Report: Boston Bruins Sign Undrafted NCAA Defenseman Ahcan

( Photo Credit: Dan and Margaret Hickling | uscho.photoshelter.com )

By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

The Bruins have reportedly come to terms on an entry-level contract with Jack Ahcan. The deal would most likely be for two years, consistent with similar college UFA’s. Ahcan, a five-foot eight-inch, left-shot defenseman, was playing for St. Cloud State University prior to the school’s cessation of on-campus and sports activity due to the spread of SARS-CoV-2. He had led the Huskies as team captain through 33 games during the 2019-2020 season, his senior year.

Ahcan has logged seven goals to compliment 18 assists from the Huskies’ back-end. His point total is good for third on the roster and first among his peers along the blue-line. Through his four years at St. Cloud State, Ahcan accumulated 21 goals, 103 points and a plus 13 rating in 144 games. He became the third defenseman in team history to earn 100 or more points and has set a record for blue-liners with 82 assists. Aside from his offensive production, Ahcan has proven to be a key piece to the Huskies indicated by his reputation in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

 

The Minnesota native has received numerous awards for his efforts in the NCHC including being named Defensive Player of the Week three times and earning a spot on the All-NCHC Second Team in both 2018 and 2019 as well as the 2016-2017 All-NCHC Rookie Team. He was also a part of the United States World Junior Championship Team that won Gold in 2017 as a teammate to current B’s star Charlie McAvoy.  His efforts on the ice and intangibles off of it have not gone unnoticed among NHL teams.

Although undrafted, Ahcan has been invited to several teams’ development camps in order for scouts to gain a closer look at the player and to give him a glimpse of what it takes to be a professional athlete. He participated in camps with the Los Angeles Kings in 2017, Columbus Blue Jackets in 2018 and the Colorado Avalanche in 2019, but was either not offered a deal or elected not to sign in each of those years. His offensive mindset and vision, skating ability and no-quit attitude have frequently been highlighted as his key traits.

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Ahcan’s listed height and weight put him in the category of “diminutive;” a four-letter word in the NHL that helps to explain why teams have passed on him in drafts and have played coy on offering contract opportunities to the collegiate senior. Even in the modern NHL, size is considered a factor and most certainly for the defense as they often are expected to bring an in-your-face, physical element to dissuade some of the most highly skilled players in the world from treading on those dangerous areas inside the house. In spite of his size, Ahcan’s strengths of excellent vision, skating, and leadership qualities are typical of a Bruins college UFA signing.

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Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has implemented a system of fast neutral- and defensive- zone play that emphases protecting the slot and crease while aggressively pressuring attackers when outside of that zone to regain control of the puck to transition play quickly into the other end of the rink. General Manager Don Sweeney has done his best to acquire players to develop that will fit that mentality in the draft and in free agency. The team has additionally made his character a key consideration for prospective players and those leadership qualities have influenced signing decisions on other players like Karson Kuhlman in 2018 and Nick Wolf earlier in March 2020. Ahcan’s on-ice successes are indicative of his ability to conform to all of those requirements, both in two-way, decisive play and team-building intangibles.

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Regardless of what happens for the rest of the NHL’s regular- and playoff- seasons, Ahcan will have an opportunity to join a defensive-corps that will be in flux on the left flank in the fall of 2020. He will face stiff competition from the B’s current prospects and will most likely see duty in Providence for the Bruins’ AHL affiliate. If the season is restarted when normalcy has returned to the US and the world, he may get an opportunity to join the Providence Bruins on run for the playoffs and the Calder Cup this calendar year. Regardless of when he’s able to don a black and gold sweater for either team, Bruins’ management and fans should be happy they were able to secure a quality prospect for essentially nothing as they hope that he can develop into an impact player at the highest level.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 171 that we recorded below on 3-23-20! 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 Champion 8-Spoked Salute!

8Spoke(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

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

Giving appreciation to our military heroes and veterans is something the Boston Bruins organization not only takes pride in, but also champions year after year and season after season. And for the remainder of the 2019-2020 season, the franchise is looking to recognize local and New England-area Armed Forces members –Active Duty, Guard or Reserve — who are exactly those champions!

And *YOU can nominate them by doing the following, per the Bruins website:

The Bruins and the Massachusetts State Lottery are proud to salute the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. At select games throughout the 2019-20 season, a member or members of the Armed Forces [Active Duty, Guard or Reserve] will receive the 8-Spoked Salute for their service to our country. Selected winners will receive four (4) complimentary tickets to a Bruins home game and a live welcome on Garden HDX (video scoreboard). If you would like to nominate a Service Member of the Community, fill out the form below. Entries for selection must include a valid reason as to why an individual should be selected for this honor. Last year, the Lottery gave back over $1.1 billion to the Commonwealth, providing essential local aid for all 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts.

The B’s and the MA Lottery have partnered up before to salute our nation’s heroes, with the Black N’ Gold tipping their helmets to those who wear navy, green, tan, camouflage and of course red, white & blue! The video below shows just how up-close-and-personal our service members can get to the players during such games as Military Appreciation Night and the 8-Spoked Salute:

 

The Bruins’ organization also has a proud history during the 8-Spoked-Salute games of honoring those service members we’ve lost while fighting for our freedoms. The team has even surprised military families with reunions on TD Garden ice:

It’s one of those occasions where sport and sacrifice intertwine to form a bond that is honored by all — no matter your politics, passions or pursuits. And, in the case of the Bruins, that intertwining involves 8 spokes, bringing even more value, sentiment and meaning to the beloved and bespoked B’s!

*Again, YOU can send in your nominations here: https://www.nhl.com/bruins/community/8-spoked-salute   

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 168 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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Report: Krug Asking For Six-Year, $49M Deal From The Bruins

Krug

( Photo Credit: Patrick Smith / Getty Images )

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

There has been a great deal of speculation about the status of Torey Krug and the contract negotiations between his camp and the Bruins. Krug has said he would like to remain in Boston and Don Sweeney has categorized the talks as “cordial”. On Saturday, reporter Shawn Hutcheon threw a little gasoline on the fire with this tweet:

Right off the bat, I want to say that I am a huge Krug fan. My son is an undersized defenseman as well, so I have always had a soft spot for players like that. Krug started off as an undrafted college free agent and through hard work transformed himself into one of the top offensive D-men in the NHL over the last five years or so.

Krug became a regular in the 2013-14 season and from that time to the present, he’s 8th in the NHL for scoring by defensemen. The names in front of him: Hedman, Karlsson, Burns, Carlson, Josi, Yandle, Barrie, are regarded as some of the best D in the game. The majority of them are also paid that way. Erik Karlsson tops the list at $11.5m, with perennial Norris contender Drew Doughty coming in at $11m. Roman Josi and PK Subban are next at $9m, with five players at or around the $8m mark (Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Brent Burns, Jacob Trouba, Thomas Chabot, and John Carlson).

A defenseman that many consider the closest comparable to Krug, Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon, just signed a seven-year deal worth $7.575m per this past offseason. Spurgeon does not provide the offense that Krug does, but plays more minutes and is generally considered to be better in the defensive zone.

Which brings us to the elephant in the room when it comes to Krug, his defense. While everyone acknowledges that he is one of the best offensive catalysts in the NHL, Krug is not in the same category as guys like Josi and John Carlson when it comes to his two-way game. As important as the offense is from the back end these days, many fans (and some GM’s) don’t seem to think it’s prudent to pay a defenseman a huge contract unless they can contribute at both ends of the ice.Carlo and Krug ( Photo Credit: Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald )[/caption]

Even with all that, I just can’t see the Bruins giving him $8m plus over six or seven years on a new deal. I’m not saying that sum is not fair, given what other defensemen have signed for, or that it is not “market value”. However, that’s not the way that Boston has done business for a number of years. A lot of players talk about taking a “hometown” discount, but members of the Bruins have put their money where their mouths are when it came time to negotiate their deals. Last year during the playoffs, in an interview with SI’s Alex Prewitt, Brad Marchand was quoted as saying,

“If you want to try to make every dollar you can, unfortunately, that’s not going to be with this group.”

Pastrnak, Marchand all took less than what they could have demanded based on performance. This past summer young veterans Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo took very team-friendly deals in comparison to some of their peers, in what appeared to be moves designed on keeping this group of guys together. A lot of credit has gone to Don Sweeney for the recent signings and while he does deserve some praise, these deals would not have been possible without the players buying in and legitimately wanting to be in Boston, surrounded by guys that feel the same way.

In recent days Krug has talked about balancing being paid fairly while playing for a winning team. However, he also said, “The Bruins are going to do whatever they need to do and their situation.”

When I look at the way the Bruins have approached these contracts in the past and what other players have done, unfortunately, I only see this going one of two ways. Either Krug follows the examples set by so many other players in the room and takes less than market value to stay. Or, the Bruins try to make another strong run at the Cup and let Krug walk this summer. The question that remains for Krug and Boston is what qualifies as “taking less to stay”? My guess would be a number around $6.75m for six years. If Krug cannot live with that, I believe his days as a Bruin are numbered.

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!!

Bruins’ Salary Cap Outlook: 2020 Off-Season

( Photo credit: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images )

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

With the trade deadline in the past and the playoffs starting in a few weeks, everyone’s focus is in the moment, but it’s essential to look ahead and see what the future holds, starting with the 2020 off-season. The Bruins are known for their tight salary cap situation, but thanks to the Bruins’ GM, Don Sweeney’s most recent trade deadline deals open up a significant amount of cap space, but who will the Bruins re-sign?

Projected Cap Space

According to CapFriendly, the Bruins are projected to have around $22.2M-$23.75M in cap space for the off-season, as it looks like there will be a bonus overage of $1.5M (TBD). At first glance, it seems like the Bruins have plenty in the bank to negotiate with, but players like Torey Krug, Jake DeBrusk, and Jaroslav Halak, may demand a pay rise that will put more than a dent into their salary cap for next season. With that being said, the Bruins will need to prioritize.

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Jaroslav Halak (UFA)

There is no doubt that the Bruins have one of the best goalie tandems in the league between Tuukka Rask and Halak. Both goalies sharing the starting duties have been a recipe for success starting in the 2018-2019 season, with Halak starting in 37 games, collecting 22 wins, and a .922% save percentage. Sharing starting positions allowed Rask to remain fresh entering the playoffs, where he had a historic playoff run leading the Bruins to a game seven in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Even though Halak didn’t start in a single game during the 2019 playoffs, if called upon, Halak would be the Bruins’ best option going forward in case of an injury to Rask. So far this season, Halak has started in 28 games, collecting 17 wins and a 0.917% save percentage. He will be a UFA at the end of this season, and will likely desire a pay raise worth $3M-$4M per season. Although Halak is 34 years old, he still has plenty of hockey left in the tank and will continue to be a valuable piece for the Bruins.

Torey Krug (UFA)

Torey Krug, the quarterback of the Bruins’ central power-play unit, will be one of the Bruins’ main priorities in the off-season. Krug is a vital piece to the blue-line and activates an offensive spark, especially on the man-advantage, and so far this season has two power-play goals and 24 power-play points, only four short of his career-high of 28 from the 2018-2019 season. During the 2019 playoffs, he continued to be an absolute force on the power-play, tallying two goals and 10 points.

Krug’s current cap hit stands at $5.0M per season, and with him setting up to become a UFA in the off-season, the Bruins’ management should not be stingy with the defenceman’s asking price. The recent deals made before the deadline have made enough room in their cap space for the Bruins to re-sign Krug no matter the asking price. So far this season, Krug leads all Bruins’ defenders with eight goals and 45 points. It is a no-brainer that the Bruins need to re-sign Krug, but at what cost? I believe Krug’s price range for the Bruins will be between $7M-$8M per season.

 

Jake DeBrusk (RFA)

The 14th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Jake DeBrusk, will be the most interesting contract negotiation this off-season. DeBrusk is known for his elite scoring ability and speed, but has shown to be inconsistent at times and is facing a regression this season.

Playing in 70 games his rookie season in 2017-2018, DeBrusk produced 16 goals and 43 points with a +16 rating. He carried that success over to the following 2018-2019 season, producing 27 goals and 42 points with a +2 rating in 68 games played. So far this season though, DeBrusk has suffered several cold-streaks off the score sheet, and currently has one goal, one assist and a -5 rating in the past 11 games.

Despite having only two points in his past 11 games, DeBrusk is only two goals away from having his second 20-goal campaign and is only nine points short of his career-high of 43. Because of his recent inconsistencies, Cassidy has moved DeBrusk down to the third-line with Charlie Coyle. DeBrusk can use this time to build chemistry with Coyle and regain his offensive touch again. His entry-level contract is about to expire, and I predict the price to re-sign DeBrusk will be between the $3M-$4M range.

Zdeno Chara (UFA)

Yes, the 43-year old Iron Man, Zdeno Chara. Even though fans were very reluctant to bring the Bruins’ Captain back on board last season, Sweeney has made it very clear that Chara has the right to play in Boston. “I think he’s earned the right to determine [his future here] and when his career will end,” Sweeney said back on Bruins Media Day. “As long as his game aligns with his pride and preparations that he wants to put forth to keep it at the level he’s accustomed to having it to then we are going to explore having him as part of our group. He’s an impactful player.”

Chara continues to be an impactful player, registering five goals and 13 points with a +24 rating so far this season. He also provides a wealth of leadership and continues to build on the legacy he’s been building with Boston since 2006-2007. Chara also continues to be one of the Bruins’ most reliable players on the penalty-kill unit and maintains over 20 minutes of average time-on-ice per game. If Chara believes he is fit for another season, it would be in the Bruins’ best interest to re-sign him for another year between $1M-$2M.

Bold Predictions

Other Bruins players who will be looking to extend their contracts at the end of the season are; Matt Grzelcyk (RFA), Joakim Nordstrom (UFA), Anders Bjork (RFA), Karson Kuhlman (RFA), and Kevan Miller (UFA). If the Bruins were to re-sign Halak, Krug, DeBrusk, and Chara at my predicted amount(s), they would have about $5M-$8M left in cap space. Does this leave room for Sweeney to make a trade, or sign other depth-players with expiring contracts?

I predict the Boston Bruins will re-sign Halak, Krug, DeBrusk, and Chara. I also believe the Bruins will look to come to terms with Grzelcyk, Bjork, and Kuhlman, but I believe they will let Nordstrom walk and because of injuries, will not re-sign Miller. If you were the GM of the Boston Bruins, what moves would you make this off-season?

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 168 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’ Charlie Coyle: One Year Later

( Photo Credit: Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images )

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow Me On Twitter @andrewlindrothh

The 2020 trade deadline has come to a close, but since Bruins GM Don Sweeney took over in 2015, it is a no-brainer picking out the best deal he has made before any deadline; the Charlie Coyle trade. At the time, it may have seemed like an underwhelming trade, especially with giving up a promising prospect, but looking back one year later, Coyle has exceeded expectations and is now the future of the Bruins offense. 

Welcome Home Charlie

Charlie Coyle, the 6’3 200-pound forward, was acquired in 2019 from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Ryan Donato and a conditional 5th round pick. Fans were reluctant to the trade at first and rightfully so, as Donato appeared to be the Bruins’ most promising prospect during the 2017-2018 season when he played in his first 12 NHL games, quickly racking up five goals and nine points with a +2 rating. The following 2018-2019 season, though, Donato struggled to find the magic he had in his first dozen NHL games, scoring only six goals and nine points with a -11 rating in 34 games played. The Donato experiment then ended, sending Coyle back home to his native state. After his impressive playoff performance, the Bruins rewarded Coyle with a six-year contract extension worth $5.25M a season.

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2019 Playoff Clutch

When Charlie Coyle arrived in Boston, there were many expectations and unfortunately, was off to a sluggish start with the Bruins, only producing 2 goals and 6 points with a -2 rating through 21 games played. Then the 2019 playoffs commenced, and his point production skyrocketed as he tallied nine goals and 16 points with a +8 rating through 24 playoff games. In those 24 games played, he also had an astounding shot percentage of 23.1%.

The Weymouth native lived his childhood dream moment in TD Garden when he scored the overtime winner in game one against the Columbus Blue Jackets. When it mattered most, Coyle stepped up and found ways to help his team win games, which lead the Bruins to a game seven in the Stanley Cup Finals.

One Year Later

So far this season, Coyle has racked up 15 goals and 34 points with a +9 rating in 64 games played. For the majority of the season, he has had Anders Bjork on his left-wing, establishing chemistry between the two players has strengthened the 3rd line and improved the Bruins scoring depth. Coyle is an extremely versatile player that plays a strong two-way game, serves a role on the second power-play unit, and is very effective on the penalty kill.

Coyle is a valuable piece to the Bruins penalty kill, which currently ranks 3rd in the NHL at 84.0%. With Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron usually leading the pack in shorthanded offense, Coyle has taken advantage when being a man-down and currently leads the Bruins’ with two shorthanded goals already this season. Coyle also has 8 takeaways on the kill this season, tying his career-high from 2017-2018.

 

Charlie Coyle is not only a productive player but provides leadership to the team as well and is currently one of the assistant captains on the Bruins. He generates a huge spark to this team and will be ready to help lead the Boston Bruins back to the Stanley Cup Finals.

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

don-sweeney

(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!!

Bruins Clifton Ready To Join Boston After Conditioning Stint

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Boston Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton may be ready for a return to NHL action as soon as this week. Per the official AHL transactions page and RinksideRhodeIsland.com’s reporter Mark Divver, the 24-year-old defenseman’s conditioning stint with the Bruins top minor-pro affiliate the Providence Bruins. Clifton sustained an upper-body injury in late December of 2019 in a 3-2 victory against Buffalo.

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In two games with the Providence Bruins, Clifton failed to register any points but his production on and off the scoresheet wasn’t important in this timeframe. In games against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and the Springfield Thunderbird that he played in almost a week apart, Connor got to stretch his legs and get back into game shape. In 30 NHL games this season prior to his late December injury the Quinnipiac University graduate posted two goals to bring his career NHL numbers to 2-1-3 in 49 games.

With this recall, it should be interesting to see how the Clifton fits in the defensive core moving forward with 22 games remaining in the regular season. If Connor is going to be that seventh, eighth, or ninth blueliner working in a rotation while Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy utilizes load management in an attempt to keep core members rested and ready for another long postseason run.

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Clifton, in my opinion, is an aggressive strong defenseman with the ability to transition out of his zone quickly and offers a decent pair of hands with it comes to offensive and puck protection attributes. Currently, under the last year of his entry-level contract for the remainder of the year, the Bruins see great potential in the young Connor as they locked him up at one million per season for the next three years. Potential departures on the backend over the offseason could pave way full-time opportunities for the 5′-11″ 174-pound New Jersey native on the backend.

I believe a low-risk high reward “show me first” contract like this was both beneficial to the player and organization moving forward. For the player, the landscape looks good as positions become available and for the Bruins club, his salary cap number allows the organization to add when needed if the forever need of cap space is available. Not saying he’d the heir apparent to a Zdeno Chara in a year or two but might make a solid replacement for a player like Kevan Millar and his uncertain future.

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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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The Bruins’ Last Minute Trade Options

(Photo Credit: Yahoo! News / news.yahoo.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

The clock seems to be ticking for Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney as breaking news alerts continue to show another potential trade target being shipped off to another team. Even though big names like Blake Coleman, Tyler Toffoli, and Brendan Dillon are now off the market, there are still more options available on the trade block for Sweeney to make a move before the deadline. The one name the Bruins nation is waiting on, Chris Kreider.

The Big Names Still On The Market

Kreider not only brings the talent and speed that makes him a top-six forward in any lineup, but he brings a large 6’3″, 226-pound frame that will surely help the Bruins in games against heavier teams like the Washington Capitals or St.Louis Blues. Even though Kreider seems like an excellent fit for the Bruins, he does carry a cap hit of $4M+, which may hurt the Bruins if they were to try and re-sign him in the off-season as he’s projected to make around $7M+. Kreider has been on a tear recently, potting 3 goals and 4 points in his past 5 games while maintaining a +2 rating. The original asking price for Kreider is a first-round pick, a possible conditional draft pick, and an NHL ready prospect. Because of recent trades, Kreider’s trade value has skyrocketed, making it more difficult for Sweeney to negotiate a deal that doesn’t involve giving up too many valuable assets.

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Another rumored trade piece still on the market for the Bruins is Kyle Palmieri. The 29-year-old, 5’11 195-pound natural right-winger is one of the most underrated players this season. Even on a struggling Devils’ team, Palmieri has produced 22 goals, and 41 points with a +2 rating in just 55 games played this season. Palmieri also has 10 power-play goals this season, only one away from his previous high of 11. He is also maintaining an impressive shot percentage of 16.5% this season, so far surpassing his previous high of 13.5% in the 2016-2017 season.

With Palmieri currently averaging a career-high 0.75 points a game this season, the Bruins could use his scoring depth to strengthen the Krejci or Coyle line. Palmieri would be more than a rental, as he has one year left on his $4.65M contract. His current contract may not seem too threatening to the Bruins cap space at first glance, but with less than $20M in cap space available after this season, it will still be difficult for the Bruins to re-sign players like Debrusk and Krug, with or without Palmieri’s cap hit. Since New Jersey traded forward Blake Coleman, the Devils now may not have a reason to part ways with their top producer anymore.

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Other Potential Targets That Could Help The Bruins

There are other potential trade targets the Bruins could engage in that may not require surrendering too many valuable assets.

For scoring depth, the Bruins have had their eyes on 5’11, 186-pound right-winger Ondrej Kase since January, and for the right price, Kase could be the best option if the Bruins were to pick up another forward. While Kase’s numbers may not look pretty on-paper, he has a fantastic set of wheels that could match DeBrusk’s speed and also gives the Bruins another option on the penalty-kill and possibly the power-play as well. Kase has yet to play an entire 82-game season though, the most games he’s suited up for in a single season was during the 2017-2018 season with 66 games played. During the 2017-2018 season, Kase’s sophomore season in the NHL, he eclipsed 20 goals and 38 points with an impressive +18 rating, proving he’s a defensively responsible forward as well. So far this season, Kase’s point production stands with 7 goals and 23 points with a -7 rating in 49 games played with the rebuilding Anaheim Ducks.

Other than scoring depth, the Bruins may also look into players that will add size and grit, especially for the playoffs with Kevan Miller most likely out for the remainder of the season. Forward Josh Anderson is currently on the trade block, and according to Joe Haggerty of NBC Sports, the Bruins have been keeping a close eye on Anderson.

Josh Anderson, the 6’3, 222-pound winger was an absolute force last season producing 27 goals, 47 points, +25 rating, and an astounding 214 hits. Unfortunately, he has only played in 26 games so far this season due to a shoulder injury. Although his production severely regressed so far this season (1 goal and 4 points), it was proven last season and during the playoffs that he is one of the hardest players in the league to play against. Not only will Anderson bring the size and physicality the Bruins need, but he brings promising offensive talent that could fill the hole on the right-wing beside David Krejci.

Go-All-In Or Trust The System?

It’s no secret what the Bruins are looking for to improve their team before the deadline, but will it be worth giving up possible valuable assets for a rental? The Bruins proved last year that they have enough roster depth overall to survive the injury bug that left players like Pastrnak, McAvoy, Bergeron, etc., out for considerable time and continued to win games with the “next man up” mentality.

Although Boston’s core players are not getting any younger, there is still a lot of risk in going all-in for one player, especially after the 2018 Rick Nash trade that ended up going sideways due to Nash’s concussion problems. The Bruins have the competitive spirit and hockey talent from both their NHL and AHL rosters, to climb back up to the Stanley Cup Finals if they can rally around each other and continue to trust the system. The Bruins may not have the luxury of avoiding Tampa and Washington in the playoffs again, but they certainly have the talent to beat any team in the NHL.

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 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!!