What Are the Bruins Options With John Moore

(James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports)

By Leon Lifschutz | Follow me @BruinsBreakdown

John Moore signed with the Boston Bruins on July 1, 2018. The contract was for five years with an average annual value towards the Bruins’ salary cap of $2,750,000. At the time of the signing, General Manager Don Sweeney discussed the need for skating, size, and depth in his defense corps all of which he believed Moore, coming off the best stretch of his career with the Devils, could provide. Two years into the five year deal, Moore has only played 85 games with the spoked B on his chest, a consequence of injuries and sliding down the depth chart. Sweeney’s concern about depth two seasons ago has been slightly allayed by the play of youngsters like Matt Grzelcyk, Connor Clifton, and Jeremy Lauzon, all of whom have become preferred choices for Coach Bruce Cassidy in the lineup over the veteran Moore. By all accounts from Bruins’ beat writers, Moore is a great professional but it’s evident things have not worked out how the team or the player imagined on the ice when signing the long-term deal on the first day of free agency two summers ago. In this piece, we will examine what the Bruins’ options are with Moore who this past season was not much more than a very expensive depth option.

Buyout

The Athletic’s James Mirtle recently did a piece on the top buyout candidates in the NHL where he floated Moore’s name. In a flat cap world with diminished revenues paying so much for a player like Moore instantaneously raises this scenario. Not only does it reduce your cap hit for the upcoming season, it also opens up a roster spot to sign a free agent or to promote a younger player to the top club. If the Bruins buyout Moore they will owe him $805,556 in actual money until 2025-26. In terms of cap savings, they would get back $1,444,444 in 2020-21 and 2022-23 and $1,944,444 in 2021-22. However, the buyout would eat up $805,556 of cap space for three years beyond when the initial contract is set to expire. While the Bruins could use the cap space this year they may need it even more in the coming years needing to re-sign players like David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy as well as plug holes as their core players age.

Bury The Contract

Another option available to the Bruins is to send Moore down to the minors and “bury his contract”. The Montreal Canadiens have been currently employing this strategy with Karl Alzner. Although Alzner’s paycheck is bigger than Moore’s, there are a lot of similarities amongst both players and their situations. The NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that if you send a player on a one way contract down, your cap still includes the original cap hit minus league minimum salary and an additional $375,000. If the Bruins’ sent Moore to Providence he would still count as $1,675,000 towards their cap. This is slightly more than the buyout option but would ensure the contract came off the books when it is set to expire in 2022-23. Moore would also need to clear waivers to be sent down and it’s possible, though unlikely, another team would claim him.

Trade

An inevitability of the cap era is the need to get rid of contract’s that were ill advised or just didn’t work out. In these instances team’s often need to sweeten the pot to find a taker. Bruins fans are familiar with this as recently as this past winter, when Sweeney had to include a first round pick and retain some salary to move on from David Backes and his albatross of a contract. Over the summer there is likely little market for a player like Moore. Many similar players will be available for cheaper in a depressed free agent market. Teams may also want to gauge what their in-house options are for a third pair defenseman before taking on a larger salary for one. However, as teams get into their opening games (whenever that might be), assess their talent level, and start facing injuries, they may decide they have a need for a player like Moore to shore up their depth and take on some minutes for them. The Bruins would likely be willing to part with Moore for a marginal pick and could even consider retaining some salary to make it work.

Remain On The Team

Moore is indeed still part of the Bruins as this article is being written. He was a part of the traveling party in the playoff bubble and did get into one game. Had the Bruins’ defense faced injury, Moore likely would have received the call after Lauzon. Moore is only 29 years old so while he is just past his prime, age is not a major concern. The Bruins also may indeed have a depth issue on defense depending on how the off-season (not the summer) plays out. If the Bruins do not sign a defenseman (or two) in free agency and decide it would be best for their young defense prospects to keep logging extensive and all situation minutes in the minors, they have a dearth of options on the big club. Grzelcyk has yet to show he can play big minutes. Clifton and Lauzon have yet to show they can be everyday players. That leaves just Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo as proven commodities the Bruins know what to expect from on their current roster. Even Carlo is coming off an inconsistent playoff bubble performance and poorer underlying regular season numbers than previous years. While Moore’s performance relative to his teammates has not been sterling, he does provide a veteran presence for Cassidy. Moore, after struggling with injury this season, should also come to camp in full health ready to battle for a spot.

Conclusion

The Bruins are in an unenviable position with John Moore. A buyout provides some short term savings but could hinder them long-term. Burying Moore in the minors provides savings similar to that of a buyout without the long term impact. Trade options are likely scarce over the off-season but may be available as teams become desperate with injuries or underperforming players. However, the Bruins best option is likely to retain Moore for now. Unless Boston makes a big splash on defense in free agency, or via trade, they may need him as an option next season. The Bruins would need to see if Clifton and Lauzon can become regulars or if a player like Jakub Zboril is ready to make the jump. Having a veteran insurance policy would be a good route to go. If the youngsters or off-season additions prove adequate then they could look to off-load him early on next season or consider assigning him to Providence.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 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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Assessing The Boston Bruins Salary Cap Situation

( Photo Credit: AP Photo / John Locher )

By: Joey Partridge | Follow Me On Twitter @joey_partridge

Most Boston Bruins fans know the feeling of having their team pressed against the salary cap ceiling. It has actually been a common thing for the Bruins for most of this decade. Due to some bad contracts and having a deep, skilled roster, the Bruins haven’t had too much freedom entering most off-seasons.

The 2020 offseason is going to be an interesting one. For the first time in what feels like forever, the Bruins are actually in an okay spot compared to most teams. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the scheduled increase in the league wide salary cap has been cancelled and will remain the same.

Looking back at the past half decade, the Bruins have had some less than stellar contracts on their roster. By this, I don’t mean the fans that say Tuukka Rask or David Krejci are making too much because at that point, you’re just looking for something to complain about. I mean the David Backes and Matt Beleskey contracts.

( Photo Credit: Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images )

Before I get into the numerics, in no way am I bashing these players. These are good hockey players that just happened to not work out in Boston. However, with that being said, with that comes a bad contract because the production didn’t equal the value.

For the past few years, the Bruins have been paying Backes $6 million per year, and while Beleskey was with the team they were paying him $3.8 million per year. Both of these players are not with the team so it gets a little more complicated now. Beleskey was a part of the Rick Nash trade back in 2018. Up until just this year, the Bruins were paying some retained salary on that contract. Backes was just moved to Anaheim this year and the Bruins will continue to pay $1.5 million per year in retained salary for the duration of his contract, which ends after next season. What most don’t know either is that until this year the Bruins were continuing to pay Dennis Seidenberg as a result of a buyout.

Now, the only thing on the books in terms of “dead money” is the $1.5 million owed to Backes. This is the best situation the Bruins have had in years. As of September 25th, 2020 and according to CapFriendly, the Bruins have roughly $14.4 million in cap space with notables like Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, Jake Debrusk and Matt Grzelyck to sign. You can speculate whether Krug and Chara will be back, but the fact of the matter is they have room to get deals done.

( Photo Credit: Jim Rogash / Getty Images Sport )

Another important factor to consider is the NHL’s buyout window opens today, September 25th. While the Bruins don’t have any really bad contracts on the books, could they look to clear up some more cap to take a run at a top free agent? While I personally believe the Bruins wont buy anyone out, one contract that I could see them getting off the books is John Moore. The defense on the Bruins is loaded with talent and he has been in and out of the lineup with his $2.75 million cap hit over the next three seasons. However, you can argue that if Krug does leave, his role becomes larger and he will be a valuable asset.

Time will tell what the Bruins do with their cap space, but the fact of the matter is the Bruins are in a very decent spot with their money compared to other teams. Trust in Don Sweeney.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded below on 9-20-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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BNG Hockey Talk Ep. 9 With Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast YouTuber Cameron Young

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By Cameron Young | Follow me on Twitter @cmoney008

In my latest video uploaded to my YouTube channel, I look back at my 2019/20 NHL Awards prediction video. In this upload, talk about what went through my head during the predictions and discussing the award winners. Check it out below and please subscribe to my YouTube Channel and turn notifications on to be updated when a new video is published. 

  • Hart: 2:04
  • Lady Byng: 4:23
  • Vezina: 6:11
  • Calder: 7:44
  • Norris: 9:29
  • Ted Lindsey: 11:34
  • Jack Adams: 12:24
  • Selke: 13:48
  • Jim Gregory: 15:11

The Bruins may be out of the playoffs, but that won’t stop the content from being produced. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @cmoney008 and please consider subscribing to the YouTube Channel HERE!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded below on 9-20-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

Pros And Cons If The Bruins Were To Acquire Forward Evgenii Dadonov In Free Agency

(Photo Credit: Devils Army Blog | devilsarmyblog.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter! @andrewlindrothh

The Boston Bruins once again fell short of their ultimate goal of raising the Stanley Cup. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has his work cut out for him this off-season, and the possibility of Torey Krug not re-signing with the Bruins seems to becoming a reality. Sweeney didn’t hold back during his press conference regarding much-needed changes for the team, “We’re looking to make some changes in our group. I feel very good about the overall organization, where we are, and how competitive we are. But I’m not doing my job if I’m not looking to improve our hockey club on a daily basis, without being dissatisfied.”

If Krug does not re-sign with the Bruins, that will leave a significant amount of cap space left-over, and one of the priorities for the Bruins should be looking for a top-six forward. One soon-to-be unrestricted free agent that the Bruins could undoubtedly benefit from having is Evgenii Dadonov. Let’s take a look at some pros and cons if the Bruins were to acquire Dadonov.

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Pros

The 5’11, 185-pound forward is a top-six winger that can bring significant secondary scoring for the Bruins. This past season, Dadonov scored 25 goals, marking his third straight 25+ goal campaign (28 goals each of the previous two seasons). Although he is a left-shot, he primarily plays on the right-wing so that would compliment David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk (if the Bruins re-sign him) very well. If the team chooses not to re-sign DeBrusk, it’s a possibility that Dadonov could be slotted onto the left-wing with Ondrej Kase on the right-wing.

Dadonov produced 47 points in 69 games played this past season but has proven to be capable of much more than that. Once he returned to the NHL in 2017-2018 after a five-year stint in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), he contributed 65 points in 74 games. The following season, Dadonov suited up for all 82 games and scored 70 points. There is no doubt he can eclipse 70-80 points if he were to create chemistry with Krejci and DeBrusk/Kase.

Dadonov could also contribute on the power-play but hasn’t shown anything special that he would make a significant difference for the Bruins, who have one of the top power-play units in the NHL. This past season, the forward potted 11 power-play goals and 17 power-play points. His main contribution (and an area that the Bruins need significant improvement) will be his offensive ability during 5-on-5 situations.

Also, Dadonov rarely sees time in the penalty box ,and coaches love a player they can utilize on the ice at all times due to strict discipline. In the past three campaigns, the winger has accrued only 26 PIM in 225 games played.

Cons

One of the most significant setbacks for Dadonov joining the Bruins is his age and how much money he will demand. The 31-year-old forward is coming off a three-year deal worth $4M AAV. With that being said, Dadonov does not play on the penalty-kill, and his defensive game is sub-par compared to his offensive abilities.

For the Bruins, asking for more than $4M AAV is entirely unrealistic, especially if he is only playing second-line minutes and some on the power-play. With three strong seasons under his belt, Dadonov could easily command more than $4M+ AAV in free agency. Another issue is that if the Bruins keep DeBrusk and Kase, then acquiring Dadonov may not be as crucial. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy could slot him on Charlie Coyles’ line, but $4M+ per season is a lot of money for a third-line winger.

Another critical factor to consider is the lack of playoff experience Dadonov has at the NHL level, and the incredible pressure of playing for the Boston Bruins compared to the Florida Panthers. It’s also important to note that although Dadonov isn’t considered undersized, but he is certainly not the physical forward the Bruins have been searching for (example, the Ritchie brothers).

Conclusion

Overall, Dadonov would be a great offensive option for the Bruins. But with young talent such as; Anders Bjork, Jack Studnicka, Trent Fredric, Zach Senyshyn, and Karson Kuhlman looking to make the jump to the NHL, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is a vacant spot for Dadonov. The forward certainly checks the boxes as the offensive talent the Bruins are looking to play alongside Krejci.

Despite his offensive abilities, Dadonov is 31-years-old and will most likely command more than $4M AAV in free agency. Unless the Bruins can talk him into a team-friendly deal, I don’t think his offensive abilities alone are worth it for the Bruins to spend that much money. It will be exciting to see what moves Sweeney makes soon. The free-agent market will open at noon EST on October 9th.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 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!!

Predicting The Future Performance Of The Bruins’ Next Core

(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

By Leon Lifschutz | Follow me @LeonLifschutz

Introduction

Welcome back for Part Three of our series predicting the performance of the Bruins’ core players. In Part One we examined aging curves and decided on who made up the Bruins’ veteran and young cores. In Part Two we analyzed the past performances and trends of the Bruins’ veterans in order to predict what the future might hold for each player and the group as a whole. In Part Three we will take a look at the players the Bruins organization hope will make up their next wave of key players. These are players already making an impact on the team. The organization can only hope that their trajectory and longevity mimics that of the current veteran core. We will again use the same formula as laid it in Part One to examine player’s past performance and current career trajectories. We will then try and make some assessments. We will ponder if the young core is capable of helping the veteran core achieve greatness one last time. With some recent trade rumors in the air, especially in such an uncertain world, it will also be worth considering if this is a group capable of taking the proverbial torch and leading the Bruins’ franchise to success in the years to come.

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David Pastrnak

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Contract: $6,666,666 AAV through 2022-23

What we learned: Pastrnak grades out as one of the best players in the league and that was recently recognized in the form of Hart Trophy votes. As a teenager in a limited role, he showed he belonged in the NHL. Once he turned 20 and saw his responsibility increase, he blossomed. Over the course of his career his efficiency has continued to improve. He has driven play and generated opportunities consistently since that 20 year old season but he has become more lethal. His shooting percentage has increased year over year as does his ability to make dangerous plays.

Outlook: Entering his 24 year old season Pasta should be able to maintain his level of play for the foreseeable future. While aging curves suggest he has another year to get better, he already was the leagues co-best goal scorer this year. Even if Pastrnak’s shooting percentage regresses a bit he is still a threat to score 40 goals every season for a number of years. It is also evident he makes players around him better evidenced by the increased output from Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand over the last few years. While not known for his defense, Pasta is capable in his own end. Pastrnak is a player you can build a team around. Barring any major injuries or issues Pasta is the future of the Bruin’s core.

Charlie Coyle

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Contract: $5,250,000 AAV through 2025-2026

What we learned: Coyle is the oldest of the young core. By hockey standards he is no longer young and coupled with his years of service in the NHL can be considered grizzled vet. Coyle’s trends have a little bit of noise to them. The first noisy piece is a decline in his mid 20s due to a diminished role towards the tail end of his time with the Minnesota Wild. Second, a tough start to his Bruins’ career after a late season trade over a small sample messes with the visual and trendlines. Having said that, he is most recent season’s numbers are on par with his performance earlier in his career. Coyle is done developing at least from an offensive standpoint as he approaches his mid 20s. He is also signed to a very long term contract.

Outlook: Coyle’s play this past year is pretty much career average and probably a clear indicator of who he was and is as a player. He is a bit of a swiss army knife under head coach Bruce Cassidy playing up and down the lineup as needed. In general, he is a solid middle-6 forward ideally suited for 3C, a slot he can really impact the game. At 28, Coyle will not see a spike in offense. However as a trusted player in Cassidy’s lineup, 15 goals and 40 points seems reasonable for the next couple of seasons. In the short term he provides great depth and can step up in the lineup when needed. If David Krejci moves on he can move up to 2C though he is better suited for the third unit. He also seems a quality professional with some leadership ability. However, as he enters his 30s Bs fans may end up regretting the length of his contract.

Jake Debrusk

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Contract: Restricted Free Agent

What we learned: Debrusk burst onto the scene three seasons ago and had instant chemistry with David Krejci. He increased his goal scoring output in his sophomore year largely on the back of a high shooting percentage. In year three his goals and points declined a bit as his shooting percentage regressed and the early career chemistry with Krejci faded. Throughout his young career Debrusk has been a bit on the streaky side. In other words, a little inconsistent. Debrusk has had a small but steady uptick in individual expected goals though that has not really translated into an increase in points.

Outlook: Debrusk is at a make or break point in his career. He has been given every chance to succeed with the Bruins playing on their second line, receiving favorable offensive zone starts, and getting time with the first and second powerplay units. Entering his 24 year old season, Debrusk must prove he is more than a middle-6 complimentary player. In all likelihood though Debrusk is what he is, a 20 goal, 45-50 point player. That is by no means bad but you always get the feeling Debrusk has the potential to be more.

Charlie McAvoy

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Contract: $4,900,000 AAV through 2021-22

What we learned: McAvoy has quickly become the Bruins top defender. The chart doesn’t show his increase in ice time or the difficulty of the competition he plays against night in and night out. He has done so the last couple of years with an aging Zdeno Chara (or occasionally the undrafted Matt Grzelcyk) and still managed to post positive numbers. The NHL media recognized McAvoy’s play recently in the form of votes for this season’s Norris Trophy. McAvoy’s offensive production though has not ascended to the level of other elite two-way defensemen. His numbers are stagnant partially because of a decrease in powerplay time after his first season. His percentages have also decreased despite generating more shots and individual expected goals.

Outlook: McAvoy is no doubt a number one defenseman currently playing on a bargain contract. Just turning 23, he also has a little time to round out his game. If McAvoy can add a little more quality to his offensive chances and get a little more opportunity on the power play he has the potential to enter the upper echelons of NHL defensemen and be part of Norris conversations for years to come. The Long Beach, NY native also showed some durability in 2019-20 after dealing with injuries and time missed in his first couple of seasons. If McAvoy stays healthy and can bump up his offense a touch he should be able to shutdown top lines and produce 40-50 points a season for the foreseeable future.

Brandon Carlo

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Contract: $2,850,000 AAV through 2020-21

What we learned: Carlo will never be known for his offense though he has shown some improvement in that area in his young professional career. Strong numbers his rookie year are the result of unsustainable percentages but his underlying offensive numbers have improved. The Bruins don’t need Carlo to develop into an offensive juggernaut. They need him to be a stopper, a guy that plays hard minutes against top-6 forwards and locks it down on the penalty kill. Carlo is an able penalty killer. His 5v5 possession numbers though regressed alongside Torey Krug this past season. Is this past season an outlier or is tough competition a little too much for Carlo to handle?

Outlook: Carlo is a big man and sometimes it takes players with larger frames a little more time to fill out and find their way. Entering his 24 year old season, and a contract year, it will be imperative for Carlo to figure things out. A little more offense would be nice but in particular he needs to show that the Bruins can drive possession while he is on the ice even against tougher competition. 20 Points isn’t unreasonable to expect from Carlo over the next few years. In all likelihood he will have a new partner next year as well which could help or hurt Carlo in the long-term. This year will either solidify Carlo as a reliable top-4 defender or make him expendable as a depth defender. Carlo’s history, coupled with just a little more development, suggest he can be the former.

Summing Up The Young Core

The Bruins have a current superstar in David Pastrnak and a budding star in Charlie McAvoy. Both have the potential to get even a little better and should be top players in the league for a number of years. Charlie Coyle will not carry a team but is an important player who can be relied upon in all situations, move up and down the lineup, and provide secondary scoring. Coyle should be able to provide that for at least the first half of his contract.

Jake Debrusk and Brandon Carlo are at career crossroads. Both turning 24, they must prove they are more than complimentary pieces and are integral to the team. Both have recently been linked to trade rumors suggesting the Bruins are questioning whether they are part of the organization’s long term plans or the time is right to sell high on their potential. In all likelihood, both can be useful players but are best suited to the middle of the lineup on a team with Stanley Cup aspirations.

Conclusion

If you’ve made it all the way through our three part series, first of all thanks for reading! In Part Two of our series we surmised the Bruins veteran core is likely on it’s last year as a group with potentially three of the five players moving on in 2021. At minimum, only Bergeron and Marchand are likely to continue in their current roles beyond next season. When looking at our young core there are two star players in Pastrnak and McAvoy. Coyle is a very reliable veteran. All three can likely fill the void if the Krejci and Chara move move on or continue to decline. However, to be a true Stanley Cup team the Bruins will need a couple more pieces. This upcoming season will indicate if Carlo and Debrusk can reach their potential and prove they should be long term parts of the team’s core. Otherwise, the Bs will need youngsters like Jack Studnicka or others to show they can be the part of the future core or look towards trades and free agency. The Bruins will also need to find a replacement in net for Rask either at the end of this current contract or as his play declines in the coming years.

There is much lineup uncertainty beyond this year. The Bruins must assess which veterans to move on from and which young players can fill the void when they do. By 2021-22 the Bruins will have a new core but have some key pieces that could sustain success moving forward if surrounded by the right pieces. Having said that, the 2020-21 season should be win at all costs mode for the Bs with much up in the air in the very near future.

All data courtesy of Naturalstattrick, Hockey-Reference, and Puckpedia

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 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 Prospect Season Review: Cameron Hughes

Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr

By: Tim A. Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Next up on my prospect season review is Cameron Hughes. The young forward was drafted in the sixth round 165th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. Hughes spent four years at the University of Wisconsin, the last of which he served as team captain before playing in his first full professional season last year. Hughes had an excellent 2018-2019 campaign. In 52 games, he netted 13 goals while dishing 15 assists for 28 total points (stats courtesy of EliteProspects). The University of Wisconsin Alum was looking to build on that this season. Let’s dive in and see how his 2019-2020 campaign went.

The 2019-2020 season had a rough start for Hughes. In his first ten games, he netted two goals while dishing out one assist for three total points (stats courtesy of the AHL). Over his next 20 games, he found the back of the net once while tallying six assists for seven total points (stats courtesy of the AHL). The young forward would pick up his play over his last 14 games, netting three goals and dishing out three assists for six total points (stats courtesy of the AHL). Combining those totals, in 44 games, he would net six goals while tallying ten assists for 16 total points (stats courtesy of the AHL).

Despite the fantastic 2018-2019 season, it looked like Hughes took a bit of a step back in 2019-2020. I think one of the main reasons for this was an injury. Despite not making any strides forward, the Boston Bruins were still impressed with his game early in the year. So much so that he received a one-game call-up in November. The University of Wisconsin Alum wouldn’t register any points on the scoresheet in that game. The former sixth-round pick is a skilled player. He skates fast and can find the different holes in the defense to create offensive chances. Unfortunately, he’s a bit undersized, and there’s a question whether or not he can hold up a full NHL season.

Hughes is a playmaker on the ice and could still develop into an NHL depth player. One of the main things working against the former Wisconsin Badger is that there are players in Providence that are ahead of him on the depth chart. Guys like Trent Frederic, Jack Studnicka, and Zach Senyshyn are going to get chances to make the big club in Boston before Hughes. However, he still could carve himself a spot in Boston with hard work. One question remains, what happens next with Hughes?

I believe Hughes will eventually develop into an NHL depth player. He will never be a top-six guy. However, I do think that the former sixth-round pick develops into a bottom-six forward in the NHL. In my opinion, that likely will not be with the Boston Bruins. I think that there are too many guys ahead of him on the depth chart. It may take a change in scenery for him to see his full potential. I hope everyone is staying safe. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 195 that we recorded below on 9-21-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

Boston Bruins Prospect Season Review: Robert Lantosi

Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr

By: Tim A Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Next up on my list of prospect season reviews is a guy that you may or may not have heard of, Robert Lantosi. The young winger came to Providence on an AHL only deal in 2019-2020 to see if he could earn an ELC. Lantosi spent all of 2018-2019 playing in his home country of Slovakia playing for HK Nitra of the Tipsport Liga, which is Slovakia’s highest hockey league. While there, in 56 games, he netted 20 goals while dishing out 38 assists for 58 total points (stats courtesy of EliteProspects). Now that you have an idea of where Lantosi came from, let’s dive into his 2019-2020 season.

Lantosi started the 2019-2020 season on an absolute tear. He recorded a point in six of his first nine games. In those first nine games, he netted three goals while dishing out four assists for seven total points (stats courtesy of the AHL). It was an ideal start to the season for a player trying to get recognized by the organization. Lantosi showed right away that he is a highly-skilled player. Not only that, but he’s also speedy. He can chase down pucks and create using his speed. It was an excellent first season in Providence for Lantosi. In 50 games, he netted 11 goals while dishing out 20 assists for 31 total points (stats courtesy of EliteProspects).

2019-2020 was 100% the type of season you want to see a young player on an AHL only contract have. Lantosi was one of the Providence Bruins’ most consistent players all year. The young winger proved that he was a high-energy, high-skill player who was incredibly fun to watch. Lantosi creates space and scoring chances in the offensive zone. He can get the puck to the open player while also having the speed to outskate opponents. The young winger from Slovakia is a pleasure to watch. He stood out a lot this season during most of Providence’s games.

The Boston Bruins were so impressed with Lantosi that on August 6th, they signed him to a one-year ELC. According to Mark Divver, there was talk that a few teams were willing to give Lantosi an NHL contract. Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney found a gem in Lantosi. The young winger played his way into an ELC after being on an AHL only contract. He also grabbed the attention of the rest of the league while doing so. The only real question that remains is where does Lantosi go from here?

I think that Lantosi will probably spend most of next season in Providence, while also being an emergency call-up in case of injury. Beyond next season I believe Lantosi ends up being a bottom-six fixture in the Boston Bruins lineup. His skill and energy make him a perfect candidate for that. This guy is one you have to keep an eye in Providence next season. If you do, you will not regret it. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO Bs GO!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 194 that we recorded below on 9-13-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

Grading The Bruins 2020 Postseason

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

By: Matt Barry | Follow Me On Twitter @oobcards

As kids begin this most unprecedented school year, what better time than now to do a Bruins postseason report card. After a disappointing second round exit, you can begin to see some of the reasons the Bruins became underachievers after the pandemic break. 

This is the type of report card my dad would have not been pleased with thirty years ago. In fact, I may not have taken the bus home that day. But, there is always room for improvement…next year.

Forwards

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Patrice Bergeron – B

The Bruins #1 center has always been a consistent player over the years. It is hard to criticize him and the last few years Bergeron has actually gotten better with age. However, this postseason may have been a precursor for things to come. Bergeron looked slow at times and was not as good on the faceoff dot against Tampa Bay as he has been his entire career. Patrice finished the thirteen game postseason at 2-6-8 with a +2, and provided some offense and a game-winning overtime goal against Carolina. Bergy did stay in the “B” range by not having a 5 on 5 goal scored against him in the 10 real playoff games. Patrice Bergeron was pretty good, but not his usual self at times.

Brad Marchand – A-

Marchand was the best Bruin throughout the postseason. The Bruins left winger was 7-5-12 in thirteen games and scored on twenty-five percent of his shots.  Marchand was the one Bruin who brought it every night. Brad does not get a straight A because he only took twenty-eight shots in thirteen games. And I hate when Marchand tries a low percentage one-on-one move inside the blue line and turns it over. 

David Pastrnak – C+ 

David Pastrnak was fighting injury from the start. Pastrnak obviously had a groin injury or potential sports hernia. Pasta had very little burst when skating and struggled to set his feet for his signature one-timer on his goal in Game 5 against Tampa. Pasta is the Bruins best goal scorer and finished at 3-7-10 in 10 games, but did miss games due to protocol issues, which probably did not help. Only one even strength goal and a -3 will not cut it.

David Krejci – C

Well, here’s the good: 4-8-12 in thirteen games and a big goal to tie Game 5 late against Tampa. Here’s the bad: A -5 and only twenty-three shots for the Bruins second line center. Krejci does not shoot enough anyway, but the Bruins really needed him to be more assertive. Defensively, his lack of speed is really becoming an issue. The Krejci line was hemmed in the zone quite a bit against a faster team. Krejci gets a C, only because he was nearly a point per game player in these playoffs.

Ondrej Kase – F

This is probably harsh, but I am not a an Ondrej Kase fan.  I can see why teams see his potential because Kase seems to look the part and have all the tools. But, in the end, Kase shows why he was a 7th round pick. The mid season pickup just can not finish and David Krejci needs a finisher. Kase also missed Phase 3 due to protocol and posted a 0-4-4 in eleven games. It was just not good enough for a guy who was brought over for a package that included a first round pick.

Jake DeBrusk – C-

I am going to be hard on Jake here. The second line left winger did score four goals. Just when it looks like DeBrusk may never score again, he will score a couple and get you falling back in love with him. But DeBrusk was a -3 and is not getting enough chances. Jake was trying to get to the front of the net more, but the team needs a guy who can get deflections and rebound goals. Bruce Cassidy mentioned the need for it from his team going forward. 

Charlie Coyle – B

Charlie has been a great pickup for the Bruins and is a very good third line center. Coyle was 3-2-5 in thirteen games, but did have a -4 overall. I am going to blame some of that on the cast of linemate characters Coyle has been given. The Weymouth, Mass. native is also one of the better puck possession guys on the team. 

Sean Kuraly – C-

I will be honest and say that if I didn’t have the stats, I would have given Kuraly a B- or so. But Kuraly was a -4 and had just a goal and two assists.  He was also injured and missed three games overall. Kuraly is at his best when he cycles and possesses the puck. The third liner showed flashes of doing that in the playoffs, but it wasn’t enough. Sean Kuraly is probably best as a fourth liner and was put on the third line often.

Anders Bjork – D-

I am beginning to lump Bjork into the group of AHL lifers that the Bruins have rolled out over the years. I didn’t give Bjork an F because he is a younger player, but the former Notre Dame star needs to show something more or the Bruins need to move on from Bjork in a trade. He was 0-1-1 and took three minor penalties in one game. Blah.

Chris Wagner – C

Chris Wagner is a good fourth line player. Wags plays with some sandpaper, a little bit of skill and is reliable. The Walpole native was not great in these playoffs (-5). Wagner did have two goals and thirty-four hits. Wagner also had an injury issue that took him out of the lineup later in the second round.

Joakim Nordstrom – D-

Someone should do a DNA check to see if Kase and Joakim Nordstrom are brothers. It seemed that Nordstrom could have had six goals in the postseason. The only thing keeping him from an “F” is his fifty-five hits. Nordy was a -6 and is a free agent. Good luck with your future endeavors, Joakim Nordstrom.

Karson Kuhlman – D

Karson Kuhlman has terrific speed. There was one play when Kuhlman burst down the left side and cut across the net for a great chance. Kuhlman needs to do more of that in order to separate him from other players on the roster. In five games, Kuhlman was a -2 with eleven shots. Kuhlman showed some flashes, but not enough of them.

Par Lindholm – F

How can you play seventy-five minutes of hockey and get five shots on net?  A -2 in six games, I am not sure what Lindholm brings to the table. Lindholm only had SEVEN hits as a fourth liner. Yuck.

Nick Ritchie – Expelled

In eight games, Ritchie had six shots. The mid-season acquisition, that sent Danton Heinen to Anaheim, started the playoffs skating around aimlessly. Then he tried to be an enforcer, which resulted in a five minute major. Ritchie does not get a grade. Nick Ritchie has been asked to leave.

Jack Studnicka – Incomplete

Jack Studnicka is an intriguing player.  The rookie forward did not get on the scoresheet in five games, but Studnicka seemed to be around the action a lot when the winger was out there. Studnicka was noticeable. Jack certainly is skilled and, although he will not be an overly physical type of player, the Bruins need him to be a productive top six forward, preferably top three next season.

Defensemen

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images )

Charlie McAvoy – B+

Charlie McAvoy got better as the postseason went on. McAvoy is the new top defenseman, in case you have not noticed. McAvoy logs a ton of minutes, is a real bulldog, and started to assert himself more offensively too. The former BU star can really rush the puck. The one downfall was his a -6 rating, or this would have been an “A”. Charlie is the cornerstone for a long time and he’s only twenty-years old.

Brandon Carlo – B+

Brandon Carlo will not overwhelm you with great stats, however he is a pretty solid defenseman. Carlo had some rust after entering the bubble.  With his style, it is hard to take a layoff and then return to form. But Carlo got better as the postseason went on and had an Even plus-minus rating on a team with a lot of minus players.

Zdeno Chara – D

Ugh. It pains me to do this. Zdeno Chara was slow and not as strong with his stick or on his skates. Nikita Kucherov knocked him down, which says a lot.  The Captain was a -4, but Chara did have twenty-one blocked shots. Chara’s strength is still his long stick on the penalty kill. In his old age, Chara does hold the puck too long and had trouble clearing the zone all postseason long.

Matt Grzelcyk – C+

I like Matt Grzelcyk’s game. The former BU star has good speed and excellent skating ability. I think Gryz will add more offense if given the opportunity. The Charlestown, Mass native was solid in the postseason and made good decisions with the puck for the most part. The restricted free agent was a bright spot and in line for a raise.

Connor Clifton – B

Connor Clifton was really good for much of the postseason. Clifton plays with a little edge and personality. Connor had thirty-three hits and was a presence physically. Clifton and Grzyelcyk should signs of becoming a good third pair on defense. “Cliffy Hockey” even chipped in a goal and was only a -1. 

Jeremy Lauzon – C-

Jeremy Lauzon played six games and was a -3. Lauzon did have nineteen hits and may have a future as a third pair defenseman. But, next season is a big one for the 2015 draft pick. Can Jeremy Lauzon be an NHL defenseman or not?

John Moore – Incomplete

John Moore played one head-scratching game. Moore was inserted into the lineup for Clifton and was a -1 in 15 minutes of ice time. It was a weird lineup change considering Clifton was playing well.

Goalies

 ( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports )

Tuukka Rask – C-

Before he opted out, Tuukka Rask was 1-3 with a 2.57 GAA and .904 save percentage. The Bruins netminder was good at times and not so engaged other times. It will be interesting to see if Rask returns next season, especially if the season begins in a bubble.

Jaroslav Halak – C-

It was a challenging position for Jaroslav Halak when Rask left abruptly.  You can add to the fact that there was a back-to-back scenario on the schedule, which resulted in Halak being pulled. However, Halak really battled and almost stole Game 5. The backup goalie let in too many soft ones, though. Losing Rask really hurt.

Dan Vladar – Incomplete

I am giving Dan Vladar an incomplete. The rookie was obviously over his head when he was inserted into Game 3 of the second round. To make matters worse, his teammates allowed the skilled Brayden Point to walk in alone from the red line. It just wasn’t a great spot for Vladar. The coaches did not do him any favors. However, management did by signing him to a three-year extension.

Coach

I am a big Bruce Cassidy fan. I love his honesty and willingness to take responsibility. This was not a great postseason for the Bruins head coach. Losing Rask did not help and he also had a banged-up David Pastrnak. His lineup changes, however, were odd, and he was unwilling to break up the top line for much of the postseason. When Cassidy finally did, the team played well in the elimination game. It just was not Cassidy’s best effort. However, it was an unprecedented situation and the team just never seemed to get back to their game that won them the President’s Trophy before the break. My question, though, is: If you used the round-robin portion as a preseason of sorts, why rest players mid-series? But, I am willing to chalk this up to “nobody’s perfect.”

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 193 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!!

Matt Grzelcyk Should Join Charlie McAvoy On Bruins’ Top D Pair

(Photo: Brian Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

As the Boston Bruins head into the murky waters of the offseason in a year that is surely to prove more convoluted than others, general manager Don Sweeney, head coach Bruce Cassidy and co. undoubtedly have some tough decisions ahead of them. One roster decision that seems like a no-brainer heading into training camp, whenever that happens, is that Matt Grzelcyk should get first crack at the playing to Charlie McAvoy’s left on the top defensive pair.

Torey Krug is all but officially signed to a big ticket elsewhere in the National Hockey League, based off of everything that has been said in his and Sweeney’s season-ending press conferences. Zdeno Chara clearly wants to remain in Boston; however, he is without a deal on the brink of unrestricted free agency, and who knows what his role will look like if he is back in the Black and Gold next season. Presumably, the Big Man would take on a smaller role at even-strength. This all leaves an open spot next to McAvoy.

Granted, Grzelcyk’s status as a restricted free agent may prove to be a snag, but there is no doubt in this writer’s mind that the Bruins will lock up the 26-year-old. From terrific underlying numbers with McAvoy at even-strength to comparable offensive success to Torey Krug, Grzelcyk is primed to take on a bigger role with this team.

Beyond the obvious connection between the 5-foot-9, 174-pound defenseman and McAvoy from their success in two years together on Boston University’s top pair, the two’s productioin has translated in spades at the NHL level. When together on the ice, the opposition barely touches the puck as the former Terriers boasted a ridiculous Corsi-for (CF%) of 59.06% at five-on-five play, during this year’s playoffs.

In 455:54 of ice-time together over the last three regular seasons, the Grzelcyk-McAvoy pairing has a strong CF% of 59.69% at even-strength. The pair has proven to be possession masterclass similar to a combo like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Compare the above stats with the numbers for the Chara-McAvoy pairing over the last few regular seasons (see the below tweet), and there is an obvious improvement. With elevated minutes in general and more time on the ice with the top line, this potential top pair should only continue to excel.

From the 2017-18 season up to the COVID-19 pause this year, Grzelcyk and McAvoy held a high-danger chances rate of 110 for to 69 against (61.45%), and a high-danger goals ratio of 18-5 (78.26%). Comparatively, Chara and McAvoy’s high-danger chances for versus against sat at a rate of 387-355 (52.16%), while their high-danger goals for/against was 57-46 (55.34%)

Individually, Grzelcyk seems to have earned more trust from Cassidy in comparison to Krug. During the 2019-20 regular season, 48.85% of No. 48’s five-on-five shifts started in the offensive zone, compared to 74.33% for Krug as Cassidy does not appear to be as quick to shelter Grzelcyk as he is with No. 47. Further to that point, when Grzelcyk was on the ice this season, Bruins goaltenders had a save percentage of .942, whereas Krug’s on-ice save percentage was .913.

Also, it is not like the Bruins are sacrificing offensive production from the backend for defense. As far as on-ice shooting percentages at even-strength go, the two d-men are fairly similar in terms of the Bruins’ production. Last season Boston shot at a 6.64% clip with Grzelcyk on the ice, while the team had a 8.14% success rate with Krug.

Grzelcyk in his own right is a perfectly capable power play quarterback. That’s not to say he’s better than Krug – you would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the league that can run a power play the way Krug can – but, in what is a very small audition, Grzelcyk has shown that he can get the job done.

Thanks to the below tweet from @Bruins_Stats, we see that the Bruins’ have produced at a better rate with Grzelcyk dishing the puck to David Patrnak compared to with Krug (12.3 goals-for per 60 minutes with No. 48, and 10.3 GF/60 with No. 47). That’s not to say that level of success is maintainable, as with 72.9 minutes of time on-ice with Grzelcyk and 355.8 TOI with Krug as the power play QB. It would be reasonable to assume the success rate with Grzelcyk would level off, yet not drop too drastically.

Although the former Terrier captain’s size can be a concern when it comes to battles in the corners and some bigger defensive matchups, as we saw at points during the the playoffs this year, the positives outweigh the negatives. The left-shot defender can make a phenomenal first pass to kickstart the breakout, and bring it in all three zones. Whether it is based off individual merit, or his track record with McAvoy, Grzelcyk deserves to be the favorite to slide up to the top pair, and take on greater responsibility at both even-strength and the power play.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 193 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!!

Could Boston’s Brandon Carlo Be On The Move?

( Photo Credit: Paul Vernon / Associated Press )

By: Andrew Taverna | Follow me on Twitter @andrewtaverna

There’s been a lot of speculation that Brandon Carlo could be on the move this offseason. Judging by all of the responses on social media, this idea has and will have plenty of criticism. 

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The idea, though, is one that requires a bit of attention. Let’s take a minute to break down why the Bruins may or may not want to make a deal.

A Solid Defensive Game

Carlo was drafted 37th overall in the 2015 draft. Since his time with the Bruins organization, he has undoubtedly made an impact on the team. He is a 6’5″, 212lbs, 23-year-old, right-shot shutdown defenseman. As mentioned in Fluto Shinzawa’s article on the Athletic, “Carlo is a big, smooth-moving, low-maintenance right-shot defenseman. Players with such skill sets are always in short supply.” The Bruins themselves need that type of player, and while they have a few prospects in their system that might fill that role, none of them have a proven track record.

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Carlo provides a solid defensive game. With a regular-season career plus/minus of plus-57, he has proven himself to be a top-tier NHL caliber shutdown defenseman. This type of play will become critically important as the Bruins look towards a future without Zdeno Chara. Admittedly, with Chara closing in on retirement and Krug one foot out the door, it seems like the Bruins could genuinely use a defenseman like Carlo to anchor the blue-line with McAvoy for years to come.

Little Offensive Upside

Carlo may be a valuable asset to the Bruins, but if they don’t think they can find a reasonable deal by the end of the upcoming season, it might be time to move on, and it sounds like Don Sweeny is open to all possibilities this summer. 

“There’s been plenty of talk of teams trying to move pieces around and players to improve their own clubs,” Sweeney said. “We’re going to do the exact same thing. Having conversations, I’m pretty aware of how teams are valuing players on our roster. So I have to look at it and say, ‘OK, does that mean we have the internal growth available to fill that spot?’ Anytime you look at moving players in and out, you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul in that situation.”

While Carlo provides a reliable defensive option, one major challenge with him is he offers little offensive upside.

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Carlo arguably underperformed during this year’s playoff run and only put up one point in 13 games. Career-wise he only has 51 regular-season points and five post-season points in four seasons. With Krug in all likelihood leaving, the Bruins will need more offensive production if they plan on solving their 5v5 woes, and that’s going to include additional production from their backend. 

If you look past needing the offense and assume you’ll fill that gap a different way, the other major factor to consider is Carlo’s contract situation. He’s currently coming into the final season of his two-year 5.7, million-dollar gap deal. That means it’s time for the Bruins to give him both term and money. For the Bruins to reasonably do that, they’ll either need to use some of the space they gain this offseason or consider moving additional pieces. The last position the organization wants to find themselves in is having two top-tier defensemen walk away for nothing in return on the open market. 

Where Does This Leave The Bruins?

While the scenario exists, I don’t think the Bruins are going to want to trade Carlo. With Chara getting close to retirement. The Bruins need players to play those shutdown minutes. Carlo seems like the perfect fit for that role within the organization. It’s now up to Don Sweeny to find a way to get the deal done.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 193 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!