Report: Boston Bruins Sign Undrafted NCAA Defenseman Ahcan

( Photo Credit: Dan and Margaret Hickling | uscho.photoshelter.com )

By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

The Bruins have reportedly come to terms on an entry-level contract with Jack Ahcan. The deal would most likely be for two years, consistent with similar college UFA’s. Ahcan, a five-foot eight-inch, left-shot defenseman, was playing for St. Cloud State University prior to the school’s cessation of on-campus and sports activity due to the spread of SARS-CoV-2. He had led the Huskies as team captain through 33 games during the 2019-2020 season, his senior year.

Ahcan has logged seven goals to compliment 18 assists from the Huskies’ back-end. His point total is good for third on the roster and first among his peers along the blue-line. Through his four years at St. Cloud State, Ahcan accumulated 21 goals, 103 points and a plus 13 rating in 144 games. He became the third defenseman in team history to earn 100 or more points and has set a record for blue-liners with 82 assists. Aside from his offensive production, Ahcan has proven to be a key piece to the Huskies indicated by his reputation in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

 

The Minnesota native has received numerous awards for his efforts in the NCHC including being named Defensive Player of the Week three times and earning a spot on the All-NCHC Second Team in both 2018 and 2019 as well as the 2016-2017 All-NCHC Rookie Team. He was also a part of the United States World Junior Championship Team that won Gold in 2017 as a teammate to current B’s star Charlie McAvoy.  His efforts on the ice and intangibles off of it have not gone unnoticed among NHL teams.

Although undrafted, Ahcan has been invited to several teams’ development camps in order for scouts to gain a closer look at the player and to give him a glimpse of what it takes to be a professional athlete. He participated in camps with the Los Angeles Kings in 2017, Columbus Blue Jackets in 2018 and the Colorado Avalanche in 2019, but was either not offered a deal or elected not to sign in each of those years. His offensive mindset and vision, skating ability and no-quit attitude have frequently been highlighted as his key traits.

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Ahcan’s listed height and weight put him in the category of “diminutive;” a four-letter word in the NHL that helps to explain why teams have passed on him in drafts and have played coy on offering contract opportunities to the collegiate senior. Even in the modern NHL, size is considered a factor and most certainly for the defense as they often are expected to bring an in-your-face, physical element to dissuade some of the most highly skilled players in the world from treading on those dangerous areas inside the house. In spite of his size, Ahcan’s strengths of excellent vision, skating, and leadership qualities are typical of a Bruins college UFA signing.

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Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has implemented a system of fast neutral- and defensive- zone play that emphases protecting the slot and crease while aggressively pressuring attackers when outside of that zone to regain control of the puck to transition play quickly into the other end of the rink. General Manager Don Sweeney has done his best to acquire players to develop that will fit that mentality in the draft and in free agency. The team has additionally made his character a key consideration for prospective players and those leadership qualities have influenced signing decisions on other players like Karson Kuhlman in 2018 and Nick Wolf earlier in March 2020. Ahcan’s on-ice successes are indicative of his ability to conform to all of those requirements, both in two-way, decisive play and team-building intangibles.

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Regardless of what happens for the rest of the NHL’s regular- and playoff- seasons, Ahcan will have an opportunity to join a defensive-corps that will be in flux on the left flank in the fall of 2020. He will face stiff competition from the B’s current prospects and will most likely see duty in Providence for the Bruins’ AHL affiliate. If the season is restarted when normalcy has returned to the US and the world, he may get an opportunity to join the Providence Bruins on run for the playoffs and the Calder Cup this calendar year. Regardless of when he’s able to don a black and gold sweater for either team, Bruins’ management and fans should be happy they were able to secure a quality prospect for essentially nothing as they hope that he can develop into an impact player at the highest level.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 171 that we recorded below on 3-23-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Report: Krug Asking For Six-Year, $49M Deal From The Bruins

Krug

( Photo Credit: Patrick Smith / Getty Images )

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

There has been a great deal of speculation about the status of Torey Krug and the contract negotiations between his camp and the Bruins. Krug has said he would like to remain in Boston and Don Sweeney has categorized the talks as “cordial”. On Saturday, reporter Shawn Hutcheon threw a little gasoline on the fire with this tweet:

Right off the bat, I want to say that I am a huge Krug fan. My son is an undersized defenseman as well, so I have always had a soft spot for players like that. Krug started off as an undrafted college free agent and through hard work transformed himself into one of the top offensive D-men in the NHL over the last five years or so.

Krug became a regular in the 2013-14 season and from that time to the present, he’s 8th in the NHL for scoring by defensemen. The names in front of him: Hedman, Karlsson, Burns, Carlson, Josi, Yandle, Barrie, are regarded as some of the best D in the game. The majority of them are also paid that way. Erik Karlsson tops the list at $11.5m, with perennial Norris contender Drew Doughty coming in at $11m. Roman Josi and PK Subban are next at $9m, with five players at or around the $8m mark (Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Brent Burns, Jacob Trouba, Thomas Chabot, and John Carlson).

A defenseman that many consider the closest comparable to Krug, Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon, just signed a seven-year deal worth $7.575m per this past offseason. Spurgeon does not provide the offense that Krug does, but plays more minutes and is generally considered to be better in the defensive zone.

Which brings us to the elephant in the room when it comes to Krug, his defense. While everyone acknowledges that he is one of the best offensive catalysts in the NHL, Krug is not in the same category as guys like Josi and John Carlson when it comes to his two-way game. As important as the offense is from the back end these days, many fans (and some GM’s) don’t seem to think it’s prudent to pay a defenseman a huge contract unless they can contribute at both ends of the ice.Carlo and Krug ( Photo Credit: Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald )[/caption]

Even with all that, I just can’t see the Bruins giving him $8m plus over six or seven years on a new deal. I’m not saying that sum is not fair, given what other defensemen have signed for, or that it is not “market value”. However, that’s not the way that Boston has done business for a number of years. A lot of players talk about taking a “hometown” discount, but members of the Bruins have put their money where their mouths are when it came time to negotiate their deals. Last year during the playoffs, in an interview with SI’s Alex Prewitt, Brad Marchand was quoted as saying,

“If you want to try to make every dollar you can, unfortunately, that’s not going to be with this group.”

Pastrnak, Marchand all took less than what they could have demanded based on performance. This past summer young veterans Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo took very team-friendly deals in comparison to some of their peers, in what appeared to be moves designed on keeping this group of guys together. A lot of credit has gone to Don Sweeney for the recent signings and while he does deserve some praise, these deals would not have been possible without the players buying in and legitimately wanting to be in Boston, surrounded by guys that feel the same way.

In recent days Krug has talked about balancing being paid fairly while playing for a winning team. However, he also said, “The Bruins are going to do whatever they need to do and their situation.”

When I look at the way the Bruins have approached these contracts in the past and what other players have done, unfortunately, I only see this going one of two ways. Either Krug follows the examples set by so many other players in the room and takes less than market value to stay. Or, the Bruins try to make another strong run at the Cup and let Krug walk this summer. The question that remains for Krug and Boston is what qualifies as “taking less to stay”? My guess would be a number around $6.75m for six years. If Krug cannot live with that, I believe his days as a Bruin are numbered.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 167 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins Should Go All-In At The Trade Deadline

By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

 

The Boston Bruins fancy themselves contenders for a National Hockey League title which would see them the first group to have their names etched into the Stanley Cup for the decade. Most of the hockey world would agree with their position seeing that as of their February 16th, 2020 win against the New York Rangers, they sit atop of their division and the League’s standings with 84 points on the back of a 36-11-12 record. However, the Tampa Bay Lightning have rebounded after a brutal start and sit only 3 points behind and the Toronto Maple Leafs seem to be finding their groove. The path to the Eastern Conference Finals most likely features one of the star-studded teams in blue and white so the Bruins may as well swing for the fences before the Trade Deadline on February 24, 2020.

The Bruins lay claim to the Leagues 5th worst Expected Goals For (xGF) in the league. While this is partially offset by a stellar 3rd place position in Expected Goals Against (xGA) the fact of the matter is that both of their division rivals sport more potent offenses, especially the deep forward corps of the Lightning. More notably, the Lighting feature a similar defensive profile and it’s reflected in their numbers. This means the B’s will be in it for a forward, as so many are predicting. Why stop there though? The Bruins should buck expectation and bolster their top-nine by being aggressive and grabbing two… at least.

Why Not Have it All?

In upgrading their forward group, the consensus is that the B’s are gunning for Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers. If they miss out on the deadline prize, the pundits proclaim, then they will settle for secondary rental options like, Kyle Palmieri on the New Jersey Devils, Ondrej Kase in Anaheim, or Ilya Kovalchuck who they could have had for the cost of a roster spot and .0002% of Charlie Jacobs net worth (read: essentially free). Candidates are becoming fewer and farther between as Tyler Toffoli, Blake Coleman and Jason Zucker have all found new homes in the past week. The trade price of Kreider has been previously been reported as a first-round round pick and a top prospect and may have increased since, per Pierre Lebrun.

That’s a nice chunk of change, no doubt in a draft year that scouts are proclaiming will yield a deep crop of young talent, per the contributors at The Hockey News. The market on the other forwards has likely been set by the Toffoli deal that saw the Kings bring in Tim Schaller on an expiring contract, a good prospect’s signing rights in Tyler Madden, a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL draft and a conditional fourth-rounder contingent on the Vancouver Canucks signing the 28-year-old right-wing. If those prices hold and the teams are still looking to sell, the B’s may possess the currency to deal for Kreider and one of the “second-tier” options, specifically Kyle Palmieri.

What Would the Prices Translate To?

Consider a total trade package consisting of the Bruins’ 2020 first-round pick, a roster player such as Danton Heinen and prospects such as Urho Vaakenainen or Trent Frederic for the Blueshirt’s Chris Kreider. Is that a palatable rental arrangement if you’re Don Sweeny? Alternatively, you have a package similar to a 2020 second-round pick and Jakob Zboril, Jakub Louko or possibly even Zach Senyshyn for one of the second-tier options. Which would you pick? Again, the answer is both. Let’s delve into the reasons why.

The Cap Situation is Getting Murkier

On the Bruins’ current roster, eight players will need new deals or replacements.  This figure does not include Kevan Miller’s expiring contract, as he seems destined to spend the entirety of this season on the Long-Term Injured Reserve list, taking him to free agency.  This situation leaves approximately $18M to distribute over 8 players, two spots of which represent the player with the second-highest Time on Ice on the Penalty Kill and a back-up goaltending position that has become of increasingly more important to the B’s, if not to all teams across the league. Obvious new deals include the resigning of Torey Krug and Jake Debrusk, which will most likely eat $11 – $12 million of that for at least the next few years.  With only six million in cap space, the Bruins will have to, most likely, replace Zdeno Chara, Joakim Nordstrom, Jaroslav Halak, potentially Matt Grzelyck and almost certainly one of Karson Kuhlman, Anders Bjork or Danton Heinen. 

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None of this considers a David Backes buyout or retained salary trade, which is to say one way or another, the Bruins will be carrying dead cap space immediately after the Matt Belesky and Dennis Seidenberg money was to come off the books. With so many question marks in the future, why not take stock of what’s important to the organization (also known as Jack Studnicka, Jeremy Swayman and potentially John Beecher), identify your roster’s weaknesses today and deal from a position of strength to address them for a long run? The deals on the highest-profile trade targets are expiring after the season allowing for cap flexibility to either resign home-grown players, re-sign the acquired players or dip into the free-agent market.

The Core is Getting Older (For Real This Time)

The remnants of the 2011 Cup-winning team are all into their 30’s. Brad Marchand, the youngest of the bunch, is 31 and will be 36 when his deal expires. Chara will most likely not be resigned, whether he wants to hang ‘em up or not, and will become an Unrestricted Free Agent at the ripe age of 43. Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Tuukka Rask round out the veteran leaders. All of these players still fill irreplaceable roles on the squad, no matter how much flak Krejci and Rask take from the local supporters. If management wants to give their team the best chance to win, it’s today because tomorrow doesn’t look great according to statistics.

Below, one can inspect the average values of players’ Expected Goals For +/-, which is an aggregate number of Expected Goals-For and -Against – a stat based on comparing shots generated or yielded in specific locations with league-wide shooting percentages from those locations at even strength –  for the seasons including and between 2014 – 2015 and 2019 – 2020. Included were only those players who played in 25 or more games in each of those seasons and the data was split between forwards and defense. The trend is quite clear. (All Stats aggregated from Hockey Reference and manipulated by the author as described above).

Along with the bulk of the line, one can clearly identify the downward trend for both groups of skaters. Anomalies occur on the two extremes of age where we see individual performances from the likes of Connor McDavid and Jaromir Jagr, indicating well-above-average skill, at ages with few samples dominate the averages. That the B’s core skaters are still on the good side of this curve is a testament to their quality. Even the oft-maligned Krejci has proven to be the team’s best option on the 2nd line in the 1b role. As seen below, however, their implied effectiveness is slowing down.

Everyone understands the physical beating that Chara, Krejci, and Bergeron have taken in support of the organization’s success. Brad Marchand will only follow that script as he accumulates more years, games and negative attention from opposing defenses. Expected goals for is not an end-all, be-all number, there are other reasons Jagr is no longer in the League, but it is a solid indicator of a player’s contribution to the team. This regressive trend punctuates the point that if the team is going to win with these players, this year might as well be their year.

Bruins Thin on the Wings

Beyond players named David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand who comprise 66% of the highly touted top line, the team’s biggest weakness it on the wing. This weakness is of the physical variety and in terms of their underlying performance. Much has been made about the Bruins’ apparent lack of size against opponents like the Washington Capitals, the Tampa Bay Lightning and last year’s Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues. The places where that differential is most important though is exactly where you need your wingers to spend most of their time: the corners of the offensive zone and around the opposing netminder’s crease. Heinen isn’t terrible at controlling the puck in those tight spaces and Bjork’s board play has improved by leaps and bounds, but in reality, physical size is still a variable that needs to be considered in a high octane contact sport. Here we see how the Bruins’ wingers compare to the teams of the Eastern Conference that are either in or in striking distance from a playoff position by team average (excluding goaltenders) and then the average of their defensive players.

No question, the Bruins wingers are at a size disadvantage, particularly when considering the opposing teams’ defensive players. Boston’s presented figure is actually lifted by the inclusion of Sean Kuraly who ordinarily plays center but his found himself on the wing for parts of this season. It isn’t enough to have a willingness to go to the net or engage in battles; one must possess that tenacity but also the physical traits that will prevent the player from being shucked off of the puck or out of inside position. The big prize of the deadline, Kreider will add physical size and not sacrifice much if not anything in regards to foot speed. Palmieri might not swing the numbers on size but he provides excellent offensive prowess and aside from the top line wingers, the Bruins lack impact forwards that don’t man the middle of the ice.

Boston’s wingers, broadly sport poor possession metrics, indicated by their Fenwick-For Relative, which is a measure of how a player impacts unblocked shots. Outside of Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, only three wingers that have played at least 25 games (outside of Karson Kuhlman who was on the shelf for most of the first half of the season) are influencing the flow of play in a positive manner and all of those forwards have a metric below one suggesting they do not have much of an impact. The average for that group in the 2019 – 2020 season is -1.9 against the average for all forwards on those same playoff teams of .3. Against wingers on that group of teams over the same time period, the average Fenwick-For Relative is .1. Less to be sure, but by and large, all of the forwards on teams in the East expected to make noise are having a positive impact on possession or at least, not a negative one.

Here again, the addition of both Kreider and Palmieri immediately addresses the need for wingers that help control play. They sport sterling possession metrics across the board and would lift the team’s ability to control play on both wings. If management is going to subject poor David Krejci to a revolving door of line-mates, they might as well keep that portal twirling and stick these two above average, in-their-prime players in there and hope for some magic. Don’t care for “fancy stats?” Well, Kreider would immediately rank 4th in points on the team while Palmieri would be 5th. They would bring a collective 45 goals on the season with little to suggest their production will slow down on a superior team headed to the playoffs.

Little Evidence that the D-Corps Needs an Upgrade

The Bruin’s defense has been one of the most under-sung successes of the year. In some ways, like goals-against average, defensive metrics can be a team stat incorporating efforts from the forwards and goalies in addition to the blue-liners. Regardless, the Bruins sport one of the best-expected goals-against metrics in the League and the 3rd best actual vs expected goals against differential, behind Colorado and Tampa Bay. Torey Krug is still one of the premier power-play quarterbacks, Charlie McAvoy has started to find twine, Brandon Carlo is reminding all who really follow the team that he isn’t some 3rd rate talent behind the B’s 14th overall pick in 2016 and the rest of the cast is providing great support both on five on five and on special teams. Furthermore, options on the trade market are dwindling as Marco Scandella and Brenden Dillion have both moved from selling teams to contenders.

In an ideal world, the Bruins would acquire a depth option to add to the top-6 defenders that would address some size concerns and perhaps take some pressure off of Chara and Carlo on the PK. This is not an ideal world however and there are other teams seeking to do the same. In such a case the Bruins management ought to focus on the primary roster weaknesses addressed above

Five on Five Scoring wins Championships

Gone are the days when B’s fans could tout that their team was “built for the playoffs.” This current roster relies far too heavily on the power-play to get into the win column and love it or hate it, the way that referees interpret the rules in the playoffs changes. Fewer penalties are called, period. One only needs to look at the Bruins’ game seven defeat in 2019 against the St. Louis Blues. The only penalty called was a mandatory puck-over-glass delay of game against Colton Parayko. Although there was plenty of physicality, clutching and grabbing the rest of the game, only the Blues managed to score the meaningful even-strength goals.

In order to accomplish that, you need a top-six set of forwards that will force opposing teams to make choices instead of shutting down one troika for the duration of even-strength play in the playoffs. Providing Krejci not one, but two, real offensive threats that will get to the danger areas and use speed and tenacity to provide him time and space is imperative to forcing hard decisions on even strength coverage. The positive impact on Krejci’s line alone would sure up the third line that has been relatively weak when compared to seasons between 2010 and 2013 where versatile options like Michael Ryder, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly, among others, combined to create fantastic checking lines with the ability to chip in on the score sheet. One of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak or Patrice Bergeron may win the Conn Smythe, but one player (or even all three) will not win the Stanley Cup.

If the Bruins are to return to the Cup Final for a second consecutive year, they must realize that they will face tougher competition than the year prior and ensure that they add reinforcements that will truly address their roster weaknesses. With salary cap uncertainty, flexibility will remain of the utmost importance so a rental option is likely to be considered. The core of the group is certainly deep into their back nine in terms of both time under contract and ineffectiveness. Their defense, while flawed in some ways, is the envy of all but perhaps 5 teams in the entire league and they are bolstered by proven, above-average goaltending. With all of these things considered, the B’s should go all-in on Chris Kreider and Kyle Palmieri (or someone who is available and similar) to address their weaknesses with conviction.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins Place Forward Brett Ritchie on Waivers

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nbcsports.com)

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

According to insider Elliotte Friedman, the Boston Bruins have placed forward Brett Ritchie on waivers with purpose of assignment to the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. This comes one day after Ritchie played 10:27 over 14 shifts in Boston’s 3-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on the road.

Last offseason, the Boston Bruins signed Ritchie to a one-year contract that will pay him $1 million for the 2019-2020 campaign. Prior to signing with the Bruins, the 26-year-old forward played 241 career regular-season games with the Dallas Stars. Highlighted by his 2016-17 season where he put up 16-8-24 numbers in 78 games played, Ritchie finished his five-year tenure in Dallas with 33-21-54 totals.

The Orangeville, Ontario, Canada native scored four goals and two assists for six points in 53 games during the 2018-19 season, but when his contract expired, the Stars opted to let him walk, allowing the Bruins to sign him in free agency. Boston did not have the available cap space to sign some of the more well-known free agents, so the organization settled on depth players with Ritchie being one of those players.

Ritchie scored the first goal of the 2019-2020 season for the Boston Bruins, half of his entire goal output in 27 games skated for the Black and Gold. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has tried Ritchie all over the place, seeing minutes with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci on the second-line, to minutes on the third and fourth lines as well. Unfortunately for him and the Bruins organization, he has not been able to find his game offensively whatsoever.

Now, if Ritchie does indeed clear waivers, he will report to the AHL’s Providence Bruins, who are third in the Atlantic Division with a 22-15-1 record through the first 40 games of the season. In the case that Ritchie joins Providence, his $1 million salary will still be on the bill for the Boston Bruins, where as if he is claimed, he is off the books and no longer apart of the B’s at all.

The big question with this transaction is what it means for a possible future transaction. With the injury of goaltender Tuukka Rask last night in Columbus and the recent losses on their record, changes were expected and predicted – this just brings up that question about what exactly this new change will be. Within the next 24 hours, we will know the next stages of Brett Ritchie’s future with the Boston Bruins.

For the latest breaking news, updates, and injury reports – make sure to check back to blackngoldhockey.com and give all of the excellent writers a follow on Twitter including myself (@tkdmaxbjj).

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Report: Bruins Interested In University Of Minnesota-Duluth Defenseman

( Photo Credit: UMD Athletics / umdbulldogs.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Per Anthony Kwetkowski of @BruinsNetwork on Twitter and host of the Bruins Network Podcast Show is reporting that the Boston Bruins are interested in the University of Minnesota-Duluth defenseman Nick Wolff. The Eagan, Minnesota native is a 6′-5″ 230-pound blueliner and is currently in his senior year with his Bulldogs club. A big rugged blueliner like himself is certainly going to garner serious attention in the spring of 2020 from many NHL General Managers that will be circling above like vultures as soon as NCAA commitments are through. In Mr. Kwetkowski’s tweet below it sounds like Bruins GM Don Sweeney is getting ahead of the game.

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As mentioned above, Sweeney took part in a scouting mission to Merrimack College as the Bulldogs club was at Lawler Arena in North Andover, Massachusetts for non-conference games against the Warriors yesterday and today. The Bruins GM was already there to look at Bulldogs left-winger Quinn Olsen who was selected in the third round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft is having an up and down year in his freshman year in the state with 10,000 lakes learning the rigors of the collegiate playing lifestyle. With three points (1-2-3) in 14 games in his first season, the 18-year-old Calgary, Canada native looks to get back to the offensive production ways that saw him post 34-85-119 numbers in two seasons in the AJHL with the Okotoks Oilers.

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Now back to the article topic at hand talking about Nick Wolff. This isn’t the first time the Bruins were close enough to scout the 23-year-old defenseman as Wolff’s been in Boston as a development camp invite during the previous two beginning of summer events held at the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Massachusetts. This season with the Bulldogs thus far, Wolff has contributed four assists in 16 games and has 14-33-47 numbers in 139 career NCAA Division I games. Nick is a left shooting defenseman the Bruins depth doesn’t necessarily need with a plethora of available blueliners shooting from the same side but his size and aggressiveness as a shutdown defender on the backend always seem to find a way to the B’s organization.

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Wolff’s leadership is an attractive attribute that Sweeney and scouting staff might navigate to above other areas of his game that need to continue to develop at this time. He’s a two time back-to-back NCAA National Champion with the Bulldogs and even shared the same ice recently in raising the ultimate collegiate award with Bruins prospect Karson Kuhlman who was captain of the Bulldogs when they were the nation’s best during the 2017-18 campaign. Kuhlman was born in Esko, Minnesota north of where Wolff grew up which borders Duluth close to Lake Superior.

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This certainly bears watching as the NCAA Men’s Division I hockey season is in the middle of it’s regular season but ideas like these have worked in the past when Sweeney and staff are out looking to sign undrafted talent with high rewards and minimal risk. Some previous players that have seen this route taken from the Bruins organization are names such as, forwards Noel Acciari, Austin Czarnik, Frank Vatrano, and most recently defenseman Cooper Zech.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 160 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Report: Bruins Sign D Alex Petrovic To One-Year Deal

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(Photo Perry Nelson / USA TODAY Sports)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

UPDATE: The Bruins have officially announced the deal. You can read the official press release here as well as Max Mainville’s latest piece on the additional breaking news.

As reported by Matt Porter of The Boston Globe, the Bruins have signed veteran defenseman Alex Petrovic to a contract. According to CapFriendly.com, Petrovic’s deal is for one-year with a $700,000 NHL salary and a $375,000 minors salary; it is also a two-way contract. Boston has also reportedly waived the right-shot skater with the purpose of assigning him to Providence. If he clears waivers, he will report to P-Bruins training camp.

The Bruins invited Petrovic to training camp on a professional tryout (PTO) as an unrestricted free agent, and he has apparently performed well enough to earn a contract. The 27-year-old was drafted in the second round (36th-overall) by the Florida Panthers in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. In 254 NHL games with the Panthers, the veteran recorded 5-44-49 totals to go along with a minus-three rating and 348 penalty minutes.

Last season, the Edmonton, Alberta, native was dealt from the Panthers to his hometown team, the Oilers, in the middle of December. The 6-foot-4, 216-pound bruiser only suited up in nine games for Edmonton, due to both a concussion and lack of usage under former Oilers interim head coach Ken Hitchcock. In those nine games, Petrovic tallied an assist and two penalty minutes, registering a minus-seven rating as well.

The reported addition of Petrovic’s presence to the Bruins organization is another low-risk, depth signing by Don Sweeney and the Boston brass. He’ll bring another veteran presence to a young, developing Providence Bruins team and will likely be a fine injury replacement if Boston needs him in a pinch.

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

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

Bruins Report: Contract Discussions With Carlo, McAvoy Are “Stalled”

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)

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

According to an article by NHL.com writer Mike Battalingo, Boston’s contract discussions involving restricted free-agent defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo “remain stalled” in the latest update.

The two defensemen have been the biggest talking points of the Bruins offseason, especially in the fanbase as both play a crucial role on the blueline of the defending Eastern Conference Champions. In an interview with BostonBruins.com, General Manager Don Sweeney gave some light to a topic largely filled with darkness in terms of details released on contract negotiations.

“But that’s just the nature of the business, and every negotiation has its own timeline,” Sweeney told the Bruins website Thursday. “We’ll find a finish line at some point in time, Brandon and Charlie will be part of our organization for a long time. We think really highly of them as players on and off the ice, we just have to find a common ground and we’re working to get there.” (quote was taken from NHL.com)

Following their Stanley Cup Finals run that ended just one game short of winning it all, the Bruins knew that the offseason was going to be an important one regarding the extensions of key RFAs in the system. On July 9th, GM Don Sweeney managed to lock up forward Danton Heinen to a two-year, $5.6 million contract ($2.8 million AAV), leaving only Carlo and McAvoy left to prioritize.

Charlie McAvoy was the 14th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Bruins and has since become a top-two defenceman alongside captain Zdeno Chara. McAvoy started his NHL career in the 2017-18 campaign, recording 7-25-32 numbers in 63 games played that season with another five points in 12 playoff games.

This past season, injuries kept McAvoy down to 54 regular-season games but the 21-year-old defender still managed to match a career-high in goals with seven to go along with his 21 assists to finish the season with 28 points. Charlie also led the entire Bruins roster in time on ice, averaging 22:10 over the course of the 2018-19 campaign. McAvoy added 2-6-8 totals in the 23 Stanley Cup Playoff games, playing a key role in the success the team found down the stretch.

Brandon Carlo is not as offensive as McAvoy, but he brings the type of defensive play that is needed in front of your goaltender. The 6-foot-5, 212-pound Carlo had the most hits among defenceman in 2018-2019 and was fourth on the team with 134 recorded hits. According to Hockey Reference, Carlo ended the season with 42 takeaways and 41 giveaways, a large improvement from the year prior. Improvements like that will only continue year-to-year.

The Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA native set a new career-high in minutes per game, averaging 20:55 on the ice in 72 games played. In addition, Carlo played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in his young career due to untimely injuries that forced him out of the past two postseasons.

Sweeney went on to say that negotiations with both players are “not as fast as everybody would like”, but failed to provide any insight on the likelihood of the duo joining the rest of the roster for the official Boston Bruins Training Camp next month. Earlier in August, Boston offered a professional tryout contract to defenceman Alex Petrovic in the event that Carlo and McAvoy are absent from the camp.

Should fans of the Bruins be worried? Not yet. Sweeney made it clear that the organization wants the pair of blueliners to wear the Spoked-B on their chest for the long-term and he showed a level of confidence that the two will eventually be signed so there is no need to worry and stress, yet.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 141 that we recorded on 8-18-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Why The Bruins Can’t Afford To Mess Up The Torey Krug Situation

Torey Krug Boston Bruins

(Photo Credit: (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports))

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

It’s no secret that Torey Krug’s role on the Bruins is a pretty vital one. Being the power-play quarterback, top scorer from the back end, and a high-energy player, Krug is tasked with quite a bit.

One of the main storylines this offseason has been what to do with Torey Krug down the road, as he is set to hit unrestricted free agency next July. Whatever ends up happening, it needs to be executed a certain way, in my eyes. Things could end up panning out a few different ways.

The ideal solution: A long-term deal

Ideally, the necessary moves and negotiations are made to accommodate Krug. While ideal, it won’t be easy. Krug’s stock continues to trend upwards as time passes by due to his consistency. His stock as a free agent has never been higher after another great regular season and a stellar playoff run.

His 53 points in the regular season and 18 in the playoffs were best on the team amongst defensemen. While points aren’t everything when it comes to evaluating defensemen, they certainly don’t blemish a player’s image.

For an undersized defenseman, Krug proved this year that his size won’t affect his ability to be an effective defenseman in his own zone and in the physical aspect of the game. He also continued to show why he is one of the most effective power-play quarterbacks in the entire league, amongst a great first power-play unit that included David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Bergeron.

Additionally, Krug further established excellent chemistry with Brandon Carlo. Their differing styles actually complement one another very well. Carlo often cleans things up defensively, as that’s where his expertise lies, allowing Krug to effectively carry the puck and create offense. Having that comfortability and chemistry is huge for Carlo, and vice versa, as he is still developing into a shutdown defenseman at 22-years-old.

When it comes to comparables, CapFriendly has a great tool for drawing contract comparables on their website. Some of the contracts they list as comparables to Krug are Tyson Barrie ($5.5M AAV), Jared Spurgeon ($5,187,500 AAV), and Matt Dumba ($6M AAV).

While I think Krug will make north of $6 million per year in his next deal, whatever the exact amount may be, these are potential starting points for contract comparables that could come up in future contract negotiations to stay in Boston.

With things very much up in the air right now surrounding how much Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo will make, proper accommodations need to be made to make Krug’s next contract fit under the cap. Not only will however much Carlo and McAvoy make factor into the cap, Matt Grzelcyk, Jake DeBrusk Chris Wagner, Joakim Nordstrom, Charlie Coyle, Brett Ritchie, Zdeno Chara, and Kevan Miller will all be looking for new deals next summer.

Don Sweeney has his work cut out for him in that department.

If you can’t keep him, trade him

Do everything you possibly can to keep Krug long-term, but if you can’t, you have to trade him if you’re Don Sweeney. If you don’t trade him in this case and lose him for nothing as a UFA, it’s bad mismanagement of assets.

A player of Krug’s caliber could fetch a large haul on the trade market. Whether a trade revolves around a top-six right-winger to play with David Krejci, or picks and prospects, a large haul could be obtained.

With Krug’s pending UFA status, it’s anyone’s guess as to what Sweeney could get in return for him. But as mentioned previously, in a perfect world, Sweeney doesn’t even have to seriously consider having to move on from a player of Krug’s caliber.

Where Does Lindholm Fit in Bruins Lineup?

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals

(Image Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)

By Carrie Salls | Find me on Twitter @nittgrl73

Not much has been said about Par Lindholm since the Bruins signed the 27-year-old Swedish forward to a two-year deal on July 1. Understandably, Bruins fans’ attention has been focused on whether, and how, the team can manage to sign restricted free agent defensemen Charlie McAvoy and/or Brandon Carlo to new contracts and less so on depth signings.

Lindholm, who can play both center and wing, was one of two unrestricted free agents signed by Boston general manager Don Sweeney when free agency began at the beginning of July. Fellow signee Brett Ritchie has been mentioned as a good candidate to fill a vacant bottom-six forward role, depending on how the Boston coaching staff elects to construct the lines. But, what about Lindholm’s potential role on the team?

Last season, Lindholm played 61 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs, contributing 11 assists and one goal and a plus-five rating in that time. He also played in four games for the Winnipeg Jets. He had one assist in his brief stint in Winnipeg.

From 2007 through the 2017-2018 season, Lindholm played in Sweden. His time there included time with junior teams, international play and the Swedish Hockey League. Lindholm’s career high in points came in his last season in Europe, when he potted 18 goals and 29 assists for a combined 47 points for Skelleftee AIK.

After just one season playing hockey in North America, it is fair to say Lindholm is still trying to translate his success in Europe to the National Hockey League. The Bruins will be his third team in an NHL career that is just over one-year long.

The $825,000 contract he signed with Boston indicates that Lindholm and the Bruins recognize that he is still a work in progress. The cap-friendly deal and scoring potential make him a good investment for the Bruins, if they can find a role for him.

It’s no secret that the Bruins already have one of the best fourth lines in the NHL. Sean Kuraly and Joakim Nordstrom are virtual locks to see regular playing time on that line. Unfortunately for Lindholm, there is already a healthy slate of veterans lining up to take a crack at the third slot on the energy line.

Chris Wagner, who played much of the 2018-2019 season on the fourth line, is the odds-on-favorite to reclaim the spot he shared with Noel Acciari, who signed with the Florida Panthers in July. Sweeney has indicated that David Backes may also see playing time on the fourth line, and, depending on the make-up of the third line, Ritchie could be in the mix as well. These projections do not even take into account the prospects looking to impress in the preseason and stick with the big club.

With so many options in Boston, Lindholm will likely face his fair share of competition in camp if he hopes to show the front office that he is worth of regular playing time. He does bring a few valuable weapons to the fight, as he is a left-shot center who is known for his penalty killing and defensive prowess and success at the face-off dot.

Despite the stiff competition, Lindholm seems to relish the chance to contribute. Whether he has what it takes to stand out above the rest in the competition to replace Acciari and Marcus Johannson remains to be seen.

Will Bruins Sign McAvoy or Carlo Before Camp?

NHL: Dallas Stars at Boston Bruins

(Photo credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

By Carrie Salls | Follow Me on Twitter @nittgrl73

August is upon us. With only about a month remaining until the players and coaches begin returning to Boston and training camp gets underway for the 2019-2020 season, the Bruins still have not signed key restricted free agents Charlie McAvoy or Brandon Carlo to new contracts. In fact, it doesn’t appear that team president Cam Neely and general manager Don Sweeney have done much at all since making a few unrestricted free agent signings on July 1, at least nothing that has been reported.

The first mention from team management about the status of talks with Carlo and McAvoy was not a particularly promising one, as vice president Cam Neely seemed to indicate Thursday that there is a chance that one or both of the blue liners may not be with the team at the beginning of camp.

Potential bridge deals aside, it stands to reason that the Bruins do not currently have enough cap space available to sign both young defensemen. A few other teams have found buyers for players who, like Boston forward David Backes, have expensive contracts but whose contributions to their teams have diminished. However, it appears the window may be closing, if it hasn’t already, on finding a team willing to take some or all of Backes’ contract off the Bruins’ hands.

There are a few issues that likely make moving Backes challenging, to say the least. One is that he has a no movement clause, so the Bruins would either have to make a deal with a team to which Backes has previously agreed or ask him to waive the clause. Teams may also be asking for a high draft pick to accompany the aging winger. After losing a first-round draft pick in the Rick Nash trade, general manager Don Sweeney understandably seems to be reluctant to go that route again. Boston also is not in a position to swap one expensive contract for another, like the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames did in their recent Milan Lucic for James Neal trade.

If freeing up space from Backes’ contract is not an option, it makes sense that the team would turn to a trade to find the money to come to terms with both McAvoy and Carlo. Potential trade pieces could include Torey Krug or David Krejci, most notably. Back-up goaltender Jaroslav Halak could also provide some cap relief if dealt, albeit not as much as Krug or Krejci.

Certainly none of these options are ideal for the Bruins. That, coupled with the team’s decided defensive depth, may be why Neely seems somewhat resigned to the reality that Carlo and McAvoy could start the season as holdouts.

The team has the most leverage in negotiating with McAvoy, as other teams cannot “offer sheet” the 21-year-old first-pairing defenseman. However, if McAvoy is looking at the contracts signed this summer by other young defensemen and asking the Bruins for most or all of the available cap space, that leaves the door open for Carlo to sign a potential offer sheet from another team.

The summer has been slow league-wide, with several bigger-name restricted free agents still un-signed. Offer sheets have also been in very short supply. So, it may not be just the Bruins who are taking their time in shoring up their rosters for the upcoming season.

It may be safe to assume at this point that neither player is willing to accept a bridge deal, especially given the going rate for future stars like McAvoy and Carlo. The Bruins front office definitely finds itself in a difficult position. The coming weeks will tell if a solution can be found.