How the Boston Bruins’ 2020 Trade Deadline Acquisitions Look Today

( Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports )

By Jack Cinquegrana | Follow me on Twitter @bruinschewy

On February 21, 2020, the Bruins traded David Backes, Axel Andersson, and their 2020 first-round draft pick to acquire Ondrej Kase, a 24-year-old Czech right-winger with a boatload of skill. In the following days, the Anaheim Ducks and Boston Bruins finalized another deal swapping the rights of Nick Ritchie and Danton Heinen, Ritchie, and Kase, each with an extra year on their current contract. Looking at the trade at the time, most would say Boston added some depth pieces and scoring, definitely added a big body in Ritchie, and that Don Sweeney and the Bruins had another successful trade deadline. And then Coronavirus halted the NHL season with the Bruins only having completed 71 games and at the top of the standings for the entire league.

Since time has passed and the league has restarted their season with a revamped 24-team playoff/play-in round, we can evaluate the deals that Sweeney made in February. When we were shopping for our next second-line winger near the deadline, I was excited to see some impressive names in the running. Guys like Palmieri from New Jersey or Tomas Tatar from Montreal seemed like an easy solution to our scoring issues. Even when we got Kase and Ritchie and we did not go for the big-name scorer, I was not that disappointed. Ondrej Kase has a ton of skill and an excellent offensive mind. He is young and still developing, and I believe he could be a Bruin for some years down the line.

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With the impression that Kase has made on the Boston organization so far, I am afraid we may never reap the benefits of trading that first-round pick. In six games, he has one assist as a member of the black and gold, and with the unfortunate stoppage the NHL had suffered, let us hope that is not the only production we see from Kase in the top-six.

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images )

Since the NHL has restarted its training camps on July 10, Kase has skated with the team once in Boston and was labeled “unfit to play.” Ritchie skated on the 18th and the 20th with the team and has not been back with the squad since. Some wonder if Ritchie is dealing with an injury, though it seems likely, it would be wise to not rush him back, especially for a round-robin tournament game. It is not looking too great for Sweeney’s deadline acquisitions; we gave up a first-round pick, a prospect, and Danton Heinen for two players that may be out for an extended period of time.

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Ondrej Kase is the main piece of this deal and the piece that I am most excited about. I wanted to extend him right away but would prove a foolhardy move to sign an extension without seeing the player play with the team. With one assist in his first six games as a Bruin, those extension talks that were going on in my head alone seemed to have ceased. Though the chances are slim, I am not going to write off Kase getting extended. He has skill and vision, a great fit next to David Krejci, a winger we have been waiting for since Nathan Horton left. If he can get healthy for the playoffs and produce some big-time plays and not be an absolute liability in the defensive zone, he could find himself in extension talks with Don Sweeney.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 185 that we recorded below on 7-13-20! 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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Bruins Recent History (And Success) With Czech Republic Players

Dallas Stars v Boston Bruins
(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

At this year’s Trade Deadline, the Bruins were pretty active players. They made two deals with the Anaheim Ducks, the most interesting being the acquisition of Ondrej Kase. While Kase is a highly skilled player with blazing speed and age on his side, the most interesting thing to me, is actually his nationality. The winger is of course a native of the Czech Republic, and the Bruins have quite the success rate with players that hail from the Czech Republic. So naturally, I had a little look at the Czech players that have donned the spoked B in the past ten or so years and wrote an article on it. The Bs have some skilled prospects in the system like Jakub Zboril, Jakub Lauko, and Daniel Vladar but due to their minuscule time in the NHL, they will only get this mention. 

David Krejci

David Krejci of the Boston Bruins celebrates after
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

It’s crazy to think that when it’s all said and done, David Krejci will likely go down as one of the top Czech players of all-time. He currently sits at 11th all-time in scoring with 686 points and can realistically get to number three by the end of his career, passing Milan Hejduk with 805 points. I feel Krejci never gets the recognition he truly deserves. He’s been instrumental in each and every deep playoff run by the Bruins. He’s in 11th place when talking about active players in playoff scoring and continues to prove how important he is to the Bruins. 

The slick playmaker has been a Bruin his entire career. After a few seasons where many though the best of Krejci may be behind him, the center had quite a resurgence last season. He put up 20 goals and 53 apples with a successful go of it in the playoffs with 16 points in the Bruins cup run. As underrated as a #2 center can be, it would be weird to think of Krejci sporting any jersey besides the black and gold. He’ll be a Bruin for life.

David Pastrnak

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 06: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins plays against the St. Louis Blues during the first period of Game Five of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 06, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

He’s just so damn good. Just as the aforementioned Krejci, Pasta will also likely go down as one of the greatest Czech players we’ll ever see. He’s second (to a player that will be mentioned shortly) in points-per-game of all Czech players and he’s only going to continue to improve. Since he stepped on the scene, Pastrnak has been a game-changer for the Bruins. After two seasons where he played just about half the schedule and put up a respectable 53 points, Pasta took massive strides. He helped the Bs get back into the playoffs with his 70 point performance and his partnership with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand has developed into the best line in all of hockey. 

This season, Pastrnak was able to capture his first career Rocket, Richard, sharing the honors with Alex Ovechkin. He would’ve almost certainly hit the 50 goal and 100 point marks had the season continued, but his 48 tucks in 70 games aren’t too shabby. Since coming into the league as a teen, Pasta has grown into an incredible player, and most of all, a complete player. I’m sure his linemates in Bergeron and Marchand have contributed to his growth, but there is no question the 24-year-old will continue to have his name among the current greats for years to come.

Jaromir Jagr

(Photo Credit: Michael Ivins/ USA TODAY Sports)

And here’s the top Czech player of all time. There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said about Jagr. Despite going overseas for three seasons (plus a season and a half missed worth of lockouts) the living legend has still managed to sit second all-time in points. A year after returning to the NHL, Jagr made his way to Boston at the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline. The Bs pulled off a deal to acquire the veteran, sending a 2nd rounder (which ended up being Jason Dickinson) and a couple of minor leaguers. 

On a shaky Dallas team, Jagr put up a respectable 14 goals and 26 points in 34 games. At the ripe old age of 40, the forward became a solid veteran presence for a Bruins team looking to capture their 2nd cup in three years. When he got to Boston, it was no surprise that Jagr was able to adapt to the Bruins’ system quickly and put up nine points in the last 11 regular-season games. 

When Jagr and the Bs got into the playoffs, it was a bit of a different story. After failing to get Jarome Iginla at the deadline and “settling” for Jagr, the Bruins were of course still able to go on a hell of a run in the playoffs. It’s not that Jagr was bad, he wasn’t, but it was remarkable how snakebitten he was throughout the playoffs. It felt like he hit a billion posts, and without a goal in 22 games, he still put up 10 assists in the Bs’ run that ultimately ended in the dying moments of Game Six. 

Tomas Kaberle

(Photo Credit: Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

Now here’s a player that was on a Bruins team that went on a run, and DIDN’T lose in the Stanley Cup. Tomas Kaberle was yet another trade deadline acquisition by the Bruins, and man did they give up a haul for him. Going to the Toronto Maple Leafs was Joe Colborne (who at the time was a highly-touted prospect) a 1st round pick (which was used on Rickard Rakell) and a 2nd round pick (which was used to draft Mike Winther). Despite what they gave up, the Bruins went on to win the cup so there’s not much to deliberate on if the trade was a win for the Bruins.

Kaberle didn’t have a massive role in the Bs’ Stanley Cup run, as seen by his 16 minutes of ice time a game, but still remained solid throughout the playoffs. The defenseman played all 25 games and notched 11 assists and a plus-8 rating. And yes, they won the cup nine years ago on this day.

Clearly, the Bruins have had a pretty good track record with Czech players in their team. All four have reached the Stanley Cup and captured the gold twice with Boston and I think we all hope that Ondrej Kase can do the same. The speedy winger had just one assist in his six games with the Bs, but with all the talent he has, I can’t see the youngster’s drought lasting much longer as we enter the playoffs.

I’m not going to lie, I originally had a funny little piece on Andrej Meszaros and his storied Bruins career. But when reviewing the article, I realized he is in fact Slovakian. Nice.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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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Boston Bruins: A Hat-Trick of Birthdays

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PHOTO CREDITS: (MADDIE MEYER/GETTY IMAGES)

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

Today, April 28th, 2020, three current Boston Bruins players all become a year older and celebrate their birthdays – David Krejci, Connor Clifton, and Jeremy Lauzon.

F David Krejci

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

David Krejci was born on April 28th, 1986 in Sternberk, Czechoslovakia. Krejci started his hockey career in the early 2000s playing with numerous U18 clubs in the Czech Republic – performing at over a point-per-game pace for each season. In 2003-2004, David scored 23-37-60 totals in 50 games with HC Kladno U20. This propelled him to the 2004 NHL Entry Draft where the Bruins selected him 63rd overall in the second round.

In the 2004-05 season, Krejci joined the Gatineau Olympiques in the QMJHL to further his development as a new Bruins prospect. He played two seasons with the Olympiques, posting 49-95-144 numbers in 117 games as well as 12-29-41 numbers in 27 playoff games.

Krejci didn’t make his mark on the Boston Bruins organization until the following season when he scored 74 points in 69 regular-season games with the Providence Bruins in the AHL and scored the most playoff assists as a rookie with 13 helpers in 13 games during the ’06/’07 postseason. David played in six games with Boston but didn’t make a true impact until the next year where he skated in 56 games for the Boston Bruins.

Since then, Krejci has played in 911 regular-season NHL games, scoring 207 goals and 479 assists for 686 points. Krejci added a Stanley Cup to his resume as he led the NHL in playoff goals (12) and points (23) to help the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011. Krejci’s 103 playoff points ties him with Patrice Bergeron for the second-most points in the postseason in Boston Bruins history.

This season, the 6-foot, 187-pound forward has 13-30-43 totals in 61 games before the COVID-19 pandemic put a pause on the NHL. Recently, David Krejci stated that he would like to continue playing hockey when his current contract expires in July of 2021. Whether or not Krejci plays with the Bruins after the deal ends is yet to be seen, but he will go down as one of the better Bruins of recent memory. Happy 34th Birthday, David Krejci!

D Connor Clifton

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Billy Hurst / USA Today)

Connor Clifton was born on April 28th, 1995 in Long Branch, New Jersey, USA. Clifton started his hockey journey in various United States hockey programs including the EmJHL, EJHL, and USHL. Throughout those different leagues, Clifton never played a large number of games per season but kept working. In 2012-13, Connor played with the U.S. National U18 Team in the United States Development Program (USDP) where he scored 8-15-23 numbers in 66 games.

Following that, the 5-foot-11, 174-pound defenceman was drafted 133rd overall (5th round) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft by the Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes. Being such a late draft selection, Clifton made his way to the NCAA to play for Quinnipiac University where he would spend the next four seasons ending in 2016-17. After two slow seasons, Clifton scored 28 points in 43 games for the Bobcats in 2015-16. That was the same season that Quinnipiac defeated Harvard to win the ECAC Championship, with Clifton winning the Tournament MVP.

Clifton captained the team in 2016-17, his final year in the NCAA, as he put up another 14 points in 39 games. After opting for free agency, Connor Clifton signed an AHL contract with the Providence Bruins and began his AHL career in 2017-2018. He posted 4-9-13 numbers in 54 games but went pointless in four playoff meetings. On May 3rd, 2018, the Boston Bruins signed Clifton to a two-year NHL contract, allowing him to play with the NHL team.

The New Jersey native played the bulk of the 2018-29 campaign in the AHL once again but did see 19 games of regular-season hockey with the NHL club, tallying one assist. However, it was on the Bruins’ 2019 Stanley Cup Finals run where he made an impact. “Cliffy Hockey” scored two goals and three assists in 18 playoff games and played a solid defensive game, laying heavy hits and making a name for himself with injuries on Boston’s blueline.

His performance earned him a three-year, $1 million AAV deal to re-sign with the Bruins in this past offseason. Unfortunately, though, Clifton only played 31 games in the NHL as he dealt with an upper-body injury for a large chunk of the season and then the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt on the NHL season just as Clifton was finding his way back into the lineup. Regardless, Connor will be a future regular on Boston’s d-core. Happy 25th Birthday, Connor Clifton!

D Jeremy Lauzon

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Jeremy Lauzon was born April 28th, 1997 in Val-d’Or, Quebec, Canada. Lauzon’s young hockey career started in 2010-11, playing for a few different organizations in Quebec, Canada. In 2013-14, Lauzon joined the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), where he came out of the gate with 5-11-16 numbers in 55 games and four points in 9 playoff appearances.

Lauzon had a more impressive sophomore season in the QMJHL, putting up 36 points in 60 games as a defenceman. Those numbers did something for the Bruins organization who selected the 6-foot-2, 205-pound 52nd overall (2nd round) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

The following season, in 2015-16, Boston returned Jeremy to the QMJHL where he scored 50 points during the regular season, earning himself an entry-level deal from Boston in November of 2015. In the playoffs that year, Jeremy posted 1-7-8 totals in 9 playoff games as Rouyn-Noranda won the QMJHL Championship, booking them a spot in the infamous Memorial Cup tournament. Lauzon’s Huskies made it all the way to the Finals but fell short to the London Knights.

Following one more season with the Huskies in the 2016-2017 campaign, Jeremy Lauzon finally joined the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. Lauzon, unfortunately, missed 22 games with a concussion but still played in 52 games, scoring 7 points. Lauzon made his NHL debut in the 2018-19 season and scored his first career goal in that same year.

This season, Lauzon proved to be a solid piece of Boston’s depth defensive core as he held his own in 19 games played when the other blueliners were out with injuries. In February of 2020, General Manager Don Sweeney re-signed Lauzon to a two-year contract extension worth an annual average of $850,000. Happy 23rd Birthday, Jeremy Lauzon!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 176 that we recorded below on 4-27-20! 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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Bruins Dodged a Bullet at Trade Deadline

( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson | USA TODAY Sports )

By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

The NHL season is stumbling forward into what very well may be a canceled schedule. From the perspective of team management, this leads to several issues. One of those that is rarely discussed is how management teams will recoup losses of hockey “assets” like prospects and draft picks that they dealt for the temporary service of rental players. Bruins’ GM Don Sweeney, however, unknowingly helped to mitigate his teams’ potential losses by exercising the prudence that has become his calling card during the trade deadline activities in February.

Leading up to the February 24th drop-dead time, most of the hockey world had the B’s pegged for bidding up the price on some of the top rental players in the league. Names like Tyler Toffoli, Chris Kreider, and even “Jumbo” Joe Thornton were all linked to the Bruins, at least for short periods of time. What these players all have in common is their free-agent status at the end of the season; all would be able to walk from their teams, no strings attached.

While Kreider ultimately signed with the New York Rangers for seven more years and about $45.5 million, trade packages were prognosticated to include a top-level prospect and a first-round pick. Toffoli yielded a highly touted prospect and a second-round pick in the upcoming draft. A plethora of other teams mortgaged parts of their future in exchange for reinforcements that were to aid in a tournament that will most likely not occur. Meanwhile, the Bruins essentially sent a package of Danton Heinen, David Backes, Axel Andersson and a first-round pick for Nick Ritchie, Ondrej Kase and cap space for an off-season featuring several big-name free agents. 

Most trades at the deadline occur between teams that are out of the playoff picture and those who have Stanley Cup aspirations in the current season. Rebuilding teams trade older, established players that have limited term on their contract or are seen as redundant to the roster while contending teams draw from prospect pools or future draft picks, assets they’d gladly forego for capturing glory. This deadline was no different and saw Toffoli dealt for the return noted above, Brenden Dillon flipped by the San Jose Sharks to the Washington Capitals for two second-round picks and the Ottawa Senators sent J.G. Pageau (!) to Long Island for their first two selections in the 2020 draft, with lottery protections.

While Pageau and the New York Islanders agreed to a deal, all of the other picks and prospects spent on unrestricted free-agents have been, essentially, wasted unless those players in the respective deals also sign with their new teams.  For the team acquiring the picks and prospects, development leagues are also facing shortened and canceled seasons, which will result in a more difficult evaluation process for prospects all through the draft, especially so for those outside the highest few picks.

The Bruins’ trades with the Ducks can largely be represented in terms of three pieces: the off-loading of the Backes contract, acquiring Kase and flipping Heinen’s two-way play and shiftiness for Ritchie’s hard-nosed, big-bodied presence. The price for Backes’ contract was determined when the Toronto Maple Leafs dumped Patrick Marleau to the Carolina Hurricanes. A first-round pick was what it would cost to off-load his deal, now or later. This is a trade that management would have made with or without a playoff appearance and regardless of the status of the current season.

The pick is destined to be in the lower first-round, where talent evaluation will at least begin to become difficult. With that in consideration, the latter two parts are essentially a good prospect with strong skating ability and an undetermined ceiling for a proven second line guy and “fancy stats” darling and an oft-maligned defensive-forward with the play-making ability for a power-forward. Both of the returns have contracts that extend through the 2020 – 2021 season, which means the B’s have cap control and stability in a potential career-defining off-season for Sweeney.

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While those in the organization and the fans have been missing games or worse, becoming ill, they can take some solace in the reality that Sweeney has helped the Bruins dodge a significant bullet in ignoring some of the talking heads (ah-hem) and sticking to his long-term plan. If the season, or some portion of it, is reinstated, great the B’s have a solid roster at all positions and saw an influx of talent; if the season is ultimately canceled, the Bruins will still have most of their cupboard filled as well as flexibility in the off-season. Of course, we can still always hope that we’ll see a full reinstatement of the season and playoffs! That’d be the icing on the cake.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 174 that we recorded below on 4-12-20! 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!!

Bruins Alumni: Happy Birthday Tommy Wingels

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

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

Happy 32nd Birthday to Former Boston Bruins Forward Tommy Wingels!!

Tommy Wingels was born on April 12th, 1988 in Evanston, Illinois, United States. Tommy began his hockey career at sixteen when he joined Team Illinois U18 team in the MWEHL (Midwest Elite Hockey League), scoring 12 points in 15 games back in 2008-09. After a season in the USHL with the Cedar Rapids Roughriders, Wingels joined the Miami University of Ohio Redhawks.

After his first season in 2007-2008, Wingels was drafted 177th overall (6th round) by the San Jose Sharks in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. From 2007-08 to 2009-10, Wingels played a combined 127 games for the NCAA team, finishing with 43-56-99 numbers including a 42-point season in ’09/’10 when he was captain of the Redhawks. Following this final year, he agreed to an entry-level deal with the Sharks.

In 2010-11, the 6-foot, 201-pound forward played in five games for the Sharks but spent the majority of his time in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Worchester Sharks where he scored 17-13-30 numbers in 69 games played. During the 2012-13 lockout season, Wingels took to the Finnish hockey league, Mestis, playing with KooKoo for 18 games. When the NHL season resumed, Wingels returned to San Jose where he scored 13 points in 42 games.

Tommy played three-and-a-half more seasons in California until January 2017 when he was traded to the Ottawa Senators for Zach Stortini, Buddy Robinson, and a 2017 7th Round Pick. Being on an expiring contract, Wingels hit the free-agent market that offseason for the first time in his NHL career, signing a one-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks. He failed to spend a full season with the Hawks before he was shipped to the Boston Bruins at the 2018 Trade Deadline for a 2019 5th Round Draft Pick.

Tommy Wingels finished out his season with the Bruins, scoring two goals and three assists for five points in 18 games and went pointless in four games during the 2018 postseason. While his NHL career did not work out as planned, Wingels signed with Genève-Servette HC of the National League in Switzerland and has been there for two seasons. In the current 2019-20 campaign, the now 32-year-old has put up 16-23-39 numbers in 44 games before the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 448 regular-season games, Tommy Wingels scored 61 goals and 82 assists for 143 points over eight years in the National Hockey League with the San Jose Sharks, Ottawa Senators, Chicago Blackhawks, and the Boston Bruins. Happy Birthday, Tommy Wingels!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 174 that we recorded below on 4-12-20! 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!!

How The Trade Deadline Affects The Bruins Offseason Plans

Dallas Stars v Boston Bruins

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images )

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

It’s been a few days since the trade deadline and I still don’t quite know how to feel about it all. There’s no questioning if the Bruins improved, they did, but many (including myself) am still asking if Don Sweeney and co did enough for this season, but that’s not the point of this article. Regardless of what the Bruins did to affect the team for this year, the trades made certainly helped the team for years to come.

The Trades

To Boston: Nick Ritchie, Ondrej Kase

To Anaheim: Danton Heinen, David Backes ($1.5 mill retained), Axel Andersson, 2020 1st round pick
Nick Ritchie

( Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charles Krupa )

No Rentals

 

Unlike years in the past where we saw the Bruins’ management go after rentals like Marcus Johansson, Rick Nash (oof) and Lee Stepniak (even bigger oof), the Bruins acquired players with term. They saw how well it worked with last year’s acquisition of Charlie Coyle and looked to continue that success of grabbing players that won’t be gone at the season’s end. 

Both Ritchie and Kase have extra years on their contract and even more years of team control due to their RFA status. The duo are both young and have plenty of room to grow on their already solid NHL careers. Nick Ritchie is a hard-nosed player that fits the style of play the Bruins love. The former 10th overall pick is still young at 24 years-old and with his recent play (three goals and three assists in his last four game) has a chance to trump his career-high in goals of 14. 

If healthy, Ondrej Kase has a real chance to be a game-changer for the black and gold. Two seasons ago, the Czech Republic native hit the 20 goal mark in 66 games. The following season was unfortunately cut short due to injury, but Kase was well on his way to hit career highs in both points and goals with 11 goals and 20 points in 30 games. Now playing on a far better Bruins squad, we’d hope to see the improved play on his part.

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Boston Bruins at St. Louis Blues

( Photo Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports )

Offseason Plans

The Bruins have a lot on their plate this offseason. Powerplay QB Torey Krug is an upcoming UFA and will certainly get paid whether he stays or goes. Matt Grzelcyk, Jake Debrusk, Anders Bjork and Karson Kuhlman are among the slew of RFAs that will get a considerable bump in salary. There’s no guarantee if Zdeno Chara will call it quits after this season, but if he doesn’t, that’s another contract to add to the books. Fellow Slovakian and backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak has been huge for the Bruins over the past couple years and it would be a tough loss if the Bs weren’t able to resign him. 

The Bruins had about $17 million in projected cap space for next year before the deals. With the subtraction of Heinen and Backes’ combined $7.3 million and addition of Kase and Ritchie’s and additions of roughly $4.1 million, it gives the Bruins an extra $3.2 million worth of cap space to work with. If we loosely project what the Bruins UFA and RFAs we get contracts that look like this:

Torey Krug – 7.25m

Zdeno Chara – 1.5m

Jaroslav Halak – 3m

Joakim Nordstrom – 1.5m

Kevan Miller – Honestly no idea with all of his injuries, I think he’s a goner regardless. 1m

Jake Debrusk – This one really depends if it’s long-term or a bridge, I’d say 4-5m

Matt Grzelyck – 3m

Anders Bjork – 1.5m

Karson Kuhlman – 1m

Adding all these together gives the Bruins a rough estimate of $24 million worth of contracts to give. With Nordstrom and Miller likely gone, a number of $21.5 million seems doable with the amount of cap space the Bruins are projected to have. with that number likely increasing as the cap continues to grow. With the now over $20 million in space with that number likely increasing as the cap continues to grow, it seems more likely the Bruins will be able to keep most of the gang together. If the Bs fail to win the ultimate prize this season, Don Sweeney has set this Bruins team up for the future.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 168 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!!

Why Did Bruins Fans Dislike Danton Heinen So Much?

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(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

By: Joe Chrzanowski| Follow me on Twitter @jchrz19

This is a topic that has been weighing heavily on me for the last year or so. With the Trade Deadline behind us and Danton Heinen off to Anaheim, perhaps it’s a moot point? However, the question remains, what was it about Danton Heinen that was such a turn-off for so many B’s fans?

If you spend any amount of time on Bruins Twitter, you couldn’t go more than 10 minutes without some sort of derogatory comment about Heinen. Most commenting on his lack of toughness, physicality, or production. I would say that Tuukka Rask was probably the only player on the team that was more polarizing than Heinen.

So what was it?

By all accounts, he was well-liked in the dressing room. Given his reaction to the trade, he obviously wanted to be in Boston. He played up and down the lineup and performed reasonably well wherever Bruce Cassidy put him. His salary of $2.8m is a little high based on his production this year but is in line for what players of similar age and production earn. He was extremely durable, having missed only one or two games to injury in almost three NHL seasons.

His detractors say he provides no offense. That he’s soft, never wins board battles and constantly gives the puck away. Obviously, if these were all true, he would not have been taking a regular shift for one of the best teams in the NHL, but why bring common sense into the equation?

For his career, the 2014 4th Round pick played in 220 games, had 34g/69a (103 pts), and was a +23 for the Bruins. Also had 138 hits, 103 blocks, 105 takeaways, and 87 giveaways. That equates to a .47 points-per-game average, which is average to above average for most NHL third-line players. This year Heinen was off his career pace a bit, with only 22 points in 58 games, which no doubt led to increased frustration with him by the fan base.

Not to pick on specific players but when you look at these stats in comparison to some other B’s guys, the “Heinen-Hate” doesn’t make a lot of sense. Jake DeBrusk, who is loved by most of the B’s fanbase, has been stapled to Krejci’s hip in the Top 6 since he entered the NHL. His career totals: 198 games played, 61g/58a (119 pts), +14 (.60 ppg). Throw in 147 hits, 65 blocks, 96 takeaways, and 67 giveaways. Better than Heinen in some categories, but not overly impressive for the 14th overall pick in 2015.

Smaller sample size, but another player B’s fans love is Anders Bjork. In 107 career NHL games, he has only 14g/20a (34 pts), +6 (.32 ppg). He also has 71 hits, 44 blocks, 47 takeaways, and 33 giveaways. The majority of those numbers are actually below Heinen’s totals, even when you double them to get close to his total games. I’m not sure how often people look at stats like this before they tweet out their opinions on Heinen, but given the actual numbers, it’s probably not very often?

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( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images )

The supposedly “soft” Heinen has similar hit totals to both Bjork and DeBrusk and blocks significantly more shots than either. In my humble opinion, stepping in front of a slap shot takes a lot more guts than checking a player or face-washing someone in a scrum when the refs are sure to break things up, but to each his own I guess.

One of the legitimate issues fans had this year with Heinen was definitely his production in comparison to his salary. He got a raise after his ELC expired and was having his worst statistical year as a pro. If he was still making $800k, there would have been less noise about it for sure.

The flip-side to this is that it happens a lot with players. You can only have them on short money for so long, and I didn’t hear anyone complaining when Heinen put up 47 points on the first year of his ELC. As big a Heinen fan as I am, I would agree that he didn’t play to his contract this year as a Bruin. That said, I still don’t believe that his salary was the primary reason that Boston fans disliked Heinen.

So, if it wasn’t the production and the salary was only part of it. A relatively small part that really doesn’t explain the venom with which people went after Heinen. Then what was it exactly?

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(Photo Credit: Amy Irvin/The Hockey Writers)

More than anything else, I believe it was simply a perception that Heinen was not passionate about the game and didn’t care because of his cerebral and “quiet” style of play. He went about his business as a Bruin very calmly and without any fanfare. Goal celebrations were muted and there was no tugging on the spoked B of his jersey. Instead of big, attention-grabbing hits, opponents were efficiently ridden off the puck. Instead of flashy steals and end-to-end rushes, lanes were clogged and passes sent off the mark or deflected.

Ever since the “Big Bad Bruins” of the early 1970s and Don Cherry’s “Lunch Pail A.C.” teams of the late ’70s, Boston fans have identified more with players they see as gritty, nasty, and tough than they do with guys who are skilled and play a quieter game. I don’t have enough time or space to debate the merits of that approach in this article, but it is the way a lot of Boston fans think. Heinen was not the first B’s player that was disliked by fans because of his style of play and he won’t be the last. He’s just the most recent example.

Blake Wheeler was not physical enough for his size. Reilly Smith was too quiet. Loui Eriksson was a piss-poor return for Tyler Seguin and wasn’t edgy enough. Even a long-time Bruin like David Krejci is not immune to this bias. For years, despite evidence to the contrary, he has been considered “soft” and too cerebral by much of the fanbase he has given so much to. Anybody who watched him fight Pavelski the other night and saw the look of absolute glee on his face as he was throwing punches should realize you don’t judge a book by its cover.

I don’t think we will see Heinen exchanging haymakers with opponents in ANA any time soon, but it won’t be a surprise if he does well there. Hopefully, the deal ends up working out for both teams and both players.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 167 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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Boston Bruins Trade Deadline Additions And How They Fit

( Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images )

By Jack Cinquegrana | Follow me on Twitter @bruinschewy

The 2018-19 Boston Bruins made it to game seven of the Stanley Cup final last June and analysts and hockey-men alike agreed that they got bullied in the final by St. Louis. Depending on your loyalties, you probably thought the Bruins got jobbed on some calls and if you hate the Bruins then you’ll say they were outworked. It all comes back to the conversation of size and bringing in a big player who can hit but also score.

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The second deadline move consisted of trading away long-time controversial asset Danton Heinen for Nick Ritchie, which for some was a head-scratcher and others were disappointed. The Bruins fanbase expected a goal-scoring stud would be coming to Boston. Ritchie can score but he can also dish the puck and has great vision for a big man. He is not a burner, he will not skate around you, but he can go to the net hard and has an effective net-front presence. I can see Ritchie playing with Coyle and Bjork on the third line, giving 10 and 13 or whoever else he plays with space to roam the offensive zone while Ritchie can screen, tip pucks, and make net-front plays.

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The loss of Danton Heinen is an answered prayer for some Bruins fans and for others is was a punch in the gut. I belong to the latter group because I saw how much Heinen could bring to the table. Great hands, good playmaking ability, good stick, in the right spot, he could do all of that. But because he would not finish a check on the boards and because he was not willing to fight, most Bruins fans had written him off and wanted him gone months ago. I am going to miss Danton Heinen, but I wish him a healthy and productive career starting in Anaheim. As for David Backes, I think he was set up to fail in a hard city to fail in. A bad contract gets moved, he gets to play again and the Bruins get to move on.

( Photo Credit: John Tlumacki/GLOBE STAFF )

Going into the playoffs there will be many deep and formidable opponents, especially in the Eastern Conference. The Metropolitan division has many teams fighting for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, leaving only the New Jersey Devils the only team out of contention and the New York Rangers are two points out of the wildcard. The playoffs are going to be stacked and I think that Ritchie and Kase will give the Bruins the boost they need by filling in positions and roles that they lacked

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Breaking Down The Bruins’ 2020 Trade Deadline

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LEFT: Nick Ritchie (37) (Photo: Harry How / Getty Images North America)
RIGHT: Ondrej Kase (25) (Photo by Steve Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Another trade deadline in the National Hockey League has come and gone. With it, we saw the most trades in the history of the deadline (32) and only the second time that 55 total players have been involved in deals.

Once again, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was active in the trade market, with rumors of Boston being in on Ondrej Kase, Joe Thornton, Kyle Palmieri, Chris Kreider, and more heading into the deadline. Like last year’s trade involving Charlie Coyle and Ryan Donato, Sweeney consummated a trade with a few days to spare before the main event on Monday, acquiring Kase from Anaheim on Friday before dealing for Nick Ritchie on Monday.

Here are the details of the deals that Boston made before the 3:00 pm deadline on Monday afternoon:

Friday Feb. 21, 2020

To Anaheim:

F David Backes (25% retained), D Axel Andersson, 2020 1st-Rounder

To Boston:

F Ondrej Kase

Personally, I really like this deal for the Bruins. Either way, Boston was going to have to give up a higher end draft pick at this year’s deadline, and this year’s first was going to be a late pick in all probability. As far as Axel Andersson, while I think he has NHL potential, I’m not sure that he would have been able to contribute to Boston anytime soon, especially considering how loaded the Bruins are in terms of defense prospects. Anaheim gets two good pieces for their rebuild in the first and Andersson.

As for Backes, it feels like a miracle that Sweeney was able to clear his contract off the books, considering he still has a year left. While it would have been nice to completely move it out, only retaining 25% ($1.5 million) is still a huge win for the Bruins moving forward into this coming offseason with pending unrestricted free agents like Torey Krug and Jaroslav Halak and restricted free agents like Jake DeBrusk and Anders Bjork. It was certainly disappointing how Backes’ time in Boston went, but the former Blues captain is a great guy, by all accounts, and will likely get a chance to play in Anaheim.

Although he’s suited up in just one game for the Bruins, the acquisition of Kase has the makings to be an incredible bargain bin deal. The numbers have not really popped off the page this season for the 24-year-old (7-16-23 in 49 games), but there’s reason to believe he will improve his output on a team like Boston, especially if he is playing on David Krejci’s wing.

First off, Kase is an analytics darling, and shoots the puck a ton, registering 135 shots on goal this season and averaging 2.76 shots per game. However, his shooting percentage sits at 5.2% – not great. In Anaheim, Kase bounced around the lineup and was asked to play different roles on each line, but with stability, and the type of talent that Boston can put on the ice each night, it is reasonable to expect the shooting percentage and results to improve – he certainly has the talent for it.

Whats more, the 2014 seventh rounder is under contract at just $2.8 million until the end of next season, and even then Kase will only be an RFA. Also, after scoring 20 goals in the 2017-18 season, (maybe) not coincidentally the last time the Ducks iced a playoff team, Kase has struggled with staying on the ice consistently. If he can stay healthy with the Bruins, and his offensive output improves, the Bruins will have made out like gangbusters.

Monday: Feb. 24, 2020

To Anaheim

F Danton Heinen

To Boston:

F Nick Ritchie

Of course, as I write this article, Ritchie follows a minus-two, zero-shot performance on Tuesday with a goal and an assist against the Stars on Thursday, but either way, I’m not sure how to wrap my head around this one. Sure, the writing was on the wall for Heinen’s time in Boston – his confidence was totally out the window, he was not doing enough offensively, and it felt like he was on the outside looking in – so I support getting him a fresh start. However, the return of Ritchie in a one-for-one swap is where things get a little puzzling.

Like Kase, the numbers have not been dazzling for Ritchie this year, although the advanced stats are solid. The 10th-overall pick in the 2014 draft, Ritchie now has 9-12-21 numbers through 43 games, on pace for about 13-17-30 totals. His career-high for goals (14) came in his first full NHL season in 2016-17, while his career-high in points (31) came last season, his third full season – the previous two seasons he tallied 28 then 27 points.

I will commend Sweeney for the foresight in terms of this coming off-season, like the Kase deal. Compared to Heinen ($2.8 million through next season), Ritchie ($1.49 million through next year) is under a friendlier contract, will be an RFA next summer, and addresses a need within the organization as he brings a bigger body, more physicality, and interior scoring, when he’s clicking.

 

Admittedly, I genuinely want Ritchie to succeed in Boston – I think he could easily become a fan favorite and could hit some of that untapped potential – but it feels like this move has extreme boom or bust potential. Ritchie looked great on Thursday after Tuesday’s not-so-great showing, but I think consistency is a valid concern, especially after the national reaction seemed to label Ritchie as a weighty underachiever with a tendency for the dumb penalty. For me, Ritchie feels a lot like Matt Beleskey in terms of being a big, left-shot wing with a heavy style of play and having a very low floor and a high ceiling, but again, I seriously want to see this move pan out for the Bruins.

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Overall, I think the Bruins made out fine at the deadline, and although I’m a bigger fan of the Kase deal, both trades have boom or bust potential. Sure, it was a little disappointing not to see Kreider or Palmieri end up in the Black and Gold, but we’ve seen bargain bin additions work out in spades for the Bruins in the past (see: Coyle, Marcus Johansson). Boston is certainly better than they were at this time last week, but its worth noting how the rest of the Eastern Conference contenders, like Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Washington, and even Carolina, loaded up.

So, did the Bruins do enough compared to the rest of the field? We’ll have to wait and see, but there’s no doubt that this team still has Stanley Cup potential. The stretch run and the playoffs should be electric. Buckle up.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 167 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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Grading the Bruins’ Deadline Deals

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(Jen Fuller/Getty Images North America)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

This year’s NHL Trade Deadline was one for the record books.  32 trades were executed before the February 24, 2020, 3pm deadline, which broke 2010’s record of 31.  The Bruins accounted for two of the 32 trades, both of which were with the same team.

General Manager Don Sweeney executed two separate trades with the Anaheim Ducks.  The first sent the Bruins’ 2020 first-round draft pick, David Backes, and prospect Axel Andersson for right-winger Ondrej Kase.  The second was a rare one-for-one deal, sending Danton Heinen to Anaheim for Nick Ritchie.  Both trades were executed with a specific need in mind, as well as looking toward future cap space.

It’s no secret that the Bruins have been desperately searching for a right-winger to cement next to David Krejci.  He hasn’t had a formidable, long-standing right-winger since Nathan Horton.  The Bruins have a plethora of wingers in their organization, but none have been able to hold the second-line reigns for long stretches.  They had been scouring the trade market and free agency pools for years, but their cap space kept holding them back from over-extending themselves.

David Backes signed on July 1, 2016, to a 5-year, $30M deal.  His cap hit accounted for $6M each year, which grew increasingly difficult to stomach as a Bruins fan.  The 35-year old centerman grew slower each year and couldn’t keep up with the current NHL pace.  He was a fantastic presence in the room, but that didn’t outweigh his cap hit.  On January 17, 2020, the Bruins made a surprising move.

The move relieved $2M of Backes’ deal from their cap space, and both sides came to an understanding that he would not play in the American Hockey League to stay healthy.  This is known as asset management, which most assumed meant the Bruins were shopping him to other teams.  Executives around the league knew the Bruins would need to sweeten the pot in any trade to rid themselves of the Backes’ deal.

The NHL witnessed the Toronto Maple Leafs pull off a similar trade, sending Patrick Marleau to the Carolina Hurricanes in June 2019 for a conditional first-round pick and a conditional sixth-round pick.  This set the trade market for risky NHL contracts that a team would want to shed.

The trade also creates cap space next off-season to sign Torey Krug.  Krug is on the last of his 4-year, $21M deal and has been a remarkable offensive weapon for the Bruins.  He is their power-play quarterback and has posted over 50 points in three of the last four years.  Torey is currently on pace to post a career-high 63 points this year.  He will cost at least $6M per on his next deal, and the Bruins finally have some money to give.

Ondrej Kase is a 24-year old right-shot winger who is under contract through 2021.  He carries a $2.6M cap hit and will be a restricted free-agent after 2021.  The Czech Republic native is familiar with David Pastrnak in their Olympic hockey days and will play alongside another fellow Czech in David Krejci.  The move felt like Sweeney wanted to accomplish two things: get Krejci a winger who can contribute now and get younger.

Kase has underachieved in his three and a half years in Anaheim.  He’s reached the 20-goal plateau once and has been a versatile weapon.  He can play in all facets of the game, from power-play to penalty kill.  He stands at 6’0 183 pounds and is exceptionally shifty.

The one knock on his resume is his injury history.   He was traded from Anaheim on the Injured Reserve List, and the Bruins are going to be cautious with his return.  The Bruins sit atop the NHL, five points ahead of the surging Tampa Bay Lightning, so they have the luxury of time to manage their assets.  Bruins fans would like to see Kase before the end of the season, which will likely happen.  

Don Sweeney can be given an A-minus for this trade.  He was able to accomplish two areas of need: create long-term cap space for impending free-agents and add a non-rental to his top-six forward group.  Kase’s performance and potential on the Bruins remain to be seen, so of course, the grade can change.

The second trade occurred on Deadline Day, which was a one-for-one sending Boston’s Danton Heinen to Anaheim for Nick Ritchie.  Ritchie is the younger brother of recent free-agent signing Brett Ritchie.  Nick was selected tenth overall in the 2014 draft out of the Ontario Hockey League.  He’s played five years on the Anaheim Ducks totaling 109 points in 287 games.  He is a large bottom-six forward at 6’2, 234 pounds, which brings toughness to the Bruins.

Many fans have voiced that the Bruins lack toughness, whether it be not standing up for one another or getting pushed around on the ice without a true enforcer.  Ritchie seems to fit that mold.  He doesn’t fight much, only two fighting majors in five years, but he does throw his body around and sticks up for his teammates.

Ritchie has 763 career hits and 79 already this year, which is on pace for 158 this year.  His brother Brett plays a similar game, but what separates Nick from Brett is the point total.  Nick has 19 points this year, which will rank eleventh on the Bruins (tied with Anders Bjork).  He also led the Ducks in plus/minus at plus three and carries a $1.5M cap hit for this and next season.  He will also be a restricted free-agent in 2021.

Though, Ritchie comes in with the most penalty minutes on the team.  He has amassed 78 penalty minutes this year, and none have been fighting majors.  The Bruins penalty kill is one of the best in the league, but he will have to eliminate the amount of time spent in the box when they face teams like the Washington Capitals.

Danton Heinen was sent to Anaheim in this deal, and it has been a bit of a mystery for most Bruins fans and NHL experts.  Heinen entered his rookie year, putting up 47 points, and his future was bright.  He hit a bit of a sophomore slump and seemed to focus more on his defense than his offense.  He was under-appreciated in Boston for the little things he did.

Heinen recently signed a 2-year, $5.6M deal this past off-season and will be a restricted free-agent again in 2021.  Sending Heinen saves the Bruins $1.3M in cap space, which will be helpful when Krug, Anders Bjork, Karson Kuhlman, Matt Grzelcyk, and Jake DeBrusk need new deals this upcoming off-season.

This particular trade will need to be re-evaluated in the playoffs and beyond.  Ritchie will likely replace Heinen on the third line next to Charlie Coyle and Bjork.  He has a knack for standing in front of the net and battling for loose pucks.  The move seems to be more forward-looking than for immediate help, but his size could be beneficial when the Bruins face-off against bigger teams like the Lightning and Capitals.  For now, this trade receives a C.

Averaging the two grades together, the Bruins received a solid B for their deadline trades.  They addressed a few areas of need in acquiring a top-six forward and a bulky bottom-six winger.  Sweeney has a tendency to acquire players the Bruins aren’t linked to, and it works out.  Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle come to mind in this regard.  Though, Sweeney has signed and traded for a few bruisers who haven’t worked out: David Backes, Brett Ritchie, and Zac Rinaldo.  Hopefully, Ritchie can break his enforcer track record, and Kase can perform up to his potential, which would raise Sweeney’s 2020 deadline day grade.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 167 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!!