How Last Season’s Deadline Changes Sweeney’s Approach?​

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( Photo credit: Steven Senne / Associated Press )

By: Ian Frazier | Follow me on Twitter @ifrazier95

As most Bruins fans know, the deadline for NHL season is always an interesting time for the black and gold. Many players have been traded for and never panned out like Andrej Meszároš or the infamous Zach Rinaldo, both of which were quick experiments that failed to deliver any results. As more trade deadlines came and went, Bruins fans started to wonder if there was a repeated pattern of trading for non-impact level players as well as swinging and missing out on some bigger names they have been linked to.

During the 2019 season, however, that all changed. During the week of the trade deadline at the end of February, the Bruins traded prospect Ryan Donato to the Minnesota Wild for Charlie Coyle, a player who hasn’t really lived up to his potential in Minnesota. Many Bruins fans at the time questioned the move as they seemed to surround themselves in the hype that was Ryan Donato. They ultimately in the short term were proven right as Donato would go on a mini point streak with the Wild and Charlie Coyle looked invisible on the ice.

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Then on deadline day, the Bruins acquired Marcus Johansson from the New Jersey Devils for a second-round pick in the 2019 draft and a fourth-round pick in the 2020 draft. Many Bruins fans were puzzled with this one as many saw that JoJo (Johansson’s nickname) was injury prone and also was on the receiving end of a controversial hit involving Brad Marchand earlier in the season that sidelined him for a while. After playing a couple games with the Bruins, JoJo got hurt and was sidelined again for a bit which left fans wondering was giving up two draft picks at the time worth it for what possibly was going to be a rental?

As the Bruins punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup playoffs, they were eager to go on a deep run with this core and believed they had the depth to do it. All of a sudden, Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson were a dynamic duo helping the Bruins redefine their offensive attack with a now solid third line! As the playoffs rolled along, the two additions quickly became fan favorites as they contributed to most of the team’s scoring output when the top line had a bad night or a bad shift. Head coach Bruce Cassidy finally had multiple lines up and down the roster that he could roll out and go on a deep run with and that’s exactly what the Bruins did.

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While the Bruins didn’t capture the ultimate prize at the end, the trades of Coyle and Johansson provided a much-needed jolt of offense that was critical to reaching game seven of the Stanley Cup final. Knowing how well their trades worked and how far the Bruins went general manager, Don Sweeney has to be feeling pretty good knowing he traded for a rental that brought them within sixty minutes of a title and a nice depth piece in Coyle who is versatile and still under contract for the 2019-2020 season. Sweeney always has the team’s best interest in mind and would be willing to stand pat or make trades as needed to improve the lineup. Knowing Sweeney struck gold at this past trade deadline as well as being awarded GM of the year, expect Sweeney to enter next season’s trade deadline with a different attitude which maybe could land the next big thing in Boston, who knows?

How the Boston Bruins Constructed their Stanley Cup Roster

Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Jake Debrusk puts on a team jersey after being selected as the number fourteen overall pick to the Boston Bruins in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

(Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

There’s no denying that this Bruins Stanley Cup roster is incredible, but how did they all get to the Bruins? Let’s take a look at their journeys to Boston.

Brad Marchand

Drafted by the Bruins in the 3rd round, 71st overall in the 2006 NHL Draft. The Bruins actually acquired this pick from the New York Islanders during the draft for their 4th and 5th round picks (who amounted to a whole lot of nothing).

Patrice Bergeron

Drafted by the Bruins in the 2nd round, 45th overall in the 2003 NHL Draft.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 27: David Pastrnak is selected twenty-fifth by the Boston Bruins in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 27, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

David Pastrnak

Drafted by the Bruins in the 1st round, 25th overall in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Jake DeBrusk

Drafted by the Bruins in the 1st round, 14th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft.

David Krejci

Drafted by the Bruins in the 2nd round, 63rd overall in the 2004 NHL Draft. Krejci was actually another player the Bruins traded up to the draft. They acquired this pick during the draft for a 3rd, 4th, and 9th round pick.

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(Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports Images)

David Backes

Originally drafted by the St. Louis Blues 62nd overall in the 2003, Backes left the Blues and signed with Boston July 1st, 2016, signing a five year, $30 million deal.

Marcus Johansson

Originally drafted by the Washington Capitals 24th overall in 2009, Johansson was traded to the New Jersey Devils in the 2017 offseason for a 2nd and a 3rd round pick. He was then traded to the Bruins at this trade deadline in exchange for a 2nd and a 4th round pick.

Charlie Coyle

Drafted by the San Jose Sharks 28th overall in 2010. He was a key piece in bringing Brent Burns to San Jose, getting dealt to the Minnesota Wild with a 1st and Devon Setoguchi for Burns and a 2nd rounder. Right around the trade deadline this year he was dealt to the Bruins for Ryan Donato and a conditional 4th rounder.

Danton Heinen

Drafted by the Bruins in the 4th round, 116th overall in the 2014 NHL Draft.

(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Joakim Nordstrom

Drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 3rd round, 90th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft. He was later traded to the Carolina Hurricanes before the 2015 season with Kris Versteeg and a 3rd rounder for a couple prospects and a 5th round pick. In 2018 he signed a two year, $2 million deal with the Bruins.

Sean Kuraly

Drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the 5th round, 133rd overall in the 2011 NHL Draft. He was traded to the Bruins before the 2016 season

Noel Acciari

Acciari was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Providence College in 2015.

Chris Wagner

Drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the 5th round, 122nd overall in the 2010 NHL Draft. After a small trade to Toronto and a couple of waiver claims later, Wagner ended up back on the Ducks. At the trade deadline last year he was dealt to the New York Islanders for Jason Chimera and after the season, he made his way to Boston, signing a two year, $2.5 million contract.

Karson Kuhlman

After four seasons at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Kuhlman signed with the Bruins in 2018 as an undrafted free agent.

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(USA TODAY Sports Images)

Zdeno Chara

Originally drafted by the New York Islanders in the 3rd round, 56th overall in the 1995 NHL Draft. He was traded with Bill Muckalt and the 1st round pick that became Jason Spezza for Alexei Yashin. As a UFA in 2006, he signed with the Boston Bruins and has been with them ever since.

Charlie McAvoy

Drafted by the Bruins 14th overall in 2016 NHL Draft.

Torey Krug

Another undrafted free agent signed by the Bruins in 2012 after three years at Michigan State.

(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Brandon Carlo

Drafted by the Bruins in the 2nd round, 37th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Matt Grzelcyk

Drafted by the Bruins in the 3rd round, 85th overall in the 2012 NHL Draft

Connor Clifton

Originally drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in the 5th round, 133rd overall in the 2013 NHL Draft, Clifton never signed a deal with the Coyotes and elected to sign with the Bruins in 2018.

(James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports)

John Moore

Originally a 21st overall pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2009 NHL Draft. He was involved in a big trade when he went to the New York Rangers with Derick Brassard, Dereck Dorsett and a 6th rounder for Marian Gaborik. He was later dealt to the Arizona Coyotes with Anthony Duclair, a 1st and 2nd rounder for Keith Yandle and was signed by the New Jersey Devils in 2015. He finally made his way to Boston in 2015, signing a 5 year, $13.75 million contract.

Steven Kampfer

Kampfer was actually drafted in the 4th round, 93rd overall in 2007 by the Anaheim Ducks and ended up being basically gifted to the Bruins in a trade in 2010 for future considerations. After a couple years (and a Stanley Cup win) Kampfer was traded to the Minnesota Wild for Greg Zanon in 2012, and was signed by the New York Rangers in 2014. He was traded again later that year to the Florida Panthers for Joey Crabb and in 2016, was traded back to the Rangers for Dylan McIlrath. Kampfer was brought back to Boston before this season with a 4th and a 7th round pick for Adam Mcquiad.

(Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Tuukka Rask

We all know the story here. Originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs 21st overall in 2005, Rask was traded to Boston before playing a game with Toronto for Andrew Raycroft.

Jaroslav Halak

First drafted in 2003  in the 9th round, Halak spent a lot of time with Montreal until he was traded in 2010 to the St. Louis Blues for Ian Schultz and Lars Eller. He was then traded three times in 2014, the first being to the Buffalo Sabres along with William Carrier, Chris Stewart, a 1st and 3rd round pick for Steve Ott and Ryan Miller. Halak was then flipped to the Washington Capitals with a 3rd round pick for Michal Neauvirth and Rostislav Klesla. Finally, his FA rights were traded to the New York Islanders for a 4th round pick before free agency began. In 2018 he signed a two year, $5.5 million deal with the Bruins.

In all, this Bruins team is made up of 37% (nine) drafted players, 21% (five) acquired through trade, and 42% (10) free agency signings, although it is worth noting that four of the ten free agency signings were college free agents.

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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Coyle Proving The Doubters Wrong In Bruins Postseason

Coyle

( Photo Credit: The Athletic )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter:  @yanlatz

The Bruins received a major piece to their forward lineup ahead of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs in Charlie Coyle. The centerman, who played 47 playoff games for the Wild brings playoff experience and depth to Cassidy’s forward group. Many fans and media had questioned his effectiveness and fit in a Bruins uniform but, in the first three games of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Toronto, he has raised some eyebrows.

The Weymouth, MA native was shipped up to Boston on February 20, 2019, in a trade that sent Ryan Donato and a fifth-round draft pick to the Minnesota Wild. Bruins fans and media were split in their reactions to the trade by Don Sweeney and did not know how well he would contribute to the Bruins offensive depth. In 21 games with his favorite childhood team, he put up two goals and 4 assists for six points along with a plus/minus rating of minus two.

Throughout the last few weeks of the regular season, Cassidy tried Coyle up and down the lineup on the center and the wing and was not able to really find a firm position in the lineup. In the playoffs, Cassidy started Coyle on the third line with Marcus Johansson and Danton Heinen on the wings in game one.

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After a disappointing loss in game one, Bruce Cassidy was looking to add more grit and intensity to the Bruins lineup. With Johansson out with an illness, David Backes drew back into the lineup and was slotted on the right wing of the Heinen and Coyle line. That line started off the game with intense hits and forechecking and began to go after the Leafs which the Bruins did not do much of in game one. At just about the five-minute mark of the first, David Backes finished a great forecheck behind the Toronto goal and knocked the puck loose and sent a pass in front to Coyle who buried his first of the playoffs and got the Bruins the much needed first goal of the game. Coyle logged 15:16 time on ice with a plus-two rating and had a strong performance.

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Similarly, on Monday night in game three North of the border, the Bruins found themselves in a 3-1 hole late in the second period. As the Bruins went on the powerplay, Coyle parked himself in front, and after a scramble from a Grzelcyk shot and a rebound from Heinen, Coyle rifled a shot past Andersen and got a huge goal for the Bruins heading into the dressing room. Along with that big goal, Coyle logged 17:17 time on ice and was named the games third star.

Coyle and Heinen have found great chemistry in this first-round series against Toronto. Charlie Coyle has arguably been the Bruins best player in this series which is both good and bad. Although consistency and scoring from Coyle on the third line are key for the Bruins, the team also needs its top two lines to get going and tie the series up in game 4 in Toronto. (Wednesday, April 17 7:00pm Scotiabank Arena on NBCSN and NESN)

Coyle’s size, strength, and skill fit right into the Bruins lineup, and it seems as though he has found his spot and confidence in a Bruins uniform. His chemistry with Heinen is developing before our eyes, and the veteran centerman has stepped up on the biggest stage for the Black and Gold. It is essential for the third line depth to contribute for Bruce Cassidy’s Bruins in this series against Toronto. With the matchup game for both coaches imminent in this series, Boston and Toronto’s top two lines are battling for every inch of ice which increases the need for bottom six contribution for both teams and especially Boston.

Charlie Coyle is beginning to prove his worth to fans and media with his strong play of late, but it needs to continue in order for the Bruins to take this best of seven series from the rivals in Toronto. However, although it is a great sign that Coyle is beginning to find his game with Boston, the Bruins are seeking contributions from the other top players on the team in their effort to get back into this series.

Four Boston Bruins Players That Could Win The 7th Player Award

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

Every year, the New England Sports Network, better known as NESN, releases a fan vote where fans of the Boston Bruins can vote for who they think should be awarded with the annual 7th Player Award. The 7th Player Award is awarded to the Boston Bruin who “has performed above and beyond expectations”. In years past, the team honour is handed out at the end of March, so the countdown is on for the winner.

Before we get into who should win the award for the 2018-19 season, let’s take a quick look at the past winners of the last decade. Information regarding this is courtesy of Ice Hockey Fandom.com. 

  • 2008-09 David Krejci
  • 2009-10 Tuukka Rask
  • 2010-11 Brad Marchand
  • 2011-12 Tyler Seguin
  • 2012-13 Dougie Hamilton
  • 2013-14 Reilly Smith
  • 2014-15 David Pastrnak
  • 2015-16 Brad Marchand
  • 2016-17 David Pastrnak
  • 2017-18 Charlie McAvoy

Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Charlie McAvoy are the most recent winners of the award and for good reason. Marchand exploded three years ago with a 37 goals and a new career-high in points with 61. David Pastrnak also had a great year when he won it back in 2016-17, scoring 34-36-70 numbers from his 26 the year prior. Finally, last year, Charlie McAvoy scored 32 points in his debut NHL season and truly came out as one of the best young offensive d-men in the league.

In the past, the award has been handed out at the end of March, just ahead of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in April. We are already over a week into the third month of the new calendar year, so now is the perfect time to take a look at some of the players who can with the 2018-19 7th Player Award.

Jaroslav Halak -> 18-10-4, 2.33 GAA, .924 SV%, 4 Shutouts

When Anton Khudobin did not agree to a new contract with the Boston Bruins following the 2017-18 season, the concern came as to who the Bruins were going to fall on for the role of the backup goaltender position. Ideas of younger, prospect goaltenders from either the Providence Bruins or other affiliate teams were thrown around, but it was the free-agent market that would provide the solution for this new-found problem.

Boston signed journeyman goaltender Jaroslav Halak to a two-year contract with an annual average salary of $2.75 million. Last season, Halak finished up his fourth season with the New York Islanders, the fourth NHL team of his 13-year career. Halak finished last season with a 20-26-6 record, a 3.19 GAA, and a .908 save percentage – not great numbers.

Lucky for Bruins fans and himself, Halak turned a new leaf while wearing the Spoked-B sweater and is showing glimpses of top-level play, the type of play that we saw from him during his time with the Montreal Canadiens. Early on this season, starting goaltender Tuukka Rask was not on his game. He was struggling in net and was losing more often than he was winning. However, Jaro Halak made an appearance and took over the show in the meantime, keeping the Bruins afloat in the NHL’s Eastern Conference playoff race.

jaroslav-halak

PHOTO CREDITS: (NBC Sports)

Head Coach Bruce Cassidy mentioned the fact that he may look to split the number of games that Rask and Halak play down the final stretch and that shows that Halak has done enough to earn starts when it matters. When the original signing was made, many people, including myself was not a fan mainly due to his performance in the previous season but he has exceeded everyone’s expectations and should be a favourite for the 7th Player Award because, without him, Boston may not be second in the Atlantic division.

Chris Wagner -> 66GP, 12G – 6A – 18P, 4th Liner

Chris Wagner never once scored ten goals in his five-year NHL career. In fact, he never scored more than 15 points in a single season, a mark he once hit in 64 games with the Anaheim Ducks last year in 2017-18.

When the Bruins signed Wagner, the Walpole, Massachusetts native to a two-year deal on the opening day of free agency, the signing of Joakim Nordstrom and the hope that the young, up-and-coming players within the Bruins organization will get more NHL minutes, it seemed like Wagner was going to be a spare tire – a depth piece for injuries or for a replacement for a player who is struggling but no, Wagner has become a near-permanent member of the 2018-19 Bruins.

Part of the reason for his success is the help of his linemates, Sean Kuraly and Noel Acciari, who have helped bolster the game of Wagner to a level never seen before in the NHL. The trio has brought a high level of intensity and energy to the bottom-six while being able to add in a few goals here and there. Additionally, Wagner leads the Bruins with 226 hits, a stat that ties him for 6th most in the National Hockey League.

In today’s NHL, all four lines of any team need to have the ability to score goals when they are so required to do so, yet provide a level of physicality and defence that can keep them in the thick of things. Chris Wagner has been a big reason for the success of that line and he deserves to be in the conversation for the 7th Player Award. No one expected the performance of Wagner to be this solid and a brief stroll in past Twitter comments will highlight that.

David Krejci -> 69GP, 19G – 41A – 60P, +3 Rating

Without a doubt, David Krejci is one of the best second-line centres in the NHL and is one of the best playmakers in the league for the past few seasons. It may seem hard for a player of that stature to win an award that presents the player that has exceeded expectations, but he needs to be in the conversation.

Since putting up 17-46-63 numbers in the 2015-2016 campaign, Krejci seemed to be on a decline for point production. In 2016-17, Krejci scored 54 points in a full 82-game season followed by a 44-point year last year in only 64 games played. However, with the growing chemistry with left-winger Jake DeBrusk, Krejci is on pace for just over 71 points this season. That total would be the second-highest single-season point total for Krejci since his 22-51-73 effort back in 2008-09 – ten seasons ago.

In that 2008-09 season, Krejci averaged 0.89 points-per-game. In comparison, Krejci is averaging 0.87 points-per-game, the third-highest PPG average in his 13-year NHL career. Krejci has found 15 of his points on the man-advantage, meaning the bulk of his numbers have come from five-on-five play, a huge attribute to take into consideration.

Throughout the past few seasons, the Sternberk, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) native has been on the receiving end of hard criticism but quite clearly, he has used that as motivation for his success this season. The 32-year-old has three game-winning goals this season, including the overtime goal in the 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on March 5th. Linemate Jake DeBrusk said the following about his chemistry with Krejci right after the game versus Carolina.

“I think when you play with a guy for almost 2 years now, you generate that w just games played & different things like that. He’s been playing great all year. He’s the biggest reason why I’ve had success personally as well. To have a guy like that in my corner is something that I don’t take for granted.” – Quote from Shawn Hutcheon (@ShawnHutcheon on Twitter)

David Krejci exceeded the expectations that were placed on him back in September before the puck dropped to begin the regular season. His name is back in the minds of teams across the league if they so happened to forget about him and he has been a factor for the success of the Bruins.

Sean Kuraly -> 66GP, 6G – 11A – 17P, 4th Liner

Sean Kuraly joins linemate Chris Wagner on this four-player list because, in a way, they have to be. Kuraly and Wagner, with the inclusion of Acciari, have surprised most Bruins fans and hockey fans throughout the league with their energy, tenacity, and offensive capabilities while throwing in the occasional hit or fight.

Sean Kuraly came to Boston on June 30th, 2015 in a trade with the San Jose Sharks that sent goaltender Martin Jones off to California and Kuraly with a 2016 1st Rounder (Trent Frederic) to Boston. Martin Jones was acquired by the B’s from the L.A. Kings in exchange for beloved Bruin, Milan Lucic only a few days prior.

Kuraly didn’t play with Boston until 2016-17, skating in eight games, scoring a single point. Kuraly was given an opportunity in the 2017 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals against the Ottawa Senators and he earned his way into the hearts of Bruins fans all over with two massive goals, one of which in the second overtime session in Game 5 of that series, forcing a Game 6.

After that remarkable game for Kuraly, he ended up playing 75 games during the 2017-18 season, scoring six goals and eight assists for a total of 14 points. In the offseason of this past year, Kuraly signed on the dotted line to a three-year, $3,825,000 contract extension, securing himself a position on the NHL roster for the time being.

Kuraly has done that and more. The Dublin, Ohio, USA native has matched his career-high in goals (6) and set a new career-high in points (17) and has played in twelve less games than in last year’s season. The threat of the fourth-line could be courtesy of the always hard-working Sean Kuraly. Kuraly still possesses that clutch goal-scoring talent, scoring two game-winning goals so far in 2018-19 – both coming in back-to-back games against the Sabres on December 29th and the Blackhawks in the Winter Classic on January 1st.

Kuraly has been one of those quite but deadly pieces to the puzzle that is the 2018-19 Boston Bruins – which can come across as a pleasant surprise for him, the management, and the fanbase.

My Winner: Chris Wagner

It seems like when the Bruins are down a goal late in the hockey game, scrambling to find their legs and score the tying goal or even the winning goal, Chris Wagner is inadvertently in the thick of things when the goal eventually crosses the red line. Wagner has scored the game-tying goal on three different occasions, two of which in the third and final period. Also, in each of those games where he scored the tying marker, the Bruins went on to either win the game or lose in a shootout.

I’ll be 110% honest here – I was fully anticipating Chris Wagner to be scratched for more games than he played and to see limited ice time when he is indeed in the lineup. Losing out on Tavares and Kovalchuk in free agency, at the time, it appeared as though Sweeney and the rest of the B’s management staff had no one else and wanted to go for depth. Tim Schaller, the now Vancouver Canuck, did not re-sign, but it looked like Nordstrom would replace him. Instead, the Bruins have a physical, gritty fourth-liner that has been big when scoring meaningful goals this season.

Chris Wagner is my personal pick to win this year’s 7th Player Award, who do you think wins the annual accolade? Was it one of the players I listed or does another player come to mind? Let me know via Twitter (@tkdmaxbjj) or on FaceBook comments!

Side Note: In the poll above, I listed D Brandon Carlo as an option, yet he is not on my list. I personally expected Carlo to be good this year, so he did not necessarily ‘exceed’ my expectations, but he has been great.

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGiant for your next Boston Bruins game. Click the link below, and when purchasing any event ticket, from the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL to concerts and shows, please use discount code BNGP to save a little money. Thank You! 

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Coyle and MoJo Make Bruins’ PowerPlay Even More Lethal

( Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports )

By: Cam McCusker | Follow me on Twitter @CSthinks

 

The forward depth and secondary scoring were issues that the Boston Bruins needed to address between the start of the season and the playoffs. While the play of the team itself had certainly improved prior to the trade deadline, the Bruins’ recent acquisitions put them over the top.

Fans who scoffed at the names Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson because neither was pursued heavily by cup contenders are frustrating at best. These fans also have likely never watched either player at length to effectively assess what it is they bring to the table.

I could go for days on how Dirty Don swindled the entire league by flying under the radar to stealthily scoop up two of the most attractive forward options at the deadline. Charlie Coyle brings a puck possessing, playmaking grittiness to the Bruins’ middle 6. Marcus Johansson brings a smooth skating, puck-possessing, playmaking style of hockey to the Bruins’ middle 6.

( Photo Credit: The Athletic )

Hey, look at that! Our middle 6 just got twice as good. What were those issues we were talking about earlier? Forward depth and secondary scoring? Smell ya later.

Power Play Bonus

But what goes unnoticed with these two is just how deadly they’ll make the already prolific Bruins’ powerplay, which currently sits at 3rd in the league in efficiency.

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Charlie Coyle is a smooth skating big body who makes plays and has a silky set of mitts. Marcus Johansson is a proven playmaker who was raised on the power play. I’ve heard several reports that his first word was “sauce.” Put a big body like Coyle in front of the net or in the slot (catch ya later, Backes), or let him make plays from the half wall. Tell Johansson to post up on the goal line and have fun. I mean the guy’s name is MoJo—I’m pretty sure he knows how to thread the needle through a few triangles.

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Is it shocking that two proven power play contributors will get time on the powerplay? Absolutely not. But what the rest of the league might not be ready for is the depth that Coyle and Johansson bring to the Bruins’ second unit. Until recently, the B’s have essentially utilized their first powerplay unit. Not exclusively, but it wasn’t unlikely to see Torey Krug’s unit on the ice for more than a minute and a half of a 2-minute peeper.

Granted, the unit had proven to still be effective when tired or when deep into a powerplay. But the additional minutes that the first PP unit has played due to the once massive drop off in efficiency between the two units certainly has the potential to creep in during crunch time. If you’re fuzzy on this phenomenon, maybe watch the game film of the Bruins’ last few overtime games. Holy flatness.

Now that there’s a second unit that can wheel and deal, expect the Bruins’ to continue dummy PK units that are forced to share the same ice surface. Two effective units mean shorter, more fast-paced shifts that will wear down opposing defensemen and penalty killers while keeping the Bruins’ top dogs fresh for later in the game when the bench shortens.

That’s just about as simple and abbreviated as anyone could make the positive effects that Coyle and Johansson have on the Bruins’ lineup.

But I’m a simple man.

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Bruins’ Johansson Sustains Lung Contusion

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photo credit: Getty Images

By: Mandi Mahoney | Check me out on Twitter @phonymahoney

The Boston Bruins announced this evening that Bruins forward Marcus Johansson has sustained a lung contusion. Tuesday night in Boston, the newly acquired Johansson was injured during the first period of a 4-3 win against the Carolina Hurricanes. Johansson collided with Hurricanes wing Micheal Ferland immediately after dishing the puck to linemate Jake DeBrusk. Johansson would not return to the game after the hit.

As it turns out, Johansson was brought to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was admitted and stayed overnight for observation. The 28-year-old Swede suffered a lung contusion and will be re-evaluated by specialists in a week’s time. Cross your fingers, Bruins fans.

Johansson being sidelined for an extended period would be quite the blow against the Bruins’ postseason aspirations, but given the timeline announced by the team, that likely will not happen. MoJo has a history of concussions — one of them thanks to the antics of new teammate Brad Marchand — so there is almost definitely a feeling of relief in regard to today’s diagnosis.

As for the Bruins’ lineup in Johansson’s absence, expect Slovak wing Peter Cehlarik to continue to play right wing on the second line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. Cehlarik did an admirable job filling in for the injured Johansson for the remainder of the game against Carolina and is the best choice out of the options the Bruins have (Joakim Nordstrom and David Backes) to slide into Johansson’s roster spot.

With any luck, this will only be a temporary setback for Johansson and the Bruins. Acquiring him was a smart trade deadline move on Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney’s part, and he certainly has a lot to offer.  Let’s hope for a smooth recovery and return to the lineup.

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The Value of Peter Cehlarik Down the Bruins’ Homestretch

( Photo Credit: Stan Szeto/ USA TODAY Sports )

By: Cam McCusker  |  Follow Me On Twitter @CSthinks

 

Similar to last year, late in the season the Bruins now again find themselves playing some of their best hockey in a time where securing a playoff spot is paramount. While they pose no threat to the Lightning in terms of contention for the Presidents’ Trophy, they do have an opportunity to build and secure the necessary chemistry with their post-deadline roster that will be instrumental to their postseason success. If their first couple games with new additions Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson are any indication of the Bruins’ current state, then their ceiling is likely higher than any of us may have thought.

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The needs that Coyle and Johansson address for the Black and Gold are forward depth, and secondary scoring. Both players are proven contributors at the NHL level and bring strong skating, reliability, and even some playoff experience to a relatively young Bruins roster.

But what might be overlooked amidst the arrival of these deadline acquisitions is the homegrown talent that the Bruins’ development system has provided to the big club in Peter Cehlarik.

After a first half of the season where the absence of secondary scoring was excruciatingly apparent, questions were raised as to who would man David Krejci’s right side, and who would play with Danton Heinen on the third line.

Enter Cehlarik, in mid- January. Sure he’s been a regular in the lineup alongside Krejci during the Bruins’ recent stretch of brilliance where they’ve been able to, at the time of this writing, take points in 14 straight games. But I’m not one of those who would advocate that he remain in the lineup because of the team’s success. If he were playing horribly, I’d want him gone. But he hasn’t. So I don’t.

Cehlarik brings much more to the Bruin’s squad than taking up space near David Krejci in the musical chairs game that was the second line right wing. And, now that it looks like that spot might be best suited for Marcus Johansson, it becomes all the more important to acknowledge the depth of Cehlarik’s game.

At first glance, the most notable asset of Cehlarik’s is his frame. He’s a big boy, but not lost in his size is the grace with which he plays the wing. More than just a big body Bugatti, he’s a strong skater who is heavy on pucks and plays with the poise of a more experienced player. Cehlarik’s patience and puck possession lent themselves well to a forward core that was looking for maintained offensive zone time once 37, 88, and 63 got off the ice. Now, those traits only deepen the Bruins’ forward unit.

( Photo Credit: Rocky W. Widner/ NHL/ Getty Images )

There is no panic in Cehlarik’s game, and he’s shown that he can be effective on both the second line as a right winger or on the third line as a left winger. Now, with Coyle and Johansson joining the Bruins’, Bruce Cassidy essentially has 3 seriously versatile wings that can realistically slot in anywhere among his top 9 forwards. And not just slot in, but affect the game positively. With the B’s fourth line essentially set in stone, many might naturally assume that veteran David Backes or Joakim Nordstrom might be looked to as Coyle’s (for the time being) linemates on the third forward unit. If Cassidy is looking to maximize the effectiveness of his forward lines, playing either of these two would be a mistake.

Why not Backes?

Certainly fans of the Bruins’ will look at Backes’s contract and see that he has underperformed incredibly… so much so that it leaves someone like me wondering if they misplaced a decimal point somewhere in his contract.

At any rate, while Backes and Cehlarik both benefit from their size, Cehlarik has proven to be a significantly stronger presence in the offensive zone. While his scoring hasn’t blown anyone away, his PPG is higher than Backes, despite Backes having had almost an entire year to try and grace the scoresheet on the second powerplay unit. Cehlarik has proven to be both a stronger passer and a far more effective and creative playmaker than Backes. If Cassidy decides to play forwards who are oldest, then he should certainly play Backes over Cehlarik. However, if he decides to maximize the potential and effectiveness of his forward units, then expect to see Cehlarik in the lineup.

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What about Nordstrom?

While I don’t suspect that many people will be making a case for Nordstrom to be slotted into the Bruins top 9, there undoubtedly will be a few. These are likely the same fans that scream “SHOOT” as soon as the puck crosses the offensive blueline. It’s likely they’ve seen Nordstrom skate in a straight line and marveled at his speed. Don’t get me wrong, being fast is almost always a good thing. Unless you don’t know how to stop (See: Luis Mendoza, 1994 Junior Goodwill Games).

I don’t want to be cynical. I even liked Nordstrom in the lineup at the beginning of the season, when the Bruins would come out flat at times. He brought speed, energy, and in the eyes of this writer he is a strong shot blocker. There’s always room for guys that block shots on my teams. However, like Backes, Nordstrom’s bag of tricks have left him in “No Man’s Land” on a lineup of forwards that has become significantly deeper over the past month and a half.  He doesn’t possess the skill and poise that Cehlarik does, and his skating is not enough to counteract that fact.

( Photo Credit: Harry How/ Getty Images )

Homestretch

With all of that being said, I do like having two veteran forwards in the on-deck circle. And it’s easy to be objective about the displacement of said veteran forwards from behind a keyboard, and not in the locker room with them (both are, by all accounts, awesome teammates). But that’s exactly how putting together the best possible lineup should be done: objectively.

And who knows, with the injury troubles the Bruins have faced this season and for last year’s playoffs (*knocks on wood while crossing fingers, hoping the hockey Gods didn’t hear*), Backes and Nordstrom might be called upon to pinch hit.

But until that day comes, I say let Young Celery wheel and deal.

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Bruins Held Buyer Mentality In A Division Full Of Sellers

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(Photo Credit: (Christopher Evans/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

By: Mike Cratty  |  Follow Me On Twitter @Mike_Cratty

The trade deadline came and passed on Monday, and the Bruins found themselves in a unique company amongst their divisional foes. In acquiring Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson, the Bruins were certainly buyers.

The only other big buyer moves in the division came in the form of the Sabres acquiring defenseman Brandon Montour from the Ducks. Other minor moves came in the form of the Red Wings acquiring defenseman Madison Bowey from the Red Wings, and the Canadiens acquiring forward Jordan Weal from the Coyotes.

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Major pieces were sold off in the Atlantic division such as Matt Duchene, Mark Stone, Ryan Dzingel, and Gustav Nyquist. In every trade comes the selling off of pieces, but the Bruins, in this case, gave up one prospect in Ryan Donato, and some draft picks in the next two drafts. The Bruins’ acquisitions of key pieces moving forward in Coyle and Johansson separated them from the rest. Coyle and Johansson are set to play large roles in Boston’s top-nine forward core, while other Atlantic division teams were sellers and/or didn’t make quite the splash that the Bruins did on the buyers market.

These acquisitions not only make the Bruins a better team but give them a variety of options in which to shape their lineup. It also gives them the potential to try out different looks on their special teams’ units as they did last night. The two newest Bruins forwards saw power play time for the Bruins last night, both with 2:27 of it.

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Both Coyle and Johansson have played the wing and center in the past, which is important in a league in which teams seem to be more appreciative of versatile players as time goes on.

Coyle has looked solid in two games so far as a Bruin, but Johansson made an immediate impact last night in a wild game in San Jose. Despite only tallying two shots on goal in 14:49 of ice time, Johansson was certainly impactful in the offensive zone with puck possession and had one high danger chance that was thwarted by Martin Jones. The highlight of his night for Johansson came from his assist on a beautiful tic-tac-toe goal by Jake DeBrusk, with David Krejci also in the mix on the goal.

So far being buyers is certainly paying off for the Bruins. Don Sweeney capitalized on valuable assets without giving up a ton due to his team being in a position to compete for a Stanley Cup. The next step is finding long-term comfortability for the rest of the season and potentially beyond for Coyle and Johansson, as well as the team as a whole as they pursue a deep cup run.

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Did the Bruins Give up on Ryan Donato too Early?

NHL: MAR 19 Blue Jackets at Bruins

(Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

With the trading frenzy over, one of the Bruins’ new toys is Weymouth native Charlie Coyle. Now without getting too into the trade, I think the Coyle is a good fit with the Bruins; he checks a lot of boxes that Boston needs. He can play center and wing, he plays a heavy game, he’s still young at 26 and on a good contract for another year. Getting a quality player like Coyle comes with a price, and that price for the Bruins ended up being the young Ryan Donato.

Now while I like the acquisition of Coyle, I don’t like how early they gave up on Ryan Donato. Obviously, he’s far from a perfect player, but I really think he has what it takes to be a successful forward in the NHL.

Ryan Donato - Ryan Donato goes back to school after standout performance at Winter Games – what a difference a few days make

(Getty Images)

Donato has clearly shown what he can do when he’s on his game. In the 2018 Winter Olympics, the 2014 2nd rounder averaged a goal-per-game in the five games he played overseas. In college, he was an incredible player and ended up being a Hobey Baker nominee at Harvard. Even in his first 12 games in the NHL, he had 5 goals and 9 points. Not too shabby.

Entering his first full season in the pros, there was a lot expected of Donato. Coming off of a year full of accomplishments, the 22-year-old did not impress. After 11 games and just one goal, Donato was sent down to Providence.

After his month stint in the AHL, Donato was recalled, and it was clear the time in the minors helped him. He was a lot stronger on the puck, and his confidence started to emerge yet again. He was still inconsistent but still, put together a string of really good games. In the end, the Bruins front-office decided it was more beneficial for Donato to continue his growth in the AHL.

GOLD STAR:

(Credit-nbcsports.com/boston/bruins)

In Boston, Donato really never had a real shot to prove himself. Earlier in the season when the B’s needed some more depth scoring, I brought up the idea to split up the first line and put either Danton Heinen or Donato for a chance to showcase their skills with two. After a great rookie season, Heinen struggled to find the score sheet earlier this year. Similar to Donato, Heinen was still playing solid hockey (notably a better two-way game), but nothing was working for him. Much of that can be attributed to the revolving door of 3rd liners he was playing with. 

Obviously, the Bruins ended up giving Heinen a shot on the 1st line, and the experiment ended up being a great idea. Heinen has now found his game and (before his injury) Pastrnak elevated the 2nd line’s play; the Bs started to look like a real force in the league again.

Speaking of Pastrnak, he’s another player that followed similar footsteps as Donato had. Pastrnak’s first two seasons were filled with inconsistencies. There was no questioning his skill, but he was really shaky defensively and clearly needed to get a lot stronger. In the 2016 offseason, his second offseason with the Bruins, Pasta bulked up and definitely grew as a player. The next season, he got his chance with Bergeron and Marchand on the top line, and we all know how that ended up working out.

Nov 25, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Boston Bruins center Frank Vatrano (72) celebrates is game winning overtime goal against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Boston won 2-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

(Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

Another player I tend to compare Donato to is former Bruin, Frank Vatrano. He’s another local kid that plays a very similar style. The two are both relatively small, agile players that rely on their great shot to elevate their game. Now Vatrano wasn’t a great Bruin by any means, but similar to Donato, he showed a ton of potential. In the AHL he scored 36 goals in just as many games in the 2015-16 season. Last year, after a tough start with the Bruins, Vatrano was traded to the Florida Panthers for a 3rd round pick. Now that he’s gotten a legitimate shot with legitimate linemates, Vatrano has a chance to hit the 30 goal mark this year.

Prospects TAKE TIME. Not every 21-year-old is going to light up the league in his first full season. Last season at around this time, everyone was clambering over how amazing Ryan Donato was going to be. Now that he hasn’t blown anyone away in his first true season with the big club, he gets traded. The kid is still only 22 years old. I’m not saying he would’ve been a 40 goal scorer just because he got a chance on the top line, but it was definitely worth a shot this season, or even next year after he gets stronger and grows as a player even more over the offseason. Maybe Donato never fit into the Bruin’s future, but at the end of the day, trading him now is NOT capitalizing on his value. The Bruins just gave up too early on him.

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