Khokhlachev And His Bruins Comeback

( Photo Credit: Richard Wolowicz )

By: Michael Robert   Follow me on Twitter: @b_blackandgold

 

Heeeellloooooooo everybody. A little nod to the Spittin’ Chiclets crew to start my first article with Black N Gold Hockey. Let’s not waste any time before we dig into a bit of a hot topic, even though it’s been thrown into the shadows for years now. Along with it, lies the question that’s plagued the Bruins since the days of Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton stinging like bees, but not necessarily floating like butterflies while flanking Krejci on the wings.

The question: Who can play in that second line right wing spot and be a steady winger with Krejci and Debrusk?
The answer: Enter the Julien era Russian cast away, Alexander Khokhlachev.

With that, let’s take a look at a bit about him and his consistent point producing at every level he has ever played at. First, his days in the OHL of putting up points. Secondly, his journey heading into the Bruins system with Providence. Third, his journey back to his motherland. And lastly, why the Bruins need him back more than ever.

Khokhlachev was taken with the 40th pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft. Touted as a good skating offensive juggernaut, with creative playmaking and even better finishing, he came into the Bruins with high hopes for himself, from the Bruins brass, and from the fan base as well. This is all with good reason when we dig into the numbers.

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His first real entrance onto the scene came at the 2009-10 U17 tournament. He posted a stat line of 5-8-13 in six games to lead his team in scoring. Granted, an early tournament for projections, but a pretty good one for seeing raw talent, especially when it stands out. His 13 points there put him in the mix with players such as Toews, MacKinnon, Keller, Tavares, and Caufield. This piqued some interest, and once his OHL career started, this kid took off. Playing his major junior career with the Windsor Spitfires, in 2010-11 as a rookie, he posted 34-42-76 in 67 games.

He continued on with 25-44-69 in 56 games the following season. He also appeared at the World Juniors that year for Russia posting a respectable 4-1-5 in seven games. In 2012-13, he split time with KHL Moskva, OHL Spitfires, and AHL Bruins. In his 29 games with Windsor, he cranked it up, posting a scorching 22-26-48. His first glimpse in the AHL saw him with three points in 11 games. At that point, it’s fine. A big step up from juniors, and to this point in his hockey journey, he has been everything the Bruins knew him to be when they picked him.

Now, as he starts into the Bruins system, there are two pieces we will pay attention to the most, neither of them a secret. Cassidy running the bench with Providence and his knack for developing good working relationships with young players. Also, how he was ok with letting them go out and do what they do, while still playing in the very two-way offensive and defensive systems in Providence. The other side of the organization is with the big boys club in Boston. It’s no secret at all that Julien steered heavily to defense first play.  He was also no slouch when it came to giving the ice time to veterans while the young guns got stashed away in the corner and subdued. Add to it, a distaste for players across the pond.

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Onto this part of the adventures of Koko. In 2013-14 he barely got a sniff, playing one game with Boston basically riding the pine. He heads to Providence where he does his thing, 21-36-57 in 65 games. That gets him some attention again from the big club. In 2014-15, he got a three-game look if you can call it that. His total ice time way under 10 minutes through all the games, and playing on the fourth line. Again, back to Providence where he goes 15-28-43 in 61 games. The 2015-16 season starts with another leftovers offering of 5 games and limited minutes in Boston again. Back to Providence where he gets pinned an assistant captain and has something to prove now, putting up a blistering 23-45-68 in 60 games. Under Cassidy, he was let off the leash and absolutely dominated. Julien didn’t give him the time of day. A younger player with offensive instincts. Julien’s nemesis.

His frustrations peaked publicly many times, where he stated the obvious. He was producing and not getting a chance at the NHL level. And when he does get his crumb tossed to him, he is thrown on the fourth line, and his skates barely touch the ice. This has him pack his bags and head back to the motherland. His first season back in the KHL with Petersburg isn’t his norm. 5-5-10 in 25 games. His 2017-18 season, he lands with Moskva and piles up 50 points in 52 games. The next season again with Moskva, 37 points in 52 games.

With all these numbers and history, we can establish that he can not only play at the best levels in his age groups, but he can produce points and be an offensive threat anytime he is on the ice. In the Bruins organization, he flourished under Cassidy, and a good relationship was built there. He utilized Koko in the right way, and it turned him into the leading scorer in Providence for two seasons.

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Of course, it is another big step up to the NHL, but his talent and skill don’t vanish. With some more time under his belt playing with men, and more prospects out of the way in Boston, the time is now to bring him back. He can play center and wing, a multi-positional player, a Boston plus. Boston desperately needs a steady wingmate with Krejci and some more scoring threats in their lineup. In the Stanley Cup Finals, the Blues were able to contain the top line, and that was their demise. The league fits his style now more than ever, and with Cassidy behind the bench, the Bruins are more about speed and skill than ever before.   The second line of DeBrusk – Krejci – Khokhlachev would round out a very impressive top-six forward group. Adding him to the second power-play unit would also put a real scoring threat there too.

It has floated around the rumor mill that there is still contact between him and the Bruins, and Cassidy is in that mix, and that’s a huge help. His rights are there until he turns 27, so long as qualifying offers are made to him each year. The Bruins need him back. The revolving door of nothing working on that second line wing spot is over. The time is now. Get him there for a real look and turn him loose. Shout it from your social media mountains folks. It’s time, and I’ll start it… #bringkokoback

Some Koko highlights to enjoy.

Bruins Renew Affiliation With The Atlanta Gladiators

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(Photo Credit: Amanda Bingham / gwinettdailypost.com)

By: Ian Frazier | Follow me on Twitter @ifrazier95

Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced today that the organization has renewed its affiliation with the Atlanta Gladiators for the 2019-20 season. The Bruins originally made the first affiliation agreement back in the 2015-16 season and now enter their third affiliation after 2017-18’s renewal with this announcement.

Gladiators head coach Jeff Pyle states that “this affiliation with Boston and Providence has provided great support for all clubs involved, and we look forward to developing the relationship and providing good young players for depth from our side that can help all of us be successful as well as bring more Gladiators and Bruins fans together at matches.” Gladiators team president Jerry James states that the club is “excited to share great hockey history with Boston and be able to extend the fanbase in the Atlanta metro area and surrounding communities.”

The Gladiators first began as the Mobile Mystics located in Mobile, Alabama from 1995-2002. In 2003 the franchise relocated to Georgia where they played in Gwinnett County and therefore were renamed the Gwinnett Gladiators. That name might sound familiar to some as they were the ECHL affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers back in the day. When the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg and became the Jets, the club changed their name to the Atlanta Gladiators to give Atlanta a hockey team that supports the growing community. They also served as the ECHL affiliate of the Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Sabres, and Coyotes at one point. Also, both the South Carolina Stingrays and the Reading Royals served as the Bruin’s affiliates in the past

Because of this renewed affiliation, the Bruins can continue to designate players in their development system to the Gladiators. This should provide some much-needed development time for any prospects the Bruins feel they need to see more growth out of before they are ready to be called up to Providence. Keep in mind that the Bruins are not allowed to send down players from the NHL directly to the ECHL. They would have to choose which prospects in their development system to send to the ECHL. The prospects chosen are mostly ones that the Bruins don’t see being ready for the NHL, but they would like to keep them in their system. Therefore they can send them down to the ECHL to get some playing time. Many goalies in the system can be sent to the ECHL to develop “pro-like” skills and give the club something to keep an eye on down the road. Many goalies that have played in the NHL today have started their careers in the ECHL.
Sweeney says he “thanks the Gladiators franchise for the renewed affiliation and we like to extend our gratitude to the many associates of the ECHL club and we would like to thank the community of Duluth, Georgia for its unwavering support of the Gladiators and the Bruins.”

The Bruins should have some prospects in the system that don’t fit right now that would benefit spending a couple of seasons in the ECHL before they get a crack at Providence. One thing for sure is that the renewed Bruins/Gladiators affiliation should bring some more fans who live near Atlanta together as well as attract some new ones.

Bruins Fan Fest Begins August 16 in Maine

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(Photo Credit: NHL.com/Brian Fluharty)

By Carrie Salls | Find Me on Twitter @nittgrl73

Summer, and the National Hockey League offseason, is winding down as we enter mid-August. That means it won’t be long until Bruins players and coaches begin returning to Boston to get ready for camp and gear up for the 2019-2020 season. It also means it is time for the Bruins’ Third Annual Fan Fest Tour to hit the road to several locations throughout New England.

This year, Fan Fest will travel to seven locations, kicking off on Aug. 16 in Portland, Maine, and making stops through Aug. 25 in Manchester, N.H., Burlington, Vt., Leominster, Mass., Springfield, Mass., Hartford, Conn., and Providence, R.I. The full 2019 Fan Fest Tour schedule can be found at the end of this article.

According to the Bruins, one extra location was added to this year’s tour after Leominster, Mass.’s George Marchetti was selected as the winner of a children’s Spoked-B logo drawing contest. In addition to the honor of bringing the tour to his hometown, Marchetti won tickets to watch the Bruins play at TD Garden at one game in the upcoming season.

Each stop is scheduled to feature current Bruins, coaches, executives and NESN personalities. They will “play games and mingle with fans, sign autographs, take photos, participate in Q&A sessions and much more,” the team announced on July 23. Details on which specific players, coaches and television personalities will be scheduled to appear on the tour had not been released by the team as of Aug. 15.

In addition to the ever-popular player autograph and photo sessions, Fan Fest offers a variety of other Bruins-themed activities for attendees. The tour, which was first held in 2017, includes events and activities for children and adults.

“Fans will be able to participate in skills and drills on synthetic ice rinks, pose for photos in a mock Bruins locker room and have the opportunity to partake in NESN virtual reality experiences,” the team said.

For younger Bruins fans in attendance, Boston Bruins BFit will lead kid-friendly fitness activities at each city. Also, the Bruins Academy Zone will offer face painting, poster making and Bruins trivia for kids.

To help keep fans cool in the August heat while raising money for the Boston Bruins Foundation, Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream will be selling its Power Play Fudge ice cream at Fan Fest. Attendees can cool down with the sweet treat in exchange for a $1 donation to the foundation.

There is no cost for admission to any of the tour stops, although the team is encouraging attendees to pre-register to avoid delays in getting into the event. More information on attending Fan Fest and registration forms can be found at BostonBruins.com/FanFest.

The full schedule for the Third Annual Bruins Fan Fest, which is subject to change, is as follows:

Friday, August 16

Edward Payson Park, Catafalque Drive, Portland, Maine, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday, August 17

Arms Park, 10 Arms St., Manchester, N.H., 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sunday, August 18

Jeffords Hall Lot, 63 Carrigan Dr., Burlington, Vt., 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Thursday, August 22

Doyle Field, 100 Priest St., Leominster, Mass., noon to 4 p.m.

Friday, August 23

Forest Park, 200 Trafton Rd., Springfield, Mass., noon to 4 p.m.

Saturday, August 24

Connecticut State Capitol, 210 Capitol Ave., Hartford, Conn., noon to 4 p.m.

Sunday, August 25

Alex and Ani Center, 2 Kennedy Plaza, Providence, R.I., noon to 4 p.m.

Where Does Lindholm Fit in Bruins Lineup?

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals

(Image Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)

By Carrie Salls | Find me on Twitter @nittgrl73

Not much has been said about Par Lindholm since the Bruins signed the 27-year-old Swedish forward to a two-year deal on July 1. Understandably, Bruins fans’ attention has been focused on whether, and how, the team can manage to sign restricted free agent defensemen Charlie McAvoy and/or Brandon Carlo to new contracts and less so on depth signings.

Lindholm, who can play both center and wing, was one of two unrestricted free agents signed by Boston general manager Don Sweeney when free agency began at the beginning of July. Fellow signee Brett Ritchie has been mentioned as a good candidate to fill a vacant bottom-six forward role, depending on how the Boston coaching staff elects to construct the lines. But, what about Lindholm’s potential role on the team?

Last season, Lindholm played 61 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs, contributing 11 assists and one goal and a plus-five rating in that time. He also played in four games for the Winnipeg Jets. He had one assist in his brief stint in Winnipeg.

From 2007 through the 2017-2018 season, Lindholm played in Sweden. His time there included time with junior teams, international play and the Swedish Hockey League. Lindholm’s career high in points came in his last season in Europe, when he potted 18 goals and 29 assists for a combined 47 points for Skelleftee AIK.

After just one season playing hockey in North America, it is fair to say Lindholm is still trying to translate his success in Europe to the National Hockey League. The Bruins will be his third team in an NHL career that is just over one-year long.

The $825,000 contract he signed with Boston indicates that Lindholm and the Bruins recognize that he is still a work in progress. The cap-friendly deal and scoring potential make him a good investment for the Bruins, if they can find a role for him.

It’s no secret that the Bruins already have one of the best fourth lines in the NHL. Sean Kuraly and Joakim Nordstrom are virtual locks to see regular playing time on that line. Unfortunately for Lindholm, there is already a healthy slate of veterans lining up to take a crack at the third slot on the energy line.

Chris Wagner, who played much of the 2018-2019 season on the fourth line, is the odds-on-favorite to reclaim the spot he shared with Noel Acciari, who signed with the Florida Panthers in July. Sweeney has indicated that David Backes may also see playing time on the fourth line, and, depending on the make-up of the third line, Ritchie could be in the mix as well. These projections do not even take into account the prospects looking to impress in the preseason and stick with the big club.

With so many options in Boston, Lindholm will likely face his fair share of competition in camp if he hopes to show the front office that he is worth of regular playing time. He does bring a few valuable weapons to the fight, as he is a left-shot center who is known for his penalty killing and defensive prowess and success at the face-off dot.

Despite the stiff competition, Lindholm seems to relish the chance to contribute. Whether he has what it takes to stand out above the rest in the competition to replace Acciari and Marcus Johannson remains to be seen.

Senyshyn’s Future in Boston Unclear

NHL: Preseason-Washington Capitals at Boston Bruins

(Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

By Carrie Salls | Find me on Twitter @nittgrl73

It feels like Zach Senyshyn has been in the Bruins organization forever. The last of three first-round picks made by the Bruins in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Senyshyn was also the last of the group to earn a call to show what he can do on the NHL level. Although, like Senyshyn, draft classmate Jakub Zboril has seen very little time with the big club, Zboril’s chance came a bit sooner than Senyshyn’s. The other 2015 first-rounder, Jake DeBrusk, is entering his third season in Boston.

As far as Senyshyn is concerned, his biggest chance to make a name for himself so far came at the end of the 2018-2019 season, after the Bruins had clinched a playoff spot and were looking for options to rest the team’s stars and keep them healthy for the postseason. His first NHL goal was scored in that brief stint, but even that milestone was an inauspicious one for the 22-year-old winger. Senyshyn scored an empty-netter in the waning minutes of a game against the Minnesota Wild.

Still, it was a goal, scored in the NHL with his parents on-hand. And, it should not be overshadowed by the fact that Senyshyn seemed to relish his opportunity to show the Bruins’ brass what he can do. He approached his brief time in the NHL with poise, not letting the moment or his nerves get the better of him, and had a few quality chances and made an impact when he was on the ice.

That being said, big questions remain as to whether Senyshyn is ready and able to break into the NHL roster for the beginning of the 2019-2020 season. As part of the seemingly constant debate on who should play on David Krejci’s right wing, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney did offer some hope earlier this summer that Senyshyn could be thrown into the mix.

Much of Senyshyn’s future in the Bruins organization will depend on what role the coaches and front office want him to fill. If he is relegated to the hard-minutes, grinder role that it seems Providence coach Jay Leach would like to see from the Ottawa native, that could make “Senny’s” road to the NHL a bit bumpier. The Bruins have stocked up on bottom-six players in the past couple of years, all while already boasting arguably the best fourth line in the league.

With Sean Kuraly, Chris Wagner, Joakim Nordstrom, veteran David Backes and newcomer Brett Ritchie already providing Boston with hard-hitting options for those roles, and, perhaps most importantly to Senyshyn’s future, with several years of NHL experience already under their belts, it seems unlikely Senyshyn will break through that way unless an injury bug hits the team’s third and fourth lines.

How Sweeney sees Senyshyn potentially fitting into the search for a reliable second-line right ring, be it as a player that could slot into that position himself or a replacement for Danton Heinen or another player who would be moved there, remains to be seen. Senyshyn certainly has the speed to make an impact somewhere in the middle of the lineup, as well as the physical skill to make him an asset further down in the mix.

Although he is moving into the fifth season since being drafted by the Bruins, Senyshyn chose to return to the Ontario Hockey League for a couple of years after he was drafted and has actually only played two full seasons in Providence. In that time, he has racked up a total of 50 points. His points total fell slightly to 24 in the 2018-2019 season from 26 the year before, but he potted more goals this past season, with 14, compared to 12 the previous season.

Of course, a third season in Providence, at least to start the upcoming campaign, could only help Senyshyn’s development. However, he is coming into the final year of his entry-level contract. With restricted free agency looming, this season may be Senyshyn’s last chance, whether in camp or during a call-up, to prove that he deserves to stay in Boston for the long haul.

Report: Boston Bruins Offer D Alex Petrovic a PTO Deal

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

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

Earlier today, Alex Thomas of Boston Hockey Now wrote an article that highlighted the idea that the Boston Bruins have offered seven-year NHL defenseman Alexander Petrovic a Professional Tryout Contract.

Alex Petrovic is a 27-year-old defender from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada that has spent the majority of his career to date with the Florida Panthers. The 36th overall draft selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Panthers has played in 263 regular-season games since the 2012-13 campaign and has accumulated five goals, 45 assists for 50 points total since his debut.

Petrovic’s tenure with Florida ended in December of 2018 when he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Chris Wideman and a conditional 2019 3rd Round Pick. After only playing nine games in 2018-19 with the struggling Oilers, Petrovic hit the free-agent market this past July 1st and has since been offered a deal.

Also included in Alex Thomas’ article for Boston Hockey Now, there is interest the Carolina Hurricanes and the Calgary Flames to sign the defenceman. It is unlikely that the Bruins use Petrovic for an NHL role when the season begins in October, so what is the purpose for the PTO?

For one, signing veterans to tryout contracts gives some more incentive to the younger prospects in the Bruins organization to play to their highest level during the NHL Training Camp that begins within the coming month. Petrovic may also be able to add some personal insight to these younger players and add some strength to the locker room in that regard.

If the Boston Bruins do like Alex Petrovic is some form, it would be likely that he is signed to an AHL contract only if he does indeed agree to a true contract. Bruins President Cam Neely discussed the issues they are having signing RFA defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo and in that case that it goes into the season, the Bruins will have to find some extra players to fill in those roles temporarily. Whether or not Petrovic is the right player for that replacement role, is yet to be seen.

According to Hockey Reference, the 6-foot-4, 216-pound Petrovic has a 49.9% Corsi For% (48.4% in 2018-19) and a 50% Fenwick For% (48.3% in 2018-19) all while at even strength. Not known whatsoever for his offensive talents, the big defenceman can bring some physicality and a defensive style to the depth defensive role.

Not great numbers, but someone who could maybe earn some minutes in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins if his upcoming training camp performance means anything to his future. In a lot of PTOs, the player does not sign a full contract with that team when the tryout expires. If this report indeed comes true as Alex Thomas is reporting, then I assume this is the case with Alex Petrovic as well.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 139 that we recorded on 8-2-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Sticher.

Bruins Sign Pavel Shen To Entry Level Contract

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Photo Courtesy Of NHL.com

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced on Tuesday afternoon that the B’s had come to terms on a three-year entry level contract for Pavel Shen with a cap hit of $809,167 per season. Shen most recently played for Salavat Yulayev Ufa of the KHL, appearing in 20 games and recording an assist. Shen also competed for Russia at the U-20 World Championships, posting three goals and one assist for four points in seven games.

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Shen was drafted by the Bruins in the seventh round (212th overall) of the 2018 NHL Draft. Shen also appeared in the MHL, playing for Tolpar Ufa for five games and recording an assist. Shen recently had terminated the contract for that team, allowing him to sign in Boston for the next three years. Shen was in fact the leading goal scorer for Russia at the U-20 World Championships in Canada at the end of 2018.

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The Ufa, Russia native is an interesting case as a ton of draft experts had him being taken much earlier than the seventh round. The exciting part is that Bruins fans may be able to see the 19-year-old much sooner than expected and get to see what he brings to the table. With any luck, Shen comes to North America and thrives and B’s fans get to see him more often and get more familiar with his game.

Trouba’s Contract Could Play A Factor In Bruins’ McAvoy, Carlo Extensions

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images)

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

As just announced on Friday, July 19th, the New York Rangers and RFA defenceman Jacob Trouba came to an official agreement on a new contract extension. The deal, as being reported by numerous outlets, is a seven-year contract worth an average of $8 million per season until the 2025-26 campaign.

Trouba is a 6-foot-3, 202-pound defenceman who was drafted 9th overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The 25-year-old has spent his entire NHL career with the Winnipeg Jets, scoring 42-137-179 numbers in 408 regular-season games. In the recent 2018-19 season, the Rochester, Michigan native hit the 50-point mark for the first time with eight goals and 42 assists in a full 82-game season.

However, cap constraints in Winnipeg led to the June 17th trade that sent Trouba to the Big Apple in New York with the Rangers in exchange for D Neal Pionk and 2019 1st Round Pick. A little over a month after the trade, the Rangers extend the young blueliner to the contract listed above.

For the Bruins, this news could end up playing a role in the continuing dialogue with fellow restricted free-agent defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo who are still left without a contract for the upcoming 2019-2020 NHL season.

Charlie McAvoy has played in nearly 300 less NHL games than Trouba, scoring 14-46-60 numbers in his respective 117 games. This past season, however, McAvoy’s 7-21-28 stat sheet looks somewhat sub-par compared to the 50-point plateau that Trouba reached. The reason – McAvoy underwent numerous injuries throughout the year and limited him to only 54 games on the ice.

With that said, it is highly likely that the 21-year-old McAvoy played top-two minutes alongside captain Zdeno Chara as he progresses towards being the future franchise defenceman for the Boston Bruins. The potential and growth that McAvoy is expected to reach in the coming years will have to be a talking point as well. Chara does not have much longer as a 20-plus-minute player and the Bruins need to develop McAvoy to take that role sooner rather than later.

That dependence and reliance on the defenceman are similar to the Rangers and Trouba as Jacob will most likely become one of the best defenceman, if not the best defenceman, on the New York club. As previously mentioned, Trouba has a lot more NHL experience than McAvoy – over 300 games worth – but McAvoy does have a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals under his belt, an accomplishment Trouba is lacking.

If there is one factor that allows the Bruins fanbase and the management to take a sigh of relief, it is the fact that Charlie McAvoy is not eligible to be offer-sheeted by any of the other 30 teams in the National Hockey League and possesses zero leverage. Either he plays with a new contract or he sits – nothing else.

The other RFA in the Bruins organization, Brandon Carlo, is a little more concerning. Unlike McAvoy, Carlo can receive an offer sheet from the other NHL franchises and if Boston is unable to match the offer with the salary cap that they currently have, then they run the risk of losing the 6-foot-5 d-man.

Carlo is not known to be a puck-moving, offensive defenceman like a Trouba or a McAvoy, but his role is just as important, if not more important on a successful team. Carlo is more of a ‘defensive defenceman’ and while that sounds like an obvious description of a player, it isn’t all that common in the NHL anymore with the advancements of speed and skill in all positions.

In the three years that Carlo has been on the Boston Bruins, his minutes have increased consistently. In the first two seasons, Carlo showed great developments but suffered heart-breaking injuries late in the campaign that forced him to miss the entirety of the playoffs in both years. However, for the first time in his career, Carlo was able to play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Coincidence or perfect reasoning, the Bruins made it to the Cup Finals with Carlo in the lineup. The 22-year-old Colorado Springs, Colorado native averaged the third most time on the ice behind Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug with an average time of 21:31. There were several instances where Carlo prevented a true scoring chance and turned it into a chance for the Boston forwards the other way. Here are two examples from the second-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

As discussed earlier, Zdeno Chara’s career is winding down and the B’s need that replacement for the years to come after his inevitable departure. If you’re looking more along the lines of similar size and defence, Carlo is the answer. With a 6-foot-5, 212-pound frame, Carlo is a scary presence on skates and he is getting better at using that body – recording the most hits from a defenceman on the Bruins in 2018-19 with 134 hits according to Hockey Reference.

Brandon Carlo did have fewer giveaways than the newest New York Ranger and only a couple fewer takeaways, with Trouba playing only two more minutes on average per game. Both players have a large size and can skate better than older defensemen their size currently in the league.

Trouba’s seven-year, $56 million contract gives the agents of McAvoy and Carlo to have a similar comparison. In this case, McAvoy’s camp may lean against the suggested bridge deal that has many fans intrigued by. There are three things that may be discussed with Trouba and the Bruins’ blueliners and are questions that I have as well.

1. Experience

  • Does the regular season experience of Trouba out-weigh the Cup Finals experience of Carlo and McAvoy?

2. Offensive or Defensive?

  • Does an offensive defenceman mean more to a team than a defensive defenceman? Is there a comparison there? If so, could the agents of either Carlo or McAvoy use their client as an argument piece?

3. Bridge or Long-Term?

  • Does the long-term deal with Trouba mean Carlo and McAvoy will want to lean that way over a bridge deal, considering how much they claim to love playing in Boston?

Will those aspects even be in consideration? Possibly. It is also very possible that the teams of McAvoy and Carlo don’t even bring up Trouba because the differences outweigh the similarities. I personally feel that this bigger deal for Jacob Trouba with the Rangers can play a factor in the discussions for Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo as the 2019 NHL offseason continues on. Let me know your thoughts on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj.

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Chris Kelly Rejoins Bruins Organization

Image result for chris kelly boston bruins(Photo Credit: CBS Boston)

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

“The Bruins are looking to bring back Chris Kelly…”

That statement caused a Causeway panic and made #BruinsTwitter go atwitter this week. And I would’ve probably jumped on the bash-the-B’s-brass bandwagon were it not for a skill I learned long before the age of social media clickbating and hackneyed headlines: read more than just the first sentence. 

“…in a player development role.”

Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Now, that makes a lot more sense. In fact, I think it makes all the sense in the world, and so does the Bruins organization after officially announcing the move on–you guessed it, Twitter–just twenty four hours ago.

The press release didn’t include any of the reasoning behind the new hire, but it did wondrously remind us of Kelly’s resume, especially while wearing the spoked-B:

Kelly, 38, spent the 2018-19 campaign as the Development Coach for the Ottawa Senators. Prior to serving in that role with Ottawa, Kelly played 14 seasons as a center and left wing in the NHL, including six seasons with the Boston Bruins. Kelly appeared in 288 contests with the Bruins, scoring 43 goals and notching 58 assists for 101 points. Kelly was a member of the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins. Over 25 playoff games in 2011, Kelly recorded five goals and eight assists for 13 points.http://www.bostonbruins.com

Image result for chris kelly boston bruins(Photo Credit: Bleacher Report)

Of the five 2011 playoff goals mentioned in the article excerpted above, perhaps none was more clutch than Kelly’s Game 7 third period tally against the Montreal Canadiens at the roof-blown TD Garden. Without that beloved backhand breaking through Carey Price, the B’s might not have experienced such overtime heroics later in the game—or during the rest of the Stanley Cup (winning) playoffs for that matter, if you like to play the “what if” game.

 

As for the former No. 23’s game, it was all about the intangibles — working hard, skating hard, going to the dirty areas of the ice, banging around in the corners and in front of the net, and always being responsible in the defensive end.  Kelly, like Patrice Bergeron, led by example on the ice while he wore the Black N’ Gold, something that certainly wasn’t lost on Don Sweeney or Cam Neely when they were checking off attributes for a good Player Development Coordinator candidate. Now that he’s set to fill the shoes & skates of fellow NHL alumnus Jamie Langenbrunner, his predecessor in the PDC role in Boston since 2015, Kelly will no doubt bring his valuable expertise, leadership, accountability and hockey IQ to a system stocked with young prospects eager to impact the B’s depth chart. If they’re wise, these up-and-coming players will take a page out of the Kelly playbook and learn that you don’t always need to be a superstar or 50-goal scorer to positively impact your team.

After all, we know what happened the last time the B’s went after Chris Kelly in 2011. Wouldn’t it be nice to “bring back” that feeling again?

 

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Mark Your ’19-’20 Bruins Calendar: Part II

Bruins Schedule 2(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

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

ICYMI (aka Part I of this ongoing Summer series for the Black N’ Gold Blog)… the Bruins start the season with a grueling October schedule, including two stretches of hockey that could set them up for Fall success or put them behind the proverbial 8-Ball early. That being said/written, if the B’s can hold their own through Halloween, then a lighter and more playable lineup of games will arrive by Turkey Day celebrations in the states, including a marquee NHL Thanksgiving Showdown matinee versus the Rangers on NBC (a rematch from 2013 that featured a Rockwellian pie-off between Cam Neely & Mike Richter, as seen below).

 

November 4th & 5th: “Back-To-Back!”

The Bruins play their first “Back-To-Back” series of the season starting at home versus the always pesky Pittsburgh Penguins followed by a trip across the border to face off against their hated arch-rivals the Montreal Canadiens. It’ll be the first time Boston plays either of these competitive opponents on the year and will no doubt include plenty of penalties, power plays & pugilism, if history is any indicator. These are the kind of games that show, on full display, just how your team “measures up” to very similar competition, both in terms of skill & talent and strategy & coaching. If the B’s can make a statement in Boston versus the Pens, then perhaps the usual tired legs of next-day hockey versus the Habs will turn into two big Eastern Conference victories (and four big points).

November 15th & 16th: “Back-To-Back 2: Back At It!”

This Friday-Saturday sequel in the “Back To Back” series (within a series) features a rip-roaring road match-up with the Maple Leafs in Toronto followed by the Washington Capitals coming to TD Garden twenty four hours later. These two talented teams have played the Bruins up to and at their best almost every time on the ice over the last decade, particularly during the regular season. W’s are never guaranteed versus the Leafs & Caps and are as hard-fought as you can get in the East, especially when playing on consecutive nights. This weekend will either set the B’s up for a very fulfilling Thanksgiving holiday week or prove they need to give out the thanks to their hungry opponents.

November 26th & 27th: “Back-to-Back 3: Backed Up!”

And for your viewing & repetitive pleasure, Boston goes “Back-To-Back” for the third time in November just before the aforementioned Gobble Game on the 29th at home. This time, it’s a roadie twofer in the Great White North against those hated Habs again followed by the (most likely 4-16-2) inauspicious Ottawa Senators. Since the B’s will only have one off day after these two games (all holiday travel) before they’re served up on the national TV menu versus the Rangers, taking as many positives & points out of this quick Canadian kick would be highly beneficial and satisfying to all–especially against the senseless Sens.  It will also make it easier for everyone to digest what could be an uncomfortable post-Turkey-Day matinee, as the schedule over this short stretch for Boston is definitely stuffed.

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