Boston Bruins: Salary Cap Projections In Three Years

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

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

It has been a successful week for General Manager Don Sweeney and the rest of the Boston Bruins management staff. On Sunday, the Bruins re-signed RFA defenceman Charlie McAvoy to a three-year contract with an annual average salary (AAV) of $4.9 million and also managed to lock up the other RFA defender – Brandon Carlo – to a two-year contract worth $2.85 million per season.

Throughout the league, the Bruins are being praised for their “genius” work to re-sign both of these future franchise defensemen while keeping forward David Backes and not making any other trades to free up cap space and rightly so. I was one of the people who was convinced that Boston would be forced to ship out a body in order to make room for both players. Evidently, Sweeney knew he could sign both without making other adjustments and he proved it.

However, things might not seem so perfect after taking a further glance. In the lead-up to the signings, it was made clear that Charlie McAvoy wanted to stay in Boston for the long-term and it was clear that the organization felt the same way. In that case, many imagined that when the details of the contract would be released, it would lock up the 21-year-old for the next seven or even eight years.

Due to the fact that people assumed the length of McAvoy’s deal, it was expected for Carlo to have a shorter, bridge-type deal because of the lack of cap space available to spend on Carlo. In a perfect world, Boston would have traded David Backes and signed both Carlo and McAvoy to contracts with long terms to solidify the defensive core for years to come.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and in some cases, we have to be thankful and settle for what we do have. As we look ahead for the 2019-2020 NHL season, the Boston Bruins have a true chance to contend again for the Stanley Cup or at the very least, contend in the Eastern Conference. Regardless, it is good to keep an open mind on the future and the next half-decade for Boston could be a stressful one.

2020 Expiring Contracts:

Forwards:

  • F Charlie Coyle (UFA)
  • F Jake DeBrusk (RFA)
  • F Karson Kuhlman (RFA)
  • F Chris Wagner (UFA)
  • F Joakim Nordstrom (UFA)
  • F Brett Ritchie (RFA)
  • F Anders Bjork (RFA)
  • F Zach Senyshyn (RFA)
  • F Ryan Fitzgerald (RFA)
  • F Brendan Gaunce (RFA)
  • F Peter Cehlarik (RFA)

Defensemen:

  • D Torey Krug (UFA)
  • D Kevan Miller (UFA)
  • D Zdeno Chara (UFA)
  • D Matt Grzelcyk (RFA)
  • D Jakub Zboril (RFA)
  • D Wiley Sherman (RFA)
  • D Jeremy Lauzon (RFA)

Goaltenders:

  • G Jaroslav Halak (UFA)
  • G Daniel Vladar (RFA)
  • G Maxime Legacé (UFA)

If you thought that this past off-season was hectic and stressful, just wait for the stress a year from now. The Bruins will have big-name players such as Torey Krug, Jake DeBrusk, Jaroslav Halak, and Charlie Coyle that will have an expiring contract. According to CapFriendly, the Bruins are projected to have $25,158,334 in available cap space for the 2020 offseason, so it is inevitable that players will have to be let go – whether it is in a trade or just leaving on July 1st.

However, there are a few players that I’d imagine are guaranteed to return to Boston – forward Jake DeBrusk, defenceman Matt Grzelcyk, forward Karson Kuhlman, forward Anders Bjork, defenceman Jeremy Lauzon, and forward Zach Senyshyn. The remaining players are up in the air and their performance and/or development in the 2019-20 campaign will prove their worth.

Sticking to NHL roster, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller, Zdeno Chara, Charlie Coyle, and Jaroslav Halak are the biggest pieces that are question marks for me. In regards to the captain, Zdeno Chara, his decision on whether or not he wants to continue playing hockey is still up in the air. When his current deal expires this July, he will be 43 years of age.

Kevan Miller has dealt with numerous injuries and with the rising defensive prospects, I don’t see him returning. Charlie Coyle was great in the playoffs last season, but a full year wearing the Spoked-B sweater will really show what he is worth contract-wise. Jaroslav Halak is a big piece, but same thing with Coyle, this season will show what he can demand in the negotiations. Finally, Torey Krug could be a player for trade bait, but he brings a high-level of play to Boston’s defense and it is likely that he returns.

For Chris Wagner, Joakim Nordstrom, and Brett Ritchie – I personally don’t see them re-signing with the organization mainly due to the plethora of talent in the AHL that Boston can use to fill those bottom-six roles.

2021 Expiring Contracts:

Forwards:

  • F David Krejci (UFA)
  • F David Backes (UFA)
  • F Danton Heinen (RFA)
  • F Sean Kuraly (UFA)
  • F Par Lindholm (UFA)
  • F Trent Frederic (RFA)
  • F Cameron Hughes (RFA)
  • F Anton Blidh (RFA)
  • F Paul Carey (UFA)

Defensemen:

  • D Brandon Carlo (RFA)
  • D Steven Kampfer (UFA)

Goaltenders:

  • G Tuukka Rask (UFA)

After the Bruins make some difficult decisions in the 2020 offseason, the 2021 offseason proves to be one of the biggest in a long time for the organization. Core players such as David Krejci, Brandon Carlo, and superstar goaltender Tuukka Rask have expiring deals. However, the Bruins will be free of $6 million due to David Backes’ contract and the likely departure of Steven Kampfer, Paul Carey, and Par Lindholm.

I’d imagine that Krejci and Rask take a decrease in pay when they negotiate a new deal, as both will be in their mid-30s at the end of the 2020-2021 season, (Krejci – 35, Rask – 34). That saved salary will likely be thrown right back into Brandon Carlo’s deal which will hopefully be a longer contract in comparison to the two-year deal that he recently agreed to.

It’ll also depend largely on the success of the young players like Danton Heinen, Trent Frederic, Anton Blidh, and Cameron Hughes – but I don’t see any of them earning a large deal with only Heinen in my eyes making more than $1.5 million.

2022 Expiring Contracts:

Forwards:

  • F Patrice Bergeron (UFA)
  • F Pavel Shen (RFA)
  • F Oskar Steen (RFA)
  • F Jakub Lauko (RFA)
  • F Jack Studnicka (RFA)

Defensemen:

  • D Charlie McAvoy (RFA)
  • D Urho Vaakanainen (RFA)
  • D Axel Andersson (RFA)

Goaltenders:

  • G Kyle Keyser (RFA)

The list takes a dramatic decrease in the number of players and that is a result of all the short-term deals or the longer deals that are nearing the conclusion. At this point, it is nearly impossible to predict the numbers and the results, especially because of all the restricted free-agents in this class. Everyone but Patrice Bergeron and Charlie McAvoy have something big to prove if they want that NHL contract. I expect everyone to sign in this free-agent class, but who really knows.

Another thing to note is that at this point, previous players on the list could be expiring this year too due to the possibility of one or two-year deals signed as well as free-agents and acquisitions in trades.

Players Extended Past 2022:

Forwards:

  • F Brad Marchand (2025-26)
  • F David Pastrnak (2023-24)

Defensemen:

  • D John Moore (2023-24)
  • D Connor Clifton (2023-24)

With only four players signed past 2022, the Boston Bruins franchise as we know it will be completely different. Retirements, departures and arrivals are going to be surrounding the management team and for Don Sweeney, his job will be the most difficult as it ever has been. These next three years will prove how good of a General Manager he is.

A lot of this will also come down to the players. Now is the time to prove yourself for that contract – big or small. If you want to remain a member of the Boston Bruins and skate on that TD Garden ice with the historic Spoked-B on your chest, this is your moment. No pressure.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 145 that we recorded on 9-15-19 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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Report: Bruins, Charlie McAvoy Contract Talks To “Heat Up” In Coming Days

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PHOTO CREDITS: (JANA CHYTILOVA/GETTY IMAGES AND BOSTON BRUINS)

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

Earlier today, the Columbus Blue Jackets re-signed restricted free-agent defenceman Zach Werenski to a three-year contract worth $5 million per season.

Werenski was regarded as one of the top defensive RFAs on the available market and now that he has officially agreed to re-up his deal with the Blue Jackets, the other teams across the NHL with young blueliners on expiring contracts will be looking to compare their players to Werenski.

Not long after the news broke, TSN’s Bob McKenzie tweeted that both the Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Bruins will heat up talks with their RFA defenders – Ivan Provorov and Charlie McAvoy, even more so with training camp beginning later this week.

We are all aware of the current situation with Charlie McAvoy and the contract negotiations that have been going down this off-season. The problem is that the two parties have not engaged in as many talks as some wish. It has been made clear in several interviews and press releases that McAvoy loves it in Boston and truly wants it to be his home for the long-term future. Bruins management has made it quite clear that they ultimately share the same feelings and they feel a deal will happen eventually, even if talks are “stalled”.

The 22-year-old Werenski was the eighth-overall draft pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the Blue Jackets and has since scored 38-90-128 numbers in 237 career NHL games with Columbus including six points (1 goal, 5 assists), in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In 2018-19, the Grosse Pointe, Michigan native scored 11 goals and 33 assists for 44 points in 82 games played, but finished with his career-worst -12 plus/minus rating.

Charlie McAvoy has not played in nearly as many games as Werenski, even though the two players are less than five months apart in age. The reason – injuries has slowed down the production of McAvoy, but even still, has become a top-two defenseman for the Bruins and will likely hold that position for years to come. McAvoy scored 7-21-28 totals in only 54 games in ’18/’19, but averaged 22:10 of time-on-ice and a remarkable 24:30 TOI during the four-round playoff season.

Bob McKenzie also mentioned how the current narrative is a long-term contract is likely for the 21-year-old McAvoy due to his praise for Boston and the Bruins organization – with the trip to the Stanley Cup Finals being a big reason for that. As of this moment, we have no word on annual salary or years, but expect news this week regarding the future franchise defenseman.

For all Boston Bruins reports, breaking news, and updates, make sure to check on the Black N’ Gold Hockey website where all of our brilliant writers aim to get the news out for your eyes as soon as we hear of it.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 144 that we recorded on 9-8-19 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 Link To Our YouTube Channel!

Boston Bruins: The Future After Goaltender Tuukka Rask

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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

Without a doubt in anyone’s mind, the role of a goaltender is one of the most crucial positions in all of hockey. In most, if not all cases, the goaltender is the cornerstone to Stanley Cup Champions over a large majority of the NHL’s 102-year history and it continues to be evident even today.

On January 2nd, 2019, the St. Louis Blues were dead-last in the league’s overall standings but clawed their way back to not only make the playoffs, win a series, but defeat the Boston Bruins in a seven-game series to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history. A lot of players had fantastic seasons as well as the emergence of then-interim Head Coach Craig Berube but most people will credit the Blues’ success to rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington.

Teams can look great and perform great but can come to a halt if their starting netminder fails to match the performance that he had the season prior. This was evident for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 Edmonton Oilers. Superstar Connor McDavid led the Oilers to their first playoff berth in ten seasons and even brought them to the second round only to miss the playoffs altogether in the two seasons that followed. The reason? Cam Talbot failed to play to the consistency that he had during the ’16/’17 campaign and the Oilers continue the struggle to find that number one goalie.

In Boston, the goaltending scene has been controlled by Tuukka Rask since Boston’s last Stanley Cup win in 2011 and rightly so. At 32 years of age, Rask already holds numerous franchise records during his time with the Bruins. The Finnish netminder has the most games played as a goalie (495), most wins (265), and most career saves (12,607) and sits second in best goals-against-average (2.28) and tied for first with Tim Thomas for save percentage (.921%).

Tuukka Rask won the Vezina Trophy in the 2013-14 season which is awarded to the goaltender who is “adjudged to be the best at this position” and has led the Bruins to two Stanley Cup Finals appearances (2013, 2019), but has yet to hoist the Stanley Cup as the definite starting goaltender, (he did win the Cup as the backup to T. Thomas in ’11) – an accomplishment that still eludes him to this day.

As previously stated, Tuukka Rask recently turned 32, meaning his time as an elite player in this league could very well be running out. The goaltender position can stay in their prime for longer than a forward or defenceman, but they still have a moment in time in their career where they slow down. For the Bruins, now is the time to look ahead past Tuukka Rask when those days come around.

For the sake of looking at the future, I will not mention backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak for the sole reason that he is 34-years-old. In addition, the following goalies are in no particular order, just randomly listed below.

Daniel Vladar – 21yrs – 6’5″, 185lbs – 2015 3rd Round Pick (75th overall)

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Alan Sullivan Photography)

Daniel Vladar is a big goaltender with his large 6-foot-5, 185-pound frame in the blue crease. Vladar was drafted by the Bruins back in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, selected in the third round, 75th overall. In the year after his draft, (2015-16), Vladar had a decent year in the USHL with the Chicago Steel, finishing with a 12-12-4 record, but boasted a 2.30 GAA and a .920 save percentage including three shutouts.

The season was enough for management to give him some time in the AHL with the Providence Bruins, where he played in eight games during the 2016-17 campaign, ending the year with .921 save percentage and a 2.62 goals-against-average. In the same season, Vladar spent time in the ECHL with the Atlanta Gladiators, where his numbers were much less impressive.

Most recently, Vladar played in 31 games for the Providence Bruins, ending the season with a 13-17-1 record, a 2.73 GAA and a .898 SV%. At 21 years of age, Vladar has work to do in order to become an NHL starting goaltender once Rask is finished, but right now, he will continue to develop with the P-Bruins. One thing to look out for is the fact that Vladar will most likely get more time in the starting role for the 2019-20 season due to the departure of Zane McIntyre, who split starts last year with Vladar. This is a big year for his future development.

Kyle Keyser – 20yrs – 6’2″, 179lbs – Undrafted

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

In my opinion, Kyle Keyser is the best goaltending prospect within the Boston Bruins system – and he was not a selected player in the NHL Entry Draft. In fact, in October 2017, the 20-year-old netminder was signed to a three-year entry-level contract by the Black n’ Gold and according to CapFriendly, that deal expires at the end of the 2021-22 season.

For the past two full seasons, the Coral Springs, Florida native has played for the Oshawa Generals in the Ontario Hockey League. It has been his play with the Generals that has earned him a title of being one of the top prospects. Going back to the 2017-18 campaign, Keyser finished with a record of 28-13-2 along with a 3.16 GAA and a .904 SV%.

It was a solid season, but somehow, the young goalie managed to improve even more in this past season. In 47 games played for Oshawa, Keyser finished the year with an outstanding 32-8-3 record with a 2.75 goals-against-average and a .915 save percentage. Keyser was also named to the United States under-20 World Juniors, where his team won the silver medal even though he only played in two games.

The 2019-20 season is up in the air regarding where Keyser will play. It is possible that he gets time in the AHL with Providence, but with the addition of Maxime Legacé and Daniel Vladar most likely already getting a bulk of the starting minutes, Keyser may end up playing in the ECHL with the Atlanta Gladiators. Keep an eye out for his progression this season.

Jeremy Swayman – 20yrs – 6’2″, 187lbs – 2017 4th Round Pick (111th Overall)

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PHOTO CREDITS: (boston.cbslocal.com)

As of right now, Jeremy Swayman is not currently signed to a contract with the Bruins organization since being drafted in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in the fourth round. According to CapFriendly, Swayman is on the Bruins’ reserve list and his exclusive rights are with Boston up until August 15th, 2021.

The Anchorage, Alaska, USA native has spent each of the last two seasons with the University of Maine Black Bears where he started in 35 games this past season, finishing the year with a .919 save percentage and a 2.77 GAA, a continuation of his solid 2017-2018 campaign. Below is a quote from Chris Mazza of Dobber Prospects on in March of 2019 regarding Jeremy Swayman.

“Swayman was a workhorse for the University of Maine in his sophomore season, starting 35 games while posting a save percentage of .919 and a GAA of 2.77. His numbers remained in line with his dominant freshman year, and further cement the notion that the Bruins found a gem in the fourth round of the 2017 draft. He was named Third Team All-Conference for his efforts and was recognized by a leader by his coach. He should return to college for at least one more year before Boston likely signs him to his first pro deal.” – Chris Mazza

As mentioned with the goaltenders already covered above, the Bruins have quite a few goalies in the system battling for spots. However, at the end of this upcoming season, both Vladar (RFA) and Legacé (UFA) will no longer have a contract. If one or both of those players fail to meet the expectations and Swayman has yet another good year with the Black Bears, I would assume that a contract would be offered to the young prospect.

Maxime Legacé – 26yrs – 6’2″, 190lbs – Undrafted

While writing this piece, I contemplated the idea of adding in Legacé due to the fact that he is 26 years of age, but I ultimately decided to throw him in regardless. For argument sake, Legacé is not considered a prospect, just another goaltender in the system. Maxime was signed by Boston on the first day of Free Agency to a one-year contract worth $700,000. Legacé was originally signed to an entry-level deal by the Dallas Stars in the 2012 offseason but never played a game with the Stars in his three years within the organization.

On July 1st, 2017, Legacé signed a contract with the Vegas Golden Knights, starting the year with the Chicago Wolves in the American Hockey League. The 26-year-old goalie had a record of 14-5-1 with a GAA of 2.84 and a save percentage of .905% before being called up to the Golden Knights due to injuries to Marc-Andre Fleury, Malcolm Subban, and Oskar Dansk.

The Saint-Augustin, Quebec, Canada native played a total of thirteen games with Vegas, ending the year with a 6-7-1 record, 3.91 goals-against-average and .867 save percentage before being sent back down to Chicago. Legacé had decent stretch with the Wolves after that, recording a .914 SV%, 2.43 GAA, and a 16-16-2 record.

The signing likely means that Legacé will get time with the Providence Bruins behind Daniel Vladar. Due to the fact that the deal is only for a single season, it may also be used so fellow prospects Kyle Keyser and Jeremy Swayman improved their games in other organizations across North America.

Out of these four goaltenders, it is not guaranteed that any of them will ever be ready to not only be a starting goalie in this league, but a Stanley Cup contending goalie, but there are options running down the pipeline. As of this moment, it will all come down to proper development from the coaching staff of the Bruins organization and the other organizations that these players currently play in.

Who appears to be the most promising? Let me know via Twitter @tkdmaxbjj .

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.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE For Link To Our YouTube Channel! 

Richardson: Ideal Bruins Lineup On Opening Night: Version One

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(Photo Courtesy of Winslow Townson / USA TODAY Sports)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Earlier this week fellow Black N’ Gold writer Mike Cratty had the idea to give out his ideal lineup Opening Night. He then posed the question to the rest of us and it’s turned into a nice series. Other Black N’ Gold writers Garrett Hayden, Max Mainville, and Yanni Latzanakis have followed suit giving their lineups. I have linked their respective articles at the end of this one so you can check them out if you have not yet.

First Line: Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

I am starting out pretty standard here with the Boston Bruins top line. When all three players are healthy this is one of the best lines in the entire league. While keeping this trio together seems obvious, there has been some debate amongst fans whether Boston should or not. This is because at times during this past season Pastrnak has been moved down to the second line with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci.

David Pastrnak is arguably the most important player on the Bruins offense. In the past, I have been an advocate for moving him down to the second line. My reason for this was that I felt the team needed to spread the wealth and scoring between lines. However, the simple fact is the chemistry this trio has on the ice is unmatched by any line in the NHL. Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak set the offensive tone for the team and produce too much to break-up.

Second Line: DeBrusk – Krejci – Coyle

The second line right-wing has been a position that the Bruins have been looking to fill for a few years now. Despite the carousel of players that have played on the right-wing, both DeBrusk and Krejci have produced at high levels. My solution is one that may be outside the box but I think Charlie Coyle is the answer to fix the right-wing. Coyle was acquired by the Bruins before the trade deadline last season in a deal that sent Ryan Donato to the Minnesota Wild.

Since then, he played excellently for our boys in black and gold especially during their run to the Stanley Cup Final. Adding him to the top six will strengthen it tenfold. DeBrusk and Krejci are locked into their position on the second line. Krejci, finally fully healthy had one of his best seasons in a long time. DeBrusk has proven to be very good in his first two seasons with Boston. Despite a less than stellar postseason that due in part to a concussion sustained in the first round, I fully expect him to bounce back and have a great 2019-2020 campaign. These line combinations would give the Bruins one of the best top six’s in the NHL.

Third Line: Heinen – Studnicka – Senyshyn

I know that some of you may think that I am absolutely insane for saying this. However, this line has the potential to be very good. Jack Studnicka is one of the Bruins top offensive prospects even though he’s only 20 years old. In 60 games in the OHL last season, he netted 36 goals and dished out 47 assists for 83 total points. He also played in Providence’s four playoff games netting one goal and dishing one assist for two points. He has the potential to be very good for Boston, and I think he takes a big step forward this year.

Zach Senyshyn is another guy who is debated a lot amongst fans. He’s spent two full years in Providence and some people are ready to call him a bust. I am not one of those people. I think the young speedster could make a huge impact on the Bruins this season. He has a ton of scoring ability (114-63-177 in 195 games in the OHL) while that hasn’t quite translated into the AHL or NHL yet, I think it will. He was able to get in two games with the big club last season and he looked good scoring a goal in one of the games. His speed combined with Studnicka’s ability could be lethal for Boston. Heinen was recently re-signed to a two year deal with Boston. He’s one of their best defensive forwards and he would pair nicely with this young line.

Fourth Line: Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

This fourth line has the potential to be one of the best in the NHL. Joakim Nordstrom proved to be extremely valuable especially during their deep playoff run. He’s very good defensively, while also providing some offense when the opportunity presents itself. Sean Kuraly is one of my favorite current players. He had an excellent regular season and when he came back from injury in the playoffs, it was a spark the Bruins needed. He’s tenacious and a really good hockey player. He will be the one that makes this line go.

Chris Wagner’s production was a welcomed surprise for Bruins fans this past season. He also played well in the playoffs, but an injury cut his postseason short. He’s another guy who is always around the puck creating opportunities for Boston. As I said earlier, this line has the potential to be the best fourth line in hockey. They grind the opponents down and are quick to capitalize on any mistakes made by their opposition.

Extra Forwards: Lindholm – Ritchie

Par Lindholm and Brett Ritchie were both signed once free agency opened earlier this month. Lindholm will provide good depth off the bench in case of injury. He has some decent offensively ability and can also play on the penalty kill which may end up being important this season. Brett Ritchie will likely provide some size for the lineup if it is needed throughout the season. At 6’4″ and 220 pounds he’s a big body that can throw a hit or two across the ice.

First Pairing: Chara – McAvoy

This is another one of those no brainers in the Bruins lineup. Zdeno Chara has been the number one defenseman and captain for over a decade. Even at the age of 42, the native Slovakian provides top-line minutes and ability. McAvoy, on the other hand, is the future number one defenseman for the Bruins. You could even argue that the way he played in the playoffs, that the torch has been passed and the Long Beach native is already the number one guy. Either way, this will without a doubt be the top pairing.

Second Pairing: Krug – Carlo

This is a perfect second pairing for the Boston Bruins. Brandon Carlo has been very good for the Bruins in his first three years as a true defensive defenseman. The Colorado Springs native really proved himself during his first taste of the playoffs. He was excellent and played a pivotal role in getting Boston to the Stanley Cup Final. Krug, on the other hand, is one of the better offensive-minded defensemen in hockey. The former Michigan State Spartan also runs the power play unlike anyone else. He perfectly complements Carlo’s game and completes the second pairing.

Third Pairing: Grzelcyk – Clifton

Matt Grzelcyk has proven to be one of the most consistent defensemen for the Bruins in every facet of the game. He had an excellent 2018-19 season and played very well during the run to the Stanley Cup Final. After being arguably the most improved playing in Providence this season, Connor Clifton emerged during the 2018-19 playoff run. The New Jersey native, like Grzelcyk, is very good in every facet of the game. These two young defensemen will make a great second pairing for the Boston Bruins.

Extra Defensemen: Kampfer – Moore – Miller

Steven Kampfer signed an extension at the end of last month. The Michigan native provides really good depth for the Bruins. The good thing about Kampfer is that he can sit out a few games, and be very solid starting when needed. John Moore will likely not be ready to start the season due to shoulder surgery he had once the season ended. Kevan Miller is another guy that likely won’t be ready to start the season due to a bad knee injury he sustained last season.

Goaltenders: Rask – Halak

Tuukka Rask was one of the main reasons why the Boston Bruins were one win away from being Stanley Cup Champions in 2018-2019. The Finnish goaltender was superb throughout the playoffs. One of the big reasons why he was so good during the postseason run was that he was able to rest a lot of games in the regular season because of how good Jaroslav Halak was. Tuukka Rask is at the top of his game come playoff time when he can start under 50 games during the regular season. Having Rask and Halak was essentially split the regular-season workload is something that makes Boston’s goaltending so good.

Other Black N’ Gold Writers’ Ideal Lines

Check out Mike’s article HERE.

Check out Garrett’s article HERE.

Check out Max’s article HERE.

Check out Yanni’s article HERE.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel!  We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE For Link To Our YouTube Channel!

 

Mainville: Ideal Bruins Lineup On Opening Night: Version One

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PHOTO CREDITS: (The Canadian Press)

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

Before I dive into this piece, I would like to credit fellow Black N’ Gold writers Mike Cratty (@Mike_Cratty on Twitter) for the idea and would also like to further you to take a look at both Mike’s and Garrett’s (@thesportsguy97 on Twitter) article on the same idea. Keep a lookout on the website for more opening-day article lineup ideas.

Click HERE for Mike’s article.

Click HERE for Garrett’s article.

First Line: Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Throughout the Bruins fan universe, the issues in the top-six typically fall on the right side. The duos of Marchand-Bergeron and DeBrusk-Krejci are near locks for opening night but the answers on the remaining pieces need to be found. Even though he showed struggles in the postseason at times, Head Coach Bruce Cassidy continued to slot David Pastrnak on the right side of the first line.

Without a doubt in anyone’s mind, Pastrnak will soon become the star of the Bruins’ offense for possibly the next decade and the more time he can play with Marchand and especially Bergeron, the more his value to the team and organization can skyrocket. That line, when hot, is one of the best lines in the entire National Hockey League and the thought of having that consistently is intriguing.

Second Line: DeBrusk – Krejci – Kuhlman

During the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals, the Boston Bruins relied heavily on their depth scoring, goaltending, and defense to help them last to the final Game Seven. Boston’s top six forwards failed to score points on a night-to-night basis and the lack of scoring in the elimination game was the reason for the loss on home ice.

Down 3-2 in the series, Cassidy threw a curveball at the St. Louis Blues in Game Six by placing speedy forward Karson Kuhlman on the second line and he played great. Kuhlman scored the third goal of the game with a blistering wrist shot past Jordan Binnington that gave Boston a 3-0 lead in the game.

Kuhlman’s 5-foot-11, 185-pound frame finally brought some speed and finesse to a line that was lacking those attributes when David Backes was alongside DeBrusk and Krejci. Similar to Pastrnak, time with a veteran like Krejci mixed in with the big-time experience that he already has under his belt, Kuhlman can be a good player on that line.

Third Line: Heinen – Coyle – Ritchie

This line is such a massive question mark on the right side yet again. At this stage, I put free-agent signing Brett Ritchie on this line for one reason – size. The 26-year-old Ritchie stands at six-foot-four and weighs 220 pounds. Throughout the different lineup predictions on the internet, Ritchie is commonly considered to be a depth forward and while that remains a possibility, I believe he has a better shot at making the lineup over some of the younger wingers in the system.

Alongside Ritchie, Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle had found some chemistry since Coyle’s entrance into the Boston Bruins roster around the trade deadline and that should continue. Heinen has proven to be a defensively responsible forward and with a consistent center that can play deep in the zone, it may only help the young forward more in the short and long run.

Fourth Line: Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

If there was a line that was etched in stone – it’s this one. The fourth line of the Boston Bruins has been crucial for the better part of the last decade and in each of their Cup Finals appearances in 2011, 2013, and 2019, the Bruins have had a strong line that rounds out the forward core.

With Noel Acciari departing Logan International in Boston to Florida during the Free Agency Frenzy, it will be without a doubt that these three players will man the pivotal bottom line for a good portion of the 2019-2020 season.

Extra Forwards: Lindholm

Another one of the Bruins’ depth signings on July 1st, former Toronto Maple Leaf and Winnipeg Jet, Par Lindholm signed a two-year contract for $850,000 per season with Boston as a depth player. The Swedish forward adds versatile play with a penalty-killing ability that has value when injuries come along.

First Pairing: Chara – McAvoy

Franchise defenceman with future franchise defenceman. Zdeno Chara might be 42 years of age but his game does not represent that number. While he does often get caught frozen in time by the faster forwards in the league, he brings a presence that strikes fear into players even today. Chara will continue to mentor McAvoy this season as it could very well be the last season where that is an option.

Second Pairing: Krug – Carlo

The second pairing of Krug and Carlo is the type of combination teams dream of on their blueline. Torey Krug is one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL today, especially on the power-play. That said, Krug has had issues on the defensive side of the ice and even though he has improved recently, he is not fantastic in that role. Brandon Carlo, however, secures that pairing. Carlo was arguably the best d-man wearing the Spoked-B in the 2019 Playoffs and he is only 22 years old.

Third Pairing: Grzelcyk – Clifton

Matt Grzelcyk scored the only goal in the Game Seven loss to the St. Louis Blues, but he brought more than just that lone tally in the postseason. Grzelcyk is a solid defenceman in almost all facets and Clifton has matched that as well. Both young blueliners have come out of seemingly nowhere over the course of the past few seasons – earning them a roster spot for the start of the ’19/’20 campaign.

Extra Defensemen: Kampfer – Miller – Moore

Steven Kampfer recently extended his contract with the Bruins and rightly so – he adds good depth for when the inevitable injuries strike again, something every team requires to be successful. With no clear timeline on John Moore (shoulder surgery) and Kevan Miller (knee), we must assume that they are not ready for the opening night on October 3rd.

Goaltenders: Rask – Halak

Tuukka Rask carried Boston to the Stanley Cup Finals for much of the playoff run and that success could be attributed to the regular season play of backup goalie Jaroslav Halak. With the two netminders nearly splitting the 82-game season in half, Rask was able to get needed rest and not overwork himself like he has when the team does not have an adequate backup behind him. If the two can avoid the haunted injury bug, I’d expect another stellar season from the two goaltenders.

As the offseason continues to progress with more and more news as well as the upcoming NHL Training Camp, these lines could very well take a turn before puck drop against the Dallas Stars.

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Bruins Re-Sign Forward Danton Heinen

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(Photo: Steve Babineau / NHL via Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced overnight that the team has agreed to terms on a two-year deal with restricted free agent Danton Heinen. Heinen’s deal will carry an average annual value of $2.8 million.

The Langley, British Columbia native has been a mainstay in Boston’s top-nine forward group over the last two seasons, after spending time with Providence of the AHL and the University of Denver. Last season, Heinen skated in 77 games, totaling 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points to go along with a plus-13 rating.

During his rookie season two years ago, his first full year in the NHL, Heinen finished ninth in rookie scoring, registering 16-31-47 totals in 77 games played in addition to a plus-10 rating. With Boston, Heinen has 3-6-9 numbers over 33 career playoff games played.

In 70 career AHL games played, the 24-year-old notched 15-39-54 numbers on top of a plus-seven rating; the winger also tallied 18 points (nine goals and nine assists) in 19 total Calder Cup playoff games. During his time at Denver, Heinen was a point-per-game player in each of his two seasons, totaling 16-29-45 in 40 games as a freshman and 20-28-48 in 41 games as a sophomore.

The 6-foot-1, 188-pound skater was selected by the Bruins with the 116th overall selection in the fourth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Heinen joins Peter Cehlarik and Ryan Fitzgerald as RFA’s the Bruins have re-signed, leaving Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo as the only two left (Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson will be playing in Sweden next season). With the Heinen signing, the Bruins are now left with a little over $7.3 million in cap space to ink McAvoy and Carlo, barring a trade of some sort arises.

Big Questions Remain On Defense For Bruins

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(Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports)

By Carrie Salls | Find me on Twitter @nittgrl73

For all the talk of how the Boston Bruins are going to find the elusive second-line right wing and third-line center to shore up the front 12 going into the 2019-2020 season, the fact is that many more questions remain about just who will be defending the blue line when the season begins on Oct. 3 in Dallas.

Let’s start with what we know. Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Matt Grzelcyk, Connor Clifton and Steven Kampfer are the members of the defensive corps that saw regular playing time for the Bruins last season who are currently under contract and presumably healthy coming into camp in September. They are healthy, that is, if Chara and Grzelcyk have fully recovered from injuries and concussion symptoms, respectively, that forced them to miss some games in the final round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

To arrive at this point, the Bruins re-signed free agent Kampfer and awarded Clifton’s play with a three-year contract extension. The Bruins’ front office likely considers Clifton to be a key piece of the team’s future on defense, so he was locked up while so many other pieces of the puzzle were still jumbled. For his part, Kampfer proved himself to be a valuable asset to the team last year, playing the difficult-to-find role of the veteran presence who was willing to sit out for long periods with no complaints and play a reliable, solid game when called upon.

That brings us to the unknowns. The two biggest questions, of course, are the statuses of restricted free agents Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. The Bruins made qualifying offers to both of these players, and general manager Don Sweeney said he has been in talks with both young stars’ camps. However, despite rumblings that Carlo may be close to coming to terms with the team, no official word has come from the team as to how close the Bruins are to making a deal with either of these young defensemen.

The main roadblock the Bruins face in re-signing McAvoy and Carlo is the team’s extremely limited salary-cap picture. It looks like the possibility of Sweeney being able to dump some or all of David Backes’ $6 million salary is essentially non-existent. The fact that restricted free agent forward Danton Heinen has elected salary arbitration, with an answer on how much his contract will cost the Bruins not coming for at least a couple of weeks, complicates the matter even further.

Sweeney said that he feels the team is likely finished signing unrestricted free agents after he added several depth pieces in early July. As a result, the focus turns to potential trade scenarios that may help the team clear up some additional cap space. However, the defensive outlook is further clouded by the fact that potential trade pieces could include Krug, whose point production and power play prowess make him a valuable target, as well as two Bruins D-men who have yet to be mentioned, Kevan Miller and John Moore.

Moore was signed to a five-year deal by the Bruins in the summer of 2018. He saw occasional runs of decent playing time throughout the 2018-2019 season but was often the odd man out when the full complement of defensemen was healthy. The problem is, Moore, soldiered through much of the playoffs with an upper-arm injury that required surgery when the season ended. As a result, he may not be healthy enough to return to game action until January, all but eliminating him as a trade candidate.

While Miller may be well ahead of Moore in rehabilitating a broken kneecap, nearly the entire 2018-2019 season was lost with one injury after another costing Miller significant playing time. Given his history of injuries, the trade market may not be all that deep for the gritty veteran.

Given all of the uncertainty brought on by injuries and contract issues, two prospects, in particular, could be called upon to provide defensive depth in the upcoming season: Jeremy Lauzon and Urho Vaakaneinen. Lauzon spent some time filling in for an injury-depleted defensive squad last season, appearing in 16 games, and played well. Meanwhile, the 20-year-old Vaakaneinen played just two games for the big club but appeared to have the potential to fight for a spot on the NHL team. Whether these two top defensive prospects will get more playing time in Boston or perhaps be traded to clear cap space remains to be seen.

With Chara, who will turn 43 this coming season, signing just a one-year extension in March and Grzelcyk and Krug facing free agency next summer, Bruins management will likely have tough decisions to make on the defensive front for the foreseeable future.

What Should The Bruins Do About Torey Krug?

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( Photo Courtesy of Patrick Smith / Getty Imagines )

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Coming into this off-season, the Boston Bruins had a few questions that needed answering when it comes to the roster. One of the main questions is, what do the Bruins do about Torey Krug? The former Michigan State University defenseman is 28 years old and heading into the final year of a four-year 21 million dollar deal. He’s also coming off a fantastic season. In 64 games this year Krug netted six goals while dishing out 47 assists for 53 total points and on top of that in 24 playoff games he netted two goals while dishing out 16 assists for 18 total points. Krug firmly established himself as one of the Bruins top players while also reminding us that he’s not afraid to throw his body around.

The other major thing that Krug brings to the table is that he runs the first power-play unit. The Bruins have not been able to find another player that can run the power play like the former Michigan State Spartan does, though not for lack of trying. Given all of the information that I just provided, it would seem like this is a no-brainer for Don Sweeney, you re-sign Torey Krug. However, it’s not so simple. Krug will be 29 at the beginning of next off-season. He will also likely command a six or seven-year deal worth over seven million dollars a year. That’s a lot of money to commit to a player for any team, but especially one who has as many restricted free agents in the next two seasons, most of whom you’d like to keep.

This season, Boston has around 13 million dollars in salary cap space. They also have three major RFAs to sign Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Danton Heinen. After next season the Bruins have 34 million dollars to spend and one nine roster spots committed not including Carlo, McAvoy, and Heinen. On top of that, Jake DeBrusk, Karson Kuhlman, Matt Grzelcyk, and Connor Clifton are also RFAs. That’s seven players that you likely want to keep. The Boston Bruins may not have the luxury of re-signing Torey Krug unless he does take another team friendly deal. This means that Boston has a big decision to make. What do they do assuming they cannot re-sign Krug?

They have a few options. First, they could try and move Krug for a top-six forward. This is something that has been speculated by analysts and fans alike. While this is definitely a viable option, you would have to make sure that you had a defenseman ready to take Krug’s spot on the power-play. At this point in time, I do not believe trading him for a top-six forward is the best option. The player that you get in return probably will not have as big of an impact on the game as Krug does, and you are likely better off filling that second-line right wing position with an internal option rather than giving up Krug.

That leads us to our next option, you keep Torey Krug the entire season and then hope for the best in free agency. This is basically buying into yourself and believing that the team you have constructed can make another deep run into the playoffs. Then at the end of the season, you hope for the best, and maybe Krug surprises you signing a team friendly deal. To me, this is the best option. Torey Krug has proven his worth tenfold over the past few seasons both offensively and defensively. His ability on the power-play is one that cannot be duplicated right now, and this gives you a full season to finally groom his replacement. Plus, the fact of the matter is that you are a better hockey team Torey Krug on it.

With the salary cap situations and RFAs, the Boston Bruins will have some big questions to answer sooner rather than later. For the Torey Krug situation, I believe keeping him is the best option. Yes, you run the risk of losing him in free agency for nothing, but having him on the team gives you the best chance to win next season. Ultimately we have an interesting free agency period and season on the horizon, and I cannot wait to see what happens next. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. I hope everyone is enjoying the summer. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

Report: Bruins Re-Sign D Steven Kampfer To A Two-Year Deal

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

According to Frank Seravalli of TSN and other reports, the Boston Bruins have signed defenceman Steven Kampfer to a two-year contract extension worth an average of $800,000 per season ($1.6 million total).

The 30-year-old, Ann Arbor, Michigan native has had a solid history with the Boston Bruins over his seven-year NHL career. Kampfer began his tenure in Boston back in the 2010-11 season, playing 38 games after joining the club in March of 2010 in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks. Kampfer recorded 5-5-10 totals in that time with Boston.

After ten games played in the 2011-12 season, Kampfer was traded to the Minnesota Wild and would not find himself in Boston until September 11, 2018, when he and two draft picks were sent to Boston in exchange for D Adam McQuaid. Within the 2018-19 campaign, Steven Kampfer played in another 35 games for the Bruins, recording three goals and three assists for six points, averaging 14:38 of time on ice.

The depth blueliner also found himself playing in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs – playing one game in three of the four series. Kampfer skated for 11:06 in Game Three against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Round One and played 14:56 in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Carolina Hurricanes, scoring the first goal of the hockey game.

Kampfer played a key role throughout the season for the Bruins, bringing some experience to the depth blueline players, especially when injuries or suspensions prevented the top players on Boston’s backend from playing. Even though the plus/minus statistic is typically looked down upon, Kampfer was never once a minus player in the postseason, further confirming that he can be trusted on in those important games.

For the Bruins, this contract ensures that they have the depth on defence that they need quite a lot. It has already been announced that defensemen John Moore and Kevan Miller will be out of the lineup for some time to begin the 2019-2020 regular season, meaning Boston will have to fall back on guys like Kampfer to get those early-season victories.

Boston and the rest of the National Hockey League are only one week away from the free agency frenzy on July 1st meaning those key players that need contracts are going to need to sign with their current teams fast. Boston now has just over $13 million in remaining cap space with players such as RFA defenceman Charlie McAvoy, RFA defenceman Brandon Carlo, RFA forward Danton Heinen, UFA forward Noel Acciari and UFA forward Marcus Johansson, among others, expiring very soon.

This signing is a solid move for General Manager Don Sweeney as he locks up a reliable depth defenceman for under $1 million annually on a low-term deal. Heading into the next stages of the NHL offseason, the news and stories will be piling up and everyone here at Black N’ Gold Hockey will make sure that you get all of the latest information.

Check out this week’s Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast Episode 132 below!!

Less Is More For The Bruins In Free Agency

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Photo Courtesy of Bob DeChiara – USA TODAY Sports

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Many Bruins fans, as soon as the final horn sounded ending the 2018-19 Stanley Cup Final and the Boston Bruins and fans alike watched the St. Louis Blues celebrate on TD Garden ice turned to free agency to see how this team could be improved. There are many talented players hitting the market this year, and the Bruins have around 14 million dollars in cap space. Now, I know a lot of you are thinking that with that kind of money our favorite team in black and gold could get an elite player or two and this team who was one game away from being Stanley Cup Champions, would be in a great position to get back there. Now, I don’t mean to burst your bubble but the Bs should not, and probably will not be very active in free agency.

The first reaction some of you may have had seeing that news may be a bit on the reactionary side, but I’ll explain why you should temper free agent expectations. The major reason is the amount of restricted free agents the Bruins have both this year and next year that they will likely keep. Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Danton Heinen are all restricted free agents this offseason and all three need to be re-signed. Brandon Carlo had an excellent season and played in his first playoffs ever despite this being his third year in Boston. The young defenseman played extremely well during the run to the Stanley Cup Final. A longterm four or five-year deal will probably be reached, and it’ll likely be for over four million dollars a year.

Danton Heinen is a player who some fans have soured on a bit because his offensive numbers were down from last season. While this may be a cause for concern, something that some people fail to realize is Heinen is one of the Bruins best defensive and possession forwards, which is hard to see on a scoresheet. At any rate, the down offensive season may actually end up working in the Bruins favor because in contract negotiations he probably will not be able to command as much money as he would have. I definitely see the Bruins and Heinen working out a four-year deal worth anywhere from two to three million dollars a year.

That leaves our final restricted free agent Charlie McAvoy. This one is a little bit trickier because McAvoy definitely deserves a big payday, and the Bruins want him to be a cornerstone of the team and defense for many years to come. However, giving him that huge contract he deserves may not be in the best interest for the Bruins right away. Next season, the Bruins have Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, Connor Clifton, and Karson Kuhlman who are also RFAs. All four of those players are ones you’d probably like to keep. On top of that, Torey Krug is going to be a UFA, and that is someone the Bruins may also try to keep. They need as much cap space as possible.

What the Bruins will probably try and do is sign McAvoy to a smaller “bridge” contract with the promise of a big payday after that. A major reason why this would work out in the B’s favor is after the 2020-2021 season the Bruins have David Krejci, Tuukka Rask, and David Backes all coming off the books. That will give the Bruins a little more than 20 million dollars to spend. If you give McAvoy a two-year “bridge” contract, you could line up his payday perfectly with that money coming off the books. The young Bruins defenseman seems to like Boston and wants to stay long term so I can see a “bridge” deal being agreed upon and then the big payday coming in a couple of years.

Ultimately, these are my thoughts as to why we shouldn’t expect the Boston Bruins to be too active in free agency. I think they have internal options to fill needs at the second-line right wing and I’d like them to keep their own guys. Despite losing in game seven of the Stanley Cup Final, the future is bright for the boys in black and gold. I think if they stay the course, and keep their own guys, the team will be in great shape going into next season. My biggest advice to Don Sweeney is no reactionary moves to the Stanley Cup Final loss. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. I hope everyone has a fantastic offseason and enjoys the draft. As always GO, Bs, GO!

Check out this week’s Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 132 below!!