Bruins Re-Sign Forward Peter Cehlarik

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(Photo: Fred Kfoury III / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Bruins general manger Don Sweeney announced this morning that Boston has re-signed forward Peter Cehlarik to a one-year, two-way deal. The winger’s contract will carry an NHL cap-hit of $700,000.

The Zilina, Slovakia native has mostly spent the past three seasons with the Providence Bruins of the AHL with various cameo appearances with the varsity club in Boston after signing his entry level contract and coming overseas to North America in 2016.  In 137 games played in the AHL over that span, the 23-year-old registered 43 goals and 56 assists for 99 points as well as a plus-17 rating. Additionally, in 37 career games played in the NHL, Cehlarik has 5-5-10 totals with a plus-5 rating.

Last season, Cehlarik tallied 38 points (12 goals and 26 assists) for Providence in 53 games, matching his career-high for points in the AHL. In 20 games for the Bruins last year, the forward notched 6-4-10 totals, highlighted by a two-goal performance against the Philadelphia Flyers in his season debut.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound winger was selected by Boston 90th overall in the third round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. The subject of trade rumors and other speculation a few times in his career, this new deal is likely one more chance for Cehlarik to make a meaningful, lasting impact with the big squad in Boston. It is also worth noting that should Cehlarik not make the NHL roster out of training camp and need to be sent down to the AHL, he will need to clear waivers before reporting to Providence.

A Look Back: Bruins Prospect Frederic Notches 1st Pro Hatty

( Photo Credit: Circling The Wagon / Team Shred Photography )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twiter @BlackAndGold277

As a huge Boston Bruins prospect guy, I was looking at some of the B’s talent at the developmental levels particularly at the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins during the 2018-19 regular season campaign. Looking at first-year American Hockey League pro and B’s 2016 first-round selection Trent Frederic and his best game offensively in April of 2019 when he notched three in a 5-3 road victory against boarding state rival Springfield Thunderbirds.

Frederic’s three goals all came in the second period from the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts and was a courageous effort to really put the team on his shoulders to get a victory over a birds team they see 12 times a year.  Frederic had a solid year learning the pro level rigors from Providence Head Coach Jay Leach and Assistant Trent Whitfield, and although didn’t have explosive numbers offensively with 14-11-25 numbers in 55 career games, his impact on the ice certainly overshadows his lack of finishing with point production, but that’s a work in progress nonetheless.

Below Is Frederic’s first career Pro Hat Trick and 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

Also, give a listen to the latest Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast that was recorded on June 26th with longtime friend and Bruins diehard Heather Ingerson! We have episode 135 planned for the weekend after the American 4th of July so stay tuned for that as we update you on the recent NHL Bruins free agent signings.

Report: Former Bruin Noel Acciari to sign with Florida Panthers

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( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter @yanlatz

According to hockey insider Elliotte Friedman of TSN, now former Boston Bruins forward Noel Acciari is signing with the Florida Panthers for a three-year deal worth five million dollars.

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The tough forward for the Bruins was signed to a two-year entry-level contract as an undrafted free agent in the summer of 2015 after three seasons at Providence College. The 27-year-old from Johnston, Rhode Island played 180 regular season games posting 18 goals and 13 assists for 31 points and a -10 rating. While racking up 80 penalty minutes, Acciari was never afraid to throw his body around and occasionally drop the gloves.

In 35 playoff games, he posted four goals and three assists with a plus-two rating and four penalty minutes.

 

Check out last weeks Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 133 below!

Amesbury Maples Legend Series: Games At The Old Boston Garden

( Photo Credit: Facebook Page / Google Search )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Amesbury Maples hockey team established themselves as an organization during the 1924-25 winter season. Playing their games locally in shop leagues driven by the automotive industry alongside the many waterways in Amesbury, Massachusetts, the Maples club dominated the area and quickly got known as a team to be reckoned with. The first four years of the Maples was they’re coming out party as the team gained local popularity which in turn sparked media attention with newspaper publications and praise of the team’s efforts.

By the 1930-31 season, the Maples were heavily known as one of the best amateur/semi-pro teams in New England. Many club teams from afar heard how talented this team was that wore the Kelly Green and White and often welcomed those teams to Amesbury or travel to play at the challenger’s sheet of ice often returning home with a victory.  No matter how far the Maples had to go to find games due to unseasonably warm winters or the aforementioned gentlemanly challenge from an out of state club, sometimes the biggest moments are how you represent your community at the highest level.

( Photo Credit: Old Arenas Facebook Page / Google Search )

From the 1930-31 season to their last appearance in 1940-41, the Maples would participate in the Northeast Amateur Athletic Union’s annual playoffs. The team would travel to Providence to play their games at the  Rhode Island Auditorium (Image Above) for a few years before the postseason event was moved closer to home in Massachusetts.

( Photo Credit: Sports Business Daily )

The NEAAU would move its tournament operations to the Boston Garden (Seen Above) in 1936, and the Maples would appear on the Garden ice for the next six years after successful season schedules. The Maples would post a regular season record of 19-3-2  in the 1939-40 campaign good enough for a birth in the NEAAU playoffs. After previous years of not being able to cross the threshold of an NEAAU Championship,  the club finally got what was due and named New England Champions after a clean sweep of East Boston, Hingham Cove, Hyde Shore (Cambridge), and shutting out Concord, New Hampshire 7-0. In those four NEAAU games at the Garden, the Maples outscored their opponents  26-4. Even though they were named New England Champs, the mission was far from over after winning on Boston Graden ice.

The next level after capturing the NEAAU title was a move up to the National ranks to play other club teams and collegiate competition in Lake Placid, NY (Seen Below). The National AAU single elimination tournament kicked off its schedule on  Friday, March 1st, 1940 with the Maples earning a first-round bye. The Maples went into Saturday’s semi-final action shorthanded to the full bench and heavily favored University of Minnesota club who also entering the National tournament on a bye after winning their region.

( Photo Credit: TeamGB.com / Image Not Maples Related )

Although the Maples tried their best, it just wasn’t enough as Minnesota would cap off the semi-final event with a 9-4 victory over the Amesbury club that traveled over 300 miles in search of the ultimate prize. Minnesota would go onto win the championship at Lake Placid after beating Brock Hall of New Haven, Connecticut 9-1 in the finals. Per local paper that’s unidentifiable, the Maples entered the National AAU tournament having victories in 16 straight games and were certainly one of the hotter clubs gearing up to make a long run and be forever immortalized.

Below are some tickets from a few of the events at the old Boston Garden when the Amesbury Maples had a chance to play and capture a New England Championship.

 

During this timeframe, there were many great players who contributed but to give an idea of who was on the team during this time I’m going to mention those who I consider legends. I’m still learning about all these gentlemen as my research continues so if I missed anyone that some believe should be mentioned, this legend series isn’t stopping anytime soon so hope to get to those that folks suggest.

Archie Cloutier, Henry Graf, Eddie Nichols, Alphonse Picard, John Reddy, Albie Roy, Wilfred Stuart, Harold “Fuzzy” Thurston, and Chewie Williams.

As always I like to end every one of my Amesbury related hockey articles by thanking the many great folks that have given me the opportunity to gather family information over the years. Shout out to local area sports guru Bert Spofford who gathered all kinds of value findings that were Maples Hockey related for the 70th Anniversary Weekend Celebration in October of 1993. If it wasn’t for the effort of Spofford in searching local libraries for sports info nobody would probably know this team existed in 40 years. Mr. Spofford passed away in 2007 and was known to be very knowledgable in sports and stats for years. Spofford and mentioned above Albie Roy will be inducted into the 2019 Amesbury High School Athletic Hall of Fame on Thursday night September 28th in the AHS Auditorium.

If you happen to have an Amesbury Maples related items, photos or stories about the former players, please send me an email at blackngoldhockeyblog@gmail.com and I may use it in a future article during the summer downtime. Thanks for reading!!

NHL Free Agency: Bruins To Sign Goaltender For Minor-Pro Depth

( Photo Credit: Dave Sandford /Allsport )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney and staff certainly have their hand full this offseason with locking down restricted free agents highlighted by names such as Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, and Danton Heinen. Also, on offseason agenda is to negotiate with unrestricted free agents before the July 1st NHL Free Agent Frenzy deadline. Forward’s Marcus Johansson and Noel Acciari are currently per B’s GM Sweeney in discussions for a return which might seem unlikely with the salary cap sitting at $12 million per  CapFriendly.com.

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Regardless if players are coming and going after Monday’s free agent deadline, one thing that intrigued me was what Sweeney said in his post 2019 Bruins Development Camp press conference. Sweeney mentioned that the club will, in fact, be actively shopping the free agent market for another goaltender. With NHL netminders Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask under contract and seemingly not going anywhere for another year, this potential free agent signing is pointing towards the developmental depths of the organization with a crease addition in the AHL with the Providence Bruins.

It seems like the end of the road for AHL goaltender Zane McIntyre a player who’s been the property of the organization since 2010 when the B’s selected him in the sixth round from the USHL’s Fargo Force and later attended the University of North Dakota for three seasons. Assuming McIntyre does depart, many would think prospect goaltender Dan Vladar and Kyle Keyser who signed as a free agent back in October of 2017 would be fine manning the crease but with this recent news, it looks like the organization could be shifting players around for the upcoming season.

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Now I know many minor-pro teams have had the three-headed monster in goal in the past, but in my opinion, it’s not a very good idea. Playing time is so important to developing netminders, and in a league that predominantly operates on a Friday to Sunday weekly game schedule, one goaltender may take a step back in his pro progression due to lack of playing time. Another scenario that many may be sour about and get away from the potential three-ringed circus in Providence is to place one netminder in the ECHL whenever a Premier “AA” Bruins affiliate is mentioned. At the close of the 2018-19 campaign, the B’s do not have an ECHL club to work with as a feeder league to the higher AHL.

When the Bruins were affiliated with the Atlanta Gladiators, prospect goaltender Vladar spent a full season in the “Coast” and even though his numbers weren’t great on a struggling Atlanta franchise, he was there to get increased playing time and a whole lot of shots. Vladar’s experience in the ECHL was a positive one and could be the route this B’s organization takes again from another player that’s eligible to join the minor-pro ranks such as Kyle Keyser. After a career year in 2018-19, posting a record of 38-8-0, a goals-against-average of 2.75 and .915 save percentage, Kyle is more than ready to make the jump regardless of what pro level he ends up in.

It’s hard to say what avenue the Bruins take in signing another goaltender. Sweeney didn’t exactly give any indication if the franchise is going to look for experience or youth in the addition so I did some searching to see who would be a good fit with our developing netminders at the AHL level from both sides of the coin. Below is an idea in opinion form of course on who I would go after if the choice was mine.

Going With Experience?

Andrew Hammond

( Photo Credit: American Hockey League / Scott Paulus )

Yes, the hambugler will be looking for work next summer, and I believe he’d be a fantastic fit for the goaltending depth for the Bruins. In 56 NHL games, the British Columbia Canada native has a record of 27-15-6 with a 2.31 GAA and .923 Save%. Hammond played last season with the AHL’s Iowa Wild and had a record of 19-14-0. Might be a sneaky move to get a player like Hammond under the umbrella of the B’s organization with a one-year two-way cap friendly deal. The 31-year-old netminder made $300K in the Minnesota Wild’s system.

Chad Johnson

( Photo Credit: Alchetron )

Old friend Chad will also look to continue his career, and if he doesn’t field any NHL offers after July 1st, the Bruins could certainly come calling for the 33-year-old’s services. After already playing in Boston, this would be a solid veteran addition from a player that seen it all from so many different angles. Sadly, after Johnson posted his best year in the NHL when he backstopped the B’s to a 17-4-0 record, he really didn’t do much better with any of the several organizations he’s been with the last several years.  He did have a 22 win season with the Buffalo Sabres, but he also had 16 losses that year. In 192 career NHL games, Johnson has an 80-72-15 record with a 2.73 GAA and .907 Save%. Johnson’s salary was $1.75 million so if he’s still available depending on how long the B’s want to wait he’d be a decent low-risk insurance policy and mentor to a goaltender like Vladar.

Calvin Pickard

( Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports )

Pickard has not had any luck securing a job in the last few seasons being waived and claimed by several teams looking to make space or add to the respected team’s depth, but I believe he still has something to give. In 104 career NHL games, he has a record of 32-50-9 spending time with Colorado, Toronto, Philadelphia, and Arizona.  The 27-year-old Moncton, New Brunswick native, might be a solid addition to the goaltending depth and a player that can start the year in Providence and be ready at a moments notice if Halak or Rask get injured. A one-year, two-way contract wouldn’t break the bank to have that security blanket, in my opinion.

Going With Youth?

Zachary Fucale

( Photo Credit: The Journal Gazette / Jeremy Wadsworth )

Fucale was a highly touted goaltending prospect that slowly slipped down the depth chart of the Montreal Canadiens who drafted him in the second round back in 2013. The 24-year-old has bounced up and down the minor league ranks having yet to see anytime in the show. They say goaltenders take longer to develop, so why not take a chance on Zachary and see what he can do with the tutelage of Bruins goaltending coaches Bob Essensa and assistant Mike Dunham. Last season with the ECHL Fort Wayne Komets, Fucale had a 20-9-3 record and although its a gamble his cap number wouldn’t be terrible if they wanted to take a risk.

Brandon Halverson

( Photo Credit: NHL.com / New York Rangers )

Halverson is another goaltender that’s been through the rigors of the AHL and ECHL all with the New York Rangers. The 23-year-old Michigan native posted an 8-11-0 record with the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack and first-year ECHL affiliation the Maine Mariners where he had a 15-13-1 record. This might not be the greatest idea, but he is young and could serve a valuable service with Providence on a one-year roll of the dice.   A $600K two-way contract is not out of the realm to add depth in the crease. With only one NHL game under his belt, this is obviously not the ideal scenario in case something happens with the Boston goaltending in the NHL.

Mason McDonald

( Photo Credit: ECHL / Kansas City Mavericks Verified Account )

McDonald is a good sized netminder that hasn’t seem to have caught on to full-time professional expectations that the Calgary Flames expected of him when they selected him in the second round in 2014. I feel that he’s another player that could use a change of scenery and guidance to be a solid pro either at the AHL level or the NHL if needed. With no previous NHL games on his resume, I believe the drive is still there for Mason, and if I was the Bruins GM and adding depth, it’s not a bad low-risk thought. He’s another suggestion that the training staff and goaltending coaches could mold into something but who knows. McDonald played in 36 games last season with the ECHL Kansas City Mavericks and had a record of 23-10-3.

Exploring the European free agent market is another avenue the Bruins and scouting staff might consider. I know the ending was a train wreck but finding a goaltender like Niklas Svedberg’s who had two great seasons for Providence posting a record of 65-24-6 in 97 career games for the top minor-pro affiliate of the NHL Bruins. Again, who knows what’s going to happen with the Bruins and their search for another depth goaltender, but it should be interesting to see who in fact they do sign and what shifting will be done in the minor ranks to facilitate the addition.

Check out last weeks Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 133 below!

Bruins Prospect Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson To Return To Sweden

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(Photo: Brian Babineau / NHL Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced this morning that forward prospect Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (JFK) will return to Sweden next season, intending to sign a contract with Vaxjo of the Swedish Hockey League.

“Jakob will continue his professional hockey career and development in the SHL and we support his decision to be closer to his family at this time in his life,” Sweeney said as he addressed the media. Sweeney also noted that JFK has stated that he “fully intends to resume playing for the Bruins, but right now he feels playing at home in Sweden is what is best for him.”

JFK has suited up in 29 games for the Bruins, 28 of which came this season. During his time with the big club, the Stockholm native registered three goals and six assists for nine points. The 22-year-old’s NHL debut came during the season finale in 2016-17 versus the Washington Capitals.

The 45th-overall pick in the second round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, JFK spent the majority of the last two seasons with Boston’s AHL-Affiliate, the Providence Bruins. In 86 total games, JFK notched 22-26-48 totals for the P-Bruins.

The 6-foot-1, 184-pound forward spent two seasons at Boston University before signing his entry-level deal with the Bruins, serving as an alternate captain during his sophomore season with 14-19-33 numbers and a plus-11 rating. As a freshman, the centerman was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team after tallying 10 goals, 20 assists, and 30 points with a plus-four rating.

No Brainer For Next Providence Bruins Team Captain

( Photo Credit: @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

With the American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins season over with the first-round Calder Cup Playoff elimination to the hands of the AHL’s best Charlotte Checkers, next seasons team will obviously see some new additions, but roles could also change when talking about leadership. Current Captain Jordan Szwarz who just finished his third season with the Providence club and posted 66-82-148 numbers in 185 games in that timeframe is on an expiring contract, and future playing in the Ocean State is uncertain.

The 27-year-old Szwarz who joined the Providence team as a free agent signing before the 2016-17 campaign immediately took on a leadership role with his arrival wearing the assistant captain label for his first two-years ultimately being named to the highest honor of captain for the length of last season.  So with the potential departure of Szwarz who’s played a significant middle depth role with the Bruins organization in emergency situations seeing 12 games in Boston earning three points, who could step into that role and lead the 2019-20 Providence Bruins?

His Name Is Weymouth, Massachusetts Native Paul Carey

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Carey, a 30-year-old versatile forward came to Providence on January 11th, 2019, when he was traded to the NHL Bruins from the Ottawa Senators straight up for defenseman Cody Goloubef. This was Carey’s second tour of duty with the AHL Bruins as he played 17 games after being traded from the Colorado Avalanche to Boston on March 2nd, 2015. In those 17 games, Paul posted seven points but the second trade that landed him in Rhode Island this year had him on the better part of the score sheet and made an immediate impact upon his arrival.

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While in Ontario, Canada with the Ottawa Senators organization, Carey’s numbers were different as he seemed heavy on the “pass first” motto with 5-22-27 numbers in 29 games with the AHL’s Belleville Senators but with his addition to the Providence lineup and solid 30 games going the opposite from his days in Belleville posting 22-11-33 numbers to end the regular 2018-19 season. His first ten games with Providence was certainly a “system shock” and a time of adjustment posting 5-4-9 numbers but his last 20 games were honestly a pleasure to watch going 17-7-24 to end the year.

Here’s Why Paul Carey Is My Pick For The Next Providence Captian

Carey’s stats as a journeyman AHL’er are 106-136-242 in 346 career games so at his age the trend is to decline on the stat sheet and overall game, but in Paul’s situation as a player in his 30’s, the anomaly of him getting better especially with his point production is astonishing to me. Another thing that caught my attention has been the powerful words of the developing depth talking about leadership in Providence and members of that team who’ve gone out of their way to be a solid pro and lend advice to players about to cross the threshold of professional hockey careers at the highest level.

A perfect example was in an April 3rd, 2019, article by Boston Bruins reporter Eric Russo when he interviewed first-time recall Zach Senyshyn who had these positive things to say about the leadership core in Providence with mentions to veteran forwards Carey, Szwarz, and Lee Stempniak as seen below from Eric’s article quote below.

“I’m still a young kid and really learning from the older guys,” said Senyshyn, who posted back-to-back 40-plus goal campaigns with the Soo Greyhounds in his final two seasons with the club. “Having guys like Lee Stempniak and Paul Carey and Jordan Szwarz, learning from those guys, has really helped me take my game to the next level. A lot of that has to do with them.”

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As a Boston Bruins fan and one that follows the lower developmental depths of this NHL organization, naming Carey as the next captain of the Providence Bruins is a no brainer for me. Remains to be seen if Szwarz is brought back and the recent two-year, two-way contract agreement between the B’s and Carey just lines up this tremendous honor for me and believe if he’s not in the mix of the NHL Bruins lineup next season after training camp he’d be a solid pro and will do what it takes to continue to be a mentor in Providence.

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins 2018-19 Season Review

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(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

The Providence Bruins 2018-19 AHL season came to an end on Friday, April 26, 2019, when they lost 4-1 to the Charlotte Checkers which gave the Hurricanes’ affiliate the 3-1 series win in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs. It was an exciting season of highs and lows for the baby Bs, and the team gave us as fans a lot to look forward to in the coming years. There are many players that we can look forward to seeing not only in Providence next season but Boston for years to come. Later in the article, I will go a little more in-depth about a player at each position that I am especially excited about, but guys like Urho Vaakanainen, Jack Studnicka, Jeremy Lauzon, Trent Frederic, and Kyle Keyser are players you should be extremely excited about.

Team Breakdown 

The season started off rough for the Providence hockey club. They went 3-5-1 in October which frustrated not only the players but the fans as well. The month of November was much better for our boys in black and gold going 6-3-2 bring their record to 9-8-3. As we got deep into the holiday season, the Providence Bruins continued to struggle a bit. The month of December the Bruins went 5-7-2 bringing their overall record to 14-15-5. This was especially frustrating because despite the player call-ups and injuries this team was extremely talented and seemed to not be playing to their ability.

The new year hit, and the team was 15-16-5 after the first two games, and then something amazing happened. The team went on a 12-game point streak that went from January 6, 2019, to February 8, 2019. During the point streak, they went 10-0-1-1, and it was largely in part thanks to the defense and Zane McIntyre.  The point streak catapulted the team to a 25-16-6-1 record, and they jumped into playoff position during that 12-game period.

The rest of February wasn’t as kind to the Providence hockey club, they ended the month 3-4-1 pushing their record to 28-20-7-1 by the end of February. The month of March was very good to the baby B’s they went 7-4-1-2 pushing their record to 35-24-8-3 going into the final month of the season. The team would go 3-3 their final six games of the year pushing their final overall record to 38-27-8-3 (87 points) which was good for fourth in the Atlantic Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference.

The Providence Bruins ended up having a goal differential of +16 with 228 goals scored and 212 goals against. This was very good. The team defense was one of the best in the Eastern Conference.  The baby B’s would go on to have the seventh-ranked power play in the Atlantic Division and 12th-ranked in the Eastern Conference at 17.7%. The penalty kill, on the other hand, would end up being one of the best in the league being ranked third in the Eastern Conference as well as the Atlantic Division at 85%.

Forwards

The forward group had lofty expectations right from the get-go. They had a few big name prospects that were expected to make that jump from prospect to legitimate NHL player. The two main prospects that were supposed to take huge steps forward were Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Trent Frederic. Both young forwards were competing for the third-line center position in Boston during training camp. Ultimately, neither player would win the position out of camp and both would spend time in Boston never fully grasping the position.

Trent Frederic, a former University of Wisconsin Badger, did well in his first full professional year of hockey. Despite a slow start, it seemed like getting called up to Boston gave the young center confidence which translated into better play and more scoring later on in the season for Providence. Overall in 55 for the baby Bs, Frederic netted 14 goals while dishing out 11 assists for 25 total points. This is a point per game total of 0.45. Something else that was promising for the young center was 18 of his 25 points were scored after the new year. As the year went on, he got stronger. He did play in 15 games with Boston and didn’t register a point. However, he still looked solid when he played. Overall, I think this was a season that Frederic can build upon and I think he will end up being a good third or fourth line center for Boston in the future.

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, on the other hand, might be a piece used in a bigger trade to strengthen the NHL roster. The former Boston University Terrier took a step back in a lot of people’s opinion. The young center did spend time in Boston and Providence and did deal with some injuries. It’s possible that the uncertainty about where he was playing, and getting hurt played into a less than stellar season. Ultimately, in 28 games with Providence, he netted seven goals and dished out nine assists for 16 total points. That’s a point per game total of 0.57. With Boston, he netted three goals and dished out six assists for nine points in 28 games. That’s a point per game total of 0.32.

Another forward that was expected to take a big leap forward, and failed to do so was Zach Senyshyn. The young speedster excelled in the OHL scoring at a point per game clip of 0.91 (114-63-177 in 195 games). This has yet to translate fully to the AHL game, though he does show flashes of brilliance. In 66 games with Providence, the young winger netted 14 goals while dishing out 10 assists for 24 total points. This is a point per game total of 0.36. While he did score two more goals than last season he did also have two fewer points overall in the same amount of games. Despite this, Senyshyn did earn a call-up to Boston and in two games netted a goal. I am hoping that the confidence he showed there translates next season.

Two forwards who were both in their first professional season who surprised and had great years were the former University of Minnesota-Duluth Captain and NCAA champion Karson Kuhlman and the former University of Wisconsin Captain Cameron Hughes. Hughes had a strong start to the season, and then injury hurt his productivity, but he still ended up netting 13 goals and dishing 15 assists for 28 total points in 53 games. That’s a point per game total of 0.53. The former University of Wisconsin forward looks like he could be a strong player on one of the bottom two lines at the NHL level. He will be someone to look at next season.

Kuhlman, on the other hand, had a marvelous season. The former NCAA champion netted 12 goals while also dishing out 18 assists for 30 total points in 58 games for Providence. That’s a point per game total of 0.51. The young forward played so well that he earned a call-up to Boston and in 11 regular season games netted three goals while dishing out two assists for five total points. The former University of Minnesota-Duluth Captain also has played in six playoff games for Boston this season and in those games has dished out two assists for two total points. He is someone who could potentially be a middle six forward in the NHL. He is someone to be excited about not only the rest of this season but next season too.

This brings me to the three guys who were probably the most consistent forwards throughout the year for Providence. First, is Jordan Szwarz who would serve as the Captain for Providence this season. The gritty forward was an excellent veteran presence in the locker room for the baby Bs. He is someone who served as a Captain or Associate Captain at every AHL team he’s played for. In 68 games with the Providence hockey club, he netted 23 goals and dished out 23 assists for 46 total points. That’s a point per game total of 0.67. It was his third year in a row with the spoked P where he netted at least 20 goals. He became the fifth person in team history to do so. Szwarz is an unrestricted free agent after this season so the likelihood of him in the organization next season isn’t great.

Next, we have Gemel Smith. The OHL product was acquired from Dallas in December and was excellent for Providence. In 47 games he netted 16 goals while dishing out 24 assists for 40 total points. That is a point per game total of 0.85. Smith is an RFA after this season so, he is someone that we may not see next season in the organization, but regardless was excellent this season. That brings us to the third guy on my list of “most consistent forwards on the year for Providence” Paul Carey. The veteran forward was acquired in January from Ottawa and was nothing short of brilliant in his time with the baby Bs. In 30 games with the club, the former Boston College Eagle netted 22 goals while dishing out 11 assists for 33 total points. That’s a point per game total of 1.10.

Finally, the forward I am most excited about next year and beyond is someone who didn’t play a regular season game for Providence but joined the team in the playoffs. That person is Jack Studnicka. To me, he is the best offensive prospect in the system. The young center spent the entire regular season in the OHL splitting time between the Oshawa Generals and the Niagra IceDogs. In 30 games with Oshawa, he netted 12 goals and dished out 22 assists for 34 total points. Then, in 30 games with Niagra, Studnicka netted 24 goals and dished out 25 assists for 49 total points. That means, in 60 total OHL games he netted 36 goals and dished out 47 assists for 83 total points. That’s a point per game total of 1.38. He also played in 11 playoff games with the IceDogs netting six goals and dishing out five assists for 11 total points. In four playoff games with Providence, he netted one goal and dished out one assist for two total points. The young forward is someone to look for next season and be extremely excited about.

Defense

The defense is another group that had many high profiles prospects that are well known throughout the system. Thanks to many injuries early on for the parent club in Boston, a lot of these prospects saw time in the NHL. One of those players is Jeremy Lauzon. The former QMJHL champion had a good season with Providence despite injury and being called up. In 29 games with the baby Bs, he found the back of the net once and dished six assists for seven total points. This is a point per game total of 0.24. The good news is he had the same exact stats last season in 55 games. So, his scoring rate increased despite getting hurt. In 16 games with Boston, he netted one goal for one total point. He also flashed some really good defensive ability. I could definitely see Lauzon being part of the Boston defense for years to come.

Another guy that spent a couple games up in Boston was Jakub Zboril. In two games with the parent club, he didn’t register a point but he played good defense. The major thing was he looked like he belonged. In 56 games with the Providence Bruins, the former QMJHL Champion netted four goals and dished out 15 assists for 19 total points. That’s a point per game total of 0.33. Again, the good news here is that the young defenseman had the same exact stat line in 68 games with the baby Bs last season. This means his scoring rate increased which is positive because he is billed as a two-way defenseman. Zboril is an interesting case because with the depth the team has he could be dealt for a bigger piece or he could remain with the organization and be part of the team’s defensive plan moving forward.

Connor Clifton probably made the biggest jump from year one with Providence to year two, and it was a surprising jump at that. With all of the other defensive prospects the team had, the former Quinnipiac University Captain was overlooked. That turned out to be a mistake. In 53 games he netted six goals while dishing out 21 assists for 27 total points. That is a point per game total of 0.51. The young defenseman’s scoring rate almost doubled from last season. To top it off he was playing really good defense, and when Boston needed someone called up because of injury, they called on Clifton. In 19 games with the parent club, he dished out one assist for one point, while also playing a key role on the third defensive pairing. He has also played a pivotal role in the playoffs anchoring the third pair. Overall, I think Clifton can be a better version of Kevan Miller for the Boston Bruins moving forward.

There are two defensemen that I am extremely excited for next season for two totally different reasons. The first one is Cooper Zech. The young defenseman came to Providence as an undrafted free agent in March after his freshman season at Ferris State University. While there, he led the Bulldogs in scoring netting eight goals and dishing out 20 assists for 28 total points in 36 games. That’s a point per game total of 0.78. In 12 games with the Providence hockey club, he didn’t find the back of the net but did dish out four assists for four total points, and in the team’s four playoff games, he netted two goals for two total points. The main reason I am excited about Zech is I want to see how his offensive game translates to the AHL. If he can keep up a point per game total of 0.78 for a full AHL season he would have a 59 point season over 76 games.

The other defenseman I am extremely excited about is Urho Vaakanainen. The Finnish defenseman was drafted in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft and this was his first full professional season in North America. Despite getting injured during the second game of a brief two-game call-up, the young defenseman had a great season Providence. In 30 games with the baby Bs, he netted four goals while dishing out 10 assists for 14 total points. This is a point per game total of 0.46. He didn’t register a point during the brief Calder Cup playoff stint but he played great defense. This is a player that I think is going to be a top pairing defenseman for the Boston Bruins for years to come. He not only possesses the defensive ability, but he also has some nice offensive ability too. Look for him to possibly make an impact in Boston as early as next season.

Goaltending

The goaltending for the Providence Bruins this season was not very consistent. They had stretches where it was lights out and others where it seemed like every shot was going in. First, we had Zane McIntyre who in his fourth season with Providence you hoped he would show that he could potentially at least be a back-up in the NHL. In 46 games with Providence this season, the University of North Dakota alum was 25-14-7 with a GAA of 2.59 and a save percentage of .898. The veteran netminder will be a group 6 unrestricted free agent this off-season. This happens when a player is 25 and have had at least three professional seasons beyond junior or collegiate hockey. I believe this means that McIntyre won’t be back in the organization next season especially with Kyle Keyser ready for the AHL and Jeremy Swayman waiting in the wings at the University of Maine.

Dan Vladar had a respectable first season in Providence with the Bruins. In 31 games with the baby Bs, the 21-year old netminder was 13-13-4 with a GAA of 2.73 and a save percentage of .898. The young goalie showed you flashes of great play and the potential to be at least a back-up goalie at the NHL level. I expect him to share the load in Providence next season with Kyle Keyser who will likely play in his first full AHL season with the spoked P. It’ll be interesting to see if Vladar is able to take a big step forward next season, I like him overall as a prospect and hope that he has a great year next year.

That brings us to Kyle Keyser. The 20-year old goalie made his Providence debut during the Calder Cup playoffs in game four of the first round. The OHL product was forced into playing time because of a Vladar injury, and McIntyre being called up to Boston as the “black aces” goalie for the playoffs. The OHL product played as well as could be expected, stopping 26 of 29 shots that were fired his way in the series finale loss. Keyser is coming off an excellent season with the Oshawa Generals where in 47 games he was 32-8 with a GAA of 2.75 and a save percentage of .915. He also played excellently during their playoff run going 8-7 with a GAA of 2.83 and a save percentage of .925. This is the goalie I am most excited about the Bruins system. I think he has the tools to eventually be a number one goaltender in the NHL.

Ultimately, it was a fun season for the Providence Bruins that was full of ups, downs and a ton of excitement. It may have ended quicker than we all would have liked, but it was awesome watching our boys in black and gold play all season. There are many reasons to be excited about not only the AHL club moving forward but also the big club in Boston. They had prospects take important steps forward, and hopefully, those players continue their development and then make waves in the NHL. On a personal note, it was fun previewing the Providence Bruins for everyone this season, and I thank you for reading. Now that my rookie season is over expect next season to be even better. I will catch up with everyone as much as I can during the off-season but feel free to send any questions or comments to me on Twitter. I hope everyone enjoys the time off and Go, B’s, Go!  

Bruins Give Gritty Forward Blidh Contract Extension

( Photo Credit: NHL.com / BostonBruins.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Over the weekend I was contacted by a close source that the Boston Bruins had a deal in place with forward Anton Blidh as the American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins were going through their exit meetings. The exit meeting came as the top minor-pro affiliate of the NHL Bruins were back in the Ocean State on Monday after being eliminated by the AHL’s best in the regular season the Charlotte Checkers. Although the Providence club made the postseason for the seventh straight year, they were no match for the powerful Checkers losing the first-round best-of-five opening series 3-1. I tweeted this below as soon as I heard the news and what do ya know, I pretty much nailed it.

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Well, the B’s did, in fact, lock up the 24-year-old Swedish native to a two-year, two-way contract worth an annual cap hit of $700K. Per Cap-Friendly, Anton was set to make $650K at the NHL level and $80K in the AHL, so with today’s official announcement, he could make around the same if he stays in the minor system and used as that depth player in case of emergency’s. Blidh was three points shy of tying his career high of 26 points (11-15-26 2017/18) in 71 games last season. This past regular season the hardnosed forward posted 10-13-23 numbers in 74 games during the 2018-19 campaign.

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The former sixth-round selection of the B’s in 2013 certainly brings an impactful dynamic when it comes to playing that power forward role. He can be a pest along the boards and around the top of the crease forcing loose pucks and creating lucky bounce chances. One of my favorite attributes to his game and role in the developing depth of the Providence organization is his willingness to have a teammates back and not afraid to throw down when the opposition is taking liberties. Erik K. Piri of the Elite Prospects website in 2014 said “Blidh is a gritty winger who plays with a lot of energy. Can kill penalties and is a terrific shot blocker. Also owns some offensive instincts and a willingness to go hard to the net. Loves to agitate and rile up opponents.” 

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In 21 career NHL games, Blidh has contributed a goal and an assist and in 263 career games in the AHL all with Providence, he has 41-38-79 numbers and 219 career penalty minutes. Career +27 in the AHL for those who love to talk plus/minus. It remains to be seen what’s going to happen to Anton when the question of where he could play. As fantastic twitter follower BruinsNetwork mentioned above, contracted players, especially on the fourth line, may have Blidh placed in Providence, or he could be that cap friendly asset if the NHL Bruins don’t want to entertain a Noel Acciari return in 2019-20.

No matter if Anton is placed in the NHL or AHL he’s going to continue to be a value in the depth of this organization and a player that can be inserted into any lineup at any time. His leadership was tested last season as he wore the “A” behind team Captain Jordan Szwarz and with Jordan currently on an expiring contract himself, Blidh could be a solid choice to be the leader if there’s a Szwarz offseason departure.

Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins First Round Playoff Update

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By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

A new week of playoff hockey is upon us and the Providence Bruins are right in the middle of their first-round series with the Charlotte Checkers. After splitting the first two game in Providence, the two teams traveled down to Charlotte, North Carolina to continue the series at the Bojangles’ Coliseum. Game three was a tough game for the Providence hockey club and the Hurricanes’ affiliate took the ever so important 2-1 series lead with game four on Friday, April 26, 2019. The baby B’s hope they can steal game four and push the series to a game five where anything could happen. It’s going to be an exciting finish to the series that you do not want to miss.

First Round Calder Cup Playoffs: Providence Bruins vs. Charlotte Checkers

Game One

Despite the slow start, game one was the one that got away for the Providence Bruins. The Checkers started off hot, less than two minutes into the game Morgan Geekie netted a goal that was assisted by Nick Shilkey and Andrew Poturalski. Then, a little more than two minutes later it was like deja vu all over again when Morgan Geekie netted another goal assisted by Andrew Poturalski and Nick Shilkey to make it 2-0 Charlotte less than four minutes into game one. After this, however, the Providence Bruins would come storming back. Captain Jordan Szwarz got the baby B’s on board netting a goal that was assisted by Anton Blidh. A few minutes later, on the power play, Cooper Zech took a feed from Zane McIntyre and tied the game up at two!

The Bruins would pull ahead less than a minute later when Anton Blidh scored on a feed from Trent Frederic and after the first period, it was 3-2 good guys! The second period was one that Providence would probably like back. was one that Providence would probably like back. It started out with Charlotte’s Tomas Jurco tying the game up at three on a goal that was assisted by Martin Necas and Jake Bean. Later in the second period, Julien Gauthier would put the Checkers up 4-3 on goal that was assisted by Nicolas Roy and Dennis Robertson, and that would be the score at the of the second period.

Now, during my preview one of the stats I pointed out was that the Hurricanes’ affiliate was 38-0 when leading after two periods in the regular season, this didn’t bode well for our boys. The Bruins would show signs of life in the third period, and almost seven minutes the Jordan Szwarz would get his second goal of the game assisted by Kyle Cumiskey and the game would be tied at four. However, later in the period, Bobby Sanguinetti would put the Checkers up for good on a goal that was assisted by Nicolas Roy. Checkers win 5-4 and lead the series 1-0. Zane McIntyre had a rough night in net for Providence stopping 22 of the 27 shots fired his way.

Game Two

Game two was the next day, and the Providence Bruins looked to even the series at one apiece. The Providence hockey club came out hot when Cooper Zech would net his second goal of the series. It was assisted by Jordan Szwarz and Paul Carey and the Boston affiliate took an early 1-0 lead. Then with a little over a minute left in the first period, Jack Studnicka would net his first professional goal on a feed from Lee Stempniak and Ryan Fitzgerald to make the score 2-0 and that would be the score at the end of the first period.

The score remained 2-0 for most of the second period, but with a little over two minutes left Andrew Poturalski would get the Checkers on the board on goal that was assisted by Trevor Carrick and Nicolas Roy. With under a minute to play in the second Charlotte would tie the game up at 2 with a goal from Dan Renouf that assisted by Andrew Poturalski and Morgan Geekie. It would remain 2-2 at the end of the second period. The third period started off slow but ended up being eventful. Almost 10 minutes into the period Peter Cehlarik would put Providence up 3-2 on a goal assisted by Jack Studnicka and Trent Frederic.

It would stay that way until the very end of the game when Chris Breen would add an empty net goal with one second left to make it a 4-2 game. Bruins win and tie the series up at 1-1. Dan Vladar was great in net stopping 25 of the 27 shots he faced. At the end of the game as the empty net goal was being scored a scrum broke out and two Bruins players (Jordan Szwarz and Lee Stempniak) and three Checkers players (Trevor Carrick, Tomas Jurco, and Bobby Sanguinetti) were given game misconducts. This is significant because Bobby Sanguinetti was suspended one game for his role in the scrum and Trevor Carrick has been suspended three games for leaving the bench during an altercation.

Game Three

Both teams packed up and set sail for Charlotte, North Carolina where the rest of the series will be played at the Bojangles’ Coliseum. The Checkers came out strong in the first period and about halfway through Andrew Poturalski scored his second goal of the series which was assisted by Aleksi Saarela to put them on top 1-0. About four minutes later Charlotte would go up 2-0 when Morgan Geekie scored his third goal of the series which was assisted by Jake Bean and Andrew Poturalski and the period would end with the Hurricanes’ affiliate up 2-0. Both teams would put up a goose egg in the second period and at the end of two, it was still 2-0 Checkers.

Again, going back to game one the Charlotte hockey club including regular season play was now 39-0 when leading after two periods. About a minute into the third period Andrew Poturalski would net an unassisted goal his second of the game and third of the series to put Charlotte on top 3-0 and that would go on to be your final with the Carolina affiliate now up 2-1 in the series. Goalie Zane McIntyre was adequate in net stopping 25 of the 28 shots he faced. Something else of note, Dan Vladar was set to start game three but an injury during the pre-game skate forced Zane McIntyre into the lineup.

Who’s hot and Who’s not for the Bruins this series

Hot

Cooper ZechCooper Zech has been great for Providence this series. In the three games, he netted two goals and has two total points. He came over to Providence in March signing as an undrafted free agent after his freshman year at Ferris State. While there, he led the team in scoring netting eight goals and dishing out 20 assists for 28 total points in 36 games. That’s a point per game total of 0.77. In 12 regular season games with Providence, the young defenseman didn’t find the back of the net but did dish out four assists for four total points. That’s a 0.33 point per game total in a limited sample. Hopefully, Zech can keep up his hot play and provide both offense and defense for the Bruins the rest of the series.

Jordan SzwarzThe Captain has been great for Providence this series. In the three games, he has netted two goals and dished out one assist for three total points. Szwarz had another great season for Providence in 68 games he netted 23 goals while dishing out 23 assists for 46 total points. That’s a point per game total of 0.67. The OHL product will need to continue to play well if the Bruins hope to take games four and five in Charlotte.

Not

Zane McIntyre: Zane had a pretty good regular season for Providence. He was 25-14-7 with a GAA of 2.59 and a save percentage of 0.898. This series, however, has been bad for the North Dakota alum. In two games the veteran netminder is 0-2 with a GAA of 4.14 and a save percentage of 0.855. With the injury to Vladar before game three, and the severity of it unknown, the Bruins need McIntyre to pick up his play if they hope to move on to the second round of the playoffs.

Zach SenyshynZach Senyshyn had an up and down regular season. The speedster showed some flashes of being elite, and at times looked a little lost. In 66 games with Providence, he netted 14 goals and dished out 10 assists for 24 total points. That’s a point per game total of 0.36. The young winger did get a call up to Boston and in two games netted a goal for his only point. That was something I was hoping would catapult him into a big playoff series, but in three games against Charlotte he has yet to register a point and if the Bruins want to advance to the next round, they need more offense.

Outlook for the rest of the series

A couple of things I said in my preview for the series that were important were overall team defense and would the Bruins get enough offense to win games. Both points seem to be rearing their ugly head as the team defense in game one as well as game three were suspect, and the Bruins just didn’t get enough offense especially in game three. Providence only had 20 shots on net in the game three loss and that just is not going to cut it and if the baby B’s hope to move onto the second round they need to generate more opportunities.

Before Wednesday night’s contest at Bojangles Coliseum, Providence rookie goaltender Dan Vladar went down with a lower body injury which is rumored to be a hamstring issue. With Zane McIntyre spending time with Boston as the “black ace” third goaltender, another rumor floating around the Boston Bruins organization is B’s goaltending prospect Kyle Keyser “could” get his first AHL start in goal in his first Calder Cup Playoff game. The 20-year-old Keyser recently ended his year with the Oshawa Generals a team who was eliminated in the  third  round of OHL playoffs to the hands of the leagues best Ottawa 67”s.

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I think that the boys in black and gold can win two in a row and still take this series. They proved earlier in the year that they could beat Charlotte on the road. Like I stated earlier game four will be Friday, April 26, 2019, and it will be one you do not want to miss. If Providence can come out on top, then the deciding game five would be Saturday, April 27, 2019. Let’s hope they can take game four Friday night! We will catch up with you next week to let you know how the team fared but feel free to send any questions or comments to me on Twitter. I hope everyone enjoys the series and Go, B’s, Go!