Where Does Victor Berglund Fit In The Bruins System?

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(Source: Adam Goransson/Freelance Photographers)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

While we await the NHL’s decision to bring its players back, some Bruins-related news broke two nights ago on Twitter.

Don Sweeney has not let up on the gas pedal when it comes to signing and developing his system during the pandemic, and this signing is no different.  Victor Berglund is not a name Bruins fans would know unless they’ve purposefully sought him out or attended rookie and development camps.

Victor is a 20-year old Swedish defenseman who the Bruins drafted in the 7th round in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.  Historically, seventh-round draft picks have shown they’re more than just a flier for teams.  The former Red Wing captain and Stanley Cup winner, Henrik Zetterberg, was drafted 210th overall, as well as Joe Pavelski, Patric Hornqvist, and Henrik Lundqvist.  The Bruins hope that the same draft will be a crucial cog of their future after selecting Urho Vaakanainen, Jeremy Swayman, and Jack Studnicka all in 2017.  Can Victor elevate that same draft class, and will we see him in the spoked-B any time soon?

The right-shot defenseman stands at 6’0, 180 pounds, and is set to turn 21 in August.  The Bruins drafted Victor out of the SWE-1 League, which is Sweden’s second-tier hockey league.  He has played on the same team in the SWE-1 league since 2016-17 through the pandemic suspended season.  Each year, he has improved and surpassed his previous years’ stats.

Including this year before the pandemic, Victor had played a career total of 151 games, while tallying 43 points.  The 43-point total is low, but he’s a defenseman who is still figuring out his game.  Almost half of his points have come this year while sporting a plus-18 rating, and he sits third in the SWE-1 league among defenseman in goals.  Victor played in four games for the Providence Bruins last year, where he scored his first AHL goal and assist.

There has always been an old saying around the league, “teams do not know what they have in a young defenseman until he plays at least 250 games.”  The Bruins know this saying well, as they finally understand what they have in their young blue-liner, Brandon Carlo.  Brandon showed flashes of what he can be and what he had to work on as he worked towards the 250-game plateau, and Victor is no different.

Berglund has been deemed a true offensive-defenseman with an impressive shot and awareness (as seen above in his first AHL goal).  He has the Hockey IQ it takes to be an NHL defenseman, coupled with his skating ability.  A defenseman’s duty isn’t necessarily to score, even if they’re deemed offensive-minded.  Even during Erik Karlsson’s first Norris Trophy season, he clocked 59 assists and 19 goals.

Victor can follow suit and succeed by breaking the puck out of the defensive zone effectively and create plays for his teammates.  Even if Berglund isn’t listed on the score sheet as the primary or secondary assists, its the ability to create plays and keep the flow for his teammates to score.  Vision is a crucial component of a defenseman’s game, and Victor is already equipped with great awareness.

When Berglund was drafted in 2017, the Bruins scouts touted Berglund for his quick and powerful acceleration and strong stride.  He projects to be a third-pairing defenseman on the Bruins roster, which is just as important as the first-pairing.

The two defensemen Victor looks up to are two of the league’s top defensemen.  Both are considered one of the best offensive-minded players and have the hardware to back it up.  Erik Karlsson has won the Norris Trophy (Best Defensemen) twice.  Karlsson has 603 points in 736 career games, while John Klingberg has 291 points in 425 games.  Victor has chosen two incredibly talented players to mirror, and it could help him improve his game immensely.  He may not come close to the careers these players have achieved, but he can learn a lot from these well-respected blue-liners.

The Bruins are currently going through a transitional period with their defensive core.  Before injuries, Kevan Miller and John Moore were the Bruins fifth and sixth defensemen.  Miller, unfortunately, may have played his last game as a Bruin and possibly as an NHL player.  There have been rumblings the Bruins are looking for a trade partner for John Moore.  Moore could even be available for the next expansion draft.

If history repeats itself, Berglund could find himself fighting for an open roster spot when he’s deemed NHL-ready.  This may take a few years, and the Bruins have shown they’re willing to give their players a shot to show his worth.  He has a list of items to work on in the meantime, one of which is his size.  In the real world, 6 feet is an above-average height for a male.  In the hockey world, 6 feet is a shade under the NHL average of 6’1.  His 180-pound frame is also quite small.  To put it into comparison, Charlie McAvoy is 6’0, 208 pounds, which is 28 pounds heavier the Victor.  It’s likely that the Bruins have given Victor a specific workout regimen to add size, which he will need to continue to do over the next few years.

For the upcoming 2020-21 season, Victor will be playing in Sweden’s top hockey league, Lulea, which is known as the second or third best hockey league in the world.  He will face stiff competition and will need to add size to his game.  His season in Lulea could be a make or break development year to show the Bruins if he is ready for the next step in his professional career.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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 Sign D Prospect Victor Berglund To ELC

 

(Source: Allehanda.se)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

This afternoon Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced that the team has signed Swedish defense prospect Victor Berglund to a three-year, entry-level contract (ELC). Per CapFriendly, the deal carries an average annual value (AAV) of $850,833 and a cap hit of $818,333.

The 20-year-old is coming off a season with MODO Hockey of the Swedish professional league, Allsvenskan, that saw him post career-highs in games played (52), goals (10), assists (12), points (22), plus-minus (plus-18), and penalty minutes (28). In two playoff games, Berglund was a plus-one with two penalty minutes.

Last season, the 6-foot, 180-pound defenseman registered four goals and nine assists for 13 points in 50 games with MODO. A native of Ornskoldsvik, Sweden Berglund notched 15-28-43 totals in 151 career Allsvenskan contests over four seasons.

Boston selected the Berglund with the 195th overall pick in the seventh round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. During the 2018-19 season, the right-shot blueliner suited up in four games for the Providence Bruins, posting a goal and an assist.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! 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!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pv_7wEN24io

Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney Holds Virtual Press Conference

( Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images )

By: Lydia Murray | Follow Me on Twitter @lydia_murray12

Earlier today, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney held a Zoom press conference regarding the beginning of Phase 2 and what’s expected next. Here’s what you need to know about it:

Player Locations + the Beginning of Phase 2

According to Logan Mullen of NESN and Matt Porter of the Boston Globe, Pastrnak, Nordstrom, Blidh, Vladar, Vaakanainen, and Zboril have all returned home to Europe. Some of them have reportedly been on the ice, but nobody specific was named. 

As for all of the other players, Sweeney did not name who had participated in Phase 2 so far or even who was in the area. Coaches and management aren’t allowed to guide or watch Phase 2 practices and they’re voluntary, so it’s possible he may not even know who’s participated. But, it’s more likely in my opinion that he’s just protecting the identity of the players so people don’t know who is choosing not to return to the ice right now. The only two players we know for sure that are in Boston and have been at Warrior are Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, as the Bruins posted a photo album of them to their official website.

A Bruins Tests Positive for COVID-19

Sweeney also discussed the unfortunate news that broke this morning, which was that the Bruins had been informed that one of their players had tested positive for COVID-19. The player was asymptomatic at the time and has since tested negative twice. For more information, check out my fellow BlackNGold writer Andrew Lindroth’s article on the situation here.

All But Miller Expected to Be Healthy

In addition to talking about the beginning of Phase 2, Sweeney said that as of right now, every Bruin except for Kevan Miller is expected to be healthy and available for the beginning of Phase 3 (training camps open), which is slated to start on July 10th. This is obviously great news, as the team had some injuries to key players at the time of the pause, including Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug. Having everyone healthy at the start will put the Bruins in a great spot to get back up to speed somewhat quickly and hopefully hold onto their top speed going into the playoffs, and then go on a deep run.

No Updates on Upcoming Free Agents

The last notable bit of news that Sweeney offered was that there was nothing new to report on the Bruins’ upcoming UFAs and RFAs. This is far from surprising since nobody knows for sure what the cap is going to look like next season. It just doesn’t make sense to negotiate contracts when you don’t know how much money you have to work with. However, I do feel bad for the players because they’re left in limbo, not knowing what their next contract will look like or if they can make it work with the Bruins.

Sweeney Applauds Chara and Bergeron’s Leadership

Finally, when asked about his thoughts on Chara and Bergeron speaking out in support of the current Black Lives Matter movement, Sweeney applauded them for commenting and, in Chara’s case, joining a protest. He said it speaks to their leadership as human beings and not just hockey players, which I wholeheartedly agree with. This further proved what Bruins fans already knew, which is that both of them are true leaders on and off the ice, and the Bruins are extremely lucky to have them.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 182 that we recorded below on 6-7-20! 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 Player Tested Positive For COVID-19

(Photo Credit: Joe Makarski/Boston Herald : bostonherald.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

The Boston Bruins announced today that they were recently informed that one of their players has tested positive for COVID-19. Since then, the player has taken two more tests, and the results have come back negative. The player remains asymptomatic and has not visited any practice facilities since opening this past week during the second phase of the league’s Return to Play Plan.

“The player underwent two subsequent tests, and both returned negative,” the team said in a statement. “The player remains asymptomatic. The Bruins will continue to follow CDC recommendations and adhere to the NHL’s protocol.”

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During the video-conference, Don Sweeney also mentioned that the player who tested positive would not enter any of the training facilities until being tested again next week. All of the Boston Bruins players who have begun to participate in the training facilities have tested negative. The Bruins player is now the 10th NHLer to test positive for COVID-19, with the most recent case from the Pittsburgh Penguins announcing a player testing positive on June 4th.

The NHL recently announced the next phase for returning to play, with formal training camps starting July 10th. Although the Penguins and Bruins recently announced a player testing positive for COVID-19, it has been since April 7th when the Colorado Avalanche announced that their third player contracted the virus. You begin to wonder whether or not a rise in positive test results will put the season on another standby to control an outbreak, or if the league chooses to continue as planned.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 182 that we recorded below on 6-7-20! 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 D Kevan Miller Named Boston PHWA Chapter’s Nominee For Masterton

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(Photo: Bob DeChiara / USA TODAY Sports)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Boston Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller has been named the Boston Professional Hockey Writers Association (PWHA) chapter’s nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The Masterton is annually awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

A player from all 31 franchises is nominated for the award each year, with the recipient being announced at the NHL Awards during the offseason. Here are all nominees for the 2019-20 season:

Miller has not skated in a game for the Bruins since April 2, 2019, where he suffered a broken right kneecap, which required surgery. The 32-year-old suffered a setback while trying to come back during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, breaking his kneecap and having a procedure for the injury once again. The right-shot defenseman had spent the majority of the 2019-20 season rehabbing his knee before suffering another setback in March, which required a third surgery on his knee.

In April, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney ruled out the possibility that Miller suits up in a game for Boston this season, even with the added recovery time as when exactly games will resume is still a question. A native of Los Angeles, CA, Miller is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of this season; however, Sweeney said that the team would explore options to re-sign the bruiser.

Boston signed Miller as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Vermont in 2011. Through 324 career NHL contests, the 6-foot-2, 210 pound blueliner has 12 goals and 55 assists for 77 points in addition to 261 penalty minutes and a plus-80 rating.

Boston captain Zdeno Chara was the team’s nominee last season. Former Bruins to have won the Masterton include: Phil Kessel (2006-07), Cam Neely (1993-94), Gord Kluzak (1989-90), and Charlie Simmer (1985-86).

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 181 that we recorded below on 5-30-20! 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!

A Look Ahead To The 2021 Seattle Expansion Draft For The Bruins

Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports

By: Lydia Murray | Follow Me on Twitter @lydia_murray12

As many of you probably know, a new NHL team located in Seattle will be entering the league in the 2021-22 season. This means that in June of 2021, there’ll be another expansion draft. According to this article from NHL.com, the rules will remain the same as they were for the 2017 Vegas expansion draft, so we know exactly what it’ll look like. If you need a refresher, read through the linked article, as it details everything that’s important. So, what does this draft mean for the Bruins? As the linked article states, teams have two options in terms of protecting players. They can protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie, or a total of eight skaters and one goalie. Back in 2017, Bruins’ general manager Don Sweeney chose the 7-3-1 format. This is almost certainly the format the organization will choose again given the current team. Even so, when looking at the roster, it seems like the Bruins will lose a really good player for nothing. However, when you take a closer look, you’ll find this may not be the case. 

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Given the contract statuses (all information in this article about that comes from CapFriendly) of many of the team’s key players, if Sweeney plays his cards right, the Bruins could end up getting very lucky. David Krejci, Tuukka Rask, and Jaroslav Halak will all be unrestricted free agents in the 2021 offseason, as will formidable fourth-line center Sean Kuraly. Zdena Chara is also going to be a UFA (in the likely event that he plays next season), so even if he doesn’t retire, he won’t need to be protected (not that Seattle would pick a then-44-year-old player anyways). While Seattle will be able to take any of these players if left exposed, it wouldn’t make any sense for them too. They’d have no rights to the player and the player will be able to sign with whoever they want to come July 1st, 2021. If they were to be picked, the Bruins could easily just resign them then. So, the Bruins will be able to leave these players exposed and not worry about losing them for nothing, provided they don’t give them contract extensions before the draft. Hopefully, Sweeney is smart with these players and doesn’t do that (he can still negotiate a contract though), as that will put the Bruins in an excellent position to come out of this relatively unscathed. With that in mind, here’s a look at who the Bruins are likely to protect.

Forwards

Photo Credit: Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

Starting with the forwards, it goes without saying Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Brad Marchand will all be protected. All three of them would be taken in an instant, much to the detriment of the Bruins. Bergeron and Marchand both have no-move clauses, so they have to be protected, but even if they didn’t, there’s just no way the Bruins would expose them. Charlie Coyle has a modified no-move clause on his contract extension that kicks in next season, so he will need to be protected unless he waives it, although even if he did, he will most likely be protected anyways, Besides them, it would be shocking to see the Bruins expose Jake DeBrusk (in the near-certain event he resigns this offseason). He’s developed into a solid, albeit streaky, top-six winger, and he’s still young, so to expose him wouldn’t be smart. 

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Beyond those five, things get less clear. If Sweeney doesn’t extend the UFA forwards, he’ll be able to protect players he otherwise would’ve had to expose, including Anders Bjork (who’s a likely-to-resign RFA this offseason) and Chris Wagner. Trade deadline acquisitions Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase will both be RFAs in the 2021 offseason, but it remains to be seen how they will fit in with the Bruins in the long-term and if they will be worthy of protection. If they are, despite the long-term extension given to him this season, Wagner will likely be the one left exposed, since he is not likely to be picked given his status and the other, more enticing options that the Bruins will have available. Bjork took big steps forward in his development this season and is turning himself into a solid third-liner with the potential to become more than that. With that in mind and given how much the Bruins have invested in his development, I would be surprised to see him get exposed.

Defensemen

Photo Credit: Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Things get tougher for the Bruins when it comes to defensemen. It goes without saying Charlie McAvoy will be protected. He is the team’s number one defenseman of the present and future, and he’ll only continue to improve for the next several seasons. Exposing him would cost the team dearly, so there’s no way it happens. Brandon Carlo will undoubtedly be protected too, as he is becoming one of the best shutdown defensemen in the league, and like McAvoy, he’s only getting better. He will be an RFA in the 2021 offseason, but the Bruins will have to protect him even if they don’t sign him to an extension before the draft, because if Seattle were to pick him they would own his rights, and if he was left exposed, he would almost certainly be picked. The biggest question for the Bruins right now is what will happen with Torey Krug. He’s a UFA this offseason, and should he resign, which he has made it abundantly clear he wants to, he will be the third protected defenseman. I’m hopeful that he will resign, but if for some reason it doesn’t work out, the team will have no shortage of options surrounding who to protect.

If Krug doesn’t need to be protected for some reason, Matt Grzelcyk will likely be the third protected defenseman. If left exposed, he will almost surely be picked up, which will hurt the Bruins, as he is an excellent third-pairing defenseman who is able to play important minutes and up in the lineup. But, he is an interesting circumstance, as his contract expires this offseason. He will most likely resign with the team, but on what terms will change how the Bruins are affected by this expansion draft. He’s an RFA, but if he signs a one-year deal, it will bring him through his age 27 season, thus making him a UFA. This is without a doubt the best possible scenario for the Bruins, as it will make it so no matter what, he will not have to be protected. But, whether or not that’s likely is hard to say. If Grzelcyk wants to stay a Bruin, this is probably the only way it’ll happen, unless Krug doesn’t resign. So, hopefully, it happens, but it may not if he’s not comfortable betting on himself, or if he doesn’t want to remain a Bruin for some reason. 

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In the unlikely event that neither Krug or Grzelcyk have to be protected, the Bruins will probably protect Connor Clifton, Jeremy Lauzon, or Urho Vaakanainen. Lauzon impressed this season after being called up from Providence, so much so that he stuck in the lineup once those he was called up to help replace got healthy. He was great on the third-pairing with Grzelcyk, and if this season was any indication, the future is bright for him. Meanwhile, Clifton had a shakier season, partially due to injury. He had games where he looked like a solid third-pairing defenseman, but also somewhere he hurt the Bruins more than he helped him.

He’s a good player when he’s on his game and plays a style that can only be described as “Cliffy Hockey.” If he’s more consistent next season, he might be the one protected. Lastly, Vaakanainen, who had high expectations placed on him going into this season, was underwhelming for much of it. He still has a high ceiling, and it could easily have just been a bad year for him, so hopefully, he can turn it around next season. If he doesn’t, he makes the decision easier for Sweeney. Even if he does, I believe he is the least likely of the three to be picked by Seattle, as he has limited NHL experience, and there will be at least there good, proven, NHL player available instead. Jakub Zboril is another one the Bruins could choose to protect, as he took a major step forward in his development this season, but as of right now, he has the least NHL experience of the four, so it’s doubtful that he’d be picked.

Goaltenders

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Finally, when it comes to goalies, it’s completely up in the air as of right now. If they don’t sign Rask or Halak to an extension before the expansion draft, they’ll be able to protect one of their prospects. If they sign either of them before then, whoever gets signed will be protected. If both are signed before then, the Bruins will surely protect Rask over Halak. But, given the circumstances, I don’t see them signing both before the draft, because there’s a decent chance that Seattle would pick the one exposed due to the other options that will be available to them from the Bruins. If the Bruins are able to protect a goalie prospect, the only one who will need protection is Dan Vladar.

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Both Jeremy Swayman and Kyle Keyser will have two years or less of professional experience by the expansion draft, thus exempting them from it, and I don’t see the team resigning Maxime Lagace this offseason. Even though he took a huge step forward in his development this season and was one of the top goaltenders in the AHL, it’s doubtful Seattle would take him even if left exposed, even though they’ll be looking for promising goalie prospects. He’ll have zero NHL experience barring any serious injuries to Rask or Halak, and the Bruins will have at least one, possibly two or more, young defensemen who are proven in the NHL that will likely prove more enticing. 

Final Thoughts

In short, the Bruins have no shortage of options when it comes to the expansion draft next year. Most of their choices are clear-cut, but they have some potentially tough decisions to make for the remaining spots, although a lot can change in a year that could help them. They’re extremely lucky that several of their key players will be on expiring contracts unless they sign them to extensions before the expansion draft. If it weren’t for that, they’d be almost guaranteed to lose a great roster player. Even so, they’ll most likely lose a good young defenseman for nothing, which hurts. But, the organization has plenty of depth at that position, so it won’t be detrimental. It will be very similar to the 2017 Vegas expansion draft in that way, when they lost Colin Miller, in that it was unfortunate to lose him for nothing, but in the long run, it didn’t have a huge impact. So, let’s hope that Sweeney does the smart thing and doesn’t sign too many players (if any) to extensions in the middle of next season, thus ensuring that the Bruins won’t be too seriously hurt by the upcoming expansion draft.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 180 that we recorded below on 5-25-20! 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!

Report: Peter Cehlarik Leaves Bruins, Signs With Lugano

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(Photo: Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Now former Boston Bruins forward prospect Peter Cehlarik has reportedly agreed to a terms with HC Lugano of the Swiss National League. The 24-year-old was slated to become a restricted free agent this summer after his one-year deal with an average annual value (AVV) of $700,000 runs out.

Last month, Cehlarik spoke with Slovak media about his frustrations with the Bruins organization after traveling to his native country to wait out the pandemic. The left-shot forward did not seem too pleased with his usage under Boston head coach Bruce Cassidy during his stints with the big club.

“I can’t cross the line to persuade Bruins [coach] Bruce Cassidy for good,” Cehlarik said at the time. “Sometimes I felt as if he was just waiting for my mistake to send me back to the farm.

“They know what they are doing. They’ve invested years of development in me. It’s all about trust from a coach I don’t get. I still hear that I’m ready for the NHL, I have it, but when it goes like this, I need a change and a new start. It is high time.”

The left-winger has suited up in just three games with the Bruins this season, notching just one assist and posting a minus-one rating. In 48 games with the Providence Bruins, Boston’s American Hockey League affiliate, he has 16-21-37 totals in addition to a plus-three rating in 48 games.

On Nov. 2, 2019, Cassidy was candid with the media about his thoughts on Cehlarik’s performance after a matchup with the Ottawa Senators, saying: “If [Cehlarik]’s going to stay in the National Hockey League, you’ve got to play to your strengths, and I thought he had opportunities to make plays. He made a few here and there, but I thought he left some on the table. At the end of the day, the details we’ll keep getting after him about, so overall, I thought he was okay.”

Boston’s bench boss also noted he feels Cehlarik’s ideal spot in the lineup is next to a “skilled centerman.” After failing to make the team out of camp, Cehlarik was placed on waivers to be assigned to Providence, and went unclaimed.

On his career, the 90th overall pick in the third round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft has five goals and six assists for 11 points in 40 NHL games, as well as a plus-11 rating. In 185 AHL contests, Cehlarik has 59-77-136 numbers in addition to a plus-20 rating. Over nine Calder Cup Playoffs games, he recored three goals and one assist.

Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron skated with Lugano during the 2012-13 lockout. In 21 games with the club before the NHL returned, Bergeron registered 29 points (11g, 18a).

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 180 that we recorded below on 5-25-20! 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!

Where Does Boston’s New Winger Fit Long-Term?

Kase

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

Trades that are executed throughout an NHL season carry some inherent risk.  These risks range from injuries to improper fit into the lineup and locker room.  Though, no one could have predicted a postponement in gameplay and watching their newly-acquired players’ contracts expire.

Thankfully, the Bruins traded for two players who have more than a year on their contracts: Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase.  The latter was acquired to compete for a role on David Krejci’s right-side.  Bruins fans sound like a broken record when they plead for a long-term solution for the second-line right-winger position.  General Manager, Don Sweeney, hopes the former Anaheim Duck fits that mold.

The Bruins acquired Ondrej Kase on February 21, 2020, for David Backes, Axel Andersson, and their 2020 first-round pick.   The Ducks have been staring down a rebuild for over a year.  Rebuilding teams generally hold onto one or two high-end talent players and unload the rest of their promising young stars.  The Bruins saw the opportunity to not only acquire a forward with some untapped potential but also rid themselves of a horrid contract signed back in 2014.  The large-cap hit forced the Bruins to sweeten to the pot for Anaheim, which is why their first-round draft choice was included.

It is a tough pill to swallow for an organization that missed out on a promising 2018 draft class because of a lack of a first-round selection.  Don Sweeney hopes Kase can make Bruins fans forget the same reality during the 2018 off-season.

Ondrej Kase is a former 2014 seventh-round draft selection.  He was drafted out of the Chance Liga, which is the Czech Republic’s second-highest level of professional hockey behind the Extraliga.  He was selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the final round of the 2014 draft.  It is not unheard of for a player to hail from the seventh-round and become an important NHL piece.  Henrik Lundqvist, Joe Pavelski, Patric Hornqvist, and Ondrej Palat were seventh-round draft picks who have had incredibly successful careers.  The 24-year old winger is in great company if he can replicate their paths.

Kase began his Duck career as a 21-year old rookie 2016, where he netted 15 points in 53 games.  He spent most of his time with Antoine Vermette and newly acquired Bruin, Nick Ritchie, on their third line.  A year later, Kase and his linemates experienced a more successful season, as he ended with 38 points in 66 games.  He’s been plagued by the injury bug during the first six years in the league.  He began the 2018-19 season on pace to crush his career point total, amassing 20 points in 30 games.  Unfortunately, Kase suffered a season-ending shoulder injury that would leave the Ducks waiting another year for Kase’s untapped potential.

Before the trade to Boston, Ondrej scored seven goals and 16 assists in 49 games with the Ducks.  He sustained an upper-body injury near the trade deadline, but Sweeney took the chance anyway.  Kase has only played six games for the Bruins, which is a small and difficult sample size to predict his role going forward.  Though, his skills haven’t faltered.  Kase has incredible vision along with great pucks skills and tremendous adaptability.  He has been described as a “toy-car that never seems to run out of energy.”  This is something the Bruins have needed in past playoffs, especially as the playoffs have transitioned to a faster, more creative gameplay.

Kase can keep up with the speed of the NHL and his elusiveness can wear teams down in the offensive zone.  The St. Louis Blues beat the Bruins in game seven of the Cup final last year because they were able to wear the Bruins down and capitalize on their few chances.  Kase fits that mold and his linemates will prosper.

Sweeney projects his newly acquired winger to play either with Krejci or Charlie Coyle.  Interestingly enough, Coyle could succeed Krejci as the Bruins’ second-line center, which allows Kase and Coyle to build chemistry in the meantime.  Before the season’s suspension, the Bruins had both Anaheim Duck forwards anchoring Krejci’s line.  If the season were to continue, Kase would be given a considerable chance to thrive on Krejci’s right side.  The season will look particularly different than a normal season, so Kase and his teammates will have to participate in a mini-camp before the playoffs.  This will allow Head Coach Bruce Cassidy the time to see how comfortable Kase is with Krejci.  Bruce has been known to tinker with the lines when something isn’t working, unlike his predecessor Claude Julien.

Long-term, Kase is a front-runner the second-line right-wing position.  He is a young, lethal forward who is still learning and growing into the player he is projected to be.  He has the great fortune to learn in a room full of seasoned veterans and talented leaders.  Whether the second-line features Coyle or Krejci, Kase projects to fit the glaring hole behind David Pastrnak.  Though, it would not be a disappointment if Kase sticks on the third-line for a longer period of time because the NHL has shown that teams need four well-rounded and effective lines to win Lord’s Stanley Cup.  Either way, Sweeney made the right decision in trading for a player who is a young, talented forward with the effective ability to be a force every time he is on the ice.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 179 that we recorded below on 5-17-20! 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!

Returning or Cancelled? Future of the 2019-20 NHL Season

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

It was mid-March, teams around the NHL finished trades to acquire new players only a couple weeks prior at the Trade Deadline, and the race for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs was heating up by the day. The Boston Bruins were atop the NHL standings with a 44-14-12 record, becoming the only team to reach the 100-point plateau. Then, on March 12th, the National Hockey League made the difficult, but necessary decision to put the 2019-2020 campaign on “pause”.

Only a few days prior, the league was discussing plans to host games as normal but prevent fans from attending the games in a way to continue the schedule, but hopefully limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus that was infecting, at that time, hundreds-of-thousands of people worldwide. However, on March 11th, Rudy Gobert of the NBA’s Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in the game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Utah Jazz to be postponed before tipoff.

Amid concerns of who Gobert might have come into contact with in the time of contracting the virus and him testing positive, the NBA postponed their season almost immediately. This decision put immense pressure on the remaining professional sporting leagues to either suspend or to continue operations. As mentioned above, the NHL made the tough choice to put the 2019-2020 regular-season and subsequent playoffs on “pause”.

Putting a league’s operations on “pause” is a very broad statement. It was impossible to know how long the pause would last, considering the entire world had no idea what the COVID-19 pandemic would continue to do. Not wanting to give up hope, the NHL made sure to keep the idea of returning a possibility in their official press release on March 12th, stating, “Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup”

That message has stayed consistent for the National Hockey League. No deadlines or specific dates have been set on a return, but also no confirmation has been announced or the season not returning. In an interview with NHL Network on April 30th, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, “We’re going to have to take things one step at a time because the health and well-being of our players is paramount to anything we’re focused on.” Also, stating, “I don’t think anybody knows for certain.” when asked about possible return-to-play scenarios.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Within that same interview, Bettman said that while the NHL and NHLPA continue to discuss the chance to return, they have also been talking about what the 2020-2021 season will look like. Of course, if the season did resume, it would not be on the same schedule as a typical NHL season looks. By now, teams would be nearing the end of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and other teams would be looking ahead to the offseason. A return in ’19/’20 means we are seeing hockey in likely July or August, and how long that will go for is uncertain.

“We have a great deal of flexibility in terms of when we can start,” Commissioner Bettman said. “There’s no magic for next season of starting in October as we traditionally do. If we have to start in November or December, that’s something that will be under consideration. – NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, NHL.com

In that case, I personally would expect the All-Star festivities to be canceled as well as the week-long break to be shortened or taken out of the schedule altogether. This is assuming the league will look to play a full 82-game campaign.

Throughout this timeline of the season being put on pause to the current date, players have been asked to self-quarantine, meaning they have not been able to train in the same way that a professional athlete needs to. Recognizing that fact, Bettman also said that the next step is to open training facilities for “small group activities” to get players back into game-ready shape.

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Media Day

PHOTO CREDITS: (NBC Sports)

In an article by ESPN on May 4th, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN in an email that they are hoping to organize these training sessions in the “latter half of May” but right now, it “remains to be seen”. In that same article by ESPN, it was mentioned that the NHL continues its search for cities to play games if a return does take place. Rather than having each team play in their home city, all teams would play in “centralized locations” to limit travel and player contact with other people.

Among those arenas include the homes of the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Vegas Golden Knights. Other locations, like British Columbia, have reached out to the league to “bid” for their arena to be a potential playing spot for summer hockey.

Another question in play is the NHL Entry Draft, an event that commonly takes place in late June, just before the start of free agency on July 1st. Bettman has tossed around the idea of a virtual draft, similar to that of the NFL, NWHL, and WNBA, and also suggested that such technology would take at least a month to prepare. General Managers throughout the league have differing opinions on it, but Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney stayed down the middle, saying, “I have my own preferences but that being said, I think the league has to make their decision about what’s best for the overall decision making than any teams that have a personal preference, and I have to respect that.”

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

In my humble opinion, I feel the season will resume because it almost has to. The NHL has lost a large amount of revenue, and the players have worked hard from October to March to battle for playoff positions, stats, and a chance at the Stanley Cup. To take that opportunity away is tough given the circumstances, but it would be unfortunate if there is a chance to keep the season going at some point this calendar year. Without question, the health and safety of everyone is of the utmost priority, and a return should only be done if it does not put people in more danger.

Gary Bettman made sure to reiterate, “But as soon as possible means under the right circumstances, and for that, we’re going to take our guidance from the governments at all levels and from the medical people.”

Though there has not been confirmation on when the games will resume, some sites have pushed out odds on when the season would start again. Articles found here will indicate that we will most likely see the season start in August. Good idea to check back in a few weeks to see if there are any new updates on that prediction but it is safe to assume that the season will not be cancelled at this point.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 177 that we recorded below on 5-3-20! 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!!

Alexander Khokhlachev, Still Bruins Property, Traded In KHL

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(Photo: Ilya Smirnov / photo.khl.ru)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Former Boston Bruins prospect Alexander Khokhlachev has been traded in a one-for-one swap in the Kontinental Hockey League. The 26-year-old was dealt from Spartak Moscow to Avangard Omsk in exchange for forward Sergei Shirokov.

This season with Spartak, Khokhlachev posted 14 goals and 18 assists for 32 points in 56 games in addition to 2-3-5 numbers in six playoff contests. Through four seasons in the KHL, the Moscow native has 56-73-129 totals in 187 games to go along with two goals, six helpers, and eight points in 25 playoff games.

Selected 40th overall by Boston in the second round of the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft, Khokhlachev departed North American hockey after the 2015-16 campaign, where he tallied 23-45-68 totals in 60 American Hockey League contests with the Providence Bruins. The Russian was a prolific scorer at the AHL level with 61 goals and 110 assists for 171 points in 197 AHL contests under Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, who apparently has a strong relationship with “Koko.”

The five-foot-11, 187-pound forward could not seem to get his success to translate to the NHL: zero points in nine games with a minus-four rating. When Khokhlachev got looks with the big club, former Boston head coach Claude Julien fed him limited ice time.

During the 2017-18 season, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet and Hockey Night in Canada reported that a return to Boston could be in the fold for Khokhlachev, and according to Mark Divver, team representatives met him overseas that winter to “talk things over.”

At the time, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney even acknowledged that Khokhlachev “indicated to us originally during the year that he was interested [in returning to Boston].” However, it seems fair to say that a return is probably not imminent at this point in time.

The Bruins hold Khokhlachev’s NHL rights until he is 27 years old, so long as the team submits a qualifying offer each year. Khokhlachev will turn 27 on September 9, 2020.

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.

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!!