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.

Less Is More For The Bruins In Free Agency

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Photo Courtesy of Bob DeChiara – USA TODAY Sports

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charlie McAvoy’s Game Three Is Exactly What He And The Bruins Want Moving Forward

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PHOTO CREDITS: (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

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

The Boston Bruins now trail their Eastern Conference Semi-Finals series with the Columbus Blue Jackets two-games-to-one and there are many different theories and ideas as to why the Bruins have lost two of the three games to the second wild-card team in the Eastern Conference.

Some suggest that the lack of production from David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand is the reason while others may think that secret or unspecified injuries are the reason. After the loss in Game Three on the road, one player was one-hundred-percent not blamed (and he really shouldn’t be if he is), defenseman Charlie McAvoy.

Before Game Three, McAvoy has had a pretty solid 2019 postseason for the Bruins and he is truly showing that he can handle the big minutes that top-two defencemen in the NHL need to be able to handle. In the opening best-of-seven series against the Maple Leafs, the 21-year-old averaged 24:04 of ice-time, scoring one goal and adding two assists for three points in the seven games.

Between Games One and Two in the Second Round against Columbus, McAvoy averaged 27:33 minutes, highlighted by a 30:39-minute game in the double-overtime loss back in the second game. McAvoy trailed only Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo for the most minutes in that game, but his play was something to note heading into Tuesday’s contest in Columbus.

In Game Three, Charlie played in a team-high 24 minutes, led the team in recorded hits with five, and had the third-most shots on goal by defencemen on the Bruins roster. In addition to all of that, McAvoy’s skating and puck handling was on full display, often joining the rush as almost a fourth forward, setting up high-quality scoring chances because of it. During the third period of play with Boston down 2-1 on the scoreboard, McAvoy made a slick, no-look pass to Noel Acciari that beat Sergei Bobrovsky, but rang off of the post and went into the corner.

If Acciari buries that beautiful play, the game is tied and the two teams would have most likely made their way to a third-consecutive overtime session. It was a hard break for a Boston team that let the Blue Jackets come out on home ice with a two-goal lead, but made an effort near the end of the second period and the entirety of the third to even up the score and force that overtime period.

Regardless of the outcome of the game and regardless of how the series currently stands, Charlie McAvoy did everything in his power other than scoring goals to give Boston the lead in the series. Former Bruin Riley Nash has been on the wrong end of some heavy hits by the B’s and McAvoy was yet another contributor to that. In the dying seconds of the second period, not long after DeBrusk’s tally, the Long Beach, New York native sent Nash to ice in exploding fashion with a clean, shoulder-to-shoulder collision.

Charlie McAvoy was a crucial part to the small successes that Boston found in the Game Three defeat. As previously stated, McAvoy handled the puck with ease around oncoming defenders and managed to help the Bruins secure some offensive zone time – a feat that seemed difficult to accomplish at numerous times in not only this game, but the first two meetings as well. His zone entries were clean, feet were always moving, and his passes were clean – turning the puck over on only one occasion compared to the four turnovers he committed in Game Two.

Boston Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy praised the efforts of McAvoy in the post-game press conference as well, as this quote taken from Shawn Hutcheon (@ShawnHutcheon) suggests.

“Excellent. He was all over the ice. Dominant. He wanted to be a difference-maker without being reckless. Really, really good. Charlie was a big reason why we were in the game.”

A topic that was often included in these conversations about McAvoy’s stellar performance on Tuesday night was that McAvoy usually does not play like this consistently and if he does, could be a strong asset to Boston as this series progresses further and further. Bruins Network (@BruinsNetwork) included that perfectly in a Tweet below.

Similar to Acciari’s post shot, McAvoy ripped one off of the red iron as well in the game. His speed and skill with the puck allowed a clean entry into Columbus’ zone, but his solid wrist shot hit the post behind a standing Bobrovsky. Just another digressive attack that demonstrated his confidence that he possessed throughout the sixty-minute hockey game.

Even in a losing effort, the end result for Charlie McAvoy could be a winning one in the long run. On July 1st, the young defender’s contract officially expires and he will become an unrestricted free-agent. As of the end of the 2018-19 regular season, McAvoy has played in 117 career NHL regular season games, amassing 14-46-60 numbers within that time span as well as 13 points in 28 NHL playoff games.

Following a recent poll on my Twitter page, 51% of voters predict McAvoy’s contract to be anywhere from $4.1 to $6 million annually, with many people suggesting that the length of the deal plays a role in that annual salary as well. The next highest percentage, at 35%, suggested a $6.1 to $7 million price gap.

On CapFriendly’s “comparable” tool on their website, I took a look at players similar to McAvoy when he will sign his new contract. Such parameters included a 21-year-old, right-handed defenceman with 60 points in 117 games making $5.5 million on a six-year contract. Of course, those numbers are going off of the Twitter results and do not result in a definite, expected number.

The best match for McAvoy according to CapFriendly is Arizona Coyotes d-man, Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Ekman-Larsson signed his deal back in March of 2013 when he was 21 years of age. At the time of signing, OEK had only 56 points in 157 games played. The website’s tool has both players matching at 97.1%.

Now, my first issue with this was the idea of the points scored. With the statistics provided above, Charlie McAvoy possesses a 0.51 points-per-game average while Ekman-Larsson had only averaged 0.35 points-per-game when he signed for $5.5 million for six seasons. In response, I re-adjusted my sliders for the attributes that I wanted to be considered the most, including career games played, points, and age. Below were my top 5 results. You can also CLICK HERE for the official CapFriendly table.

  • 98.1% – ARI D Jakub Chychrun – 21yrs – 118GP – 34pts – $4.6 million/6yrs in 2018
  • 97.1% – MIN D Jonas Brodin – 21yrs – 127GP – 31pts – $4.1 million/6yrs in 2014
  • 96.7% – NJD D Adam Larsson – 21yrs – 128GP – 27pts – $900,000/1yr in 2014
  • 96.6% – MIN D Brent Burns – 21yrs – 108GP – 22pts – $825,000/2yrs in 2006
  • 96.2% – ARI D Oliver Ekman-Larsson – 21yrs – 157GP – 56pts – $5.5 million/6yrs in 2013

Taking a look at the annual salaries, clearly the contracts of both Adam Larsson and Brent Burns are highly unlikely for McAvoy at this point in his career, but they do have a strong resemblance to McAvoy’s current situation. Jakub Chychrun, to me, makes the most sense. However, due to McAvoy having a significantly higher career point total as well as having a larger role on the Bruins team than Chychrun did, I personally see his contract around Ekman-Larsson’s.

For Charlie McAvoy, if his Game Three performance can be continued out for the remainder of the postseason, he can truly have some bargaining power on General Manager Don Sweeney and the rest of the Bruins management. For the Boston Bruins, even if they have to pay more than possibly expected at the start of the season, it is a win for them because they will have another young, solid defenceman of the future to build around once the likes of Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug move on.

Tonight, the Bruins are back on the ice against the Blue Jackets in Game Four. Puck drop is currently scheduled for 7:30pm EST. Can Charlie McAvoy play as dominantly as he did only two nights ago? Will the Bruins tie the series at two, heading back to Boston? They’re all just questions, but soon, they will become answers.

Danton Heinen’s Future With The Bruins

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(Photo Credit: The Candian Press)

By: Drew Johnson | Follow Me On Twitter: @doobshmoob

Danton Heinen’s rookie campaign was a strong one. Lacing up the skates 77 times during the regular season, the Boston Bruins racked up 16 goals and 31 assists. The 23-year-old can certainly be proud of his NHL debut.

Heinen’s impressive start could land him in a top-six role this season, especially if GM Don Sweeney isn’t able to reel in a second-line winger which seems less and less likely every day. The British Columbia native moved around quite a bit last season within Boston’s lineup, and it would be interesting to see what chemistry could brew with consistent linemates. But there is another option on the Heinen front.

Trading Danton Heinen

Heinen is a valuable young forward in the NHL which makes him a solid trade asset. Sweeney put his strong foot forward this offseason by making bids for John Tavares and Ilya Kovalchuk. The team’s willingness to improve heading into the 2018-19 season seems to be unfiltered.

The Bruins have a number of up-and-coming forwards seeking a drive down I-95 North from Providence to Boston. The barrier between the AHL and NHL has gone from thick to thin as these youngsters have continued to up their game in hopes of taking the next steps in their respective careers. While this bodes well for the Bruins, it may not work for Heinen. Sweeney could afford to part for the winger in the right circumstances.

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(Photo Credit: Matt Stone)

Fans and media alike have been calling for David Backes’ contract to be moved, but that will not be an easy trade to make. A one-for-one deal is definitely out of the question unless the Bruins are to take an equally devastating contract in return – defeating the purpose of trading him in the first place. Thus they would have to wrap up Backes in a gift bag full of bright tissue paper and a heartfelt card. Heinen could contribute to that flare.

It must also be considered that the Bruins are in a sticky situation in terms of the salary cap. Next summer, they will have to re-sign restricted free agents Ryan Donato, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and – you guessed it – Heinen. While Donato may be best suited for a bridge deal barring his performance during the 2018-19 campaign, the latter three will be looking to strike long-term deals. Knocking just one of those players off the potential payroll will cause less of a headache, especially considering the two defensemen on that list will be looking for hefty salaries.

Keeping Danton Heinen

Then there is the flip side. Heinen had a great rookie campaign and will be seeking to improve upon that. His performances during the postseason may have been underwhelming, but he is young and will likely capitalize upon his first glimpse of the NHL playoffs during his second go around.

The Bruins may be interested in winger such as Panarin, but a move like that may not be most wise. It seems as though the majority of top-six wingers remaining on the market would be a gamble and Heinen should only be traded for a sure thing – not a player who may underperform or fail to re-sign with Boston.

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(Photo Credit: Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Heinen’s potential is without question, and he could improve in a very valuable player among Boston’s top-six. At the age of 26, Panarin put up 82 points in 81 games. While Heinen’s numbers pale in comparison, there is no reason that the Bruin could manufacture a 70-point campaign if he is to play alongside some of Boston’s best forwards over the course of the next handful of seasons.

No. 43 is definitely a moveable asset, but it could be well worth it for the Bruins to hold on to him. If Sweeney was to give Heinen up, it better be in order to fill one of the team’s biggest needs heading into this season. Otherwise, it is simply not worth it.

Boston Bruins Roster Analysis: Part 2

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Photo Credit:  Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

By: Chris Nosek | Follow me on Twitter: @cnosek6342

When constructing the roster for the 2018-2019 Boston Bruins, there many factors that Don Sweeney and his team will need to examine. We have already looked at the simplicity that is leaving alone the Marchand, Bergeron, Pastrnak line; so let’s continue to take a look at two more of the Bruins lines from this past season.

(For more information on the first scoring line click HERE to view part 1 of this series)

DeBrusk – Krejci – Nash (Rick)

Jake DeBruskPhoto credit:  Mike G. Morreale / NHL.com Staff Writer

The second line left wing was one of the biggest questions marks coming into this season. Early in the season, it was thought that Anders Bjork had won the job. It took a season-ending shoulder injury to pull Bjork from the lineup – we will have more on him in a later article – and open the door for 21-year old Jake Debrusk. It wasn’t long before he locked down that slot for himself. By posting 43 points in 70 games, and finishing with a +13 rating, DeBrusk showed great chemistry with Krejci – like we haven’t seen since Milan Lucic was in town. With his performance and goal celebrations of just pure joy, Debrusk has earned himself the LW spot on line number two for at least one more season. Dethroning Debrusk shouldn’t be out of possibility, he still needs to be pushed to perform. Cassidy needs to be open to letting someone steal that job from him in training camp and preseason, but it is going to take a LOT for that to happen.

It would greatly benefit Krejci for Cassidy to make it near impossible to for Debrusk to lose his spot because the Czech centerman has already had too much of turnstile on his right side, it’d be nice to see the left side remain steady again. Krejci has arguably the worst contract on the team with a cap hit of $7.25 million he generated a lot of fan buzz about dealing off the big contract. With only two years remaining on his contract it probably wouldn’t be too difficult to find a willing trade partner, however, I question which teams who on this short list would be ones that Krejci would waive his modified no-movement clause to go to.

Let’s say all of the above occurs, and you find the perfect trade partner, you would be selling Krejci at an all-time low as he just showed in 12 playoff games that he is still capable of being the point-per-game player who earned the $7.25 million contract. His performance also looked completely rejuvenated upon the arrival of Rick Nash. By putting up 10 points in those 12 playoff games, Krejci has shown the value of keeping him is greater than what you would receive in return for any deal you send him away in. It will be up to Cassidy and Sweeney to ensure that the best possible linemates are next to Krejci at all times.

Last but not least, Rick Nash. This line saw the addition of the second Nash at the trade deadline along with the subtraction of David Backes from this line – yes the team lost Spooner in the deal, but Backes was bumped to replace him on the third line. Nash proved to be a significant upgrade over Backes on the wing, and they didn’t give up too much to get him. In fact, even though I am a fan of Spooner’s, I like the deal overall – we can talk about that further at another time.

The point here is that this line was considerably better with Rick Nash over David Backes once the move was made and it showed that this team is capable of having two offensive powerhouse lines. We also learned that Krejci has only “lost a step” when he doesn’t have the right guys around him. So now for the big question – do the Bruins resign the 33-year-old winger?

The correct answer to this is no. Not because they can’t, but because they shouldn’t. Don’t give me that “for the right contract they can bring him back” crap. Any team would take any player “for the right contract.” The issue here is going to be that Nash will want more than the Bruins SHOULD be willing to commit to him. He is 33 years old and coming off of a 21 goal season that also saw 13 assists. He may be looking for his last long-term deal, and if he is, that isn’t something Sweeney should touch with a 30-foot pole. IF Sweeney can convince Nash to take a one year “prove it” type deal, then you may have something to talk to him about. Putting up only 34 points in 71 games played between the Rangers and Bruins, along with his -19 for the season, Sweeney MIGHT be able to convince him that hitting free agency again at 34 years old with a full season in Boston next to Krejci will help him get a better contract.  Anything longer than this type of one year deal would be one of the biggest mistakes of Sweeney’s time in Boston. If Nash were 10 – or even 5 – years younger, I would have no hesitation in bringing him back with more term, but right now this team has too many young talented players who will be owed significant pay raises in the next two seasons to sink that much into Nash. They also have more holes opening up that will need addressing, and he absolutely will be getting better offers from other teams looking for his services.

Schaller – Kuraly – Acciari

Kuraly, Schaller, and Acciari

Photo Credit: Mike Stobe

Back when the Bruins won the cup in 2011, they had a 4th line that brought everything you look for in your grinder guys. This year, these three guys showed the same abilities as a fourth line as the infamous merlot line. They were always at their teammates’ side and ready to drop the gloves when necessary. They brought physical play when it was needed, and although they were not what many would consider a “scoring threat,” the combination of these three guys accounted for 47 regular season points and 8 in the playoffs. So what do we do about this line going into next season?

The good news here is that Kuraly is a restricted free agent and can be resigned for qualifying offers under $1 million. This is a no-brainer decision to bring him back. This will allow you one more season to get a better feeling of his true ceiling as a player and have him for another playoff run. It is always important to have players who can find the back of the net in the playoffs – and Kuraly has proven with some big goals he can do just that.

Neither Acciari or Schaller should be overly expensive. If you can retain them for anything shy of $1.5 million for 2-3 years, then that is not only acceptable but is an opportunity that should be jumped on. Yes, this team got in a lot of cap trouble for a few years because Peter Chiarelli invested too much money for too many years in the 3rd and 4th line guys, so this may lead to some of you to wonder why this type of contract would be ok for Schaller and Acciari when it was too much for guys like Paille and Campbell. The difference here is that Schaller and Acciari have shown they COULD if needed play on a higher line in a game in an injury forced Cassidy’s hand. Now I wouldn’t overextend on them, and if another team is willing to give either one of them more than $1.5 million then, by all means, Sweeney should let them overpay. I don’t see anyone else overpaying either of these guys nor finding more value in bringing one of these guys in over someone already on their rosters. In their mid to late 20’s, Cassidy may be able to deal off the last big of their contracts for a team to negotiate with them before Free Agency, but I wouldn’t expect anything more than a late-round pick for either of them.

In summary: Krejci and Debrusk should see no change in their status at this time. Rick Nash should be allowed to walk in free agency. Kuraly should receive his qualifying offer and be brought back on short money to see if he is able to raise his ceiling next season and score a few more playoff goals for you. Acciari and Schaller should be brought back on short-term, low money deals that don’t exceed a combined $3 million. Although I don’t see either one signing more than a 2-3 year deal at that kind of money, it will be worth not having to worry about the fourth line opening up again for those next couple of seasons until you have other young players ready to step up into those minutes.