Gee, it’d be just tremendous if the Bruins would stop getting injured… At least they swept the Habs!
The front office of the Boston Bruins has shown that they have a strong grasp on the idea that the success of the franchise hinges on drafting and developing talent, retaining character individuals, and inserting capable veterans that fit their idea of roster needs with regards to maximizing roles. Part of that last bit comes with shrewd and thoughtful spending as one bad contract can set a franchise back for years in terms of cap flexibility and blocking youth from having a spot where they could potentially contribute on the NHL level.
That said, I feel it’s never to early to start looking at the 2018 free agent market. There will be a number of valuable assets to be courted by seasons end and in the spirit of staying ahead of the game, I have a short list of names General Manager Don Sweeney and company may target when the signing period begins this summer.
Here are some key veterans to keep your eye on, in no particular order:
Patric Hornqvist, RW
2017-18 Cap Hit: $4,250,000
Having watched him for a number of years with the Nashville Predators, Hornqvist has only scratched the surface when it comes to being recognized by the general NHL audience. Criminally underrated while being masked by his big-name counterparts in Pittsburgh these last few seasons, the right-winger has put together a body of work that many teams will no doubt find attractive this summer. While his name isn’t a ‘sexy’ addition for most fans, Hornqvist does all the little things that the Boston faithful would fall in love with. His willingness to shoot, hit, and get into the dirty areas and grind for possession always stood out to me. He’s an agitator on the ice and will draw penalties. He will get under the skin of the defensemen as he sticks his face in every cover-up the opposing goalie is forced into. Hornqvist is a hockey-player’s hockey player if you understand what I mean. His downside? His style of play puts in harm’s way often and at 31 years-old, injuries and general instances of getting banged up are commonplace. With youth behind him to fill gaps, Patric could find a valuable roll on a team that loves leadership and work-ethic.
Michael Grabner, RW
2017-18 Cap Hit: $1,650,000
30 year-old Michael Grabner is about as valuable a bottom-six winger can be in todays NHL. He possess above average speed and a strong level of hockey intelligence. Any coach appreciates his message being enforced night-in, night-out by a respected on-ice leader, and Grabner gives you just that. He’s very useful on the penalty kill, and is reliable in both 5-5 and 4-4 situations. Ultimately a ‘safe’ get for any potential suitor, I would project him to look at going to a team that can contend quickly for reasonable money rather than go somewhere that a cup may be out of reach for a payday.
John Carlson, D
2017-18 Cap Hit: $3,966,667
Washington can’t let this guy go without a sizable effort to resign, can they? The Cap’s have had a tough stretch for their defensive unit as of late in losing Shattenkirk and Alzner last offseason. Add to that a handful of injury issues they’ve had to deal with this year, and Washington would appear to be borderline desperate to lock down Carlson to stabilize the blue line for a few more cup runs during Ovechkin’s tenure. While amassing above average minutes for a good amount of his season, Carlson has showcased his durability and value for his current team as well as a ton of potential suitors who will no doubt be slapping some chair-tops and waving him over in a few months. No brainer thing to say: Carlson is going to make a ton of money this summer.
Calvin de Haan, D
2017-18 Cap Hit: $3,300,000
This one won’t get many excited but a smart team will take a good look at him come July. Basically sheltered from the league playing in Brooklyn right now, de Haan has been a low-key favorite of the Islanders fans, and for good reason. He’s a worker, though nothing stands out about his play. Keep in mind that sometimes hearing little about a defenseman is a good thing. He keeps mistakes to a minimum, blocks shots, can possess the puck well, and is a reliable piece for any team in need. One reason he’s on this list is because everything you’d want in Nick Holden, who the Bruins recently dealt for, is actually there in de Haan. Additionally, if Boston moves a player like Brandon Carlo at the deadline for a piece that may not be there next year, de Haan could be looked at to fill a role for the 2018-19 season and thereafter.
Antti Raanta, G
2017-18 Cap Hit: $1,000,000
Raanta is only 29, which is a good age for netminders in terms of experience and longevity for his next suitor. Also at that age teams know what they’re getting when it comes to skill level. Raanta is developed and could be a stable and afforded back-up behind Tuukka Rask. While Arizona is toiling this year, one bright spot has been the consistent play of Raanta. His numbers are among the best of his career and he has shown himself worthy of a job next season for a number of net-needy organizations. This move could be an affordable and sensible way to go should Anton Khudobin’s asking price be too high for Boston to bring him back.
Key Bruins free-agents this offseason include RFA’s: Ryan Spooner, Sean Kuraly, and Austin Czarnik as well as UFA’s: Riley Nash and Tim Schaller. It would be great to see Spooner and Nash back but their play has likely priced themselves out of Boston’s spending intentions. Additionally, while I would personally hate to lose him, Czarnik has doubled his value and deserves a shot as an NHL roster mainstay and unfortunately as things look right now on paper, it may not be in Boston.
In time we will see these storylines develop. For now it’s just all something we need to keep in the back of our minds, although undoubtedly the front office is way ahead of us all.
Thomas Nyström, Contributor.
Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom
By: Spencer Fascetta Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey
Well, that was a poor showing. In one of the longest BFRs of the season, I had a few thoughts on the shocking showings the Bruins have had in the last week, and the asinine trade deadline rumors surrounding the team.
By: Spencer Fascetta Twitter: @pucknerdhockey
More than the “Trade Tuukka” chants, or the “Deal Krug” narrative, I have been most perplexed and frustrated by the trend of Bruins fans to constantly bring down Brandon Carlo. Carlo is a bonafide Top 4 defenseman in this league, does plenty well, and as soon as he makes a 21-year-old mistake (oh yeah, buried the lede here – HE’S STILL ONLY 21), people jump on the bandwagon and scream from atop the highrises in Boston to get rid of him as fast as possible. To me, this is twofold. For one, Boston fans are consistently impatient. They don’t like waiting too long for players to develop and are quick to bash youngsters for their flaws. This is likely due to how spoiled they have been as a fanbase. When you are exposed to Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, Zdeno Chara, and now the emerging Charlie McAvoy, fair weather fans have a tendency to assume that every young defenseman should be this way, or they are automatically a bust.
No, they are not.
The irony is until McAvoy came along, Carlo was the beloved d-prospect who fans didn’t want to be dealt for anyone short of Connor McDavid, and three first-round picks (still may want to check on that, Pete Chiarelli’s starting to get desperate). As soon as McAvoy broke onto the scene, well, Carlo just wasn’t Chuckie. Newsflash: they have completely different skillsets, and that’s OK.
The second reason I think is that Carlo stands at 6’5″, 203 lbs, and doesn’t pile up highlight-reel, bone-crushing hits. I like to call this “Dougie Hamilton Syndrome,” only, Carlo hasn’t put up the pure offensive numbers that let some fans stomach Hamilton’s perceived lack of physicality. This is a fundamental flaw in how people perceive defense should be played. You do not have to hit people to be a good defenseman. You do not have to hit people because you are big. Carlo’s game is much, much more than that. But, you try explaining that to the fanbase of the Big Bad Bruins. They always have time (and wayyyyy too much money) for the grizzled veteran who will knock an opponent’s face in (I see you, Adam McQuaid).
By this time, you know my schtick – present an argument I find ridiculous and provide plenty of graphical information to support my hypothesis. In short, nerd stuff. Might I say, PUCKNerd Stuff? Yeah, I know, humor’s not really my forte. Anyhoo…
I looked at the last two years of Boston defensemen since Carlo broke into the league and only looked at players who suited up for a minimum of 500 minutes in the black and gold. This limits the dataset to guys who are heavily relied upon and likely played Top 4 minutes for a long stretch in that timeframe. There are only 7 players who qualify: Zdeno Chara, Adam McQuaid, Charlie McAvoy (yeah, ALREADY), Kevan Miller, Colin Miller, Torey Krug, and, yes, Brandon Carlo. Below is a distribution of their zone starts.
Red represents the percentage of shifts started in the offensive zone, orange in the neutral zone, and blue in the defensive zone. You may be interested to note that Carlo has the second lowest percentage of his shifts start in the offensive zone, and the second highest percentage of his shifts start in the defensive zone. The only player getting a higher chunk of his shifts starting in his own zone is Zdeno Chara. Mind you, Carlo broke into the league as a 19-year-old. This says that not only do the Bruins trust him in his own zone, they rely heavily on him to get the job done.
Well, that’s great. But a zone starts distribution that favors defensive zone starts does not necessarily equate to a GOOD defensive player. So, let’s look at Corsi For and Against per Hour. This normalizes Corsi rates for ice time, though the size of the data points equates to the percentage of total time on ice of the team’s time on the ice each player was deployed for.
Only Chara and McAvoy see a more significant percentage of the team’s ice time than Carlo, and he is their best Corsi Against player by a decent amount. Not only that, but he is also a net positive in Corsi, as he falls favorably within the “good” quadrant. What does this indicate? When he is on the ice, the Bruins are producing more shot attempts than the other team, which is indicative of better puck possession. This made me a bit skeptical, as our good friend Adam McQuaid ALSO shows up in that quadrant. So, what if we look at the TYPE of minutes Carlo has been asked to play?
Looking at the Time on Ice percentage adjusted for quality of competition, and comparing that to shot suppression, or Corsi Against per Hour, also adjusted for quality of competition, you start seeing a better picture. Pay close attention to the axes. The Corsi axis (the x-axis on your standard graph) is between 55% and 58% Corsi – an average possession player will fall around 50%. Based on this, Carlo appears to have played the 3rd most against the hardest competition. This makes sense, as it is supported by the previous chart. He is still good at suppressing the opposition, as his Corsi Against per Hour is third lowest of this group – meaning he actually has the third lowest number of shot attempts allowed while is on the ice of this group. Curiously, Colin Miller and Adam McQuaid are the only ones who are better at shot suppression but play significantly easier minutes and a much lower number of minutes. Also, Charlie McAvoy is the definition of fun, but he is playing easily the most difficult opposition of this group as a 21-year-old rookie. That’s objectively ridiculous. Please give him the Calder NOW.
At this point, some of you might be saying, “Carlo is obviously a product of who he plays with.” AHA. I have out-thought you because I already have that information for you.
Since making his NHL debut, Brandon Carlo has played significant minutes (more than a couple of games) with only four players: Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, John-Michael Liles, and Kevan Miller, with the majority of his time being spent with (by far) Chara and Krug.
The 50% line on this chart represents an even distribution of zone starts. Those falling below the line favor defensive zone starts, those high favor offensive zone starts. As one would expect, Carlo has seen a lot more aggressive zone starts when paired with Torey Krug. With the other three, he was hemmed in his own end quite a bit.
Let’s check out that Corsi For versus Against per Hour graph again, but this time, look at how each pairing performed. The Liles/Carlo pairing was objectively bad, but the other 3 have been reasonably good. Krug/Carlo is far and away the best pairing of this group, and they’ve played enough of a sample size of games together to indicate that this is real. In fact, looking at the PDO values for each pairing, each of which suggests how repeatable their performance is (PDO = save percentage + shooting percentage; expect most PDO values to trend towards 100.0), you see that the three best pairings actually seem to be about where they should be. The Liles pairing, let’s chalk that up to limited sample size.
Now, I checked out how efficient each pairing was regarding offensive production. I compared expected goals differential to their produced goals differential to do so. Trending towards the top right of the graph is good, towards the bottom left is kind of bad, and any other direction indicates that they are not performing as expected.
The Chara/Carlo pairing is clearly the best, buoyed in large part to a high expected goal differential. The Krug/Carlo pairing is actually underperforming, while the other two pairings, well, they weren’t tremendously good.
Great. So, Carlo is a good defenseman – when compared to his own teammates. Despite Boston’s reputation as one of the more defensively stout teams in the league, that doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot. So, let’s look at Carlo in comparison to all NHL defensemen who have played over 1000 minutes since his NHL debut.
Looking at a comparison of the difficulty of minutes and shot suppression ability per hour, as we did for the partners Carlo has played with, Carlo matches up quite favorably to some of the NHL’s elite. I have pointed out Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns, the two most recent Norris Trophy winners, as well as Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who plays the most difficult minutes of any defenseman in the league by far, Yannick Weber, who has played the easiest minutes of this group by a large margin, as well as Fedor Tyutin, who has gotten his teeth caved in the most of anyone in this dataset. Carlo is firmly in the top 1/4th of the group, indicating that he is, at worst, a #3 defenseman in this league.
Now, Corsi For and Against per Hour. How does he stack up? Well, Burns is ridiculous, Torey Krug is (unsurprisingly) a Top 5 offensive defenseman in the league, Morgan Rielly is quite good, and Carlo is well into the “good” quadrant. I think I will take him on my defense corps.
What does all of this do to the trade Carlo argument? Well, Brandon Carlo is demonstrably a good defensive defenseman in the NHL at the ripe old age of 21. He’s a right-handed defenseman who is 6’5″ and skates incredibly well. He defends quite well in his own end and plays a very cerebral game on the back end. If you trade Carlo, you immediately will be looking for another Brandon Carlo. The good news is, he won’t need to play top pairing minutes in Boston, which allows him to dominate in a slightly lesser role, what with Charlie McAvoy looking very much like perennial Norris Candidate in his own right. So, please. Just because he makes some weird mistakes, let him figure it out and back off. The end result is going to be one you want to stick around for.
All data mined through the databases on Corsica.hockey. Collected as of January 17th, 2018. All graphs are courtesy of PuckNerd and are not to be used without the express written consent of myself. Thank you.
Please give me a follow on Twitter (found above) and check out/subscribe to my YouTube Channel (@PuckNerd) for more of my content!
By: Mark Allred Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277
Welcome back to episode 79 of the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast in partnership with Grandstand Sports Network the best view in sports. This week we welcomed to the show CBSBoston.com, NHL.com Bruins writer and author of the book 100 Things Bruins Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, Matt Kalman to the show for a fun discussion of interesting Bruins topics in kind of a Q&A session.
Also, added a great discussion with Heroes Cup Hockey Tournament Founder and Sudbury Mass. FireFighter Mike Matros on the show to share some information about the upcoming festivities being held at the eight-rink New England Sports Center in Marlboro, Massachusetts during the weekend of April 20th-22nd 2018. For more information on this great event, please go to heroescuphockey.com
Also joining the show for some Bruins fan interaction, I had the pleasure of talking to Ian Kelly about the state of the Bruins from a fans perspective. Thanks for the time Ian!
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Thanks for tuning in and all the support! We’ll be back next week for another show of Bruins Hockey related material. Take Care and GO Bruins!!
By: Spencer Fascetta Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey
PuckNerd talks through the disappointing sweep at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He’s understandably angry and tries to give you a few potential fixes for the problems he sees. Granted, who actually listens to him? Regardless, he appreciates your eyes and ears!
By: Spencer Fascetta Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey
I have not hidden my frustration with the way the defensive pairings broke camp this season for the Boston Bruins. With Adam McQuaid out for quite some time still, Bruce Cassidy has not been able to run these pairings. That being said, I shudder to think that he will just go back to the way it was before McQuaid was injured because that is not how the defensive corps needs to be structured to ensure success in Beantown. So, let’s talk about it. I would like to state before beginning that there is no 1st, 2nd, and 3rd pairing, nor should there really be in the big scheme of things. With the players available to Boston, the 6 defensemen should be handled in a more balanced approach, in order to maximize their talents.
This is a pairing we have seen a bit since the McQuaid injury, and I have wanted to see this for quite some time. A theme you will find throughout this article is players of complementary skillsets. Torey Krug is a tremendous offensively gifted defenseman. That is a fact. It is also a fact that, although he is good enough to play defense at the NHL level, the weakest part of his game is his ability to break up plays in his own zone. This is somewhere that Brandon Carlo excels. Krug has always been partnered with a stay-at-home guy so that he can play his game unencumbered. Unfortunately, when that guy is Adam McQuaid, the person Krug has spent the overwhelmingly most amount of time within his career, Krug is put between a rock and a hard place – his partner can’t do anything other than play the body. Carlo offers a slightly different skill set to partner with Krug’s dynamic puck skills. He is the modern definition of a shut-down defenseman. He is big, physical, and most importantly, a tremendous skater. Carlo excels at disrupting plays in his own zone, mainly behind his own goal line. Now, isn’t that what we decided Krug’s weakness was? Exactly. Carlo complements Krug nicely, and vice-versa, while Carlo can actually be effective in zones other than his own, and isn’t a liability on the ice.
Again, this is what Bruce Cassidy has gone within the absence of McQuaid. Here’s why it should stay this way. McAvoy’s game is speed, offense, and physicality. He is aggressive to the nth degree. What he needs is a competent safety net to play with if and when he makes a mistake, as rookies are apt to do. Chara can be this guy. He was an excellent mentor to Brandon Carlo last season, but I don’t think McAvoy needs that level of mentorship. Let him figure some of the stuff out on his own, but be there if he can’t or has questions. Chara’s offensive game has been reduced to his shot at this point. He is still an adequate skater for his size and is good enough positionally and physically on his own side of the red line to be a suitable buffer for McAvoy. He just needs to understand that he isn’t 28 anymore, and there is no logical reason for him to act like he’s Bobby Orr like he did in Arizona earlier this season.
At this point, you are likely of one of two opinions: either “Wait, what about Adam McQuaid?” or “Why bother with this article, this is just what Cassidy has been playing the last few games.” Well, I’m not going to rehash my thoughts on Adam McQuaid. I wrote an article in the summer detailing his (and Kevan Miller’s admittedly less detrimental) shortcomings. If you haven’t had the chance yet, you can give that a quick read here. I have been Postma’s champion since he was signed. He is, in my opinion, an underrated defenseman, who has yet to receive a legitimate shot to be an every-game sort of guy on the back end. He can jump in on the powerplay if needed and has underrated transition skills. He is good at getting the puck out of his zone and into the offensive zone. Kevan Miller is rough, tough, and has shown glimpses of some real skating and offensive ability. He is also a significant upgrade over McQuaid and is good enough defensively to allow Postma to not be Johnny Oduya on the back end.
So, where’s McQuaid? Ideally, he and Matt Beleskey are getting well acquainted with the concessions stand in the press box, and not getting into the lineup. He is a liability in 2 zones and is barely replacement level in his own zone. Basically, he can hit and fight, and there is no need to pay 2+ million dollars and a roster spot for a guy that can only add that to your team. However, I know many of you disagree. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
Please give me a follow on Twitter (found above) and check out/subscribe to my YouTube Channel (@PuckNerd) for more of my content!
By: Spencer Fascetta Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey
Well, the B’s got back on track a bit against the Coyotes. How did PuckNerd feel about it?
(Above Photo Credit: nhl .com )
By: Jesse Jiminez Follow Me On Twitter @Jessemedscience
It’s no secret the Boston Bruins are interested in acquiring Colorado Avalanche star center Matt Duchene. Reported asking price? A young top-4 defenseman. For Boston, that would be 20-year old Brandon Carlo, a price worth paying.
Ok — Hold the pitchforks and homemade Molotov… and let’s take an objective look at why this makes sense for the Bruins.
There are various variables when considering a trade of this magnitude. The state of the franchise, cap implications, organizational depth, core roster, and player projection.
As of today, it is safe to say the Bruins are in excellent shape moving forward on all of those fronts. Boston has one of the deepest prospect pools in the NHL and has as many as six rookies with legitimate shots at making the opening night roster. It’s a testament to the dedication Don Sweeney, and the front office has shown along with the willingness to commit to the process without deviating from it. It’s been evident through recent drafts that the Bruins staff do their homework on each individual player — Going off the board with many of their picks. It’s clear they have developed a formula for evaluating and projecting talent as Zach Senyshyn and Jake DeBrusk have proven. Their philosophy is apparently working and has helped shape the future of the Bruins franchise.
( Above Photo Credit: nhl .com )
That being said, let’s be realistic here, not every prospect, as talented as they may be will be putting on a Bruins sweater. In a sense, through their careful and patient development process, the Bruins have created a prospect logjam — A luxury most teams would salivate for. This is what happens when so many players are close or ready to make the jump to the NHL. This is not a negative, of course, as it only illustrates the strength of the organizational depth that has been established. What it also brings to light is the flexibility with roster moves. Due to the plethora of talent, the Bruins have accumulated over the last three years they’re in great position to make moves to improve the club today without affecting the future.
Boston has been involved in various trade rumors, but no name has been as prominent than Matt Duchene, especially in recent weeks. The speculation has stirred up mixed reactions from the natives as Brandon Carlo’s name does not seem to go away in trade discussions. Now, I may have started a war on Twitter earlier in the week when I suggested (pretty adamant, actually) I’d trade Carlo for Duchene, no question. But Before you reach for the Louisville Slugger let me make the case…
Defensemen are notorious for their slow development, and many don’t mature until they’re 25-26 years old. There are very few players at the position that can step right in and make an impact at such a young age — “But Carlo had a great year Jesse”… Yes and no. Carlo had a tremendous start to his rookie year; through the first 30 games, the young defensemen logged an average of 22:22 TOI with a respectable plus/- of 7. Clearly, a pleasant surprise for many as he was projected to start the year in the AHL while Rob O’Gara had the inside track early in camp. However, things began to go south, and as many young players do, Carlo seemed to hit a bit of a rookie wall. For the remaining 52 games, Carlo’s ice time took a big hit due to poor play, coming down from 22:22 TOI to 19:50 TOI. As a result, Zdeno Chara’s workload increased dramatically. Chara averaged more than 24-TOI 15 different times during this stretch including 7 games of 26-TOI or more. Not ideal for a 40-year old defenseman whose season-long endurance was tested down the stretch as the Bruins looked to get back into the playoffs.
( Above Photo Credit: nhl .com )
It was evident Chara’s increased ice time illustrated some of Carlo’s flaws and deficiencies. This is not a knock on Carlo, he’s 20 years old, playing in the NHL in one of the biggest hockey markets. However, it does remind all of us that playing defensemen in the NHL is not a small task and it takes time to develop the vision, hockey sense and positioning at this level. So how long is too long? 3, 4, 5 years? Long enough to eat through the precious prime years of Bruins core players such as Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Tuukka Rask. Is missing this 5-year (or so) window, with this current core group, worth the price of developing defensemen who some scouts believe won’t be more than a top-4? And who some believe there’s not a big gap between him and Rob O’Gara talent wise? To me, it’s an easy ‘NO.’
The Bruins are in a position of strength despite their lack of RHD in the system. I get the argument against trading Brandon Carlo, but Matt Duchene is a unique player with unique skills, same cannot be said for Carlo. The addition of Duchene to this current roster (assuming Bjork and McAvoy excel) will make Boston’s top-6 as dangerous as there is in the NHL. The speed, the vision, the creativity are all attributes Sweeney is looking for in a player. What else helps? Duchene’s versatility and ability to play the wing — And oh, by the way, he’s left-handed, a need given the lack of lefty-centermen on the Bruins as pointed out in a recent article by WEEI’s Ty Anderson. Despite being on horrendous Avalanche teams since starting his NHL career (except 2013-2014) Duchene has managed to average 22-goals and 53-points, including 17-goals and 43-points in just 47 games during the 2012-2013 season. His explosiveness allows him to separate himself from defenders in open ice and he’s able to make something out of a ‘nothing-play’ with his keen hockey sense. Duchene exhibits ‘game-breaking’ ability, an element the Bruins got a taste off this past season from David Pastrnak.
Players of Duchene’s caliber don’t become available often, and the Bruins have put themselves in a position to strike a deal for the former 2009 3rd-overall pick. One main fear of fans is the possibility of Carlo coming back to haunt the Bruins, developing into a top defender in the league. Valid concerns by passionate fans but highly unlikely if you consider a few things. The environment in Colorado is unstable, and the roster does not have the veteran presence to provide the support structure has currently been receiving in Boston, most importantly by Chara. In turn, his development trajectory would theoretically take a step back, suppressing his impact at the NHL level. Not saying Carlo won’t become a good player, I honestly believe he will, but his development in Boston is accelerated because he’s surrounded by the right situation from management all the way down to the players.
Another concern by the Boston faithful has been the cap situation and if the Bruins will have the flexibility to extend Duchene after his remaining two years are up. Making things a little more interesting are the contracts of both Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson whose ELC’s would be expiring at the same time. If McAvoy is anything we saw during the playoffs he could command $5-$6.5mill/yr, creating a terrible situation for the Bruins…or would it?
According to capfriendly.com the Bruins currently have $12,975,655 in cap space. Assuming David Pastrnak’s deal is around $6mill/yr the Bruins will roughly have $7million remaining with 19 players signed. Of course, there is every intention from Don Sweeney to add a couple of bodies on short money which would most likely leave the Bruins with a projected cap space of $3-$4million. There’s still some flexibility there, and rumors continue to swirl on Boston trying to unload Matt Beleskey ($3.8mill) and Adam McQuaid ($2.75mill) contracts to create even more breathing room.
Looking further down the road, the Bruins are projected to have $22mill in cap space with 13 players signed in 2018-2019. It may not sound like a lot considering you need to round out the roster but keep in mind most of the players, again assuming the kids pan out, will be on their entry-level deals. A way to provide relief would be signing players to bridge deals which will bite the Bruins some time to re-evaluate the roster and create space as needed. All in all, I am not as concerned as most, but I also admit I am naturally optimistic about things in general.
Don Sweeney and the philosophies in which the Bruins are operating in have suckered me in. I trust and believe in the process and if that means giving up Brandon Carlo for Matt Duchene, then heck, I am all in…in fact, I’m doubling down…
Jesse “The Dominican PuckHead”
( Above Photo Credit: NHL .com )
By: Jesse Jimenez Follow Me On Twitter @Jessemedscience
How many times over the last 2-3 years have we heard the terms “speed,” “youth,” and “skill” thrown around the NHL? The league is evolving at a rapid rate, and many teams have already started to adopt the new model. Enforcers seem to have been put on the “endangered” list, conceding to the less violent albeit a much more entertaining brand of hockey. The new style of play has no doubt benefited the league from a marketing and promotional perspective, attracting a diverse global audience. Boston, an original six team, and one of the NHL’s most prestigious organizations have already started putting its fingerprints on the new culture.
It’s no secret the Boston Bruins have one of the deepest prospect pools in the NHL and fans got a small taste of it this past season. Young 20-year-old defenseman Brandon Carlo exceeded expectations, making the team out of training camp and putting up a solid line of 6g-10a-16pts with a plus 9 rating while averaging just north of 20-mins TOI per game. University of Denver sophomore standout Danton Heinen had a cup of non-expresso coffee with the parent club before being sent down to Providence for some seasoning. Despite not registering a point in 8 games with the Bruins Heinen showed flashes of creativity, smarts, and essential tools that allowed him to capture 2015 NCHC Rookie of the year and 2016 NCHC best forward awards. After a dry spell for Providence Heinen really turned it on during the last quarter of the season and into the playoffs, leading the team in scoring with 18 points in 17 games including 9-goals. Youngsters such as Austin Czarnik, Peter Cehlarik, Sean Kuraly, Noel Acciari, Rob O’Gara, Anton Blidh and Matt Grzelcyk also got brief stints during the 2016-2017 campaign.
Ironically enough, we have not even touched on the top-tier prospects knocking on the door for the Bruins. Recently signed Notre Dame sophomore dynamo Anders Bjork tops the forward list with his dynamic skating, exceptional hockey sense, and world-class creativity. Bjork was named a finalist for the Hobey Baker this past year after posting 21g and 52-points in just 39 games for the Fighting Irish. Bjork may top the list for forwards due to his polished offensive game, but Zachary Senyshyn may have the purest natural ability of the crop. After registering back to back 40g+ seasons for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL Senyshyn is poised to make the best out of development camp after missing out last year due to mononucleosis — He saw limited time at the tail-end of the main camp in September. Then there’s Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, the Sweedish Bergeron as I like to call him. The Boston University product, whose game resembles the 4-time Selke award winner (not too shabby), may be the most rounded forward prospect and Boston’s top prospect at the center position. JFK possesses excellent hockey sense and vision and has a knack for potting big goals. His two-way game is polished and will translate to the NHL, making him an immediate contributor in all situations.
These are three excellent and exciting prospects, but none make you reach for the popcorn more than Charlie McAvoy will. Equipped with a 3-zone game, smooth skating, excellent vision, and a physical edge McAvoy may be the favorite for the Calder trophy this coming season. The former Boston University standout and 2017 WJC Gold Medalist took the NHL by storm as a 19-year old baby-faced rookie during the Stanley Cup playoffs. While the offensive numbers don’t jump off the page, 3 apples in 6 games, it was his matured play in all 3 zones that really captured the attention of fans, team executives, league analysts, and scouts. McAvoy averaged more than 25-min TOI per game — And was the go to quarterback for Boston’s first power-play unit. His ability to jump into the play, provide support for his forwards and transition defense to offense with a crisp first pass pretty much cemented how special and unique he is. McAvoy has generated lots of comparison to Los Angeles Kings stud defensemen Drew Doughty, sure Bruins fans weren’t too disappointed to hear that.
With an influx of young talent knocking on the door this year lets take a look at some lineup possibilities along with realistic expectations for each player.
Boston Bruins 2017-2018 Opening Day lineup:
Jake DeBrusk — 18g 24a
Anders Bjork — 20g 28a
Danton Heinen — 16g 25a
JFK — 13g 30a
Charlie McAvoy — 10g 32a
Of course, there are plenty of moving parts and variables in play. Free agency is around the corner, and the Bruins remain very active in the trade market as they continue their search for a top-4 left shooting defensemen and top-6 forward. That being said, the Toronto Maple Leafs proved that young, inexperienced players can compete in the NHL. With a well-rounded veteran core of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, David Backes, Tuukka Rask and Zdeno Chara the Bruins find themselves in an excellent position to integrate their young talent.
Other Prospects that could push for spots:
Agree? Don’t agree? I’d love to hear your thoughts as well. Who do you have making the Bruins this year?
Jesse “The Dominican PuckHead”