Opinion: Boston Bruins Will Not Make A Big Trade At 2019 Trade Deadline

2015 NHL Draft - Round One

PHOTO CREDITS: (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The 2019 NHL Trade Deadline is less than two weeks away and the anticipation of every fan in the National Hockey League is growing by the hour. Similar to every season, in the weeks and days leading up to the February 25th deadline, the trade rumors are through the roof. NHL insiders and analysts alike are scrambling to find the latest, most in-depth scoop on any team involving trade.

For the past couple of seasons, especially this one, the Boston Bruins are one of the main teams in the mix to make a deal at or around the deadline. It is well known that the core of the Bruins – Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask, David Krejci, etc. – are not getting any younger and it would be a good send off for some of these players to get another Stanley Cup ring under their belts.

In addition to that, the Bruins have some holes on their roster that need to be filled. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has had an issue with the depth scoring since Opening Day back in October. In the two wins last weekend against the Los Angeles Kings and the Colorado Avalanche, Cassidy had star forward David Pastrnak on the second-line with Krejci and Cehlarik while Danton Heinen joined Bergeron and Marchand in an attempt to spread out the offence and spark offence on other lines than the top one.

Heading into the Trade Deadline, Boston is quite clearly going to push for a top-six winger, most likely to play with David Krejci, so Pastrnak can be reunited with Bergeron and Marchand, if they do end up making that push. With a quote coming from an article published on NHL.com by Amalie Benjamin (@AmalieBenjamin on Twitter), General Manager Don Sweeney does indeed recognize that need.

“My feeling is that we would like to try and add without necessarily giving up what we know is a big part of our future,” Sweeney said in comments provided to NHL.com by the Bruins. “We committed assets last year to take a swing where we felt we needed to address an area of need and we will try and do a similar thing this year. I can’t guarantee that’ll happen. This time of the year, prices are generally pretty high, but we’re going to try. We’re going to try because I think we still need it.”

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

If the Boston Bruins want to be considered a Stanley Cup Contender this season or even just a really solid team coming out of the Eastern Conference, then Sweeney needs to pull the trigger and in my eyes – that is the move to make. Make a trade for a top-six winger who can score. However, even though I’d like to see a move made, I think for a few reasons that Boston will not make a big trade this Trade Deadline.

High Risk – High Reward, Maybe.

To make a trade, you have to send someone the other way – simple equation to all trades in every sport. The Boston Bruins appear to have a large pool of prospects in not only the AHL with the Providence Bruins, but across many different hockey leagues all throughout the world. With that said, the performance of these young players in the NHL this season may be a cause for concern for other General Managers on the other end of the phone call.

Ryan Donato and Jakub Forsbacka Karlsson were arguably the best prospects in the system as we closed in on the 2018-19 season, but with their lackluster performance in the NHL, resulting in their demotion back to Providence, it is a very good chance that the GMs across the league are worried that these prospects are “flops”, which could be completely false, but it is most definitely something they are discussing.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (CHARLES KRUPA / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO)

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Artemi Panarin is without a doubt, the number one player on the market. Boston Globe’s Matt Porter discussed what the idea of what Columbus may be wanting for the pending unrestricted free agent.

“The market for (Panarin) is reportedly a first-round pick, a player, and a prospect. It is a high price, especially for someone who could leave a team empty-handed on July 1. But the Bruins are interested, and they’re not alone,” Porter reported.

If I were a betting man, (I am not), I would imagine Jake DeBrusk having to go to Columbus as well as a Ryan Donato or Trent Frederic and the 2019 1st Round Pick. All that with the added dilemma on what happens to Panarin after the season ends, does he test free agency, or does he sign an extension in Boston? That is a high price for a rental player and it does not guarantee a Stanley Cup for Boston.

Even if it isn’t Artemi, players such as Mark Stone, Wayne Simmonds, Michael Ferland, or Kevin Hayes – the Bruins will have to give up assets that may or may not appeal to the future of this franchise. It has been mentioned that it is a buyer’s market right now, but teams with valued assets will most likely charge an arm and a leg for that player because they can most likely get those same assets back from one of the other 30 NHL teams.

Are the assets going out worth it? That is to be determined, but nothing is official.

Sweeney’s Trade History

Even though GM Don Sweeney expressed his interest in trading, he also said in the same quote that he wants to avoid moving a large part of their future for a possible rental player. When saying that, he wants to avoid a repeat of last year’s deadline acquisition with the New York Rangers.

Put in the same position as this year, the Bruins needed help on the top-six forward core. In what looks like now like a panic move, the Bruins sent forward Ryan Spooner, defenceman Ryan Lindgren, and Boston’s 2018 1st Round Pick (traded to Ottawa for D Jacob Bernard-Docker) to the New York Rangers for forward Rick Nash who played in eleven regular season games (3-3-6 totals) and another twelve playoff games (3-2-5 totals, -7 rating) and then retired this year.

Sweeney moved a lot of youth – mainly Lindgren and that 1st Round Pick for a player that played in a combined twenty-three games in a Spoked-B sweater. Don Sweeney has stated in the past that he does not want to move another first-rounder and if it is for a player that may decide on hitting the free-agent market come July 1st, the chances of him giving in are quite slim.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (USA Today Sports)

When considering that, there are teams, such as Toronto, Tampa Bay, Winnipeg, or Nashville that would gladly trade their first-round selection because they believe that they can be a serious Cup contender and that their pick will be a late round pick and in that regard, would not be that hard of a price to pay. Sweeney does not want to make a mistake on a trade nor make a move just for the idea of making a move, leaving some bargaining power off the table.

Free Agency Class – UFAs and RFAs

One thing that a lot of the hypothetical trade targets have in common, is that their current contract expires on July 1st. If the Bruins management decides to make a move for one of these players, it does not guarantee that they will remain on the team for the 2019-20 season. That plus the fact that the B’s will have to trade some pieces, like I have already mentioned, that may not be in the plans of the future.

Here are 10 unrestricted free agent players that could fill the Bruins holes in the free agent market IF they do not re-sign with their current organization and they decide to sign with Boston:

  • CBJ LW Artemi Panarin – 52GP – 21-42-63 in 2018-19
  • OTT RW Mark Stone – 55GP 25-31-56 in 2018-19
  • OTT C Matt Duchene – 46GP – 25-28-53 in 2018-19
  • NYI RW Jordan Eberle – 51GP 13-13-26 in 2018-19
  • OTT C/RW/LW – Ryan Dzingel 54GP 21-20-41 in 2018-19
  • NYR C/W Kevin Hayes – 46GP – 13-25-38 in 2018-19
  • DET RW/LW Gustav Nyquist – 56GP – 14-33-47 in 2018-19
  • NYR RW Mats Zuccarello – 41GP – 9-23-32 in 2018-19
  • ANA LW/RW Jakub Silfverberg – 47GP – 12-8-20 in 2018-19
  • CAR LW/RW Micheal Ferland – 48GP – 15-16-31 in 2018-19

Of course, there is no guarantee that any of these players make it to free agency and if they do decline offers from their respective teams, then there is no guarantee that they are swayed enough by the Bruins management members to come to Massachusetts and join the Bruins. However, the same can be true if the Bruins trade an arm and a leg for these players for them to just leave at the beginning of July. If Boston fails to win the Cup with them, then it is another bad move.

In the same breath, the 2018-19 free agent class has one of the most-skilled RFA class of any year’s past. When sending an offer to an RFA that makes it past July 1st, you must not only get acceptance from the player, but from the team, who has the option to match your contract offer. If the Bruins can land a player that is under a restricted free agent status, then compensation picks that vary on annual salary amount will have to be paid to the team. Under every option, the Bruins right now, are able to offer any amount. It is important to know that all picks are for the nearest Entry Draft so in this case, 2020 NHL Draft unless the compensation is multiple picks from the same round, then it can be from numerous years. Check it out below via CapFriendly Offer Sheet Calculator:

  • $0 – $1,339,575 – No Compensation
  • $1,339,576 – $2,029,659 – One 3rd Round Pick
  • $2,029,660 – $4,059,322 – One 2nd Round Pick
  • $4,059,323 – $6,088,980 – One 1st Round Pick and One 3rd Round Pick
  • $6,088,981 – $8,118,641 – One 1st Round, One 2nd Round, One 3rd Round Pick
  • $8,118,642 – $10,148,302 – Two 1st Rounds, One 2nd Round, One 3rd Round
  • $10,148,303 – ∞ – Four 1st Round Picks

If Sweeney and the Bruins make a move that will most likely have to require that first rounder, it makes a RFA offer less likely because Boston will be without a pick in the first round for three years in a row. The options for Sweeney are a lot, but the questions that are being asked often are the following.

Can the Bruins afford to move the youth and prospects that they have built up for a rental? Will a trade for a longer-term player work out? Will the lack of 1st Round Pick(s) impact the team in a negative manner for the long-term? Should Boston make a real push with Chara, Bergeron, etc., getting older and their time for another Cup running slim?

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

The questions continue from there but with the weeks and days counting down, only the B’s management know what they can get and what they want. We as fans just have to bite the fingernails off as we anticipate the breaking news, or lack thereof.

In one final conclusion, I do not think that the Boston Bruins will make a big, franchise-altering trade at the Trade Deadline this season. If there will ever be a big trade, it will be at the NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver or on the opening day of NHL Free Agency. Don Sweeney’s track record has not been pleasant nor will the assets going the other way for a player that may or may not stay with Boston next season all combined together with the simple fact that nothing guarantees a Stanley Cup. What do you think about the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline?

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Bruins Cassidy Is Here To Stay As He Nears Two Full Seasons

Boston Bruins vs New Jersey Devils

PHOTO CREDITS: (Matt Stone/ Boston Herald)

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

On Saturday, February 9th, Boston Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy will be the main man on the B’s bench for his 164th game – exactly two full 82-game seasons. Recently, individuals around the fan base have been questioning the work of Cassidy and whether or not he is the right head coach for the team moving forward in the years and seasons to come. In the shootout loss to the New York Rangers, Cassidy chose not to put forward Patrice Bergeron in the player-vs-goalie period, once again bringing up the judgement on his decisions.

Then there is the David Pastrnak situation. The Bruins are very much a front-loaded roster when it comes to the offence. Aside from the first line of Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak, the Bruins do not have much to fall back on when we are talking bottom-nine scoring forwards. David Krejci can put up numbers but always seems to be lacking good wingers at all times. Jake DeBrusk has more recently brought some life to the second line, but a hole remains on the right wing.

During the fast-paced action of a game, Cassidy may put Pastrnak with his fellow countryman, David Krejci and Canadian Jake DeBrusk to “spread out” the offensive firepower. However, not before long, the trio that is a true threat to any team in the NHL is back together and a large pool of centres and wingers are placed alongside Krejci to try and find that seemingly-rare chemistry.

We have yet to see multiple games of consistent Krejci-Pastrnak action unless it is on the power-play which, coincidence or not, is one of Boston’s strongest weapons of scoring opportunities. Krejci and Pastrnak have proven in the past that they can find that chemistry that has been discussed before on many occasions and build some good chances to put the puck past the goal line and into the back of the net.

Although, once they are on together, it brings along a weaker first line, where Marchand and Bergeron lose a highly-skilled scoring player who can make things happen on the ice. Recently in an interview prior to the Kings game on Saturday, Cassidy said that they are going to try out Danton Heinen on that top line. Heinen is not Pastrnak by any stretch of the imagination and has struggled this season after a strong rookie campaign in 2017-18. Cassidy did go on to say that Heinen is more a defensive player and the three of them will not have to worry too much about the top lines of other teams because all of them, especially Patrice Bergeron, are for the most part, responsible defensively.

The lack of depth scoring on the Boston Bruins in February 2019 can also be attributed to the lack of trades by General Manager Don Sweeney and with only a few more weeks until the NHL Trade Deadline at the end of the month, the clock is ticking to make that deal for another scoring player to play on the front end and bring some help to the top-six.

Either way, Bruce Cassidy has done well and continues to do well. In the past few games, the only line that has been reliable offensively has been that first line. In the three games of February so far, Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak have a combined eleven points. After them, David Krejci has two points, Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk, and Peter Cehlarik have one, and the rest of the forwards are yet to score a single point in three games.

Dating back to January 1st, the dangerous first line has fifty-three points combined (22 Goals, 31 Assists) with Brad Marchand (7-13-20) leading the way in those 15 games. Only David Krejci has double-digits in points for 2019 and Jake DeBrusk is the next highest with only five points in fifteen games. It does not make the job of Cassidy any easier when they do not have a high quantity of quality players.

Look at the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Tampa Bay Lightning for examples. Both teams have many interchangeable parts on all four lines. Almost every forward on the roster can play on the first line with success and the team will most likely still win games. Do goaltending and defence play a large factor in that as well? One-hundred percent. But the flexibility of those four forward lines makes the job of Mike Babcock on Toronto or Jon Cooper on Tampa Bay a lot easier.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

 

Just like the blame cannot be placed on individuals for a team effort, the blame cannot be solely placed on Cassidy for the position the Bruins are in. On April 26th, 2017, the Bruins named Cassidy head coach of the team – replacing long-time coach, Claude Julien who was fired earlier in the year.

Cassidy coached twenty-seven games for the Bruins, finishing with an 18-8-1 record and leading them to a first-round playoff matchup with the Ottawa Senators in the 2016-17 season, a series that they lost in six games. This led into last season, where Cassidy implemented his faith and passion for the young players of this league, helping lead the B’s to a 50-win season. Bruce was right behind the team for their first-round win over Toronto and stuck by them in the five-game loss to the Lightning. The year for Bruce led to him being one of the three nominees for the Jack Adams Award – awarding the best coach in the NHL for that season. While he didn’t take the award home, the honour of being nominated for it is a great accomplishment.

Again this year, Cassidy has done a great job. It has been a difficult road to manage the struggling youth that once succeeded for him not only in Providence but in Boston during 2017-18 as well, the goaltending challenges of Rask and Halak, and the whole offensive situation that I’ve discussed over.

With the older players such as Chara, Bergeron, Krejci, Marchand, and Backes, being surrounded by the younger players such as Pastrnak, DeBrusk, McAvoy, Carlo, and Heinen, Cassidy has had a challenge of who to play with who at what time and when. For a team that seems to have rough nights, still battles back and is able to fight their way to earn a point or at the very least, remain competitive in the ever-so-difficult Eastern Conference.

Bruce Cassidy has a 97-45-21 record with the Boston Bruins since 2016-17. According to BostonGlobe.com’s Kevin Paul Dupont (@GlobeKPD on Twitter), Claude Julien, the man who won the Stanley Cup with Boston in 2011, had a 94-48-22 in his first 164 career games with the Black N’ Gold.

Julien and Cassidy are almost identical in their wins/losses and they have started almost a decade apart from each other (’07/’08 debut for CJ, ’16/’17 debut for BC). Bruce Cassidy is not only a good coach, but he should remain a coach for the Boston Bruins. He has had success and will continue to have success if the right players are on his lineup. Does he make mistakes time in and time out? Of course, not many coaches in any sport are perfect, (unless you’re Bill Belichick on New England) and it is how he can rally behind the team after a loss and turn it into a win. Bruce Cassidy can do that with the best of them.

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Bruins Trade D Goloubef To Senators For F Paul Carey

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PHOTO CREDITS: (bellevillesens.com)

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

On Friday, January 11th, 2019, the Boston Bruins have traded defenceman Cody Goloubef to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for forward Paul Carey, one-for-one.

Paul Carey is a 30-year-old center from Boston, Massachusetts who is coming into the Bruins organization in the midst of a fairly solid AHL season. Carey was drafted 135th overall (5th round) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Colorado Avalanche, but only played a combined twenty-two games with the Avalanche in the National Hockey League.

The four-year Boston College veteran already played for the Providence Bruins for a brief time in 2014-15, scoring two goals and five assists for seven points in seventeen games. He also scored one goal in the playoffs with Providence that year. With little National Hockey League experience under his belt, Carey played in sixty games during the 2017-18 season with the New York Rangers, scoring 7-7-14 totals and a -13 rating with twenty penalty minutes.

This season, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound forward has spent the majority of the time with the Belleville Senators of the American Hockey League, scoring 5-22-27 totals in twenty-nine games. Carey went pointless in five NHL games with the Ottawa Senators with an even rating as well. It is most likely that Carey joins the Boston Bruins AHL affiliate team, the Providence Bruins.

So, who exactly is Boston trading away and why? Cody Goloubef is a 129-game NHL veteran, amassing a total of twenty-three points in that time. Goloubef has just joined the Providence Bruins after spending time with the Stockton Heat, the Calgary Flames AHL affiliate team for only one season.

General Manager Don Sweeney signed the 6-foot-1, 201-pound Goloubef to a two-way, one-year contract to add depth to the P-Bruins blueline. The Bruins did use his services well, as he scored twelve points (3 goals, 9 assists), in sixteen games this season. The main reason for the trade is because of the return of Urho Vaakanainen from both the 2019 World Junior Championships from Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada – where he took home a gold medal with the Finland hockey team, as well as a concussion that sidelined him for numerous months.

The Bruins would rather get a scoring asset in return for Goloubef instead of just scratching him for the rest of the idea so Vaakanainen could play. Urho is one of the best prospects on the defensive core for the Bruins organization and it is without a doubt that he should play when given a chance.

Above all else, this is just a simple AHL transaction – no massive implements will come from it. Here is some insight from Providence Journal’s own, Mark Divver.

“Assuming he’s sent to Providence, Paul Carey should give P-Bruins a boost up front. With everyone healthy, they could afford to move a D.” – Mark Divver

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World Juniors 2019: Bruins Prospects Heading Into Quarter-Finals

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PHOTO CREDITS: (saultsports.com)

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

The 2019 World Junior Championships have truly been entertaining so far this year. From dominating performances such as the 14-0 by Canada over Denmark and Slovakia’s 11-2 win over Kazakhstan. Valiant comeback efforts such as the United States scoring four unanswered goals in the final ten minutes to force overtime versus Sweden. And of course, the feel-good stories like the support of the underdogs – Team Kazakhstan as every shot, save, and goal were met with loud, roaring cheers.

The Boston Bruins, like many NHL teams, are well represented in the tournament. Jakub Lauko and Daniel Bukac on the Czech Republic, Jack Studnicka on Canada, Kyle Keyser on the States, Pavel Shen on Team Russia, and the addition of Urho Vaakanainen just before the tournament to Team Finland. Not only are these players playing in the tournament, but they are playing a crucial role for their respective countries.

G Kyle Keyser – United States

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PHOTO CREDITS: (JONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

As one of the favourites to win the gold medal when the under-20 tournament concludes, the United States used the four preliminary games to judge who gets the starting role in between the pipes because once the team makes it into the Quarter-Finals, it is not too common to switch goaltenders as you would see in the National Hockey League regular season.

Keyser’s teammate, Cayden Primeau, is the other goaltender that is looking to grab that starting role. The Montreal Canadiens’ 2017 seventh-round selection played two games and so did Bruins’ goalie prospect Keyser. Keyser played two games – the 5-4 OT loss to the Swedes and the 2-1 win over Slovakia on Boxing Day.

Keyser’s 1-1-0 record alongside his 0.87 save percentage and 2.95 goals-against-average is ranked as the second-worst for goaltenders heading into the Quarter-Finals. Only Switzerland goalie, Akira Schmid has worse statistics so far in the World Juniors. It is fair to note that the five goals he allowed versus Sweden drastically impacted those numbers.

Against the Swedes, Keyser made many solid saves off of poor plays by his defensemen. The Swedish players had numerous 2-on-1s that were stopped by Keyser and his saves arguably gave the team the drive to come back and tie the game.

With that said, Team USA announced that Cayden Primeau, the other American goaltender, will get the start in the crease for the United States in their Quarter-Final game against the Czech Republic. Yesterday, Head Coach Mike Hastings said it was a coin toss as to who will get the starting role as both goalies earned it, but clearly, he decided to go with the Canadiens prospect due to his strong 4-to-1 win over Finland.

F Jakub Lauko – Czech Republic

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

Drafted 77th overall (3rd Round) by the Boston Bruins in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, forward Jakub Lauko has had a successful season with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), scoring 12-14-26 totals in 26 games this season before being called to the World Juniors.

While at the U20 World Junior Championships, Lauko has one goal and one assist in four preliminary games. The 18-year-old forward scored his lone goal of the tournament in the 4-0 win over Denmark on New Year’s Eve. The tally ended up being the game-winning goal for the Czechs. Lauko also helped out in the opening game of the tournament, recording his only assist thus far on the overtime-winning goal against Switzerland.

Lauko has been good on the other end of the ice too. In the same game as his assist versus the Swiss, Lauko made a great defensive block on a 2-on-1 that kept the game tied around the midway point through the third period of play. Without that Lauko block, the Swiss may take a 2-1 lead and may end up winning the hockey game.

D Daniel Bukac – Czech Republic

Only one team in the World Juniors this year has two Bruins prospects on its roster – the Czech Republic and it seems more and more that the Bruins like having Czech players when you look at David Pastrnak and David Krejci on the full-time Boston roster up in the NHL.

As with the already-mentioned Jakub Lauko on the forward core, the Czechs have 6-foot-5, 209-pound defenceman Daniel Bukac on their blueline as well. The Bruins drafted Bukac with their seventh-round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft. The former player in the Western Hockey League joined the Niagara Ice Dogs of the Ontario Hockey League in the 2018 CHL Import Draft.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Doug Westcott)

Bukac is not known as an offensive defenceman by a stretch of the imagination. With his big frame, he is a solid shutdown defender on the back end and that was mentioned by the Ice Dogs General Manager, Joey Burke, when they added Bukac to their roster.

“Daniel is a big addition for our club. He provides help in an area we needed to improve in. A proven player at this level who brings size, defensive prowess as well as strength, adds a special dynamic to our group. Anytime you can add an NHL drafted player,  it always makes an impact. We look forward to the pedigree Daniel will bring. This is yet another exciting signing for us this offseason, and Daniel will be fun to watch in Niagara.”

Bukac has six points (two goals, four assists), in twenty-four games with the Ice Dogs before going to the WJC. Bukac has one assist in the World Juniors, against Denmark, when he assisted on the fourth and final Czech goal in the 4-0 win. Bukac has also been one of the top penalty-killers for the Czech Republic, who has a third-best 85.71% success rate on the penalty-kill.

Bukac, Lauko, and the Czech Republic battle Kyle Keyser and the United States in today’s quarterfinal.

D Urho Vaakanainen – Finland

Coming off a concussion that he suffered during his brief tenure in the National Hockey League, the eighteenth-overall draft pick in 2017 by the Boston Bruins joined his national country of Finland for the World Juniors.

Due to his NHL experience earlier in the year, Finland knew that they had to play Vaakanainen in a top role on the defensive core due to the lack of experience on the rest of the team. For the majority of the preliminary games, Vaakanainen played in the most minutes over all of the other Finnish players.

Dawning the “A” on his sweater, Vaakanainen also added two assists in the four games – in a 5-1 win over Slovakia on December 29th and assisted on the only goal by Finland in the 4-1 loss to the United States. Below are some scouting reports on the Finnish defenseman.

“An intelligent, two-way defender…reads the play really well, has his head up all the time and makes quick decisions with the puck.” – Futureconsiderations.ca 2017

“He has good puck moving ability and strong offensive upside. He is also a good skater and can rush the puck up ice with confidence.” – Hockeyprospect.com 2017

Urho Vaakanainen and Team Finland will play Jack Studnicka and the Canadians in the second quarterfinal of the day.

F Jack Studnicka – Canada

Before the tournament started, many analysts covering the competition said that Jack Studnicka was the best player in the pre-tournament events including the multiple games that Canada played in.

While Studnicka did not play at the high-scoring level that say, a Maxime Comtois on Team Canada has, but he has been key on the Canadian power-play, even though it has struggled. Studnicka played right in front of the opposing net on that man-advantage, in a position called the “bumper spot”. Someone else who is great in that spot on the ice on the Bruins, a guy by the name of Patrice Bergeron.

Studnicka is currently on a point-per-game status, scoring four points in four games. Three of those points are assists, but he did add a goal back on December 26th in the 14-0 Boxing Day shutout over Denmark. Jack continues to be one of the better players on Canada’s bottom-nine forward core.

The Bruins drafted Studnicka in the second-round, fifty-third overall in the 2017 NHL Draft. He is currently playing in the Ontario Hockey League with the Oshawa Generals, where he had 12-21-33 totals in 29 games before being sent to Vancouver/Victoria for the World Juniors.

F Pavel Shen – Russia

The final prospect of the Bruins to be listed and he just happens to be on the team who took the first place in Group A, after a narrow victory over Canada on New Year’s Eve. Shen has played a big part in Russia’s success in the tournament so far. Shen is currently tied for second on the team in points with four points in four games.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

In the December 31st game against Canada, a game between two undefeated countries and that would decide who wins Group A, Pavel Shen had a game that put himself on the hockey map. The Russian drafted in the 7th Round back in this past draft scored the game-winning goal late in regulation off of a nice zone entry, drive to the net and a goal past DiPietro of Canada.

Shen’s goal-scoring talent has been shown in the past, such as when he scored three goals and one assist in six games during the CIBC Canada/Russia Series, where the top Russian prospects play the best CHL players in the three different leagues (WHL, OHL, QMJHL). Shen has the ability to score and he can do it well.

Many have said that Shen is a sleeper player in the tournament and one of the underrated prospects in the Bruins system. If his development continues the way it has, he very well could make the Providence Bruins and maybe even the Boston Bruins in the near future. Pavel Shen and Russia play Slovakia in the Quarterfinals tonight.

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGiant for your next Boston Bruins game. Click the link below and when purchasing any event ticket, from the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL to concerts and shows, please use discount code BNGP to save a little money. Thank You & Happy New Year!

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Boston Bruins: Let’s Talk David Backes

PHOTO CREDIT: Charles Krupa / Sportsnet

By: Michael DeRosa | Check me out on Twitter @michael_derosa4

When the Boston Bruins signed David Backes to a five-year, $30 million deal during the 2016 NHL Offseason, it was met with mixed reviews. There is no question that the former Blues’ captain was expected to be a top-six forward for the team. He had been one of the best power forwards in the league for a number of years at that time. However, many analysts felt that the term on the deal would end up hurting the Bruins. As we are now in the 2018-19 season, it is now time for us to be a bit worried that this may end up being the case.

It is absolutely clear that the veteran has struggled this season so far. He has been held pointless in 12 games and already had another concussion scare this season. Injuries have definitely been hitting him frequently since he began his tenure with the team, but none more so than with his head. This could likely be what is behind his significant drop in production this season, as he received another concussion during the postseason last year.

It is also clear that last season he had a decent amount of success playing on the third line. With 33 points in 57 games, it is fair to state that he was providing the team with some very solid secondary scoring. Although the numbers did not necessarily replicate the $6 million cap hit he possesses, it did show that he was a valuable part of this lineup. So with that being said, it is pretty concerning seeing the extremely cold start he has had this season. One has to wonder if he could turn it around.

However, for that to occur, he has to fight his way back up the depth chart. With the promotion given to Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Backes now finds himself on the fourth line right wing. This definitely is not ideal for the veteran, as his chances to provide offense are significantly lower playing on this defense-first line. JFK has also noticeably given the third-line better speed up the middle, so Backes is in a pretty rough spot if it translates to more offensive production from that line.

Another significant reason behind his drop in production is the loss of Riley Nash. There is absolutely no question that the two worked exceptionally well together. However, with Nash signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Danton Heinen occasionally being promoted to the second-line, Backes has been given an array of different linemates all season. In fact, he has been forced to be back at center, a position that he just does fit well in anymore.

Playing on the fourth line is just not the best situation for him to be in. Now, with his struggling play, it is justifiable that he is there. Yet, as soon as he finds his game again, he should be given more chances. In fact, with the looming questions in the top-six, perhaps the team should give him a go on the second-line if the lack of scoring continues. Although his speed has clearly gotten slower over the years, David Krejci has had a lot of success playing with power forwards.

It is fair to state that everyone in the lineup is rooting for the veteran to improve. Although it may seem unlikely to some, it is possible for him to find his game again. Twelve games without a point is very concerning, but that does not mean that he can never turn it into a hot streak. However, for him to see results, he does need to be given more opportunities to shine.  Now is not the time to close the door on Backes completely. He has had a fantastic career up to this point and could easily become a factor in the lineup again under the right circumstances.  

Bruins’ Sweeney Is Proving He’s A Top GM: Part I – Free Agency

Don Sweeney - Steven Senne(Photo credit: Steven Senne)

Written By: Chris Nosek  |  Follow Me On Twitter: @cnosek6342

Last season (in my first article with the Black N’ Gold) I wrote a piece about Don Sweeney’s patience being a major asset to this organization during the 2017-18 offseason. Now, just under a year later, he is proving even more that he was and still is the best person for the GM position in the Bruins organization. With the moves he has made combined with the ones he is making now, Sweeney is currently setting up the Bruins to be contenders not just for the 2018-19 season, but for the next 10-plus years. During these years, Sweeney will widely be regarded as one of the league’s top general managers as well. There are many Bruins fans who will completely disagree with this thought because of certain moves he has made; so let’s take a dive into each move he has made during his time leading this franchise so far. In this series, we will examine each way he has acquired players and see just how successful he has been for this team.

Free Agency

Clearly, free agency has been the weakness for Sweeney and his staff. However, when you look at the players they have brought in, there has been a clear shift in the type of player targeted. If you examine each free agent class year after year, it becomes obvious that they are learning from their decisions.

2015

Matt Beleskey                       Jimmy Hayes                       Gregory Campbell

Ryan Spooner                       Matt Bartkowski                 Brett Connolly

Matt Irwin                             Jonas Gustavsson                Christopher Breen

Matt Lindblad                      David Warsofsky                 Paul Carey

Rob Flick

In his first offseason, Sweeney targeted one of the biggest names on the market in Matt Beleskey and was able to land him for 5 years. At the age of only 26, Beleskey looked like he could bring to the Bruins lineup a physical style of play that the team hadn’t had on the left side of David Krejci since the days of Milan Lucic. Hayes, Connolly, Bartkowski, Campbell, Warsofsky, Lindblad, Carey, and Flick were all extended with Hayes having been brought in originally via trade (more to come on that later).

(Photo credit: Claus Andersen)

The biggest flops in this class were Beleskey, Connolly, and Hayes. Although these guys never really found their game here in Boston, we are left to wonder if they would have fared better under the coaching of Bruce Cassidy instead of Claude Julien. It quickly became clear with his future signing that Sweeney learned from these problematic veterans and would shy away from them in the future.

2016

David Backes                         Anton Khudobin                      John Michael-Liles

Riley Nash                              Dominic Moore                        Joe Morrow

Brian Ferlin                           Chris Casto                                Alex Grant

Tyler Randell

Showing a different approach than in 2015, Sweeney shifted to targeting veterans who would have to fight for a roster spot and would have to earn their keep. Khudobin was brought back after Gustavsson showed he just wasn’t cut out for the NHL level, but “Dobby” still had to beat out McIntyre and Subban for the backup role behind Rask. Moore, Morrow, and Nash were all brought in to compete for starting positions, and both Moore and Nash not only earned them but also kept their spots. In fact, Nash not only flourished in his second year with the team but also saw time filling in for Bergeron on the top line for a handful of games.

 (Photo credit: Kim Klement)

With Backes signing the only contract longer than 2 years and for more than $2.5 million (his contract was for 5 years at $6 million per year), he is clearly the biggest risk in this group. Having just come off his 10th season with St. Louis, Backes posted 45 points in 79 games. With versatility and durability, Backes was clearly brought in to put with the youngsters as the third-line center while having the ability to play the wing as well. With 460 points in 727 career games in St. Louis, Backes played in all 82 games three times and at least 78 games six times, including all 48 in the locked-out and shortened 2012-13 season. After only 38 points in his first season in Boston, last season he was unable to stay healthy and ended up missing almost two months after requiring surgery that removed part of his colon. The positive note for Backes’ 2017-18 season is that he was able to post 33 points in only 57 games — a much-improved scoring rate over his first season with the club. This third season, which has seen him come into camp more lean and agile, will be the defining season of this contract for both player and GM.

2017

David Pastrnak                           Ryan Spooner                             Malcolm Subban

Zane McIntyre                             Ken Agostino                              Tim Schaller

Paul Postma                                 Brian Gionta                               Austin Czarnik

With a free agent class that saw big-name players like Justin Williams, Thomas Vanek, Chris Kunitz, Patrick Marleau, Kevin Shattenkirk, Alex Radulov, and even Joe Thornton, many were looking for Don Sweeney to bring in one of these top guys to fill in some of the major holes on this team. Instead, Sweeney negotiated extensions with Pastrnak, Spooner, Subban, McIntyre, Schaller, and Czarnik. With one of the league’s top right winger talents under the age of 25 now locked up for the next 5 years, Sweeney could shift his focus to the young guys in the system to figure out which ones to continue extending and which ones could be packaged together to bring in other pieces.

Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy, left, smiles after his goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Boston, Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) (Photo credit: Charles Krupa)

So did Sweeney make the right decision to allow the youngsters to play instead of bringing some of the veteran names? To find out how “bad” this decision was let’s compare the offensive production from the two groups; players who Boston could have had and the players who Boston put on the ice this past season.

Group A: These players signed deals as UFA’s last offseason and were mentioned as players Sweeney should pursue.

Group B: This group of forwards played for the Bruins last season next to Krejci and on the third-line wing.

Group A: Justin Williams, Thomas Vanek, Chris Kunitz, Patrick Marleau

Group B: Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, Rick Nash, Ryan Spooner, David Backes

The players in Group A put together a great season with a combined 183 points over 325 games played, giving the collective great average of 0.563 points per game. This is a very respectable figure; however, compare it to the almost identical pace of 0.568 points per game that the Black and Gold (Group B) were able to put up with the crew they put on the ice.

2018

John Moore                                     Jaroslav Halak                             Sean Kuraly

Joakim Nordstrom                         Colby Cave                                   Chris Wagner

Anton Blidh                                     Mark McNeill                              Cody Goloubef

Coming into this new season, it is clear that Sweeney wants to continue to build off the success from the young players who stepped up last season rather than spend money on big-name free agents like he did early in his career. With Kuraly being re-signed, it is clear he has earned himself a starting role as one of the bottom-line centers. With Cave and Blidh being brought back for depth in the AHL, Nordstrom and Wagner will be given a chance to win NHL roles but need to be careful because they have young guys nipping at their heels for the same NHL spots.

 (Photo credit: Carlos Osorio)

Sweeney did manage to book meetings with the two biggest names on the market this offseason in John Tavares and Ilya Kovalchuk. With the contracts these two players received, it would have been outrageous for Sweeney to do what would have been required to bring one of them in. Kovalchuk landed with Los Angeles for 3 years and has a $6.25 million cap hit each season, and managed to get a no-movement clause for the first two seasons of the deal. Tavares received an 8-year contract with a cap hit of $11 million each season and a full no-movement clause for its entirety from his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs. Either of these contracts would have been horrendous for the Bruins to take on and would have been much more disastrous than the Beleskey contract, Hayes contract, and even the Backes contract ever could have been for this team.

Sweeney may not bring in the biggest name every season, nor does he make the biggest “splash” in free agency every year. He has, however, proven that he learns from his mistakes, using due diligence and patience to ensure the free agents signed have a higher reward than the risk they carry. With the free agency side of his role clearly improving year after year, Sweeney will need to prove himself in all aspects of the job in order to put this Bruins organization in the best position for success moving forward.

And as you’ll next read in Part II of this series, a top GM in the NHL like Sweeney knows that acquiring asset and players via trade can be just as effective as free agency on a team’s present and future.

COMING SOON: PART II

Bruins Blue Line Remains In Doubt

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PHOTO CREDIT: (Getty Images)

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

It’s been a little over two weeks since the Boston Bruins traded away tough-guy defenseman Adam McQuaid to the New York Rangers in exchange for Steven Kampfer, a 2019 fourth-round pick and a 2019 conditional seventh-round pick.

There are two sides to every coin, (three if you count the edge), and there are two sides of the Adam McQuaid trade. On one side, McQuaid was loved in Boston. The fans and players alike commonly shared a continued love and appreciation for the tough, gritty, old-school Bruin that McQuaid represented. He played the game of hockey similar to the old Bruins. The Boston hockey club that would fight anyone at any time in any arena, especially if it was in the cause of defending a star player.

On the opposite side of the coin, the Bruins were placed into a situation where they almost had to trade away McQuaid before the season begins. With the free-agent signing of former New Jersey Devil defenseman, John Moore, the B’s had eight NHL-caliber defensemen under contract — at the beginning of September. If you happened to be unaware, only six defensemen play during the course of a game, meaning two of those defenders would find themselves watching from the press box.

While it seems like a disrespectful thing to trade such a humble, classy guy like McQuaid, especially because he was loved by nearly everyone in Boston, it was actually the opposite — it was out of respect. How?

Well, in today’s National Hockey League, fighting is not nearly as big of a factor in the sport itself as it was, say, a decade ago. In fact, in 2017-18, there were a recorded 280 total fights according to HockeyFights.com. Rewind one decade earlier — in the 2007-08 regular season, there were 664 recorded fights in the NHL. That number alone is incomparable to the fighting numbers that there would have been in the 70’s and 80’s.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Even without the exact numbers, it is clear by just watching one game from the 1970’s and one game from 2018. The results speak for themselves. Adam McQuaid was not the best defenseman when it came to preventing the puck from entering the zone or stopping offensive threats, making him one of the expendable players on that Bruins blue line.

The Boston organization knew that McQuaid would receive limited playing time when the B’s were healthy, as he would most likely be spending his time in the press box as previously mentioned. Out of respect, Boston shipped him to the Big Apple for a couple of picks, and a returning defenseman, who you can predict will play in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins for this upcoming season.

The return was quite surprising to many fans, including myself. McQuaid is on an expiring deal, and the belief was that Adam was going to simply walk come July 1st, 2019, giving him the ultimate freedom to play wherever he chooses for the then following campaign. Even with that idea, the Rangers gave in to the two draft selections and upgraded from Steven Kampfer to gain that tough guy defenseman.

This way, McQuaid nearly guarantees himself consistent ice time with an NHL team, as the Rangers are not as deep on the defensive core as the Boston Bruins are. That said, the trade impacted the Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada native, who spent the last nine years with the Massachusetts club. However, this league is a business, and sometimes business hurts. Yet, the Bruins still have questions regarding the blue line for the 2018-19 regular season.

As of September 21st, the Bruins currently have Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, John Moore, Brandon Carlo, Matt Grzelcyk, and Kevan Miller on their confirmed NHL roster — but not all can have that confirmed, full-time ice time.

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PHOTO CREDIT: (nhl.com)

Initially, when the Bruins signed Moore on July 1, it made it seem like a possible Torey Krug departure more likely. Krug has seemingly always been in Boston trade rumors, even if they have no actual evidence behind the accusations. The team has also been rumored in the conversation for an Artemi Panarin trade or an acquisition for a scoring winger to play alongside David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.

Clearly, the trade rumors were just that — rumors — but the thought still remains. In my personal opinion, Torey Krug should not be moved from the Bruins because he is quite possibly one of the most underrated offensive defensemen in the NHL today, and I enjoy the thought of keeping him on the roster moving forward.

With that said, it may not hurt for Boston to send off Krug to another team if they can acquire a player who can drastically help the Bruins in some way right now. Otherwise, I don’t see a valuable return for Krug if the team traded him for say, some first-round picks or prospects.

There are still seven, NHL-caliber defensemen on the Bruins roster and all are expected to have some ice time. Even though the McQuaid trade made more predictable, it is still a question to ask — who gets the majority of the time on the bottom pairing. To know what d-men may find themselves out of the picture, who exactly is guaranteed a spot for the majority of 2018-19?

As I said in my official 2018-19 Boston Bruins prediction article earlier this month, I see the likes of Charlie McAvoy, Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo, and Matt Grzelcyk on the full-time roster for the entirety of the season, not regarding the possibility of injuries. When the article was published, I mentioned that the trio of McQuaid, Kevan Miller, and John Moore were the uncertainties, with Miller getting the bulk of the minutes.

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PHOTO CREDIT: (Katharine Lotze/The Signal)

But, my views on this matter have changed over time, and I think that Moore and Miller will each get split times during the course of the season. Although, this can bring some negatives.

Many great sports franchises over the years have had one thing in common — chemistry. The Chicago Blackhawks dynasty of the 2010’s had the same similar faces — Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Corey Crawford, Brent Seabrook, and so on. The Los Angeles Kings had Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Quick, and Drew Doughty.

Sure, a bottom-pairing defenseman may not make that big of a dent when it comes to chemistry, but consistent faces on the power play, penalty-kill, or even five-on-five action can make a difference. Another argument is that having better players in the depth can lead to a stronger lineup. While that is true, it is also unfortunate to have a good defenseman that often finds himself in the press box.

Needless to say, the Bruins still have a few questions regarding the defense. Will they see who proves themselves the most in the early stages of the regular season and award that last d-man the majority of the ice time, or will they look to split the workload across all seven defensemen?

Can The Bruins Fourth Line Repeat Last Year’s Success?

(Photo Credit: Tim Fuller / USA Today )

Written By: Jamie Gatlin   |   Follow Me On Twitter: @JamieGatlin1217

Last season the Bruins’ fourth line was one of the most productive in recent memory. They drew comparisons to the Bruins’ fourth line in 2011, which was key in their Stanley Cup run. This offseason, the Bruins lost Tim Schaller in free agency as he signed with Vancouver. He was one of the key contributors on the team’s last line. Noel Acciari and Sean Kuraly are projected to return to the fourth line, leaving an open spot on the wing. How that spot is filled has yet to be determined, but the Bruins do have a couple of options.

Since that magical 2011 season, the Bruins had failed to find a fourth line pairing that was as successful as the “Merlot Line.” Last season proved to be an exception as the trio of Kuraly, Schaller, and Acciari became fan favorites. They endeared themselves to Boston with their gritty and energetic style of play. Whenever the Bruins needed a jolt or change of pace, the fourth line often was whom Cassidy called on. They were unexpectedly productive offensively as of the trio only Sean Kuraly scored less than 10 goals. They will look to make the same kind of impact even with the loss of Schaller in free agency. Whoever replaces him will be filling a key role.

Fortunately, the Bruins have multiple players who could fill the vacant spot on their last line. Those options include Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom. They both bring their own unique characteristics to the Bruins and would be good fits in Schaller’s spot. The Bruins signed Wagner, a Massachusetts native, to a 2-year deal earlier this offseason. He is not known for his offense, but he was able to record 16 points last season. Wagner made his impact with his physical style of play and finished third in the NHL with 235 hits last season. He can play both the center and wing, which gives the Bruins flexibility. He brings a similar blend of offense and physicality like Schaller. The fact that the Bruins gave Wagner a multi-year deal shows how much the Bruins believe in him. However, he will have competition in the form of another Bruins free agent signing in Nordstrom.

Comparatively, Joakim Nordstrom is not a physical player like Wagner. He is a smart player who is good at reading plays and disrupting breakouts. He can be frustrating offensively, which limits his upside. He has been a good enough penalty killer to stick around in the league. Nordstrom had a knack for getting to the net but struggled to finish last season which is partly why he will end up in a bottom-six role. Where he ends up will be interesting as it could be on the third line. After a solid 2017-18 campaign, Kuraly could be bumped up to the third line. This would mean that Nordstrom could center the fourth line with Wagner on the wing. Wherever Nordstrom ends up will have a significant impact on the Bruins’ bottom lines.

Last season the trio of Kuraly, Schaller, and Acciari showed how important the fourth line could be. Even with the loss of Schaller, the Bruins have good replacements. They will need to step and be counted on in big moments. Whoever ends up on the Bruins fourth line will have the responsibility of continuing last season’s success. It will be a key storyline to watch as these players will look to replicate the same grit and energetic play that made the Bruins fourth line so successful last season.

Have The Bruins Found The Right Balance Of Flair And Toughness?

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Photo Credit: The Associated Press of the Boston Herald

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

With training camp just around the corner, general manager Don Sweeney has been working hard to build a team capable of surpassing last season’s playoff run. We all know that the Bruins have plenty of skill on the roster, but the team was criticized last season for lacking toughness, particularly during the playoffs. The modern NHL is faster and more of a technical league than it was in the past. The enforcers of old are on the brink of extinction, but that doesn’t mean there’s no longer a place on the roster for blue-collar players. Besides, throwing your weight around never hurt anyone, apart from the opposition, right?

Last season the Bruins showcased some mouth-watering skill offensively. The top line of Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak combined for some of the best hockey we’ve ever seen with 228 points among them. There was also valuable contributions from Torey Krug, Danton Heinen, David Krejci, and Jake DeBrusk, all of whom scored more than 40 points during the regular season. The Bruins certainly didn’t struggle for production on the offensive side. With plenty of technically gifted players on the roster, adding more point-scorers this offseason hasn’t been a priority for Sweeney.

Photo Credit: Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

One of the main criticisms of the Bruins last season, particularly in the playoffs, was that they were outmatched physically. Interestingly, the Bruins tied the Edmonton Oilers for the fifth-most regular season fights last year with 26. Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller were the chief goons with 10 fights between them. There were honorable contributions to the fight total from Matt Beleskey, David Backes, and Zdeno Chara. While fighting is in decline, going toe-to-toe can swing the momentum back into your favor and make opponents think twice before roughing up your teammates. Having someone on the team who can stand up for the rest of the players is important. Looking at the potential defensive pairings for next season, the general consensus is that McQuaid is likely to see less ice time. If that is the case, the Bruins will need to find someone else to drop their gloves and take care of business.

Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports

While fighting is in decline, hitting will always be a big part of the game. Kevan Miller racked up the most regular season hits for the Bruins the last term with 164, considerably less than the league’s “big hitters.” Noel Acciari was the only other Bruin retained on the current roster who had more than 150 hits, thought it’s worth noting that McQuaid managed 80 despite only playing in 38 games. While these aren’t the lowest numbers across the league, they certainly aren’t the highest. Sweeney’s answer to this is a new recruit, Chris Wagner, who totaled 253 regular season hits last year, the third-highest in the NHL. There’s no doubt that he’ll bring a level of physicality to the Bruins that they were lacking last year. The Walpole, Mass. native will be desperate to prove himself to his new teammates and the fans. There’s hope that he can bring an extra physical edge to the Bruins, which will certainly help down the stretch.

How the Bruins will fair next season in a strong Atlantic Division remains to be seen. They will be targeting progress in the playoffs and the added physicality will give them a boost at the business end of the season. We’ve already seen that this Bruins team is capable of putting up the points, but with added steel in the ranks, it’s exciting to see how they fare in their pursuit for the Stanley Cup.

Boston Bruins: Worst Signings In Recent History

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Getty Images)

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

There are good signings and then there are bad signings. Often times, the final verdict that decides if a player’s new contract is either “good” or “bad” comes after an unsuccessful time with that new team. However, sometimes the length of the contract or the amount of money the player is making can be difficult to swallow due to the age or how prone they are to injuries.

In this article, three players in recent Bruins history will be listed under the list no one wants to be on, the Worst Bruins Signings In Recent History.

Matt Beleskey – 5yrs/$3.8mil AAV

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PHOTO CREDIT: (Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

Matt Beleskey was coming off of an eight-goal playoff season with the Anaheim Ducks when he signed a 5-year contract worth $3.8 million per season in July of 2015.

Considered by many to be one of the best unrestricted free agents in the 2015 NHL free agent class, Matt Beleskey had some big expectations to fill — expectations that came directly from the Bruins fans themselves. Kevin Allen of USA TODAY Sports ranked Beleskey as the fourth-best UFA available to teams that summer, so when Boston signed him, it seemed like Boston was in serious contention to make the playoffs once again.

As we know, the Bruins failed to qualify for the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs — the first time they did not make the postseason in 7 consecutive years. The surprise absence in the playoffs led the Bruins to make some free agent signings, and of course, Beleskey was one of those players.

In the 2015-16 regular season, Beleskey had a decent year, scoring 15 goals and 37 points total over the course of 80 games. Matt also landed the most hits on the Bruins roster, with 260 hits counted. But the following season, Beleskey failed to continue the play of the previous year. In December of 2016 he injured his right knee, sidelining him for 7 weeks.

Once he reunited with the club, Beleskey was never really able to find his groove once again and only finished the year with eight points in 49 games as well as a -10 rating. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy touched on that when asked about scratching Beleskey in an article by Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald.

“That’s part of it. It’s not punishment. With his injury, we’ve got to get him back up to playing speed, playing pace.” – Bruce Cassidy, Bruins Head Coach 

The belief was that if Beleskey can have a solid recovery over the offseason, there is a chance he can come back to the time where he scored 22 goals with the Ducks back in 2014-15. Unfortunately for him and the team, he only played 14 games with Boston due to frequent healthy scratches. The Bruins eventually placed the Windsor, Ontario, Canada native on waivers, where he went unclaimed.

Beleskey did play 21 games with the Providence Bruins, posting 4-2-6 totals. That would mark the end of his career as a Boston Bruins as on February 25 he was sent to the New York Rangers along with Ryan Spooner, Ryan Lindgren, a 2018 first-round pick, and a 2019 seventh-round pick in exchange for Rick Nash.

Even though he is no longer on the team, the Bruins are still paying half of his yearly salary ($1,900,000) for the next 2 seasons.

Totals as a Boston Bruin: 143GP | 18G – 27A – 45P | -12 Rating

Jimmy Hayes – 3yrs/$2.3mil AAV

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PHOTO CREDIT: (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Jimmy Hayes was not a player the Bruins signed in free agency, but the signing did occur during the summer. On July 1, Hayes was sent to Boston from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Reilly Smith and Marc Savard’s contract. Five days after the trade, the Bruins and Hayes came to an agreement on a 3-year deal worth a total of $6.9 million ($2.3 million annual average).

At first glance, the dollar amount and the length of the contract don’t seem too bad, as Hayes was only 25 at the time of the new deal. However, the performance after the deal was less than lackluster and the Bruins may have felt a tad bit of regret after making that trade, especially considering the success Reilly Smith has had since leaving the Boston organization.

After 2 seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks that only saw him produce a grand total of 13 points over 43 games in the time span, Hayes may have truly found his worth with the Florida Panthers. In the 2014-15 campaign — his first full one on the Panthers — Hayes scored 19 goals and totaled 35 points during the 72 games that season.

The Dorchester, Mass. native found some decent success in his first year in Boston, finishing the 2015-16 season with 13-16-29 totals and a -12 rating in 75 games. However, it would be short-lived as in the following season, Hayes would only play in 58 games, scoring a measly five points during that time.

In that same offseason, the Bruins would buy out the remainder of Hayes’ contract, a contract that only had one year left to expire. The Bruins chose to pay Hayes another $566,667 in 2017-18 and will be forced to pay $866,667 in the 2018-19 campaign according to NHL.com. 

The Jimmy Hayes contract is considered one of the worst ones the Bruins have made in recent history mainly because he achieved such little and the player that the Bruins ended up losing went on to succeed.

Totals as a Boston Bruin: 133GP | 15G – 19A – 34P | -15 Rating

David Backes – 5yrs/$6mil AAV

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PHOTO CREDIT: (nhl.com)

Last but not least, David Backes — the only player on this list to still play on the Bruins to this day. And yet, he might just have the least likable contract of all.

When David Backes signed his 5-year, $30 million contract in the summer of 2016, he was coming off of a 5-year stint as captain of the St. Louis Blues. His 727 career games with the Blues is the fifth-most in franchise history. He also is sixth for most goals as a Blue (206), 10th-most assists (254), and he has scored the sixth-most goals of any player in St. Louis Blues history with 460.

Backes was considered the face of the Blues team while he was there and many longtime fans expressed their disappointed feelings when Backes signed with Boston. The love for Backes came from his physical play with the added fact that he could score 30 goals when needed as he did so in both 2008-09 and 2010-11 with 31 goals in each of those 2 seasons.

In every season he played in St. Louis, Backes tallied over 200 hits, (other than the 2012-13 lockout season) and he often had a positive ratio of takeaways to giveaways. Prior to Free Agency Frenzy 2016, The Hockey News ranked Backes as the third-best unrestricted free agent available and luckily for Boston, he signed with them.

However, Backes has not quite lived up to the hype that was created for his arrival. In his first season back in 2016-17, David posted 17-21-38 numbers in 74 games played along with 225 hits. Decent numbers, but for a player receiving $6 million per season, some expected more out of the Minneapolis native.

During the past season, Backes has dealt with numerous injuries such as colon surgery and a laceration on his leg. Backes also served his first NHL suspension for a hit on Detroit Red Wings player Frans Nielson — a suspension that put him out of action for three games.

Even with the limited playing time, Backes still managed to put up 33 points in only 57 games and even earned the Third Star of the Week on January 1 following three goals and three assists in only three games.

Earlier in August, Backes voiced his opinion on how on the upcoming season will go for him and the Boston Bruins in an article via Jesse Pierce on NHL.com.

“We had a lot of freak injuries, a lot of missed time that was kind of one-off type instances,” Backes said. “So I’m looking forward to a full season, getting in the trenches, getting in some games and getting deep in the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs. I put it in perspective. You have colon surgery — that’s not going to happen this year. Chances say you get your leg cut by a skate, that [hadn’t] happened in 12 years. A suspension, that [had] never happened before. So all those things just happening in the course of one season — my money’s on none of that happening this year.”

The main reason David Backes is on this list of the worst contracts is his age of signing and the age of when the deal will expire. Backes was 32 years of age at the time of the contract signing and will be 37 when it is all said and done. That idea is a bit concerning considering his history of head injuries — most recently a concussion suffered in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

While injuries can happen to every single player in the National Hockey League, head injuries are arguably the most common and some of the most dangerous — especially if the player already has had multiple concussions in the past as previously stated with Backes.

*Totals as a Boston Bruin: 131GP | 31G – 40A – 71P | +4 Rating

Recently, I posted a poll on my Twitter (@tkdmaxbjj), asking people who they thought is the worst contract out of the three players mentioned in this article.

If I were to pick one of these contracts to be the “worst,” it would be Matt Beleskey’s 5-year, $19 million contract. When considering the length of the deal in addition to the lack of production and the remaining salary retention, Beleskey comes out as the clear worst deal.

Jimmy Hayes’ contract was only 3 years and the salary being paid out to him via the buyout is not something to panic about. Additionally, the Boston Bruins have the option to move David Backes’ contract next offseason when his current no-move clause becomes a modified no-trade clause, (eight-team trade list) if the upcoming season is unsuccessful.

Were there any bad signings by the Boston Bruins in recent history that I did not cover? Let me know by messaging me on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj.

*As of the end of the 2017-18 regular season.