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

( Photo Credit: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer )


By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports )

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

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

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

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins Should Go All-In At The Trade Deadline

By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

 

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

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

Why Not Have it All?

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

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

What Would the Prices Translate To?

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

The Cap Situation is Getting Murkier

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

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

The Core is Getting Older (For Real This Time)

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

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

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

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

Bruins Thin on the Wings

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

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

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

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

Little Evidence that the D-Corps Needs an Upgrade

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

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

Five on Five Scoring wins Championships

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

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

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

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Bruins Fail To Land Affordable Winger

( Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea | USA TODAY Sports | http://www.usatoday.com/sports )

By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

Tyler Toffoli has been traded by the Los Angeles Kings to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for former Bruin Tim Schaller, the signing rights of prospect Tyler Madden a 2020 second-round pick and a conditional 2020 fourth-round pick dependent on if Toffoli resigns with Vancouver. The trade was announced by the Canucks’ official Twitter account at 8:50pm EST on February 18, 2020, six days ahead of the NHL trade deadline. The trade is the second by the Kings in advance of what will most likely be a fire-sale in the city of Angels and follows a deal that sent Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford to the Toronto Maple Leafs to address concerns around goal-tending and team toughness of the Canadian hockey club.

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Toffoli has registered 34 points, including 18 goals, in 58 games with the floundering LA team which seems content to book its ticket for best odds in the draft lottery later this year on its way to the golf course. Tim Schaller, the roster player going to the Kings, has posted 5-1-6 totals in 51 games with a -13 rating and clearly represents a bit of salary cap maneuvering and roster management by the Canucks’ top brass. He was undrafted but signed with the Buffalo Sabres organization in 2013. Following a year in the AHL and parts of two seasons in the NHL, he signed with the Bruins in the summer of 2016 and played in 141 regular-season games for the Black and Gold notching totals of 19-17-32 with a cumulative -11 and also appeared in all 17 playoff games over those two seasons. His current contract, which he signed with the Canucks in 2018, expires after the 2020 season and he will most likely walk to unrestricted free agency.

Tyler Madden is an unsigned, NCAA centerman who was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks 68th overall in the third round of the 2018 NHL entry draft. He currently plays for North Eastern University and sits atop of the team’s with leader-board in goals and points with 19 and 37 respectively. Although undersized at 5’11” and 155 pounds, the 20-year-old forward is considered a solid NHL prospect and helped the Huskies to a third consecutive Beanpot title on February 12, 2020. The rest of the package includes futures in a draft that is reported to be one of the deepest, if not sublimely talented, prospect pools in some time. This is a price, one would imagine, the B’s could have paid.

The Bruins Missed Out

Tyler Toffoli has the same point total as Jake Debrusk on an inferior team while possessing better underlying statistics. Toffoli would have immediately upgraded the Bruins in terms of size on the wing, goal-scoring ability, ability to possess the puck and drive play as represented by Fenwick-For Relative (a measure of a player’s impact on unblocked shot shares while on the ice) and would help bring balance to the top-six forward unit that most nights does not represent a potent even-strength threat. (All stats obtained from Hockey Reference.)

This upgrade would have preserved future cap flexibility in a year where the Bruins have no fewer than six potential roster holes to fill in the coming season and provided the reigning Eastern Conference champs with the forward depth they will need to compete against teams in the East like Tampa Bay and Washington that boast excellent defense each complimented by a robust group of heavy bodies that enable their coaches to roll four lines in all situations.  All of this at a relatively small cost.

The price paid by Vancouver can be translated as something similar to Danton Heinen, any prospect outside of Jack Studnicka and Urho Vaakanainen and the Bruin’s second pick in the 2020 draft.  Perhaps the B’s would have sweetened the pot in a similar way with an additional pick or dealt from their deep pool of defensemen in lieu of a prospect, Heinen or both. If one cannot see a trade like that as a fair deal, then that person is not ready to make any realistic trades to bolster the Boys’ chances in the playoffs this season. There are few things more readily apparent on this current roster than the lack of scoring beyond the top line and management failing to provide David Krejci a capable third member on his line. Specifically, a right-winger on his strong side with a shoot-first mentality.

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There are still options for the Bruins to seek as upgrades for their top-six. Names like New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider and Kyle Palmieri of the New Jersey Devils are being tossed about and can represent good additions to the team. While the Bruins’ recent willingness to deal with both of these clubs is noteworthy, it seems that they will have to pay a much steeper price than Vancouver did to bag the biggest name on the rental list or a former All-Star who is signed to another year with a reasonable cap-hit, especially after considering the escalating price for forwards like Jason Zuker and Blake Coleman. Sweeney and Co. may have missed out on the best value the market had to offer.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Top 3 Bruins Trade Deadline Targets

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( Photo Credit: NBC Sports Boston )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter @yanlatz

The NHL trade deadline is quickly approaching and with it another push to the Stanley Cup Playoffs (seriously? it feels like the B’s were in the Finals a week ago). The Bruins along with every NHL team in the playoff race are laying out potential targets for the Monday, February 24th trade deadline. The Bruins under Don Sweeney have rarely made a humongous splash at the deadline in the past but here’s to hoping that changes this year.

The Bruins are often reluctant to give up top prospects and first and second-round picks for deadline trades. In 2018, the Bruins made arguably their biggest deadline move bringing in 33-year-old Rick Nash in exchange for a 2018 first-round pick, 2019 seventh-round pick, Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey, and prospect Ryan Lindgren who was a second-round pick of the Bruins. This was a pretty hefty return for a veteran forward at the tail end of his career and the Bruins went on to lose in five games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Last season, the Bruins traded for Weymouth, MA native Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson as deadline deals and they both had big impacts on the Bruins run to the Stanley Cup Finals. However, the Bruins still fell short.

In my opinion, the Bruins go for it now and give up the picks and prospects to get another crack at the Stanley Cup as the core of Bergeron, Chara, Marchand, Krejci, and Rask is aging and time could be running out for the Bruins to make another run. Here are my top 3 trade targets for the Bruins at the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline:

1. Chris Kreider

Chris Kreider has been linked to the Bruins for a couple of years now but it seems as though there is much more traction on this rumor this year as opposed to in the past. It has been reported that the Bruins have had Kreider on their radar for the deadline virtually all season and I think he would make a great winger for David Krejci who is still desperately awaiting a locked up wing spot along with Jake DeBrusk.

Kreider would feel right at home as the Boxford, MA native would be yet another New England kid to suit up in the Black ‘N Gold. Kreider is having a solid season for the New York Rangers playing in 48 games and racking up 32 points through his 17 goals and 15 assists. However, It would be a little bit of a hefty asking price from the Rangers as they are in a full rebuild mode and would likely want a top tier prospect along with a first-round draft pick.

2. Kyle Palmieri

Another player who has been rumored to be on the Bruins radar is Devils forward Kyle Palmieri. The 28-year-old seasoned vet could help the Bruins on the right side of David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk as he is a right-shot. Palmieri has appeared in 46 games with New Jersey and has scored 17 goals and dished out 16 assists for 33 points. He is a rugged player who can put the puck in the net but also a tough player who is not afraid to scrap and could be a perfect fit in the Bruins lineup.

Palmieri has another year after this on his deal worth a $4.65 million cap hit which could be beneficial to the Bruins if he fits in the Bruins lineup. The Bruins got a similar situation with Charlie Coyle coming over to the Bruins last season with a year left on his deal so he was not a traditional “deadline rental” player. Obviously, for this deal to happen, the Bruins would need to move a roster player to create cap room for the addition of Palmieri.

3. Andreas Athanasiou

This one might come as a surprise to many as he isn’t a top tier NHL player right now but he is a highly thought of young forward across the NHL. The 25-year-old Greek-Canadian from Woodbridge, Ontario has incredible speed and great hands (maybe he can help the Bruins in the shootout down the stretch?). He currently has five goals and 14 assists for 19 points this season in 36 games but is currently battling an injury and sitting out a few games this weekend for Detroit. This would be a cheaper deal for the Bruins than Kreider and they would get a younger, faster, and extremely talented winger. Although there is some risk with his recent injury and the fact that he hasn’t completely broken out just yet.

Other Notable Trade Targets:

Ottawa Senators F Jean-Gabriel Pageau

Los Angeles Kings F Tyler Toffoli

San Jose Sharks D Brenden Dillon

 

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 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’s Latest Trade Buzz

NHL: Boston Bruins at Buffalo Sabres

( Photo Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports )

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

A Bruins regular season would not be complete without trade rumors. The Bruins are almost always rumored to be in on a specific player or shopping their own. Don Sweeney, current General Manager, is always doing his due diligence to improve his team, from sending scouts to NHL games to making phone calls to other General Managers. The latest buzz features two young Bruin names that their fans might be reluctant to give up.

The key takeaway in this tweet is the “Bruins aren’t necessarily shopping them.” Don Sweeney would not be fulfilling his job as General Manager if he didn’t field calls and negotiate deals.  Other teams’ General Managers are doing the same, which is why there’s chatter.  What are the Bruins giving up in these players and who would be worth receiving?

Anders Bjork was drafted 146th overall in the 2014 draft out of Notre Dame.  He had a fruitful career for the Irish, amassing 109 points in 115 games.  Bjork is a young 23-year old impending restricted free-agent who has had the misfortune of two straight seasons ending due to shoulder surgeries.  This season, the 6-foot, 190-pound left-winger is finally fully healthy and improving every game.  He’s largely played with Charlie Coyle as his center and recently been placed on David Krejci’s line. The Bruins have longed to find David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk’s wing partner and Bjork has the tools to be the answer.  

Danton Heinen is the second Bruin to be included in the rumors.  Heinen was drafted 116th overall in the same draft as Bjork (2014).  He played two years for the Denver Pioneers, eclipsing 93 points in 81 games before heading to Boston for eight games in the 2016-17 season.  The 24-year old’s versatility has been one of his many strengths in Boston.  He recently signed a 2-year, $5.6M deal in this past offseason.  He will become a restricted free agent in 2021.  He’s been asked to play with Bergeron, Krejci, and Coyle and has succeeded immensely.  Heinen has the defensive tenacity, vision, and nose for the net that is required of a top-nine winger.  He is a role player needed on a team to make it deep into the playoffs.

If the Bruins potentially have two long-time wingers in their possession, why would they be willing to trade them?  

NHL General Managers generally make trades based on three reasons: they’re looking to rebuild their roster, they’re looking to make a playoff push, or they’re looking to acquire talent for one of their impending free-agent stars. 

If Don Sweeney is fielding calls for Bjork and Heinen, it is more than likely to acquire an impending free-agent to fulfill his top-six winger issue.  Both young forwards have shown promise and have the talents to help lead a team deep into the playoffs.  The Bruins also control their rights for the next several years.  Giving up on players too early has bitten this organization before with the likes of Tyler Seguin.  So if Sweeney does pull the trigger, a well-established NHL scorer should be included in the return.  

The Bruins have brokered trades to acquire impending free-agents (rentals) before in Rick Nash, Marcus Johansson, and Jaromir Jagr.  None of the three were in Bruins’ uniforms the following season, which makes these trades tricky.  Rentals are a risk because they could hit the free-agency market the following year.  The NHL team loses not only the player they acquired but the player they traded away. 

The New York Rangers have two of the three aforementioned motives to strike a deal.  They are seven points behind the Florida Panthers for the final Wild Card spot.  They won the Artemi Panarin sweepstakes in last year’s offseason, handing him $81M for the next seven years.  They also netted the second overall pick, jumping from the sixth spot, in last year’s lottery.   On paper, their roster was primed to make a playoff push.  

The Rangers also have an impending unrestricted free-agent in Chris Kreider.  Kreider, who hails from Boxford, MA, was drafted 19th overall in the 2009 NHL Draft out of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.  He went on to play three years at Boston College, tallying 92 points in 114 games.  The 6-foot-3, 217-pound left-winger has the speed that NHL GM’s salivate over.  He’s currently playing on the Rangers’ top line with 12 goals, which would rank fourth on the current Bruins roster.  He is playing out the last year of his four-year, $18.5M contract. 

Kreider is making $4.6M this year and will look to increase to at least $5M per year on his next deal.  Kreider is a big-bodied winger that would fit the Bruins mold well, especially if he had Krejci feeding him the puck each night.  However, the Bruins should be cautious and ensure Kreider plans to sign a long-term, cost-effective deal if he is traded to his native state.  

The Los Angeles Kings are a team that falls into the rebuilding category.  The Kings are last in the Western Conference with an aging roster.  The Kings have $21M tied up between three of their top-six forwards all over the age of 33.  They’ve been guilty of giving out poor contracts and have had a history of the injury bug.  A few bright spots on their roster have some NHL teams calling.  Tyler Toffoli is a 27-year old winger, who is also on the last year of his contract with Los Angeles.  He, too, will be looking for a pay increase as he sits third in scoring on the lowly Kings with 11 goals.  

 

The last scenario the Bruins could entertain is packaging a young forward to trade David Backes’s deplorable contract.  The Toronto Maple Leafs traded Patrick Marleau, who had a similar contract, to the Carolina Hurricanes for a seventh-round pick this last offseason.  The Leafs had to send a first-round pick in order to rid themselves of Marleau’s contract. 

The same will apply to Backes, but Sweeney could decide to dangle Heinen or Bjork, instead of his coveted first-round choice.  A package that includes Backes, Bjork or Heinen and another draft selection could send New Jersey Devil Miles Wood and a draft selection to Boston.  Miles is a 24-year old left-winger who is in the midst of a team-friendly $2.75M per year deal.  The Devils are second-to-last in the league in points and could also be looking for a new direction.  

General Managers wear many hats and one of them is to improve their team, even if they sit atop the standings.  The Bruins are first in their division and second in the Eastern Conference.  Their Stanley Cup window is dwindling because of their aging core of players.  Zdeno Chara is playing out his one-year deal, Patrice Bergeron has sat for a few games to keep him fresh for the playoffs, and David Krejci has one more year on his 6-year deal signed in 2014.  The time to bing a Stanley Cup back to Boston is now.  Heinen and Bjork were drafted to be a part of a long playoff run but if an NHL team calls and offers a deal that they can’t pass up, Sweeney may take the risk.  

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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.

Five Non-Rental Players The Bruins Can Target At The Trade Deadline

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(Image: Noah K. Murray / Associated Press)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

The NHL Trade Deadline is nearly upon us, and with it comes the rumor mill that has been running rampant all over Twitter. Whether it be about a big fish like Artemi Panarin or a lesser-known commodity like Ryan Dzingel, fans and analysts have shared opinions while insiders have provided reports that have sent Twitter into shambles.

There has been plenty to discuss about the Bruins, given the team’s scoring struggles and the recent loss of David Pastrnak–you can read about the injury in Garrett Haydon’s article breaking the news.

With plenty of concern about trading for a rental player given the Bruins’ recent history with those types of moves in mind (see Nash, Rick), here are five non-rental forwards that the Bruins can target to help the team for now and in the future:

Tyler Toffoli

Toffoli’s name came up in Mike Cratty’s recent article, detailing five scorers the Bruins could target outside of Artemi Panarin. Toffoli has had a down year while playing on the Kings–one of the league’s worst teams–with only 12 goals and 15 assists. The 26-year-old is only on pace for 18 goals and 40 points, compared to last year’s clip of 24 goals and the 31 goals he scored in 2015-16.

However, if given the right situation (alongside a gifted playmaker, like David Krejci), Toffoli could return to that form; he’s currently slotted in on the King’s third line alongside Mike Amadio and Brendan Leipsic–not exactly a combination that sets Toffoli up for success.

Toffoli is locked up for this year and next at a $4.6-million cap hit, and trading him would allow the rebuilding Kings to recoup some assets; it’s just a matter of what the Bruins might have to give up to get the winger.

Kyle Palmieri

The Devils have regressed quite a bit since their playoff birth last season, largely due to Taylor Hall’s inability to stay healthy, the team being ahead of schedule with its performance last year, and not being able to get a save from either goaltender. This gives reason to believe that the Devils may not be totally out of the woods yet with their rebuild.

Since arriving in New Jersey in 2015-16 after a trade from the Anaheim Ducks, Palmieri has been a perennial 20-30 goal-scorer. The 28-year-old has 24 goals and 42 points on a putrid Devils team this season and is on pace for 35 goals and 63 points.

With a cap hit of $4.65-million for this year and the next two seasons with a modified no-trade clause, Palmieri would be a fantastic addition to the Bruins’ top-six as he is not only capable of providing more-than-adequate offense, but he is also an excellent all-around player and leader. The Smithtown, New York, native also lives and trains in Boston over the off-season.

With that being said, we are left with three burning questions. First, would the Devils even be willing to move Palmieri? Second, would Palmieri waive his NTC? Then number three, if they are willing to move Palmieri, what would the asking price be? Presumably, I would guess the price would be high,  considering Palmieri’s age, production, importance to the Devils, and term remaining on his deal–but man, would he look great on the Bruins.

Brayden Schenn

Schenn’s name has been tossed around a bit this season, especially given the St. Louis Blues’ early struggles. The 27-year-old center has had an “okay” season with 10 goals, 25 assists, and 35 points, and is on pace for 16 goals and 51 points.

Schenn had a career season with 28 goals, 42 assists, and 70 points in his first campaign with St. Louis last season; before that, he scored at least 25-goals in two-straight years with the Flyers. Luke Schenn’s younger brother can also play both wing and center, bringing a complete 200-foot game, and doesn’t shy away from throwing his body around.

So, Schenn could be a potential solution at wing in the top-six, as he was featured on his off-side (right wing) during his days in Philadelphia, or he could also play third-line center if the Bruins were to choose to load up down the middle.

Schenn carries a cap hit of $5.125-million until the end of next season. Again, it’s just a matter of what the asking price would be.

Chris Kreider

Much like Schenn, Kreider’s name has been tossed about frequently in the same breath as the Bruins. The Rangers forward and Boxford, Massachusetts, native is signed through next season with a $4.625-million cap hit.

The 27-year-old currently has 24 goals and 43 points for a middling Rangers team and is on pace for 36 goals, 27 assists, and 63 points, all career-highs. The Boston College product is a prototypical power forward for today’s NHL; he can skate like the wind, makes a living in front of the net, uses his body, and can rifle the puck off the rush.

On the Bruins, Kreider would slot in to aid the top-six. Yet again, the predicament arises when considering New York’s willingness to move him, and the potential asking price.

Charlie Coyle

It seems like the Weymouth, MA, native has been linked to the Bruins in trade rumors for nearly his entire career. The Boston University product has 10 goals and 18 assists this season, on track for 15 goals, 26 assists, and 41 points.

At 26-years-old, a 15-20 goal-scorer and 40-50 point-getter is by and large what Coyle likely is at this point in his career. He has scored at least 15 goals twice previously in his career with 18 in 2016-17 and 21 in 2015-16. This season would also mark the third time Coyle has surpassed the 40-point plateau in his career as he had 42 in 2015-16, and 56 in 2016-17.

Like Kreider, Coyle can play a heavy, powerful game at 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds, and has the ability to answer the bell if he has to.

Coyle is locked up at $3.2-million through the end of next season and is capable of slotting anywhere in the top-nine, whether it be at wing or center. The Wild’s lines have been shuffled around nearly all season as Coyle has been featured at center and right-wing on the first, second, and third lines; a firm role alongside David Krejci or as third line center could provide certainty and do him a world of good.

Bonus/Wildcard: Adam Henrique

After spending the first six-and-a-half seasons of his career with New Jersey, Henrique finished with 20 goals and 36 points last season after being traded to the Ducks. The 29-year-old center has the exact same numbers as Coyle this year with 10 goals and 28 points–on pace for 15 goals and 41 points.

Including last season, Henrique has totaled at least 20 goals three times while reaching the 30-goal mark once. As for as points go, Henrique has had at least 40 points on three occasions to go along with one 50-point campaign.

A center who is defensively responsible and has a solid ability to put the puck in the net, Henrique has a $4-million contract that runs out after this season before a five-year, $5.825-million extension with a modified-NTC kick in. That contract extension alone makes it unlikely that Henrique is part of the “major surgery” general manager Bob Murray is considering that Elliotte Friedman talked about in his weekly 31 Thoughts column. Even with that being said, Henrique is just some food for thought, hence the “wildcard” label.

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Providence Bruins Prospect Player Profile: Zach Senyshyn

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(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer-Getty Images)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Zach Senyshyn was taken 15th overall in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft. When he was selected, it was a decision that drew some criticism from fans and NHL Entry Draft experts. At the time, the Bruins had just traded away defenseman Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic to acquire the 13th and the 15th pick in the first round to compliment the clubs original pick at 14. With the Bruins, three straight picks in 2015 they set a modern-day drafting record. There were players still on the board that many prospect people felt should have been picked ahead of Senyshyn, who himself was a speedy player with some big offensive upside. Despite that, the Bruins saw something the in young speedster, and I am here to try and show you what that was.

Zach Senyshyn was drafted by the Boston Bruins because of his incredible speed, and his goal-scoring ability. His 2015-16 season in the OHL was his first since being drafted by the Bruins and did he ever show off his offensive upside. In 66 games with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds he pocketed 45 goals while dishing out 20 assists for 65 total points with a +/- rating of + 5. He also helped the team in a big way during the playoffs in 12 games he netted 2 goals while handing out 7 assists for 9 total points and a +/- of 0. This season drew a lot of praise from people, and it made the Bruins look great taking him when they did in the first round.

The 2016-17 season was a big one for Senyshyn. Both he and the Bruins hoped that he would build upon his big year and assert himself has a top prospect in the league. He did just that. In 59 games with Sault Ste. Marie, he netted 42 goals while tallying 23 assists for 65 total points and a rating of +16. Also, in 11 playoff games, he scored 4 goals added 1 assist for 5 total points and rating of 0. This was a great season for Senyshyn. He was able to not only show off his great speed but also his scoring ability. He seemed to outgrow playing in the OHL, and it was only a matter of time before we started hearing his name in Boston. The Bruins were so happy with the season that they signed him on to play for the Providence Bruins in the playoffs that same year. In 4 playoff games with Providence, he did not register a point and had a rating of -2. Overall it was a very successful second season since being drafted for Zach.

Coming into the 2017-18 season, it was a big deal for Zach Senyshyn. It was his first full season of professional hockey with the Providence Bruins, and they had hoped he would continue to grow and develop on the same trajectory that he had the last two seasons. His first full season in Providence was streaky, but it was also respectable. In 66 games with Providence, he grabbed 12 goals while helping with 14 assists for 26 total points and a rating of +3. While in 4 playoff games he had 0 goals and 1 assist for 1 total point and a rating of –1. Overall it was a season that Senyshyn can build upon going forward.

This season is another big one for Senyshyn. With other players from his draft having successful years in the NHL some people are getting impatient with his development. So far this season in 17 games with Providence Senyshyn has 5 goals while adding 2 assists for 7 total points with a rating of –9. He has started out slow, but in every year he played in the OHL his offensive output increased, and there is no reason why he would not be able to do that in the AHL as well. Something that is still showing is his speed. When he is flying up ice, it is like he was shot out of a cannon. This speed and his scoring ability should ultimately win out, and he can be a good player in the NHL.

One major thing to remember with Zach Senyshyn is he is only 21 years old. He has time to develop into a good NHL player. One comparison I have seen most often is that he can be a Chris Kreider. This would not be a bad thing. That would mean he is a good wing who is going to consistently score 40+ points a season in the NHL. While it may be frustrating to see other players the Bruins passed on in the 2015 NHL Draft be successful in the NHL, I preach to you be patient. Players all develop at different rates. If we are patient with Senyshyn that patience could be rewarded. The reward? A good NHL wing who is on the Bruins top 6 for many years to come.