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

don-sweeney

(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!!

The Bruins’ Top-Six: Best Deadline Transactions

By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

Black N Gold Hockey Podcast website is proud to announce a new, recurring series in the rotation of entertaining articles: The Bruins’ Top Six.  In honor of the passing of the 2020 NHL trade deadline, the inaugural listing will be on the Bruins’ best Trade Deadline acquisitions of all time.

As part of the NHL’s “Original Six,” the Boston Bruins organization has a long and storied past. The hockey club has been in operation since 1924 and has participated in over 6,500 regular-season games, earning post-season appearances in 72 of those years. The crew went through all recorded trades that the Bruins participated in thanks to documentation by NHL Trade Tracker to pick the best and most influential Trade Deadline transactions made by the club. First things first, the trade must have occurred within six weeks of the NHL trade deadline of that year so readers will not find big trades such as the one that brought Cam Neely to Beantown.

6.) Dennis Seidenberg Poached from Florida

( Photo Credit: NBC Sports Boston )

Regular Season (Playoff) Stats with Bruins: GP – 401, G – 23, Pts – 117, +/- 54 (GP – 50, G – 2, Pts – 15, +/- 14)

The Bruins acquired Dennis Seidenberg before the Trade Deadline in 2010 from the Florida Panthers along with Matt Bartkowski for Byron Bitz, Craig Weller and the Bruins’ second-round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Following the 2004 – 2005 lockout season, Seidenberg became an NHL full-timer with the Philadelphia Flyers.

A bit of a journeyman, he played for three teams in the span of five seasons due to various trades. Seidenberg was seen as a defenseman who would help better balance the D-corps by playing with Zdeno Chara on the right side of the rink. Matt Bartkowski ultimately failed to grab a spot with the Bruins and none of Bitz, Weller or 36th overall pick in the 2010 draft and current Providence Bruin, Alex Petrovic played any meaningful minutes for Florida.

Seidenberg played 17 games in that first season but was injured and missed the entirety of the playoffs which featured the historic collapse to the Philadelphia Flyers. The following season, Seidenberg became a household name in New England as he notched career highs in all offensive categories and helped lead the B’s back-end during the run to the Stanley Cup by logging 27:38 minutes of ice-time over all of the Bruins’ 25 games.

Behind only Chara, Seidenberg’s ice-time trailed the Captain by a mere second per game. The trade locked in one of the key pieces to the championship team in 2011. He also scored at least one goal from center ice three seasons, so that alone should get him into the top-six.

5.) Local Boys Swapped in Deal for Charlie Coyle

( Photo Credit: YouTube )

Regular Season (Playoff) Stats with Bruins: GP – 84, G – 17, Pts – 40, +/- 32 (GP – 24, G – 9, Pts – 16, +/- 8)

The B’s flipped promising forward Ryan Donato and a conditional pick that ultimately became a fourth-round selection in the 2019 Entry Draft to the Minnesota Wild for center and East Weymouth native Charlie Coyle. Originally drafted by the San Jose Sharks 28th overall in 2010, Coyle was the Wild’s centerpiece in the trade for Brent Burns in the 2011 off-season. Coyle broke into the league during the 2012 – 2013 season while splitting time between the NHL and AHL and never looked back the following year as he proved himself an NHL regular.

Donato came out of the gate quickly for Minnesota but has since shown the same defensive and effort related issues that plagued him in Boston. The pick in the deal was exchanged to Carolina in order to help Minnesota move up to the second round so that they could draft Hunter Jones, a goalie prospect in the Ontario Hockey League.

Since the trade, Coyle has proven to be a versatile top-nine forward that helped the cement the Bruins’ depth chart up the middle of the ice.  He has played spot time at wing in various line combinations. Despite an underwhelming early tenure that saw him post two goals, six points and a minus two rating, Coyle turned it in on in the 2019 playoffs scoring some big goals, particularly in the second round against the Columbus Blue Jackets, ultimately potting nine tallies that were tied for most on the team.

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Coyle is a serviceable player and seen as a stop-gap in Boston, evidenced by his five-year contract extension that will see him in the Black n’ Gold until 2026. He will help man the middle lane for the foreseeable future, as the Bruins transition from Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci to players like Jack Studnicka and John Beecher.

4.) Ray Bourque Given a Chance to Win

( Photo Credit: Globe Staff Lane Turner )

Regular Season (Playoff) Stats with Bruins: GP – 1,518, G – 395, Pts – 1,506, +/- 493 (GP – 180, G – 36, Pts – 161, +/- 14)

All-time great Ray Bourque was mercifully traded to the powerhouse Colorado Avalanche from a wallowing Bruins team that he dragged to mediocrity along with Dave Andreychuk for Martin Grenier, Samuel Pahlsson, Brian Rolston and a pick that eventually become Martin Samuelsson.

Grenier and Samuelsson never really put it together in the NHL, Pahlsson was jettisoned by B’s management in the first season of the millennium to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks where he helped the franchise capture an NHL title in 2007, Rolston carved out a solid career but left the Bruins following the lockout, save for a brief reunion in the 2011 -2012 season. On the other side of the ledger, Andreychuk left Colorado following the 2000 playoffs and Bourque led the star-studded roster to a Championship in 2001.

This trade entered the annals of folk-legend, in part because it exemplified a management team trying to find a way to get a long-time and faithful soldier to the promise land as repayment for years of loyalty and dedication while the organization continuously failed to put contending pieces together. The Bruins limited themselves to the best of the NHL teams of the time and took a below market-value return to make the move happen. The gesture would become synonymous with the relationships that management and core players develop in the Bruins organization even through the present day.

3.) Fresh Start for Adam Oates

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Regular Season (Playoff) Stats with Bruins: GP – 368, G – 142, Pts – 499, +/- 22 (GP – 42, G – 11, Pts – 48, +/- -18)

Following a contract dispute between the St. Louis Blues and star center Adam Oates related to perceived discrepancies in pay, Blues management offloaded the disgruntled Oates in exchange for Boston’s Craig Janney and Stephane Quintal. Before the trade, Oates had been a key cog in the Blues’ offensive machine for two seasons, helping Brett Hull to Rocket Richard awards in both years.

Despite the reports of Oates’ malcontent demeanor, the Bruins acquired him to help provide offensive pop and complement stars like Cam Neely and Bourque. Janney established himself as an above-average playmaker as he bounced around the league and Quintal ultimately played a stay-at-home role in more than 1,000 regular-season contests with six different teams.

In each season Oates was with the team, the Bruins made the playoffs despite Neely’s injury-plagued decline in the first half of the 1990s. He led the league in assists during the season in which he racked up his career-high in points with 97 and 142 respectively. Oates signed a lucrative deal with the Bruins, but again felt he was underpaid.

When his contemptuous dealings with B’s brass began, they elected to rid themselves of the headache and traded him to the Washington Capitals during the ’96 – ’97 season. Oates was a star in his own right and a 21-time nominee for the Lady Byng award, but his relationship with management, in general, was anything but gentlemanly. This served only to leave a blemish on the talented forward’s legacy.

2.) Carol Vadnais Reinforces Big Bad Blue-Line

( Photo Credit: NESN.com )

Regular Season (Playoff) Stats with Bruins: GP – 263, G – 47, Pts – 181, +/- 67 (GP – 39, G – two, Pts – 21, +/- 12)

Prior to the 1972 playoffs, the Bruins determined that they would need additional depth on their blue-line behind their top pair of Bobby Orr and Dallas Smith. The club entered and won a bidding war with the Montreal Canadiens for the right to acquire the California Golden Seals’ Carol Vadnais and Don O’Donoghue in exchange for forward Reggie Leach and defensemen Rick Smith and Bob Stewart.

Vadnais would anchor the B’s second pair for the rest of that season and support a successful cup run during the year. He would play another solid three years and change until he was traded to the New York Rangers in 1975. Smith and Stewart fell to relative obscurity and Leach became a star forward in the National Hockey League, although with the Philadelphia Flyers after his time with the Golden Seals.

Since the trade dealt a future prolific scorer in Leach for an understated defenseman, its sometimes considered a poor one for the B’s. This is with the luxury of hindsight and retrospect. Vadnais, who passed away in 2014, was a steady presence on the Bruins blue-line for a team with eight 20-plus goal-scoring forwards that wanted to win now and had a need elsewhere on the roster. Pundits like to talk about which team won a particular deal, but at the heart of every hockey trade, both teams ought to be winning.

Although the Seals wouldn’t hold on to the asset, one of the futures they dealt for did turn out and the Bruins received the support they desired for the playoffs. In this regard, Vadnais represents a near-perfect deadline acquisition; he was meant to bolster the back end for a playoff run that culminated in a Cup win. He did just that and even stuck around for a few years after.

1.) Mentorship and Experience in Mark Recchi

( Photo Credit: ICON SMI )

Regular Season (Playoff) Stats with Bruins: GP – 180, G – 42, Pts – 107, +/- 14 (GP – 49, G – 14, Pts – 16, +/- 30)

In March of 2009, the Boston Bruins swapped Martins Karsums and Matt Lashoff for Mark Recchi and a second-round pick. This Chiarelli move would prove to be a shrewd one, as Mark Recchi would play valuable top-six minutes en route to a Stanley Cup two years later and the pick would be packaged with other minor pieces in the above Seidenberg trade. Karsums and Lashoff would both fail to become full-time NHLers with the former eventually bolting to the KHL in 2010 and the latter mostly toiling in the AHL while bouncing around continents.

Mark Recchi signed two team-friendly, one-year deals with the Bruins during the 2009 and 2010 off-seasons. Under head coach Claude Julien, he was ultimately assigned to line 1b duty with non-other than current top-line players Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron forming a defensively sound combination that was able to contribute offensively. Aside from his on-ice contributions, Recchi had a profound effect on the team’s chemistry and locker room environment. Bergeron credits him with becoming the leader he is today. 

While his performance on the ice was limited in comparison to his previous achievements, he helped to set the tone for the 2011 Championship and the continued excellence demonstrated by the organization’s core players before riding off into the sunset with the Cup in his saddle.

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!!

Boston Bruins Acquire F Ondrej Kase From Anaheim

Boston Bruins v Anaheim Ducks

PHOTO CREDITS: (Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

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

With the NHL Trade Deadline only days away, the Boston Bruins have made their first deal, sending forward David Backes, defenseman Axel Andersson and a 1st-round pick in the upcoming 2020 NHL Entry Draft to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward Ondrej Kase.

In addition to the deal, the Bruins are also retaining twenty-five percent of Backes’ $6 million salary. Backes, 35, has only played in 16 games for the Bruins this season, scoring one goal and two assists. Backes was sent down to the Providence Bruins but failed to play a game for the AHL club. With other players on the roster performing better than the veteran, the Bruins organization felt it was time to move on from Backes and send him back to the Western Conference where he began his NHL career.

Boston is also sending defenseman Axel Andersson to the Ducks as a piece of this deal. Andersson, 20, was drafted 57th overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the Bruins and has played the 2019-20 campaign in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with the Moncton Wildcats where he has 2-20-22 numbers in 41 games.

So, what do the Bruins get in return? Ondrej Kase is a 24-year-old right-winger that was drafted in the seventh-round (207th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Anaheim Ducks. Since his draft, the 5-foot-11, 186-pound forward has played in 198 regular-season games, scoring 43 goals and 53 assists for 96 points.

This season, Kase has 7-16-23 numbers in 49 games with the struggling Ducks, averaging a career-high 16:47 of ice-time per game. Contract wise, Kase will save the Bruins a lot of money especially considering the departure of David Backes in the move. The Kadan, Czech Republic native has a cap hit of $2.6 million until the conclusion of the 2020-2021 season. The newfound cap space may be used to reel in another trade target or opens up a window to re-sign defenseman Torey Krug as well as the other expiring contracts throughout the roster.

As of right now, Kase fits perfectly on Boston’s second-line alongside Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci and would likely be a solid upgrade from Karson Kuhlman who currently holds that position. The trade still leaves some opening for another acquisition before Monday’s deadline if General Manager Don Sweeney still has something under his sleeve, but regardless, it appears the Bruins are winners in this one.

As the days and the hours count down until the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline, make sure to stay locked on blackngoldhockey.com for the latest Boston Bruins news as the race for the postseason gets hotter and hotter. Also, make sure to follow me on Twitter (@tkdmaxbjj) and everyone else on the site for up-to-date information and news.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 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!!

The Arms Race In The East, And How It Affects The Bruins

( Photo Credit: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer )


By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

 

With just days to go until the Trade Deadline, the dominos have already begun to fall. Teams have been gearing up for the great battle that is the Stanley Cups Playoffs. In the West, we’ve seen a few moves to bolster some already strong roster. The Canucks went out and acquired Tyler Toffoli, the Jets nabbed Dylan Demelo from Ottawa and Vegas added Alec Martinez. But the biggest story as of now has been the massive arms race that’s been shaping up the in the Bruins’ Conference.

On February 5th, the arms race began and has already paid dividends for the teams involved. The Toronto Maple Leafs kicked it all off when they fixed two of their biggest issue, toughness and backup goaltending. They received that aid in the form of Kyle Clifford and Jack Campbell from LA. In doing so, they gave up young forward Trevor Moore and a pair of 3rd rounders (one of which has the chance to bump up to a 2nd if conditions are met). The two have fit right in, Jack Campbell is 3-0-1 between the pipes and Clifford has added nice grit in their bottom-six.

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 23: Minnesota Wild left wing Jason Zucker (16) screens Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) on the power play during a game between the Boston Bruins and the Minnesota Wild on November 23, 2019, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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

A few days later, we saw the always active Jim Rutherford and the Pittsburg Penguins find a replacement for the injured Jake Guentzel when they acquired Jason Zucker from the Wild. Minnesota received a nice haul for the forward with a 2020 1st round pick, Calen Addison (a top prospect in Pittsburgh’s system) and the struggling Alex Galchenyuk. Zucker has been awesome since sporting the Penguins’ colors and has three goals and an assist in four games.

After losing Adam Pelech to injury, the New York Islanders shored up their defense and gave veteran Andy Greene a new home, sending a 2nd rounder and Dave Quenneville to the New Jersey Devils. Greene has helped off the bat, contributing an assist in his first game. The hottest team in the league, the Tampa Bay Lightning, made a big splash with the aforementioned Devils when they acquired Blake Coleman for the big package of Nolan Foote and a 1st round pick. And just recently, the Capitals added the physical Brendon Dillon from the Sharks for a 2nd and 3rd rounder.

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

( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports )

So with three of the four top teams in the East (as well as two contenders) all making moves, it’s crucial the Bruins don’t fall behind. The acquisitions of Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson last season proved that when moves are made right, they have huge pay-offs. The Bruins yet again need to make a move to keep up, and that move needs to be for some help upfront.

With Tyler Toffoli recently dealt to the Canucks, that leaves one less option for Boston to add, so what’s left? For guys that can play in the top-six, we have Chris Kreider, Mike Hoffman, and my personal favorite, Kyle Palmieri. As we’ve seen from the trades already made, the prices for impact players are as high as they’ve ever been. You’d have to think that the three listed would go for a 1st rounder, plus a variety of players, prospects, and picks.

If the Bruins choose to balk at those prices, some second-tier options would be the likes of Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Josh Anderson, Ondrej Kase a the duo of Predators in Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith. I’d assume the baseline for these players would be similar to the price the Bruins paid for Marcus Johansson at last year’s deadline, a 2nd rounder plus a sweetener. Some help in the bottom-six (which really shouldn’t be a priority) could have options like Vladislav Namestnikov, Derek Grant, Barclay Goodrow, Wayne Simmonds or maybe even Joe Thornton. Much of the East has already made improvements so Boston, you’re up.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 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!!

The Bruins’ Last Minute Trade Options

(Photo Credit: Yahoo! News / news.yahoo.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

The clock seems to be ticking for Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney as breaking news alerts continue to show another potential trade target being shipped off to another team. Even though big names like Blake Coleman, Tyler Toffoli, and Brendan Dillon are now off the market, there are still more options available on the trade block for Sweeney to make a move before the deadline. The one name the Bruins nation is waiting on, Chris Kreider.

The Big Names Still On The Market

Kreider not only brings the talent and speed that makes him a top-six forward in any lineup, but he brings a large 6’3″, 226-pound frame that will surely help the Bruins in games against heavier teams like the Washington Capitals or St.Louis Blues. Even though Kreider seems like an excellent fit for the Bruins, he does carry a cap hit of $4M+, which may hurt the Bruins if they were to try and re-sign him in the off-season as he’s projected to make around $7M+. Kreider has been on a tear recently, potting 3 goals and 4 points in his past 5 games while maintaining a +2 rating. The original asking price for Kreider is a first-round pick, a possible conditional draft pick, and an NHL ready prospect. Because of recent trades, Kreider’s trade value has skyrocketed, making it more difficult for Sweeney to negotiate a deal that doesn’t involve giving up too many valuable assets.

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Another rumored trade piece still on the market for the Bruins is Kyle Palmieri. The 29-year-old, 5’11 195-pound natural right-winger is one of the most underrated players this season. Even on a struggling Devils’ team, Palmieri has produced 22 goals, and 41 points with a +2 rating in just 55 games played this season. Palmieri also has 10 power-play goals this season, only one away from his previous high of 11. He is also maintaining an impressive shot percentage of 16.5% this season, so far surpassing his previous high of 13.5% in the 2016-2017 season.

With Palmieri currently averaging a career-high 0.75 points a game this season, the Bruins could use his scoring depth to strengthen the Krejci or Coyle line. Palmieri would be more than a rental, as he has one year left on his $4.65M contract. His current contract may not seem too threatening to the Bruins cap space at first glance, but with less than $20M in cap space available after this season, it will still be difficult for the Bruins to re-sign players like Debrusk and Krug, with or without Palmieri’s cap hit. Since New Jersey traded forward Blake Coleman, the Devils now may not have a reason to part ways with their top producer anymore.

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Other Potential Targets That Could Help The Bruins

There are other potential trade targets the Bruins could engage in that may not require surrendering too many valuable assets.

For scoring depth, the Bruins have had their eyes on 5’11, 186-pound right-winger Ondrej Kase since January, and for the right price, Kase could be the best option if the Bruins were to pick up another forward. While Kase’s numbers may not look pretty on-paper, he has a fantastic set of wheels that could match DeBrusk’s speed and also gives the Bruins another option on the penalty-kill and possibly the power-play as well. Kase has yet to play an entire 82-game season though, the most games he’s suited up for in a single season was during the 2017-2018 season with 66 games played. During the 2017-2018 season, Kase’s sophomore season in the NHL, he eclipsed 20 goals and 38 points with an impressive +18 rating, proving he’s a defensively responsible forward as well. So far this season, Kase’s point production stands with 7 goals and 23 points with a -7 rating in 49 games played with the rebuilding Anaheim Ducks.

Other than scoring depth, the Bruins may also look into players that will add size and grit, especially for the playoffs with Kevan Miller most likely out for the remainder of the season. Forward Josh Anderson is currently on the trade block, and according to Joe Haggerty of NBC Sports, the Bruins have been keeping a close eye on Anderson.

Josh Anderson, the 6’3, 222-pound winger was an absolute force last season producing 27 goals, 47 points, +25 rating, and an astounding 214 hits. Unfortunately, he has only played in 26 games so far this season due to a shoulder injury. Although his production severely regressed so far this season (1 goal and 4 points), it was proven last season and during the playoffs that he is one of the hardest players in the league to play against. Not only will Anderson bring the size and physicality the Bruins need, but he brings promising offensive talent that could fill the hole on the right-wing beside David Krejci.

Go-All-In Or Trust The System?

It’s no secret what the Bruins are looking for to improve their team before the deadline, but will it be worth giving up possible valuable assets for a rental? The Bruins proved last year that they have enough roster depth overall to survive the injury bug that left players like Pastrnak, McAvoy, Bergeron, etc., out for considerable time and continued to win games with the “next man up” mentality.

Although Boston’s core players are not getting any younger, there is still a lot of risk in going all-in for one player, especially after the 2018 Rick Nash trade that ended up going sideways due to Nash’s concussion problems. The Bruins have the competitive spirit and hockey talent from both their NHL and AHL rosters, to climb back up to the Stanley Cup Finals if they can rally around each other and continue to trust the system. The Bruins may not have the luxury of avoiding Tampa and Washington in the playoffs again, but they certainly have the talent to beat any team in the NHL.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 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!!

Bruins Should Go All-In At The Trade Deadline

By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

 

The Boston Bruins fancy themselves contenders for a National Hockey League title which would see them the first group to have their names etched into the Stanley Cup for the decade. Most of the hockey world would agree with their position seeing that as of their February 16th, 2020 win against the New York Rangers, they sit atop of their division and the League’s standings with 84 points on the back of a 36-11-12 record. However, the Tampa Bay Lightning have rebounded after a brutal start and sit only 3 points behind and the Toronto Maple Leafs seem to be finding their groove. The path to the Eastern Conference Finals most likely features one of the star-studded teams in blue and white so the Bruins may as well swing for the fences before the Trade Deadline on February 24, 2020.

The Bruins lay claim to the Leagues 5th worst Expected Goals For (xGF) in the league. While this is partially offset by a stellar 3rd place position in Expected Goals Against (xGA) the fact of the matter is that both of their division rivals sport more potent offenses, especially the deep forward corps of the Lightning. More notably, the Lighting feature a similar defensive profile and it’s reflected in their numbers. This means the B’s will be in it for a forward, as so many are predicting. Why stop there though? The Bruins should buck expectation and bolster their top-nine by being aggressive and grabbing two… at least.

Why Not Have it All?

In upgrading their forward group, the consensus is that the B’s are gunning for Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers. If they miss out on the deadline prize, the pundits proclaim, then they will settle for secondary rental options like, Kyle Palmieri on the New Jersey Devils, Ondrej Kase in Anaheim, or Ilya Kovalchuck who they could have had for the cost of a roster spot and .0002% of Charlie Jacobs net worth (read: essentially free). Candidates are becoming fewer and farther between as Tyler Toffoli, Blake Coleman and Jason Zucker have all found new homes in the past week. The trade price of Kreider has been previously been reported as a first-round round pick and a top prospect and may have increased since, per Pierre Lebrun.

That’s a nice chunk of change, no doubt in a draft year that scouts are proclaiming will yield a deep crop of young talent, per the contributors at The Hockey News. The market on the other forwards has likely been set by the Toffoli deal that saw the Kings bring in Tim Schaller on an expiring contract, a good prospect’s signing rights in Tyler Madden, a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL draft and a conditional fourth-rounder contingent on the Vancouver Canucks signing the 28-year-old right-wing. If those prices hold and the teams are still looking to sell, the B’s may possess the currency to deal for Kreider and one of the “second-tier” options, specifically Kyle Palmieri.

What Would the Prices Translate To?

Consider a total trade package consisting of the Bruins’ 2020 first-round pick, a roster player such as Danton Heinen and prospects such as Urho Vaakenainen or Trent Frederic for the Blueshirt’s Chris Kreider. Is that a palatable rental arrangement if you’re Don Sweeny? Alternatively, you have a package similar to a 2020 second-round pick and Jakob Zboril, Jakub Louko or possibly even Zach Senyshyn for one of the second-tier options. Which would you pick? Again, the answer is both. Let’s delve into the reasons why.

The Cap Situation is Getting Murkier

On the Bruins’ current roster, eight players will need new deals or replacements.  This figure does not include Kevan Miller’s expiring contract, as he seems destined to spend the entirety of this season on the Long-Term Injured Reserve list, taking him to free agency.  This situation leaves approximately $18M to distribute over 8 players, two spots of which represent the player with the second-highest Time on Ice on the Penalty Kill and a back-up goaltending position that has become of increasingly more important to the B’s, if not to all teams across the league. Obvious new deals include the resigning of Torey Krug and Jake Debrusk, which will most likely eat $11 – $12 million of that for at least the next few years.  With only six million in cap space, the Bruins will have to, most likely, replace Zdeno Chara, Joakim Nordstrom, Jaroslav Halak, potentially Matt Grzelyck and almost certainly one of Karson Kuhlman, Anders Bjork or Danton Heinen. 

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None of this considers a David Backes buyout or retained salary trade, which is to say one way or another, the Bruins will be carrying dead cap space immediately after the Matt Belesky and Dennis Seidenberg money was to come off the books. With so many question marks in the future, why not take stock of what’s important to the organization (also known as Jack Studnicka, Jeremy Swayman and potentially John Beecher), identify your roster’s weaknesses today and deal from a position of strength to address them for a long run? The deals on the highest-profile trade targets are expiring after the season allowing for cap flexibility to either resign home-grown players, re-sign the acquired players or dip into the free-agent market.

The Core is Getting Older (For Real This Time)

The remnants of the 2011 Cup-winning team are all into their 30’s. Brad Marchand, the youngest of the bunch, is 31 and will be 36 when his deal expires. Chara will most likely not be resigned, whether he wants to hang ‘em up or not, and will become an Unrestricted Free Agent at the ripe age of 43. Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Tuukka Rask round out the veteran leaders. All of these players still fill irreplaceable roles on the squad, no matter how much flak Krejci and Rask take from the local supporters. If management wants to give their team the best chance to win, it’s today because tomorrow doesn’t look great according to statistics.

Below, one can inspect the average values of players’ Expected Goals For +/-, which is an aggregate number of Expected Goals-For and -Against – a stat based on comparing shots generated or yielded in specific locations with league-wide shooting percentages from those locations at even strength –  for the seasons including and between 2014 – 2015 and 2019 – 2020. Included were only those players who played in 25 or more games in each of those seasons and the data was split between forwards and defense. The trend is quite clear. (All Stats aggregated from Hockey Reference and manipulated by the author as described above).

Along with the bulk of the line, one can clearly identify the downward trend for both groups of skaters. Anomalies occur on the two extremes of age where we see individual performances from the likes of Connor McDavid and Jaromir Jagr, indicating well-above-average skill, at ages with few samples dominate the averages. That the B’s core skaters are still on the good side of this curve is a testament to their quality. Even the oft-maligned Krejci has proven to be the team’s best option on the 2nd line in the 1b role. As seen below, however, their implied effectiveness is slowing down.

Everyone understands the physical beating that Chara, Krejci, and Bergeron have taken in support of the organization’s success. Brad Marchand will only follow that script as he accumulates more years, games and negative attention from opposing defenses. Expected goals for is not an end-all, be-all number, there are other reasons Jagr is no longer in the League, but it is a solid indicator of a player’s contribution to the team. This regressive trend punctuates the point that if the team is going to win with these players, this year might as well be their year.

Bruins Thin on the Wings

Beyond players named David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand who comprise 66% of the highly touted top line, the team’s biggest weakness it on the wing. This weakness is of the physical variety and in terms of their underlying performance. Much has been made about the Bruins’ apparent lack of size against opponents like the Washington Capitals, the Tampa Bay Lightning and last year’s Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues. The places where that differential is most important though is exactly where you need your wingers to spend most of their time: the corners of the offensive zone and around the opposing netminder’s crease. Heinen isn’t terrible at controlling the puck in those tight spaces and Bjork’s board play has improved by leaps and bounds, but in reality, physical size is still a variable that needs to be considered in a high octane contact sport. Here we see how the Bruins’ wingers compare to the teams of the Eastern Conference that are either in or in striking distance from a playoff position by team average (excluding goaltenders) and then the average of their defensive players.

No question, the Bruins wingers are at a size disadvantage, particularly when considering the opposing teams’ defensive players. Boston’s presented figure is actually lifted by the inclusion of Sean Kuraly who ordinarily plays center but his found himself on the wing for parts of this season. It isn’t enough to have a willingness to go to the net or engage in battles; one must possess that tenacity but also the physical traits that will prevent the player from being shucked off of the puck or out of inside position. The big prize of the deadline, Kreider will add physical size and not sacrifice much if not anything in regards to foot speed. Palmieri might not swing the numbers on size but he provides excellent offensive prowess and aside from the top line wingers, the Bruins lack impact forwards that don’t man the middle of the ice.

Boston’s wingers, broadly sport poor possession metrics, indicated by their Fenwick-For Relative, which is a measure of how a player impacts unblocked shots. Outside of Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, only three wingers that have played at least 25 games (outside of Karson Kuhlman who was on the shelf for most of the first half of the season) are influencing the flow of play in a positive manner and all of those forwards have a metric below one suggesting they do not have much of an impact. The average for that group in the 2019 – 2020 season is -1.9 against the average for all forwards on those same playoff teams of .3. Against wingers on that group of teams over the same time period, the average Fenwick-For Relative is .1. Less to be sure, but by and large, all of the forwards on teams in the East expected to make noise are having a positive impact on possession or at least, not a negative one.

Here again, the addition of both Kreider and Palmieri immediately addresses the need for wingers that help control play. They sport sterling possession metrics across the board and would lift the team’s ability to control play on both wings. If management is going to subject poor David Krejci to a revolving door of line-mates, they might as well keep that portal twirling and stick these two above average, in-their-prime players in there and hope for some magic. Don’t care for “fancy stats?” Well, Kreider would immediately rank 4th in points on the team while Palmieri would be 5th. They would bring a collective 45 goals on the season with little to suggest their production will slow down on a superior team headed to the playoffs.

Little Evidence that the D-Corps Needs an Upgrade

The Bruin’s defense has been one of the most under-sung successes of the year. In some ways, like goals-against average, defensive metrics can be a team stat incorporating efforts from the forwards and goalies in addition to the blue-liners. Regardless, the Bruins sport one of the best-expected goals-against metrics in the League and the 3rd best actual vs expected goals against differential, behind Colorado and Tampa Bay. Torey Krug is still one of the premier power-play quarterbacks, Charlie McAvoy has started to find twine, Brandon Carlo is reminding all who really follow the team that he isn’t some 3rd rate talent behind the B’s 14th overall pick in 2016 and the rest of the cast is providing great support both on five on five and on special teams. Furthermore, options on the trade market are dwindling as Marco Scandella and Brenden Dillion have both moved from selling teams to contenders.

In an ideal world, the Bruins would acquire a depth option to add to the top-6 defenders that would address some size concerns and perhaps take some pressure off of Chara and Carlo on the PK. This is not an ideal world however and there are other teams seeking to do the same. In such a case the Bruins management ought to focus on the primary roster weaknesses addressed above

Five on Five Scoring wins Championships

Gone are the days when B’s fans could tout that their team was “built for the playoffs.” This current roster relies far too heavily on the power-play to get into the win column and love it or hate it, the way that referees interpret the rules in the playoffs changes. Fewer penalties are called, period. One only needs to look at the Bruins’ game seven defeat in 2019 against the St. Louis Blues. The only penalty called was a mandatory puck-over-glass delay of game against Colton Parayko. Although there was plenty of physicality, clutching and grabbing the rest of the game, only the Blues managed to score the meaningful even-strength goals.

In order to accomplish that, you need a top-six set of forwards that will force opposing teams to make choices instead of shutting down one troika for the duration of even-strength play in the playoffs. Providing Krejci not one, but two, real offensive threats that will get to the danger areas and use speed and tenacity to provide him time and space is imperative to forcing hard decisions on even strength coverage. The positive impact on Krejci’s line alone would sure up the third line that has been relatively weak when compared to seasons between 2010 and 2013 where versatile options like Michael Ryder, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly, among others, combined to create fantastic checking lines with the ability to chip in on the score sheet. One of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak or Patrice Bergeron may win the Conn Smythe, but one player (or even all three) will not win the Stanley Cup.

If the Bruins are to return to the Cup Final for a second consecutive year, they must realize that they will face tougher competition than the year prior and ensure that they add reinforcements that will truly address their roster weaknesses. With salary cap uncertainty, flexibility will remain of the utmost importance so a rental option is likely to be considered. The core of the group is certainly deep into their back nine in terms of both time under contract and ineffectiveness. Their defense, while flawed in some ways, is the envy of all but perhaps 5 teams in the entire league and they are bolstered by proven, above-average goaltending. With all of these things considered, the B’s should go all-in on Chris Kreider and Kyle Palmieri (or someone who is available and similar) to address their weaknesses with conviction.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 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!!

Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast Episode 165

By: Mark Allred  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Hosts Heather Ingerson and Mark Allred got back in the studio to talk Boston Bruins and a few other hockey-related topics. We started recording this episode 165 before the afternoon tilt against the Detriot Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena in Motown and finished at the beginning of the second period. I know most Boston Bruins fans don’t want to relive the memory of losing a road game to the last-place team in the league as Boston sits atop the best league in the world. Just a minor bump in the road and hope we figure it out before the next game on Wednesday night at TD Garden against the Montreal Canadians and Saturday with yet another afternoon tilt against the bottom-dwelling Red Wings.

Please give a listen to our Bruins banter below in episode 165 as Heather and myself talk about last week’s games and the upcoming week for our beloved National Hockey League Boston Bruins. Below is a timeframe of when the discussion changes to a new hockey related topic.

  1. Intro – 00:00
  2. Upcoming Bruins Schedule – 26:45
  3. Carlo Steps Away For Family Matter, And Overall Play – 39:40
  4. Heinen Misses Four Straight Games As Speculation Heats Up – 51:11
  5. Kuraly-Coyle-Bjork Third Line Has Been Fun To Watch – 58:40
  6. Lauzon Suspension Hit & No Call For McAvoy’s Head Shot? – 1:07:40
  7. NESN’s Edwards Talks Composite Sticks & We Elaborate – 1:16:11
  8. TD Garden Seating Upgrades Will Be Made After Fan Complaints – 1:27:22
  9. 2020 Olympic Updates An The Positive Talks Per Elliotte Freidman – 1:35:00
  10. Buffalo Duane’s Meltdown On Public Radio About His Sabres Team and Ownership – 1:46:3

Have a question or a comment for the hosts or would you like to join our growing writer’s team? Please send us an email at blackngoldhockeyblog@gmail.com

Thanks for tuning in and all the support! We’ll be back next week for another show of Bruins Hockey related talk. Take Care and GO Bruins!

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

The Latest Bruins Trade Buzz

( Photo Credit: NBC Sports Boston )

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

The NHL trade deadline is 20 days away, and the Bruins are the center of attention.  Pierre LeBrun, a senior NHL columnist for The Athletic, posted an article giving his perspective of plausible trades throughout the NHL.  He predicts Chris Kreider to the St. Louis Blues, Tyler Toffoli to the Calgary Flames, and Ducks’ Ondrej Kase to the Boston Bruins.  

The hypothetical deal would send Kase to Boston in exchange for a 2020 third-round pick and prospect Oskar Steen.  Steen is a former sixth-round draft choice in 2016 out of Karlstad, Sweden.  Oskar is currently playing on Boston’s American Hockey affiliate team, the Providence Bruins.  Steen’s scouting report has centered around his feisty play combined with a lethal shot.  He was able to show off that shot during a Bruins pre-season game in September 2019.

Bruins Coordinator of Player Development, Jamie Langenbrunner, has given his take on Steen’s abilities. “He should be a very effective player for us in Providence to start, and we’ll see how quickly he can translate that to be on the radar for [Bruce Cassidy] and the guys [in Boston].” He has 16 points in 47 games as he transitions from the bigger Swedish ice surface to the NHL-sized rinks.  European hockey leagues play on Olympic sized rinks (200×100), where the AHL and NHL play on 200×85 sized rinks.  Once Steen adapts to the smaller arena, he could be an effective piece for an NHL franchise.

Another Athletic NHL writer, Scott Wheeler, ranks NHL teams’ prospects pools each year and where each player ranks within each system.  He ranks Steen fourth-best in the Bruins’ prospect pool behind Jack Studnicka, John Beecher, and Urho Vaakananien.  “Steen has underperformed. We rarely see players his age have the kind of impact he had for Farjestad last year. He was consistently their most dangerous forward shift-to-shift.”  He goes on to say Steen is on his way to be a complementary piece on an NHL roster.

If you’ve watched more than three Bruins games this year, it’s clear the Bruins have a plethora of complementary players.  The Bruins are still searching for their top-six forward.  It would be a welcoming surprise if Steen could surpass the complementary piece trajectory and become a top-six winger.  Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney has been doing his due diligence throughout the year.  There have been reports that the Bruins have a “back-pocket deal in place for Los Angeles Kings winger Tyler Toffoli.  LeBrun has Toffoli heading to Calgary, so if LeBrun’s predictions hold true, the Bruins would need to look elsewhere.

The Anaheim Ducks have had an extremely trying season.  They fired their coach and bought out the second-best winger in Ducks history (Corey Perry) this past off-season.  NHL analysts predicted their youth would carry them into a playoff spot.  Unfortunately, the Ducks sit 27th in the league standings, second-to-last in the Western Conference.  Their team has been depleted with injuries and a lack of consistency.

They have a few bright spots, due to strategic drafting.  Rickard Rakell is in-line to be their number one forward and John Gibson has been a highly-regarded goalie throughout the league.  Kase was once seen as a key cog in the Ducks’ future plans, but with how their past few seasons have ended, their General Manager could be looking to shake things up.  The Bruins would prefer Rakell but would have to offer a better package.  Anaheim is more likely to part ways with Kase.

Ondrej Kase was the Ducks’ 205th overall draft choice in 2014.  He spent his early hockey career in the Czech Republic and two invitations to the World Junior U-20 Championships.  Both years, he played alongside Bruins leading goal-scorer David Pastrnak.  The 24-year old winger is a versatile player who is featured in all of the games’ situations.  He currently plays on right-wing on Anaheim’s second-line.  He is featured on their second powerplay unit and has logged 30 minutes penalty kill time-on-ice.  He’s even registered one short-handed goal for the Ducks.

Kase showcased his incredible speed during this play and slick hands.  He is a shifty 5’11 forward who could fit nicely in the Bruins system.  In his first year with the Ducks, Kase recorded 15 points in 53 games.  The following year, he ended with 38 points in 66 games, but the injury bug started to latch on.  He would miss a few games due to a concussion and illness.

In his third year with Anaheim, he was on pace for a 55 point-season when he tore his labrum in his shoulder and would miss the next six months.  Fast forward to the current season, he has stayed relatively healthy playing in 46 games amassing 21 points.  His 21 points would rank eighth on the Bruins, tying him with Danton Heinen.  If he continues on his current pace, he will end the season with 37 points.

The point total is low, but he is playing on a horrendous team, and a change of scenery has paid dividends for players.  Charlie Coyle had endured a few consecutively rough seasons in Minnesota before being traded to Boston.  He was an immediate impact in the Bruins deep playoff run and is on pace for the third-highest point total of his career (41).  Kase could benefit from the same situation.  Kase would also be under the Bruins cap control through next season.  He is half-way through his 3-year, $7.8M deal and will be a restricted free-agent in 2021.

Don Sweeney has been wary of sending high draft picks to teams for rentals.  Chris Kreider is atop the NHL’s most expensive trade asset at the deadline.  It is almost a foregone conclusion the New York Rangers will net a first-round draft selection and a prospect for the impending unrestricted free-agent.  Most teams will likely be scared off by the high ask.  Tyler Toffoli is a name to watch if you’re a Bruins faithful, but the Calgary flames have also expressed interest.  If the Bruins want to avoid a bidding war, Kase could be their best option.

If LeBrun’s asking price is a third-round pick and Steen, Sweeney could be enticed enough to take the chance.  Anaheim may counter with a second-round pick instead and in that case, which is still a fair deal to be made.  Kase is not a rental, and he could potentially stop the Bruins’ top-six winger merry-go-round.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 164 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!!  

Boston Bruins Week In Review Dec 30th-Jan 5th

Boston Bruins' Zdeno Chara (33) defends against Edmonton Oilers' Leon Draisaitl (29) during the second period on an NHL hockey game in Boston, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

( Photo Credit: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer )

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

As this new year begins, I’d like to start pumping out these weekly update articles. These will feature quick game recaps, roster and injury news, three stars of the week, a play of the week and my general thoughts on the week that transpired. If you missed anything Bruins related, here’s where to go.

Dec 31st Boston Bruins @ New Jersey Devils

After a rough start to December, the Bruins rattled off three wins in a row coming into New Jersey. Despite losing former MVP Taylor Hall after sending him to the Arizona Coyotes, the Devils were starting to play better hockey. Leading into their matchup with the Bruins, the Devils went 2-0-1. Even with both teams’ respective recent success, this was a game against a bottom-feeder was a game the Bruins needed to have.

The game started as well as one could think for the Bruins after Devils defenseman was sent to the box 1:17 into the game. The Bs were able to capitalize early on the powerplay after Brad Marchand buried a rebound off of a David Pastrnak shot with Matt Grzelyck (who did a very solid job filling in for Torey Krug) picking up the secondary assist.

New Jersey Devils Vs Boston Bruins At TD Garden

( Photo Credit: Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe – Getty Images )

The Bs were able to tack on another goal after Joakim Nordstrom lit the lamp just over four minutes into the second period and with a 2-0 lead, you’d think the Bruins would be able to hang onto the lead. Well, after trading chances for much of the period, the Devils were able to score after Nikita Gusev and Blake Coleman finished off a nice give and go to cut the Bs’ lead in half.

The third period was an absolute mess for the Bruins. The Devils were able to pull even after Jesper Bratt deflected a PK Subban shot. In all honesty. The black and gold were lucky to make it out of the period after getting outshot 19-5. There wasn’t much going on in overtime outside of a Matt Grzelcyk shot that rang off the crossbar, so to the shootout it went.

With all the success the Bs have had in shootouts, you can all probably see where this one went. After four rounds of nothing from either side, Jack Hughes and Chris Wagner traded goals. To open the sixth round, Damon Severson put a nifty move on Jaroslav Halak and Mackenzie Blackwood stoned Patrice Bergeron, giving the Devils the 3-2 win.

Jan 2nd Columbus Blue Jackets @ Boston Bruins

After what I’m sure was a splendid New Years’ Eve and a January 1st full of recovering, the Bruins came back home to face an injury-riddled Columbus Blue Jackets team. This game had a very similar narrative to the Bruins last one. Gustav Nyqvist seemed to score very early into the game, but to me and many others’ surprise, a goal review HELPED the Bruins. A couple of big saves from Tuukka Rask and Elvis Merzlikins kept the first half of the game scoreless. 

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( Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports photo )

The tie was broken after a Bruins’ powerplay saw David Pastrnak rip his 30th of the year. The Blue Jackets were able to tie the game up with 17:54 left in the 3rd Period after Sony Milano wheeled the puck towards the net and got a fortuitous bounce off of Matt Grzelcyk. The save of the night belonged to Merzlikins soon after that when he made a save off of an Anders Bjork partial break, and denied Par Lindholm on the rebound attempt.

The game remained knotted at one going into overtime. The duo of David Krejci and David Pastrnak were oh so close to winning the game less than a minute into OT, but that missed chance proved to be the Bruins’ demise. After the chance, (and a very poor defensive play from Pastrnak) Seth Jones was able to scoop up the puck and dish over to Pierre-Luc Dubois who ended the Bruins’ night on a sour note. That marked the second game in a row the Bruins had blown a lead to a team outside of the playoffs

Jan 4th Edmonton Oilers @ Boston Bruins

Another game, another early lead for the Bruins. Who but David Pastrnak was able to capitalize on the powerplay to give Boston a 1-0 lead less than four minutes into the hockey game, but that was all the offense the Bruins could muster up. Jaroslav Halak was certainly the best thing going for the Bruins early in this game. The netminder made a massive save off of a one-time shot from Connor McDavid later in the 1st, keeping the Bruins lead. 

There was some back and forth action in the second until Jake Debrusk muffed a pass through the middle of the ice, allowing Gaeton Hass to snag the puck, and sneak it five-hole on Halak. The second period ended on a tough note for the Bruins when Darnell Nurse threw the puck on net from the corner and it found twine with just seconds left in the period.

Something began to click early in the third period as the Bruins 1st and 4th lines were able to generate a couple of scoring chances but that was ultimately thwarted when the Zack Kassian capitalized on a defensive breakdown and fed McDavid for the goal. The Bruins failed to score the rest of the game, and after an empty netter from Draisaitl, Edmonton picked up the 4-1 victory, capping off a poor weak from the Bruins.

( Photo Credit: Steve Babineau/ NHLI – Getty Images)

Roster/Injury News

  • David Krejci missed the game in New Jersey but played the remaining two games this week.
  • Charlie McAvoy also returned after missing a pair of games against Buffalo and one against New Jersey
  • Matt Grzelcyk missed the game against Oilers because of illness
  • Connor Clifton missed all three games this week, and will not travel to Nashville for the Bruins next game
  • Torey Krug returned to action in Columbus after missing the previous three games
  • Joakim Nordstrom will also miss the game in Nashville due to illness
  • Jeremy Lauzon was recalled for the Bruins game in New Jersey but was returned to Providence after playing
  • Both Karson Kuhlman and Zach Senyshyn were assigned to the AHL and look to be healthy

( Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports )

My Three Stars of the Week

  1. David Pastrnak

Not really much to choose from this week, but Pasta was able to score half the Bruins goals this weekend. I wasn’t super impressed by much, and his lackluster defense against the Blue Jackets lead to the Bs losing the game, but he did have a great goal in that same game. Pastrnak had two goals, one assist, and a -3 rating during the week.

  1. Tuukka Rask

He let up one goal in regulation that ricocheted off of his teammate’s skate and a one-timer goal on a two on one in OT. He played very well and was far from the reason the Bruins lost in Columbus. 

  1. Jaroslav Halak

So he went 0-1-1, but just like Rask, but he wasn’t at fault for either of the losses. He made 42 saves against the Devils in their shootout loss and kept the Bs in the game from the start. Against Edmonton, he gave up one soft goal and the other two were when an Oiler was in alone on him. He made a lot of big saves in both games.

Play of the Week – Jaroslav Halak save on Connor McDavid

If you were asked to pick two players to go in on a two on one in an NHL game, I’m sure Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl would be towards the very top of the list. After Draisaitl shuffled past Brandon Carlo, he dished the puck to McDavid who got good wood on a one-timer but was greeted by a slick left pad by Halak.  It’s a shame the Bs went on to lose that game because this save would’ve been looked back on far more.

NHL: SEP 25 Preseason - Devils at Bruins

( Photo Credit: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire – Getty Images)

Final Notes

  • Despite not recording a point, I really liked Anders Bjork’s game this week. He generated a plethora of high-quality chances and continues to improve each and every game. It seems he’ll get rewarded from his play by getting a shot in the top-6 with Krejci and Jake Debrusk.
  • The Bruins need a jump in their offense, something isn’t clicking. Maybe calling up a guy like Zach Senyshyn or Jack Studnicka who both looked good in their previous call-ups will help. Maybe the Bs look elsewhere and make a move for a guy like Tyler Toffoli or Kyle Palmieri. Maybe all it takes is a shuffle of the lines, putting David Pastrnak with David Krejci or something of the sort.
  • The biggest key is to not overreact. Yes, it has been an awful stretch for the Bruins, but there is still a lot of time left in the season. Their lead in the Atlantic has diminished, but they still hold a six-point lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs with a game in hand. Let’s see how this next week goes.

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