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.

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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.

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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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Could The Bruins Have Matched An Offer On Stone?

(Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Image)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

The prize of the NHL trade deadline has been dealt. Mark Stone ends up in Las Vegas with the Golden Knights. The cost? Erik Brannstrom, Oscar Lindberg and a 2020 2nd round pick.

Stone is well-regarded as one of the best two-way wingers in the entire league and is still just 26 years old. This season he has already set a career high in goals (28) and is two points away from his career high of 64. Another major factor about Stone is the fact that, soon after the trade went through, he signed an eight-year extension worth $9.5 million annually.

(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The main piece the Senators got in return was 19-year-old defenseman Erik Brannstrom. Brannstrom was drafted 15th overall in 2017 and is widely considered as an A+ level prospect. The general consensus during “TSN Tradecentre” was that Brannstrom is easily a top-ten prospect in the league right now.

The young Swede has played well in his first season in North America, totaling 28 points in 41 games in the AHL as a D-man. The year prior, he posted 15 points in 44 games playing as a kid against men in the SHL. Brannstrom has also had a lot of international success. Last year, he was paired with phenom Rasmus Dahlin on Sweden’s World Junior team and was a big reason why the team got to the finals. This past World Juniors, he led the Swedes in goals with four. While the comparisons to Erik Karlsson may be a bit far-fetched, there’s no question Brannstrom will develop into a great NHLer when the time comes.

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 24: Oscar Lindberg #24 of the Vegas Golden Knights skates with the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during the game at T-Mobile Arena on October 24, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

The only other player Vegas gave up was forward Oscar Lindberg. Lindberg hasn’t quite replicated his successful rookie season with the New York Rangers where he tallied 13 goals and 28 points in 68 games but has been a reliable two-way forward since then. At 27, he still has time to grow into a better player.

A lot of Bruins’ fans were salivating at the potential of Stone being in the black and gold, and there’s no doubting he would be a perfect fit for Boston, but the biggest problem was clearly the price. Seeing what Stone was able to get in return, what would be a similar return from the Bruins?

Despite having a great farm system, the Bruins don’t tout an A+ prospect like Brannstrom. The closest player to would be fellow 2017 1st rounder, Urho Vaakanainen. While Vaakanainen doesn’t have the offensive pedigree that Erik has, he is still a highly touted two-way defenseman with a ton of upside.

(Photo Courtesy of NBCSports)

When Vaakanainen was drafted, Jamie Langenbrunner, Boston’s player development coordinator, had a lot to say about the young Fin. “I think Scott mentioned to me … which I thought was high praise for a guy that could effortlessly skate around the rink,” Langenbrunner said. “[Vaakanainen] seems to have a little bit of those tendencies that he kind of floats on his skates a little bit, and it’s something that I don’t believe you can really teach.” Any comparison to a Hall-of-Famer is a good thing.

The Bruins clearly think highly of the 20-year-old. When the Bruins D-core was riddled with injuries, the Bruins decided to call up Vaakainanen despite being just 19 at the time and within his first season in North America. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see much of the defenseman as he suffered a concussion in just his second game in the NHL. When healthy. Vaakanainen went on to win the gold medal in this year’s World Juniors, tallying four assists in seven games with a +5 rating for team Finland.

Since Vaakanainen isn’t quite the player that Brannstrom projects to be, you’d think a pick would need to be added to even out their hypothetical values there. Maybe exchanging the 2nd rounder that Vegas gave up for a 1st and adding a lower pick, let’s say a 4th.

Boston Bruins v Anaheim Ducks

(Photo Courtesy Of CBS Boston – CBS Local)

So at this point, the deal is Stone for Vaakanainen, a 1st round pick, and a 4th round pick. I’m sure Ottawa wanted a roster player in return, preferably a younger player with a bit of room to grow (just as Oscar Lindberg was), so maybe a guy like Peter Cehlarik would also go the other way.

Cehlarik, 23, is a smart player with a great work ethic; however, he doesn’t have a massive ceiling. With that said, he has shown quite a bit of promise throughout his brief stint in the NHL. This season, he has four goals and six points in his 14 games with Boston.

So would a realistic offer for Mark Stone be Urho Vaakanainen, a 2020 1st, 2019 4th, and Peter Cehlarik? I’d say it’s pretty similar in value to what Vegas gave up, but I’m not sure either team would end up doing it. According to @BruinsNetwork on twitter, it was what Vegas offered, not what the Bruins didn’t in regards to Stone so maybe he was destined to never be a Bruin.

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Grading The Bruins’ 2019 Trade Deadline

Marcus-Johansson.jpg

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

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

The NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone, and the Bruins made three additions in total, trading for Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle in addition to signing Lee Stempniak. Here are my grades for each of the Bruins’ Trade Deadline moves:

Bruins acquire Marcus Johansson for a 2019 2nd-rounder and a 2020 4th-rounder

Grade: B+

Just as it looked like the Bruins were going to let the deadline pass them by without adding another player, news of this trade broke. Johansson brings skill and versatility to the Bruins’ top-nine (likely the second or third line) as he can play center and both wings. Although not the big name Bruins fans were clamoring for, he can still be an effective player for the Bruins down the stretch.

This season, Johansson has 12-15-27 numbers in 48 games played, on pace for 17-21-38 totals in 68 games played. However, if Johansson were healthy all season, the 28-year-old would be on pace for 21-26-47 totals in 82 games played, for what it’s worth. Johansson also has 6-6-12 numbers in his last 13 games played.

Over his nine-year career between Washington and New Jersey, Johansson has scored at least 20 goals twice and has totaled at least 40 points five times to go along with one 50-point year. Just two years ago, the Swede had 24-34-58 in a career season, his final with the Capitals.

New Jersey will retain 40% of Johansson’s salary too (he now has a cap hit of $2.75-millions), which helps the Bruins avoid overages that could eat up cap space for next season. These overages could have been a possibility given the number of players the Bruins have on entry-level deals who are eligible for bonuses based off individual and team performance.

As for what the Bruins gave up, the second-rounder is the key piece for the Devils while losing the fourth-rounder doesn’t hurt too much, considering the prospect pool is still pretty well-stocked. What’s important here is that Sweeney was able to hold on to the first-round pick this year without surrendering significant prospects, so that’s a win.

Bruins sign Lee Stempniak

Grade: C+

On Sunday, the Bruins signed Stempniak to a one-year, $650,000 contract; the 36-year-old had been skating with the Bruins all season during practices before recently joining Providence on a PTO. Shortly after signing, the Dartmouth College product was placed on waivers with the purpose of being assigned to Providence.

Stempniak suited up in a few preseason games with the Bruins and had a goal and two assists (his power-play goal is at 1:43 of the video below). In Providence this year, Stempniak has 2-2-4 in four games played. The winger is also two seasons removed from 16-24-40 totals with Carolina after a year in which he had 19-32-51 between New Jersey and Boston (three goals and 10 points with the Bruins in 19 games played). So, he might even be able to chip in a few goals like Brian Gionta last year.

This move isn’t much at all, really. Think of Stempniak as last year’s Gionta; he’s a cheap, depth insurance policy, who costs nothing but cash and may step in for a few games in a pinch. Stempniak gets another shot to live his dream, and the Bruins add to their depth; a status quo move–no issues to be had here.

Bruins acquire Charlie Coyle for Ryan Donato and a 2019 conditional 5th-round pick

Grade: B

The first domino to fall for the Bruins, Coyle has already played a game for the Bruins while Johansson will play tomorrow. The 26-year-old always seemed to leave something to be desired in Minnesota, in spite of flashes he’s shown here and there.

The Boston University product has 10-18-28 totals this season in 61 games played and is on pace for 13 goals and 37 points. Like Johansson, Coyle brings versatility to the Bruins’ lineup as he can play anywhere in the middle-six at either wing or center, but in a different way as Coyle is a bigger, heavier player. The East Weymouth, MA native, had a decent outing in his Bruins debut, including this slick shootout goal:

Coyle has previously scored at least 15 goals twice, including one twenty-goal year, and has totaled at least 40 points twice, including one fifty-point season. So, he’s shown flashes of what he can do. The forward has a cap hit of $3.2-million through the end of next season, so he adds flexibility to the Bruins’ salary structure for next season as well.

In terms of what the Bruins surrendered, it sucks to see Donato go, honestly. The Harvard product is still a fine prospect with an elite, accurate shot. The 22-year-old isn’t necessarily the fastest skater, and is a one-dimensional player as of right now, though; however, the Bruins did not really do much to develop his weaknesses and defensive inefficiencies. Also, Donato was never really in a position to thrive with the Bruins as he was merely utilized on either the third or fourth lines and the power play, really.

As for the pick, it can become a fourth-rounder in 2019 (NYR) if the Bruins advance to the second round of the playoffs. I won’t lose sleep over giving up a fifth or fourth-round pick, but what is annoying is the condition put on it since the Bruins had a solid chance of winning a round in the first place.

Overall Trade Deadline Grade: B

While the Bruins did address there two most glaring issues this season, you can’t help but feel a little disappointed after the Bruins reportedly lost out on Gustav Nyquist and did not acquire a big fish, like Mark Stone, who they were reportedly very interested in. However, adding Coyle, Johansson, and Stempniak only adds to the depth of the team as Coyle and Johansson could be very impactful players for the Bruins with Stempniak as insurance.

All in all, not a bad Trade Deadline for Don Sweeney and the Bruins, but not a great one either–just solid. With the Bruins hitting their stride lately with a 13-game point streak, adding to this rolling team just makes it that much more formidable going forward, We’ll just have to wait and see how things pan out down the stretch and into the playoffs for this year’s Bruins team.

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Boston Bruins: Marcus Johansson Is Not A Bad Consolation Prize

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images-Mike Stobe

By: Michael DeRosa | Check me out on Twitter @michael_derosa4

He may not be Mark Stone or Artemi Panarin, but Marcus Johansson is a solid addition to the Boston Bruins. At the final minutes of the Trade Deadline, the Bruins finally brought in their much needed forward. To secure Johansson’s services, the  Bruins parted ways with this season’s second-round pick, as well as their 2020 fourth-round pick. This is a pretty small price for a player of Johansson’s caliber. In 48 games this season, Johansson has 12 goals and a fairly impressive 27 points.

One important factor to note about Johansson is that he has been playing on a Devils team that has struggled immensely to put up any offense. This is displayed by the fact that they are in the bottom portion of the Eastern Conference standings. However, Johansson truly could see his offensive numbers spike, especially with him expected to join the second-line. This may change when David Pastrnak comes back, but that is not expected to occur for at least another two weeks. That is a major reason why a trade for Johansson needed to happen now.

When observing this roster all season, it has been clear that secondary scoring was desperately needed. Nobody has been able to slot into the second-line effectively, but Johansson should be able to do so. In a worst-case scenario, Johansson could end up playing on the third line with the newly acquired Charlie Coyle. That certainly would not look bad either, as it is clear that they have added a significant depth piece to this fine roster.

Johansson also is a player who has had a lot of playoff experience because of his tenure with the Washington Capitals. Although he was not part of the team during their Stanley Cup win last postseason, he played in them consistently since the start of his career. In 72 career playoff games, he has registered 30 points. That definitely does not scream clutch, but it is essential to remember that his playing time was limited throughout a lot of their postseason runs. His best postseason came in 2017 when he registered 8 points in 13 games, due to the fact that he had a much bigger role that year. Oh, and he scored the series-winning goal against the Leafs that postseason.

There is absolutely no question that the idea of adding a superstar to the team this Trade Deadline was one that many fans were yearning for. Although the Bruins are legitimate contenders, they have a serious uphill battle with teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning in their way. However, they clearly made the right call with this move. Instead of throwing away at least one top prospect, a roster player and their first-round pick for a rental, they kept the team together and made them far deeper. This is a trade that has far less of a risk factor than last year’s Rick Nash one as well.

At the end of the day, it is exciting that Johansson is part of the team. He has a wonderful chance to play with some spectacular players in Boston. There is no question that Jake DeBrusk will love to have another passer on his line. This will provide him with more scoring opportunities. When looking at this team now versus a week ago, they truly are far deeper and are poised to make some noise in the postseason. Overall, General Manager Don Sweeney does deserve some praise for this last-minute deal, instead of the harsh criticism that seems to be coming his way.

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