Assessing The Boston Bruins Salary Cap Situation

( Photo Credit: AP Photo / John Locher )

By: Joey Partridge | Follow Me On Twitter @joey_partridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

( Photo Credit: Jim Rogash / Getty Images Sport )

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

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

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Bruins Alumni: Happy Birthday David Backes

( Photo Credit: Claus Andersen/Getty Images )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Happy 36th Birthday To Former Boston Bruins Player David Backes!

David Backes was born on May 1st, 1984, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and per EliteProspects.com, played his high school hockey for Spring Lake Park High, where he appeared in 73 games for the Panthers contributing 77-102-179 numbers. During his final season of USHS-MN hockey, where he captained the team in 2001-02, Backes would jump to the United States Hockey League and play for the Lincoln Stars 446 miles from home.

In the USHL tier-1 league, which is a fantastic place for developing hockey players prepare for the rigors of Division 1 NCAA Men’s Hockey, he posted 39-51-90 totals in 87 games while averaging a 1.03 points-per-game number. The 6′-3″ 2016-pound forward was drafted in the second round of the 2003 National Hockey League Entry Draft by the St. Louis Blues after completing his final season with Lincoln in the USHL.

That points-per-game average in the USHL would transfer nicely in David’s NCAA career with the Minnesota State University club in Mankato where he had 46-73-119 numbers in 155 games. After his time in the NCAA in the rugged and tough WCHA D-1 conference, Backes would go onto start in the American Hockey League with the club’s top minor-pro affiliate at the time the Peoria Rivermen where he’s spent 43 games during the 2005-06, and 2006-07 years. With AHL Peoria, he scored 15-8-23 numbers and was called up for his first NHL game on December 19th, 2006, where he’d face the Pittsburgh Penguins and would never look back to the American League until much farther in his professional career.

David would go onto play a better part of ten seasons for the Blues organization appearing in 727 games and posting 206-254-460 numbers. After completing his final season in a Blues jersey, Backes was not retained for further service after his long tenure signing a five-year $30 million free-agent contract on July 1st, 2016. David’s first season with Boston during the 2016-17 campaign was a decent showing for the then 32-year-old veteran forward contributing 17-21-38 numbers.

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After posting 33 points the following season, his offensive contributions and playing time would dwindle down, making his NHL mandated $6 million annual average salary-cap number a pest for General Manager Don Sweeney to deal with while trying to better his club via trade. In almost four full seasons of work, Backes posted 39-55-94 totals in 217 games for Boston. On February 21st, 2020, the Bruins would pull the trigger on Backes’ cap relief and roster position when the Boston club trading him to the Anaheim Ducks with defensive prospect Axel Andersson and a first-round selection in 2020 for Ondrej Kase.

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As a 35-year-old, David would only get into six games posting three assists in that timeframe before the world came to a screeching halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although things didn’t exactly work out for the best in Boston, the addition of Backes was good for inspirational leadership on and off the ice for those developing players who have only have spent a short time in the NHL. When watching the bench on TV or when I’m fortunate to be at games at the TD Garden, Backes was always a vocal leader giving direction regardless if the Bruins were up or down on the games scoresheet.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 176 that we recorded below on 4-27-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins Dodged a Bullet at Trade Deadline

( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson | USA TODAY Sports )

By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

The NHL season is stumbling forward into what very well may be a canceled schedule. From the perspective of team management, this leads to several issues. One of those that is rarely discussed is how management teams will recoup losses of hockey “assets” like prospects and draft picks that they dealt for the temporary service of rental players. Bruins’ GM Don Sweeney, however, unknowingly helped to mitigate his teams’ potential losses by exercising the prudence that has become his calling card during the trade deadline activities in February.

Leading up to the February 24th drop-dead time, most of the hockey world had the B’s pegged for bidding up the price on some of the top rental players in the league. Names like Tyler Toffoli, Chris Kreider, and even “Jumbo” Joe Thornton were all linked to the Bruins, at least for short periods of time. What these players all have in common is their free-agent status at the end of the season; all would be able to walk from their teams, no strings attached.

While Kreider ultimately signed with the New York Rangers for seven more years and about $45.5 million, trade packages were prognosticated to include a top-level prospect and a first-round pick. Toffoli yielded a highly touted prospect and a second-round pick in the upcoming draft. A plethora of other teams mortgaged parts of their future in exchange for reinforcements that were to aid in a tournament that will most likely not occur. Meanwhile, the Bruins essentially sent a package of Danton Heinen, David Backes, Axel Andersson and a first-round pick for Nick Ritchie, Ondrej Kase and cap space for an off-season featuring several big-name free agents. 

Most trades at the deadline occur between teams that are out of the playoff picture and those who have Stanley Cup aspirations in the current season. Rebuilding teams trade older, established players that have limited term on their contract or are seen as redundant to the roster while contending teams draw from prospect pools or future draft picks, assets they’d gladly forego for capturing glory. This deadline was no different and saw Toffoli dealt for the return noted above, Brenden Dillon flipped by the San Jose Sharks to the Washington Capitals for two second-round picks and the Ottawa Senators sent J.G. Pageau (!) to Long Island for their first two selections in the 2020 draft, with lottery protections.

While Pageau and the New York Islanders agreed to a deal, all of the other picks and prospects spent on unrestricted free-agents have been, essentially, wasted unless those players in the respective deals also sign with their new teams.  For the team acquiring the picks and prospects, development leagues are also facing shortened and canceled seasons, which will result in a more difficult evaluation process for prospects all through the draft, especially so for those outside the highest few picks.

The Bruins’ trades with the Ducks can largely be represented in terms of three pieces: the off-loading of the Backes contract, acquiring Kase and flipping Heinen’s two-way play and shiftiness for Ritchie’s hard-nosed, big-bodied presence. The price for Backes’ contract was determined when the Toronto Maple Leafs dumped Patrick Marleau to the Carolina Hurricanes. A first-round pick was what it would cost to off-load his deal, now or later. This is a trade that management would have made with or without a playoff appearance and regardless of the status of the current season.

The pick is destined to be in the lower first-round, where talent evaluation will at least begin to become difficult. With that in consideration, the latter two parts are essentially a good prospect with strong skating ability and an undetermined ceiling for a proven second line guy and “fancy stats” darling and an oft-maligned defensive-forward with the play-making ability for a power-forward. Both of the returns have contracts that extend through the 2020 – 2021 season, which means the B’s have cap control and stability in a potential career-defining off-season for Sweeney.

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While those in the organization and the fans have been missing games or worse, becoming ill, they can take some solace in the reality that Sweeney has helped the Bruins dodge a significant bullet in ignoring some of the talking heads (ah-hem) and sticking to his long-term plan. If the season, or some portion of it, is reinstated, great the B’s have a solid roster at all positions and saw an influx of talent; if the season is ultimately canceled, the Bruins will still have most of their cupboard filled as well as flexibility in the off-season. Of course, we can still always hope that we’ll see a full reinstatement of the season and playoffs! That’d be the icing on the cake.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 174 that we recorded below on 4-12-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Boston Bruins Trade Deadline Additions And How They Fit

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

By Jack Cinquegrana | Follow me on Twitter @bruinschewy

The 2018-19 Boston Bruins made it to game seven of the Stanley Cup final last June and analysts and hockey-men alike agreed that they got bullied in the final by St. Louis. Depending on your loyalties, you probably thought the Bruins got jobbed on some calls and if you hate the Bruins then you’ll say they were outworked. It all comes back to the conversation of size and bringing in a big player who can hit but also score.

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The second deadline move consisted of trading away long-time controversial asset Danton Heinen for Nick Ritchie, which for some was a head-scratcher and others were disappointed. The Bruins fanbase expected a goal-scoring stud would be coming to Boston. Ritchie can score but he can also dish the puck and has great vision for a big man. He is not a burner, he will not skate around you, but he can go to the net hard and has an effective net-front presence. I can see Ritchie playing with Coyle and Bjork on the third line, giving 10 and 13 or whoever else he plays with space to roam the offensive zone while Ritchie can screen, tip pucks, and make net-front plays.

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The loss of Danton Heinen is an answered prayer for some Bruins fans and for others is was a punch in the gut. I belong to the latter group because I saw how much Heinen could bring to the table. Great hands, good playmaking ability, good stick, in the right spot, he could do all of that. But because he would not finish a check on the boards and because he was not willing to fight, most Bruins fans had written him off and wanted him gone months ago. I am going to miss Danton Heinen, but I wish him a healthy and productive career starting in Anaheim. As for David Backes, I think he was set up to fail in a hard city to fail in. A bad contract gets moved, he gets to play again and the Bruins get to move on.

( Photo Credit: John Tlumacki/GLOBE STAFF )

Going into the playoffs there will be many deep and formidable opponents, especially in the Eastern Conference. The Metropolitan division has many teams fighting for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, leaving only the New Jersey Devils the only team out of contention and the New York Rangers are two points out of the wildcard. The playoffs are going to be stacked and I think that Ritchie and Kase will give the Bruins the boost they need by filling in positions and roles that they lacked

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Breaking Down The Bruins’ 2020 Trade Deadline

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LEFT: Nick Ritchie (37) (Photo: Harry How / Getty Images North America)
RIGHT: Ondrej Kase (25) (Photo by Steve Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Another trade deadline in the National Hockey League has come and gone. With it, we saw the most trades in the history of the deadline (32) and only the second time that 55 total players have been involved in deals.

Once again, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was active in the trade market, with rumors of Boston being in on Ondrej Kase, Joe Thornton, Kyle Palmieri, Chris Kreider, and more heading into the deadline. Like last year’s trade involving Charlie Coyle and Ryan Donato, Sweeney consummated a trade with a few days to spare before the main event on Monday, acquiring Kase from Anaheim on Friday before dealing for Nick Ritchie on Monday.

Here are the details of the deals that Boston made before the 3:00 pm deadline on Monday afternoon:

Friday Feb. 21, 2020

To Anaheim:

F David Backes (25% retained), D Axel Andersson, 2020 1st-Rounder

To Boston:

F Ondrej Kase

Personally, I really like this deal for the Bruins. Either way, Boston was going to have to give up a higher end draft pick at this year’s deadline, and this year’s first was going to be a late pick in all probability. As far as Axel Andersson, while I think he has NHL potential, I’m not sure that he would have been able to contribute to Boston anytime soon, especially considering how loaded the Bruins are in terms of defense prospects. Anaheim gets two good pieces for their rebuild in the first and Andersson.

As for Backes, it feels like a miracle that Sweeney was able to clear his contract off the books, considering he still has a year left. While it would have been nice to completely move it out, only retaining 25% ($1.5 million) is still a huge win for the Bruins moving forward into this coming offseason with pending unrestricted free agents like Torey Krug and Jaroslav Halak and restricted free agents like Jake DeBrusk and Anders Bjork. It was certainly disappointing how Backes’ time in Boston went, but the former Blues captain is a great guy, by all accounts, and will likely get a chance to play in Anaheim.

Although he’s suited up in just one game for the Bruins, the acquisition of Kase has the makings to be an incredible bargain bin deal. The numbers have not really popped off the page this season for the 24-year-old (7-16-23 in 49 games), but there’s reason to believe he will improve his output on a team like Boston, especially if he is playing on David Krejci’s wing.

First off, Kase is an analytics darling, and shoots the puck a ton, registering 135 shots on goal this season and averaging 2.76 shots per game. However, his shooting percentage sits at 5.2% – not great. In Anaheim, Kase bounced around the lineup and was asked to play different roles on each line, but with stability, and the type of talent that Boston can put on the ice each night, it is reasonable to expect the shooting percentage and results to improve – he certainly has the talent for it.

Whats more, the 2014 seventh rounder is under contract at just $2.8 million until the end of next season, and even then Kase will only be an RFA. Also, after scoring 20 goals in the 2017-18 season, (maybe) not coincidentally the last time the Ducks iced a playoff team, Kase has struggled with staying on the ice consistently. If he can stay healthy with the Bruins, and his offensive output improves, the Bruins will have made out like gangbusters.

Monday: Feb. 24, 2020

To Anaheim

F Danton Heinen

To Boston:

F Nick Ritchie

Of course, as I write this article, Ritchie follows a minus-two, zero-shot performance on Tuesday with a goal and an assist against the Stars on Thursday, but either way, I’m not sure how to wrap my head around this one. Sure, the writing was on the wall for Heinen’s time in Boston – his confidence was totally out the window, he was not doing enough offensively, and it felt like he was on the outside looking in – so I support getting him a fresh start. However, the return of Ritchie in a one-for-one swap is where things get a little puzzling.

Like Kase, the numbers have not been dazzling for Ritchie this year, although the advanced stats are solid. The 10th-overall pick in the 2014 draft, Ritchie now has 9-12-21 numbers through 43 games, on pace for about 13-17-30 totals. His career-high for goals (14) came in his first full NHL season in 2016-17, while his career-high in points (31) came last season, his third full season – the previous two seasons he tallied 28 then 27 points.

I will commend Sweeney for the foresight in terms of this coming off-season, like the Kase deal. Compared to Heinen ($2.8 million through next season), Ritchie ($1.49 million through next year) is under a friendlier contract, will be an RFA next summer, and addresses a need within the organization as he brings a bigger body, more physicality, and interior scoring, when he’s clicking.

 

Admittedly, I genuinely want Ritchie to succeed in Boston – I think he could easily become a fan favorite and could hit some of that untapped potential – but it feels like this move has extreme boom or bust potential. Ritchie looked great on Thursday after Tuesday’s not-so-great showing, but I think consistency is a valid concern, especially after the national reaction seemed to label Ritchie as a weighty underachiever with a tendency for the dumb penalty. For me, Ritchie feels a lot like Matt Beleskey in terms of being a big, left-shot wing with a heavy style of play and having a very low floor and a high ceiling, but again, I seriously want to see this move pan out for the Bruins.

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Overall, I think the Bruins made out fine at the deadline, and although I’m a bigger fan of the Kase deal, both trades have boom or bust potential. Sure, it was a little disappointing not to see Kreider or Palmieri end up in the Black and Gold, but we’ve seen bargain bin additions work out in spades for the Bruins in the past (see: Coyle, Marcus Johansson). Boston is certainly better than they were at this time last week, but its worth noting how the rest of the Eastern Conference contenders, like Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Washington, and even Carolina, loaded up.

So, did the Bruins do enough compared to the rest of the field? We’ll have to wait and see, but there’s no doubt that this team still has Stanley Cup potential. The stretch run and the playoffs should be electric. Buckle up.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 167 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!!

Grading the Bruins’ Deadline Deals

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(Jen Fuller/Getty Images North America)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

This year’s NHL Trade Deadline was one for the record books.  32 trades were executed before the February 24, 2020, 3pm deadline, which broke 2010’s record of 31.  The Bruins accounted for two of the 32 trades, both of which were with the same team.

General Manager Don Sweeney executed two separate trades with the Anaheim Ducks.  The first sent the Bruins’ 2020 first-round draft pick, David Backes, and prospect Axel Andersson for right-winger Ondrej Kase.  The second was a rare one-for-one deal, sending Danton Heinen to Anaheim for Nick Ritchie.  Both trades were executed with a specific need in mind, as well as looking toward future cap space.

It’s no secret that the Bruins have been desperately searching for a right-winger to cement next to David Krejci.  He hasn’t had a formidable, long-standing right-winger since Nathan Horton.  The Bruins have a plethora of wingers in their organization, but none have been able to hold the second-line reigns for long stretches.  They had been scouring the trade market and free agency pools for years, but their cap space kept holding them back from over-extending themselves.

David Backes signed on July 1, 2016, to a 5-year, $30M deal.  His cap hit accounted for $6M each year, which grew increasingly difficult to stomach as a Bruins fan.  The 35-year old centerman grew slower each year and couldn’t keep up with the current NHL pace.  He was a fantastic presence in the room, but that didn’t outweigh his cap hit.  On January 17, 2020, the Bruins made a surprising move.

The move relieved $2M of Backes’ deal from their cap space, and both sides came to an understanding that he would not play in the American Hockey League to stay healthy.  This is known as asset management, which most assumed meant the Bruins were shopping him to other teams.  Executives around the league knew the Bruins would need to sweeten the pot in any trade to rid themselves of the Backes’ deal.

The NHL witnessed the Toronto Maple Leafs pull off a similar trade, sending Patrick Marleau to the Carolina Hurricanes in June 2019 for a conditional first-round pick and a conditional sixth-round pick.  This set the trade market for risky NHL contracts that a team would want to shed.

The trade also creates cap space next off-season to sign Torey Krug.  Krug is on the last of his 4-year, $21M deal and has been a remarkable offensive weapon for the Bruins.  He is their power-play quarterback and has posted over 50 points in three of the last four years.  Torey is currently on pace to post a career-high 63 points this year.  He will cost at least $6M per on his next deal, and the Bruins finally have some money to give.

Ondrej Kase is a 24-year old right-shot winger who is under contract through 2021.  He carries a $2.6M cap hit and will be a restricted free-agent after 2021.  The Czech Republic native is familiar with David Pastrnak in their Olympic hockey days and will play alongside another fellow Czech in David Krejci.  The move felt like Sweeney wanted to accomplish two things: get Krejci a winger who can contribute now and get younger.

Kase has underachieved in his three and a half years in Anaheim.  He’s reached the 20-goal plateau once and has been a versatile weapon.  He can play in all facets of the game, from power-play to penalty kill.  He stands at 6’0 183 pounds and is exceptionally shifty.

The one knock on his resume is his injury history.   He was traded from Anaheim on the Injured Reserve List, and the Bruins are going to be cautious with his return.  The Bruins sit atop the NHL, five points ahead of the surging Tampa Bay Lightning, so they have the luxury of time to manage their assets.  Bruins fans would like to see Kase before the end of the season, which will likely happen.  

Don Sweeney can be given an A-minus for this trade.  He was able to accomplish two areas of need: create long-term cap space for impending free-agents and add a non-rental to his top-six forward group.  Kase’s performance and potential on the Bruins remain to be seen, so of course, the grade can change.

The second trade occurred on Deadline Day, which was a one-for-one sending Boston’s Danton Heinen to Anaheim for Nick Ritchie.  Ritchie is the younger brother of recent free-agent signing Brett Ritchie.  Nick was selected tenth overall in the 2014 draft out of the Ontario Hockey League.  He’s played five years on the Anaheim Ducks totaling 109 points in 287 games.  He is a large bottom-six forward at 6’2, 234 pounds, which brings toughness to the Bruins.

Many fans have voiced that the Bruins lack toughness, whether it be not standing up for one another or getting pushed around on the ice without a true enforcer.  Ritchie seems to fit that mold.  He doesn’t fight much, only two fighting majors in five years, but he does throw his body around and sticks up for his teammates.

Ritchie has 763 career hits and 79 already this year, which is on pace for 158 this year.  His brother Brett plays a similar game, but what separates Nick from Brett is the point total.  Nick has 19 points this year, which will rank eleventh on the Bruins (tied with Anders Bjork).  He also led the Ducks in plus/minus at plus three and carries a $1.5M cap hit for this and next season.  He will also be a restricted free-agent in 2021.

Though, Ritchie comes in with the most penalty minutes on the team.  He has amassed 78 penalty minutes this year, and none have been fighting majors.  The Bruins penalty kill is one of the best in the league, but he will have to eliminate the amount of time spent in the box when they face teams like the Washington Capitals.

Danton Heinen was sent to Anaheim in this deal, and it has been a bit of a mystery for most Bruins fans and NHL experts.  Heinen entered his rookie year, putting up 47 points, and his future was bright.  He hit a bit of a sophomore slump and seemed to focus more on his defense than his offense.  He was under-appreciated in Boston for the little things he did.

Heinen recently signed a 2-year, $5.6M deal this past off-season and will be a restricted free-agent again in 2021.  Sending Heinen saves the Bruins $1.3M in cap space, which will be helpful when Krug, Anders Bjork, Karson Kuhlman, Matt Grzelcyk, and Jake DeBrusk need new deals this upcoming off-season.

This particular trade will need to be re-evaluated in the playoffs and beyond.  Ritchie will likely replace Heinen on the third line next to Charlie Coyle and Bjork.  He has a knack for standing in front of the net and battling for loose pucks.  The move seems to be more forward-looking than for immediate help, but his size could be beneficial when the Bruins face-off against bigger teams like the Lightning and Capitals.  For now, this trade receives a C.

Averaging the two grades together, the Bruins received a solid B for their deadline trades.  They addressed a few areas of need in acquiring a top-six forward and a bulky bottom-six winger.  Sweeney has a tendency to acquire players the Bruins aren’t linked to, and it works out.  Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle come to mind in this regard.  Though, Sweeney has signed and traded for a few bruisers who haven’t worked out: David Backes, Brett Ritchie, and Zac Rinaldo.  Hopefully, Ritchie can break his enforcer track record, and Kase can perform up to his potential, which would raise Sweeney’s 2020 deadline day grade.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 167 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Boston Bruins Acquire F Ondrej Kase From Anaheim

Boston Bruins v Anaheim Ducks

PHOTO CREDITS: (Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

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

With the NHL Trade Deadline only days away, the Boston Bruins have made their first deal, sending forward David Backes, defenseman Axel Andersson and a 1st-round pick in the upcoming 2020 NHL Entry Draft to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward Ondrej Kase.

In addition to the deal, the Bruins are also retaining twenty-five percent of Backes’ $6 million salary. Backes, 35, has only played in 16 games for the Bruins this season, scoring one goal and two assists. Backes was sent down to the Providence Bruins but failed to play a game for the AHL club. With other players on the roster performing better than the veteran, the Bruins organization felt it was time to move on from Backes and send him back to the Western Conference where he began his NHL career.

Boston is also sending defenseman Axel Andersson to the Ducks as a piece of this deal. Andersson, 20, was drafted 57th overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the Bruins and has played the 2019-20 campaign in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with the Moncton Wildcats where he has 2-20-22 numbers in 41 games.

So, what do the Bruins get in return? Ondrej Kase is a 24-year-old right-winger that was drafted in the seventh-round (207th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Anaheim Ducks. Since his draft, the 5-foot-11, 186-pound forward has played in 198 regular-season games, scoring 43 goals and 53 assists for 96 points.

This season, Kase has 7-16-23 numbers in 49 games with the struggling Ducks, averaging a career-high 16:47 of ice-time per game. Contract wise, Kase will save the Bruins a lot of money especially considering the departure of David Backes in the move. The Kadan, Czech Republic native has a cap hit of $2.6 million until the conclusion of the 2020-2021 season. The newfound cap space may be used to reel in another trade target or opens up a window to re-sign defenseman Torey Krug as well as the other expiring contracts throughout the roster.

As of right now, Kase fits perfectly on Boston’s second-line alongside Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci and would likely be a solid upgrade from Karson Kuhlman who currently holds that position. The trade still leaves some opening for another acquisition before Monday’s deadline if General Manager Don Sweeney still has something under his sleeve, but regardless, it appears the Bruins are winners in this one.

As the days and the hours count down until the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline, make sure to stay locked on blackngoldhockey.com for the latest Boston Bruins news as the race for the postseason gets hotter and hotter. Also, make sure to follow me on Twitter (@tkdmaxbjj) and everyone else on the site for up-to-date information and news.

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 Issue Statement On David Backes

David-Backes-BOS-featured.jpg

(Photo: Steve Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Bruins forward David Backes will not play for the Providence Bruins, Boston’s AHL-affiliate, according to the team. Boston placed Backes on waivers for the purpose of assignment to Providence on Jan. 17. The 35-year-old went unclaimed and cleared waivers on Jan. 18.

This morning, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney issued the following statement on Backes’ future:

“After speaking with David, we have agreed that it is in the best interest of David and the Bruins for him not to play in Providence at this time. David is fit and able to play, but in order to preserve all potential options for both David and the Bruins moving forward, we have decided this is the best course of action.”

Backes skated in 16 games for the Bruins this season, notching a goal and an assist to go along with a minus-two rating and 16 penalty minutes. The former St. Louis Blues captain is currently in the second-to-last year of a six-year contract with a $6-million cap hit. In 944 career NHL contests, Backes has 245-309-554 totals, a plus-67 rating, and 1,138 penalty minutes.

Sweeney offered no comment in reference to Backes’ long-term future or the organization’s plans for the forward, which leaves plenty of room for speculation. In any case, it seems to me as a perfect storm of an unfortunate set of circumstances.

For starters, through no fault of his own, Backes is vastly overpaid for what he brings to the table, which is something we already know and has been hashed out at length for several seasons, so there really is no need to dive back into that conversation. Making matters worse, Backes’ concussion history and overall decline due to age has led to the game passing him by, in a sense.

In my opinion, Backes could be evaluating the next steps for himself and his family, whether that is retirement or returning to hockey down the road. For the Bruins, Sweeney and co. could be looking at all possible options, whether it’s a buyout this offseason, figuring out how to fit Backes and his contract into a trade, or simply giving Backes space and time to sort out his future. Again, all of this is pure speculation on my part.

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 Bruins Place Forward David Backes on Waivers

David Backes

PHOTO CREDITS: (nbcsports.ca)

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

As per numerous reports on social media, including from The Athletic’s Joe McDonald (@JoeyMacHockey on Twitter) and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC on Twitter), the Boston Bruins have placed forward David Backes for assignment to the Providence Bruins.

David Backes, 35, has played in 16 games this season for the Bruins, scoring one goal and two assists for three points and a -2 rating. Backes has not played a game since Boston’s 5-4 win over the Winnipeg Jets on January 9th where he skated for eleven shifts totalling 8:35 of ice-time. He has not scored a point since December 5th against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Boston signed the Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA native to a five-year, $30,000,000 contract ($6 million AAV) on the opening day of free agency back in the 2016 off-season. Prior to the signing, Backes had been the captain of the St. Louis Blues, totalling 727 career regular-season games with the Blues, scoring 206-254-460 numbers in that span. It was a tough move for him to make, but he felt he had a better shot to hoist the Stanley Cup if he signs with the Bruins.

Since the signing, Backes has not turned out to be what Boston expected. In 217 regular-season games for the Black and Gold, Backes scored 29-55-94 numbers along with 12 points in 39 playoff games dating back to the 2016-17 campaign. Backes scored two goals and three assists during Boston’s 2019 Stanley Cup Finals run as well.

The move to send Backes down is an interesting one, considering the move to put Brett Ritchie on waivers earlier in the week (he cleared). With players such as Karson Kuhlman and even Anton Blidh pushing for more consistent spots on the roster, older veterans like Backes simply don’t have the space on the team anymore. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy re-iterated that in a much simpler way.

The likelihood of Backes getting claimed by one of the other 31 NHL franchises is slim, but there is a benefit to him going to the Providence Bruins as well. As Bruins Network (@BruinsNetwork on Twitter) stated, if the 35-year-old clears waivers, the Bruins will free up $1 million in salary. With the trade deadline looming around the corner, every dollar counts and Backes’ $6 million cap hit right now is a lot to continue paying if he continues to be in the press box.

For the latest breaking news, updates, and injury reports, make sure to check back on blackngoldhockey.com and follow on Twitter (@BlackNGoldPod). The Boston Bruins play the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday, January 19th in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Puck drop is scheduled for 12:30pm EST.

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!!

Chara & Bergeron: A “Gift” To The Bruins!

Image result for bergeron chara(Photo Credit: NHLPA)

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

On this Merry Christmas day, the Boston Bruins–and their festive fans–have been gifted yet another awesome accolade thanks to their two star players: Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron.

That’s right, “Big Z” and “Bergy” have BOTH cracked the 10 BEST Players of the Decade ranking according to the NHL on NBC’s Pro Hockey Talk crew. Bergeron comes in at No. 4 on the list with Chara rounding out the “top ten” in the tenth spot.

But, numerically speaking, if you ask No. 37 about his Captain’s true ranking, especially when it comes to this Original Six franchise, then all you’ll hear about is Number One.

“[He’s] A Blessing,” Bergeron told the NHLPA in a retrospective article on the B’s signing Chara during his formative years in Boston.

“I think he’s a great leader because of the way he plays with so much passion and energy, and also in the way he prepares himself off the ice for each game,” praised Bergeron.

“You just feed off that and follow that lead. As a teammate, he’s a great one to have. You see the intense side of him on the ice, but off the ice, he’s a genuine person, someone who wants to help out and wants to be there for the guys and teach the younger guys.”

That’s a top player at the top of his game, indeed! Speaking of “the tops” (as the late great Mel Torme would’ve sang about these two Boston legends)… Chara and Bergeron also helped raise more than $2,300 for the Boston Bruins Foundation Festival of Trees auction this Christmas week.

It’s an annual event — with proceeds benefiting area charities and non-profts — that a very generous David Backes helped spearhead this season alongside his venerable veteran leaders (FWIW: Backes’ tree went for $750, Chara’s $900 and Bergeron’s a whopping $1,400)!

In fact, the holiday auction has become so popular that other area organizations are using its “model” to benefit causes near and dear to them. My personal favorite of the season: this picture-perfect puck tree from the McAnanama Family of Agawam:

And while we’re on the subject of personal favorites (to come full circle like Santa’s train underneath the tree), it’s an excitedly obvious choice that Chara and Bergeron are also at the top of that list for Bruins fans, writers, bloggers, employees, teammates, management… you name it.

You know who else is a fan? Santa Claus himself! So, cheers to Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara this Christmas season — and throughout the rest of the NHL season.

Because they’re truly the gift that keeps on giving to the Boston Bruins!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 159 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!!