Does Bruins Cassidy Deserve The Jack Adams Award?

Ottawa Senators v Boston Bruins

(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

For the last three years, I have watched the NHL awards nominations and the subsequent awards show and wondered when Bruce Cassidy is going to get some recognition as one of the best coaches in the league? Even though he was nominated in 2017-18, everyone knew that Gerard Gallant of Vegas was winning the award that year (despite the B’s finishing with more points than the Knights. When will his time come, if ever?

Cassidy received his first NHL head coaching position in 2002. He was 37 years old and took over a veteran-laden Washington Capitals team with eight regulars that were over the age of 30. It must have been a pretty daunting proposition for the Ottawa native in his first kick at the NHL coaching can? His initial year in Washington went relatively well. The team had an above-average season, finished with 92 points, and made the playoffs after missing the season before under previous coach Ron Wilson. The Capitals were eliminated by Tampa in the first round in six games, but all in all a decent start for Cassidy.

Unfortunately, the following season was a different story. The team got off to a rough 8-18-1-1 start under Cassidy and he was replaced by Glen Hanlon (who fared no better). There were rumors of issues between veteran players and their young head coach. Any time players are only a few years older than the coach and things don’t go well, this is a possibility.

Cassidy had less than six seasons experience as a professional head coach and had been the coach of the year in the AHL in 2001-02 for Grand Rapids before making the jump to the NHL. It was a rapid rise and Cassidy may not have been fully prepared for the rough road his second season in Washington?

He returned to coaching in 2005-06 as an assistant for the Chicago Blackhawks. He would spend the next ten seasons honing his craft in the OHL and AHL before returning to the NHL as an assistant coach with the Bruins under Claude Julien in 2016-17 at the age of 51. The team had narrowly missed the playoffs the previous two seasons and after 55 games were only three games above .500. This was an unheard-of proposition for the proud Original Six franchise and GM Don Sweeney decided to make a change.

He installed Cassidy as Julien’s replacement with 27 games to go and the season in the balance. The B’s went 18-8-1 during that stretch, finished with 95 points, and qualified for the playoffs. After some key injuries, they were eliminated by Ottawa in the first round in six games. Probably not what Cassidy and the team had hoped for, but a solid beginning. It was no surprise that Cassidy would not get Adams Trophy consideration for 27 games, but I’m not sure what the reasoning has been since that time?

The following year (2017-18) would see the team take another step forward under Cassidy. They finished with a record of 50-20-12 (.683), and 112 points, good for 2nd in the Atlantic (one point behind Tampa). After a thrilling seven-game series and victory over Toronto, the Bruins appeared a bit overmatched vs Tampa Bay and were eliminated by the Bolts in five games. Still, it was a step forward for the organization, reaching the 2nd round of the playoffs for the first time in four years.

Cassidy was nominated for the Adams but ended up finishing 2nd to the Vegas Knight’s coach, Gerard Gallant. As I mentioned earlier, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Gallant would win because of his success with an expansion squad, leading them to the Stanley Cup Finals. In retrospect, seeing the advantages this expansion team had over its predecessors and how well they were constructed, perhaps this vote should have been a lot closer than it was?

In 2018-19 it was more of the same for Cassidy and the Bruins. They finished the regular season at 49-24-9 (.652), with 107 points, and finished 2nd to Tampa Bay again in the Atlantic. One could argue that Cassidy did an even better job that regular season than the year before (despite having five fewer points). The B’s didn’t suffer any season-ending injuries, but they did have a variety of injuries to key contributors on the top two lines, both forwards and defensemen. Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, Torey Krug, and Zdeno Chara all missed 15-20 games, with Charlie McAvoy missing almost 30. Cassidy plugged guys into the holes and the team didn’t miss a beat.

While the 2018-19 postseason started off the same as 2017-18, with a seven-game series win over the Maple Leafs, what followed hadn’t been seen in Boston since the 2012-13 season. The B’s followed up their opening-round victory with wins over Columbus and Carolina (in the Eastern Conference Finals), and faced St. Louis in the championship round. Ultimately, the Bruins lost a heartbreaking seven-game series to the Blues. Obviously not what the organization envisioned, but it was another big step forward.

Cassidy was not nominated for the Adams. That honor went to Barry Trotz for turning the Islanders around, Craig Berube for doing the same with the Blues, and John Cooper for a record-setting regular season. Ultimately the award went to Trotz after engineering a 23-point improvement for the Isles. Unfortunately, the Jack Adams Award is based solely on regular-season performance, otherwise, I feel like Cassidy would have had another strong candidacy. Despite the tough loss to St. Louis, the Boston front office had seen more than enough from their head coach the prior two-plus seasons and signed him to a multi-year contract extension in September of 2019.

Which brings us to the 2019-20 hockey season, one like no other in history (unfortunately). There was a lot of talk last summer about Stanley Cup hangovers and teams struggling after losing in the Finals. Cassidy and the Bruins showed no sign of these maladies, getting off to a quick start, and finishing October with a record of 9-1-2. Despite predictions by many of an angry Tampa team coming out hard after their first-round elimination last season, it was Boston that led the Atlantic pretty much start to finish.

When the NHL recently announced their “return to play” plan and the regular season was officially over, the Bruins became the 2019-20 President’s Cup winners, finishing the year with a 44-14-12 record (.714) and 100 points. Because of the expanded playoff system, Boston will have to take part in a “play in” round to determine the top four seeding order in the East, along with Tampa, Washington, and Philadephia. This despite being the dominant team in the league all season (but that’s another discussion).

Cassidy replaced a coach who had won a Stanley Cup in Boston, which is no mean feat itself, but he also has made fans forget about Mr. Julien. His adherence to two-way hockey is nearly at the level of his predecessor, but unlike Clode, Cassidy appears to want his defensemen to “activate” and join the rush whenever possible. His demeanor with the press is also very different. I have been a Boston sports fan for a long time and his candid statements to the media are refreshing. At the same time, Cassidy manages to do this without being abrasive or disrespectful to the players. You get the feeling that “what you see is what you get” and that he has the same straightforward approach with the team.

Bruce-Cassidy-Bruins2

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

Cassidy led the team to the playoffs as an interim guy. Followed that up by winning a playoff round the next season, and leading the team to the Stanley Cup Finals the following year. Not content to rest on his laurels, this season the Bruins finish with the most points in the NHL. Over three-plus seasons, Cassidy has compiled a staggering .682 winning percentage. He is second in wins to Tampa and John Cooper but has enjoyed more playoff success.

Due to the change in the season schedule, the NHL Broadcaster’s Association, which is responsible for voting on the nominations and winners of the Jack Adams Award, will not be announcing anything until an undetermined date later in the summer. Is there anything else Bruce Cassidy needs to do to get his name on that trophy? We shall see.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! 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!

Five Players You Forgot Played For The Bruins: Part Two

(Photo Credit: Game Worn Auctions | gamewornauctions.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

It’s always fun to look back at Bruins’ history and notice players you had no idea played for the team. Sometimes, you recognize that name and suddenly remember the short time they did have with the Bruins. Regardless, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at some players you probably forgot played with the Bruins. You can view part one of this series here.

Marty Turco

(Photo Credit: Times Union | timesunion.com)

Yes, Marty Turco wore the bright gold leg pads for the Bruins during the 2011-2012 season. The netminder signed with the Bruins as a free agent on March 5th, 2012. He only appeared with the Bruins for five games and won two of those.

Turco began his career with the Dallas Stars and played with the team throughout most of his career. His rookie season from 2000-2001, led the league with 1.90 GAA and .925% save percentage. He led the league again in 2002-2003 with 1.73 GAA and .932% save percentage. He played with Dallas from 2000-2010 until his contract expired and decided to hit the free-agent market. He was then picked up by the Chicago Blackhawks during the offseason and played until the end of the season, then signed to the Bruins as a free agent in 2012.

Throughout his 11-year NHL career, Turco played in 543 games and won 216 of them, averaging 2.36 GAA and a .910% save percentage. He officially announced his retirement from the hockey world on January 17th, 2013.

Chris Nilan

(Photo Credit: Stanley Cup of Chowder | stanleycupofchowder.com)

To me, Nilan wearing the Spoked-B has never felt right. The Boston-native was traded to the Bruins by the New York Rangers in 1990 and played for them until Montreal claimed him on waivers in 1992. He appeared in 80 games with Boston while producing 11-14-25 numbers with 463 PIM.

He began his NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens in 1979 and played with them until 1988 when he was traded to the New York Rangers. During his time as a Canadien, he played in 523 games while posting 88-87-175 numbers with a whopping 2,248 PIM. He led the league in penalty minutes two seasons in a row from 1983-1984 (338 PIM) and 1984-1985 (358 PIM).

After his time with Montreal, he spent the next few seasons with the New York Rangers before being traded to the Bruins. Throughout his 13-year NHL career, Nilan played in 688 games while posting 110-115-225 numbers with an astounding 3,043 PIM.

Brian Gionta

(Photo Credit: Stanley Cup of Chowder | stanleycupofchowder.com)

Oddly enough, Gionta did have a short stint with the Bruins, and it was just two years ago back in 2018. His time in Boston lasted only 20 games during the 2017-2018 season and shortly retired after the season ended. The 5’7, 175-pound forward, had a memorable career though.

Gionta spent most of his career with the New Jersey Devils from 2001-2009, appearing in 473 games while producing 152-160-312 numbers with a +62 rating. He also became a Stanley Cup champion during his second year in the NHL after the New Jersey Devils won in 2003. After his contract expired in 2009, he signed to the Montreal Canadiens as a free agent and played with the team until 2014. His contract had expired during the off-season and was signed by the Buffalo Sabres. He played for Buffalo from 2014-2017, then was signed late in the 2017-2018 season by the Bruins.

The Stanley Cup champion announced his retirement from professional hockey on September 18th, 2018. Throughout his 16-year NHL career, he appeared in 1,026 games while producing 291-304-595 numbers with a +35 rating.

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Jarome Iginla

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If you’ve always been a fan of Iginla, how could you ever forget the one season with the Bruins? Iginla signed with the Bruins as a free agent in 2013 and suited up for 78 games while contributing 30-31-61 numbers with a +34 rating. Unfortunately, this would be the only season the power-forward plays with Boston.

Iginla spent most of his career as the captain for the Calgary Flames from 1996-2013, playing in 1,219 games and posting 525-570-1,095 numbers. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2013 for Kenny Agonisto, Ben Hanowski, and a first-round pick (Morgan Klimchuk) in 2013 NHL Entry Draft. That following season, he inked a deal with the Bruins and did a tremendous job. Unfortunately, Iginla wanted to keep his options open and signed a contract with the Colorado Avalanche in 2014.

The 6’1, 210-pound forward played for Colorado until being traded in 2017 to the Los Angeles Kings for a fourth-round conditional pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. After finishing the season with the Kings, Iginla decided to hang them up and officially retire from the hockey world.

Throughout his 20-year NHL career, Iginla suited up for 1,554 games and posted 625-675-1,300 numbers. As of yesterday, the NHL announced Iginla to be apart of the 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame and fellow Black N’ Gold writer, Lucas Pearson, wrote about it and can check it out here. Congratulations on an astounding career, Jarome Iginla!

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Zac Rinaldo

(Photo Credit: The Hockey News | thehockeynews.com)

Tough guy, Zac Rinaldo, was traded to the Bruins during the 2015 off-season for a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He played for just one season, appearing in 52 games and scoring three points with 83 PIM.

He spent half of his NHL career with the Philadelphia Flyers from 2011-2015, suiting up in 223 games while producing 8-16-24 numbers with 572 PIM. After his time in Philadelphia, he has become an NHL journeyman, spending the last five seasons between four NHL teams and several American Hockey League (AHL) teams.

This past season, he played with the Calgary Flames but will most likely be hitting the free-agent market this off-season. Throughout his eight-year NHL career so far, he has played in 370 games while producing 18-24-42 numbers and racking up 753 PIM.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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!

Providence Bruins 2020/21 Roster Predictions – Part #1 The Forwards

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

In part one of my American Hockey League Providence Bruins 2020/21 roster predictions, I’ll provide an opinion of what an upcoming regular season lineup could look like in a Head Coach Jay Leach system. I’m keeping in mind that the offseason has yet to be determined. Not knowing what’s to happen in free agency is a bit tricky, so please take my thoughts with a grain of salt and bare with me.

On paper, the potential roster of the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins top minor-pro affiliate is certainly intriguing throughout with recent youth additions and league advancement with player promotions. In the first article in this mini-series, I’d like to focus on the 12 forwards that I believe will provide the most offensive punch in the upcoming season whenever when the AHL gets back up and running.

Below are three scenarios of line combinations that I came up with as an idea of how things can fluctuate with promotions to the NHL and departures of last season’s roster. At the minor-pro levels of hockey, having backup plans is never more important when thinking of middle depth competitiveness and sustainability.

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Scenario #1 – What if Jack Studnicka Gets Promoted?

As someone who’s followed Jack Studnicka’s hockey career since being selected in the second round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, I do feel his time is coming quickly concerning advanced placement. I’m confident in the Bruins staff that if the NHL is a potential destination next season, he’ll be placed in a position to not only succeed but also continue to develop. He needs to be playing consistently, and if his role is a 13th or 14th forward, I think that role as a revolving forward would be a detriment to said development. Below is my lineup if Jack makes the Boston club out training camp for the upcoming season.

#24 Hughes – #7 Frederic – #20 Kuhlman

#13 Lauko – #29 Steen – #28 Carey

#16 Gaunce – #11 Asselin – #9 Senyshyn

#45 Koppanen – #27 Woods – Voyer

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There are two areas of the third line that I’d like to mention as potential departures. We don’t know if the Bruins and forward Brendan Gaunce are going to agree on another deal to place him back in the AHL when he could seek a better path for NHL work in free agency. The other is the idea of bringing back Zach Senyshyn, who I strongly agree they should but will be exposed to the waiver process if his services are needed in Providence if he doesn’t make the team out of camp.

If Gaunce and Senyshyn don’t make returns to the Providence lineup next season, this is where that backup plan comes into play. When talking about the right-wing position possibly vacated by the former 2015 first-round pick Senyshyn, I think of a player like Robert Lantosi who can fill that position seamlessly. The 5′-11″ 185-pound Lantosi is currently in the final year of his one-year AHL only contract and posted 11-20-31 numbers in 50 games in his first season of North American Pro Hockey.

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Now moving onto the Gaunce departure theory. If the 26-year-old chooses to leave for better pastures, I believe a solid replacement would be former Brown University forward and left shooting left-winger Tommy Marchin. The 6′-2″ 216-pound Michigan native played his first professional season since leaving the Ivy League has played with Providence a total of 12 games in two seasons posting 2-0-2 numbers. Marchin played his first full pro season this year with the Bruins “AA” minor-pro ECHL affiliate the Atlanta Gladiators. In 49 games for the Glads, he posted impressive 27-21-28 numbers and looks like he could fill the bottom six if a left-wing position is available. Marchin is currently on an expiring AHL only contract, but I mention him as a solid backup option if he’s retained.

Sticking with the third line in this scenario is the mention up the middle with Samuel Asselin. The 21-year-old left shooting center currently has one-year remaining on his AHL only contract. In 53 games with the ECHL Atlanta club, this season, the 5′-9″ 185-pound forward did very posting 26-26-52 numbers in his first year of professional hockey after leaving the QMJHL a year prior. Asselin will be a reliable option with the upshift if Studnicka finds a roster spot with Boston.

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Another thing to consider here and wanted to mention something before moving on, but the Karson Kuhlman contract negotiations should be interesting as an RFA this offseason. Obviously, an upshift would occur if he made the NHL roster or didn’t want to return to the Boston organization with the progressive bottleneck in Providence. I believe the Bruins are going to re-sign Karson to keep him in the fold, but is he legitimately going to stay with the limited path upward? Kuhlman has tremendous upside for a shifty, speedy forward, but (Hate Saying This!) he might have better NHL success elsewhere. Maybe even getting a deal worked out with Minnesota for a fourth-round draft pick from the Minnesota Wild to return him to the state he was born.

Scenario #2 – What If Studnicka Remains In Providence For Further Development?

As mentioned, I’m a massive fan of Studnicka and what he’s done thus far as a developing asset with the Bruins organization and hope he secures a roster spot in the NHL next season first and foremost. What if he doesn’t make the final cuts out of the NHL Bruins training camp whenever that may be and needs to be sent down to Providence to continue working on an already highly skilled set of attributes? Here’s what a potential AHL Bruins lineup could look like with a Captain Jack return to Rhode Island.

#13 Lauko – #23 Studnicka – #20 Kuhlman

#24 Hughes – #7 Frederic – #28 Carey

#16 Gaunce – #29 Steen – #9 Senyshyn

#45 Koppanen – #27 Woods – Voyer

To me, this is a solid lineup above and one that, in my opinion, has unfinished business. Due to the Covid-19 shutdown, the Providence team played well in the early parts of the season and really turned it up with a 12-game winning streak marching up the Atlantic and Eastern Conference. Who knows what would’ve come for this team in 2019-20 Providence club this year, but it was certainly fun to watch, and a long Calder Cup run was absolutely possible. The only change I’d make from the lineup obviously if Jack returns is the addition of a new Providence player that the AHL club signed earlier this spring.

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Voyer signed a two-year AHL only contract in April of 2020 and will be entering his first full season of minor-pro hockey after posting decent numbers in the QMJHL with the Sherbrooke Phoenix. The Sherbrooke, Quebec native posted 44-44-88 numbers in 63 games for the Phoenix franchise, which was a career-high. Sherbrooke is the second team Voyer has played for in his QMJHL career. The rugged 6′-2″ 192-pound right-winger started his Canadian Hockey League career with the Rimouski Oceanic, where he appeared in 158 games and contributed 22-35-57 numbers. His offensive production would almost double when he was moved to his hometown. Voyer Would play the past two seasons with the Sherbrooke club and posted 73-73-146 totals in 131 Phoenix games.

Forward Reesignments & Unfortunate Departures

Pavel Shen – A fast forward who just completed year one of his first season of North American hockey as the first Russian drafted out of the Boston organization since the selection of Alexander Khokhlachev in 2011. Shen had a decent AHL rookie season, but I believe he’d benefit from a full season in the ECHL with Atlanta next season. The 6′-1″ 183-pound forward has two more seasons remaining in his entry-level deal and continues to be a work in progress. He was demoted to the ECHL after being outplayed in the Providence forward rotation last season and believe he should at least start with the Gladiators for the upcoming 2020/21 campaign.

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Brett Ritchie – This is an interesting scenario with Brett’s future with the Boston Bruins organization. Ritchie is a hard worker and certainly wants to work hard to get back to the NHL. With that being said, I don’t see an option with both sides agreeing on more time in the minors for him. I can see either he gets moved for a late-round draft pick, or the Bruins flat out walk away from his future services or cap space he could be asking for if retained. His salary should go in every effort to re-sign NHL players like Torey Krug, Jake DeBrusk, and Matt Grzelcyk, to name a few. The potential $81.5 flat cap just has me see the Boston club moving on from him.

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Ryan Fitzgerald – This one is going to kill me moving forward because I believe Ryan is a dependable middle-depth professional, but the road has certainly been tough trying to get to the NHL. Fitzy is an unrestricted free agent during this offseason, and with four bottom-six forwards already at the NHL level contracted for another year, I find it hard to believe he’d come back to play in the AHL. Honestly, the kid has busted his ass but keeps getting overpassed for looks, and like I’ve said so many times, he might be better off leaving for better opportunities. Ryans had some bad luck with injuries throughout his entry-level contract and the one-year extension he signed last summer. I actually thought Fitzgerald would’ve been a perfect low cap hit promotion before the Mayor Chris Wagner signed long-term. Regardless of my opinion, if Fitzy does, in fact, leave the Bruins organization, I hope nothing but the best for him.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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!

Five Players You Forgot Played For The Bruins: Part One

(Photo Credit: Boston Globe | bostonglobe.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

It’s always fun to look back at Bruins’ history and notice players you had no idea played for the team. Sometimes, you recognize that name and suddenly remember the short time they did have with the Bruins. Regardless, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at some players you probably forgot played with the Bruins.

Simon Gagne

(Photo Credit: Toronto Star | thestar.com)

That’s right, Simon Gagne was a Bruin back in the 2014-2015 season and appeared in 23 games wearing a Bruins jersey while collecting three goals and four points before retiring from the National Hockey League. Although his career was about finished by the time he arrived in Boston, he has had quite the NHL career.

The 6’1, 195-pound forward, began playing for the Philadelphia Flyers from 1999-2010, playing in a total of 691 games and posting 264-271-535 with a +140 rating. On July 19th, 2010, Gagne was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Matt Walker and a fourth-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Gagne spent the season with Tampa Bay before signing with the Los Angeles Kings as a free agent. That year, Gagne was used more as a depth forward, especially after missing most of the season due to a head injury. Regardless, he played four playoff games, and the Kings ended up winning the Stanley Cup in 2012, making Gagne a Stanley Cup champion.

He appeared in 11 games with the Kings that next season before being traded back to Philadelphia for a fourth-round pick. After that season, he played impressively at the Boston Bruins training camp and inked a one-year deal. Although his time spent in Boston was cut short, it would’ve been great to have had a prime Gagne at one point in the lineup.

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Drew Stafford

(Photo Credit: National Hockey League | nhl.com)

Drew Stafford had a quick cup of coffee with the Bruins after being traded by Winnipeg for a sixth-round pick on March 1st, 2017. He suited up in a Bruins uniform 18 times that year and produced four goals and eight points with a +8 rating.

Stafford began his NHL career with the Buffalo Sabres in 2006 and played from 2006-2015, playing in 563 games while producing 145-177-322 numbers, before being traded to the Winnipeg Jets. After spending a full season with Winnipeg, the following year, he was traded to the Bruins, then in 2017 signed to the New Jersey Devils as a free agent. He played his final two years in the NHL with New Jersey, suiting up for 116 games and posting 13-15-28 numbers.

Throughout his 13-year NHL career, Stafford played for four teams, appearing in a total of 841 games while posting 196-232-428 numbers before retiring from the NHL.

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Blake Wheeler

(Photo Credit: Zimbio | zimbio.com)

For those that don’t know, Blake Wheeler was drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes as the fifth-overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, but signed to the Boston Bruins as a free agent in 2008 and began his NHL career in a Bruins jersey. He had a successful rookie campaign with Boston from 2008-2009, racking up 21 goals and 45 points with a +36 rating in 81 games.

He continued to play with Boston for the next two seasons until being traded to the Atlanta Thrashers on February 18th, 2011, with Mark Stuart going to Atlanta in exchange for Rich Peverly and Boris Valabik. The Bruins went on to win the Stanley Cup that year.

Wheeler suited up in a Thrashers jersey for the remainder of the 2010-2011 season before being transferred to the Winnipeg Jets after the Atlanta franchise relocated. Wheeler has been a top-notch winger for Winnipeg ever since. So far, he has appeared in 687 games with Winnipeg and has produced 207-427-634 numbers with a +58 rating. The 33-year-old forward is currently signed to Winnipeg until 2024, with a current cap hit of $8.25M.

Rick Tocchet

(Photo Credit: Game Worn Auctions | gamewornauctions.com)

Rick Tocchet spent a short amount of time with the Bruins from 1996-1997 after being traded to the Bruins by the Los Angeles Kings for Kevin Stevens. During the 1995-1996 season, Tocchet appeared in 27 games with the Bruins and contributed 16-8-24 numbers.

The following season, the power-forward played 40 more games with the Bruins, producing 16-14-30 numbers before being traded to the Washington Capitals. He was traded along with Bill Ranford and Adam Oates in exchange for Jim Carey, Anson Carter, Jason Allison, and a third-round pick (Lee Goren) in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. After his time with the Bruins, Tocchet finished his career playing with Washington, Phoenix Coyotes, and the Philadelphia Flyers from 1997-2002.

Throughout his 18-year career in the NHL, Tocchet played in 1,144 games while posting 440-512-952 numbers with 1,815 PIM. He is now the current head coach for the Arizona Coyotes.

Maxime Talbot

(Photo by Jana Chytilova | Freestyle Photography | Getty Images| nationalpost.com)

The former Pittsburgh Penguins grinder ended up in Boston at the tail-end of his career from 2014-2016. The Bruins saw grit and leadership that could help the team, especially during playoffs. During his tenure with the Bruins, he suited up for 56 games while producing just ten points while spending time with the Providence Bruins (AHL) as well.

Talbot began his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2005-2011, winning the Stanley Cup in 2009 while playing in 338 games and posting 52-56-108 numbers. He was then signed to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011 as a free agent and then was traded a few years later in 2013 to the Colorado Avalanche. He was then traded to the Bruins in 2015, where he finished the rest of his NHL career.

Later, he signed with Avangard Omsk (Russia) in 2018 to continue his playing career. Throughout his 11-year NHL career, he became a Stanley Cup champion, and played a total of 704 games with 91-113-204 numbers.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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!

Providence Bruins Announce Winners Of Team Awards

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

Every year the Providence Bruins (AHL) hosts their awards for their players who exemplified excellence and leadership throughout the season. If you followed Providence in any way this season, then you’ll recognize a few of these names and might have predicted who would win a particular award. Some players won more than one award and blew away people’s expectations. There is a good chance some of the players you see here today might crack the Bruins roster for the 2020-2021 campaign. Here are the winners of Providences’ awards!

Rookie of the Year Award – Jack Studnicka

(Photo Credit: Boston Globe | Bostonglobe.com)

The ‘Rookie of the Year’ Award presented by Cross Insurance goes to the one obvious choice, Jack Studnicka. Since graduating from juniors and getting the promotion to Providence, the 21-year-old forward has showcased his talents at the AHL level and even at the NHL level when called upon for two games where he also collected his first career NHL point.

Studnicka not only produced offensively 5-on-5 and on the power-play but was an absolute brute on the penalty-kill unit and led the AHL in shorthanded goals this season (seven). He also led Providence in goals, assists and points this season. He took the professional hockey world by storm this year, and I believe if anybody deserves a chance in the Boston Bruins lineup this upcoming season, it is Studnicka. Congratulations, Studnicka!

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Fan Favorite Award – Dan Vladar

(Photo Credit: National Hockey League | nhl.com)

The ‘Fan Favorite’ Award presented by Electrical Wholesalers goes to goaltender Dan Vladar. He has been apart of the organization since being drafted by the Bruins in the 3rd round of the 2015 NHL Draft. He has split his time between the Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL) and Providence since his career in the organization but had his most stellar campaign in 2019-2020.

The 6’0, 185-pound goalie led the AHL in goals-against average (GAA) with 1.79 and in save percentage with a whopping .939%. Vladar also set a career-high 14 wins at the AHL level while collecting three shutouts. He has seemed to find his game this past season. With Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask holding down the goalie tandem for 2020-2021, Vladar will be looking to spend another year in Providence, given he re-signs his soon-to-be expired contract after the NHL season. Congratulations, Vladar!

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Three Stars Award – Brendan Gaunce

(Photo Credit: Causeway Crowd | causewaycrowd.com)

The ‘Three Stars’ Award presented by AAA Insurance is an award for the player with the most ‘Three Stars’ nominations this season, and it goes to Brendan Gaunce. He led the team in first star, second star, and overall nominations this season. The 6’2, 207-pound forward was a spark plug for his team all season long and placed third in points with Providence (18-19-37 numbers). Gaunce has been very reliable for Providence, and when he was called up to the Bruins for a game and was able to produce a point.

Gaunces’ contract expires at the end of the NHL season and will be a restricted free-agent (FA). I believe another one-year deal will get done, and they will be able to rely on Gaunce to help with the development of their younger prospects and serve as a depth piece for the Bruins. Congratulations, Gaunce!

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Leading Scorer Award – Jack Studnicka

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

The ‘Leading Scorer’ Award presented by National Grid is awarded to Jack Studnicka. As mentioned above, Studnicka led Providence in goals (23), assists (26), and points (49) this season. Averaging 0.81 Pt/G with three power-play goals and seven shorthanded goals, there is no doubt Studnicka will be the offensive spark the Bruins have been looking for within their young pool of prospects.

If Studnicka doesn’t crack the Bruins lineup the next campaign, then expect for him to be putting up even more points than this past year with Providence. At this rate, he will be a point-per-game player at the AHL level and can produce 40-50 points within his rookie year in the NHL, in my opinion. The opportunities and possibilities are endless for this rising star. Congratulations, Studnicka!

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Plus/Minus Award – Josiah Didier

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

The ‘Plus/Minus’ Award presented by RI Medical Imaging goes to the player who led the team in plus/minus, Josiah Didier. New defensive addition, Didier, has done a tremendous job of holding down the blue-line for Providence this season and has earned this reward for finishing with an impressive +32 rating. The 6’3, 207-pound defender has been consistent throughout his first campaign with Providence and is a solid depth piece for the Bruins blue-line.

Didier also re-signed with Providence on a two-year deal before the season ended and will be looking to repeat that same success in the next two seasons. Players like Didier exemplifies leadership in the locker room, and that presence alone can help take Providence to the next level, especially during the playoffs. Congratulations on your hard work, Didier!

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Hendricks Memorial Fan Appreciation Award – Paul Carey

(Photo Credit: The American Hockey League | theahl.com)

The Hendricks Memorial ‘Fan Appreciation’ Award goes to the player who shows exemplary leadership & on-ice performance, and this award goes to Providence captain, Paul Carey. There is no doubt, returning captain Carey deserves this award. He plays a significant role in molding and teaching the younger prospects in the organization and remains productive as a forward as well, finishing second on the team with points.

The 6’1, 196-pound forward appeared in 60 games this season while racking up 22 goals and 39 points with a +9 rating. Carey also played in 30 games with Providence in 2018-2019 and produced 33 points during that time. Carey serves as a leadership role for the young prospects as well as an offensive plug for Providence. The 31-year-old has one more year left on his contract and will most likely serve that time with Providence unless he is called upon by the Bruins. Congratulations, Carey!

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Best Defenseman Award- Josiah Didier

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

The ‘Best Defenseman’ Award presented by Dunkin’ Donuts goes to Didier, who collects his second award. Along with being team-best in plus/minus, he also led the AHL in that same category. Didier played in 61 games this season and contributed 3-12-15 numbers with 79 PIM.

Didier will be a crucial piece to Providence, especially during the playoffs next season because of his experience after winning the Calder Cup with the Charlotte Checkers in 2018-2019. He collected four assists in 19 playoff games during that championship year. With his defensive skills, leadership, and physicality, he will be able to help Providence to their first Calder Cup Championship since 1999. Congratulations, Didier!

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Team MVP Award – Jack Studnicka

(Photo Credit: Boston Globe | bostonglobe.com)

The ‘Team MVP Award’ presented by Metlife is awarded to Jack Studnicka. The 21-year-old forward walks away with three team awards from the 2019-2020 campaign and rightfully so. In his first year in the AHL, he led his team in goals (23), assists (26) and points (49), while leading the entire league with shorthanded goals (7) and setting a new team record in that category.

If Studnicka remains healthy and performs well at camp this year, I expect him to be slotted into the Boston Bruins lineup almost immediately. I don’t think his rookie year was a fluke, and his hard-work ethic is going to reward him soon. There is no question Studnicka deserves this award. Congratulations, Studnicka!

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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!

Bruins Depth Players That Deserve Contract Extensions

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney certainly has his hands full when it comes to restricted and unrestricted free agents whenever the “official” National Hockey Leagues offseason happens. Boston’s future sustainability depends on whether or not contracts go well or not with potential re-signings of current NHLer’s like Anders Bjork (RFA Arbitration Eligible), Zdeno Chara (UFA), Jake DeBrusk (RFA), Matt Grzelcyk (RFA), Torey Krug (UFA), Kevan Miller (UFA), and Joakim Nordstrom (UFA).

To me, out of the players mentioned above, the priorities have to come down to Bjork, DeBrusk, Krug, and Grzelcyk to be extended for either short-term bridge or longer-term contracts. Regardless of work that has to be done at the NHL level to stay competitive and compliant with a potential flat salary cap at $81.5 for two to three seasons, it’s not going to be easy. With a rumored $18 million in cap space preparing for the upcoming 2020/21 campaign, I have a feeling the organization, along with some players, might have stalled talks leading up to 11th-hour panic decisions.

Not all offseason negotiations during the upcoming offseason are going to be hair pulling or check your blood pressure stressful moments. For example, take a look at the excellent CapFreindly.com website and scroll down to players coming off entry-level contract deals that could easily accept qualifying offers and one or two-year two-way extensions. Below are my thoughts of what players I’d like to see the Boston organization keep in the fold when it comes to development and having that “break glass” in case of emergency availability close by for another year or two.

Brendan Gaunce

( Photo Credit: Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images )

One of the Providence Bruins bright spots last season and his first with the NHL Bruins organization. Gaunce agreed to a one-year, two-way contract on July 1st, 2019, after spending four seasons in the Vancouver Canucks organization. Brendan was a solid middle-depth signing that brought a lot to the Providence Bruins line when talking about an aggressive style game and offensive capabilities.

Starting the 2019-20 AHL regular season with Providence on the right foot going 3-1-4 in his first five games, he hit a bit of a speed bump to his fast start on the back-to-back weekend trip north of the border. When the Rhode Island club traveled to Laval, Quebec, to play the affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens, Gaunce would suffer a severe head injury. Laval forward, Michael McCarron hit Brendan with a center ice blindsided hit, which led to the then 25-year-old concussed and gruesome facial lacerations.

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Gaunce, who’s an absolute warrior at 6′-2″ and 217-pounds, only needed 22 days to get healthy enough to return to the ice with extra facial protection, of course. Brendan got back in the lineup and immediately produced offensively like the injury never happened. His return to the AHL Bruins lineup, he contributed 1-1-2 numbers in a 4-1 road victory against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and would continue the year as a valued asset to Providence Head Coach Jay Leach up and down the roster.

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As a veteran forward in the developmental ranks, Brendan never went more than four games without a point, and in fact, his offensive production kicked it up a notch in the send half of the 2019-20 campaign. Starting with an assist on February 9th, 2020, in a 2-1 overtime loss to Sound Tigers, Brendan went the next ten games (27 Days) riding a career-high scoring streak where he posted 7-7-14 in that timeframe. With the cancelation of remaining games and Calder Cup Playoffs due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Gaunce finished the 2019-20 regular-season with 18-19-37 numbers in 52 games. Brendan was everything the Bruins expected as a minor-pro system addition and a go-to if an emergency recall was needed. In one game with Boston last season, he contributed an assist in his first NHL game since he was with Vancouver, where he appeared in three in the 2018-19 season.

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If I were the general manager of the NHL Bruins and if Gaunce would accept an extension to stay within the organization, he’d undoubtedly be a low-risk, high-reward signing. Either a one-year deal or a two-year stay, I can see Gaunce coming back and possibly having a better year than the previous shortened season. He has tremendous leadership skills, along with offensive ability. He could definitely be a candidate if retained for the next Providence Bruins captaincy if current team leader Paul Carey departs after next season.

Karson Kuhlman

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

A sneakingly good signing from the skillful eyes of the Boston Bruins scouting staff, Kuhlman’s addition has added a significant amount of speed and talent to the forward depth of this organization. The 5′-11″ 185-pound versatile forward has been a useful plug-and-play no matter where the soon to be 25-year-old has been asked to play. Karson is a tremendously hard worker and never gives up, which is a driving force the B’s should seriously consider bringing back for extended development.

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He might be undersized and young, but he’s displayed a significant number of leadership qualities thus far in his young hockey career. Before coming to the Bruins as a free agent the Minnesota USA, native wore letters in three of his four seasons playing NCAA Division 1 hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He might not light up the AHL or NHL scoreboard with point production consistency, but he adds a decent element of speed when inserted at either level. Most coaches will say that it’s not all about getting marks on the scoresheet on a nightly basis, but did that player do something that most didn’t notice to make an impact during the contest. Kuhlman’s uncanny skillset on the forecheck has been a valued asset no matter what level he’s played in.

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As many NHL Bruins fans have seen at the highest level in the world, Kuhlman has done pretty much everything Boston Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has asked of him. In his limited time with Boston, he’s appeared in 36 games contributing 4-7-11 numbers playing in 11 contests in 2018-19 and another 25 in 2019-20. Karson was never a massive point producer at any level of developmental hockey and in fact, his best pro season with Providence was in the 2018-19 campaign where he notched 12-18-30 totals in 58 games played along with an impressive +23 on the year.

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Kuhlman’s speed and upside are certainly worthy of a contract extension and believe Cassidy has high respect for his work ethic, which might have serious consideration keeping him in the fold. Replacements are going to be needed with future roster departures at the NHL level, so why not take a low-risk contract with Kuhlman? I’d say a $1.5 million two-year, two-way contract extension allows the Bruins accessibility to capture lightning in a bottle and promote quickly if Karson kicks up his offensive production at the AHL level.

Zach Senyshyn

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com / @AHLBruins )

To many Bruins fans, the mention of Boston prospect Zach Senyshyn brings up trying times and a bit of a reach at the NHL Entry Draft table back in the summer of 2015. Regardless of what Zach has done in the B’s organization, he’s consistently being labeled as a “draft bust” and a huge mistake. There’s no doubt, better-talented players, and ones that have risen to the NHL sooner rather than later were passed over in the first round. This certainly wasn’t B’s General Manager Don Sweeney and scouting staff’s most beautiful moment, but what was done is done and have to move on.

I know I’m going to be in the minority here with my opinion, but I believe Senyshyn has provided an excellent service to the Bruins organization. He’s another player that hasn’t exactly blown anyone to the moon with the stats since leaving the 2015 Draft Podium at the, but his work ethic and aggressiveness to be better has been second to none. Providence Head Coach Jay Leach has used Zach up and down the B’s lineup to act like a sponge and learn all aspects of the game. His game with and without the puck attributes has been something both sides have been working on since his arrival to the AHL.

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Before turning pro, he spent three seasons with the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds starting his Canadian Hockey League career as a fourth-liner in his rookie year tallying 26 goals on a deep Soo club, to follow up the next two years with the Greyhounds posting two 40 goal seasons (45 & 42) before turning pro in 2017-18. In his OHL career, all with the Hounds he posted 114-63-177 numbers and so far in his AHL career he’s contributed 33-33-66 numbers in 174 games.

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Senyshyn is currently in the last year of his entry-level contract, and his speed and offensive skillset continue to be a work-in-progress and believe he’ll be re-signed during the offseason. The tricky part of a deal with a player like Zach is if he’s in fact extended, he’ll have to go through the waiver process if he doesn’t make the NHL team out of training camp. I’m not sure how much the Bruins would want to invest when it comes to money and term for a younger player that one might not have a spot at the NHL level, and number two a player who most likely won’t survive the 24-hour waiver process he’d have to go through returning to the AHL.

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If Senyshyn’s re-signed and able to squeak through waivers much like the path that former Bruins prospect Peter Cehlarik did, I can see the Boston organization offering Zach a $1.8 million contract. I believe a two-year, two-way deal will be beneficial and, with the term, can see him securing an NHL roster spot by the end of a two-year extension. His speed and stride is something that you can’t just walk away from. Senyshyn’s ability to create space quickly away from opponents with or without the puck is something I’d certainly like to keep around. He could even be a solid third-line or even second winger in the future if everything works out, of course, but I commend the path that the Bruins have gone with the now 23-year-old 6′-1″ 196-pound forward.

Jakub Zboril

( Photo Credit: David Kirouac / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images )

Much like Senyshyn above, this wasn’t Boston’s finest hour when they went to the NHL Draft podium three times mid-first round in 2015. Zboril is another player that has absorbed the pro level of hockey with a seeming grain of salt and no rush mentality. Jakub has all the characters of being a lower pairing defenseman right now, but his path to the highest level in the world has taken a lot longer than most want to fathom.

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As a later developing pro, Zboril, by far, had his best season this year before the Covid-19 pandemic halted life as we know it. Call it a contract year scenario, but I noticed something special in the final year of his entry-level contract that brings me to this mention of the B’s bringing him back. More of a stay-at-home defenseman, Zboril does have some offensive capabilities as he ended his third season in Providence, tying an AHL career-high of 19 points he posted for three consecutive years.

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Zboril is a player that is always learning something new no matter what level of developmental hockey. In a defensive-minded Jay Leach system, Jakub can adapt to the three defensive pairings no matter where slotted. His aggressive style and defensive prowess this season has gotten tremendous attention not only from me but other media members in Providence who also spend a great deal in the press box evaluating talent. Jakub isn’t a perfect defensive player and does have moments where I shake my head, but his ability to get back in the play and recover from a mistake is commendable. Accountability is at the highest of his game attributes and is not one to pass the blame when an error in judgment is made on or off the puck.

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If I was to give an extension to Jakub, I’d go another year or two with him with potential departures at the NHL level in the future. Zdeno Chara is always a candidate when talking about a roster spot if and when he retires. John Moore and his roster spot are still up for conversation and which young player can come in and cover for the declining blueliner. Or how about the upcoming Seattle Expansion draft, and if a current Bruins player on defense is appealing to the newest NHL franchise, who’s set to draft an initial lineup next summer? Zboril is a player that can easily slot into an NHL lineup with space availability, of course, and will be a backup plan for the foreseeable future if he’s retained. When it comes to a dollar value, I will look at the $1.5-$2 million range for Jakub’s extended services.

Also, keeping in mind any future negotiations with Zboril will also be heavily considered when thinking about his waiver priority. If retained for further services, he’d need to pass through waivers to be placed in Providence, and with the current situation ahead of him when it comes to NHL contracts, that’ll likely be the destination. Personally, I hope the B’s do whatever it takes to keep him around as an ace in the hole but would also hate to lose him and not seeing his full NHL potential.

Dan Vladar

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Probably the biggest re-signing for the Boston Bruins staff out of any mentioned above when it comes to middle depth sustainability in the crease. With one more year of NHL starter Tuukka Rask remaining in his contract and the recent extension to backup Jaroslav Halak, the NHL level is covered when it comes to netminding duties. This provides an adequate amount of time for further development of 2015 third-round selection Dan Vladar and recently signed to entry-level contract Jeremy Swayman out of his junior year at the University of Maine.

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Vladar, who’s in his last year of his ELC, really took a stranglehold in his development during the 2019-20 regular-season campaign. After a slow start to the soon to be 23-year-old Czech Republic native, he encountered an injury In the seasons first cross border roadie in Laval, Quebec which left him with a high ankle sprain. Dan’s season record began with the 0-1-1 record giving up six goals in three games, so there’s no real-time for an injury to happen, but in the end, it was, in fact, beneficial, to say the least.

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During Vladar’s recovery, which lasted a whole 45 days before he returned from his ankle sprain also was a student of the game during that duration when help from above came down lending professional advice. NHL Bruins Goaltending Coach Bob Essensa and assistant Mike Dunham took advantage of the young goaltenders “downtime” while rehabilitating for countless hours of video sessions breaking down his game while minimizing his crease movements. As a 6′-5″ 185-pound athletic netminder, Essensa and Dunham broke down his game with technology to teach the big Czech netminder a new way of manning the crease and using his size to his benefit.

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When Vladar returned to the ice after his lengthy injury, he absolutely put on a show blanking the 2018-19 Calder Cup Champion Charlotte Checkers 4-0 with 36 saves and first star honors. After Dan’s No-No on December 1st, 2019, at the Bojangles Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, he would go onto post a regular-season record of 14-7-1 with a stingy and league-leading 1.79 goals-against-average and .936 save percentage. He also ended the 2019-20 regular-season campaign with three shutouts.

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Before the coronavirus shut everything down, Vladar was on his way to having his best career year between the pipes. I know it’s a small sample size of his potential, but in my opinion, with the tutelage of Essensa and Dunham and how he came back strong and determined has me believe he will definitely be re-signed. With the stretch of games from the start of December to mid-March, Vladar was clearly the best goaltender in that duration and started turning heads when thinking about future NHL placement. Extending Vladar for two more years not only locks him up for another full AHL season and audition, but it also makes him a serious candidate when considering future options with Halak and Rask and expiring contracts.

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A two-year, two-way contract worth around $2 million is certainly not out of the realm for keeping a netminder like Vladar around. Also, keep in mind that my guess on what Vladar and others mentioned when talking about a contract is the dollar value and what the particular player will earn at the Level if lucky enough to spend time at the highest level in the world. When spending time in the AHL, obviously, that number goes down to a range of $70K to $150K depending on the two-way contract structure, and bonuses entailed.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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!

AHL Bruins Offseason Departures Could Open Doors For Current ECHL Talent

( Photo Credit: AJC.com )

By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

As many of you know, the ECHL canceled the remainder of the 2019-20 regular-season and Kelly Cup Playoffs in mid-March well before the higher American Hockey League followed suit in mid-May with their remaining season and postseason cancelations. The Covid-19 pandemic has put a chokehold on many sports in North America for the past few months. It continues to wreak havoc on them returning anytime soon, with the number of athletes testing positive lately.

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Regardless of the coronavirus battle, which legitimately was the end of minor-pro hockey for the foreseeable future, players were showcasing their skills in the ECHL for jobs at a higher level. Take, for instance, the Boston Bruins “AA” minor-pro affiliate Atlanta Gladiators. Before everything came to a screeching halt, the Gladiators went from being near the bottom of the South Division to postseason hopefuls. Although the 2019-20 efforts of the Atlanta club were due to a team getting healthy and coming together, three players stood out to me and should be considered for re-signing and possible placement in the AHL next season.

With contract negotiations coming up with forwards Ryan Fitzgerald (UFA), Brendan Gaunce (RFA), Robert Lantosi (AHL Only Contract), Brett Ritchie (RFA), and even possibly Zach Senyshyn (RFA), a few options to play elsewhere might open up with the current Bruins depth. If some of these players I mentioned above choose to find another path for regular work at the National Hockey League level, here’s a few suggestions below of players that could be reliable replacements. Another huge advantage to my upcoming player mentions is the fact that both Boston and Providence organizations have had the “eye test” from scouts close by and could continue to serve a purpose in the middle depth of the organization already with decent resumes.

Samuel Asselin

( Photo Credit: Gwinnett Daily Post / Taylor Trebotte / Atlanta Gladiators )

I thought Samuel had a fantastic 2019-20 regular-season campaign that had him going up and down Interstate I-95 a few times from Atlanta to Rhode Island. Spending a majority of time during his first year of professional hockey with the Gladiators, the skilled, speedy forward posted 26-26-52 numbers in 53 games and was one of a few of the go-to’s all season when the Glads needed a strong offensive spark.

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For those who need a little catching up, Asselin signed a two-year AHL only contract in early June of last year and went through the rigors of NHL Bruins Development Camp in late June, Rookie Camp, and Prospects Challenge games in Buffalo, NY. last fall. The talented centerman spent time on the NHL Bruins training camp roster unable to survive the first cuts. Samuel would report to the AHLBruins 2019 training camp down in Rhode Island, ultimately getting sent to Atlanta who’s season started in mid-October. Before the Providence Bruins came calling for Asselin’s services he ended his QMJHL career (82-118-200 in 247 GP) leading the “Q” with 48 goals during the 2018-19 season after a trade from Acadie-Bathurst Titan where he won a 2018 Memorial Cup to lighting it up with goals for the Halifax Mooseheads the following season.

If by any chance, unrestricted free agent Ryan Fitzgerald is unfortunately lost in free agency to create a better NHL career path for himself, I could see a player like Asselin taking over Fitzy’s roster spot and possibly his role on the bottom six for Head Coach Jay Leach. Asselin not only possesses speed and a great pair of hands but also a grit factor and not afraid to get in the dirty areas along the boards and around the crease to create offensive opportunities. Asselin has one more year under his AHL contract. With his hard work in Atlanta, this past season deserves a chance over giving the job to a journeyman veteran that the Providence organization seems to find with decent overall success.

Samuel got into five AHL games as a first-year pro, and I thought he played well in the areas of the lineup where Providence Head Coach Jay Leach shuffled him around. Asselin spent the later have of November with the top minor-pro affiliate of the NHL Bruins and in those five games posted three assists which got him his first pro points and ended his first pro point streak which continues if and when he gets into another game next season.

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Scott Conway

( Photo Credit: Gwinnett Daily Post / Taylor Trebotte / Atlanta Gladiators )

Conway is an interesting story that has his hockey career beginning in England as a young man and a country who’s global interest in the sport was and continues to trend upward in popularity. Scott’s father Kevin Conway had a successful OHL career (129-139-268 in 175GP) in the early 1980s but only got as high in North American professional hockey as the International Hockey League, which at the time was lower than the AHL. Father Kevin’s hockey success would kick it up a notch when he went overseas to play in the United Kingdom in the late 1980s. The elder Conway played in leagues abroad, such as the BD1 (522-430-952 in 152GP), the BHL (372-363-735 in 208GP), BISL (60-63-123 in 125GP, and finally the EPIHL where he posted 186 points in 85 games.

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Younger Scott did play his youth hockey overseas. Still, his game would take a significant step higher in his development when he came to North America and participated in tier 1 leagues such as the NAHL (18-36-54 in 57GP), the USHL (33-35-68 in 57GP) and upward to the NCAA Division 1. Scott would commit to Penn State University for the 2014-15 season and appeared in 34 games posting 10-16-26 numbers. He’d be dismissed from Penn State after leading all rookies on the team in scoring for violating team rules. The following season after the Nittnay Lion’s departure, Conway, who was eligible for the BCHL, would go onto and play on the powerful Penticton Vees team. The 6′-0″ 185-pound forward would seemingly turn things around and become an assistant captain for the Vees club and posted 56-60-116 numbers in 56 games during the 2015-6 season.

The Boston and Providence organizations would benefit significantly from his proximity in the New England area when it comes to scouting as Scott was accepted to attend Providence College and go onto a decent three-year NCAA career. In 119 games with the Friars Club, he posted 40-35-75 numbers before signing a one-year AHL contract with the Providence team. Starting his pro career in ECHL Atlanta, Conway would go onto have a good year with the Gladiators contributing 17-16-33 numbers in 39 games as a first-year professional. After starting his pro career on a five-game point streak (7-0-7) with the Gladiators from mid-October to the end of the month, Scott would get called up to Providence. While with the Rhode Island team, Conway would spend November 2019 with Providence (11 Games), contributing 3-1-4 totals. Scott would get two other recalls to the AHL on separate occasions earning just one assist.

With the cancelations of the AHL and ECHL seasons due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 25-year-old Conway is set to be a free agent. With some priority contracts to take care of during the AHL Providence offseason, Scott would be a solid backup plan in case players like Brendan Gaunce, or another Center/left-wing isn’t retained.

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Tommy Marchin

( Photo Credit: Gwinnett Daily Post / Dale Zanine / Atlanta Gladiators )

Marchin is another player who’s currently in the last year of his contract with the conclusion of the AHL and ECHL remaining regular-season games and respected postseasons. Tommy is a product of the USDP program participating in the U-17 & U-18 teams during the 2012-13 campaign. After playing Tier 1 hockey in the USHL with the Lincoln Stars in 2013-14 (6-12-18 in 52GP) and Muskegon Lumberjacks the season after (23-23-46 in 56GP), the 6′-2″ 216-pound left-winger left the United States midland for the East Coast.

The Michigan native packed his bags after a successful two years in the USHL for the bright lights of Division 1 NCAA Men’s hockey action in the smallest state in the Union, Rhode Island. Marchin committed and successfully played in the ECAC’s Ivy League with Brown University, where he appeared in 115 games, contributing 40-36-76 career numbers while captaining his Senior season before turning pro in 2018-19. Being practically across the street from the Dunkin” Donuts Center in downtown Providence, the AHL team didn’t have to travel far to scout the developing 24-year-old potential low-risk forward.

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After having zero points in seven games after his NCAA commitment was through with the 2018-19 Brown season, the rugged forward got into his first cup of coffee at the pro level earning zero points. The following season (2019-20) in his second game of a recall from Atlanta, Marchin notched his first two and currently only AHL goals. So far, in 12 career games with Providence, he has 2-0–2 totals, but his full minor-pro rookie season with the Gladiators was a pleasant surprise for the ECHL greenhorn.

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Before the Coronavirus put a wrench in the gears of professional sports in mid-March, Marchin appeared in 49 games for the NHL’s “AA” minor-pro affiliate of the Boston Bruins. He was another offensive threat, such as Asselin mentioned above. With Tommy’s size and speed as a power forward for the Gladiators, he posted 21-27-48 numbers and another rugged player not afraid to use the body in or out of the dirty areas and is known for finishing his checks with bone-crunching force.

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The NHL Bruins have also called upon Marchin to participate in the 2018 Development Camp held at the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Massachusetts. I thought he did well in the four-day camp sessions and was eager to absorb instructions as a player older than most attendees. To me, I think it would be worth another one-year AHL only deal for Marchin to increase his development but also the means to keep a close eye on him under the Boston regime. Like I said with Conway above, this idea could be just another reliable backup if negotiations with depth players go array.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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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Boston Bruins Prospect Season Review: Zach Senyshyn

SENY

(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim A. Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Next up on my list of prospect season reviews is a player who sparks many debates amongst Bruins fans. That player is none other than Zach Senyshyn. A native of Ottawa, Ontario, he was drafted 15th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. The drafting of Senyshyn has come under much scrutiny because people felt the pick would have been better used on someone else. Even though that debate will continue to rage on, I believe that Senyshyn took some steps forward this season.

 

The numbers may not jump off at you on the scoresheet. In 42 games, Senyshyn netted seven goals while dishing out nine assists for 16 total points (stats courtesy of EliteProspects). Despite this, the young forward started becoming more consistent with his play and stood out on the ice almost every game. He was even playing so well in Providence, that he received the call to Boston. The young forward was playing great in Boston, but unfortunately, injury cut his time short. In four games with the big club, he had two points, both assists (stats courtesy of EliteProspects).

 

After his return from injury, Senyshyn continued to play well for the Providence Bruins. He flashed spurts of brilliance on the ice. His biggest asset is his speed. The young forward has speed and ability to make a defensive stop in his own zone, and then get ahead of the opposition for a scoring opportunity at the other end of the ice. There are very few players in the league that possess this ability. He’s also proven that he can be a defensively responsible winger. This is something that the Bruins like to make their young players learn in Providence. They want everyone to be the best two-way player they can be.

 

One other area that Senyshyn can be a difference-maker on the ice is the power-play. His combination of speed and offensive-skill makes him a nightmare to play defense against. One major thing the former first-round pick needs to do to utilize these tools more often is to become even more consistent. Game consistency is something that took a step forward this season, but it is still something he needs to work on. Once he has that step figured out, the sky is the limit for Senyshyn. He posses the speed and offensive skill and instincts to become a top-notch goal-scoring winger in the NHL.

 

One major question remains with Zach Senyshyn. Where does he end up when all is said and done? I believe that Senyshyn will end up being a middle-six scoring winger for the Boston Bruins for many years to come. His speed, offensive ability, and instincts are too great to ignore. This season he really took a step forward with his defensive responsibility and his game to game consistency. If he’s able to continue making those strides, there is no reason that we shouldn’t seem him in Boston next season. I hope everyone is staying safe. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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 Sign D Prospect Victor Berglund To ELC

 

(Source: Allehanda.se)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

This afternoon Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced that the team has signed Swedish defense prospect Victor Berglund to a three-year, entry-level contract (ELC). Per CapFriendly, the deal carries an average annual value (AAV) of $850,833 and a cap hit of $818,333.

The 20-year-old is coming off a season with MODO Hockey of the Swedish professional league, Allsvenskan, that saw him post career-highs in games played (52), goals (10), assists (12), points (22), plus-minus (plus-18), and penalty minutes (28). In two playoff games, Berglund was a plus-one with two penalty minutes.

Last season, the 6-foot, 180-pound defenseman registered four goals and nine assists for 13 points in 50 games with MODO. A native of Ornskoldsvik, Sweden Berglund notched 15-28-43 totals in 151 career Allsvenskan contests over four seasons.

Boston selected the Berglund with the 195th overall pick in the seventh round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. During the 2018-19 season, the right-shot blueliner suited up in four games for the Providence Bruins, posting a goal and an assist.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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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Flat NHL Salary Cap Could Have Current Bruins Departing This Offseason

( Photo Credit: Darcy Finley / NHLI Via Getty Images )

By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Covid-19 virus has put a close to the remaining National Hockey League games in the 2019-20 regular season and prompted the forward movement of a 24-team Stanley Cup playoff format. With a loss of the 181 games that the league was supposed to complete before the coronavirus pandemic hit, the financial burden is probably going to be felt for the next two to three years. The return to play idea for the NHL is not only good for the league and players but also a way to recover lost revenue. I believe if the remaining regular-season games and playoffs in 2020 were canceled altogether, that financial burden could be felt even further.

All NHL teams are going to be affected with the potential of the $81.5 million league-mandated salary cap not rising for the foreseeable future, especially the teams that spend up to the ceiling every year. The Boston Bruins are one of those teams that have a lot on their plate when it comes to contract negotiations whenever the upcoming offseason happens. Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney already knocked one negotiation off the list with a one-year contract extension with backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak, but with an estimated $18 million to spend next season, his job is far from done.

Bruins players such as Anders Bjork (RFA), Jake DeBrusk (RFA), Matt Grzelcyk (RFA), Zdeno Chara (UFA), and more notably Torey Krug (UFA), are going to eat up a majority of that remaining cap space. This could hinder the Boston club with minimal funds available for further roster movement. With the above players mentioned needing new deals, this could be an opportunity to shed some funds to address future needs. The names I’ve listed below are just ideas that may save a few bucks with not entertaining returns to the Bruins organization and even using buy-out scenarios. These potential moves could also be for roster spots of developing players with the Providence Bruins that are about to cross the threshold of NHL careers at cap-friendly salary numbers.

Par Lindholm UFA After 20/21 Season

( Photo Credit: Nic Antaya For The Boston GlobeVia Getty Images )

Lindholm has been a serviceable member of the Bruins organization, but his role on the team as a revolving 12th or 13th forward has me thinking it’s time for a change. In 40 games with the Boston club in 2019-20, the 28-year-old forward posted 3-3-6 numbers and has career totals of 4-15-19 in 105 NHL games. Par has one more year full season under contract, but even though his $850K isn’t a huge issue, he could be placed on waivers or bought out to free up a roster spot. If the Bruins were to entertain a buy-out option, per the Cap-Friendly.com website, the team would owe him $283K for the next two seasons.

Kevan Miller UFA

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Miller who’s been with the Bruins organization since the 2011-12 season starting his professional career in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins is currently in his final year of a four-year contract. Kevan’s been a warrior throughout his time in Black & Gold but injuries and setbacks trying to get healthy have me thinking the 32-year-old’s time in Boston might’ve come to an end. With the salary cap not going up, any dollar value he could garner should be used for a healthy younger asset and relieve the bottleneck of developing blueliners rising from the AHL. With the Bruins cap problems, Miller might have a better opportunity elsewhere in the NHL with roster availabilities to continue the veteran’s career.

Joakim Nordstrom UFA

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Nordstrom has been another serviceable player for the Bruins organization, but when a team is up against it, and roster availability is needed, this might be the last time we see the 28-year-old Swedish native. An effective penalty killer and a player Head Coach Cassidy could rely on up and down the lineup will be tough to walk away from, but when thinking about the future sustainability of the team, moves like this have to be considered. Nordstrom is currently in the last year of his two-year contract, which paid him $1 million per season. To save money and a roster spot, I could see the B’s looking to Providence to fill his position with a developing member of the club and cheaper dollar value.

Brett Ritchie RFA

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images )

Although the Ritchie project didn’t exactly work out for him and the Boston organization he is an RFA that was sent down to the Providence Bruins midseason to find his game pre-covid-19 regular-season pause. Even though Ritchie was sent down to the AHL, a majority of his NHL salary followed along with it and remained on the NHL Bruins salary cap. To save money I don’t believe a return to the B’s is a good idea moving forward. He’s a 26-year-old forward and is arbitration-eligible which is a scary thought when thinking about saving money. In my opinion, it would be beneficial for both sides to walk away making him available to seek work in the NHL elsewhere because I don’t believe he’d entertain future contract negotiations to report back to the AHL next season.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 181 that we recorded below on 5-30-20! 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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