Is Pasta a 2nd Line Dish That Could Be Served For The Bruins In 2020/21?

( Photo Credit: Getty Images )

by Matt Barry | Follow me on Twitter @oobcards

When the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, production was coming from all four lines. Even in 2019, the additions of Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson provided depth and solid 5 on 5 play from the third line. But the second line has provided inconsistent play and was a detriment to Bruce Cassidy’s team in the second round against a deeper Tampa Bay Lightning team this past season. A major offseason focus should be to finally get David Krejci a legitimate scorer on the right-wing. Could it be that the answer is already on the roster?

The “Perfection Line” of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak is widely considered one of the top lines in the National Hockey League. In recent seasons, the trio has dominated 5-on-5 play and had been a threat to score nearly every shift. However, this past season, the Bruins production numbers at even strength dipped which included their top line. The Bruins scored just five even-strength goals in their five-game series with Tampa Bay. The power play was excellent all season, but even-strength play will need to improve for the Black and Gold to get back to contending for a Stanley Cup.

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General manager Don Sweeney will certainly attempt to address this need in the offseason. The Bruins could look outside of the organization to fill the second line right wing hole or try to give Ondrej Kase more time to build chemistry with David Krejci. The more creative move might be to move Pastrnak, one of the top goal scorers in the league, to the second line and give Krejci his first real goal-scoring threat since Nathan Horton. If Jake DeBrusk is re-signed, Boston could have a second line of DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak. This would be more effective if someone like 21-year old Jack Studnicka, who showed flashes of being a top-six forward at the NHL level. The team could also deal DeBrusk and try to get a more consistent scorer who can possess the puck.

I would not advise the team to move third-line center Charlie Coyle up to the second line. Coyle has been terrific on the third line with his size and physicality. Ideally, Anders Bjork could continue to develop with Coyle or coach Bruce Cassidy could possibly slide Kase down to third-line duty. It will be imperative for Sweeney and team President Cam Neely to create more offensive attack across all four lines. The fourth line should still have Chris Wagner and Sean Kuraly providing good puck pursuit and some scoring ability. Former University of Wisconsin star Trent Frederic could slot in on that line as Joakim Nordstrom will probably not be retained. Par Lindholm has one year left on his deal, but did not provide much offensive production.

Having Pasta play with Krejci on the second line could create the offensive balance the team seeks. Much of this scenario depends on Studnicka. The thought here is that the team gives Studnicka a long, hard look on the first line. If it works out, it could provide a much better result than the team could find elsewhere, and at a much cheaper cost. If not, the Bruins will need to use money and, possibly, resources to find a linemate for Krejci.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 194 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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Do The Bruins Have A Potential Trading Partner In The Calgary Flames?

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Dan Anderson | Follow Me On Twitter @DanAnderson5970

As the aging core lineup for the Boston Bruins has limited time to win another Stanley Cup, Don Sweeney has been busy trying to find the right combination of players to put the team over the top. Trades for Rick Nash and Ondrej Kase in recent seasons have not worked as planned. With free agency pending October 9th, 2020, the Bruins are looking, aggressively, for upgrades.

One such team that the Bruins could target is the Calgary Flames, and two players specifically: Noah Hanifin and Johnny Gaudreau. Hanifin is a similar player to Brandon Carlo in both age and playing style but plays left defense. There is a difference in contracts in that Carlo becomes an RFA after next season while currently making $2.85M. Hanifin is under contract through 2024 at $4.95M. With Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara both UFAs as of October 9th, and Matt Grzelcyk an RFA at that time, John Moore is currently the only left defenseman on the roster.

Would the Bruins consider a straight-up trade? In theory, Hanifin and McAvoy become the first line, Grzelcyk and likely Jeremy Lauzon become the second line, with Chara coming back for one more year paired with Connor Clifton on the third line. Calgary might like this trade to add a right-handed shot, as they currently are overloaded with left shooting defensemen.

Gaudreau is apparently on the trading block. Arguably their best player, he isn’t far removed from thirty plus goal seasons and close to one hundred points. He would undoubtedly be an immediate upgrade if the Bruins decided to trade Jake DeBrusk, an upcoming RFA, who will be looking for a pay raise over his 863K rookie deal. Gaudreau is four years older and carries a contract that pays him $6.75M through the 2021-2022 season. Both Gaudreau and Hanifin played at Boston College for Jerry York’s Eagles. Hanifin was born in Boston.

While on paper, this deal would appear to favor the Bruins short term, Gaudreau and Hanifin for Carlo and DeBrusk with other possible add ons, there are some concerns. If this trade is made, it is highly unlikely the Bruins could sign Torey Krug. Might his rights be part of the deal? I don’t know that Krug would want to play there, but Calgary doesn’t have an offensive defenseman. Calgary is also weak at left wing, with ex-Bruin Milan Lucic on the third line, and at center, where the Bruins have several prospects. Could Nick Ritchie be sent to Calgary? Gaudreau would address some offensive concerns but adds another smaller player to a team trying to get bigger. Adding cap space might be attractive for the Flames as they are likely rebuilding.

The Bruins are also light on picks early in this year’s draft with no first or second-round choice currently. Calgary is without their third, and fourth-round picks this year, so a draft pick exchange would seem unlikely and make a possible trade harder, but it’s not hard to see why the Bruins might want to add both Hanifin and Gaudreau.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 194 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!!

Should The Boston Bruins Trade Youth For Experience?

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Matt Barry | Follow Me On Twitter @oobcards

As the National Hockey League offseason approaches, The Boston Bruins seem to be at a crossroads when it comes to their roster for the 2020-21 season and beyond. General manager Don Sweeney will look to add some pieces to a squad that won the President’s Trophy as the best team in the league before the pandemic hit. When the team returned to play, a second-round exit was just around the corner, exposing some of the flaws that prevented the Bruins from reaching their ultimate goal.

First, we must consider the salary cap situation that faces Sweeney. Defenseman Torey Krug is an unrestricted free agent and seeking top dollar on the open market. The Bruins have approximately fifteen million dollars available and signing Krug seems to be a long shot. The void created by Krug’s departure creates a hole on the blue line and on the power play. The Bruins are already thin on the left side defensively. In-house options for Sweeney are young defensemen Urho Vaakanainen and Jakub Zboril who have each played sparingly at the NHL level. Let’s keep in mind that the Bruins Stanley Cup-winning team in 2011 had only one defenseman younger than 27, and that was Adam McQuaid.

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Another left-shot defenseman, Zdeno Chara is approaching 44 years old and wants to return for maybe one last season with the team. The Bruins will probably sign him, but his skills have declined and he has struggled to match the speed of today’s game. Matt Grzelcyk is a restricted free agent and would be a logical choice to assume some of Krug’s responsibilities and ice time, but he is 26, and taking on a bigger role has its risks.

The 2011 team had a great mix of young talent and wily veterans. Brad Marchand was 22, Tyler Seguin was 19, and even Patrice Bergeron was only 25 years old at the time. The question for next season’s Bruins team is; Can the Bruins expect to be a legitimate Stanley Cup contender by filling their needs with some of their younger, inexperienced players? Or does Sweeney go all-in for one last time to get one more ring for Bergeron, Chara, and David Krejci while mortgaging some of the future?

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Let’s consider two factors when determining how to shape the roster. The expansion draft will take place after next season, as the Seattle Kraken creates its very first roster. All teams will have to decide whether to keep eight players and one goalie or seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie. The team has suggested that they will choose the latter, meaning that any roster addition could be added to that group. Also, winger Jake DeBrusk is a restricted free agent along with Grzelcyk which presents a decision for the Bruins. The team would like to bring back DeBrusk, who will turn 24 years old in October, but the second-line left wing has stated that he could be seeking five million dollars per year. You would have to think that the Bruins would not want to commit quite that much salary to a fairly inconsistent player.

The options are to trade DeBrusk, Grzelcyk, or maybe even young right-shot defenseman Brandon Carlo, who will be a restricted free agent after next season. Or the Bruins could just re-sign DeBrusk and Grzelcyk now and then Carlo next offseason. The issue would be that the roster would not see much change and the cap would prevent a major free agent signing like former number one pick Taylor Hall or move for defenseman Matt Dumba from Minnesota or former Boston College star forward Johnny Gaudreau. Signing DeBrusk and Grzelcyk does not leave the team with much cap room when the next trade deadline arrives. In 2011, the Bruins relied heavily on veterans such as Chris Kelly, Michael Ryder, and Gregory Campbell. Will there be Bruins prospects who can step in and play important roles on a Stanley Cup contender?

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The Bruins could also use some young players in their system for trade bait. Anders Bjork makes an affordable salary and could be traded as could restricted free agents Karson Kuhlman and Zach Senyshyn. Sweeney will have to decide if Bjork can be a factor on the third line after creating some chemistry with Charlie Coyle and if Trent Frederic can slot into a fourth-line role to replace Joakim Nordstrom who will likely not be re-signed. Look to Sweeney banking on 21-year old, rookie center Jack Studnicka to be inserted into a top-six role. If Studnicka can produce, he may be the 2020-21 version of Seguin and be a great low-cost value.

Look for the Bruins to try to sign Grzelcyk to a deal similar to Carlo’s last deal, which was a two-year bridge deal at roughly three million dollars annually. DeBrusk’s negotiations might be a little stickier. Sweeney’s hand may be forced to deal DeBrusk for a similar player who would be a little more cost-effective. I see DeBrusk re-signing with the Bruins for maybe four million per year over three years. I would think that the Bruins would certainly want to move John Moore’s $2.75 million contract. Ondrej Kase might also be someone on the block as Sweeney could look to gain some draft picks while trimming salary.

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Many moving parts will happen this offseason, and Sweeney, who went to Harvard, will have to use all of his book smarts to create some roster flexibility while being mindful of the cap and upcoming expansion draft. I do not see the roster having many additions from outside the organization, as there are some intriguing options within. The management of the Bruins has been loyal to the core of this group for years, and other than the departure of Krug, I see that continuing for at least one more year.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 194 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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Who Could The Bruins Receive For Jake DeBrusk?

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

Due to COVID-19, the NHL has neither increased nor decreased the salary cap, making it a flat cap. The stagnant cap number puts even more pressure on general managers to make necessary moves for future years.

The Bruins are entering the 2020 off-season with $15M in cap space. Their priority list is large needing to sign unrestricted free agents Joakim Nordstrom, Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller, and Torey Krug and restricted free agents Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzylcek, Zach Senyshyn, and Karson Kuhlman.

The Black N Gold crew have written numerous articles on the Bruins’ future signings. Jake DeBrusk’s future with the Bruins relies on Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara because of the limited cap space. If Krug decides to sign elsewhere, the Bruins find themselves with more money to spend, but a sudden need to replace scoring on the blue line. If Krug decides to stay, the Bruins’ cap space is significantly smaller, making DeBrusk likely sign a bridge deal. However, if DeBrusk is unwilling to sign a bridge deal, a trade could be in his future.

If Krug were to receive a better offer elsehwhere, the Bruins’ left-handed blue line depth would deplete. The Bruins rostered left-handed defensemen include John Moore, Chara, and Grzelcyk, which will not cut it. The Bruins, however, will have at least $7M to spend on a new face.

The impending free agent defensemen class is plentiful, but not with a seamless Krug replacement. Alex Pietrangelo, Tyson Barrie, and Justin Schultz round out the top three D-men on the board, but they’re all right-handed shots. T.J. Brodie and Dimitri Kulikov are available left-handed defensemen, but neither come close to matching Krug’s offensive numbers.

The limited free agent pool likely turns Don Sweeney to the trade market. A near-perfect replacement for Krug is Shea Theodore (as mentioned in a recent article). The Vegas Golden Knights’ defenseman recently signed a 7-year, $36.4M contract, which carries a $5.4M cap hit. The Bruins would pay Theodore $200K more than Krug’s current deal for the next four years. Theodore ended the year with 46 points in 71 games and would fill Krug’s shoes nicely with his offensive prowess and great vision.

Acquiring Theodore sounds like a long shot after he just re-signed to a long-term contract. However, the Knights were just bounced from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in five games after failing to score consistently and could look to the trade market for scoring.

The Bruins would send DeBrusk’s rights to Vegas, which enables the Knights to re-sign the left-wing before free agency. The trade could be a one-for-one, though it’s more likely the teams would throw in draft picks, having the Bruins tossing in a mid-round selection.

Another great Krug replacement is Oscar Klefbom out of Edmonton. Klefbom is a former first-round pick who’s had an up and down career with the Oilers. The 27-year old left-handed defenseman has two years remaining on his 7-year, $29M contract that carries a $4.167M cap hit. He ended the year with 34 points, which is four points shy of his career-high. Unfortunately, he has been plagued by a few injures the past three years, but a change of scenery could help the young blueliner reshape his game.

The Oilers badly need a dynamic winger for their superstar Connor McDavid. McDavid would welcome DeBrusk with open arms if the Bruins were to strike a deal. The Oilers have $10.5M in cap space and can certainty afford DeBrusk’s next contract. Again, draft picks would be part of the agreement and maybe even AHL prospects.

Now let’s switch gears and assume Torey Krug and the Bruins agree on a contract that leaves the Bruins with $8M cap space, and DeBrusk is not willing to sign a bridge deal. The remaining money split between Zdeno Chara and Grzelcyk leaves the Bruins with approximately $4M in cap space. The Bruins need for a left-handed defenseman is no longer as imperative, and Sweeney could set his sights on another need: consistent wing scoring.

There have been some discussions that the Winnipeg Jets are willing to trade Patrick Laine. He was the second overall draft choice in 2016 and had a cap hit of $6.75M. He is a restricted free agent, and has been in his coach’s doghouse too often this past season.

There’s a presumption the Jets are listening to offers, and the Bruins should most certainly inquire. However, the Jets will expect AT LEAST a first-round draft selection (which the Bruins don’t have until 2021), a top prospect (John Beecher, Jack Studnicka, Urho Vaakanainen), and a top-nine forward (Jake DeBrusk, Ondrej Kase).

The Bruins may be able to sell the Jets on David Krejci for Laine, along with other assets, of course. The former 70-point right-winger would undoubtedly make the Bruins a tough team to beat and alleviate the top line’s pressure to create all the scoring opportunities. It’s a mystery whether Sweeney would even entertain the the steep price tag to pry Laine from Winnipeg.

The other side of the coin is Patrick’s contract. Laine will want a contract north of his previous 2-year, $13.5M deal. The Bruins can afford that if they trade out players who own more massive cap hits, like David Krejci. They could undoubtedly trade John Moore and try to scrape away at the cap ceiling, but it’s more likely they’ll have to rid themselves of a larger contract to squeeze under the cap.

The Bruins could also walk away from signing Krug and make the deal for Laine, but that leaves a giant hole on the blue-line. Keeping Krug almost definitively puts them out of the running for a player of Laine’s caliber. Sweeney needs the future cap space, mainly if the salary cap stays flat in the coming years.

One trade target the Bruins have a reasoanle shot at acquiring for DeBrusk is Anthony Mantha. The Detroit Red Wings had the worst record in the NHL last season and robbed of the first overall pick. They have $34M in cap space and can certainly afford whatever number DeBrusk has in mind. Mantha is also a restricted free agent and a former first-round draft choice. He is a behemoth left-wing at 6’5, 234 pounds, and has breakaway speed. He ended last season on the Wings first line but would almost certainly play on the Bruins second or third line.

Mantha is coming off of his rookie deal of 3-years, $2.77M. DeBrusk and Mantha have had comparable point totals in the past three seasons: DeBrusk netting 120 points in 203 games and Mantha with 134 in 190 games. Mantha has more points in fewer games, making him an enticing option.

The Wings require a profound identity change and a fresh start. They’ve fallen to the bottom of the standings dramatically and could use a jump start from a new face, who learned from some of the game’s best leaders, and who’s performed deep into the playoffs. The Bruins could send DeBrusk and a mid-round draft choice or prospect in exchange for Mantha and a low-round draft choice.

Another potential trade target for Jake DeBrusk is Minnesota’s, Kevin Fiala. Fiala was also a former first-round draft selection in 2014 by the Nashville Predators. Fiala had a tough time finding his game in Nashville, only playing 204 games and scoring 97 points. The Swiss forward was traded to Minnesota for Mikael Granlund last season. Fiala has one year left on his 2-year, $6M contract and will still be a restricted free agent.

The change of scenery benefited the 24-year old. Fiala potted 67 points in 83 career games with the Wild. He scored 23 goals last season and has participated on the Wild’s first power-play unit.

So why would the Wild give up a player they just acquired? The Minnesota Wild hired Paul Fenton (former Predator Assistant GM) in 2018, which was viewed as a great hire around the NHL. Fenton acquired Fiala after overseeing his development in Nashville. A surprise move a year later, the Wild fired Fenton after finishing fifth in the wild card standings.
The Wild hired former Dallas Stars great, Bill Guerin, within a month of firing Fenton. Wild’s ownership created an environment where mediocrity is not going to cut it, putting even more pressure on Geurin.

The Wild snuck into the Return to Play pool only to be eliminated by the Vancouver Canucks in the first round. Guerin needs to show his ownership he has a plan to further this team’s future, and making a trade for a player like DeBrusk would benefit both parties. The Wild could make DeBrusk their number one left-wing and sign him for the next five to six years and genuinely integrate himself as a mainstay.

Thankfully for the Bruins, Fiala’s cap hit is significantly lower than what DeBrusk has asked for, and the Bruins can afford him, barring a salary dump of John Moore. They’ve also had a great trade rapport with the Wild when they acquired Charlie Coyle two seasons ago. Fiala would make for a great second-line winger and a power-play beneficiary.

The Bruins would ask for a bit more in return than Fiala’s return, such as a mid-round draft choice or prospect. The move delays the contract conversation one more year, but it would allow the Bruins a bit more flexibility without shelling out two large contracts this off-season.

It’s no surprise that Sweeney has his work cut out for him each year because that is what it takes to avoid a mid-league finish in the standings. There may be one or two moves Sweeney makes that will shock the NHL, and it’s necessary. The Tampa Bay Lightning outmatched the Bruins in a 4-1 series victory, and their size and inconsistent scoring played a significant role. If the Bruins want to keep up with the Tampa Bay Lightning for years to come, the time to make the moves is now.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 194 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!!

Question Marks Surround Left Side Of Bruins’ Second Defense Pair

(Photo: Brian Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

With the Boston Bruins’ President’s Trophy-winning 2019-20 season now over, general manager Don Sweeney and the rest of the Boston brass head into the offseason with several question marks looming over the roster. How will management address the lack of depth scoring (again)? What will happen with the team’s restricted free agents? Or perhaps the most pressing question that snuck up on the Bruins: what will the left side of defense look like next season?

Admittedly, I did not have the foresight to take a look at the Bruins’ situation down the left side on the backend until recently. Prior to the pandemic, I had thought there would be no way that Boston would let Torey Krug walk or that Zdeno Chara would be without a contract heading into next season. Yet here we are — all signs point to Krug leaving to sign a big ticket elsewhere, and although Chara wants to return, he is still on the brink of unrestricted free agency.

In the most likely scenario, in my opinion, Krug walks and Chara re-signs at a reasonable cap hit and short term. If that is the case, Boston is still left with a gaping hole in the team’s top four at even-strength.

For context with some incoming advanced stats, courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, Corsi basically measures how much a player’s team controls the puck when they are on the ice, and anything below 45% is generally considered to be below average, while anything above 55% is typically seen as elite.

Chara still has value in a limited role. Sure, his even-strength numbers have dipped in recent season – the 43-year-old sported a Corsi-for (CF%) of 46.7% at even-strength during the regular season (down from 53.8% during the 2018-19 season), and a CF% of 36.8% during the playoffs this season (down from 40.4% during last year’s postseason). However, the big man can still provide value on the penalty kill – he was and still is Boston’s biggest workhorse on the kill – in a limited even-strength role, and in the room, of course.

What does this limited role for Chara look like? Presumably, it would be on the third pair next to a guy like Connor Clifton or Jeremy Lauzon. That leaves spots up for the taking on the second pair to Brandon Carlo’s left and on the top pair next to Charlie McAvoy.

Matt Grzelcyk seems like the clubhouse favorite to slot in next to McAvoy up top as of right now; the pair excelled in two years together at Boston University and have looked good together in a small sample size in the NHL. When together, the two boasted an insane CF% of 59.06% at five-on-five play, during this year’s playoffs, and a CF% of 59.69% at even-strength over the last three regular seasons. In short, when together McAvoy and  Grzelcyk are possession monsters for the Bruins, and with more high-end minutes with guys like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, analytics darlings in their own rights, on the ice with them they should only flourish even more.

This all leaves Carlo without a defense partner on the second pair. While the Bruins have in-house options that might step up in Urho Vaakanainen, Lauzon, or Jakub Zboril, it remains to be seen if those guys would be ready to leap into such a key role. Lauzon proved that he is NHL-ready this season as he assumed a role on the bottom pair next to Grzelcyk during the second half of the season, and excelled for the most part, especially with his physicality, mobility and intensity.

Meanwhile, Zboril has slowly, but steadily, progressed in Providence over the last few seasons. P-Bruins head coach Jay Leach mentioned that the 23-year-old was “probably” the team’s best defenseman by the end of the year, and was one of the last cuts from Boston’s training camp before the season after having an excellent showing. He’s got some sandpaper to his game and can move the puck well; however, consistency is an issue, aside from whether or not he can make the jump. Another snag is that the left-shot d-man has been loaned to HC Kometa Brno in his native Czech Republic as a timeline for next season in both the AHL and NHL is unclear.

Looking at Vaakanainen, there is no question about the promise in his game, from the skating ability to the intelligence. In a very small sample size in the NHL, he did not look out of place. Again, the only concern with Vaakanainen, and Zboril, is whether or not a full-time leap to the NHL is in the cards this season. For Lauzon, the question is if he can shoulder the extra responsibility and tougher defensive matchups.

The Bruins may even be able to look to external options via free agency depending on how much cash is leftover from the re-signing period, whenever that happens. After a quick visit to CapFriendly to look at defensemen set to hit the UFA market, options like T.J. Brodie, Joel Edmundson, Erik Gustaffson, and Brenden Dillon stand out.

Who knows, maybe if, or when, training camp rolls around, one of the young defensemen is poised to seize the apparently open roster spot, impresses, and makes the team out of camp. Or perhaps the Bruins land a free agent that can plug the hole. Until then, all we can do is speculate about how the left side, especially on the second pair, will be addressed.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 193 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!

The Future of Boston’s Left-Handed Defensemen

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

The Tampa Bay Lightning sent the Boston Bruins home early, leaving all of us wondering what the future will hold. After each team’s playoff exit, conferences are held to detail each player’s injuries and each player’s future. Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara are unrestricted free agents and could find themselves in different jerseys come next season.

Torey Krug has stated the type of deal he is seeking but is open to a hometown discount. Chara is 43 years old and has recently announced he wants to play another year and prefers it to be in Boston.

Naturally, Bruins’s twitter exploded with scenarios and everyone’s thoughts on Boston’s two players’ futures. I created a twitter poll for Bruins fans to give their take on what they want next season.

The first selection of keeping both defensemen seemed to be the prevailing choice, but Krug’s price tag scares Bruins fans. We will dive into each scenario and explain the repercussions that they would have on the team.

Keeping both Chara and Krug would require both players to sacrifice the money they’d make on the open market. Torey Krug reportedly is seeking $8M per-year over a 6-7-year timeframe. The Bruins have $15M in cap space after re-signing Anders Bjork to an extension last month. The Bruins need the remaining cap space to sign restricted free-agents, Matt Grzelcyk and Jake DeBrusk, and unrestricted free agent Joakim Nordstrom.

If the Bruins want a chance to sign most of these players, The Bruins cannot afford Krug’s $8M per year salary. His last deal was worth $5.25M per year, which means he will take no less than $6M per year in his next contract.

Bruins management, mainly General Manager Don Sweeney, has created an environment where his star players make below fair market value because they have bought into a certain mentality. David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Berergon have a combined average annual value (“AAV”) of $19.7M, resulting in impeccable signings.

These deals have given Bruins fans skewed visions into players’ values because there is a sense that incoming and roster players shouldn’t make more than their beloved players. Unfortunately, that is not the case for some players, especially given their recent contracts.

Krug will receive at least $7M on the open market, which would put him as the highest salaried defenseman, and tied for second-highest salary on the team, only behind David Krejci. Krug has stated he is open to a hometown discount but doesn’t want to cut himself too short, which is exceptionally reasonable. If the Bruins and Krug can agree on $6.75M over the next five years, both sides would benefit. Krug would increase his AAV by $1.5M, and the Bruins still have enough salary cap to fit in their remaining players.

If the Bruins sign Krug to this deal, they would have $8.25M remaining to re-sign their 14-year captain to another team-friendly deal. Chara has made close to $100M in his 23-year career and is coming off a 1-year, $3.75M deal, with a cap hit of $2M. The rest of the money’s embedded in player bonuses.

The Bruins could re-sign Chara for another 1-year, $1.5M-$2M deal, which would be immense for both sides. The Bruins would be retaining the Hall of Fame defenseman for another year to mentor young defensemen vying for a spot and play on the third pairing and penalty kill situations.

Chara has had an incredibly fruitful career, especially in a Bruins uniform. He is a one-time Stanley Cup champion and former Norris Trophy winner. He will undoubtedly be an NHL Hall of Famer and likely have his number retired with the Bruins.

Big Z is getting older and can still be an incredible force on the ice, especially if he plays 18-19 minutes per game. It is time to pass the defensive torch to Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, but that doesn’t mean Chara should retire. He still adds tremendous value to the organization and can always be a factor game in and game out.

If the Bruins offer Chara this contract and Krug’s discounted deal, they would have approximately $6.5M remaining to re-sign Grzelcyk, Nordstrom, and DeBrusk. $6.5M would be tight to re-sign these players, mostly since DeBrusk’s agent has gone on record saying his client wants $6M per year. The Bruins could offer DeBrusk a bridge deal and Grzelcyk around $2M per year, leaving a little over $1M for Nordstrom. Even this scenario makes their cap situation tight, meaning Sweeney may have to make a few difficult decisions if he wants to retain Krug and Chara.

The second option in the poll has the Bruins retaining just the captain, which received 39% of the votes, making it the most popular selection. Fans who want to keep just Chara are more than likely unwilling to pay Krug the money he seeks. The $7M plus price tag would alleviate Don Sweeney’s hand in making difficult decisions. Black N Gold writer, Andrew Lindroth, recently posted an article about the potential replacements for Krug.

A few names Andrew did not mention that the Bruins could target in free agency are Travis Hamonic, T.J. Brodie (both from Calgary), and Tyson Barrie (Toronto Maple Leafs). The latter two have similar cap hits to Krug’s expiring one, while Hamonic would be significantly cheaper.

Krug’s departure would allow the Bruins to develop their young defenseman. Charlie McAvoy and Grzelcyk could round out the top pairing, Carlo and a prospect for the second line, and Chara and Connor Clifton as the third pairing. The Bruins power-play would look a little different next year but wouldn’t suffer much.

Charlie McAvoy is the Bruins number one defenseman for years to come, and he has shown he’s capable of handling power-play one duty. Matt Grzelcyk could take over power-play two responsibilities and is a similar player to Krug. He is not as offensively gifted but makes up for it in other areas.

Krug’s departure would net Don Sweeney, one of the largest cap situations, without signing roster mainstays. It would be too enticing to see what Sweeney would do with the money.

The third selection in the poll, which keeps just Krug, received 14% of the votes, making it the least popular option. In this scenario, the Bruins would be walking away from greatness to develop young defensemen. Chara has stated he wants to retire as a Bruin, and the move would only save about $2M on the books.

The Bruins defensive pairings would be significantly smaller in size. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s defense created havoc for the Bruins because of their size and strength. The Bruins need both attributes if they want to compete in their division, and the answer is not in John Moore, who could attain a roster spot if Chara walks.

The final selection received 19% of the votes and would result in both defensemen walking. If both Krug and Chara were to play on different teams next year, the Bruins would have a ton of money to use. However, their left-handed defensemen’s depth would suffer, and the Bruins would need to make quick bids to impending free agents.

The free-agent pool has very few left-handed shot defensemen. T.J. Brodie is the only left-handed shot defenseman of the group above. Joel Edmundson of the Carolina Hurricanes is also available, but given the capital, the Hurricanes spent on him, it’s unlikely he leaves Carolina.

The Bruins could also look to the trade market to replace one, if not both. A near-perfect replacement for Krug would be Shea Theodore of the Vegas Golden Knights. The 25-year old is a left-handed defenseman with a cap hit of $5.2M for the next five years. He’s increased his point total every year since he began in 2015. The Bruins would need to concoct a sweet deal for the Knights to agree by including Jake DeBrusk’s rights and a mid-round draft selection.

Another potential trade target is Edmonton’s Oscar Klefbom, who is a former first-round selection. He has a $4.167M cap hit for the next three years and has had an up-and-down career with the Oilers. Granted, the Oilers have had inconsistent years, but Klefbom could benefit from a change in scenery. His career-high point total is 38, and he has power-play experience. The Oilers could ask for DeBrusk’s rights or a sign-and-trade with Krug. Connor McDavid would be quite pleased with either.

If the Bruins can’t strike a deal or sign a free agent, the Bruins would only have John Moore and Matt Grzelcyk as their NHL-ready left-handed shot defensemen. John Moore was scratched most of the playoffs and only played in 24 games this past season. The Bruins have left-handed defensemen in their system, but only one is NHL-ready.

Jakub Zboril is likely heading overseas next season with the AHL’s season in question. Nick Wolff and Jack Ahcan have yet to play in the AHL, which making them unlikely candidates for the NHL roster. Urho Vaakanainen is the final left-handed shot defensemen in the system. The 21-year old Finn was drafted 18th overall in 2017. He’s played seven games in two years for the Bruins, spending most of his time in Providence. Black N Gold’s writer, Tim Richardson, detailed Urho’s past season in the AHL. Tim regards Urho as “an elite stay-at-home defenseman” who should have a spot on the Bruins roster quite soon.

Don Sweeney has addressed the Krug situation but is unwilling to comment on the details.

It’s normal business practice to hold off on contract negotiations until the season is over. Though, it’s a bit concerning because Sweeney isn’t speaking like a man who is confident the player will stay. It’s possible the Bruins and Krug can strike a deal soon, but Krug would almost certainly be playing elsewhere next season if he tests free agency. Bruins management may have told Krug he can see his worth and come back to them to see for the Bruins to potentially match an offer.

Allowing the two defensemen to leave is the worst choice in the poll. The Bruins don’t seem to have a plausible plan in place for the two key departures, and it opens the doors to a “wait and see” approach. There would be too many items in play with this choice, and there’s not enough time given the prolonged playoffs.

Before the poll, the most logical choice was keeping Chara and Krug. The Bruins could have another go with the aging core. Now that the survey has ended, it seems each day the Bruins are heading towards keeping just Chara. Sweeney has acknowledged the Bruins lacked five v five scoring against Tampa Bay, which isn’t all on the defensemen. The forwards are just as much to blame, but Sweeney could use the cap space with Krug’s departure to acquire a goal-scorer. NHL teams are allowed to make trades with one another if they’re not currently in the playoffs, and the free agency period is a month away. It seems Sweeney is willing to make a deal even if it changes the makeup of the team.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 193 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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Predicting The Future Performance of the Bruins Veteran Core

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

By Leon Lifschutz | Follow me on Twitter @LeonLifschutz

Introduction

In Part One of this series we took a look at aging curves. We also determined who makes up the Bruins’ core group of players. Today, in Part Two, we will use that information to take a look at the trajectory of the Bruins’ veteran core which we have identified as Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, and Tuukka Rask. This group is made up of a number of iconic players for this generation of Bruins’ fans. These players have been part of an incredibly successful run in Bruins’ history including winning the ultimate prize in 2011. Each have also enjoyed individual success and they have all received votes for post-season league awards during their careers. However, the youngest player in this group is now 32 years old. Three have contracts expiring now or after next season. Sports are fickle and playing careers do not have the longevity of other lines of work. As a reminder, here is a look at a typical aging curve over several metrics.

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So what can we expect for each individual player moving forward? And how might their future performance as a group effect the Bruins’ chances to win it all in the coming seasons? David Krejci sure believes the window is still open.

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With those words in mind, lets break it down and see if Krejci is correct.

Patrice Bergeron

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Contract Status: $6,875,000 AAV, 2021-22

What We Learned: Bergeron, as everyone knows, is impressive. He has continued to play at a high level into his mid-30s. However, Bergeron is showing some signs of slowing down. While his goal scoring has actually gone up a little due to a strong shooting percentages he has seen some dips in first assists, total points, and shot metrics. His 5v5 play has also started to dip the last couple of seasons though it is still on par with his data from his late 20s. His possession metrics are still elite but not the absurd numbers from his late 20s. Being a key cog on one of the best powerplays helps keeps the numbers up.

Outlook: While Bergeron is talented, he succeeds based on his hockey IQ and attention to detail, items that age more gracefully. The following illustrates this perfectly.

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He should continue being an effective player for at least a few more years with contributions on the scoresheet and in many other key facets of the game. He is also the heir apparent to Chara whenever the latter decides to retire or move on. Expect Bergeron’s totals to start slowly decreasing though as his shooting percentage regresses and he slows down a touch. 30 goals and 60 points is reasonable to expect the next couple of seasons if he can stay healthy. Health though needs to be considered as Bergeron has not played close to a complete season since 2016-17. It may also be wise to continue decreasing the heavier matchups and defensive expectations against other team’s top lines as has already been the trend the last couple of seasons.

David Krejci

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Contract Status: $7,250,000 AAV, 2020-21

What We Learned: Krejci’s steady decline has already begun. With the exception of goal scoring, his numbers are down across the board. If you exclude a 2018-19 resurgence as an outlier the picture is worse. His numbers are also propped up by strong performance on the powerplay which offsets declining 5v5 production. Krejci has seen declining possession metrics though he still comes out on the positive end of the goals for battle.

Outlook: Krejci is no doubt still a talented player who contributes to the team. The silky passer has also not had a true scoring winger on his flank for a couple of years now and has played a lot of minutes with the enigmatic Jake Debrusk. Krejci will likely continue his decline. His defensive responsibility and powerplay contributions though continue to provide value until the expiration of his contract next season. Beyond that, he is likely better suited for third line minutes and the Bruins will need to sign him on a shorter term contract with a lower cap hit or consider moving on.

Brad Marchand

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Contract Status: $6,125,000 AAV, 2024-25

What We Learned: Marchand hit a turning point in his career in his late 20s. When most players are leveling off or declining, Marchand decided to get serious and turn himself into a top liner instead of a middle-6 pest. His career turn was impressive and welcome by the team and fans. In the past few years, Marchand has shown some signs of leveling off and in some instances slowing down. In particular, Marchand’s goal totals have begun to tail off. However he has redefined himself again adding a little more play making to his repertoire. It certainly helps playing with David Pastrnak when it comes to assists. He has also dialed down the physical stuff a bit over the last couple of seasons.

Outlook: The youngest of the veteran core, Marchand’s numbers should be steady for a couple more years. However, expect his goal scoring production to decrease as his straight line attacking game ages. He should remain dynamic on the powerplay but at even strength start to wane. Marchand can still be counted on for top line minutes but expect his numbers to drop slightly into the 25 goal and 50 assist range in the near future. That still puts him near a point a game pace for the next couple of seasons. His production will likely continue to dip further before the end of his lengthy contract which doesn’t end until he is 37.

Zdeno Chara

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Contract Status: UFA

What We Learned: Chara once had a stretch of 11 straight seasons receiving Norris trophy votes. Those days are long behind him. Chara’s offensive production has continued to nosedive, not a surprise given his age. However his possession numbers tanked this past season after remaining above average in recent years.

Outlook: It’s doubtful that Chara’s production or play driving improve moving forward and this past season is likely best case scenario moving forward. Chara obviously brings more to the team than just statistics. Having said that, Big Z should likely be relegated to third pair minutes along with penalty kill and closing out game duties. The latter two he continues to do quite well. Asking more of that from Chara is too much and a detriment to a team with Stanley Cup aspirations.

Tuukka Rask

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Contract Status: $7,000,000 AAV, 2020-21

What We Learned: Rask hit his peak at 25. He then had a steady decline before bouncing back a little at 30. He saw decreases in overall play and consistency over that time. Rask’s numbers the past several years prior to this one are slightly above league average. However, at 32, Rask had his best season in years en route to a number of Vezina trophy votes.

Outlook: It would be irresponsible to consider this season for Rask anything but an outlier. Players rarely have a career renaissance in their 30s and expecting another run at the Vezina is unlikely. However it would be fair to expect Rask, in the final year of his contract, to continue playing a little above league average. With the Bruins tight defensive structure, and Rask’s ability to occasionally steal a game, his presence should continue affording the Bruins a chance to win night in and night out.

Conclusion

The Bruins key veterans have generally performed better than the typical aging curve would suggest. Their performances were good enough to make the Stanley Cup final in 2018-19 and win the President’s Trophy in an abbreviated 2019-20. Even with normal aging curves, we can expect them to still be strong performers and potentially lead the Bruins’ on another playoff run. Bergeron and Marchand should generally continue their strong play though they will likely start slowing down in certain facets of their games. Chara’s role has already been redefined in recent years and that trend needs to continue. Krejci’s role may need to change as well, though he is still a dependable middle-6 center. Rask should not be expected to duplicate his Vezina nominated season but is a reliable starter.

There is no question that the window is narrowing and our conclusion is that 2020-21 will be the final hurrah this group. Between decreasing performances and expiring contracts it is a strong possibility that Chara, Krejci, and Rask all move on to retirement or other teams in 2021. It would be poor asset management for Sweeney and company to expect the current level of performance from the three and extend them for term and money into the twilight of their careers. In a flat cap world, if any of them want to stay Bruins they will have to do so on team friendly contracts. Having said that, these players deserve the opportunity to give it one more run before the band gets broken up.

It is also apparent that to be a true cup contender in the coming year the Bruins will need more support for their veterans from their young core. Beyond next year, the young core will need to step up and take control of the franchise’s destiny. With that in mind, join us for Part Three when we examine the Bruins young core and forecast if they are up for the challenge.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 193 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!!

Predicting The Future Performance Of The Bruins’ Core Part One

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

By Leon Lifschutz | Follow me on Twitter @LeonLifschutz

Introduction

Since the Bruins second round exit, fans have already turned their attention to next season. This past week, my BNG colleague Mike Cratty looked at what a homerun offseason could look like examining some possible options for the Bs in free agency and the trade market. Much has also been made of what could become of the Bruins core. Will Zdeno Chara retire? It looks like not. Will Torey Krug move on in free agency? Sounds like there is a good chance. What of the rest of the veteran core, now well into their 30s and with lots of regular season and playoff miles? Colleague Matt Barry believes there is still some time for this group. David Krejci, who earlier in the year bristled at the question of the group’s age, agrees sharing the following sentiment.

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NHL front offices are tasked with a number of things including predicting the future. They do so every time they make their rosters whether it be player acquisition or doling out contracts. It is not an exact science. Players are human after all. They get injured, have personal lives, don’t always fit in a system, and sometimes get unlucky. The one thing that happens to every player though – they get older. Getting older can be a good a thing. Moving into their early 20s players gain strength, experience, and better decision making (well, most of us do). But at some point in time, as all of us adult league heroes know, age catches up with you and things are just a little harder than they used to be.

In this three part series we will do our best Don Sweeney impressions to try and predict what the future might have in store for key Bruins’ players. In part one, we will examine what aging curves can tell us about player performance. We will also discuss who makes up the current core and who could make up the next wave. In part two, we will look at the veteran core, players who have been around since the Bruins last Stanley Cup and continue to drive the bus. In part three, we will look at the players that make up the young core, supplementing the veterans and who have the ability to influence both the present and future of the storied original six franchise. For both groups, we will examine each players current trends and make predictions about their outlook and expected performance for the upcoming seasons.

Examining Aging Curves

There has been a number of studies on how aging effects player performances. The first significant study came from Hawerchuck in 2013 and look at points per game. More recently, the folks at Hockey Graphs and Evolving Wild have been using a comprehensive WAR (wins above replacement) stat to examine year over year performance. For our purposes, we are going to lean heavily on the work of Eric Tulsky who looked at agings impact on year over year scoring rates, goal scoring versus playmaking, and possession numbers. The folks at Hockey Graphs also looked at goalie aging curves . At the risk of oversimplifying, goalies have similar trajectories to skaters. Here is a visual of aging curves on a number of different stats.

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So what are our key takeaways from all this great research and the nice visuals? First, NHL players peak around 24. They stay at their peaks until about 28. At that point they start to slowly decline with the trend becoming more significant into the early 30s. By the mid 30s, players typically fall off a cliff. The effect of age is most noticeable on goal scorers. Playmakers can hang on for a little bit longer. On the powerplay, players stay at their peak a little longer with strong performances, though not peak, in the early 30s before falling off a cliff in their mid 30s. Possession numbers, generally speaking, mimic point production. Defenders and goalies may be able to hang on a year or two longer but generally follow a similar curve.

For our purposes we will look at Bruins’ players offensive numbers and possession numbers. I’ve grouped points into all situations for a couple of reasons. First, the Bruins rely heavily on their power play. Second it made the visuals look a little cleaner I will be sure to point out any situations where the numbers have noise, for example in the case of David Krejci. For offensive production I’ve chosen goals, total points, first assists, and individual expected goals. First assists are more indicative of player performance than second assists, which can be pretty random. For possession, I’ve chosen Corsi (shot attempts) and expected goals percentage. All player stats were converted to per 60 minutes rate stats to avoid discrepancies due to injury or average time on ice. For the goalie position I’ve chosen goals saved above average (GSAA) and quality starts. All stats come from Natural StatTrick and Hockey Reference.

The Bruins Core Players

Our first task is to decide who makes up the Bruins’ core. There is some debate over how many players make up a core. For Pittsburgh it’s been just three players – Crosby, Malkin, and Letang. For other teams its been more like five to six players that management has tried to build their team around. St. Louis last year had close to ten regulars who were long term parts of their team and core. For our purposes we will count a player as a part of the core if we anticipate they can have a strong impact on team performance and they will be a long term member of the team. Being a long term member means they are under contract or under team control with little expectation of being traded.

The Veteran Core – With those parameters in mind, our older core is made up of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Tuukka Rask, and Zdeno Chara. All five have been Bruins for more than a decade with three being draft picks and four never playing for another NHL franchise. Inclusion of Chara can be debated but with his recent comments its hard not to picture Big Z playing for the Bruins next year. He is still the captain and averaged over 20 minutes of ice time per game this past season. Torey Krug was considered for this list but he doesn’t have the longevity of the others on the list and there is a decent chance he leaves in free agency.

The Young Core – The young core was a little harder to determine but we ended up with David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy, Charlie Coyle, Jake Debrusk, and Brandon Carlo. David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy were easy choices. The two already lead the team in several statistical categories and are on team friendly long-term contracts. Charlie Coyle is the third player included on the list. Coyle is an all situations player trusted by the coaching staff to the point it’s not surprising to see him lead all Bruins’ forwards in ice time in some games. The 28 year old is also locked up long term team to a reasonable contract. The last two members of our young core are Brandon Carlo and Jake Debrusk. There was debate among my BNG colleagues over the inclusion of those two. However, they seem like two young players with the likelihood of staying power. Both are under team control for a number of years and already play in the top half of the lineup. It really seems like the Bruins coaching staff and management are hoping Carlo and Debrusk can keep growing and help the team in substantial ways.

Conclusion

We have examined aging curves and how they can help us in predicting player’s future performance. We have also decided who makes up our veteran core and our young core. With that in mind, please join us in part two when we examine how much tread is left on the veterans. We will follow that up with part three where we will try and forecast what the peak performance could be for the younger core of players. After our exploration of both groups we will do our best to draw some conclusions around how long this iteration of the Bruins’ has left in it’s Stanley Cup window.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 192 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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

Chara: “I want to be a Boston Bruin.”

(Source: NESN via YouTube)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

With speculation running rampant over whether or not Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara played his last game in Black and Gold during the team’s season-ending 3-2 double overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of the second round, the 43-year-old laid any and all retirement rumors to rest during his media availability on Thursday morning.

“I believe I can still play this game and contribute to the team and I want to stay in Boston,” Chara said. “I want to be a Boston Bruin.

“I want to continue to lead by example and share my experiences . . . that hasn’t changed. I’m committed. We’ll see what’s gonna happen next.”

Currently, Chara is a pending unrestricted free agent for the first time during his tenure in Boston as he and the Bruins are yet to sign a deal with his one-year, $2 million deal coming to a close. Over the past two seasons, the left-handed defenseman and general manager Don Sweeney have agreed to terms one one-year extensions prior to the playoffs, although the uncertainty amid the global pandemic undoubtedly proved to be an obstacle this year.

“I’m committed to the Boston Bruins,” the 6-foot-9, 250 pound giant said. “I’m committed to Boston fans and the city of Boston. I think I’ve expressed that a number of times. I’m excited about the future of this team. Like I said, we are going to whatever we can to win another Stanley Cup.

“I expressed to my agent that I would like him to meet with the management, and I make that my priority. The sooner the better, and see what the future holds.”

If Chara and the Bruins were to agree on a contract, there’s no reason not to believe that the two sides will not choose the same route as before: an affordable, one or two-year deal. Although the Trencin, Slovakia, native’s mileage may have become more apparent recenty, there is still value in a player, who was leaned on heavily in defensive situations, especially the penalty kill, and provides the type of leadership that Chara does.

“I am confident, but at the same time you know, you’ve been in the business and around hockey for so long that you know there are different circumstances and possibilities,” ,” Chara said of his confidence in getting a deal done. “But as of right now, I’m excited. I want to be a Boston Bruin. I want to play for the Boston Bruins.

“But, again, we will see what the decisions are going to be made and that’s something up to my agent and the senior upper management to kind of go over it.”

On Monday’s broadcast, the sense from NBC’s crew was that Chara’s career may have come to a close. In his postgame press conference, Chara said he had an “open mind” as far as his future is concerned, and he addressed the comments and rumors on Thursday as well.

“Yeah I mean I wouldn’t say I’m undecided. I was saying my mind was open,” Chara explained. “Obviously to be asked just a few minutes about my future after the double overtime loss, and the way we battled and how well we played in that game, I was still so sad about the outcome.

“I can’t really reflect on some of the rumors. I have not heard any of these rumors directly and I dismiss any kind of conversations and comments on these matters because it might just cause unnecessary distractions to my teammates and the organization.”

As for the possibility of if his decision came down to playing in Boston, or retiring, Chara seemed noncommittal, expressing that he has not considered that option yet.

“Well again, if it comes down to that, then again that’s something that we can talk about later,” Chara said. “But I love Boston. I love the city. I think we have the best fans in the world. I have no plans to move or kind of go anywhere else. So we will see what the future holds.”

Through 68 regular season games during the 2019-20 run, the big man put up five goals and nine assists for 14 points, in addition to a plus-26 rating and 60 penalty minutes. In 13 games in the bubble during the Round Robin and Stanley Cup Playoffs, Chara notched two assists, eight penalty minutes, and a minus-four rating.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 192 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, Vladar Agree To Terms On Three-Year Extension

Photo: Steve Babineau / NHL via Getty Images

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced on Sunday night that the team has agreed to terms with goaltender Dan Vladar on a three-year contract extension with an annual cap hit of $750,000. The deal is a two-way contract for the first two seasons, with the third being a one-way contract.

In 25 games with the Providence Bruins, Boston’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, this season, Vladar led the league in save percentage (.936) and goals-against average (GAA) with a 1.79 marker. On the year, the 23-year-old posted a 14-7-1 record, including three shutouts.

In 68 games with the P-Bruins over four seasons, the Prague, Czech Republic native holds a 33-26-3 record to go along with a 2.35 GAA and .916 save percentage. In 60 games with the Atlanta Gladiators, Boston’s East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) affiliate over three seasons, Vladar posted a .902 save percentage and a 2.95 GAA.

The Bruins selected Vladar with the 75th overall pick in the third round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. With the departure of Tuukka Rask from the NHL’s Return to Play due to a reported family emergency, Vladar is currently serving as backup to Boston netminder Jaroslav Halak.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 190 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!!