Bruins Report: Contract Discussions With Carlo, McAvoy Are “Stalled”

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)

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

According to an article by NHL.com writer Mike Battalingo, Boston’s contract discussions involving restricted free-agent defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo “remain stalled” in the latest update.

The two defensemen have been the biggest talking points of the Bruins offseason, especially in the fanbase as both play a crucial role on the blueline of the defending Eastern Conference Champions. In an interview with BostonBruins.com, General Manager Don Sweeney gave some light to a topic largely filled with darkness in terms of details released on contract negotiations.

“But that’s just the nature of the business, and every negotiation has its own timeline,” Sweeney told the Bruins website Thursday. “We’ll find a finish line at some point in time, Brandon and Charlie will be part of our organization for a long time. We think really highly of them as players on and off the ice, we just have to find a common ground and we’re working to get there.” (quote was taken from NHL.com)

Following their Stanley Cup Finals run that ended just one game short of winning it all, the Bruins knew that the offseason was going to be an important one regarding the extensions of key RFAs in the system. On July 9th, GM Don Sweeney managed to lock up forward Danton Heinen to a two-year, $5.6 million contract ($2.8 million AAV), leaving only Carlo and McAvoy left to prioritize.

Charlie McAvoy was the 14th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Bruins and has since become a top-two defenceman alongside captain Zdeno Chara. McAvoy started his NHL career in the 2017-18 campaign, recording 7-25-32 numbers in 63 games played that season with another five points in 12 playoff games.

This past season, injuries kept McAvoy down to 54 regular-season games but the 21-year-old defender still managed to match a career-high in goals with seven to go along with his 21 assists to finish the season with 28 points. Charlie also led the entire Bruins roster in time on ice, averaging 22:10 over the course of the 2018-19 campaign. McAvoy added 2-6-8 totals in the 23 Stanley Cup Playoff games, playing a key role in the success the team found down the stretch.

Brandon Carlo is not as offensive as McAvoy, but he brings the type of defensive play that is needed in front of your goaltender. The 6-foot-5, 212-pound Carlo had the most hits among defenceman in 2018-2019 and was fourth on the team with 134 recorded hits. According to Hockey Reference, Carlo ended the season with 42 takeaways and 41 giveaways, a large improvement from the year prior. Improvements like that will only continue year-to-year.

The Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA native set a new career-high in minutes per game, averaging 20:55 on the ice in 72 games played. In addition, Carlo played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in his young career due to untimely injuries that forced him out of the past two postseasons.

Sweeney went on to say that negotiations with both players are “not as fast as everybody would like”, but failed to provide any insight on the likelihood of the duo joining the rest of the roster for the official Boston Bruins Training Camp next month. Earlier in August, Boston offered a professional tryout contract to defenceman Alex Petrovic in the event that Carlo and McAvoy are absent from the camp.

Should fans of the Bruins be worried? Not yet. Sweeney made it clear that the organization wants the pair of blueliners to wear the Spoked-B on their chest for the long-term and he showed a level of confidence that the two will eventually be signed so there is no need to worry and stress, yet.

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Report: Bruins Invite Sherbrooke Phoenix Winger To Rookie Camp

( Photo Credit: Phoenix De Sherbrooke / PublicationSports )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

There’s a report out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League that Sherbrooke, Quebec native Alex-Olivier Voyer has been invited to participate in the 2019 Boston Bruins rookie camp. An invite like this is a great way for a young player to get looks from Bruins management if additions are needed at the minor-pro levels. This audition is also a chance to see Voyer in games action as he’ll most likely have a roster spot for the upcoming rookie camp festivities this fall. Rookie camp starts on Thursday, September 5th  at the Warrior Ice Arena and shortly after these invites and Bruins prospects will spend the rest of rookie camp at the annual Prospects Challenge Round-Robin Tournament held at the Harborcenter in Buffalo, New York starting on Friday, September 6th.

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The 20-year-old right-winger played in 68 games for his hometown Sherbrooke Phoenix club having a career year in 2018-19 posting 29-29-58 numbers in his first season with the Phoenix since being traded to his birth city. The four-year QMJHL veteran was drafted by the Rimouski Oceanic in the first round of the league’s entry draft where he was selected 15th overall in the first round. Voyer played his first three seasons of his “Q” career with Rimouski posting 22-35-57 numbers in 158 games before the June 1st trade that sent him packing for home.

Olivier-Voyer is a big rugged forward that is listed at 6′-2″ 192-pounds per EliteProspects.com and in his complete QMJHL career has posted 51-64-115 numbers in 226 games. If he does well and impresses the Bruins brass, he could very well get an invite to the American Hockey League Providence Bruins training camp set to kick off as soon as the B’s National Hockey League camp is over.

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Mainville: Ideal Bruins Lineup On Opening Night: Version One

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PHOTO CREDITS: (The Canadian Press)

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

Before I dive into this piece, I would like to credit fellow Black N’ Gold writers Mike Cratty (@Mike_Cratty on Twitter) for the idea and would also like to further you to take a look at both Mike’s and Garrett’s (@thesportsguy97 on Twitter) article on the same idea. Keep a lookout on the website for more opening-day article lineup ideas.

Click HERE for Mike’s article.

Click HERE for Garrett’s article.

First Line: Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Throughout the Bruins fan universe, the issues in the top-six typically fall on the right side. The duos of Marchand-Bergeron and DeBrusk-Krejci are near locks for opening night but the answers on the remaining pieces need to be found. Even though he showed struggles in the postseason at times, Head Coach Bruce Cassidy continued to slot David Pastrnak on the right side of the first line.

Without a doubt in anyone’s mind, Pastrnak will soon become the star of the Bruins’ offense for possibly the next decade and the more time he can play with Marchand and especially Bergeron, the more his value to the team and organization can skyrocket. That line, when hot, is one of the best lines in the entire National Hockey League and the thought of having that consistently is intriguing.

Second Line: DeBrusk – Krejci – Kuhlman

During the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals, the Boston Bruins relied heavily on their depth scoring, goaltending, and defense to help them last to the final Game Seven. Boston’s top six forwards failed to score points on a night-to-night basis and the lack of scoring in the elimination game was the reason for the loss on home ice.

Down 3-2 in the series, Cassidy threw a curveball at the St. Louis Blues in Game Six by placing speedy forward Karson Kuhlman on the second line and he played great. Kuhlman scored the third goal of the game with a blistering wrist shot past Jordan Binnington that gave Boston a 3-0 lead in the game.

Kuhlman’s 5-foot-11, 185-pound frame finally brought some speed and finesse to a line that was lacking those attributes when David Backes was alongside DeBrusk and Krejci. Similar to Pastrnak, time with a veteran like Krejci mixed in with the big-time experience that he already has under his belt, Kuhlman can be a good player on that line.

Third Line: Heinen – Coyle – Ritchie

This line is such a massive question mark on the right side yet again. At this stage, I put free-agent signing Brett Ritchie on this line for one reason – size. The 26-year-old Ritchie stands at six-foot-four and weighs 220 pounds. Throughout the different lineup predictions on the internet, Ritchie is commonly considered to be a depth forward and while that remains a possibility, I believe he has a better shot at making the lineup over some of the younger wingers in the system.

Alongside Ritchie, Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle had found some chemistry since Coyle’s entrance into the Boston Bruins roster around the trade deadline and that should continue. Heinen has proven to be a defensively responsible forward and with a consistent center that can play deep in the zone, it may only help the young forward more in the short and long run.

Fourth Line: Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

If there was a line that was etched in stone – it’s this one. The fourth line of the Boston Bruins has been crucial for the better part of the last decade and in each of their Cup Finals appearances in 2011, 2013, and 2019, the Bruins have had a strong line that rounds out the forward core.

With Noel Acciari departing Logan International in Boston to Florida during the Free Agency Frenzy, it will be without a doubt that these three players will man the pivotal bottom line for a good portion of the 2019-2020 season.

Extra Forwards: Lindholm

Another one of the Bruins’ depth signings on July 1st, former Toronto Maple Leaf and Winnipeg Jet, Par Lindholm signed a two-year contract for $850,000 per season with Boston as a depth player. The Swedish forward adds versatile play with a penalty-killing ability that has value when injuries come along.

First Pairing: Chara – McAvoy

Franchise defenceman with future franchise defenceman. Zdeno Chara might be 42 years of age but his game does not represent that number. While he does often get caught frozen in time by the faster forwards in the league, he brings a presence that strikes fear into players even today. Chara will continue to mentor McAvoy this season as it could very well be the last season where that is an option.

Second Pairing: Krug – Carlo

The second pairing of Krug and Carlo is the type of combination teams dream of on their blueline. Torey Krug is one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL today, especially on the power-play. That said, Krug has had issues on the defensive side of the ice and even though he has improved recently, he is not fantastic in that role. Brandon Carlo, however, secures that pairing. Carlo was arguably the best d-man wearing the Spoked-B in the 2019 Playoffs and he is only 22 years old.

Third Pairing: Grzelcyk – Clifton

Matt Grzelcyk scored the only goal in the Game Seven loss to the St. Louis Blues, but he brought more than just that lone tally in the postseason. Grzelcyk is a solid defenceman in almost all facets and Clifton has matched that as well. Both young blueliners have come out of seemingly nowhere over the course of the past few seasons – earning them a roster spot for the start of the ’19/’20 campaign.

Extra Defensemen: Kampfer – Miller – Moore

Steven Kampfer recently extended his contract with the Bruins and rightly so – he adds good depth for when the inevitable injuries strike again, something every team requires to be successful. With no clear timeline on John Moore (shoulder surgery) and Kevan Miller (knee), we must assume that they are not ready for the opening night on October 3rd.

Goaltenders: Rask – Halak

Tuukka Rask carried Boston to the Stanley Cup Finals for much of the playoff run and that success could be attributed to the regular season play of backup goalie Jaroslav Halak. With the two netminders nearly splitting the 82-game season in half, Rask was able to get needed rest and not overwork himself like he has when the team does not have an adequate backup behind him. If the two can avoid the haunted injury bug, I’d expect another stellar season from the two goaltenders.

As the offseason continues to progress with more and more news as well as the upcoming NHL Training Camp, these lines could very well take a turn before puck drop against the Dallas Stars.

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Bruins Cassidy Is Here To Stay As He Nears Two Full Seasons

Boston Bruins vs New Jersey Devils

PHOTO CREDITS: (Matt Stone/ Boston Herald)

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

On Saturday, February 9th, Boston Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy will be the main man on the B’s bench for his 164th game – exactly two full 82-game seasons. Recently, individuals around the fan base have been questioning the work of Cassidy and whether or not he is the right head coach for the team moving forward in the years and seasons to come. In the shootout loss to the New York Rangers, Cassidy chose not to put forward Patrice Bergeron in the player-vs-goalie period, once again bringing up the judgement on his decisions.

Then there is the David Pastrnak situation. The Bruins are very much a front-loaded roster when it comes to the offence. Aside from the first line of Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak, the Bruins do not have much to fall back on when we are talking bottom-nine scoring forwards. David Krejci can put up numbers but always seems to be lacking good wingers at all times. Jake DeBrusk has more recently brought some life to the second line, but a hole remains on the right wing.

During the fast-paced action of a game, Cassidy may put Pastrnak with his fellow countryman, David Krejci and Canadian Jake DeBrusk to “spread out” the offensive firepower. However, not before long, the trio that is a true threat to any team in the NHL is back together and a large pool of centres and wingers are placed alongside Krejci to try and find that seemingly-rare chemistry.

We have yet to see multiple games of consistent Krejci-Pastrnak action unless it is on the power-play which, coincidence or not, is one of Boston’s strongest weapons of scoring opportunities. Krejci and Pastrnak have proven in the past that they can find that chemistry that has been discussed before on many occasions and build some good chances to put the puck past the goal line and into the back of the net.

Although, once they are on together, it brings along a weaker first line, where Marchand and Bergeron lose a highly-skilled scoring player who can make things happen on the ice. Recently in an interview prior to the Kings game on Saturday, Cassidy said that they are going to try out Danton Heinen on that top line. Heinen is not Pastrnak by any stretch of the imagination and has struggled this season after a strong rookie campaign in 2017-18. Cassidy did go on to say that Heinen is more a defensive player and the three of them will not have to worry too much about the top lines of other teams because all of them, especially Patrice Bergeron, are for the most part, responsible defensively.

The lack of depth scoring on the Boston Bruins in February 2019 can also be attributed to the lack of trades by General Manager Don Sweeney and with only a few more weeks until the NHL Trade Deadline at the end of the month, the clock is ticking to make that deal for another scoring player to play on the front end and bring some help to the top-six.

Either way, Bruce Cassidy has done well and continues to do well. In the past few games, the only line that has been reliable offensively has been that first line. In the three games of February so far, Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak have a combined eleven points. After them, David Krejci has two points, Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk, and Peter Cehlarik have one, and the rest of the forwards are yet to score a single point in three games.

Dating back to January 1st, the dangerous first line has fifty-three points combined (22 Goals, 31 Assists) with Brad Marchand (7-13-20) leading the way in those 15 games. Only David Krejci has double-digits in points for 2019 and Jake DeBrusk is the next highest with only five points in fifteen games. It does not make the job of Cassidy any easier when they do not have a high quantity of quality players.

Look at the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Tampa Bay Lightning for examples. Both teams have many interchangeable parts on all four lines. Almost every forward on the roster can play on the first line with success and the team will most likely still win games. Do goaltending and defence play a large factor in that as well? One-hundred percent. But the flexibility of those four forward lines makes the job of Mike Babcock on Toronto or Jon Cooper on Tampa Bay a lot easier.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

 

Just like the blame cannot be placed on individuals for a team effort, the blame cannot be solely placed on Cassidy for the position the Bruins are in. On April 26th, 2017, the Bruins named Cassidy head coach of the team – replacing long-time coach, Claude Julien who was fired earlier in the year.

Cassidy coached twenty-seven games for the Bruins, finishing with an 18-8-1 record and leading them to a first-round playoff matchup with the Ottawa Senators in the 2016-17 season, a series that they lost in six games. This led into last season, where Cassidy implemented his faith and passion for the young players of this league, helping lead the B’s to a 50-win season. Bruce was right behind the team for their first-round win over Toronto and stuck by them in the five-game loss to the Lightning. The year for Bruce led to him being one of the three nominees for the Jack Adams Award – awarding the best coach in the NHL for that season. While he didn’t take the award home, the honour of being nominated for it is a great accomplishment.

Again this year, Cassidy has done a great job. It has been a difficult road to manage the struggling youth that once succeeded for him not only in Providence but in Boston during 2017-18 as well, the goaltending challenges of Rask and Halak, and the whole offensive situation that I’ve discussed over.

With the older players such as Chara, Bergeron, Krejci, Marchand, and Backes, being surrounded by the younger players such as Pastrnak, DeBrusk, McAvoy, Carlo, and Heinen, Cassidy has had a challenge of who to play with who at what time and when. For a team that seems to have rough nights, still battles back and is able to fight their way to earn a point or at the very least, remain competitive in the ever-so-difficult Eastern Conference.

Bruce Cassidy has a 97-45-21 record with the Boston Bruins since 2016-17. According to BostonGlobe.com’s Kevin Paul Dupont (@GlobeKPD on Twitter), Claude Julien, the man who won the Stanley Cup with Boston in 2011, had a 94-48-22 in his first 164 career games with the Black N’ Gold.

Julien and Cassidy are almost identical in their wins/losses and they have started almost a decade apart from each other (’07/’08 debut for CJ, ’16/’17 debut for BC). Bruce Cassidy is not only a good coach, but he should remain a coach for the Boston Bruins. He has had success and will continue to have success if the right players are on his lineup. Does he make mistakes time in and time out? Of course, not many coaches in any sport are perfect, (unless you’re Bill Belichick on New England) and it is how he can rally behind the team after a loss and turn it into a win. Bruce Cassidy can do that with the best of them.

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Bruins Colby Cave Representing Saskatchewan With Recent NHL Success

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

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

“Colby Cave gets his first career National Hockey League goal!” Jack Edwards’ legendary call during Monday’s win over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night will play loudly in the Cave household in North Battleford, Saskatchewan for many years to come. While I have not personally been in a situation, (clearly), where I scored an NHL goal, against Carey Price of all goaltenders, in the Bell Centre. But you can see the amount of excitement imploding from Cave once the rubber puck crossed the red line.

It was a nice goal too, not some lucky bounce off of three legs and just happened to bounce off the eventual goal-scorer, but a solid one-time goal. David Pastrnak circled the puck around the blue line, made a quick pass to Charlie McAvoy down near the faceoff circle, who sauced the puck to Cave in the slot for a sweet goal. Cave’s celebration after is something that easily puts a smile on your face.

Undrafted, Cave made his big impression on the Boston Bruins during his time in the Western Hockey League with the Swift Current Broncos. In 2011-12, Cave debuted with 6-10-16 totals in 70 games played. Just one year later, Cave quickly boosted his scoring numbers, hitting forty-one points (21 goals, 20 assists), in 72 games. He also tallied four points in five playoff games that season as well.

When then-captain Adam Lowry left the Broncos to the American Hockey League to play for the then-Winnipeg Jets AHL affiliate, the St. John IceCaps, Swift Current stitched on the “C” on Cave’s Bronco jersey. Cave said the following when he was awarded the captaincy.

“It’s a true honour to be named the captain of such a respectable organization,” says Cave.  “This organization goes back a long way. Just seeing some of the former captains and their names up on the wall, guys like Adam Lowry and Zack Smith, it’s quite an honour to be put into the same group as them. I hope to prove everyone right and keep this team on the right track and win some games.” 

And prove everyone right was indeed what Colby did. In the seventy-two regular-season contests during the 2013-14 season, Cave scored 33 goals and 37 assists for 70 points as well as a +20 rating. Once again in the following season, in 2014-15, Cave scored a WHL career-high 75 points (35 goals, 40 assists) in 72 games. The numbers led Swift Current in assists and second on the team for goals and points. The only player ahead of Cave in goals and points was fellow-Bruin, Jake DeBrusk, who had 81 points in 72 games.

While the Broncos never made it out of the first-round when it came to the playoffs, his regular season production was something that caught the eye of the Bruins organization. On April 7th, 2015, ex-Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli signed Cave to an entry-level contract, sending him to the Providence Bruins immediately.

In the 239 career AHL games with Providence over the course of over three seasons, Cave has produced 43-72-115 totals while being the assistant captain for the team for the last three consecutive seasons. The 2016-17 season was the best season for Colby in terms of production, scoring 35 points during the course of the campaign.

The entry-level deal that the Bruins signed Colby to back in 2015 expired over the offseason, but the Bruins re-signed the six-foot-one, 201-pound Saskatchewan native to a two-year, two-way deal. 

Following three NHL games last season, Cave’s true chance to get that first goal would be this season – during the middle of the Bruins’ injury bug. When Patrice Bergeron was placed on the injured reserve in mid-November, the Bruins were forced to call-up Colby Cave to the NHL team on November 20th. The number of injuries on the forward core left the organization almost no choice.

According to Frozen Pool by Dobber Sports, Colby Cave has seen the majority of his ice time with David Backes and Joakim Nordstrom (28.39%) as well as time with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak (24.37%). Cave tallied his first career NHL point with an assist against the Detroit Red Wings on December 1st, followed by another helper two games later against Tampa Bay.

All of Cave’s hard work through the juniors, minors, and big leagues eventually led to that goal that was showed at the beginning of this article. In addition, Cave pitched in with an assist, his first career multi-point night in the NHL.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (USA TODAY Sports)

Now, Patrice Bergeron was on the ice for Bruins practice on Wednesday, December 19th, making his inevitable return to the roster even closer. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy will most likely go back with the Marchand, Bergeron, Pastrnak line that dominated the league before Bergeron’s sternoclavicular/rib injury. David Krejci will probably be brought back down to the second-line, so where does Cave go?

At one point during the season, the simple answer would be to man the middle of the third line. However, the line of Ryan Donato, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, and Danton Heinen has been finally finding their groove, thriving on each other’s growing confidence of playing alongside one another. In the same idea, it would seem wrong in a sense to demote Cave to the Providence Bruins, but the fourth-line is essentially set – leaving no other real option.

Unfortunately, when the Boston Bruins are, for the most part, injury-free on the forward core, Colby Cave will most likely be demoted to the American Hockey League to re-join the Providence Bruins until his services are once again required in the big leagues. Cave’s two-way contract allows Boston to send him down without the fear of waivers and while Donato and JFK also have two-way deals, their recent success should keep them on the NHL roster.

Nonetheless, the Canadian province of Saskatchewan is proud to see Cave find success in the National Hockey League, even if it may be short-lived. Having been to North Battleford on many occasions and living only 2.5 hours away from the small Saskatchewan city, I can appreciate the efforts Cave and every other NHL player had to go through to make it to the position he is in today.

When Boston eventually becomes injury-free, does/should Colby Cave be the odd-man out, getting a trip to Providence or should it be another Bruin forward currently on the roster? Let me know via Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

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Gladiators Training Camp Update

( Photo Credit: @atlgladiators Twitter )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The 2018-19 Atlanta Gladiators training camp is in full swing. New Ownership marks the beginning of a new era in Georgia, and preparations are underway for what promises to be an exciting season. The return of head coach, Jeff Pyle, has created a genuine feel of optimism amongst the players as well as the supporters. Roster spots are up for grabs with senior players away on AHL tryouts, so there’s strong competition in the camp with everybody trying to impress the new bosses. Training camp ends on October 7th, so the clock is ticking for players eager to earn their place.

The Gladiators management have been busy with a number of players returning to Atlanta after AHL try-outs, and some new faces joining the squad. Branden Troock, Darby Llewellyn and Jack Stander returned from try-outs with the Milwaukee Admirals, in addition, the Gladiators also loaned forward Alex Overhardt from Milwaukee. Ben Danford returns from the Chicago Wolves, and Luke Sandler is back from the Rockford IceHogs. On Monday, October 1st, the Gladiators announced that 6 players had been added to the squad from the Providence Bruins. The AHL affiliate have loaned defenseman Olivier Galipeau and forward Brett McKenzie, and assigned defenseman Joel Messner to Atlanta. Sean Bonar, Zach Malatesta, and Tyler Deresky have been released from their try-outs with Providence and will report back to the Gladiators. On Tuesday, October 2nd The Milwaukee Admirals loaned forwards Tyler Moy and Carl Persson, and assigned Matt Lane to the Gladiators. The team also confirmed that Zac Sikich, Alfred Johanson, Hunter Stewart, Matt Harrington, and Robbie Hall have been released from their PTOs.

The Gladiators have been very clear in their expectations for the new season. Coach Pyle has high standards and will be aiming to go one step further than his previous tenure in charge of the team. When discussing his first stint with the Gladiators, Pyle claimed: “This place was special in my heart, I helped build it, I helped being part of a really good thing and I want to bring that back.” With the support of new team owner Dan Orlich, Pyle has every opportunity to finish what he started in Atlanta, it’s clear he’s hungry for success. The players seem to be buying into Pyle’s approach with Gladiators captain, Derek Nesbitt, claiming “I’ve known him for 14 years, he just brings a lot of positivity to the game and to the locker room, just every day it’s a fun place to be, and you get excited to be here”. It’s important for a team to have belief in the system and the early signs suggest that the players share the team’s ambition and vision for success.

It’s not long before we get to see the team in action, on Thursday, October 4th, the Gladiators will head to Greenville to take on the Swamp Rabbits in their only official preseason game against a league opponent. Training camp concludes with an intrasquad exhibition game which has been arranged for Sunday, October 7th, giving the players one last chance to impress coach Pyle as he prepares his final roster ahead of the 2018-19 season. The Gladiators start their quest for the Kelly Cup on the road against the Orlando Solar Bears on Saturday, October 13th. Keep an eye on BlackNGoldHockey.com for updates throughout the season.

Is There A Place In Boston For Winnik/Stempniak?

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Boston Bruins(Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

By: Garrett Haydon  |  Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

For years, the Boston Bruins had been a veteran-oriented team that had the occasional young player who stood out. Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin, and Blake Wheeler are prime examples of this, but from the years 2009-14 the Bruins were mainly a team comprised of veteran players who had been through the battles of postseason hockey. The likes of Marco Sturm, Shawn Thornton, Miroslav Satan, and Dennis Seidenberg were key pieces of those veteran-laden squads. However, in 2018, times have changed dramatically.

This Bruins team is still comprised of a few key veteran players such as Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, but the team has gotten significantly younger in recent years with the superb drafting job done by Don Sweeney. The future of this team has never looked brighter, and the youth was one of the biggest reasons for their success last season. So it was kind of a surprise when the Bruins announced they had offered tryout contracts to veteran wingers Daniel Winnik and Lee Stempniak.

Stempniak, of course, spent time during the 2015-16 season with Boston after being traded from the New Jersey Devils. The winger had just 10 points in 19 games and was unable to help the Bruins to the playoffs. Stempniak has performed very well this preseason including a goal the other night against the Red Wings. It’s clear he still has that shooting ability and has the ability to be a strong locker room presence. Stempniak is also very familiar with Boston as he has lived here for the last few summers. He’s also skated with Bruins players in the past so bringing him up to the varsity club at least to start the year might make sense.

The biggest issue with bringing in the 35-year-old would be him potentially hindering the development of younger players trying to make the roster and get ice time. Stempniak’s performance has proved he can still play in this league but maybe not necessarily in Boston. Undoubtedly he would be nothing more than an extra forward so keeping him around might not be the best idea. With the Bruins’ recent success with young players and the young guys battling for roster spots who can put the puck in the net, I would be surprised if Stempniak got a roster spot.

As for Winnik, the 33-year-old former UNH Wildcat, he’s bounced around the league much like Stempniak. He played last season with the Minnesota Wild, totaling 23 points in 81 games. Winnik has played with eight teams during his career, and he’s survived the first few rounds of cuts so his chances of making it nine total teams in his career are good, at least for now.

Unlike Stempniak, Winnik has never been known as a scorer. He’s almost exclusively played on the fourth line his entire career. One of the best parts of his game is the fact he very rarely gets injured. Over the last three seasons, Winnik has only missed a total of 17 games. Winnik plays the game with an edge and has always been a high-energy player. It remains to be seen where he’d fit in Boston because of the glut of young players looking to get ice time. With Winnik being a fourth-liner, he wouldn’t be exactly stealing ice time from anyone because a player such as Anders Bjork or Peter Cehlarik would be well-utilized on that line.

Despite Winnik’s age, I do think he’d be a very solid fourth-liner, and personally, I would like to see him play with Sean Kuraly and Noel Acciari to create a line of effective, hard-working players. The good thing is, the Bruins do have many other options, so there’s not necessarily a need for a player like Winnik, but I don’t think it would be a bad thing if the Bruins brought him on.

I think the chances of making the Bruins roster are greater for Winnik because of the type of game he plays. I think the reality of bringing in Stempniak is not very strong considering the younger options the B’s have. But I do believe both of these players could be useful as both still have plenty left. Stempniak would be joining a team with tons more offensive talent than the team he played with 3 years ago. Winnik would be joining his ninth team in his career and could be a very effective fourth-liner. I don’t believe either player makes the Bruins’ final roster, but it is interesting that they’ve lasted this long through multiple rounds of roster cuts.

Bruins Blue Line Remains In Doubt

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PHOTO CREDIT: (Getty Images)

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

It’s been a little over two weeks since the Boston Bruins traded away tough-guy defenseman Adam McQuaid to the New York Rangers in exchange for Steven Kampfer, a 2019 fourth-round pick and a 2019 conditional seventh-round pick.

There are two sides to every coin, (three if you count the edge), and there are two sides of the Adam McQuaid trade. On one side, McQuaid was loved in Boston. The fans and players alike commonly shared a continued love and appreciation for the tough, gritty, old-school Bruin that McQuaid represented. He played the game of hockey similar to the old Bruins. The Boston hockey club that would fight anyone at any time in any arena, especially if it was in the cause of defending a star player.

On the opposite side of the coin, the Bruins were placed into a situation where they almost had to trade away McQuaid before the season begins. With the free-agent signing of former New Jersey Devil defenseman, John Moore, the B’s had eight NHL-caliber defensemen under contract — at the beginning of September. If you happened to be unaware, only six defensemen play during the course of a game, meaning two of those defenders would find themselves watching from the press box.

While it seems like a disrespectful thing to trade such a humble, classy guy like McQuaid, especially because he was loved by nearly everyone in Boston, it was actually the opposite — it was out of respect. How?

Well, in today’s National Hockey League, fighting is not nearly as big of a factor in the sport itself as it was, say, a decade ago. In fact, in 2017-18, there were a recorded 280 total fights according to HockeyFights.com. Rewind one decade earlier — in the 2007-08 regular season, there were 664 recorded fights in the NHL. That number alone is incomparable to the fighting numbers that there would have been in the 70’s and 80’s.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Even without the exact numbers, it is clear by just watching one game from the 1970’s and one game from 2018. The results speak for themselves. Adam McQuaid was not the best defenseman when it came to preventing the puck from entering the zone or stopping offensive threats, making him one of the expendable players on that Bruins blue line.

The Boston organization knew that McQuaid would receive limited playing time when the B’s were healthy, as he would most likely be spending his time in the press box as previously mentioned. Out of respect, Boston shipped him to the Big Apple for a couple of picks, and a returning defenseman, who you can predict will play in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins for this upcoming season.

The return was quite surprising to many fans, including myself. McQuaid is on an expiring deal, and the belief was that Adam was going to simply walk come July 1st, 2019, giving him the ultimate freedom to play wherever he chooses for the then following campaign. Even with that idea, the Rangers gave in to the two draft selections and upgraded from Steven Kampfer to gain that tough guy defenseman.

This way, McQuaid nearly guarantees himself consistent ice time with an NHL team, as the Rangers are not as deep on the defensive core as the Boston Bruins are. That said, the trade impacted the Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada native, who spent the last nine years with the Massachusetts club. However, this league is a business, and sometimes business hurts. Yet, the Bruins still have questions regarding the blue line for the 2018-19 regular season.

As of September 21st, the Bruins currently have Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, John Moore, Brandon Carlo, Matt Grzelcyk, and Kevan Miller on their confirmed NHL roster — but not all can have that confirmed, full-time ice time.

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PHOTO CREDIT: (nhl.com)

Initially, when the Bruins signed Moore on July 1, it made it seem like a possible Torey Krug departure more likely. Krug has seemingly always been in Boston trade rumors, even if they have no actual evidence behind the accusations. The team has also been rumored in the conversation for an Artemi Panarin trade or an acquisition for a scoring winger to play alongside David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.

Clearly, the trade rumors were just that — rumors — but the thought still remains. In my personal opinion, Torey Krug should not be moved from the Bruins because he is quite possibly one of the most underrated offensive defensemen in the NHL today, and I enjoy the thought of keeping him on the roster moving forward.

With that said, it may not hurt for Boston to send off Krug to another team if they can acquire a player who can drastically help the Bruins in some way right now. Otherwise, I don’t see a valuable return for Krug if the team traded him for say, some first-round picks or prospects.

There are still seven, NHL-caliber defensemen on the Bruins roster and all are expected to have some ice time. Even though the McQuaid trade made more predictable, it is still a question to ask — who gets the majority of the time on the bottom pairing. To know what d-men may find themselves out of the picture, who exactly is guaranteed a spot for the majority of 2018-19?

As I said in my official 2018-19 Boston Bruins prediction article earlier this month, I see the likes of Charlie McAvoy, Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo, and Matt Grzelcyk on the full-time roster for the entirety of the season, not regarding the possibility of injuries. When the article was published, I mentioned that the trio of McQuaid, Kevan Miller, and John Moore were the uncertainties, with Miller getting the bulk of the minutes.

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PHOTO CREDIT: (Katharine Lotze/The Signal)

But, my views on this matter have changed over time, and I think that Moore and Miller will each get split times during the course of the season. Although, this can bring some negatives.

Many great sports franchises over the years have had one thing in common — chemistry. The Chicago Blackhawks dynasty of the 2010’s had the same similar faces — Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Corey Crawford, Brent Seabrook, and so on. The Los Angeles Kings had Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Quick, and Drew Doughty.

Sure, a bottom-pairing defenseman may not make that big of a dent when it comes to chemistry, but consistent faces on the power play, penalty-kill, or even five-on-five action can make a difference. Another argument is that having better players in the depth can lead to a stronger lineup. While that is true, it is also unfortunate to have a good defenseman that often finds himself in the press box.

Needless to say, the Bruins still have a few questions regarding the defense. Will they see who proves themselves the most in the early stages of the regular season and award that last d-man the majority of the ice time, or will they look to split the workload across all seven defensemen?

Bruins Prospect Andersson Returned To SEL, Among Other Monday Roster Moves

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(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced a series of roster moves yesterday.

One of the most noteworthy comes in the form of 2018 second-round draft pick Axel Andersson being returned to Djurgarden IF of the SEL. Andersson had a solid summer in Boston, most notably in preseason action with the Bruins. Returning to his Swedish stomping grounds will allow the 18-year-old defenseman to grow and improve as a hockey player in SEL, a league in which he has past experience in. This past Saturday, Axel got in the board in some preseason action this past Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings.

Additionally, four young Bruins are heading to Providence, as Cameron Hughes, Emil Johansson, Joona Koppanen, and Zachary Senyshyn have been sent to the AHL. Johansson and Senyshyn return to the Providence with 50+ games of AHL apiece, while Hughes and Koppanen are still getting their feet wet. All four, regardless of experience, join a group in Providence with a good mix of veterans as well as young, skilled players that could very well be a solid Atlantic division team yet again.

To wrap up the series of moves, forward Tanner Pond will report to Providence as well. After amassing 163 penalty minutes on top of 37 points in 61 games with the Atlanta Gladiators last season, Pond is not one to shy away from the fisticuffs.

The moves will continue to come as the regular season gets closer and closer to the regular season. One thing is for sure — roster decisions won’t become any easier for Bruins management as some roster battles still rage on.

Prospects Challenge: Part 2 — A Tale Of Three Goalies For The Bruins

Round Up ( Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Stasio Coombe )

By: Jen Stasio Coombe  |  Follow Me On Twitter @hockeygirl2976

Dan Vladar, Kyle Keyser, and Dawson Weatherill were three netminders who played their way to Buffalo representing the Bruins in net over the four-day extended weekend event. Three men to tend the pipes gave Boston Brass the opportunity to scrutinize the skills and tenacity each of these players brought to the game.  As well as giving each of them their opportunity to shine as the squads starting goalie.

Game 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, was to be Kyle Keyser’s night in the spotlight. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound goalie has played for the Oshawa Generals since 2016 and at the young age of 19 was looking to convince the people upstairs that their faith in his growth and development were not misguided. Attending the development camp in the spring, there were a few doubts about his ability to keep the pace and continue to build his repertoire.  Kyle took Game 1 by the horns and left little doubt that he was here to work hard and win.

Keyser 2( Photo Courtesy of Joshua Bemis @ToCauseway )

Through the first two periods, Keyser was on fire, not letting one of the many shots he faced past his post. His determination in net saw the B’s entering the third with a 4-0 lead. This iron curtain did falter a bit in the third as he allowed two pucks to find their way into the net, but his composure was not to let him down.

Finishing his night off with a total of 35 saves, it was reasonable to think that perhaps fatigue is what caused the two pucks to slip by in the third, so the next day I asked Kyle his take on the situation. “Honestly, I didn’t feel fatigued at all in the third, sometimes when you are as a team 4-0 and you are going into the third, you maybe take your foot off the gas a little, even me, and I think that is just an area to focus in on to improve for everybody.”  Backing up his confident statement regarding his endurance Keyser did show a good bit of athleticism late into the third, using the butt of his stick while making a nice leap to ensure the puck would not find its intended target.

Vladar( Photo Courtesy: Joshua Bemis @ToCauseway )

Game 2, the feature game of the weekend, saw Dan Vladar take his place in the crease to put a kibosh on the Buffalo Sabres scoring chances.  His 6-foot-5, 185-pound frame towered over the net as the puck was dropped at the Harbor Center. After spending two seasons with the Atlanta Gladiators, Boston’s ECHL Affiliate, Dan was ready to make his next step up the pro ladder taking place in Providence as the second goaltender for the organization this coming year. His performance would not disappoint those invested in this 21-year-old’s blossoming career.

While the Sabres came into the weekend not only with a home-ice advantage but a strong and wily group of youngsters, the first period ended with only a single puck making it past this Czech beast. Not completely satisfied with his first period, Vladar came into the next two periods with a galvanized resolve and a positive outlook. Not one of the battery of shots on goal was able to penetrate this jolly giant’s façade.

Vladar 2 ( Photo Courtesy of Joshua Bemis @ToCauseway )

Finishing the night with a record of saving 38 of 39 shots on goal would leave many a goalie, tooting his own horn, but not our Vlad. When asked about his performance in the net his humble attitude and desire to continually better himself was on full display. “I feel good, but it is my first game of the season … I felt a little bit off my posts, but I got a little bit stronger over the summer, so my pushes were good…To be honest, it was not my best hockey. ”  In contrast, Jay Leach felt Vladar had an outstanding performance. “I think at first he had a few saves that looked like he hadn’t played in six months, which he hadn’t, but he settled right in, and ‘Vlady’ will always give you his best effort … guys love playing in front of him … and he was really very impressive.”

The third and final game of the weekend saw Dawson Weatherill step up in an attempt to send the New Jersey Devils packing. Another formidable obstacle at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, Weatherill came to the prospect challenge as an invite. Basically, he was brought up to test the waters and fill out the third roster spot as some would say.  Not taking this merely a chance to mingle with the pro boys or a holiday with a bit of hockey thrown in, Dawson buckled down, worked hard at all practices and morning skates, and soaked up all the information he could from the coaches and teammates here in Buffalo.

Unfortunately, learning does not occur overnight and being the least seasoned of the goalies here for Boston, Dawson saw the third game come to a disappointing close with a score of Devils 6, Bruins 2.  He was not as focused or as agile as Vladar and Keyser, and he appeared to have trouble from time to time with letting the frustration overtake him.  While he was not able to vanquish these Devils, Weatherill will take what he has learned in this tournament back to the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL and continue to grow and develop, hoping for another shot in future seasons.

Finishing with a strong showing of winning two of the three matches, the Bruins goalies were ready to head back home and get the rest of the preseason underway.  Don Sweeney confirmed that Vladar would be heading to Providence to split time in net with Veteran P-Bruin Zane McIntyre. “We play a lot of three in three situations in Providence, where one goalie gets two out of those three,” he said. “You want that competition, he really needs to challenge and push Zane for as many starts as he can get.”

So, while Keyser and Weatherill set off to mature for another season, it is up to Dan Vladar to determine his own next big move.