Moore boasts a very similar defensive mold to Calvin de Haan, but with the New Jersey Devils. Keeping a pretty consistent point pace this season, John Moore adds a fresh face to the New Jersey’s defensive core. Currently, with seven goals, 10 assists and 17 points in 58 games, it’s reasonable to think he’ll want a raise in his next contract if he stays on this trajectory. Moore is set to make $1,666,667 before hitting free agency in the summer.

Calvin de Haan and John Moore could be second pairing guys with the Boston Bruins. Pushing Torey Krug for minutes on the left side, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Torey Krug could play on the third pairing with Matt Grzelcyk, Brandon Carlo, Adam McQuaid, or Kevan Miller and hold down top power play minutes. Their styles would fit well in a system implemented by Bruce Cassidy centering in on puck-movement, good skating, and good transition game.

Holding on to trade assets and using cap space instead could be beneficial for the Bruins long-term while holding on to important pieces in case of injury, or moves down the road. There could also be the case where one, multiple, or all of the free-agents mentioned sign elsewhere. What the Bruins decide to do at the trade deadline and beyond will be an intriguing storyline to follow in the future.

Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast #68 10-22-17

By: Mark Allred     Follow Us On Twitter @BlackAndGold277  @BlackNGoldPod

Welcome back for episode 68 in partnership with the Grandstand Sports Network. On this week’s show, we get together to talk about the tough game against the Las Vegas Golden Knights, the great offensive effort against the Vancouver Canucks and the 4-1 come from behind win for the Buffalo Sabres to end the week.
We also touch on the games for the upcoming week against the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings.
And of course the popular Bruins Prospect Report and Patreon what Ya Bruin MailBag.

Please follow our new partners over at Grandstand Sports Network Twitter: @Grandstand_SNgrandstandsportsnetwork.com

If you’d like to support the show and are an Amazon or Fanatics, shopper, we ask that you, please use our blackngoldhockeyblog.com advertising partner banner located to the right of the screen in our affiliation link area. By going through our website every time you shop we get a commission.

You can also financially support our show by donating $1 and have exclusive access to our new “What Ya Bruin” Mailbag segment where paying contributors get their questions answered with the highest priority. Go to patreon.com/blackngoldhockeypodcast for another way to cut the operating costs.

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Mark Allred @BlackAndGold277
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Thanks for tuning in and all the support! We’ll be back next week for another show of Bruins Hockey related material. Take Care and GO Bruins!!

Join The Black N’ Gold Writers Team

By: Mark Allred         Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Hello and thanks for your interest in joining our team as we look to expand our crew to increase the news and opinions of everything Boston Bruins related. As mentioned above, my name is Mark Allred, and I’m the Editor In Chief and Founder of Black N’ Gold Productions, and we are seeking passionate Bruins fans with some writing experience especially with the popular media program WordPress.

The service we provide to our readers is news and opinions from a fans point of view in a non-negative manner. Now I’m not saying you can’t write about something that frustrates you about this team but please do it in a way that’s not bashing the franchise as we seek to get future credentials and a media relationship with our beloved National Hockey League organization.

As a website member, we’d like to leave article topics up to the individual writers and what’s on their minds. Articles that we’d like to see from team members is anything Bruins related such as breaking news, Bruins history, and game recaps. We also like to cover the developmental levels of the organization with news from the prospects with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League and with the East Coast Hockey League Atlanta Gladiators. We’ve also been well known for our coverage of the Bruins prospects in the Canadian Junior League’s and throughout the NCAA collegiate levels of development.

When it comes to the number of posts required, I’d like to see at least one per week as we strive to provide content on a daily basis but the number of posts is up to you and how committed you are and time availability.  Publishing one to two articles a month will keep you in good standing with the website as an active member of the team.

We offer compensation to team players that post more often than others with advertising generated funds. The more you post you’ll be considered for higher shares when available funds are ready for distribution. Being a team player is not only based on how frequent you publish articles, but it’s also heavily considered on the aggressive approach you take when it comes to paid advertising. We have affiliated advertising partners with Amazon.com and the sports mega website Fanatics.com and the more commission we get from telling friends and family about using our websites affiliated banners before shopping on these two fantastic shopping outlets will create more revenue at no extra charge to the shoppers and will increase the funds for team player distribution.

Not only do we ask “team players” to post often and drive attention to potential shoppers to our website but we also ask that you not only share your content on the various social media outlets that you currently use but also share the content of other team members as we look to increase reader traffic. We do ask that you please have a Twitter account and if you don’t have one please consider registering for one as Twitter is a fantastic tool for posting and gathering important information from the members of hockey media deep in the trenches and close to team events on a daily basis.

If this is something that you’d be interested in doing, we’d love to hear what you could offer our team as we look to expand operations in the attempt to be a better-known website for everything Boston Bruins from a fans perspective.

All interested applicants should send previous experience and writing samples to blackngoldhockeyblog@gmail.com and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible after we’ve reviewed all things provided. Again we thank you for your interest and hope to see you as a valued member of the Black N’ Gold Productions writers team in the near future.

The Boston Bruins And Their Depth Additions

(Photo Credit: Wookbox)

By: Mike Cratty                Follow Me On Twitter @Mike_Cratty

As the offseason winds down and camp is underway, the depth additions that the Bruins made in the offseason are worth noting, outside of the positional battles. When the free-agent frenzy rolled around, the Bruins stayed fairly quiet. They made two low-key moves; signing former Winnipeg Jets defenseman right-handed Paul Postma and reigning Chicago Wolves left-wing and AHL MVP, Kenny Agostino. More recently, right-winger, Teddy Purcell was brought in on a PTO.

Without these three players, the Bruins still have some solid depth, giving them a wide variety of lineup options. But why not get better when you can? That’s what was done.

Kenny Agostino, 25, was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2010, fresh, and has since bounced around in the NHL and AHL with the Calgary Flames, St. Louis Blues, and their respective AHL organizations. The brief NHL time he has seen isn’t worth a ton of attention, but his improvement in the AHL is.

First with the Adirondack Flames, back in the 2014-2015 season, Agostino tallied 43 points in 67 games. His second season rolls around after the Adirondack Flames undergo a name change to the Stockton Heat. 65 games, 57 points, a 14-point improvement in 2 fewer games. In his first two years in the AHL, Agostino didn’t get a taste of the playoffs, that changed when he signed a one-year deal with the St. Louis Blues organization.

Agostino didn’t just have a really good year like he did in each of his first two AHL seasons, he went on a season-long tear and won the AHL MVP, or the Les Cunnigham award. Agostino saw a 26-point jump from his 2015-2016 production, in the same amount of games (65), that’s not something to just brush off. He added 10 points in 10 playoff games.

Earning a roster spot, despite winning AHL MVP, will be tough for Kenny Agostino as there are plenty of left-handed prospects competing for a shot as well. Regardless of where he plays, Bruins have plenty of reasons to be excited about his presence in the organization.

(Photo Credit: ChrisD.ca)

Paul Postma isn’t an AHL MVP addition, but a solid depth addition nonetheless. The 6-foot-3, 28-year-old defenseman was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers back in 2007 and has spent the last six seasons with the Winnipeg Jets for the most part.

Postma isn’t known for big offensive production from the back end, but he plays a solid two-way game and knows how to move the puck effectively. Last season with the Jets, he scored one goal and added 13 assists, for 14 points in 65 games.

He will likely start out as the seventh defenseman on the roster and factor into the lineup every so often, or if someone is injured. Bruins fans should be pleased with this depth addition, especially at a good price of $725,000 for one year.

(Photo Credit: Gary A. Vazquez, USA TODAY Sports)

Teddy Purcell is a 32-year-old veteran that had a rollercoaster 2016-2017 season. He got sick towards the beginning of the year and missed some time, played with the Los Angeles Kings for a bit before being demoted to their AHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign. If he stays with the Bruins past his PTO, he could play a Drew Stafford type of role in the lineup. I like the addition of Purcell a lot, even if it is just a PTO. He plays a steady game and has proven in the past that he can produce at a respectable level.

In 12 games with the Kings last year, Purcell had two assists in 12 games. His fortunes changed after being sent down, as he was a point-per-game player with the Ontario Reign. In 38 games, he had 10 goals, and 28 assists, good for 38 points.

Purcell’s spot on this team, if any spot, will depend on his performance at camp, as well as confidence with the numerous young forwards fighting for ice time this year. It will be interesting to see if he sticks around or not.

The roster is getting closer and closer to taking its shape, how much will these players be apart of it?

Bruins Reach Contract Agreement With David Pastrnak

( Above Photo Credit:  NHL .com )

By: Mark Allred                     Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Earlier today TSN’s Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reported that the Boston Bruins and forward David Pastrnak have got closer in negotiations on a new contract extension as the young talented forward’s entry-level deal expired earlier this summer. Dreger also posted some fantastic news moments ago reporting that the B’s and Pasta have agreed on a new six-year deal with details provided below.

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With long offseason season talks and a Bruins fan base on the verge of picketing outside TD Garden in Boston for the heads of B’s management and ownership, it’s nice to have a deal done with the training camp festivities starting today with off-ice physicals to start of the four-day camp. The next three days of camp will be held at the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Massachusetts and is open to the public.

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Although the many potential contract numbers were all over the board this summer, a deal for six-years and a cap hit of $6.6 million proves that Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney and ownership really weren’t interested in going higher than the proposed $6 million that the Bruins have offered him all offseason. Pastrnak is and will be a key member of this organization moving forward in the attempt to rebuild or retool a winner in Boston.

After posting 34-36-70 career numbers last season and 123 points in 172 career National Hockey League games the sky’s the limit for this talented young man that has always wanted to be a part of the growth of this franchise and a city he adores off the ice.  This is a great day in Bruins Nation, and with the 2017-18 season vastly approaching, I look forward to seeing where this team can go after their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and if they have the pieces that have remained to make a second round playoff goal a reality.

The Unseen Value of ‘Old Guys’

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(Above Photo Credit:  Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

By:  Karen Still           Follow Me at @bluinsfan2017

They say that experience is the best teacher–that has always seemed to be one of those timeless truths that can apply to any facet of life.  And the same is true for hockey, as it has its history, values and traditions that have been passed down ever since its inception.  

Despite the fact that the game itself as we know it is changing, the speed and skill preference over physical and that anyone over 30 is looked at with a hesitant and uncertain side-eye, the fact will always remain that you need a healthy balanced mix of both veterans and youth as they can all learn from one another.  Nowadays it seems as a player is over 30, then they’re ‘old and slow’ and with it, their overall value.  I understand that while what is taking precedence as far as what are considered assets in today’s NHL, those are physical.  Developing and maintaining a mental balance, as well as maturity is also part and parcel of an NHL player, and that is something that can be taught by others, as well as by simply living.

There are three gentlemen that come to my mind when fitting this bill and that I’d like to put forward as examples:  Jaromir Jagr, Shane Doan, and Zdeno Chara. (source–NHL.com player pages)

jagr-1Doan-1Chara-1(images–ESPN.com: 1 , 2, 3)

Since there are quite a few stats-fans about, I’ll slide some their way to begin:  The three of these gentlemen have combined for totals of 4,601 games played, 1,355 goals, 2,135 assists, 3,490 points, 4,289 PIMs (that’s 71.5 hours contemplating bad on-ice life choices in the sin bin).  Their individual  careers total an impressive 68 years (years!), as well as 29 total years serving as their respective teams’ Captains.

And I haven’t gotten to their cumulative Awards yet:

3 Stanley Cups, 2 Mark Messier, 1 Hart, 1 Bill Masterson, 3 Ted Lindsay, 5 Art Ross, 1 King Clancy, and 1 Norris.

Whew.  

Those numbers speak for themselves, as do the awards:  these men put themselves on the line night in and night out, devoting themselves to their teams and the organizations as a whole.  They have put their teammates first at the expense of themselves, which is what I’d think any Captains and Alternates worth their salt would do.  The roads alone that these men traveled in the course of their careers that resulted in the achievement of those milestones is a veritable treasure trove of experiences that is irreplaceable, wealth that can be handed down by example in one way or another.

Sometimes the littlest things can have the most meaning and the most profound impact on others.  Their age might work against them but to whom does that not apply?  We’re all humans — we’re all going to get ‘old and slow’.  

That’s why veterans are far more valuable than their skates, sticks, and stats.  They are the keepers of the long-standing, timeless traditions of the league, gradually turning those torches over to the generation after them as we speak as was done with them.  Tradition in hockey, as in life, survives because of those who’ve come before, doing all they can to pass them on to those just coming into the League eager to earn their spurs, and that should never be taken for granted. (Not only that but who wouldn’t want to have as much hair at 45 as Jagr does?)

David Pastrnak: Contract Comparisons That Will Scare You

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

By Bob Mand                 Follow Me On Twitter @HockeyMand

With Leon Draisaitl’s contract debate long gone in the rear-view mirror, the focus of League RFA-watchers has landed squarely on the back of the Boston Bruins’ number eighty-eight, David Pastrnak. The enormity of the deal has much of the league wondering, “Just how much will Pasta get paid?”

Before we decide on that, we have to look at comparable players. These have to include only guys hitting their second contract… only youngsters who were 23 or younger at the time… only players with mid-to-high level production… and only forwards who’ve reached RFA status past July 1, in the past two seasons.

31 March 2016: Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) skates with the puck in the 1st period of the NHL game between the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)

Nikita Kucherov – Very arguably the best player on this list… in fact, it’s hard to argue. Two offseasons ago, Kucherov won a three-year, $4.766 million deal. Even with his age at time of signing (23), no other player comes close to his consistent greatness prior to his last-minute deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2016. And he only got better – scoring 40 goals en route to one of the best seasons by any 2016-17 forward, period. The contract may end up biting Tampa in the behind, however – as a 7×7 or 7×8 deal will look like an absolute bargain by the time Kucherov is up for a massive (think $10 million plus) deal in the summer of 2019.

Relation to Pastrnak: This is the kind of dangerous bridge deal that Pasta gets if the Bruins are unwilling to pony up the dough on a long-term arrangement. Two to three years at five million per represents the same neighborhood if Kuch signed his deal in today’s market. But don’t be confused. Just because it’s shorter doesn’t mean it’s less risky. Plenty of RFA bridge deals have wound up hurting management, big time (See: Rask, Tuukka, and Subban, PK).

( Above Photo Credit:  letsgoflyers .com )

Johnny Gaudreau – The diminutive winger re-upped for six years, and $6.75 million ($40.5 total) in October (yikes!) of 2016, just before the Calgary Flames were set to start the season. He was coming off a jaw-dropping campaign where he led YYC in goals, assists, and points. His numbers took a step backward in 2016-17, but he was still an elite forward with elite production.

Relation to Pastrnak: Both represent the pinnacle of playmaking, sniping young wingers in this day’s NHL. For a six-year deal, Gaudreau ended up on the cheap side – as the deal only ate up three years of UFA control… However, one must remember that if Boston is using Johnny Hockey as a signpost, they will find themselves paying even more: The Boston College alum was two years older than Pasta at the time of the signing.

 

Mark Scheifele – Not much separates Pastrnak and the Winnipeg Jets’ dynamic center: They’re both former first-rounders who’ve exceeded the expectations of many in driving their way into the elite of the NHL. They both assembled excellent contract seasons after decent but unspectacular years one and two in the League. They both expressed sincere desire to stay with their organizations prior to contract completion. Scheifele even upped his play following the transaction to become a better than point-per-game player for the Jets in 2016-17.

Relation to Pastrnak: But the similarities dwindle in the light of of the two-year entry-level slide that Scheifele endured prior to becoming a full-time NHL stud. Like Gaudreau, he was 23 at the time of RFA-eligibility, not 21. And though his eight-year, $49 million contract represents the ideal solution for some Bruins’ fans (and management in all likelihood) it’s more of a pipe dream than reality.

( Above Photo Credit:   NHL .com )

Nathan MacKinnon – When Nate inked his seven-year, $44.1 million extension with the Colorado Avalanche in July of 2016, he was coming off a twenty-one goal, fifty-two point, 72 game season and fourteen-goal, thirty-eight point sophomore season (64 games). Yes, he was still two years removed from a Calder Trophy and first overall selection in the 2013 NHL… but his overall progress (while relatively consistent in the prorated 50-60 point range) hadn’t made quite the flash that Pasta had.

Relation to Pastrnak: That said, MacKinnon doesn’t lack flash, even if his single-season production didn’t show it. He’s a center, too, which adds to his inherent value. He’s averaging $6.3 million a season just a year removed from the Czech winger’s current conundrum. It makes sense that a player with perhaps even more upside and less risk be high-water-mark ‘baseline’ for talks, even in the current marketplace. The ceiling for that value is higher… but we can’t fully ignore what came before. If the Bruins are saying: “Look at Mac,” when they open talks, they’re not too far off. That said, more recent signings will magnify the difference between player and management in the days to come.

( Above Photo Credit:  Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America )

Alex Wennberg – Signed for $29.4 million over the next six seasons, the productive young center for the Columbus Blue Jackets challenges the view that first-time, first-tier RFA contracts have to come hard and heavy. At $4.9 million per season, Wennberg is eminently affordable – particularly if he continues to put up numbers as in his breakout 2016-17 campaign (13-46-59 in 80 games).

Relation to Pastrnak: Honestly, there isn’t much of any. Despite the similarly-timed outbursts of production, Wennberg is well over a year older, and just not the same tier of player at this point in their careers. That could change, but if the Bruins’ Brass points to Columbus, things are going south, not west.

 

Leon Draisaitl – The fifth and final player on this list should come as no surprise. Drai signed his massive eight-year, $8.5 million average annual value ($68 million total) deal just two short weeks ago. Coming off a sterling playoff performance (6-10-16 in 13 games) and a breakthrough third season (77 points in 82 games), Draisaitl was bound to get paid – but no one had any clue it would cost Peter Chiarelli’s Edmonton Oilers this much.

Relation to Pastrnak: Things get even more interesting… Draisaitl’s first two years’ production 60 points in 109 games… Pastrnak? 53 in 97. Pastrnak’s 2016-17 production? Seven points less but five goals more (in seven fewer games) than our friend from Deutschland. Pasta is seven months younger, about thirty pounds lighter and one inch shorter than the Edmontonian center. But while Pastrnak had the NHL’s third-best even-strength Corsi For ratio (minimum 1000 mins among forwards), Drai was middle of the road at 62nd. And to those of you screaming: “HE HAD MCDAVID!” I retort, “Pasta spent a good deal of his even strength time with the best possession-driving linemates in the NHL with Bergeron and Marchand.”

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Certainly, it seems as though the breadth of the Bruins potential recent comparables, compare unfavorably with Pastrnak. He’s younger than Kucherov, Wennberg, Scheifele and Gaudreau. He possesses the puck better than Draisaitl, MacKinnon and Wennberg… and he’s just so dang young. Remember, only three active players have had more goals AND points in their age-20 seasons (or prior): Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and Steven Stamkos.

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The narrowest and nearest comparison comes from Leon Draisaitl. Fans on both sides have argued for one or the other as the class of the 2014 NHL Draft. There’s reason to say both skaters were the ‘better player’, arguments which have (as they will) gotten heated and maybe that’s why this scares you, the reader, so much. Because if Pastrnak is the better player… maybe he should get paid like it.

 

Follow Bob Mand on Twitter at @HockeyMand

Boston Bruins 2017-18 Roster Predictions

By: Mark Allred                 Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Many Bruins writers are publishing their own roster predictions for the upcoming 2017-18 National Hockey League season, so I thought I’d throw my two cents out there with mine and an explanation of why for each line. With today’s news of forward, Drew Stafford signing a one-year deal with the New Jersey Devils, the Bruins roster is seemingly starting to take shape for many skeptics’s as well as I. With a little over $10 million in cap space according to CapFriendly.com and the status of forward David Pastrnak’s contract extension which remains in limbo, the B’s didn’t exactly get aggressive with the free-agent market and remain with the majority of players from last season.

Offseason Additions

The free-agent additions of veteran defenseman Paul Postma who spent his career in the Winnipeg Jets organization and 25-year-old Kenny Agostino who walked to free agency after leaving a St. Louis Blues organization where he spent a majority of his time in the American Hockey League with the Calgary Flames and most recently the St. Louis Blues. The 2010 fifth round selection of the Pittsburgh Penguins won the scoring title last season with the Chicago Wolves but only has five points in 17 career National Hockey League appearances. Postma, on the other hand, has yet to play a full 82 game schedule in his career in the NHL which can be pointed at AHL demotions and injuries but has 34 points in 191 games with the Jets organization. Both depth signings regardless and weren’t additions to get better from last season in any way but having them as an insurance policy if the developing youth that will be at Training Camp challenging for a roster spot and possibly an NHL debut.

Did The B’s Get Better?

In my opinion, no they didn’t as the above additions weren’t exactly explosive enough to show me they can play an 82 games season which starts on October 5th when they open the 2017-18 season with a contest against the Nashville Predators at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. After an up and down 2016-17 season that the B’s finally made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the past three seasons, the minimal movements during this offseason have me thinking this team has the potential to make a playoff return, but how long they last is another question?

Now, of course, this Boston team could have a complete turnaround year and make a series run after a great regular season, but in the dog days of August to me, that’s not realistic. With a little more salary cap breathing room with current contracts set to expire soon, I can see some serious additions with the free agent class set to be available next summer and the year after that, but for now, lateral movements are not telling me many improvements.

 

Youth Insertion? 

This is a fascinating topic to me because I’m asked this quite often. No doubt with the core of younger players knocking on the door of NHL stardom, the additions are going to be very important, but I can’t expect a few players making the transition this upcoming year. The best player at the moment and most likely one of the highest prospects in Anders Bjork will get the chance to claim an NHL roster spot, but I believe he’s the only one that can crack the lineup.

This brings me back to when the Bruins General Manager has been preaching if you’re the better player than you’re going to play speech but where was the availability with Jimmy Hayes and his roster spot last season? If you didn’t place a player like Hayes and his struggles since coming to Boston on waivers to the AHL Providence, then how are we as fans going to believe if a player like Matt Beleskey, Riley Nash, or recently extended Ryan Spooner will be replaced with a developing player that might have something to prove? To me and the crazy way I think, I believe Bruins Management directed by the Jacobs ownership is adamant on getting full dollar value out of every contracted player and refuse to play an NHL salary to a player that’s been demoted to the minor-pro systems as a way to wake that player up.

Take a prospect like Peter Cehlarik as an example. Even at the AHL level was playing better than Hayes and the kid can play both wings, so to me there’s no excuse when it comes to moves like this and proves once again that the B’s penny pinchers are just that, CHEAP!

2017-18 Projected Bruins Roster

Below is my 2017-18 Boston Bruins projected lineup with heavy consideration to contractual obligations with my frustration with ownership that’s clearly stated above but an idea of what I see the roster looking like for the upcoming season.

Marchand       Bergeron       Backes

Bjork                Krejci             Pastrnak

Vatrano          Spooner          Nash

Beleskey         Acciari           Schaller

Chara           McAvoy

Krug             Carlo

K.Miller       McQuaid

Rask

Khudobin

 

Feb 28, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) celebrates with right wing David Backes (42) and left wing Brad Marchand (63) after a goal during the second period against the Arizona Coyotes at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Offense Line #1 – You honestly can’t separate Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand and won’t probably see that happen for a few years, but for now they operate as one of the best 2/3’s of a line in the NHL. Placing a player like David Backes on the right side has him being the net front presence for skilled players like Bergy and Marchy. Also, adds a little grit and policing aspect to that line as well.

( Above Photo Credit:  Locker Dome )

Offense Line #2  – The Chemistry I saw in the past with Czech Republic natives David Krejci and David Pastrnak was something special in my opinion and could continue to work well for the foreseeable future. The addition of prospect Anders Bjork who recently signed an entry-level contract with this line makes sense to me is because of Krejci’s creativity and the skill set of his two potential linemates in the rookie Bjork and superstar in the making Pastrnak. This line could also be an explosive second power-play unit when it comes to special teams.

( Above Photo Credit:    Boston Herald )

Offense Line #3  – With the return of Ryan Spooner via a contract extension, paired with the young, fast but sometimes inconsistent Frank Vatrano seems to be a work in progress since the departure of Carl Soderberg a few years back. Veteran Riley Nash on the right side is a decent skater and believe he can keep up with the acceleration of players like the Tank and Spoons but also plays that policing role with help from the defensive core at that time when liberties are being taken to fellow linemates.

Boston Bruins center Noel Acciari (55) lines up a punch in his fight against Minnesota Wild center Zac Dalpe (27) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

OffenseLine #4  – Although Matt Beleskey has yet to show exactly what he’s capable, a fourth line role along with center Noel Acciari and New Hampshire native Tim Schaller on the right side provide not only a fast gritty line but one that can produce some offensive production for a line often used as a trio of disturbance to the opposing team but one that could turn some heads the longer they stick together. It’s tough to see Beleskey and his salary on the bottom twelve of the offense, but a demotion to the AHL is highly unlikely which has me seeing him play on this line until he’s able to be moved or actually finds his game.

BOSTON, MA – APRIL 23: Erik Karlsson #65 of the Ottawa Senators talks with Charlie McAvoy #73 and Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins after the Senators defeat the Boston Bruins 3-2 in overtime of Game Six of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 23, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Defense Line #1 –  Zdeno Chara is going to play the last season under contract with the Bruins this upcoming year and the way he took last year’s rookie defenseman Brandon Carlo under his wing should be the same way he does with a player like 2016 first-round selection Charlie McAvoy. I honestly can’t see the B’s retaining the 40-year-old Chara any longer after next season, so a mentorship in his last year with an up and coming star in McAvoy is going to be beneficial.

( Above Photo Credit: MyTradeRumors. com)

Defense Line # 2 – I believe a Torey Krug, and second-year Brandon Carlo could be a very good idea moving into next season and possibly the next few. Nice mix of stay at home attributes with some offensive capabilities. While Krug has the speed factor to be a better transitioning defensive team with minimal turnovers, I believe this pairing could create some nice chemistry and support on the back end.

( Above Photo Credit:  NESN .com )

Defense Line #3 – I like the Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid pairing because both players have different speed levels and could match up well as a bottom six defensive unit. Both are tough as nails and always available to stick up for a teammate in need when it comes to the opposition and their willingness to try to get under the skin of the Bruins offensively gifted top forwards, and defensive compare’s alike. McQuaid has good attributes to his game but is a little slow on the speed, but a player and potential defensive partner Miller has shown in the past that he can turn it up a notch and get involved when the team needs another threat pinching in.

Boston-02/08/2017 . The Boston Bruins practiced at Warrior Arena with new coach Bruce Cassidy, as Goalies Tuukka Rask(left) and Anton Khudobin take a break. John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe(sports)

Goaltending Tandem – Whether you like it or not, the starting job belongs to Tuukka Rask for the foreseeable future, and at least for one more season, Anton Khdobin is sticking around to be the backup considering his contract status. With Bruins training camp coming up in the middle of September, the battle at camp from the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Massachusetts is most likely going to be the highlights of the festivities when it comes to challenging for a job.

Both Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban were signed to two-year two-way contracts earlier this summer and will be in the mix to knock NHL veteran Khdobin out of the job if they both show up to impress the Bruins Brass. Even if Khudobin sticks around for a complete final season, it gives McIntyre a perfect opportunity to show he can have another outstanding season like he did last year with the Providence Bruins again and walk into the NHL Backup role under contract in 2017-18.

I know this is a long read and if you made it here I’d like to say thanks for your time. Like I said about the dog days of summer above, I’m always thinking about my favorite NHL Franchise and how things could be better or more consistency when it comes to winning percentage but I’ve been around for a bit and see certain trends that point to a rebuild or retool every six to eight years with the way things have been going lately. I know a deal for Pasta is going to get done but how likely is something like this going to happen again in the next few seasons while managing an uncertain league mandated salary cap and prospects under entry-level contracts such as McAvoy, Bjork, Carlo, forward Zach Senyshyn, or defenseman Jakub Zboril wanting to get paid? Of course, that’s an article for another day………..

2017-18 Boston Bruins Pump Up Video Below is courtesy of Jacob Pelletier on Youtube 

Boston Bruins Rumors That Refuse To Go Away.

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By Andrew Thompson                                                 Twitter: @Godwentwhoops

As Boston Bruins fans, we take to social media to see if anything big is going on with our team. (Mostly we lament on how it isn’t October yet.) During the summer, there isn’t much going on. While news seems to trickle, there have been a couple of rumors regarding the Bruins that are still on a lot of people’s minds.

 

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David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins in Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on April 15, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

 

David Pastrnak could be traded.  Any self-respecting hockey writer (especially in the Boston area) shouldn’t write an article on how Pastrnak is going to play for another team next year. At best it’s click-bait, at worst it’s a cry for help.

I said it three months ago, and I’ll say it again. The odds of the Boston Bruins walking away from David Pastrnak are the same as Jeremy Jacobs scoring a goal for the Black and Gold this year.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney flat-out stated that the Bruins will not be trading him. Still, this rumor still refuses to go away.

Pastrnak’s brother Bruins fully believe he’ll be in the Black and Gold next season. Several of the Boston Bruins were on the golf course helping out former B’s forward Shawn Thornton with his annual Putts & Punches for Parkinson’s tournament. When asked about the whole Pastrnak situation, several Bruins offered their opinion on the matter.

“I’m sure they can get this worked out,” said B’s goaltender Tuukka Rask to the Boston Herald. “That’s the game nowadays: These young guys, when they come out of their first contract, they’ve had great success and they want to get paid. That’s just the world we live in. I guess sometimes with the cap situations, it can put teams in a tough spot. But I’m sure they can figure it out.

“He’s proven he can be top goal scorer in the league and he wants to get paid. You can understand both sides of it. I have no idea what he’s asking, what the situation is. But I’m sure they’re going to find a solution at some point.”

 

Ryan+Spooner+Boston+Bruins+v+Detroit+Red+Wings+DQWjnlgzkTUl

Ryan Spooner #51 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on January 18, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan.
(Jan. 17, 2017 – Source: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images North America)

 

Ryan Spooner is being moved to (insert city name here). This one isn’t as bad as the Pastrnak rumor. There has been a lot of talk about Ryan Spooner in recent weeks. Speculation has placed him in half a dozen different teams, and most of the arguments have made sense.

Spooner did have a ten-point backslide over his previous season with the Black and Gold. Still, the Bruins had multiple avenues to move him over the last few seasons. Other teams were interested, and if the B’s really had a low opinion of Spooner’s long-term value, they would have shipped him off somewhere else by now.

The Bruins had another opportunity to part ways with Spooner when he filed for arbitration.  But the B’s still believe in Spooner enough to sign him to a one-year, $2.825 million dollar deal.

“We are pleased with the process and are happy to have Ryan’s contract resolved. His agent, Murray Kuntz, and Ryan were both very professional, and our group was well prepared as they had worked very diligently prior to arriving at a settlement point,” said GM Don Sweeney. “We know Ryan has the offensive skills to be an impactful player, especially while on the power play. We expect Ryan to continue to take the necessary steps with his development to be an even more complete, two-way player.”

Could the B’s move him eventually? Sure, but there are a few caveats involved. It would partially depend on how well Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson does in training camp. Then, they’d have to factor in what kind of off-season training has Spooner done to make himself better. The B’s would also need to factor in Spooner’s ability to play on the wing.