Bruins Announce First Training Camp Cuts

axel-andersson-6-30-18.jpg

(Photo: Angela Spagna)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced the first round of cuts from Boston’s training camp this afternoon. Axel Andersson and Wiley Sherman have been assigned to Providence while Cooper Zech, Samuel Asselin, Chris Breen, Alexey Solovyev, and Brendan Woods will report to Providence training camp. Andersson and Sherman were “assigned” to the P-Bruins since they are on NHL entry-level contracts compared to the others, who are all on AHL deals.

The 21-year-old Andersson was selected by Boston with the 57th-overall pick in the second round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and will likely play his first season in North America this year, whether he skates with Providence or with Moncton of the QMJHL remains to be seen. However, returning overseas is also still an option for the Swedish defenseman.

Sherman was drafted by the Bruins in the fifth round of the 2013 entry draft (150th-overall). The Harvard product inked his ELC in the spring of 2018 and played his first full professional season last year, posting  2-3-5 totals with Providence as well as a minus-seven rating. The 6-foot-7 defenseman 33 total points (seven goals and 26 assists) in 137 NCAA contests.

Asselin (21) signed with Providence after a standout year with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL where he totaled 48 goals and 38 assists for 86 points in 68 games. Breen has been a mainstay on the Providence blue-line over the last five seasons, donning an “A” during each of the last four campaigns. During his tenure with the P-Bruins, the 30-year-old has 49 total regular season points as well as seven playoff points.

The Bruins won the bidding war for Zech, signing him to an AHL deal after the 20-year-old registered 8-20-28 numbers in 36 NCAA games during his first season with Ferris State. After joining the P-Bruins at the tail-end the season, the defenseman notched four assists in 12 games before tallying two goals in four playoff contests.

Woods, selected in the fifth round in 2012 by Carolina (129th-overall), has been a career AHL-er, posting 85 points in 262 regular season games between the Charlotte Checkers and the Utica Comets. The 27-year-old forward has seven penalty minutes in seven NHL games. Solvyev spent the last four years at Bentley University, where he recorded 46 points in 109 career NCAA games. The 25-year-old Russian is un-drafted.

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

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Opportunities Are Abundant In The Bruins System For Anders Bjork

Image result for anders bjork

(Photo Credit: Brian Babineau: NHL/Getty Images)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

One of the most popular names in training camp in recent weeks has been Anders Bjork. Thanks in large part to an impressive showing at the prospects challenge, Bjork has caught the eyes of many. His dynamic skill set and comfortability are still ever so present after two shoulder surgeries in as many years.

Bjork has seen time with Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle most recently, but there are still other options for him.

On the wing with Jack Studnicka in Providence

Whether it’s on the left-wing or the right, if Bjork and Studnicka both end up down in Providence to start the season, I would love to see what they could do together. Bjork and Studnicka are the two most dynamic forwards in the system and could seriously light it up together. The other winger could be any of a number of players, perhaps someone like Jakub Lauko, Ryan Fitzgerald, Cameron Hughes, or Oskar Steen.

If the coaching staff decides that playing in the AHL is best for Bjork to start, it would be best to equip him with skilled linemates such as the players listed above.

First-line right-wing

Despite not lighting it up on the scoresheet, it’s fair to say that Bjork has looked the most comfortable on the top line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Playing with two well-established veterans allows Bjork to learn and if he puts himself in the right spots to generate chances, score as well.

In time with the top line this past year, Heinen also looked pretty confident on the first line right-wing. With Bjork’s career off to a turbulent start with injuries, playing with two established veterans that he can learn from and potentially produce at a high-level with could be just what Bjork needs to ease into becoming a full-time NHL player.

Second-line right-wing 

This one isn’t very likely in my eyes, but it’s still possible. The way I see it, the second-line right wing job is Karson Kuhlman’s to lose. Alongside Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci last season, Kuhlman completed a second line that generated 7.00 GF/60 last season. That’s insane. His speed and forechecking ability also adds a lot to that line and makes the line difficult to deal with in the offensive zone.

The speed of DeBrusk and Bjork on Krejci’s wings is definitely worth exploring at some point though. It just probably won’t be right away to start the 2019-2020 season.

Third-line left-wing

I think this is where Bjork will land to start the season. Bjork has been playing on Coyle’s left with Heinen on the right for the past week in practice, as well as last night against the Philadelphia Flyers. The three of them looked great together last night, consistently pushing the pace through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone.

Not only did they pretty much dominate through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone, but they also did a great job limiting the Flyers scoring chances.

31 shot attempts. 31! Anders Bjork was a menace to deal with last night. His smooth skating and offensive abilities could add an important element to the third line. Coyle was a tank last year, especially in the playoffs. His big body, prowess in all three zones, and scoring abilities in a third-line role make him the ideal man for the job.

As the third-line center, Coyle established some serious chemistry with Heinen. The two looked very comfortable with each other again last night.

Where Heinen thrives is creating scoring chances for his linemates and limiting opponent scoring chances. He thrived in that area in a down year offensively for him last year. If Heinen can get back to around the 47-point mark he hit in his rookie season, do what he does best, and Bjork and Coyle can bring what they do best to the table, as previously mentioned, this has the potential to be a dominant third line.

Bjork spoke to Bruins reporter Eric Russo about Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen before last night’s preseason win for the Bruins over the Flyers.

Where Bjork lands is still to be determined over the next couple weeks, but there are certainly a lot of options for him. If he can stay healthy, he has high upside that is worth getting excited about.

Boston Bruins Prospect Player Profile: Jack Studnicka

Boston Bruins Development Camp

(Photo Courtesy of David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Jack Studnicka was drafted in the second round, 53rd overall in the 2017 NHL Draft. The Winsdor, Ontario native was coming off a pretty good season the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) at the time of his selection. He was seen as a strong, and speedy two-way forward who could play the penalty-kill, power-play, and five-on-five. It’s easy to why Studnicka was drafted in the second round, now let’s dive into what he did leading up to and after he was selected 53rd overall.

The 2016-17 season was Studnicka’s second with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL. The young forward was hoping to build his draft stock and he did just that. In 64 games with the Generals, he netted 18 goals and dished out 34 assists for 52 total points and a plus/minus of minus six. The Ontario native also seemed to turn it on when the lights were brightest in the playoffs. In the team’s 11 playoff games he netted five goals and dished out 10 assists for 15 total points and a plus/minus of minus one. It was an excellent season for Studnicka to build upon going forward.

The 2017-18 season was the young forward’s first since being drafted by Boston. Going into the season Oshawa would reward Studnicka’s play and leadership ability by putting the “C” on his sweater. The newly appointed Captain would reward the team’s decision and excel for the Generals. In 66 games he netted 22 goals while dishing out 50 assists for 72 total points and a plus/minus of 18. In Oshawa’s five playoff games he netted one goal and dished out four assists for five total points and a plus/minus of zero.

It was such a good season for Studnicka, that the team gave him his first taste of professional hockey. In five games with Providence, he netted one goal and dished out four assists for five total points and a plus/minus of two. It was an excellent season for the Ontario native, who proved to be one of the teams top prospects. He was able to show off not only his defensive awareness but also the soft hands that help fuel his scoring ability.

With the Bruins’ offensive depth in the system, the team decided to send Studnicka back to Oshawa for the 2018-19 season. Still appointed as the Generals’ Captain, the young forward would only play in the 30 games with Oshawa before being traded to the Niagra IceDogs. At the time of the trade, the Ontario native had played in 30 games with the Generals’ netting 12 goals and dishing out 22 assists for 34 total points and a plus/minus of 10.

The trade to the Niagra IceDogs seemed to light a fire under Studnicka. Dawning the “A” on his sweater, he would play in 30 games for Niagra netting 24 goals and dishing out 25 assists for 49 total points and a plus/minus of eight. This means for the entire season, Studnicka played in 60 games netting 36 goals and dishing out 47 assists for 83 total points and a plus/minus of 18. He would also play in Niagra’s 11 playoff games netting five goals and dishing out 6 assists for 11 total points and a plus/minus of four.

The young forward would also play in Providence’s four playoff games netting a goal and dishing out an assist for two total points and a plus/minus of two. It was an excellent 2018-19 campaign for Studnicka which really solidified his status as a top prospect in not only the Boston Bruins organization, but the entire NHL. His defensive awareness, speed and scoring ability make him a lethal forward. He is certain to be the Bruins’ lineup for many years to come.

This season will be an interesting one for Studnicka. He’s going to be given every opportunity to win a spot on Boston’s roster out of training camp. There are a few factors that will go into this decision. The first is how well he plays in training camp and the preseason games. The second is where do the Bruins envision him playing going forward. If he plays well enough at the center position, you could see the team move Charlie Coyle to the wing. The team might also value Studnicka more at the wing position and could play him there if they feel his offensive ability is too good to send down to Providence.

Ultimately I believe Studnicka will spend the beginning of the season in Providence but I believe he will end up getting called up to Boston mid-season. It’s easy to see why the Boston Bruins and fans alike are excited about this young forward. He could be a foundational top-six forward for the Bruins for the foreseeable future. I am excited to see how he plays in his first full professional season. I hope everyone enjoys the preseason because regular season hockey is right around the corner. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter, and as always GO, Bs, GO!

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BNG First Annual Bruins Season Predictions

( Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh )

By: Michael Robert |  Follow me on Twitter: @b_blackandgold

Well, folks. Here we are. The 2019-20 season is just around the corner and camps are underway. And here we are to meet your Bruins needs with the First Annual BNG Season Predictions! We throw some guesses out there, some educated and some not, on predicting the unpredictable. All questions based on regular-season unless otherwise stated. Assembled here for this is our five-person panel from http://www.blackngoldhockey.com, and without further ado, let’s get this underway and hope you enjoy!

On Twitter, they are as follows!

Michael: @b_blackngold
Joe: @jchrz19
Lucas: @LucasPearson_
Garrett: @thesportsguy97
Mike: @Mike_Cratty

Will Pastrnak hit 40 goals?

Michael: Yes
Joe: Yes
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: Yes
Mike: Yes

Will Pastrnak put up 100 points?

Michael: No
Joe: No
Lucas: No
Garrett: No
Mike: No

Will Marchand top the 100 point mark?

Michael: Yes
Joe: No
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: Yes
Mike: No

How many goals will Marchand score?

Michael: 40
Joe: 37
Lucas: 38
Garrett: 38
Mike: 33

Can Bergeron stay healthy for the full season?

Michael: Yes
Joe: Yes
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: No
Mike: Yes

How many points for Bergeron this season?

Michael: 82
Joe: 77
Lucas: 92
Garrett: 72
Mike: 88

Will the Bruins keep the top line together or look to spread the wealth?

Michael: Let them continue to dominate.
Joe: Keep them together.
Lucas: Stay together.
Garrett: Keep them together.
Mike: Stay together.

Will DeBrusk score 30+ goals?

Michael: Yes
Joe: No
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: Yes
Mike: Yes

Will DeBrusk post 70+ points?

Michael: No
Joe: No
Lucas: No
Garrett: Yes
Mike: No

Who will lead the team in points and with how many?

Michael: Brad Marchand. 104.
Joe: Brad Marchand. 94.
Lucas: Brad Marchand. 101.
Garrett: Brad Marchand. 106.
Mike: Brad Marchand. 98.

Will Krejci be able to match his 2018-19 season in terms of overall play?

Michael: Yes
Joe: Yes
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: No
Mike: Yes

How many points for Krejci?

Michael: 70
Joe: 69
Lucas: 68
Garrett: 71
Mike: 71

Is there a chance Grzelcyk could be moved up to lessen the load on Chara?

Michael: Yes
Joe: No
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: No
Mike: Not likely

Will Chara see less ice time this season? If so, what will his average TOI be?

Michael: Yes. 19:00.
Joe: Yes. 20:50.
Lucas: Yes. 19:20.
Garrett: Yes. 20:30.
Mike: No, the same as last season.

Will Big Z retire after this season?

Michael: Yes
Joe: Yes
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: No
Mike: No

Will McAvoy see over or under 23 mins average TOI?

Michael: Over
Joe: Under
Lucas: Over
Garrett: Over
Mike: Under

How many points will McAvoy produce?

Michael: 55
Joe: 43
Lucas: 39
Garrett: 43
Mike: 47

Will Torey Krug still be a Bruin by the trade deadline?

Michael: Yes
Joe: Yes
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: Yes
Mike: Yes

Will Heinen have a back bounce season and contribute more offensively with 50+ points?

Michael: No
Joe: Yes
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: Yes
Mike: No

Can Coyle bring his 2018-19 playoff success into the regular season consistently?

Michael: Definitely
Joe: Yes
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: Yes
Mike: Yes

With Brett Ritchie being added to the bottom 6 group of forwards, can he come in and make an impact?

Michael: Yes
Joe: No
Lucas: Yes
Garrett: Yes
Mike: Yes

How will the addition of Ritchie and Lindholm affect the lineup?

Michael: Bolster the bottom 6 depth.
Joe: Won’t affect it.
Lucas: If they get in the lineup, they will
contribute.
Garrett: Won’t change much, as they
won’t get much ice time.
Mike: Depth, but no real playing time.

How many starts will Rask get? Halak?

Michael: Rask 44. Halak 38.
Joe: Rask 47. Halak 35.
Lucas: Rask 47. Halak 35.
Garrett: Rask 46. Halak 36.
Mike: Rask 48. Halak 34.

How many wins for Rask? Halak?

Michael: Rask 28. Halak 22.
Joe: Rask 30. Halak 19.
Lucas: Rask 30. Halak 20.
Garrett: Rask 29. Halak 23
Mike: Rask 29. Halak 21

What will be Rask’s Sv% on the season be?

Michael: .912
Joe: .920
Lucas: .918
Garrett: .914
Mike: .921

Can the Bruins find a trade partner for Backes or will they eat his contract until it runs out?

Michael: Yes.
Joe: Yes, next offseason.
Lucas: After this season.
Garrett: They are stuck with it.
Mike: Yes, next summer.

Could Vaakanainen earn himself a spot in the top 6 by seasons end?

Michael: Yes
Joe: No
Lucas: No
Garrett: Yes
Mike: Yes

What prospects will get a look in some NHL games this year?

Michael: Studnicka, Senyshyn, Vaak, Lauko, Steen, Frederic
Joe: Vaak, Studnicka, Lauzon, Frederic, Steen, Hughes, Senyshyn.
Lucas: Studnicka and Bjork.
Garrett: Studnicka, Vaak, Lauzon
Mike: Vaak, Lauko, Lauzon, Steen, Hughes, Senyshyn.

Who is your candidate for the player that “comes out of nowhere?”

Michael: Zachary Senyshyn
Joe: Zachary Senyshyn
Lucas: Anders Bjork
Garrett: Karson Kuhlman
Mike: Anders Bjork

Who is your player pick for “comeback of the year” player?

Michael: Anders Bjork
Joe: Danton Heinen
Lucas: Danton Heinen
Garrett: Danton Heinen
Mike: Anders Bjork

Who will be the offensive team MVP? Defensive MVP?

Michael: Marchand and McAvoy.
Joe: Marchand and Carlo.
Lucas: Marchand and Krug.
Garrett: Marchand and Carlo.
Mike: Marchand and McAvoy.

What player will win the Seventh Player award this season?

Michael: Matt Grzelcyk
Joe: Anders Bjork
Lucas: Matt Grzelcyk
Garrett: Karson Kuhlman
Mike: Connor Clifton

How many points in the regular season will the Bruins get?

Michael: 102
Joe: 105
Lucas: 109
Garrett: 111
Mike: 108

Will the Bruins make it back to the playoffs? Finals?

Michael: Playoffs yes. Finals no.
Joe: Playoffs yes. Finals no.
Lucas: Playoffs yes. Finals yes.
Garrett: Playoffs yes. Finals no.
Mike: Playoffs yes. Finals yes.

If no, what round will they get beat out in and to who?

Michael: Conference finals loss to
New York Rangers
Joe: Second round exit to Tampa Bay.
Lucas: They’re winning the cup.
Garrett: Conference finals loss to
Washington
Mike: All the way for the cup win.

LEAGUE PICK EMS

Top 3 finishers in each division, in order.

Atlantic Division

Michael: Tampa, Boston, Toronto
Joe: Tampa, Boston, Toronto
Lucas: Tampa, Boston, Florida
Garrett: Tampa, Boston, Toronto
Mike: Boston, Tampa, Toronto

Metro Division

Michael: New York Rangers, Washington
Philadelphia
Joe: Washington, Pittsburgh, New York
Islanders
Lucas: Carolina, Washington,
Philadelphia
Garrett: Washington, Pittsburgh, New
York Islanders
Mike: New York Rangers, Washington,
Carolina

Central Division

Michael: Nashville, Colorado, Dallas
Joe: Nashville, Dallas, Colorado
Lucas: Colorado, Nashville, St. Louis
Garrett: Nashville, Colorado, Winnipeg
Mike: Nashville, St. Louis, Colorado

Pacific Division

Michael: Vegas, Calgary, San Jose
Joe: Calgary, Vegas, San Jose
Lucas: Calgary, San Jose, Arizona
Garrett: Vegas, San Jose, Calgary
Mike: Vegas, San Jose, Calgary

Eastern Conference finals matchup?Winner? How many games?

Michael: Boston v New York Rangers
New York Rangers in 7
Joe: Tampa Bay v Washington
Tampa Bay in 6
Lucas: Boston v Toronto (WC)
Boston in 7
Garrett: Boston v Washington
Washington in 7
Mike: Boston v New York Rangers
Boston in 6

Western Conference finals matchup?Winner? How many games?

Michael: Nashville v Vegas
Vegas in 6
Joe: Dallas v Vegas
Dallas in 7
Lucas: Nashville v San Jose
Nashville in 6
Garrett: Colorado v San Jose
San Jose in 6
Mike: Vegas v Colorado
Vegas in 7

Stanley Cup finals winner? How many games?

Michael: New York Rangers in 7
Joe: Tampa Bay in 6
Lucas: Boston in 7
Garrett: San Jose in 6
Mike: Boston in 7

Most likely exceed expectations?

Michael: New York Rangers
Joe: Arizona
Lucas: Arizona
Garrett: New York Rangers
Mike: New York Rangers

Most likely to underachieve?

Michael: St. Louis
Joe: Columbus
Lucas: Winnipeg
Garrett: Carolina
Mike: Dallas

Canadian team with the highest points?

Michael: Toronto
Joe: Calgary
Lucas: Calgary
Garrett: Toronto
Mike: Toronto

How many teams north of the border will make the playoffs?

Michael: 3
Joe: 4
Lucas: 2
Garrett: 3
Mike: 3

AWARD WINNERS

Hart Trophy

Michael: Connor McDavid
Joe: Nathan MacKinnon
Lucas: Connor McDavid
Garrett: Nathan MacKinnon
Mike: Connor McDavid

Art Ross Trophy

Michael: Nathan MacKinnon
Joe: Connor McDavid
Lucas: Nikita Kucherov
Garrett: Nikita Kucherov
Mike: Connor McDavid

Calder Trophy

Michael: Kappo Kakko
Joe: Kappo Kakko
Lucas: Jack Hughes
Garrett: Jack Hughes
Mike: Kappo Kakko

Selke Trophy

Michael: Patrice Bergeron
Joe: Aleksander Barkov
Lucas: Patrice Bergeron
Garrett: Patrice Bergeron
Mike: Patrice Bergeron

Norris Trophy

Michael: Victor Hedman
Joe: Roman Josi
Lucas: Seth Jones
Garrett: Victor Hedman
Mike: Victor Hedman

Vezina Trophy

Michael: Henrik Lundqvist
Joe: Ben Bishop
Lucas: Andrei Vasilevskiy
Garrett: Marc-Andre Fleury
Mike: Andrei Vasilevskiy

Jack Adams Award

Michael: Jared Bednar
Joe: Jim Montgomery
Lucas: Rick Tocchet
Garrett: Jared Bednar
Mike: Bruce Cassidy

Coach on the bubble?

Michael: Mike Babcock
Joe: Bruce Boudreau
Lucas: Bruce Boudreau
Garrett: Mike Babcock
Mike: Mike Babcock

GM on the bubble?

Michael: Kevin Cheveldayoff
Joe: Brad Treliving
Lucas: Pierre Dorion
Garrett: Kevin Cheveldayoff
Mike: Kevin Cheveldayoff

Player drafted 1 to 3 at the 2020 draft?

Michael: Alexis LaFrenière, Quinton
Byfield, Lucas Raymond

Joe: Alexis LaFrenière, Lucas Raymond,
Quinton Byfield.

Lucas: Alexis LaFrenière, Lucas
Raymond, Quinton Byfield

Garrett: Alexis LaFrenière, Quinton
Byfield, Lucas Raymond

Mike: Alexis LaFrenière, Quinton Byfield,
Lucas Raymond

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.

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!

For Bruins’ Bjork, Uncertainty Looms Ahead Of Training Camp

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(Photo: Paul Rutherford / USA TODAY Sports)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Anders Bjork has not had the start to his professional hockey career that he, or anyone else for that matter, likely envisioned. Between inconsistency at the NHL level, a demotion to Providence that led him to miss the Winter Classic at his alma mater, and two season-ending shoulder surgeries, the forward is basically starting from scratch this season.

Surprising or not, the fact that Bjork was included on the Bruins’ rookie camp and Prospects Challenge roster should have been beneficial to his chances of having a good showing at training camp. The Notre Dame product said he was fully cleared to play in July and trained hard all summer; however, few things can simulate game speed, but the Prospects Challenge should have served as a great chance for Bjork to get his legs back under him ahead of what looks to be an extremely competitive training camp. From the way things sounded on Twitter (because most of the games were not streamed, of course), Bjork was among the standouts during the games in Buffalo.

The Mequon, Wisconsin, native is among other prospects, like Jack Studnicka, Zach Senyshyn, Peter Cehlarik, and more, who are looking to make a strong impression at camp and seize one of the two forward spots that are up for grabs. With 50 games of NHL experience under his belt, Bjork has a leg up on most of the others, likely aside from Cehlarik and Karson Kuhlman, though.

In those 50 games (5-10-15 numbers), Bjork has shown flashes of the skilled, speedy, all-zones force that many thought he would become in time with the Bruins. He looked most promising when playing on Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand’s right wing during his rookie season, but struggled when suiting up further down the lineup in a bottom-six role last season.

Entering the last year of his entry-level contract, the 23-year-old will not only be looking to stand out to secure a spot in the NHL, but also to earn a decent pay raise this off-season when his deal is up. So, if Bjork wasn’t motivated enough to prove that he still has the potential to become the player everyone once thought he could be after shining at Notre Dame, the added factor of it being a contract year almost certainly adds to the fire under him.

So where exactly does Anders Bjork fit within the Bruins’ organization? The answer to that question is hard to pinpoint. In an ideal world, the Bruins have the two wide open forward spots sorted out, which would allow Bjork to start the year in Providence to regain his confidence and get up to speed. However, this is not a perfect world, so it remains to be seen who might step up during training camp and seize the spots. Head coach Bruce Cassidy even specifically named Bjork as one of the guys in the running to slot in on David Krejci’s right on the second line; you can read about that in my last article here.

On paper, based on Bjork’s skillset alone, the obvious choice for where he would go in the NHL lineup would be in the top-six next to either Krejci or Bergeron, whom he has found success with in the past, as I previously mentioned. However, a third-line role next to Charlie Coyle would not be the worst thing in the world, especially considering Bjork would be making a significant upgrade from the start of last season when he flanked David Backes.

Long story short, Bjork needs to play meaningful minutes, whether it is in top-flight role in Providence, or a top-nine spot in Boston. With training camp beginning tomorrow, there is no doubt that he needs a strong showing at camp to ensure that he is still in the organization’s future plans.

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Boston Bruins Prospect Player Profile: Jakub Lauko

Bruins Capitals Hockey

(Photo Courtesy of AP / Nick Wass)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Jakub Lauko was drafted in the third round, 77th overall in the 2018 NHL Draft. The young forward is someone who the Bruins felt could be the steal of the draft. Though his stats didn’t jump out at you, he still played well in the Czech Republic’s top league, Czech Extraliga. Lauko’s biggest asset when he was drafted was his speed. He’s able to use this speed to skate past defenders and drive to the net. Not only does he have elite speed, but he also has excellent on-ice awareness and a great finishing touch. These are three tools that not a lot of players possess. Now that we’ve gone a little into the why let’s dive into what Lauko did leading up to and after being drafted.

The 2017-18 season was the year before Lauko was drafted. The Czech Republic native was playing in the Czech Extraliga for Pirati Chomutov. He had made his debut with the club the previous year as a 16-year-old kid. That gives you an idea of how talented Lauko is. In 42 games with Pirati Chomutov, he netted three goals while dishing out six assists for nine total points and a plus/minus rating of -1. Despite the seemingly low point total, the Boston Bruins really liked what they saw from Lauko. The skill that really caught their eye though, was his speed. It’s Lauko’s biggest asset moving forward. Combining that with his scoring ability and it makes for a lethal combination.

After being drafted in 2018 Jakub Lauko was invited to training camp with the Boston Bruins. After a strong showing, he signed a three-year entry-level contract and was assigned to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL. The 2018-19 season with the Huskies would be a memorable one for the young forward. In 44 games with Rouyn-Noranda, Lauko netted 21 goals while dishing out 20 assists for 41 total points, and a plus/minus rating of +34. In the Huskies’ 19 playoff games, he netted six goals and dished out seven assists for 13 total points and a plus/minus rating of +10. The young speedster would lead rookies in playoff scoring which helped Rouyn-Noranda win the 2018-19 QMJHL Championship.

After winning the QMJHL Championship the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies would go on to play in the Memorial Cup tournament. The Memorial Cup is awarded to the CHL (Canadian Hockey League) Champion. The CHL is made up of three member leagues, the QMJHL (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League), the OHL (Ontario Hockey League) and the WHL (Western Hockey League). Each year, the champion from each league and a host team play in a round-robin style tournament to determine the Memorial Cup winner.

Lauko would end up leading the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies to a Memorial Cup Championship win. In the five games, he netted two goals and dished out six assists for eight total points and a plus/minus rating of +3. Lauko’s eight points would lead the tournament in scoring. It was a superb season for the native of the Czech Republic. He showed that he a lot of scoring ability that he’s able to pair with elite speed and on-ice awareness. Lauko has a ton of talent for being such a young player. If he can continue to develop at his current rate, then the Bruins’ assertion that he will be the steal of the 2018 draft will end up being true.

Going into this season there was some on where Lauko would play. Does he play in Providence or stay with Rouyn-Noranda? I expect the young forward to spend the entire season in Providence. The speedster has done all there is to do in the QMJHL and with a talent like his, it’s better to not rush him to the NHL before he’s ready. A full year in Providence will allow him to get acclimated to the Bruins’ system, and structure. It will also give him a chance to catch up to the speed of professional hockey. Thanks to his combination of speed, on-ice awareness, and finishing ability I think Jakub Lauko has a chance to be a special top-six forward for many years in Boston. I hope everyone is enjoying the off-season and feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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Providence Bruins Get A Gem In Asselin

( Photo Credit: Vincent Ethier/LHJMQ )

By: Michael Robert |  Follow me on Twitter: @b_blackandgold

The Bruins have remained fairly steady the last couple years when it comes to making any big changes, whether that be adding through free agency or looking to bring a change through any trades that would make an immediate impact. They have stuck to their guns and have been trusting the process of building from within, by drafting and developing players that slot into the roles they want to inject into the lineup.

Look no further than the way off-board pick of Trent Frederic at 29th overall in the 2016 entry draft as a prime example. They were so brazen as to even publicly state that they picked him there with the intention and of his projection to be a bottom-six player in their lineup. Why you would take someone you think is a bottom-six that high is beyond me, but I digress. And it turns out the young man continues to get better, faster, and stronger, almost like he has something to prove. Maybe this was their divine plan all along? We could go back to the hotly debated 2015 draft as well, where they took players that were projected far lower than where the Bruins snagged them. Regardless, they have shown time and time again to build the big league team through their system ranks instead of making any big splashes.

The odd time, they, as well as other clubs, take a chance on some players that linger on the outskirts, because why not? Worst case scenario they don’t progress into anything, and best-case scenario, they grow as a player under the tutelage of good coaching and trainers, and as they become men, they turn into an impact player. This is not a common happening. But, if there is a player I would put my money on to be one of the players in a small sample size to break the mold, it is Samuel Asselin.

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Asselin was picked up this year by the Bruins as an undrafted overage player coming out of the QMJHL, playing his final season with the Halifax Mooseheads where he was also tagged with an “A” on his jersey for awesome. Well, an assistant captain, but this kid has skills as you saw in the video above. He is a smaller player coming in at 5’9 and 180 pounds, but in today’s game, this doesn’t tell the full story. This kid is quick, gritty, has great hands, attacks the net, is relentless on the puck, can make the plays, and has a great shot. Yes, he is a bit of all things good.

This description got me thinking of another player with the Bruins actually…..#63. I hate making comparisons because it isn’t fair to drop that on him thinking he will produce in the same way, but I believe the sky is the limit here with him, and he certainly can do great things. What remains to be seen is if he can translate it to the NHL level. He is currently on a contract that has him sticking in the AHL only, but what an opportunity to show what he can do and earn himself something better when this runs out.

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Asselin has some impressive accomplishments coming with him to the Bruins. He was the leading goal scorer in the ‘Q’ in his final year, was a Memorial Cup Champion in 2018, and made it back to the Mem Cup finals again in his last season coming up just short while being the most dominant player in the tournament by far. He was also a member of the Titan when they were the QMJHL Champions and served as captain of the Cataractes in his third season in the league. Some other accolades he holds with him are being named to the CHL All-Star Team in 2017-18 and in 2018-19 was named to the QMJHL Second All-Star Team. He has also been leaving his mark on the recent Prospects Challenge in Buffalo. I can’t help but see some Marchand-Esque zip to his game.

Asselin is very self-aware and knows what he brings to the table:

“I can score, I can pass the puck, I think I’ve got pretty good vision but I can always play both sides [of the puck], I can play in my zone. I’m a good two-way forward. I think that’s my biggest asset,” Asselin described himself 10 months back.

In his first three seasons with Shawinigan, he put up 30 – 73 – 103 numbers in 167 games played. In that third season, he was moved to the Titan and played 10 games with them there posting 4 – 7 – 11 totals. The following season he was moved quickly to Halifax, where one could say he had a coming-out party of sorts, putting up an impressive 48 – 38 – 86 in 68 games. He had some solid players surrounding him there as well, like LaVoie, who went in the second round of this year’s draft to the Oilers.

This is very promising. While not having the prestige that some of these top prospects have, he most certainly is a gamer. I will go down as saying he is one of the best players in years to go undrafted and also has huge potential to make it to the NHL. Again, can he translate it to the NHL? If he can make this leap in the next couple years, with Marchand and some of the current core getting older, it would be perfect timing.

To wrap this up, and something all of us Bruins fans can love, Montreal was interested in signing him as well. Being the good and smart francophone that he is, he made the smart decision and chose the Bruins. A couple more things to leave you with just to make you smile.

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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.

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2019-20 Is A Year Of Opportunity For Bruins F Karson Kuhlman

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

The 2019 Boston Bruins Rookie Camp begins on September 5th and a week later on September 12th, the official Bruins Training Camp begins. During these two main events of the offseason, players break-out and impress the likes of Don Sweeney and the other members of Boston’s management staff while others fail to meet the expectations and are cut from the camp or are sent down to the American Hockey League.

Lately, on the Black N’ Gold Hockey website, my fellow teammates have been listing their top-10 prospects within the organization and there are some great names to watch out for in the future. Urho Vaakanainen, Jack Studnicka, Kyle Keyser, Oskar Steen, and John Beecher are in the minds of most Bruins fans while others such as Anders Bjork and Zach Senyshyn are the players just on the cusp of making it, with their fair share of doubters surrounding them. On my own personal list, forward Karson Kuhlman is always on the top, or close to it at the very least.

Karson Kuhlman first caught the eye of the Boston Bruins during his time with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs where he spent four seasons. After only one season with the Bulldogs, Kuhlman was handed the “A”, becoming assistant captain – a position he held for two seasons before being promoted to team captain in the 2017-18 season.

That campaign was a solid one for the Esko, Minnesota, USA native, as the forward scored 13-7-20 numbers in 44 games but it was during the NCAA Championship where he really had a successful run. Kuhlman was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2018 NCAA Tournament following a goal and an assist in the 2-1 win over Notre Dame to win the championship. The now 23-year-old center was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team and also won the NCAA Sportsmanship Award.

On April 10th, 2018, General Manager Don Sweeney announced that the Bruins had signed Kuhlman to a two-year NHL contract and that he would be sent to the Providence Bruins on an Amateur Tryout Agreement, playing only two games, but did record an assist in the process.

In this past 2018-19 season, Kuhlman spent the majority of the hockey year with the P-Bruins, scoring 12 goals, 18 assists for 30 points in 58 games played. At the same time, Karson scored an additional five points in eleven games up in the big leagues, scoring his first career goal in only his second NHL game.

Karson’s speed and dangerous shot earned him some playing time in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, playing in a combined eight games. Kuhlman recorded one assist in five games against the Maple Leafs in the opening round, scored another assist in Game Three against the Columbus Blue Jackets and would not play another postseason game for Boston until Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals against the St. Louis Blues.

The Bruins were down the series three-games-to-two and the play of David Backes on the second line was not up to the standards required so Head Coach Bruce Cassidy went faster and put the youngster in with Krejci and DeBrusk and stepped up to the plate and put up Boston’s third goal of the game with a total of 13:07 of time on the ice. Kuhlman displayed his rocket of a wrist shot and showed his chemistry with Krejci and DeBrusk as the line finished the do-or-die night with three points.

For a brief time, we saw that the trio of DeBrusk-Krejci-Kuhlman has the combination of speed and skill along hockey IQ that can bring some additional scoring to the line. It has been a long time since Krejci has had a legitimate offensive threat on the right-wing, some would argue that he never has had one, but Kuhlman could eventually grow into that player that is so desperately desired with that leadership and veteran experience of Krejci.

Earlier this offseason, I published an article that outlined by ideal opening night lineup for the Boston Bruins and I had Kuhlman in that competitive spot. This allows the Bruins to keep David Pastrnak on the first line in an effort to continue the dominance that was found with his linemates, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. The fourth line can also stay the same, leaving the third line up for debate.

Having Kuhlman’s speed and skill on the second line would leave an opening for a young rookie on the third line alongside Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle. Whoever that ends up being will get the playing time but will not have the large responsibility as they would have in the top-six. Regardless, the upcoming Training Camp will be the time for these players to battle for their spot on the NHL roster. In my books, Kuhlman’s performance in the Finals was enough to earn him a little bit of an advantage over the other candidates listed above.

In addition, Chris Mazza from Dobber Prospects said the following about the center in April 2019 in a post on the site:

“Signed as a college free agent in 2018, Kuhlman enjoyed a successful first year of pro hockey, managing 30 points through 58 games with Providence in addition to five points in 11 NHL games while playing primarily on Boston’s second line. He captained the University of Minnesota-Duluth to the 2017-2018 National Championship, taking home tournament MVP honors in the process. Kuhlman’s offensive upside is limited, however, he has been touted as a strong leader everywhere he has played. He excels in board battles, has a decent shot and is seemingly always in position to make a play. Look for Kuhlman to push for a full-time role with the NHL Bruins next season.” – Chris Mazza

On my official Twitter page, (@tkdmaxbjj ), I posted a poll asking for your thoughts and opinions regarding the thought of throwing Kuhlman on the second line and the results were quite similar to mine. Either way, the efforts and production of the 2018-19 season for Kuhlman have created big opportunities – will he capitalize on them? Only time will tell.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 143 that we recorded on 9-2-19 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!

Bruins Prospects Part 1: Grade A

(Photo credit: Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

By: Michael Robert |  Follow me on Twitter: @b_blackandgold

 

Here we are entering into September, a short few weeks away from hockey season. What better time than now to roll out an article series. This will slot the up and comers into a grading system that will give us a glimpse of what to expect as these young chaps look to climb the ladder. I will give my lineup position projection and ceiling for each player in each grade.

The prospects will be put into a grading system from A to D, and to wrap up this series, there will be a future projected Bruins lineup. The grade A prospects are your ultra high-end prospects that are sure to make their mark with the team and league right away. Highly touted through their path to the NHL and immediate, big impact players. Grade B prospects are the players that will have an impact with the NHL squad but may take some time to develop and find how their game fits into the big league. Grade C are prospects that have the skill to make the NHL team but need further development time and are not players that are sure to make the leap into the NHL. Grade D is prospect projects that have the skill to play but need some time put into them to further develop their skills and improve in all areas.

These are players that played well through their journey to the draft and have shown flashes of what they have, but have yet to find that consistency and level of play that really puts them into serious consideration for an NHL job (think full time AHL player or players that land in other pro leagues for their career). For Part 5, the projected Bruins roster, it will be with players currently in the system, not including any projected future draft picks or projected trades. For this, Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo will be considered as signed. The rest of the back end will have Zdeno Chara retired, Steven Kampfer will be off the roster, John Moore will be gone along with Kevan Miller will be gone. The forward corps will see Joakim Nordstrom, Brett Ritchie, Chris Wagner, and Par Lindholm gone. This is based solely off of me thinking these players arent here for the long haul for various reasons we won’t get into here. The foundation for the series is laid. Let’s get into this.

Grade A Prospects:

None. Zilch. Nada. Nil.

However you want to put it, the shelf in this cupboard is totally bare. Not one crumb left. I’ll admit it. This sucks. Although, I did throw up a poll and the community that voted is pretty evenly divided on this so far. Feel free to weigh in with your comments!

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Many teams around the league have bright shiny toys in their system, unlike the Bruins. But this also comes at a price. The Bruins have been able to quickly adjust and retool on the fly, making them a competitive team every season that no team takes lightly. Many of the teams with bright and shiny things have those things because of some years of real suffering.

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So there is a price to be paid. Totally overhaul and be content with not being a playoff team or in contention and hope you land some juggernauts in the draft in those years, or remain competitive and give yourself a shot while sacrificing the opportunity to grasp at some of these obvious top guns that come along. There is, of course, the exception where you land some real high-end players in spots you can’t believe they were had at. Examples Bergeron, Pastrnak, etc. Then there is the one thing we all want to forget, the 2015 draft. There were the projected obvious ones there, ready and ripe for the picking, that would have most definitely shaped out the Bruins future core for at least a decade or more. I don’t want to dwell on this as I still don’t know what they were thinking, so let’s just roll on, accept, and forget (or continue to try to).

Some of our beloved Bruins core is very near the end of their careers, or are getting into the tail ends of it. The Bruins scouting and development of what they do have, and will pick in the next one to three drafts, are going to be extremely important in this team remaining a competitive team that can be playing playoff hockey. This is barring any trades of course for top prospects or high picks. And of course, there is the chance of finding a gem deeper in the draft.

I wish there were some players to slot in here, but they just don’t exist right now. I hope you’ll follow along here for this ride as Part 2 in the series gets better for us, I promise!

Donnelly: Top-10 Bruins Prospects

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(Photo: NHL.com)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Last month, Black ‘N Gold colleague Mike Cratty approached our team with the idea of coming up with our own lists ranking the Bruins 10 best prospects; you can find Mike’s article here.

One of the stipulations for the list is that the players had to be either unsigned or on entry-level contracts (ELC’s), so guys like Cooper Zech will not be included. Also, players such as Anders Bjork and Karson Kuhlman will not be ranked as Bjork has played over 50 games and Kuhlman seems like he has firmly established himself by now.

The Bruins’ prospect pool remains in good shape and is stronger after a solid draft class this summer. So, without further ado, here are my top-10 Bruins prospects:

10. Zach Senyshyn

The much-maligned 16th-overall pick in the 2016 draft, Senyshyn has not been able to make a meaningful impact in the NHL yet, but he was very impressive in his NHL debut last spring. He has not dazzled anyone on the scoresheet in the AHL after he lit up the OHL, but he has still been solid nonetheless. The 6-foot-1 winger has an incredible ability to shoot the puck and his blazing speed easily makes him one of the fastest skaters in the  Bruins’ system. The 22-year-old will push for a roster spot come training camp.

9. Trent Frederic

Frederic’s low ranking on this list is not necessarily a knock on him despite how it appears on the surface. The bruising center did well in his first full season with the Providence Bruins and wowed Bruins fans in his NHL debut where he beat the wheels off of Brandon Tanev. However, the rest of his stint with the varsity club was just ho-hum as he failed to produce much of anything on offense. The Wisconsin product definitely still has top-nine NHL potential and maybe even top-six, but Jack Studnicka’s continued progression as well as the addition of John Beecher have lowered his stock for me.

8. Jeremy Lauzon

Lauzon was certainly impressive in his brief stint with the big club last season and showed us a sneak peak of what could be down the road. A sound defensive player, Lauzon’s playmaking instincts in the offensive zone is another part of his game that stands out, especially when taking into account all the assists he racked up playing juniors (95 total). The 22-year-old certainly has the makings of a future top-four defenseman in my opinion, but the plethora of defensemen in the Bruins’ system will likely keep him out of a full-time NHL gig this season.

7. Kyle Keyser

Since signing with the Bruins as an undrafted free agent, Keyser has been extremely impressive with his progression, shooting up the prospect pool rankings. After an impressive career with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL (highlighted by a .915 save percentage last season), Keyser will likely make the jump to the pro ranks this season with either Providence or Atlanta (ECHL). The 20-year-old has a knack for coming up with big saves.

6. Oskar Steen

Steen had a career season in the SHL last year as he transitioned from wing to center full-time. A sixth round draft pick in the 2016 Entry Draft, Steen ranked tenth in total scoring in the SHL with 37 points in 47 games. The speedy forward is a crafty player with a blistering shot that looks NHL-caliber already and was easily the most impressive skater at the Bruins’ latest Development Camp earlier this summer. It looks as if Steen will transition to the North American ice this season and play with Providence, which will serve him well in his adjustment to a slightly different style of play, considering his smaller frame.

5. Axel Andersson

Andersson has all the tools to be a successful defenseman in today’s NHL between his skating and puck-moving abilities. A shifty player on the backend, Andersson still has some developing to do, considering his small-ish frame (6-feet, 179 pounds). If he plays for Moncton of the QMJHL this season, a full year of experiencing the North American game will do him a world of good.

4. Jakub Lauko

Lauko has the tools of the trade to become a top-six winger down the road. After a strong showing in training camp and pre-season last fall, the winger went on to have a strong year in the QMJHL. Lauko’s shot, speed, and ability to control the puck while at full speed are the shining elements of his game. He’ll look to build on his success with another strong showing at camp this fall.

3. John Beecher

The Bruins’ first round pick this year, Beecher boasts gobs of potential. The thing that stands out the most for Beecher is his speed; he can skate like the wind. Not to mention the fact that he has size and knows how to use it, playing a powerful, heavy style of play. The Elmira, New York native is committed to play at the University of Michigan this season where he’ll get to work on his offensive creativity and scoring touch, which he did not flash off on a consistent basis.

2. Jack Studnicka

After lighting up the OHL over the last few seasons, Studnicka will make the jump to the pro game full-time this season. The center will likely begin with AHL Providence in my opinion, but you never know, especially given the Bruins’ situation at right wing, which the former second round pick can also play.

Studnicka boasts top-notch, high-end skill in all three zones and looks as if he has the potential to be a future top-six center in the NHL. The crafty Windsor, Ontario native has had his sights set on a spot on an NHL roster spot each time he’s been to training camp, and his goal will be no different this year.

1. Urho Vaakanainen

The 18th-overall pick in 2017, Vaakanainen is far and away the Bruins’ best defense prospect, and good enough to take the top spot on my list. The left-shot defender is not going to “wow” anyone with gaudy offensive numbers; however, his strong skating ability and the way he is able to move the puck up ice with ease is what intrigues me the most about Vaakanainen.

The 20-year-old Finn will push hard for a spot on the opening night roster after an impressive year in Providence (although it was somewhat derailed after he sustained a concussion in his second NHL game after being called up). The only thing standing between Vaakanainen and a spot on the NHL roster is the logjam the Bruins currently have on defense; top-four potential is there for sure, maybe even top-two.