Did the Bruins Give up on Ryan Donato too Early?

NHL: MAR 19 Blue Jackets at Bruins

(Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

With the trading frenzy over, one of the Bruins’ new toys is Weymouth native Charlie Coyle. Now without getting too into the trade, I think the Coyle is a good fit with the Bruins; he checks a lot of boxes that Boston needs. He can play center and wing, he plays a heavy game, he’s still young at 26 and on a good contract for another year. Getting a quality player like Coyle comes with a price, and that price for the Bruins ended up being the young Ryan Donato.

Now while I like the acquisition of Coyle, I don’t like how early they gave up on Ryan Donato. Obviously, he’s far from a perfect player, but I really think he has what it takes to be a successful forward in the NHL.

Ryan Donato - Ryan Donato goes back to school after standout performance at Winter Games – what a difference a few days make

(Getty Images)

Donato has clearly shown what he can do when he’s on his game. In the 2018 Winter Olympics, the 2014 2nd rounder averaged a goal-per-game in the five games he played overseas. In college, he was an incredible player and ended up being a Hobey Baker nominee at Harvard. Even in his first 12 games in the NHL, he had 5 goals and 9 points. Not too shabby.

Entering his first full season in the pros, there was a lot expected of Donato. Coming off of a year full of accomplishments, the 22-year-old did not impress. After 11 games and just one goal, Donato was sent down to Providence.

After his month stint in the AHL, Donato was recalled, and it was clear the time in the minors helped him. He was a lot stronger on the puck, and his confidence started to emerge yet again. He was still inconsistent but still, put together a string of really good games. In the end, the Bruins front-office decided it was more beneficial for Donato to continue his growth in the AHL.

GOLD STAR:

(Credit-nbcsports.com/boston/bruins)

In Boston, Donato really never had a real shot to prove himself. Earlier in the season when the B’s needed some more depth scoring, I brought up the idea to split up the first line and put either Danton Heinen or Donato for a chance to showcase their skills with two. After a great rookie season, Heinen struggled to find the score sheet earlier this year. Similar to Donato, Heinen was still playing solid hockey (notably a better two-way game), but nothing was working for him. Much of that can be attributed to the revolving door of 3rd liners he was playing with. 

Obviously, the Bruins ended up giving Heinen a shot on the 1st line, and the experiment ended up being a great idea. Heinen has now found his game and (before his injury) Pastrnak elevated the 2nd line’s play; the Bs started to look like a real force in the league again.

Speaking of Pastrnak, he’s another player that followed similar footsteps as Donato had. Pastrnak’s first two seasons were filled with inconsistencies. There was no questioning his skill, but he was really shaky defensively and clearly needed to get a lot stronger. In the 2016 offseason, his second offseason with the Bruins, Pasta bulked up and definitely grew as a player. The next season, he got his chance with Bergeron and Marchand on the top line, and we all know how that ended up working out.

Nov 25, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Boston Bruins center Frank Vatrano (72) celebrates is game winning overtime goal against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Boston won 2-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

(Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

Another player I tend to compare Donato to is former Bruin, Frank Vatrano. He’s another local kid that plays a very similar style. The two are both relatively small, agile players that rely on their great shot to elevate their game. Now Vatrano wasn’t a great Bruin by any means, but similar to Donato, he showed a ton of potential. In the AHL he scored 36 goals in just as many games in the 2015-16 season. Last year, after a tough start with the Bruins, Vatrano was traded to the Florida Panthers for a 3rd round pick. Now that he’s gotten a legitimate shot with legitimate linemates, Vatrano has a chance to hit the 30 goal mark this year.

Prospects TAKE TIME. Not every 21-year-old is going to light up the league in his first full season. Last season at around this time, everyone was clambering over how amazing Ryan Donato was going to be. Now that he hasn’t blown anyone away in his first true season with the big club, he gets traded. The kid is still only 22 years old. I’m not saying he would’ve been a 40 goal scorer just because he got a chance on the top line, but it was definitely worth a shot this season, or even next year after he gets stronger and grows as a player even more over the offseason. Maybe Donato never fit into the Bruin’s future, but at the end of the day, trading him now is NOT capitalizing on his value. The Bruins just gave up too early on him.

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Boston Bruins: The Frank Vatrano Trade One Year Later

PHOTO CREDIT: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

By: Michael DeRosa | Check me out on Twitter @michael_derosa4

It has been roughly one year since the Boston Bruins sent Frank Vatrano to the Florida Panthers for their 2018 third-round pick. The Bruins used this pick to draft versatile forward, Jakub Lauko. The future looks bright for Lauko, as he is currently playing well with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL.

Yet, it appears that Vatrano has truly cemented himself as a top-six forward at the NHL level with the Panthers.  A huge reason behind this is the fact that the team has given him a chance to thrive in offensive situations. It also helps that he is playing with an emerging two-way center in Vincent Trocheck. However, even with this being the case, Vatrano’s offensive potential has always been present. It was just a matter of him finding it consistently.

In 2015-16, Vatrano truly blossomed as a star at the AHL level when he registered 36 goals in just as many games with the Providence Bruins. This truly is a rare feat and one that warranted immense praise at the time. This would result in the team giving him a chance at the NHL level, and he would secure a spot with the team by providing some solid secondary scoring.

More of the same occurred in 2016-17 from him, but last season was when everything seemed to go downhill. He soon would find himself a healthy scratch with the team, as rookie forwards Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen outplayed him. Vatrano’s offense essentially was gone. He would only register two goals in 25 games with the team, and he failed to thrive in a defensive role. This is why the trade occurred.

When the move was made, it was met with a decent amount of praise. Getting a third rounder for a struggling forward was far more than what was expected. However, as soon as Vatrano arrived in Florida, he quickly found his scoring touch again. This was ultimately the risk of trading him. Management knew that he was a player who had offensive upside, but it simply could not occur with him playing in a bottom-six role.

Now, that is not to say that this move was a bad one. It was evident that Vatrano being scratched every night was not doing anything for his game, nor for the Bruins. However, it is clear that at this point in time, his services would be greatly appreciated. Depth scoring is seriously at a premium right now for the club. Nobody after the first-line, aside from David Krejci, has been able to provide consistent scoring for the team.

When looking at Vatrano stats this season, it is clear that he has been to maintain offensive success. In 49 games this season, he has been able to register 17 goals and 27 points. That is not necessarily an all-star campaign, but it is evident that it would be welcomed in Boston right now. In fact, it honestly can be said that it is desperately needed.

There is no way to prove that Vatrano would have been able to have this success playing Boston this year. In fact, one could argue that it would have been unlikely because of how far he fell down the depth chart. However, in a sense, this just shows how quickly everything can change in a matter of one season. The Bruins were at the top of the league in depth scoring last year, but now are struggling immensely. Meanwhile, Vatrano has gone from a 13th forward to a top-six one in Florida.

If one had to give a verdict on this deal, it is clear that Florida slightly has the upper hand right now. However, Lauko had an impressive rookie camp this year and has an abundance of potential. Also, the real question is if Vatrano can carry this success into later seasons. It is apparent that consistency has been an issue for him so we will see.

At the end of the day, this was just a solid hockey trade for all parties involved.

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Bruins Don Sweeney’s Trade History: Graded

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Perry Nelson/USA TODAY Sports Images

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

With the trade deadline looming and all of the trade talk lately, I thought it would be interesting to look back at all of the trades Bruins GM Don Sweeney has made. There’s been a lot of hate towards Sweeney’s ability to make trades, some of it is warranted, some of it is not. Here’s my attempt at grading all of Don’s trades.

Side note: I won’t be going in depth with who the other teams drafted with the picks the B’s gave up because who knows if the Bruins would’ve drafted them. Also, I’ll only briefly go over who the Bruins drafted – I’ll go more in depth in another article soon, stay tuned.

Boston receives: 2016 6th round pick (Oskar Steen)

Colorado receives: UFA rights of Carl Soderberg

Grade: A

Nothing wrong with this trade. At the time, Soderberg was going to get a hefty raise, and the Bruins seemed unlikely to resign him with promising replacements in the system to fill out the 3C position in Ryan Spooner and Alexander Khokhlachev. Soderberg ended up getting paid and signed a hefty 5 year, $23.750 contract with the Avalanche.

Boston receives: 2015 1st rounder (Zachary Senyshyn), 2015 2nd rounder (Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson), 2015 2nd rounder (Jeremy Lauzon)

Calgary receives: RFA rights of Dougie Hamilton

Grade: B-

There are a couple of things to take into account with this trade. One is the fact that Hamilton didn’t want to play in Boston, so the Bruins didn’t have a ton of leverage in the situation. The other is that Hamilton was a key piece in getting Noah Hanafin, who was someone the Bruins tried hard to move up in the 2015 draft for. With that being said, all of the pieces the Bruins have gotten have looked promising. Senyshyn is taking major strides in the AHL and looks to be NHL ready very soon. JFK and Lauzon have both already showcased their skills with Boston and look to have bright futures.

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Brian Babineau/Getty Images

Boston Receives: Martin Jones, Colin Miller, 2015 1st rounder (Jakub Zboril)

Los Angeles receives: Milan Lucic

Grade: A+

As much of a fan favorite Lucic was, it was time to let the big power-forward go. Entering the last year of his deal, the Bruins wanted to get younger and not pay him the insane amount Edmonton ended up giving him. Colin Miller put together a few good seasons in black and gold until he was taken by Vegas in the expansion draft. The pick they acquired was used on Zboril (could’ve drafted someone else but the value of that pick was still high) who still has the potential to be a top 4 D-man in the NHL. They then flipped Martin Jones for the package of…

Boston receives: Sean Kuraly, 2016 1st rounder (Trent Frederic)

San Jose receives: Martin Jones

Grade: B+

The toughest thing about this trade saw Jones help his team get to the Stanley Cup Finals his first year with the Sharks. However, Jones’ biggest role (if he stayed with the Bruins) would’ve been a really good backup. What the Bruins received for Jones was pretty consistent with what a lot of other fringe-starter/ starting goalies prices around the time. The Flames traded a 2nd and 3rd rounder for Brian Elliot, the Sabres gave up a 1st for Robin Lehner and a year after these trade, the Ducks traded Frederick Anderson for a 1st and a 2nd.

Boston receives: Zac Rinaldo

Philadelphia receives: 2017 3rd round pick (Kirill Ustimenko)

Grade: F

Yea, not sure what Sweeney was thinking here. The previous season Rinaldo had a grand total of one goal in 58 games. I understand that Sweeney wanted to bring back the “Big Bad Bruins” play style and a 3rd round pick isn’t a guarantee to be an NHL player, but you’d think they could’ve acquired him for a 7th rounder or something. Rinaldo went on to play 52 games and had a single goal before getting put on waivers and, unsurprisingly, wasn’t claimed.

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Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Boston receives: Jimmy Hayes

Florida receives: Reilly Smith, Marc Savard

Grade: D-

So unlike the trade above, there are some aspects of the trade the Bruins benefit in. Shedding Marc Savard’s salary was a big win, it allowed them to go out and get a big free agent (that free agent was Matt Beleskey, but it was the idea that we’re grading) Smith was receiving $3.425 million a year and Hayes just signed a deal paying him $2.3 million annually so again, cap space. The positives end there. After two very rough seasons with the Bruins, Hayes was bought out. Smith, on the other hand, averaged over 40 points in his two seasons in Florida and had a career year in Vegas, totaling 60 points in just 67 games. Not to mention being above a point-per-game in the Golden Knights Stanley Cup appearance. Now wouldn’t that just be a perfect fix to all of the top 6 problems the Bruins have…

Boston receives: Lee Stempniak

New Jersey receives: 2017 2nd rounder (Mario Ferarro), 2016 4th rounder (Evan Cormier)

Grade: C

Now Stempniak wasn’t bad for the Bruins by any means, he had 10 points in his 19 games to end the season with the B’s. It, unfortunately, was not enough to squeeze into the playoffs which is the biggest reason this trade isn’t any higher. The thing that makes me wince with this trade is that Stempniak was a PTO at the beginning of the year so essentially the Devils got two free picks. A little ironic that the New York native has been on PTO for the entire year for the Bruins now. Although it wasn’t a huge overpayment, it all just seemed a bit much for a guy like Stempniak.

Boston receives: John-Michael Liles

Carolina receives:2016 3rd round pick (Jack LaFontaine), 2017 5th round pick (Jack Dugan)

Grade: C+

Similar to the trade above, Liles played well down the stretch for Boston. The difference between the two is that Liles ended up having some longevity as a Bruin. He signed a one year, $2 M deal and helped the Bruins reach the playoffs and continued to help their injury stricken D-core in the playoffs against Ottawa.

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JASON KOPINSKI/ICON SPORTSWIRE

Boston receives: Drew Stafford

Winnipeg receives: 2018 5th rounder (Declan Chisholm)

Grade: B+

A really cheap option who was able to fill in anywhere in the lineup. It was the perfect opportunity to buy-low, coming off of a 20 goal season, Stafford was struggling prior to his move to Boston. He had four goals and eight points down the stretch and scored a couple big goals in that year’s playoffs.  Giving up a 5th rounder for that is a big win in my books.

Boston receives: Nick Holden

New York (Rangers) receive: Rob O’Gara, 2018 3rd rounder (Joey Keane)

Grade: C

The price wasn’t anything too crazy. O’Gara didn’t have a future in Boston with the plethora of D prospects coming up the pipeline. He and a 3rd isn’t a terrible price to pay for a 6th/7th D who came in and did exactly what he was supposed to do. Holden was solid and played a couple games in the playoffs. He went on to sign with Vegas in the off-season.

Boston receives: 2018 3rd round pick (Jakub Lauko)

Florida receives: Frank Vatrano

Grade: C

This one is tough to grade. At the time of the trade, Vatrano wasn’t even cracking the Bruins lineup. Rather than stunt his development in the AHL and ruin the trade value he had, the Bruins decided to get what they could for him. It ended up being the change of scenery the University of Massachusetts product needed. He’s excelled this year, already setting career highs for goals (16) and points (27). The good news is Lauko is progressing well and looks to be a future NHLer. You can’t really knock Sweeney for moving him, but it’s interesting to wonder if he would be playing just as good if he stayed in Boston this year.

(Jeffrey T. Barnes, The Associated Press)

Boston receives: Rick Nash

New York (Rangers) receive: Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey (50% retained), Ryan Lindgren, 2018 1st rounder (Jacob Bernard-Docker)

Grade:C-

Now, from what I’ve heard, the plan for Rick Nash wasn’t just a rental. His concussion at the end of last year really ruined his stint with the Bs. Maybe if he’s not concussed, he’s able to find more consistency in his game and with his linemates, and they end up making a better run in the playoffs, who knows. But since none of that actually happened and Nash ended up calling it a career due to his concussion history, this trade isn’t all too great.

The Bruins got rid of half of Beleskey’s cap which was nice but traded Spooner when he was arguably playing the best hockey of his career. Ryan Lindgren isn’t a huge loss due to the sheer amount of defensive prospects the Bruins have but still, the former 2nd rounder projects to be a solid top 4 D in the future. A 1st round pick is pretty standard for deadline deals, but you’d think that if Evander Kane, a similar player to Nash, was only dealt for a 1st, 4th and a depth prospect, maybe Sweeney could’ve managed his assets a little better

Boston receives: Tommy Wingels

Chicago receives: 2019 conditional 5th rounder 

Grade: C

A similar trade to the Stafford one, Wingels had a couple of really solid seasons in San Jose trailed off in production. Despite the dip in production, Wingels still brought a lot of physicality in the bottom 6 which is why the Bruins acquired him. He played pretty well when he was asked to step in.

Boston receives: Steven Kampfer, 2019 4th rounder, conditional 2019 7th rounder

New York (Rangers) receive: Adam Mcquaid

Grade: B+

I’ve seen a lot of people complain about this trade, but I honestly don’t know what the problem with it is. Mcquaid is no better than the other seven D on the roster, and even though Kampfer has only played in games due to injuries to the rest of the defense, he STILL has more games played than Mcquaid because of his injuries. Freeing up cap, getting a few picks and a serviceable replacement for an 8th D is a good deal in my books

So Sweeney has clearly made quite a few great trades that really benefit the Bruins. He’s also made quite a few shaky ones. Obviously, all the trades had different lasting effects and values, but if you were wondering, Sweeney’s average grade was in between a C+ and a B- which isn’t far off of what I would give him as a whole. I’ll be grading more of Sweeney’s moves as a GM so get ready for that.

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Boston Bruins Trade Frank Vatrano To Florida

 

Frank+Vatrano+Boston+Bruins+v+Detroit+Red+c976Ua044ADl

Frank Vatrano #72 of the Boston Bruins heads up ice in the first period while playing the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on February 6, 2018, in Detroit, Michigan.
(Feb. 5, 2018 – Source: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images North America)

By Andrew Thompson | Follow on twitter @godwentwhoops

Earlier today, the Boston Bruins organization announced that they had traded forward Frank Vatrano to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a third-round pick.

The writing was on the wall for this one. While a lot of people seem to love the story about the local boy who becomes a gritty winger, it doesn’t work out too well for the Bruins organization in general (Jimmy Hayes was the most recent example.).

That Bruins GM Don Sweeney got something out of nothing is rather outstanding. He solved the bottom-six log jam at the forward position, got the team a decent level draft pick, and even shaved a little room off the salary cap in one fell swoop.

In short, nobody lost out on this trade.

The Boston Bruins knew they had a player of limited value on their hands. Vatrano made the team by the skin of his teeth this season and fell by the wayside as younger and more exciting players fought their way on to this year’s roster. He had only played in 25 games this season. The rest of the time found the 23-year old Mass native injured or as a healthy scratch.

When it comes to forwards, the Bruins have an embarrassment of riches on their hands. With so many good players on the team, the Bruins organization would have had to eventually put him on waivers. Another NHL team would have quickly snapped him up, and Boston would have had nothing to show for it in the process.

The Florida Panthers could certainly use some bottom-six help right now, so they’re certainly not complaining about giving up a third-round pick for someone who can come in and help on day one.

As for Frank Vatrano, he gets to stay in the NHL.  Had Vatrano got passed waivers, he would have found himself playing in Providence against other players who had a strong chance to bypass him on their way up to Boston. That would have led to Vatrano turning into a career NHL/AHL swing player.

It’s certainly disappointing to see Vatrano go, but there was only so much he could offer the Bruins organization.

As I said, there are no losers in this one. The Boston Bruins win. The Florida Panthers (one of my adultery teams) win. Frank Vatrano wins.  Bruins fans should give a stick tap to Don Sweeney for making this little piece of magic work.

A Bruins’ Depth Dissection

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Photo Credit: Matthew J. Lee/Boston Globe

By: Spencer Fascetta                                                                           Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey

Much has been made in recent weeks about the Bruins’ supposed depth issues, and how they need to be addressed at the trade deadline. However, I believe that there is, in fact, a roster jam, the likes of which are quite difficult to manage. So, let’s figure this out.

The NHLers:

This group all belong in the NHL and have spent no time in the AHL this season. They are on 1-way contracts and are not waiver-exempt OR are on entry level contracts, and made the team out of training camp, but have yet to set foot in the AHL this season. For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that their spot in the lineup cannot be touched.

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk David Krejci Ryan Spooner
Tim Schaller Riley Nash David Backes
Noel Acciari

The Fringe:

Forwards:

Danton Heinen – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Exempt, Currently in Boston

Anders Bjork – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Exempt, Currently on IR

Sean Kuraly – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Eligible, Currently in Boston

Peter Cehlarik – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Exempt, Currently in Providence

Frank Vatrano – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Eligible, Currently in Boston

Austin Czarnik – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Exempt, Currently in Providence

Kenny Agostino –NHL Contract, Waiver Eligible, Currently in Providence

Jordan Szwarz – NHL Contract, Waiver Eligible, Currently in Providence

Matt Beleskey – NHL Contract, Modified No-Trade Clause, Currently buried in Providence

Bruins Senators Hockey

Photo Credit: Fred Chartrand

According to the table above, there are four forward spots on this roster that are relatively in flux. Two of those are easy. Danton Heinen is 4th in team scoring and should be receiving legitimate Calder Trophy consideration. He’s on the team, no question. Sean Kuraly has been part of the best 4th line the Bruins have had since the famed Merlot Line with himself, Schaller, and Acciari. I don’t foresee him going anywhere. That then leaves two forward spots for the remaining 7 guys that have played in the NHL this season. I don’t see Beleskey being recalled anytime soon, especially with the injury trouble he’s run into down in Providence. Unfortunately, that contract has the appearance of a sunk cost right now. Agostino has already been up and down this season and has cleared waivers every time. Although he has been good for the Baby B’s, he hasn’t done nearly enough while with the big club to indicate that he should be the next guy up. The same can be said for Jordan Szwarz, who I have never been tremendously thrilled with at the pro level. Just like that, we’ve pared the list down to four guys and two spots to be filled.

Frank Vatrano, Jonathan Bernier

Photo Credit: Mark J. Temill

These two spots are not going to be regulars at the NHL level, and that’s important to understand. Of the four remaining, Cehlarik and Bjork are still on their entry-level contracts – this means they are waiver exempt and will be for the remainder of their contracts. Austin Czarnik can spend literally a single day more on an NHL roster before he becomes waiver eligible – indeed, he was recalled specifically for the games he played in his most recent stint and promptly sent back to Providence immediately afterward so as to prolong his waiver-exempt status. Frank Vatrano is the only one who isn’t waiver exempt – because he likely would be claimed the second he gets placed on waivers, he gets the nod despite being underneath Bjork and Cehlarik in the pecking order. I don’t think Vatrano fits as a 4th liner, and he isn’t consistent enough to play in the Top 6. Unfortunately, this pigeonholes him to the point where it would be beneficial for Boston to explore what the trade market looks like for him. It’s always preferable to get an asset in return for a player rather than simply losing them on waivers. So, Vatrano is (currently) the 13th forward.

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Photo Credit: Brian Fluharty/USA Today Sports

Much like Vatrano doesn’t fit as a 4th liner, I don’t think it behooves the Bruins to stick Anders Bjork in the bottom six and to give him zero powerplay time. In Providence, he can gain some confidence, and be a go-to guy. Unfortunately, Heinen has become what they thought Bjork would be much more quickly that Bjork has been able to. He has also had a few injury issues. He should spend the rest of the year in Providence unless multiple Top 6 forwards end up unable to play or injured.

Cehlarik is a little more nuanced. Based on this analysis, he would be the 14th forward, but I prefer to have him playing on a regular basis, not sitting in the press box every 3 out 4 games. He also has had a lot of poor injury luck throughout his career, so I’d like to see him get through a full season healthy before he makes the jump full time.

Washington Capitals v Boston Bruins

Photo Credit: Steve Babineau

Defense:

Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug Brandon Carlo
Kevan Miller

 

The Fringe:

Matt Grzelcyk – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Exempt, Currently in Boston

Adam McQuaid – NHL Contract, Waiver Eligible, 2 years remaining, Currently in Boston

Paul Postma – NHL Contract, Waiver Eligible, 1 year remaining, Currently in Boston

Rob O’Gara – Entry Level Contract, Waiver Exempt, Currently in Providence

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Photo Credit: John Wilcox/Boston Herald

Now, there are only 4 d-men who have seen the light of day this year who I feel are battling for position on the roster. Matt Grzelcyk has spent the least amount of time at the NHL level, yet he has been far and away the best of the group. He has done more than enough to force the Bruins to keep him not only in the NHL for the duration of the season but in the lineup on a night to night basis. That makes him the 6th defenseman. McQuaid isn’t going anywhere on this roster despite my hesitation with such decisions, so that makes 7.

Now, if you’ve been keeping count, that leaves a single roster spot available between Paul Postma, Rob O’Gara, Austin Czarnik, and Peter Cehlarik. Cehlarik and O’Gara are waiver exempt – they have a place in Providence, so that’s where they will be. Czarnik retains his waiver exempt status as long as he remains in Providence, so unless something changes drastically, I doubt we see any more of him this season apart from the occasional emergency loan recall (which allows for a recall for a brief period of time without having to pass through waivers in either direction). Now, I cannot confirm nor deny that Paul Postma still exists, but he appears to be that 21st skater on this roster, as he would likely be lost if placed on waivers. So, the three scratches would be (in an ideal world) McQuaid, Postma, and Vatrano.

 

Hopefully, this has cleared this up for anyone confused to why there seems to be quite a bit of roster shuffling as of late. I also hope that people can see that the Bruins do not and SHOULD not have to add anything at the trade deadline. They have plenty of depth as it is.

 

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Boston Bruins: Is This Frank Vatrano’s Last Season With The B’s?

 

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Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins directs Frank Vatrano #72 of the Boston Bruins during the second period against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on November 16, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
(Nov. 15, 2017 – Source: Harry How/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                                      Twitter: @Godwentwhoops

 

Frank Vatrano is currently the odd man out with the Boston Bruins. Vatrano hasn’t seen much action with the Black and Gold this season. He’s only played in 22 games, and he’s spent most of that time as a fourth line grinder for the B’s. In his last five appearances, he cracked the ten-minute ice time mark only once.

Vatrano’s limited action is due to the strength of the Bruins rookies. The B’s youth movement have earned themselves positions on the roster, and that forced players like Matt Beleskey (currently playing in Providence) and Vatrano on the sidelines. Vatrano is only seeing action due to the B’s injuries and the suspension of forward Brad Marchand.

Vatrano’s never really been a full time player for Boston. He’s played in 83 games in the last two seasons. He’s been moving up and down the lines as the situation (or the injuries) required. For his part, the 23-year old Mass native is trying to stay positive. He’s doing his best to be ready for whenever he gets to see action on the ice.

“It’s always difficult when you’re not playing, you’re always trying to get back into the lineup,” Vatrano said. “But when the team is as hot as it is right now you’ve got to tip your cap to everyone in the room, even if you’re not in the lineup you’re rooting for the guys.

“You want them to win, you always want to win. You’ve got to be a good teammate, whether you’re in the lineup or out of the lineup. For me, I just have to have the same mindset night in and night out.”

Vatrano was a point-a-game player during his AHL time. (A situation he may find himself in again come next season.) Now he’s a penalty minute a game player.  He’s now in the situation that Ryan Spooner found himself in last year.  It’s not that he’s a terrible player, but the current roster have been firing on all cylinders.

For Vatrano, it’s about staying positive and waiting for the next opportunity to show he can still be an effective player in the Boston organization.

“I actually felt pretty good,” offered Vatrano on his current condition. “I’ve been trying to stay on top of my conditioning, on and off the ice. I felt good, felt like I really didn’t miss a beat out there. My timing was good, so hopefully I can add some more finishing to it. Obviously in a different role right now, so trying to be reliable.”

Boston Bruins bench boss Bruce Cassidy has been satisfied with Vatrano’s reliability. Cassidy has been trying to find a use for Vatrano in the wake of the B’s youth movement. So far, Vatrano has adapted to his current role.

“With Frank, we’re going to continue to make sure that in those close games he does his part away from the puck, keep getting better defensively and hopefully the puck falls a little bit and he creates a little more on his own on that line,” said Cassidy of Vatrano’s current performance.

“He’s been good, he’s worked hard the last six weeks without playing. I give him credit for that, it’s not easy when you’re young.”

While Vatrano is trying hard to make a difference with Boston, it may be a case of too little, too late for him. The Bruins have too many prospects coming up. The B’s current roster is (for the most part) injury free, and it’s a case of too many players and not enough spots on the roster.

This will likely be the last season for Vatrano in the spoked ‘B’. Vatrano may end up back in Providence, but its more than likely that’ll end up in another organization.

BFR1 – Games 15 and 16 – Dumpster Fire

By: Spencer Fascetta                                                                          Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey

PuckNerd talks through the disappointing sweep at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He’s understandably angry and tries to give you a few potential fixes for the problems he sees. Granted, who actually listens to him? Regardless, he appreciates your eyes and ears!

Bruins Lineup Notes Ahead Of Round Two With The Golden Knights

(Photo Credit: Adam Richins for BSJ)

By Mike Cratty                                     Twitter: @Mike_Cratty

A flurry of lineup news came to the surface ahead of the Boston Bruins first-ever home game with the Las Vegas Golden Knights tonight. The Bruins had an optional pregame skate this morning. Plenty of lineup shuffling has taken place in an eventful season up to this point.

It’s almost hard to believe that something like that could happen to a team so early, but unfortunately, it has, and the Bruins have had to adjust big-time.

Frank Vatrano sits, Matt Beleskey suits up

To start, it appears that Frank Vatrano will be a healthy scratch tonight. This isn’t shocking because Vatrano has yet to tally a point in nine games. Matt Beleskey will return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the past three games. Some physical presence from Matt Beleskey in David Backes’ absence could be beneficial against a Vegas Golden Knights team that has turned some heads. Beleskey, like Vatrano, has yet to tally a point this season, but in six games in Beleskey’s case.

Anton Khudobin and David Krejci still out

Anton Khudobin and David Krejci were not on the ice today. Zane McIntyre will suit up tonight in Khudobin’s absence. Khudobin is still dealing with a lower-body injury, while Krejci is still dealing with back issues. McIntyre served as the backup in Columbus and has yet to see NHL action this season. Following Monday’s game against Columbus, McIntyre was sent back down to Providence but then brought back up yesterday due to Anton Khudobin’s current status.

David Backes to IR, Austin Czarnik, and Jordan Szwarz called up

David Backes, on the other hand, was placed on IR earlier today. News broke yesterday that David Backes will miss approximately the next eight weeks due to colon surgery. That’s not what a guy who has already lost time due to diverticulitis wants to see. Jordan Szwarz was also called up as to help lessen the blow yesterday, followed by Austin Czarnik earlier today. Szwarz will play tonight, while Czarnik is a game-time decision.

Czarnik played in 49 games with the Bruins last year and has played in two so far this season. The speedy 24-year-old forward is off to a productive start with the Providence Bruins despite having no points in two games with the Bruins this year. Czarnik is averaging two points-per-game in Providence with four goals and six assists in five games.

Jordan Szwarz set for his Bruins debut

Tonight will be a special night for Jordan Szwarz, as it will be his Boston Bruins debut. Szwarz was drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes with the 97th overall pick in the fourth-round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. It has been a rocky career so far for Jordan Szwarz spending the majority of it in the AHL with the Portland Pirates, Springfield Falcons, and most recently the Providence Bruins. Szwarz hasn’t seen NHL action since playing nine games with the Arizona Coyotes in the 2014-2015 season.

In his first season as a Providence Bruin last year, Szwarz earned an “A” on his chest and put up an impressive 22-32-54 stat line in 65 regular season games. All were career highs in his pro career so far. He added to an impressive regular season with six goals, five assist and 11 points in 17 games in the trek to the Eastern Conference Finals for the Providence Bruins, where they, unfortunately, fell to the Syracuse Crunch in five games.

Through six games of the 2017-2018 campaign, Szwarz has five goals, three assists, and eight points in the AHL for the 6-2-0 Providence Bruins.

What the Bruins lineup will look like isn’t a sure thing yet. There will be shuffling in the forward core for sure due to the decimation of a Bruins forward core due to injury. Round one against the Vegas Golden Knights was a tough one to swallow so the Bruins will look for revenge at TD Garden with a different looking lineup.

Boston Bruins: Studs-And-Duds Of The Preseason

 

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The Boston Bruins ultimate stud: Bobby Orr

 

By: Andrew Thompson                                                          Twitter: @Godwentwhoops

 

The Boston Bruins have wrapped up their preseason and get ready to start their 2017-18 season. The Black and Gold now have to whittle down the roster in order to get ready for opening night. The B’s have a few hard choices ahead of them as they try to figure out who will be playing in Boston and who’ll be sent down to Providence.

There have been several players who rose to the occasion. There are a few that didn’t live up to their billing. We take a look at a few of the ‘Studs-and-Duds’ who are battling for a roster spot.

 

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Jake DeBrusk #74 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Columbus Blue Jackets during overtime of the preseason game at TD Garden on September 26, 2016, in Boston, Massachusetts.
(Sept. 25, 2016 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

 

Stud: Jake DeBrusk

DeBrusk put up 10 shots on goal during the preseason. While he wasn’t able to light the lamp, his tenacity earned him high marks from the Bruins coaching staff. DeBrusk averaged 15:29 of ice time per game, the most among the B’s non-goalie prospects.

Debrusk summed up his time in camp after the Bruins 1-0 loss to the Blackhawks. “I thought this camp was better than the three I’ve been here for now,” said DeBrusk (who looks like he’ll break through and make the opening night squad). “Even though I had some points last year, I think that this was my best camp. I showed more of what I can do and that I’m ready for this league and ready for the pace.

“It’s up to management now and hopefully they see that I can help the team win in different ways. It’s gonna be either really exciting or back to the drawing board.”

 

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Frank Vatrano #72 of the Boston Bruins skates with the puck against the Ottawa Senators in Game One of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on April 12, 2017, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
(April 11, 2017 – Source: Getty Images North America)

 

Dud: Frank Vatrano.

The Bruins were hoping that ‘Frank the Tank’ would have had an easy pass through training camp and the preseason. That hasn’t been the case. The 23-year old Vatrano seemed to be missing a step or two all through camp.

The 23-year old Vatrano wasn’t terrible. Vatrano put up 10 shots on goal during his four games on the ice for Boston.  But he wasn’t where he needed to be, and that can prove disastrous when you’re competing against hungry young prospects who want his job.

Vatrano’s stock has fallen a bit off. At the moment, he’s looking at being a fourth-line winger. He might even end up in the unwanted position of being the B’s thirteenth forward on opening night.

“Frank was trying to create some plays off the rush. He was trying to turn some pucks over and he’s going to have to continue to work on it. He hasn’t scored in preseason, which probably bothers him when you’re a goal scorer,” said Cassidy of Vatrano’s preseason performance. “But he has to remember there’s lots of other parts of his game that he’s got to stick with.”

bjorkStud: Anders Bjork.

 

The Bruins decided to give Bjork an early opportunity to prove himself early in the preaseon. Coach Cassidy decided to place Bjork with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Bjork didn’t disappoint. He put up two goals for the B’s in preseason (and had a goal disallowed against the Flyers) and did well in all areas of the ice.

By the final game of the season, they pulled Bjork out of the lineup as a sign of their approval and confidence.

“Bjork looks like he’ll start in the lineup,” said coach Bruce Cassidy before the Chicago game. “I don’t want to say concrete…looks like he’s going to be a fit.  We’ve used him with [Patrice Bergeron] and [Brad Marchand], but he can play the other side. So could he flip with [David] Krejci and [David Pastrnak] as well? We haven’t looked at that much, but it could happen.

“But we like where his game is at right now. We just think that Bjork is probably the furthest ahead of all the young guys.”

Patrice Bergeron was certainly impressed by the 21-year old Bjork. (If you can impress Bergy, you’ve done pretty darn well for yourself.)

“He’s got that speed and the smarts to get open and find the openings in the quiet ice,” said Bergeron. “It was a great play by him just to get open and for me to see him. He made it really easy. He skates well, he made some great plays, we just need to keep talking and finding each other more and more on the ice.”

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Bruins Vatrano Could Be Placed On Waivers

( Above Photo Credit:  NHL .com )

By: Mark Allred              Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

That’s certainly a tough title for me to write but the influx of prospects in the Boston Bruins system may force this B’s organization to make some drastic moves to facilitate the younger youth outplaying current members of this team. As a fellow New Englander myself, the story of Frank Vatrano is always a great thing as you want local players to succeed as the sport continues to gain popularity, especially in the Northeastern Part of the United States.  With the Bruins first game of the 2017-18 National Hockey League campaign set to drop the puck this coming Thursday against the Nashville Predators, the roster is starting to take shape, and the unfortunate demotions to players like Vatrano are inevitable.

Even though Frank is set to play in his third year of his entry-level contract he is not waiver exempt as pointed out to me earlier today by Bruins fans and fantastic Twitter follows @Spoked_B and @bruinscapspace as they shared some very interesting information about Vatrano’s contract status.

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The 23-year-old East Longmeadow, Massachusetts native has appeared in 83 NHL career games and earned 28 points in his first two years with the Bruins organization. If he clears waivers if in fact sent down to the American Hocke Leagues Providence Bruins, he’ll be a key asset to an impressive lineup with the B’s top minor-pro affiliate. Also, can’t forget about his time in the AHL where he scored 39 goals in just 43 career games.

Vatrano’s Potential Replacement

After his first professional hockey season, last year with Providence, 2015 first round selection Jake DeBrusk took hold of what it means to be a Bruins player and the expectations of a first rounder with a solid rookie year where he posted 49 points in 74 games. The beginning of the 2016-17 AHL season for the 20-year-old Edmonton, Alberta native was definitely an adjustment time to the higher level of play, but I thought he really turned up his game in December and continued into the playoffs where he contributed nine points in 17 games.

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DeBrusk came into this summer offseason with one goal in mind, and he’s certainly on the right road to achieving that feat when the Bruins first game on Thursday night and could very well be his first career game as he’s just shown that he wants it more than Vatrano. The offseason workouts, Development Camp, right into this main camp and preseason games the kid is impressing Bruce Cassidy and coaching staff and definitely gaining fan conversation as many are seeing him for the first time since being selected in 2015. For those who don’t know about DeBrusk’s game or what kind of Bruins he’ll be, EliteProspects.com’s Curtis Joe had this to say in his scouting report.

A two-way winger with good mobility and scoring ability. Willing to battle in the dirty areas and can always find the puck and make the smart play below the hash marks. Shows good creativity and deception with the puck. Good individual skills and makes good use of any time and space found. DeBrusk won’t beat you up physically, but he can definitely beat you up on the scoreboard. All-in-all, a competitive two-way winger with the natural goal scorer’s instincts. (Curtis Joe, EP 2015)