What Are the Bruins Options With John Moore

(James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports)

By Leon Lifschutz | Follow me @BruinsBreakdown

John Moore signed with the Boston Bruins on July 1, 2018. The contract was for five years with an average annual value towards the Bruins’ salary cap of $2,750,000. At the time of the signing, General Manager Don Sweeney discussed the need for skating, size, and depth in his defense corps all of which he believed Moore, coming off the best stretch of his career with the Devils, could provide. Two years into the five year deal, Moore has only played 85 games with the spoked B on his chest, a consequence of injuries and sliding down the depth chart. Sweeney’s concern about depth two seasons ago has been slightly allayed by the play of youngsters like Matt Grzelcyk, Connor Clifton, and Jeremy Lauzon, all of whom have become preferred choices for Coach Bruce Cassidy in the lineup over the veteran Moore. By all accounts from Bruins’ beat writers, Moore is a great professional but it’s evident things have not worked out how the team or the player imagined on the ice when signing the long-term deal on the first day of free agency two summers ago. In this piece, we will examine what the Bruins’ options are with Moore who this past season was not much more than a very expensive depth option.

Buyout

The Athletic’s James Mirtle recently did a piece on the top buyout candidates in the NHL where he floated Moore’s name. In a flat cap world with diminished revenues paying so much for a player like Moore instantaneously raises this scenario. Not only does it reduce your cap hit for the upcoming season, it also opens up a roster spot to sign a free agent or to promote a younger player to the top club. If the Bruins buyout Moore they will owe him $805,556 in actual money until 2025-26. In terms of cap savings, they would get back $1,444,444 in 2020-21 and 2022-23 and $1,944,444 in 2021-22. However, the buyout would eat up $805,556 of cap space for three years beyond when the initial contract is set to expire. While the Bruins could use the cap space this year they may need it even more in the coming years needing to re-sign players like David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy as well as plug holes as their core players age.

Bury The Contract

Another option available to the Bruins is to send Moore down to the minors and “bury his contract”. The Montreal Canadiens have been currently employing this strategy with Karl Alzner. Although Alzner’s paycheck is bigger than Moore’s, there are a lot of similarities amongst both players and their situations. The NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that if you send a player on a one way contract down, your cap still includes the original cap hit minus league minimum salary and an additional $375,000. If the Bruins’ sent Moore to Providence he would still count as $1,675,000 towards their cap. This is slightly more than the buyout option but would ensure the contract came off the books when it is set to expire in 2022-23. Moore would also need to clear waivers to be sent down and it’s possible, though unlikely, another team would claim him.

Trade

An inevitability of the cap era is the need to get rid of contract’s that were ill advised or just didn’t work out. In these instances team’s often need to sweeten the pot to find a taker. Bruins fans are familiar with this as recently as this past winter, when Sweeney had to include a first round pick and retain some salary to move on from David Backes and his albatross of a contract. Over the summer there is likely little market for a player like Moore. Many similar players will be available for cheaper in a depressed free agent market. Teams may also want to gauge what their in-house options are for a third pair defenseman before taking on a larger salary for one. However, as teams get into their opening games (whenever that might be), assess their talent level, and start facing injuries, they may decide they have a need for a player like Moore to shore up their depth and take on some minutes for them. The Bruins would likely be willing to part with Moore for a marginal pick and could even consider retaining some salary to make it work.

Remain On The Team

Moore is indeed still part of the Bruins as this article is being written. He was a part of the traveling party in the playoff bubble and did get into one game. Had the Bruins’ defense faced injury, Moore likely would have received the call after Lauzon. Moore is only 29 years old so while he is just past his prime, age is not a major concern. The Bruins also may indeed have a depth issue on defense depending on how the off-season (not the summer) plays out. If the Bruins do not sign a defenseman (or two) in free agency and decide it would be best for their young defense prospects to keep logging extensive and all situation minutes in the minors, they have a dearth of options on the big club. Grzelcyk has yet to show he can play big minutes. Clifton and Lauzon have yet to show they can be everyday players. That leaves just Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo as proven commodities the Bruins know what to expect from on their current roster. Even Carlo is coming off an inconsistent playoff bubble performance and poorer underlying regular season numbers than previous years. While Moore’s performance relative to his teammates has not been sterling, he does provide a veteran presence for Cassidy. Moore, after struggling with injury this season, should also come to camp in full health ready to battle for a spot.

Conclusion

The Bruins are in an unenviable position with John Moore. A buyout provides some short term savings but could hinder them long-term. Burying Moore in the minors provides savings similar to that of a buyout without the long term impact. Trade options are likely scarce over the off-season but may be available as teams become desperate with injuries or underperforming players. However, the Bruins best option is likely to retain Moore for now. Unless Boston makes a big splash on defense in free agency, or via trade, they may need him as an option next season. The Bruins would need to see if Clifton and Lauzon can become regulars or if a player like Jakub Zboril is ready to make the jump. Having a veteran insurance policy would be a good route to go. If the youngsters or off-season additions prove adequate then they could look to off-load him early on next season or consider assigning him to Providence.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded 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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Prospects For A Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche Trade Prior To Free Agency

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Dan Anderson | Follow Me On Twitter @DanAnderson5970

At the beginning of the 2019-2020 NHL playoffs, I considered the Colorado Avalanche the favorite to come out of the western conference. Lead by star players Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog, it appeared the former Quebec Nordiques might be the Boston Bruins’ opponent if the Bruins reached the Stanley Cup finals. After a disappointing playoff for both teams, might there be a trade in the works between these two?

General Manager Joe Sakic, a former Nordiques and Avalanche star himself, currently has double the cap space that the Bruins have. However, restricted free agents Andre Burakovsky and Valeri Nichushkin, plus unrestricted free agent Vladislav Namestnikov all need new contracts. A new deal to retain the rights to Vladislav Kamenev, who signed to play for two years with SKA Saint Petersburg of the KHL on September 1, 2020, will consume a small portion of this money. The Avalanche have a total of six restricted free agents and five unrestricted free agents to consider, and that’s without signing someone from another organization.

Who might the Bruins target in a potential trade? MacKinnon, Landeskog, and defenseman Erik Johnson all have no-trade or no-movement clauses in their contracts.  Bruins fans would be in an uproar if they acquired Nazem Kadri, but he too has a similar clause in his contract. I see one of two possible scenarios for the Bruins and Avalanche to make a deal. Colorado has both Johnson and rookie of the year Cale Makar at right defense. They also have depth at left defense. Nikita Zadorov has been the subject of trade rumors, plays the left side, and is a 6’5” 235-pound defensive defenseman.

If the Bruins could offer some combination of prospects or draft picks, perhaps they might be able to pry Zadorov away.  Defensive pairings for the Bruins become Zadorov-McAvoy, Grzelcyk-Carlo, and Chara-Lauzon/Clifton. I would go with Clifton for more offense in this case. The second scenario would likely make more headlines. The Bruins could potentially clear salary-cap space and get a younger starting goaltender by trading Tuukka Rask for Philipp Grubauer in a deal that could perhaps include Zadorov as well. Tuukka’s modified no-trade clause includes fifteen teams he could be sent to; if Colorado is on the list, this transaction has potential.

I think Rask is one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. He’s very good at playing his angles so that he is in a position to make the save rather than having to make a spectacular play. His career numbers speak to him being a quality goaltender. There is a large contingent of Bruins fans, however, who believe that Rask cannot win the big game or that he doesn’t have the will to even play in them.  While I understand he left the “bubble” during the NHL playoffs because his daughter was sick, most fans are less forgiving.  There is no doubt the Bruins would have had a better chance to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning with him in net instead of Jaroslav Halak. Has Rask worn out his welcome in Boston?

From the Colorado perspective, upgrading their goaltending might be the direction to go to improve their chances for next season. With the number of available quality goaltenders available this offseason, including Marc-Andre Fleury, Matt Murray, Jacob Markstrom, and Braden Holtby, I think it is unlikely that this trade will happen. In other possible Colorado to Boston moves, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bruins take a look at Colin Wilson or Matt Nieto, both of whom played for Jack Parker at Boston University and are unrestricted free agents. Wilson, son of former Hartford Whaler and Calgary Flame Carey Wilson, is the more likely candidate as he came into the league as a first-round pick with power forward potential; he’s 6’1, 221-pounds. 

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded 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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Are The Boston Bruins Leaning Toward Cheaper Options This Offseason?

( Mandatory Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports )

By: Matt Barry | Follow me on Twitter @oobcards

The Boston Bruins seem to be in many trade conversations from several different sources around the National Hockey League. General manager Don Sweeney has allegedly put feelers out on the interest level of several players. Anders Bjork has been talked about as a player that has drawn interest from the Edmonton Oilers, possibly in exchange for winger Alex Chaisson. Restricted free agent Jake DeBrusk’s name has been mentioned as a trade chip as the Bruins look to add a left-shot defenseman to replace unrestricted free agent Torey Krug, who is unlikely to re-sign with the club. Even Tuukka Rask and David Krejci, each with one year left on their current deals, might be involved in the right move.

The general consensus has been that Sweeney would like to use the over $14 million in salary-cap space the team has to restructure the roster to make another run at the Stanley Cup. However, when the top unrestricted free agents such as forward Taylor Hall are discussed in trade rumors, the Bruins have not been in that conversation much. In fact, in recent days, Boston has been linked to lesser tier players like Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen (RFA) or Nashville’s Craig Smith (UFA). These additions would more than likely cost less than a higher-end free agent or a more high impact trade acquisition.

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The Bruins have spent to the cap or close to it for the last several seasons. Owner Jeremy Jacobs has opened the bank account far more frequently than he had years ago. But, much of the revenue that Jacobs’ company Delaware North generates comes from the concessions that are sold during TD Garden events. Since March, there have been no events at the arena and significantly less money than in a typical year. Many teams are struggling with the prospect of beginning the 2020-21 season in a bubble scenario with no fans. If this happens, there will continue to be very little revenue from events.

So who is to say that, while most people just assume that the Bruins will continue to spend and improve the roster, it could be a case where the Bruins look for cheaper options to try to fill holes in the lineup. Boston could actually use some of their younger prospects like center Jack Studnicka and Jeremy Lauzon and insert them into the NHL roster full time. The Black and Gold could also re-sign Matt Grzelcyk to a more affordable deal and have the former Boston University star play on the top defensive pair with Charlie McAvoy. DeBrusk could sign for a less expensive “bridge deal,” and the Bruins might sign defensemen Zdeno Chara and Kevan Miller to one-year minimum contracts. There are also opportunities for buyouts of the contracts of Nick Ritchie and John Moore.

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With all the anticipation surrounding this supposed busy offseason and roster revamp for the Boston Bruins, it could be that Jacobs and Sweeney see an opportunity to keep the payroll down until the league finalizes a plan for the next season. Maybe the team is trying to be proactive and cautious about adding payroll and taking this opportunity to reset the roster some and see what the team has in their young players. Time will tell, but I would not be so sure that Jeremy Jacobs’ Boston Bruins will be spending to the cap just before a season that could be much the same as the last.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded 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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Zdeno Chára|Charlie McAvoy|Time to Pass the Torch?

Photo courtesy of WCVB – Boston

By: Maria from Watertown | Follow me on Twitter @mariaofh2otown

The dates of July 1, 2006 and June 24, 2016 will be part of “this day in history” timeline for the Boston Bruins. On each of these dates, the Bruins procured two players whose paths have intertwined for the last four seasons and will have a lasting impact on the franchise.  One of these players has cemented his legacy as a member of the Boston Bruins, while the other is still working his way towards building that legacy in a Bruins uniform. I’m referring to the free-agency signing of Zdeno Chara and the drafting of Charlie McAvoy.

There is no argument that can be made regarding the significant impact that Chara has had on the franchise since joining the Bruins in 2006. Chara was immediately named Captain and although his early years with the Bruins were a struggle, Chara’s commitment to the organization and his teammates, as well as his sense of community, has never wavered throughout his time in a Bruins sweater. By all accounts, teammates and coaches have nothing but respect and admiration for how Chara has conducted himself both on and off the ice. 

Photo courtesy of the Sporting News

Chara himself proved that commitment by agreeing to a very team-friendly deal this past season while also accepting somewhat of a diminished role on the team.  Great leaders lead by example and do what is in the best interests of the team. Mission accomplished where Chara is concerned. It also doesn’t hurt Chara’s legacy that he was a significant contributor to a team that brought a Stanley Cup back to Boston “after 39 long years”!

Photo courtesy of The Athletic

At the time the Bruins drafted Charlie McAvoy on June 24, 2016, there was nearly a 20-year age difference between Chara and McAvoy. McAvoy was heralded as the future of the Bruins defensive core and it did not take him long to get a taste of playing with the big boys.

McAvoy made his NHL debut in a playoff game against the Ottawa Senators on April 12, 2017 as a result of injuries to key Bruins defensemen, Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug. Talk about being thrown from the frying pan into the fire! It made perfect sense to pair the young protégé with the elder statesman, Chara, and McAvoy did not disappoint. McAvoy logged a little over 24 minutes of ice time during this game, which was second only to the Captain, who logged a tick over 25 minutes of on ice time.

The Bruins went on to win the game and McAvoy reflected back on that experience during an interview with Andrew Mahoney of Boston.com:

“That was incredible,” McAvoy said via Zoom Tuesday. “It was a dream come true, because that was my first NHL game, and that was my entire life. That was all I wanted to do was play in the NHL, and that was my chance. “And to have it in that playoff atmosphere was incredible. The nerves, the excitement. All of it.”

When asked about playing with Chara, McAvoy said the following:

“He’s just such a great guy,” McAvoy said. “He’s our leader, and all that he’s been able to do in his hockey career is incredible. Playing with him has been awesome, and it’s something that I’ll be able to tell my kids about one day, that I was able to play with the big guy.”

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Chara and McAvoy have been relatively steady defensive partners throughout McAvoy’s early career. Both players bring different skill sets to their positions. Chara has never been known for his skating speed, but he makes up for that with his size, long reach and his mere physical presence. McAvoy is fast, generally makes smart decisions with the puck and shows signs of offensive explosiveness.

During the last four seasons, McAvoy has had the privilege of working with and learning from Chara, who will certainly be in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Whether or not the Bruins decide to move forward with resigning Chara, I believe that it is time to hand the defensive torch to Charlie McAvoy and allow this potential beast of a hockey player to be unleashed.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded 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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Assessing The Boston Bruins Salary Cap Situation

( Photo Credit: AP Photo / John Locher )

By: Joey Partridge | Follow Me On Twitter @joey_partridge

Most Boston Bruins fans know the feeling of having their team pressed against the salary cap ceiling. It has actually been a common thing for the Bruins for most of this decade. Due to some bad contracts and having a deep, skilled roster, the Bruins haven’t had too much freedom entering most off-seasons.

The 2020 offseason is going to be an interesting one. For the first time in what feels like forever, the Bruins are actually in an okay spot compared to most teams. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the scheduled increase in the league wide salary cap has been cancelled and will remain the same.

Looking back at the past half decade, the Bruins have had some less than stellar contracts on their roster. By this, I don’t mean the fans that say Tuukka Rask or David Krejci are making too much because at that point, you’re just looking for something to complain about. I mean the David Backes and Matt Beleskey contracts.

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Before I get into the numerics, in no way am I bashing these players. These are good hockey players that just happened to not work out in Boston. However, with that being said, with that comes a bad contract because the production didn’t equal the value.

For the past few years, the Bruins have been paying Backes $6 million per year, and while Beleskey was with the team they were paying him $3.8 million per year. Both of these players are not with the team so it gets a little more complicated now. Beleskey was a part of the Rick Nash trade back in 2018. Up until just this year, the Bruins were paying some retained salary on that contract. Backes was just moved to Anaheim this year and the Bruins will continue to pay $1.5 million per year in retained salary for the duration of his contract, which ends after next season. What most don’t know either is that until this year the Bruins were continuing to pay Dennis Seidenberg as a result of a buyout.

Now, the only thing on the books in terms of “dead money” is the $1.5 million owed to Backes. This is the best situation the Bruins have had in years. As of September 25th, 2020 and according to CapFriendly, the Bruins have roughly $14.4 million in cap space with notables like Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, Jake Debrusk and Matt Grzelyck to sign. You can speculate whether Krug and Chara will be back, but the fact of the matter is they have room to get deals done.

( Photo Credit: Jim Rogash / Getty Images Sport )

Another important factor to consider is the NHL’s buyout window opens today, September 25th. While the Bruins don’t have any really bad contracts on the books, could they look to clear up some more cap to take a run at a top free agent? While I personally believe the Bruins wont buy anyone out, one contract that I could see them getting off the books is John Moore. The defense on the Bruins is loaded with talent and he has been in and out of the lineup with his $2.75 million cap hit over the next three seasons. However, you can argue that if Krug does leave, his role becomes larger and he will be a valuable asset.

Time will tell what the Bruins do with their cap space, but the fact of the matter is the Bruins are in a very decent spot with their money compared to other teams. Trust in Don Sweeney.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded below on 9-20-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Kyle Palmeri Is Still The Answer For The Bruins

( Photo Credit: Ed Muhlhollan|USA Today Sports )

By: Jack Gotsell | Follow me on Twitter @jackgotsell

The Bruins are still in need of a top-six winger after the addition of Ondrej Kase did not quite go as planned. At the deadline, the Bruins kicked the tires on Kyle Palmeri and this offseason Boston will kick the tires again. Could Palmeri be a Bruin and would it make sense? 

First, we have to start with what would it take to get Palmeri? Palmeri has only one year left on his deal and he would be a rental who is most likely going to look to cash in on his next contract. The price would likely be the Bruins top defensive prospect Urho Vaakanainen and a 2021 first-round pick. This is a steep price when you consider the Bruins would go three seasons without making a first-round selection.

Palmeri is listed here as trade bait.

Palmeri is 29-years-old and had 25 goals, 20 assists, and 45 points in 65 games last season. He would be the finisher that Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci need on the second line to give the Bruins secondary scoring. This would leave a line of Anders Bjork, Charlie Coyle, and Kase as the third line which would be one of the best third lines in the NHL.

If you make this trade happen and buyout Nick Ritchie, the Bruins are left with just over $4.6 million dollars of cap space to still sign a left-shot defenseman. This is if you sign Debrusk on a bridge deal for four million and Matt Grzelcyk on a deal with a $3.5 million dollar cap hit. This is why Palmeri is the perfect player to go after. He comes at a cheap price for his production with a cap hit of $4.65 million dollars. 

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If injuries happen which they always do you call up Jack Studnicka to fill in a top-nine role and Trent Frederic to fill in on the fourth line if an injury happens there. This is an ideal scenario for the Bruins being able to replace Torey Krug with a defenseman with $4.6 million dollars of cap or around three million dollars if you decide to bring back Zdeno Chara for one last run. If we can make these deals Matt Borowiecki, an assistant captain for the Ottawa Senators, is going to hit the free agency market and could be the perfect piece to replace Krug on the second pair while providing additional leadership in the Bruins locker room.

Palmeri is a consistent 20-plus goal-scorer who has been on a contending team only once in his nine consecutive NHL seasons playing over 20 games a season. With line-mates like DeBrusk and Krejci, it could really spark Palmeri’s offense and allow him to have the stats most NHL fans think he’s capable of putting up. This line would be your true power forward, playmaker, and finisher line that Bruins fans have been clamoring for.

Giving away your first-round pick three years in a row is not something any NHL team wants to do. However, if this is the last year for this nucleus before the window closes it may be the answer to fill the voids and stay under the cap. Palmeri may be the Bruins all-in move if they are to succeed in bringing a parade and a cup back to Boston. Before we start the engines on the Duck boats Palmeri has to not sign an extension and the Bruins need to be the front of the line to make a competitive offer for his services.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded 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 exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Could the Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild be making a trade this off-season?

( Mandatory Photo Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports )

By: Dan Anderson | Follow Me On Twitter @DanAnderson5970

One of the noticeable trends in the NHL over the past decade or so is the amount of ex-Boston Bruin players and or management hired into management positions for other teams. The Minnesota Wild are not an exception to this trend, having hired Bill Guerin to be their general manager in August of 2019. Bill was born in Worcester, MA, grew up in Wilbraham, MA, and played at Boston College before turning professional. He spent most of two seasons (2000-2001, 2001-2002) playing right-wing in Boston. Might he be “friendly” to making a trade with Don Sweeney and the Boston Bruins? 

It’s clear from recent moves, including refusing to sign Mikko Koivu, the franchise leader in games, assists, and points, plus the only full-time captain the Wild have ever had, that the Wild are going full rebuild mode. Minnesota also traded productive 35-year-old center, Eric Staal, to Buffalo for Marcus Johansson, who is six years younger. I would consider a team in rebuild mode a trade target for the Boston Bruins, who are looking to put together a team to win the Stanley Cup now rather than later. 

While having Guerin in Minnesota might be helpful down the road, I don’t see a good fit for trades right now. Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, and perhaps Mats Zuccarello or Marcus Johansson might seem attractive. Between salary cap hits, no-movement clauses, and in Johansson’s case, having just arrived and destined to play center; these are not viable trade options for the Bruins. Zach Parise is a 36 year old left-wing with a no-movement clause and contract that pays $7.5M through 2024-2025. Ryan Suter’s deal is the same as Parise’s, except he’s 35-years-old and a left defenseman. Zuccarello would be another small forward who could play either wing but is 33-years-old with four years remaining at $6 million per season with a no-movement clause.

How about other players the Bruins might be interested in acquiring? Kevin Fiala, Jordan Greenway, formerly of Boston University, and perhaps Alex Galchenyuk could be options. Galchenyuk, if the Bruins want to take a chance on him, is a UFA come October 9th. Alex has had two seasons of twenty plus goals, but if he signs with Boston, he would be on his fifth team in nine seasons. He’s also not likely to crack the top two lines, so he would likely be hindering Anders Bjork’s development. Galchenyuk arrived in Minnesota via a trade with Pittsburgh on February 11, 2020, along with defensive prospect Calen Addison and a first-round draft pick for Jason Zucker. 

It would appear Guerin is not interested in retaining Galchenyuk. Fiala and Greenway are 24 and 23-years-old, respectively, and the kind of players Guerin is likely to want to build a team around, not try to move. Greenway is a potential power forward type at left-wing. He’s 6’6 and 225-pounds, while Fiala is a former first-round pick who could be a perennial twenty goal scorer. There is no puck-moving left defenseman or clear upgrade upfront that the Bruins could use currently on Minnesota’s roster. I don’t see a trade occurring between these teams this offseason. 

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded below on 9-21-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

The Bruins Are Chasing The Lightning

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By: Tyler Smith | Follow Me On Twitter @foxboro_ty

Where do the Bruins go from here? After being ousted from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in two of the last three years by the Tampa Bay Lightning, it’s clear the Bruins are chasing the Eastern Conference Champions. This offseason is a make or break time for the Black and Gold. Don Sweeney needs to build a roster this off-season that can compete with, and ultimately defeat the Lightning if they want to achieve their ultimate goal of winning a Stanley Cup.

Currently, the Lightning has a deep, talented team without any real weaknesses. Tampa Bay has speed and skill with the likes of Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, and Steven Stamkos. They have a big mobile defensive group commanded by perennial Norris Trophy finalist Victor Hedman. At the trade deadline, the Lightning addressed their needs for more grit within their group with the additions of Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman to go with Yanni Gourde to form an effective, grinding, third line. The Bolts bottom-six production was a strength for them, and a matchup nightmare for opponents in the playoffs. The Lightning has all the ingredients to play any style. Tampa can outscore you, outskate you, outhit you and grind you down. The goaltending is pretty good too, with Vezina Trophy finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy between the pipes.

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The Lightning is facing a cap crunch next season. Tampa has only 15 of 23 players on their roster under contract for next season and around 5.33 million dollars to spend. With this cap space, the Lightning need to resign RFA defencemen Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak as well as forward Anthony Cirelli. All three players will be getting raises, with Sergachev looking for a significant bump from his entry-level contract. These three players alone will probably eat up all of the cap space, and Tampa will still need to fill in the rest of their roster. The Lightning is going to have to move someone off their current squad to be able to fit all of these contracts. Tampa Bay General Manager Julien BriseBois will have to make some good players available. I think anyone not named Kucherov or Pointe will be made available.

The roster decisions looming in Tampa will give the Bruins the opening they need to close the gap on the Lightning. The Bruins are in much better salary cap shape than the Lightning, with more than $14.43 million to spend and only needing to fill four spots on their NHL roster. The B’s have four UFA’s (Krug, Chara, Nordstrom, and Kevan Miller). The Bruins and Krug appear to be heading for a parting of the ways. Both the club and the Michigan native need to do what’s best for them. Chara will be back on a team-friendly one year contract as a third pair, penalty-killing defenseman, that will play to his strengths. The black and gold will let Nordstrom and Kevan Miller both test free-agency as the Bruins have similar players that can step in. That brings us to the RFA’s, Matt Grzelcyk and Jake DeBrusk.

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Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney will try to resign both players, but the rumors regarding DeBrusk and his asking price led Sweeney to make DeBrusk available. Boston may include the young winger in a trade to get them a first pairing left-shot defenseman. Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Noah Hanifin are both possibilities, and either would be a welcome addition to the Bruins backline. The Bruins have the cap space to add a piece or two after they take care of Grzelcyk’s contract. The B’s need to add a legitimate scoring threat to the top six, a second-line right wing. There have been scoring wingers mentioned with Taylor Hall, Nic Ehlers, Josh Anderson, and Evgeni Dadonov, the most notable names.

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What does all this mean? The combination of the Lightning having to move some players and the Bruins being able to add to an all-star core will close the gap for the Bruins. Boston must improve their left side defense and add scoring punch to the top six. With those improvements, the Bruins could have a legit shutdown pair with a new number one left defenceman to go with Charlie McAvoy, and a new wingman to create some scoring balance within the top-six forward group. A new top pair left defenceman allows players to slot in more naturally behind him. Grzelcyk would go from the third pair to the second pair, which is a better fit for him. The scoring winger pushes Kase, and Bjork, and some others who have been on the second line carousel down to the third line. The Bruins depth would be improved substantially within the top nine and would still have Kuraly, Wagner, and possibly Frederic to create havoc on the fourth line. The Lightning still has depth and talent, but with some strategic moves, Don Sweeney should be able to position the Bruins as their equal.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded below on 9-21-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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The Bottom Six For The Boston Bruins Needs To Be Top Notch

( Photo Credit: Charles Krupa / The Associated Press )

By: Matt Barry | Follow me on Twitter @oobcards

For the Boston Bruins to compete for another Stanley Cup, their offensive production will have to improve from all four lines, particularly in even-strength situations. The talk has mostly been about adding a capable scoring threat at right-wing for the second line with center David Krejci. This is a significant need along with a left-shot defenseman to potentially replace Torey Krug, who may not re-sign with Boston. However, the Bruins also need more production from the bottom two lines and will need to solidify who will play regularly in those roles.

A big question mark that needs to be answered entering into next season is whether young players such as Anders Bjork, Karson Kuhlman, and Jack Studnicka can progress into productive NHL players. The hope is that Studnicka can be the spark the second line needs and use his talents to become the next Bruins star. He might even be a fit on the top line with David Pastrnak moving down to play with Krejci. Kuhlman is a restricted free agent who has shown great speed and a decent skill set but needs to be more consistent to remain in the lineup. However, general manager Don Sweeney has to decide if Kuhlman’s potential is worthy of a contract. The feeling is that Bjork will get a long look as a third-line winger with Charlie Coyle at center.

If the makeup of the roster does not significantly change and management believes that holes can be filled with in-house prospects, then this is what I would like to see for line rushes as the 2020-21 season begins in December or early January:

Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Jack Studnicka
Jake DeBrusk (if re-signed)-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Anders Bjork-Charlie Coyle-Ondrej Kase
Trent Frederic-Sean Kuraly-Chris Wagner

Ondrej Kase was a midseason addition who did not produce as much as the team had hoped and then missed some time when the group entered the bubble. He never seemed to get himself into a rhythm, and his point production suffered. I think he may be better suited for the third line with Coyle as both players have had good puck possession numbers.

The fourth line is very intriguing and could be a real strength for Bruce Cassidy’s team. Wagner and Kuraly have both shown an excellent ability to hunt pucks and provide some offense while in the lineup. The addition of Frederic could ultimately complement them well. The former University of Wisconsin star has shown promise at the American Hockey League level with Providence. He is a grinding player who can play center and wing and has a feisty side which the Bruins would welcome on their roster. Frederic would replace unrestricted free agent Joakim Nordstrom, who will more than likely sign elsewhere. Par Lindholm is also in the mix with one year remaining on his deal. The time is now to see what the Bruins have in Frederic.

With all of the uncertainty facing the Bruins this offseason, the team may be in an excellent position to roll out two good bottom-six lines to begin next season. This will be paramount in terms of competing with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who made significant changes to their bottom-six this past season. With talk that the Bruins may not spend to the cap limit going into the upcoming campaign, the organization’s player development program will be on full display in 2020-21 and could be the reason the window stays open one more season for the Boston Bruins.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded below on 9-21-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Evaluating The Bruins Leadership Group

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Joey Partridge | Follow Me On Twitter @joey_partridge

On-ice performance, at the end of the day, is what people tend to judge a hockey team by. However, what if I were to tell you that the on-ice portion of a hockey team is actually a minimal part of what goes on with a hockey team?

As a college hockey player myself, I can say that what goes on in the locker room plays a huge part in how the team plays on the ice, and it all starts with a strong leadership group. Sure, you can argue that the head coach can control all of that, but the fact of the matter is they can’t. If you have a great coach but poor leadership and character in the locker room, it just isn’t going to work.

This is where I love the Boston Bruins. On the ice, they’re a great team, and no one is disputing that. Off the ice, they’re an even better team. That group of guys in that locker room is so tight-knit that the usual bumps and bruises that teams go through don’t seem to faze the Bruins, and it starts with the captains.

Zdeno Chara is a world-class human being. Everything you hear about that man is positive and upbeat. He has been the captain of the Boston Bruins ever since he stepped in in 2006. To be able to lead a team for that long and for all the success they have had, he deserves a lot of credit.

( Photo Credit: Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images )

Leadership doesn’t just mean the captain, however. There is also a man by the name of Patrice Bergeron. Ever heard of him? Bergeron would be the captain on almost every other NHL team, but since Chara has been there and been the captain, he is the alternate captain. Bergeron doesn’t complain about his role at all, which is what makes this group so unique.

Further down the list, you have the other veterans such as David Krejci and Brad Marchand, who split time wearing the ‘A’ on their sweater. Notice anything about all of these guys? They are all veterans and are on the backside of 30 or 40 in Chara’s case. Chara is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and there is some uncertainty about whether he will be back. Krejci is entering his last season on his deal as well. So, who is up next to lead this team?

Barring anything unforeseen, Bergeron will be wearing the ‘C’ for the Boston Bruins when Chara does eventually hang them up. After that, it can get interesting. Marchand and Krejci will still be leaders, but I am interested to see what happens with the younger core. Does a guy like David Pastrnak turn into a leader and prove he can teach the even younger guys?

The one player that I believe will take a huge step not only in developing his own game but turn into a big leader moving forward is Charlie McAvoy. That is one asset of hockey you can’t really teach, and he just has it. He was an alternate captain in his sophomore (yes, you read that right, sophomore) year at Boston University. He was named the alternate captain to the United Staes world junior team that won gold in January of 2017. He has been a leader before, and I believe the Bruins are in good hands with this younger core.

( Photo Credit: Claus Andersen / Getty Images North America )

As I mentioned, the off-ice leadership plays a huge role in the team’s success. Bruce Cassidy has stepped in and turned this team into contenders right away, but he doesn’t take all the credit for himself. “I think this leadership group is second to none,” Cassidy said, entering the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. “I’ve said that probably since my second week on the job here. Those guys are fantastic, and they sure make a coach’s job a lot easier.”

With all the speculation about who the Bruins will add to the roster, it can be tough to remember who they do have. They have a great core of leaders now, and they have a great core of upcoming leaders. Try not to stress Bruins fans; they have a good thing going and look to continue that for years to come.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded below on 9-21-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!