Report: Former Bruin Noel Acciari to sign with Florida Panthers

acciari

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter @yanlatz

According to hockey insider Elliotte Friedman of TSN, now former Boston Bruins forward Noel Acciari is signing with the Florida Panthers for a three-year deal worth five million dollars.

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The tough forward for the Bruins was signed to a two-year entry-level contract as an undrafted free agent in the summer of 2015 after three seasons at Providence College. The 27-year-old from Johnston, Rhode Island played 180 regular season games posting 18 goals and 13 assists for 31 points and a -10 rating. While racking up 80 penalty minutes, Acciari was never afraid to throw his body around and occasionally drop the gloves.

In 35 playoff games, he posted four goals and three assists with a plus-two rating and four penalty minutes.

 

Check out last weeks Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 133 below!

Potential Trade Targets For The Bruins This Offseason

(Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images)

By: Lucus Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

With free agency just around the corner, the Bruins will continue to look for additions to their roster. While the cap is certainly still an issue, I thought up of a few players whose names have been around the news and could fit in well in black and gold.

Chris Kreider

The Boxford Massachusetts native Kreider has been linked to the Bruins for a while now and would certainly fit well with the Bruins. The biggest issue for the UFA to be is that neither he or Bruins current second line left winger Jake DeBrusk can really play on the right side. We saw Debrusk a few times at right wing and he didn’t look very comfortable there. With that being said, Kreider is still a bonafide top-six winger that the Bruins could really use. If the price is right (which is key because there will be multiple teams chomping at the bit for this forward) the Bruins should try to pull the trigger on Kreider.

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

Jimmy Vesey

Yet another New York Ranger from Massachusetts. Boston was a major contender in the Vesey sweepstakes a few years ago, but he elected to sign in New York instead. Regardless, with the addition of youngsters Kappo Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov, the Rangers are looking to move a forward and Vesey seems to be one of the guys they’d like to move. He would be a relatively cheap asset to acquire that would fit into the Bruins middle-six very well. He’s a big body at 6’3, can play both wings, and has hit the 16 goal mark in each of his three seasons in the NHL. Maybe a couple mid-round draft picks, and a decent prospect like Peter Cehlarik could get a deal done.

Jason Zucker

Zucker sits at #2 on the TSN Trade Bait board at the moment, so it seems like there’s a very good chance he gets dealt and the Bruins look to be one of the teams going after him. Zucker has failed to hit 20 goals in a season just once since he became a full-time NHLer in 2014. After a breakout season in the 2017-18 where Zucker was able to light the lamp 33 times, Zucker had a bit of a down year, totaling just 42 points throughout the campaign. Unlike Kreider who will be a UFA at the end of the season, Zucker is locked up for another four years at a respectable $5.5 million per year. With the Wild looking to get younger, the Bruins 2020 1st round pick or some of the many NHL ready prospects the Bs boast could certainly be used to acquire Zucker.

Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi wants to be traded, per a report from TSN.

(Photo Credit: Kim Klement – USA TODAY Sports)

Jesse Puljujarvi

Darren Dreger has recently reported that the 21-year-old wants out of Edmonton and it seems like a perfect “buy low” opportunity for the Bruins. The 2016 4th overall pick hasn’t had much success with the Oilers, totaling just 37 points and a -10 rating in 139 games, but didn’t get a ton of ice time playing primarily 3rd line minutes with minimal use on the powerplay. It’s been rumored the Oilers could move him if they got a top nine forward back in return so whether the Bruins are willing to give up a solid roster player for a question mark like Puljujarvi is yet to be seen, but if they can turn around the young Fin’s career, he would be a perfect fit on David Krejci’s right with his 6’4 frame.

Nikolaj Ehlers

This last player hasn’t been linked to the Bruins at all, but man would he look good in black and gold. His name has been thrown around in a lot of rumors throughout the league. He was locked up long term in 2017 and is entering the second year of his seven-year, $42 million deal. He is still very young at 23 years old, and despite a down year this year, he looks to be a potential star in the making with two 60 point seasons already under his belt. Now Ehlers would cost more than the rest of the players on this list but is definitely the best fit long term. With the Jets trading Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers heading to free agency, Winnipeg would more than likely look for a right-handed defenseman in return. The only problem for the Bruins is that their two most attractive options (Charlie Mcavoy and Brandon Carlo) look to be major pieces for the Bruins future. Maybe the Bruins can figure out something, but it’s more than likely that the Jets will find a better fit than the Bruins, still an interesting thought though.

Amesbury Maples Legend Series: Games At The Old Boston Garden

( Photo Credit: Facebook Page / Google Search )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Amesbury Maples hockey team established themselves as an organization during the 1924-25 winter season. Playing their games locally in shop leagues driven by the automotive industry alongside the many waterways in Amesbury, Massachusetts, the Maples club dominated the area and quickly got known as a team to be reckoned with. The first four years of the Maples was they’re coming out party as the team gained local popularity which in turn sparked media attention with newspaper publications and praise of the team’s efforts.

By the 1930-31 season, the Maples were heavily known as one of the best amateur/semi-pro teams in New England. Many club teams from afar heard how talented this team was that wore the Kelly Green and White and often welcomed those teams to Amesbury or travel to play at the challenger’s sheet of ice often returning home with a victory.  No matter how far the Maples had to go to find games due to unseasonably warm winters or the aforementioned gentlemanly challenge from an out of state club, sometimes the biggest moments are how you represent your community at the highest level.

( Photo Credit: Old Arenas Facebook Page / Google Search )

From the 1930-31 season to their last appearance in 1940-41, the Maples would participate in the Northeast Amateur Athletic Union’s annual playoffs. The team would travel to Providence to play their games at the  Rhode Island Auditorium (Image Above) for a few years before the postseason event was moved closer to home in Massachusetts.

( Photo Credit: Sports Business Daily )

The NEAAU would move its tournament operations to the Boston Garden (Seen Above) in 1936, and the Maples would appear on the Garden ice for the next six years after successful season schedules. The Maples would post a regular season record of 19-3-2  in the 1939-40 campaign good enough for a birth in the NEAAU playoffs. After previous years of not being able to cross the threshold of an NEAAU Championship,  the club finally got what was due and named New England Champions after a clean sweep of East Boston, Hingham Cove, Hyde Shore (Cambridge), and shutting out Concord, New Hampshire 7-0. In those four NEAAU games at the Garden, the Maples outscored their opponents  26-4. Even though they were named New England Champs, the mission was far from over after winning on Boston Graden ice.

The next level after capturing the NEAAU title was a move up to the National ranks to play other club teams and collegiate competition in Lake Placid, NY (Seen Below). The National AAU single elimination tournament kicked off its schedule on  Friday, March 1st, 1940 with the Maples earning a first-round bye. The Maples went into Saturday’s semi-final action shorthanded to the full bench and heavily favored University of Minnesota club who also entering the National tournament on a bye after winning their region.

( Photo Credit: TeamGB.com / Image Not Maples Related )

Although the Maples tried their best, it just wasn’t enough as Minnesota would cap off the semi-final event with a 9-4 victory over the Amesbury club that traveled over 300 miles in search of the ultimate prize. Minnesota would go onto win the championship at Lake Placid after beating Brock Hall of New Haven, Connecticut 9-1 in the finals. Per local paper that’s unidentifiable, the Maples entered the National AAU tournament having victories in 16 straight games and were certainly one of the hotter clubs gearing up to make a long run and be forever immortalized.

Below are some tickets from a few of the events at the old Boston Garden when the Amesbury Maples had a chance to play and capture a New England Championship.

 

During this timeframe, there were many great players who contributed but to give an idea of who was on the team during this time I’m going to mention those who I consider legends. I’m still learning about all these gentlemen as my research continues so if I missed anyone that some believe should be mentioned, this legend series isn’t stopping anytime soon so hope to get to those that folks suggest.

Archie Cloutier, Henry Graf, Eddie Nichols, Alphonse Picard, John Reddy, Albie Roy, Wilfred Stuart, Harold “Fuzzy” Thurston, and Chewie Williams.

As always I like to end every one of my Amesbury related hockey articles by thanking the many great folks that have given me the opportunity to gather family information over the years. Shout out to local area sports guru Bert Spofford who gathered all kinds of value findings that were Maples Hockey related for the 70th Anniversary Weekend Celebration in October of 1993. If it wasn’t for the effort of Spofford in searching local libraries for sports info nobody would probably know this team existed in 40 years. Mr. Spofford passed away in 2007 and was known to be very knowledgable in sports and stats for years. Spofford and mentioned above Albie Roy will be inducted into the 2019 Amesbury High School Athletic Hall of Fame on Thursday night September 28th in the AHS Auditorium.

If you happen to have an Amesbury Maples related items, photos or stories about the former players, please send me an email at blackngoldhockeyblog@gmail.com and I may use it in a future article during the summer downtime. Thanks for reading!!

Report: Johansson Not In Talks With Bruins Ahead Of Free Agency

NHL: San Jose Sharks at Boston Bruins

(Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter @yanlatz

At the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals, Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney was optimistic that he would come to terms with Marcus Johansson and his representation on a deal. Up until late last week, the Bruins were still in the mix along with a handful of other teams. However, it is now being reported by Darren Dreger of TSN that 10 or more teams are in contact with the 28-year-old forward from Sweden and the Bruins are not one of those teams.

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Johansson will become an unrestricted free agent on July first as the NHL Free Agency frenzy begins after the Bruins acquired Johansson from the New Jersey Devils on trade deadline day for a 2019 second-round pick and a 2020 fourth-round pick.

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He will likely get a raise on his $4.6 million that he received last season and with the Bruins cap situation they just simply cannot afford to pay Johansson. Johansson praised the city of Boston and the Bruins organization and expressed interest in re-signing but will likely be wearing another sweater in the 2019-2020 season.

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His tenure with Boston got off to a rough start. On March 5, 2019, Johansson was injured in just his fourth game with the Bruins. He was hospitalized after a collision with Carolina Hurricanes forward Michael Ferland and later diagnosed with a lung contusion. He went on to miss 10 games in March for the Bruins after the injury.

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During his brief time in Boston, Johansson put up one goal and two assists in 10 regular season games played. But, his impact was really felt in the postseason. Johansson quickly built chemistry with B’s forward Charlie Coyle on the third line for Bruce Cassidy. In 22 playoff games, Johansson scored four goals to go along with seven helpers and 11 points and scored some huge goals for Boston like his insurance marker in the first period of game seven against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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He also connected with Charlie Coyle with incredible passes on the tying and overtime game-winning goals in game one of the second round series against Columbus. The line of Danton Heinen, Charlie Coyle, and Marcus Johansson were often the Bruins most effective line during the long Stanley Cup run. With the “perfection-line” and the David Krejci line often struggling to find the back of the net, the Johansson line was productive in their forecheck and goal-scoring and he will definitely be missed by the Bruins next season.

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As a result, Don Sweeney’s search for wingers continues heading into Free Agency on Monday and the rest of the offseason. Sweeney will certainly be busy as the Bruins have a number of UFA’s and RFA’s that they will try to come to terms with before the start of next season.

Sweeney has extending qualifying offers to restricted free agents Danton Heinen, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Peter Cehlarik, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson as well as extending offers to pending unrestricted free agent Noel Acciari and a 2-year extension for defenseman Steven Kampfer.

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July first is always an interesting and exciting day in the NHL so follow along with our Black ‘N Gold Hockey team for all the latest free agency news.

Check out last weeks Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 133 below!

NHL Free Agency: Bruins To Sign Goaltender For Minor-Pro Depth

( Photo Credit: Dave Sandford /Allsport )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney and staff certainly have their hand full this offseason with locking down restricted free agents highlighted by names such as Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, and Danton Heinen. Also, on offseason agenda is to negotiate with unrestricted free agents before the July 1st NHL Free Agent Frenzy deadline. Forward’s Marcus Johansson and Noel Acciari are currently per B’s GM Sweeney in discussions for a return which might seem unlikely with the salary cap sitting at $12 million per  CapFriendly.com.

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Regardless if players are coming and going after Monday’s free agent deadline, one thing that intrigued me was what Sweeney said in his post 2019 Bruins Development Camp press conference. Sweeney mentioned that the club will, in fact, be actively shopping the free agent market for another goaltender. With NHL netminders Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask under contract and seemingly not going anywhere for another year, this potential free agent signing is pointing towards the developmental depths of the organization with a crease addition in the AHL with the Providence Bruins.

It seems like the end of the road for AHL goaltender Zane McIntyre a player who’s been the property of the organization since 2010 when the B’s selected him in the sixth round from the USHL’s Fargo Force and later attended the University of North Dakota for three seasons. Assuming McIntyre does depart, many would think prospect goaltender Dan Vladar and Kyle Keyser who signed as a free agent back in October of 2017 would be fine manning the crease but with this recent news, it looks like the organization could be shifting players around for the upcoming season.

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Now I know many minor-pro teams have had the three-headed monster in goal in the past, but in my opinion, it’s not a very good idea. Playing time is so important to developing netminders, and in a league that predominantly operates on a Friday to Sunday weekly game schedule, one goaltender may take a step back in his pro progression due to lack of playing time. Another scenario that many may be sour about and get away from the potential three-ringed circus in Providence is to place one netminder in the ECHL whenever a Premier “AA” Bruins affiliate is mentioned. At the close of the 2018-19 campaign, the B’s do not have an ECHL club to work with as a feeder league to the higher AHL.

When the Bruins were affiliated with the Atlanta Gladiators, prospect goaltender Vladar spent a full season in the “Coast” and even though his numbers weren’t great on a struggling Atlanta franchise, he was there to get increased playing time and a whole lot of shots. Vladar’s experience in the ECHL was a positive one and could be the route this B’s organization takes again from another player that’s eligible to join the minor-pro ranks such as Kyle Keyser. After a career year in 2018-19, posting a record of 38-8-0, a goals-against-average of 2.75 and .915 save percentage, Kyle is more than ready to make the jump regardless of what pro level he ends up in.

It’s hard to say what avenue the Bruins take in signing another goaltender. Sweeney didn’t exactly give any indication if the franchise is going to look for experience or youth in the addition so I did some searching to see who would be a good fit with our developing netminders at the AHL level from both sides of the coin. Below is an idea in opinion form of course on who I would go after if the choice was mine.

Going With Experience?

Andrew Hammond

( Photo Credit: American Hockey League / Scott Paulus )

Yes, the hambugler will be looking for work next summer, and I believe he’d be a fantastic fit for the goaltending depth for the Bruins. In 56 NHL games, the British Columbia Canada native has a record of 27-15-6 with a 2.31 GAA and .923 Save%. Hammond played last season with the AHL’s Iowa Wild and had a record of 19-14-0. Might be a sneaky move to get a player like Hammond under the umbrella of the B’s organization with a one-year two-way cap friendly deal. The 31-year-old netminder made $300K in the Minnesota Wild’s system.

Chad Johnson

( Photo Credit: Alchetron )

Old friend Chad will also look to continue his career, and if he doesn’t field any NHL offers after July 1st, the Bruins could certainly come calling for the 33-year-old’s services. After already playing in Boston, this would be a solid veteran addition from a player that seen it all from so many different angles. Sadly, after Johnson posted his best year in the NHL when he backstopped the B’s to a 17-4-0 record, he really didn’t do much better with any of the several organizations he’s been with the last several years.  He did have a 22 win season with the Buffalo Sabres, but he also had 16 losses that year. In 192 career NHL games, Johnson has an 80-72-15 record with a 2.73 GAA and .907 Save%. Johnson’s salary was $1.75 million so if he’s still available depending on how long the B’s want to wait he’d be a decent low-risk insurance policy and mentor to a goaltender like Vladar.

Calvin Pickard

( Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports )

Pickard has not had any luck securing a job in the last few seasons being waived and claimed by several teams looking to make space or add to the respected team’s depth, but I believe he still has something to give. In 104 career NHL games, he has a record of 32-50-9 spending time with Colorado, Toronto, Philadelphia, and Arizona.  The 27-year-old Moncton, New Brunswick native, might be a solid addition to the goaltending depth and a player that can start the year in Providence and be ready at a moments notice if Halak or Rask get injured. A one-year, two-way contract wouldn’t break the bank to have that security blanket, in my opinion.

Going With Youth?

Zachary Fucale

( Photo Credit: The Journal Gazette / Jeremy Wadsworth )

Fucale was a highly touted goaltending prospect that slowly slipped down the depth chart of the Montreal Canadiens who drafted him in the second round back in 2013. The 24-year-old has bounced up and down the minor league ranks having yet to see anytime in the show. They say goaltenders take longer to develop, so why not take a chance on Zachary and see what he can do with the tutelage of Bruins goaltending coaches Bob Essensa and assistant Mike Dunham. Last season with the ECHL Fort Wayne Komets, Fucale had a 20-9-3 record and although its a gamble his cap number wouldn’t be terrible if they wanted to take a risk.

Brandon Halverson

( Photo Credit: NHL.com / New York Rangers )

Halverson is another goaltender that’s been through the rigors of the AHL and ECHL all with the New York Rangers. The 23-year-old Michigan native posted an 8-11-0 record with the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack and first-year ECHL affiliation the Maine Mariners where he had a 15-13-1 record. This might not be the greatest idea, but he is young and could serve a valuable service with Providence on a one-year roll of the dice.   A $600K two-way contract is not out of the realm to add depth in the crease. With only one NHL game under his belt, this is obviously not the ideal scenario in case something happens with the Boston goaltending in the NHL.

Mason McDonald

( Photo Credit: ECHL / Kansas City Mavericks Verified Account )

McDonald is a good sized netminder that hasn’t seem to have caught on to full-time professional expectations that the Calgary Flames expected of him when they selected him in the second round in 2014. I feel that he’s another player that could use a change of scenery and guidance to be a solid pro either at the AHL level or the NHL if needed. With no previous NHL games on his resume, I believe the drive is still there for Mason, and if I was the Bruins GM and adding depth, it’s not a bad low-risk thought. He’s another suggestion that the training staff and goaltending coaches could mold into something but who knows. McDonald played in 36 games last season with the ECHL Kansas City Mavericks and had a record of 23-10-3.

Exploring the European free agent market is another avenue the Bruins and scouting staff might consider. I know the ending was a train wreck but finding a goaltender like Niklas Svedberg’s who had two great seasons for Providence posting a record of 65-24-6 in 97 career games for the top minor-pro affiliate of the NHL Bruins. Again, who knows what’s going to happen with the Bruins and their search for another depth goaltender, but it should be interesting to see who in fact they do sign and what shifting will be done in the minor ranks to facilitate the addition.

Check out last weeks Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 133 below!

Former Bruins’ Prospect Gabrielle Is Finding His Game In Australia

(Photo Credit: AIHL)

By: Jack McCarthy  |  Follow Me On Twitter @73johnnymac

 

As the Boston Bruins and their fans begin the process of winding down from the long grind that was the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs, most will be turning their attention to summer pursuits.  As the mercury rises in New England and the hockey news becomes all about the NHL Draft, Free Agency and the off-season rumor-mill, there are still meaningful games of hockey being played in a land far, far away.  The Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) has just completed its All-Star weekend, and its’ eight teams continue to jockey for position to compete for one of hockey’s oldest trophies, the Goodall Cup.  Boston Bruins fans would be interested to know that former Bruins prospect Jesse Gabrielle has found his way to Australia and is having a big impact.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Why on earth do I give a darn about the Australian Ice Hockey League?  I didn’t even know they played hockey Down Under!”  You raise a good point.  As a native Canadian and die-hard Bruins fan, I once felt the exact same way.  But that was twenty years ago before I found myself on the other side of the world and the Australian Ice Hockey League was born shortly thereafter, commencing play in 2000.  The league has made tremendous strides over the past two decades, and the quality of play improves each season as well as the professionalism with which the individual clubs operate.

What is the Australian Ice Hockey League exactly?

The AIHL is the top amateur ice hockey league in Australia.  It has been described as a semi-professional league as it does contain several professional players with experience in various leagues around the world including the NHL, AHL, ECHL, as well as various European professional leagues.  AIHL players are not paid, they do however receive other forms of compensation such as the use of a vehicle, free accommodation, and their flights to and from Australia.  Some are also granted employment opportunities through club sponsors in the communities in which they play.  Each team is permitted to ice a maximum of four import players per game though they can have more than that on their roster.

The league began play with three teams in 2000 and is currently an eight-team national competition featuring three teams in New South Wales (Newcastle Northstars, Sydney Bears, and Sydney Ice Dogs), the CBR Brave located in the Australian Capital Territory, two teams in Victoria (Melbourne Ice and Melbourne Mustangs), one team in South Australia (Adelaide Adrenaline), and one team in Western Australia (Perth Thunder).  The teams play a 28-game regular season with the top four teams qualifying to compete in a weekend showdown for the Goodall Cup.  The Goodall Cup Finals feature first vs. fourth and second vs. third semi-finals with the winners meeting in a single game showdown to capture one of the oldest trophies in hockey.

So, the obvious question then is, what does the AIHL have to do with the Boston Bruins?  Why am I reading about it on a site dedicated to the interests of Bruins fans? Are there any Bruins connections to this semi-pro league in the land of kangaroos and that crazy Australian Rules football (see video below for crash course!)?  Well, the short answer is there are a few, namely some ex-Bruins or ex-Bruins prospects who have made the long journey to play hockey in Australia.

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The most recent ex-Bruin to play in the AIHL is currently making his mark on the league in a big way.  Former Bruins prospect and 2015, 4th-round pick, Jesse Gabrielle, has had a major impact since signing last month with the defending AIHL champion, CBR Brave.  Gabrielle has played just six games to date in the AIHL but has made sure the scorers are familiar with him, having tallied 16 goals and 8 assists for 24 points in those six games.  He also represented the North All-Stars in the AIHL All-Star game played in Sydney on Saturday, June 15th.  Gabrielle showed off his speed in taking out the Fastest Skater leg of the All-Star Skills Competition with a winning time of 12.97 seconds.

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The road to the AIHL for a player like 22-year-old Gabrielle is not the one he had planned on taking, to say the least.  Gabrielle skated in pre-season NHL action for the Boston Bruins as recently as this past September, and he likely didn’t envision a stop Down Under as the way he would spend this summer.  As Bruins fans would be aware, Gabrielle had an injury-interrupted season in the East Coast Hockey League with the Atlanta Gladiators and eventually on loan with the Wichita Thunder, before his entry-level contract was terminated in April with a year to run.  Gabrielle is treating the opportunity to play in Australia as a chance to re-establish himself as a capable player in the hopes of landing another contract to play in the professional ranks for the 2019-20 North American season.  Only time will tell if the move will pay dividends for Gabrielle.

One of the biggest names to ever play in the AIHL is another ex-Boston Bruin who finished his playing career in Australia with a five-game stint in the 2006 season.  A veteran of 789 NHL games, including 178 in the black and gold, Rob Zamuner scored 13 points in five games as a member of the Brisbane Blue Tongues.  His stay may have been brief, but he certainly helped lend credibility to the AIHL as a developing league at the time.

There exists a third Bruins connection to the AIHL.  Former Bruins goaltending prospect, Mike Brown, selected by Boston in the fifth round of the NHL Entry Draft in 2003, played a 17-game stint with the Canberra Knights in 2012.  Although he never played for the big club in Boston, Brown did play games at the AHL level for Providence before becoming a journeyman minor league keeper.

It’s all well and good to have a few ties to the Bruins make appearances in the AIHL, but surely nobody from Australia is good enough to play at the highest level in North America, right?  Well, actually, the growth of the game in Australia over the last two decades has seen a marked improvement in the quality of Australian players being produced, and that has stretched all the way to the National Hockey League.   Nathan Walker was drafted in the third round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals and became the first Australian player to win the Stanley Cup in 2018.    Walker played in one game on the Caps’ playoff run and contributed an assist.  Nice to be able to say you were a point a game player in the playoffs on a Stanley Cup winner!

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Now I wouldn’t bring up Walker in this forum without a Bruins connection.  For B’s fans who may not be familiar with Walker, he is the player who, back in December, delivered the season-ending hit on Anders Bjork in an AHL tilt between the Providence Bruins and Hershey Bears.

Only time will tell how big hockey may become in Australia, but for now, the league continues to build momentum and grow at a steady rate.  For die-hard hockey fans looking for an off-season hockey fix, AIHL games are, for the most part, played on weekends and live streams are often available through individual team Facebook pages or YouTube channels.  You can also learn more about the AIHL at their website: https://theAIHL.com.   You can also follow me on Twitter @73johnnymac for regular updates on the Perth Thunder.

Check out this week’s Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast Episode 133 below!!

Bruins’ DeBrusk At Crossroads After Difficult Postseason

NHL: Florida Panthers at Boston Bruins

(Photo credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)

By Carrie Salls | Follow me on Twitter @nittgrl73

There is no doubt that Jake DeBrusk is a Boston fan favorite, known just as much for his infectious off-ice personality as his puck-handling skills and scoring touch on the ice. Still, it was hard to ignore the fact that DeBrusk was a proverbial ghost in the last three rounds of the team’s 2019 playoff run.

Two issues arose in the first round of the playoffs that may well have contributed to DeBrusk’s noticeable decline in production, and both stemmed from the same incident. DeBrusk was the victim of a Nazem Kadri hit that shook the 22-year-old Bruins right wing and resulted in Kadri being suspended for the remainder of the Toronto/Boston series.

Although DeBrusk would return to game action in the series against the Maple Leafs, he later revealed that he had battled throughout the ensuing three rounds of the playoffs with concussion symptoms stemming from the Kadri hit. DeBrusk also said he was forced to delete the social media apps from his phone because he and his family were receiving death threats from Toronto fans who felt DeBrusk was not properly penalized for his role in the Kadri incident.

Even though it seems extenuating circumstances were at play, the fact remains that DeBrusk was quiet for the remainder of the postseason, contributing to the mediocre play of a much-maligned second line. Now, DeBrusk is heading into the final year of his contract, he will be a restricted free agent after the 2019-2020 season and needs to produce to maintain his spot on the second line and to convince the Bruins that he is worth a longer-term deal.

DeBrusk had a solid 2018-2019 regular season, scoring 27 goals in 68 games played. If he can continue to score goals at that pace, and it is quite possible that he would have potted 30 goals this past season if he had not missed 14 games, Bruins management should be happy enough with his output to offer him a new deal when his contract runs out next year.

That being said, DeBrusk contributed 42 points in the 2018-2019 regular season, one fewer than during the 2017-2018 campaign, which he finished with 16 goals and 27 assists. Although DeBrusk’s goal total increased from season to season, he had just 15 assists this past year, a decline of 12 from his rookie-year assist total.

Perhaps the decline in assists can be partially attributed to the fact that DeBrusk played on a line with veteran center David Krejci, who plays a pass-first game, and a revolving door of right wings. DeBrusk himself spent some time in the 2RW slot, although he struggled to produce playing his off wing.

It stands to reason that team president Cam Neely, general manager Don Sweeney and head coach Bruce Cassidy are going to expect DeBrusk’s, or any young player’s, overall production to increase each year. In DeBrusk’s case, that did not really happen in the 2018-2019 season.

It’s quite possible that injuries, line changes, and the off-ice issues experienced during the Toronto series all combined to make this past season an exception to the norm for Jake DeBrusk. However, if he does not return to form in the upcoming season, the team will have a difficult decision to make regarding his future in Boston.

What Should The Bruins Do About Torey Krug?

Krug

( Photo Courtesy of Patrick Smith / Getty Imagines )

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Coming into this off-season, the Boston Bruins had a few questions that needed answering when it comes to the roster. One of the main questions is, what do the Bruins do about Torey Krug? The former Michigan State University defenseman is 28 years old and heading into the final year of a four-year 21 million dollar deal. He’s also coming off a fantastic season. In 64 games this year Krug netted six goals while dishing out 47 assists for 53 total points and on top of that in 24 playoff games he netted two goals while dishing out 16 assists for 18 total points. Krug firmly established himself as one of the Bruins top players while also reminding us that he’s not afraid to throw his body around.

The other major thing that Krug brings to the table is that he runs the first power-play unit. The Bruins have not been able to find another player that can run the power play like the former Michigan State Spartan does, though not for lack of trying. Given all of the information that I just provided, it would seem like this is a no-brainer for Don Sweeney, you re-sign Torey Krug. However, it’s not so simple. Krug will be 29 at the beginning of next off-season. He will also likely command a six or seven-year deal worth over seven million dollars a year. That’s a lot of money to commit to a player for any team, but especially one who has as many restricted free agents in the next two seasons, most of whom you’d like to keep.

This season, Boston has around 13 million dollars in salary cap space. They also have three major RFAs to sign Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Danton Heinen. After next season the Bruins have 34 million dollars to spend and one nine roster spots committed not including Carlo, McAvoy, and Heinen. On top of that, Jake DeBrusk, Karson Kuhlman, Matt Grzelcyk, and Connor Clifton are also RFAs. That’s seven players that you likely want to keep. The Boston Bruins may not have the luxury of re-signing Torey Krug unless he does take another team friendly deal. This means that Boston has a big decision to make. What do they do assuming they cannot re-sign Krug?

They have a few options. First, they could try and move Krug for a top-six forward. This is something that has been speculated by analysts and fans alike. While this is definitely a viable option, you would have to make sure that you had a defenseman ready to take Krug’s spot on the power-play. At this point in time, I do not believe trading him for a top-six forward is the best option. The player that you get in return probably will not have as big of an impact on the game as Krug does, and you are likely better off filling that second-line right wing position with an internal option rather than giving up Krug.

That leads us to our next option, you keep Torey Krug the entire season and then hope for the best in free agency. This is basically buying into yourself and believing that the team you have constructed can make another deep run into the playoffs. Then at the end of the season, you hope for the best, and maybe Krug surprises you signing a team friendly deal. To me, this is the best option. Torey Krug has proven his worth tenfold over the past few seasons both offensively and defensively. His ability on the power-play is one that cannot be duplicated right now, and this gives you a full season to finally groom his replacement. Plus, the fact of the matter is that you are a better hockey team Torey Krug on it.

With the salary cap situations and RFAs, the Boston Bruins will have some big questions to answer sooner rather than later. For the Torey Krug situation, I believe keeping him is the best option. Yes, you run the risk of losing him in free agency for nothing, but having him on the team gives you the best chance to win next season. Ultimately we have an interesting free agency period and season on the horizon, and I cannot wait to see what happens next. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. I hope everyone is enjoying the summer. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

Mark Your ’19-’20 Bruins Calendar: Part I

Bruins Schedule(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

With the Boston Bruins 2019-2020 regular season schedule recently released by the league and team, it’s that time of the off-season again to mark your B’s calendar! In this six-part series, I’ll be taking a look at what I think are the key scheduling stretches for the Black N’Gold this upcoming year. Some will be home stands, others long road trips; we’ll preview some back-to-backs and some historic (and heated) rivalries; and of course we’ll look at the big divisional match-ups and Stanley Cup rematches that all of the hockey world will be eager to see.  So, without further ado, let’s start with the B’s grueling Fall schedule — a tough test for any team, let alone one that played until June and will have a limited Summer.

OCTOBER 3rd – 10th: “Road Warriors”

The Bruins open next season on the road and stay on the road for another three games in what could be called a mini Western Conference kick (as opposed to the annual “West Coast Kick” in California later next Spring). The team first plays the always formidable and fight-filled Dallas Stars on Opening Night, Thursday, October 3rd before taking on the Arizona Coyotes, Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche over the next seven nights, respectively. This will be a pretty solid litmus test for the almost Stanley Cup Champs (who also pride themselves in being “Road Warriors”) as three of their four competitors also had solid playoff runs and will be wanting to make a statement against the Eastern Conference Champs on home ice. I expect Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak to split these four games, however I wouldn’t be surprised if Head Coach Bruce Cassidy rode the early hot (glove) hand on the road if either could get on a streak right out of the gates.

If the B’s can secure at least five-out-of-eight points during this opening stretch of hockey, that would be ideal — especially when you consider the team will be without stalwart defensemen Kevan Miller & John Moore to start the year and will most likely be featuring a new top-six set-up with Butch Cassidy juggling “the Sundance kids” to see who exactly is the best fit alongside Patrice Bergeron & Brad Marchand (line one) and David Krejci & Jake DeBrusk (line two).  All in all, there’s a lot to pay attention to and take note of as the B’s travel West for a week to start the ’19 season.

OCTOBER 17th – 29th: “Test Your Might!”

I’m likening this next portion of the Bruins’ schedule to the opening part in the original Mortal Kombat theme song: Test Your Might. And coming off what will hopefully be a successful TD Garden Home Opener on October 12th against New Jersey (that’ll be a good one now that P.K. Subban brings his devilish “D” to the Devils) followed by a visit from the once mighty Ducks of Anaheim two days later, the B’s will need every bit of focus, fortitude & follow-through to contend with what could be the most challenging two weeks of hockey all year (and for any NHL team).

To wit: Boston welcomes the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners from Tampa to town on the 17th and ends the month with the near-Cup-contending Sharks swimming by on the 29th. Sandwiched in between what will undoubtedly be two great games of exciting hockey to bookend this stretch, you see a home-and-home versus a revenge-motivated Toronto team, followed by a Game 7 rematch versus St. Louis’ surly squad that gave everyone in Boston “the Blues.” Then, it’s off to New York to battle the rebuilding Rangers on the road.  These six consecutive games will show beyond a shadow of a doubt if the B’s are still Cup-trending or are in need of a boost/spark before Thanksgiving. To paraphrase a different Mortal Kombat line from the still-catchy tune of yesteryear, the B’s will need stand-out performances from, indeed, their mightiest of stars who will be put the test early and often:

EXCELLENT!

Krejci (Kano)

Big Z (Liu Kang)

Marchand (Raiden)

Tuukka Rask (Johnny Cage)

Bergeron (Scorpion)

Sub Jaro (Sub Zero)

Pasta (Sonya)

BOSTON KOMBAT!!!

Coming up in Part II of my Mark Your Bruins Calendar series, I’ll preview what’s on the November docket and how the B’s can take advantage of some important divisional match-ups to make the most of their early season schedule. In the meantime, stay tuned in and tuned up with all things Black N’ Gold by checking out our podcast below:

 

Bruins Extend Qualifying Offers To Six Players

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Maddie Meyer / Getty Images Sport / Getty)

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

As July 1st, or better known as the start of NHL Free Agency Frenzy, gets closer and closer, teams around the NHL are looking to re-sign the players that are going to be around for a long time. Boston has some key players within the system that are going to become free agents, however, the biggest names – Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Danton Heinen – are all restricted free agents (RFA).

In order to retain negotiating rights on these RFAs and others within the Bruins organization, Boston had to extend qualifying offers to six players. For a brief description on what exactly a qualifying offer is, below is a statement from CapFriendly.

  • A qualifying offer is an official Standard Player Contract (SPC) offer which shall be 1 year in length, and which can be subject to salary arbitration should the player be eligible.

  • Clubs have until the later of June 25th or the first Monday after the Entry Draft to submit Qualifying Offers.

  • Qualifying Offers apply to Group 2 and Group 4 free agents.

  • Submitting a Qualifying Offers gives the prior club the right of first refusal to match any offer sheet submitted, or receive draft pick compensation.

  • If the player rejects the qualifying offer, they remain an RFA and their rights are retained by the team.

  • If a player does not receive a qualifying offer, the player becomes a UFA. – CapFriendly.com

As mentioned above, if the player decides to reject the offer, then he remains an RFA and can negotiate a new deal with the team. For the players that did not receive an offer at all, then they will enter the free agent market as a UFA and teams can no longer receive draft compensation in return.

Here are the six players that the Boston Bruins extended a qualifying offer to:

The qualifying offer depends on the salary that the player made in the previous season with their respective club. More on that from CapFriendly below:

  • The qualifying offer is calculated from the players base salary (NHL salary minus signing bonus), and at minimum must meet the seasons minimum salary requirements:

    • 110% of the base salary if the base salary is less than or equal to $660,000

    • 105% of the base salary if the base salary is greater than $660,000 or less than $1,000,000. However, this qualifying offer cannot exceed $1,000,000.

    • 100% of the base salary if the base salary is equal to or greater than $1,000,000.

    • CBA Reference 10.2 (a) (ii) – CapFriendly.com

On their website, there is a tool that allows you to select a player that is currently an RFA and what exactly their qualifying offer is worth. Here are the results of that. It should be noted as well that all qualifying offers are only one year in length.

  • D Charlie McAvoy – $874,125
  • D Brandon Carlo – $874,125
  • F Peter Cehlarik – $735,000
  • F Ryan Fitzgerald – $787,500
  • F Danton Heinen – $874,125
  • F Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson – $874,125

Players can choose to accept the contract if the salary works for them in hopes for earning a larger deal once the one year expires. Forwards Ryan Fitzgerald and Peter Cehlarik will most likely agree to the qualifying offer that has been presented to them.

Evidentally, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Danton Heinen will decline the qualifying offer as they are proven NHL players and will get a large payday very soon. By declining the offer, they remain RFAs and the Bruins do indeed keep their rights within the system.

Another player that will likely decline this qualifying offer is forward Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson who announced in May of this year that he has signed a contract with Vaxjo of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) for the 2019-20 campaign. GM Don Sweeney said in a press release that Forsbacka Karlsson wishes to be closer to his family while continuing his hockey development. This declining of the qualifying offer means that Boston will hold onto his rights for the time being.

Within the entire Boston Bruins organization, only one player did not receive a qualifying offer and that is forward Gemel Smith who skated in 47 games with the Providence Bruins, putting up 16-24-40 numbers. Smith will enter the 2019 Free Agent class as an unrestricted free agent.

July 1st is less than one week away and the free agency frenzy is only getting more and more interesting. Make sure to stay locked on Black N’ Gold Hockey for the latest on the Boston Bruins.

Check out this week’s Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast Episode 132 below!!