Bruins Studnicka Impresses In Debut

(Photo Credit: NHL via Getty images)

By: Jack Gotsell | Follow me on twitter @jackgotsell

Jack Stunicka was impressive in his post COVID break debut. The game was a tryout of sorts for the 21-year-old natural center. However, he found himself in an unusual spot on the right side of David Krecji with Jake Debrusk on the left. After his performance you will likely see him there again when the Bruins take on the Flyers at 3PM. 

What we saw from Studnicka was good; what we didn’t see was even better. There were no glaring rookie mistakes and he played a solid game in his own end. The Ontario native got stronger from when we last saw him in camp at the beginning of the season. Things are going to get a lot more physical as this tournament proceeds, so we are going to see if the muscle Studnicka put on is going to make an impact in the dirty areas and along the boards.

With his first shift Studnicka was able to show off some of his skills when he intercepted a pass and had a great chance to take a shot on goal. The rookie passed it up and tried to feed a covered Krejci to the dismay of Cassidy and the rest of the Bruins faithful. However, he got more comfortable and confident with each shift and took some great shots. “Certainly [Studnicka] had some of our better chances,” said Cassidy in a post game interview. One that sticks out to me was his breakaway chance, where he showed off his electrifying speed when he received a pass from Krejci and put a nice move on the goalie. He also set up Debrusk for a scoring chance at the end of the second period.

He didn’t look out of place on the power-play either. He played in Patrice Bergeron’s famous bumper spot on the second power-play and was able to create some chances. He had a scoring chance but was unable to convert. 

Cassidy was critical of Studnicka, but said he played good. His decision making wasn’t quite where Cassidy would like it to be. “The shooting versus passing, I mean we’re gonna have to live with that for a while. Until he learns the league, what he can get away with,” Cassidy commented referring to the chance Studnicka had early in the game. He didn’t stop there saying “I liked his initiative. A couple of back soft backhand plays, again a lot of young guys, those aren’t gonna happen in this league. Sticks are too good. Certainly had some of our better chances, unfortunately didn’t finish but I thought he played well.” These are all things that are going to be fixed with time. Unfortunately, the Bruins don’t have time since the playoffs are here and he’s gonna need these improvements to come quickly. 

Ondrej Kase has now arrived in Toronto and will be eager to earn his spot back. I expect Studnicka, because of his lack of experience, to be on a short leash until he can earn the coaches’ trust. Studnicka could be a key player for the Bruins in these playoffs with his speed and his offensive abilities and it will be interesting to see if he has the physicality now to go along with those skills. He is a smart two-way hockey player and can play at the NHL level, but this is a team that won the President’s trophy in the regular season and he will have players pushing him for his spot in the lineup.

Studnick did not stick out the way he did versus the Flyers like he did against Columbus. You didn’t see too much of his speed or his offensive ability on display. He had a great back-check that really stood out to me at the end of the Bruins power play, but that was really his only highlight. I did like seeing him down low in front of the net on offense and after whistles. However, if he is going to keep a job through the playoffs, he needs to make an impact.

The line of DeBrusk-Krejci-Studnicka did not look good on Sunday but it was not all on Studnicka. The Bruins as a whole were trying to force extra passes and did not have a shoot-first mentality. With the ice in the playoffs seeing multiple games in a day we are gonna see a lot of bouncing pucks and passes are going to be harder to make and receive. Kase and Ritchie look like they should be ready to go when the Bruins face Tampa on Wednesday.

I would not be surprised to see Studnicka in or out of the lineup. I would like to see the kid get another shot but it is playoff time and everyone needs to contribute every shift or find some pine. Nobody looked great out there besides Kuhlman and he has all the skills to play at this level. When the rookie’s decision making starts to click, Studnicka has the potential to be a star. 

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 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!!

Providence Bruins Could Get Back To Work In Early December 2020

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The American Hockey announced on Thursday, July 30th, 2020, that a revised 2020-21 regular season start date has been approved after the league’s annual Board of Governors meeting that was done via video conferencing call. Per the new AHL President and CEO Scott Howson, the league’s Return To Play Task Force and members of the Board of Governors are looking at a tentative date of December 4th, 2020, for all 31 organizations to get back to work.

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Howson mentions the league will continue to monitor the Covid-19 pandemic and work with its members to get players back on the ice in safe environments. Howson took over the President and CEO duties in mid-February after former league commissioner David Andrews stepped down after a successful 26-year career.

Now, it remains to be seen how all this is going to work with continued concerns due to the Covid-19 crisis. The National Hockey League can recoup financial losses with television deals regardless of ticket purchasing fans in the stands. The AHL, on the other hand, relies on ticket sales for sustainability, especially for the 12 of 31 franchisees who aren’t owned by their parent NHL organization.

It should be interesting to see how everything unfolds until the “projected” early December start time because a COVID vaccine has been heavily rumored from national health experts to be available at the end of 2020 and other opinions in the first few months of 2021. For a league that relies on fans in the stands, it remains to be seen how organizations can operate in empty arenas.

Below is a list of the members that are involved in the AHL’s Return To Play Task Force. The info below was copied and pasted from a previous AHL article on June 15th, 2020, and can be seen in its entirety HERE.


• David Andrews, Chairman
• Mark Chipman – Chairman and Governor, Winnipeg Jets
• Kyle Dubas – General Manager, Toronto Maple Leafs
• Ken Holland – General Manager and President of Hockey Operations, Edmonton Oilers
• David Poile – General Manager and President of Hockey Operations, Nashville Predators
• Don Sweeney – General Manager, Boston Bruins
• Steve Yzerman – Executive Vice President and General Manager, Detroit Red Wings
• Jeff Barrett – Chief Executive Officer, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
• Tera Black – Chief Operating Officer, Charlotte Checkers
• Jim Brooks – Co-Owner, Lehigh Valley Phantoms
• Todd Frederickson – President, Iowa Wild
• Mike Ostrowski – President and Chief Operating Officer, Cleveland Monsters
• Matt Savant – President, Business Operations, San Diego Gulls

The AHL’s 2020-21 schedule and details have yet to be determined, but if this is actually going to work for all moving forward, I’d expect a schedule release in late September or early October. Regardless this is a substantial update from a league that wants to get back to action and support the higher NHL clubs.

As an avid Providence Bruins fan and credentialed media member through the organization, I’m looking forward to seeing the team back on the ice regardless if I’m allowed in the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island or not. If fans and media aren’t allowed in AHL arenas for at least the start if not the complete 2020-21 campaign, The new AHLTV could benefit significantly with increased streaming subscriptions of the home and away action across the league. AHLTV was introduced to hockey fans to start last season and has been a considerably better service than the Neulion company, who had previously had the streaming rights for years. AHLTV offers an outstanding service to see tomorrow’s stars today with affordable league viewing or just your favorite home team at home or on the road. To see AHLTV package deals or to get an idea of the affordable prices, please CLICK HERE.

Before the AHL shut down the remainder of the 2019-20 regular season and Calder Cup Playoffs, the top minor-pro affiliate of the NHL’s Boston Bruins started the season off in the middle of the pack in the Atlantic Division and would abruptly end as one of the hottest teams in the league. The Providence club finished the season with a record of 38-18-3-3 in 62 games played and ended as the top team in the Atlantic and Eastern Conference.

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I thought for sure the club from Rhode Island had an excellent chance to make a run for their second Calder Cup Championship, by the way, they were playing in the second half of the season going on a 12-0-1 winning streak before the Covid-19 pandemic ruined the remaining regular-season games and long postseason run. Leading the way offensively was AHL rookie Jack Studnicka and AHL veteran Paul Carey. Studnicka had a fantastic season leading the team with 23-26-49 numbers in 60 games played along with AHL leading seven shorthanded goals. Carey, on the other hand, was a trustworthy leader as team captain posting 22-17-39 numbers also in 60 games played.

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The season story, in my opinion, has to go to how the Providence team played in goal last season. Newcomer and AHL veteran Max Lagace came to the Boston organization with something to prove and did very well, posting a regular-season record of 22-7-3 with a goals-against-average of 2.37 and save percentage of .920. Lagace’s’ partner in crime when it comes to crease duties was third-year pro and Boston Bruins prospect Dan Vladar who basically stole the show when he returned from a high ankle sprain on December 1st, 2019. Dan would go onto lead the AHL in goals-against-average with a stingy 1.79 and also league-leading .936 save percentage. Vladar had a regular-season record of 14-7-1 accompanied by three shutouts with one of those coming in his first game back after injury in early December 2019.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 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!!

Biggest Questions Facing The Bruins As They Enter The 2020 Playoffs

Notes, Thoughts And Observations From Ondrej Kase's Bruins Debut ...
( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images )

By: Lucas Pearson | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

What is up with Kase and Ritchie?

There is a lot up in the air with the Bruin’s two most recent acquisitions. We know Ondrej Kase was the only player to not travel to Toronto with the team. It’s been said that the Czech Republic native will meet the team later, but if he’s healthy, what role will he have? He’s only played six games with Boston, and with younger guys (that will be mentioned later) getting more chemistry with the team, it will be interesting to see what type of role he’ll have when he’s with the team.

That same story remains true with Nick Ritchie. Despite traveling to Toronto with the team, Ritchie has just now made his first on ice appearance in Ontario’s capital, in an optional skate this morning. He wasn’t featured Bruin’s lineup in the exhibition game and it’s anyone’s guess as to when he’ll join the Bs for a game. The physical forward would be a really nice addition to the lineup, and his presence would be a welcome addition to the forward group.

How will the kids play?

MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 26: Jack Studnicka #68 of the Boston Bruins warms up prior to the game against the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL game at the Bell Centre on November 26, 2019 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Bruins seem to have three players penciled into their lineup that have yet to play a playoff game in their NHL career. The trio of players are Anders Bjork, Jack Studnicka and Jeremy Lauzon. I recently wrote an article about how I believe Bjork has a good chance to break out in the playoffs. He’s an incredibly skilled player that has had success in every league he’s been in. The Notre Dame alum has developed into a really good 200-foot player and is a guy I can totally see having a Marcus Johansson like run in the playoffs. 

As for Studnicka, it appears that he will get the start to the right of David Krejci on the second line and I love it. He’s done everything you want in a young player making the jump to the pros. He led the entire AHL in shorthanded goals and was within the top 15 in both total goals and points. Getting the chance to play in the top six in the NHL playoffs as a 21-year-old is not something many can do, especially for a President’s Trophy winning team. It’s been all praise from teammates and I’m really excited to see how he does after his promising showing in the exhibition game. 

We saw Connor Clifton take big steps in his NHL career last year as a rookie in the playoffs, and now Jeremy Lauzon is looking to do the same. The French-Canadian plays the perfect playoff style of hockey. The adjective I would use to describe him certainly wouldn’t be shy as he already has 10 fights in his short NHL career. He’s added a nice physical presence next to Matt Grzelcyk and that bottom pair has been a big part of the B’s success. Since joining the big club, the Bruins have had a 15-3-1 record in games Lauzon has played in.

Can Rask replicate last year’s playoff success?

Bruins' Tuukka Rask Reveals Item He Brought To Toronto, Game Plan ...
(Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports Images)

Rask was excellent in the 2018-19 Playoffs. Saying anything but that would be idiotic.  Outside of the final game of the Cup, Rask was absolutely dominant in elimination and series clinching games. In five elimination games, the Finnish tender allowed just four goals to go with a .973 save percentage. And as crazy as it may sound, he was even better in series clinching games. He allowed ONE goal in the three games, good for a .990 save percentage and if you picked this up, well done, had more shutouts than goals allowed. Those are elite numbers. 

It will definitely be interesting to see how the time off will affect the B’s starter coming off of his best regular season since winning the Vezina in 2014. Luckily if Rask falters for any reason, they have one of the best backups in the league in Jaroslav Halak. But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. 

Will the formatting of the playoffs hurt the Bruins?

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 16: Torey Krug #47 of the Boston Bruins and Patric Hornqvist #72 of the Pittsburgh Penguins fight during the second period at TD Garden on January 16, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Well the immediate answer is yes. As they were six points up on the second place team in the league, Bs were poised to finish the regular season as the number one seed. They would’ve had home ice throughout the entirety of the playoffs but are now forced to play in a round robin to determine where they finish. If the Bs fail to maintain the top spot in the East they would end up playing a better team than they would have normally faced. Can you believe if they end up playing the Penguins in the first round instead of a team around the 7-9 seed? No disrespect to any of those teams, but that would be incredibly tough on the Presidents Trophy winning team. 

If there’s any pro out of this, it would be the fact that the Bruins now play high intensity games that matter, but without a lose or go home stipulation. Maybe if they don’t show up in the three round robin games it sends a message. Maybe if they DO show up it will give the team confidence and add a little swagger to their play. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. 

Can the veterans succeed after so much time off?

Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand - Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens
(Photo Credit: Minas Panaglotakis/ Getty Images)

There’s no questioning if the leadership of the Bruin’s veterans will be there when the playoffs begin, it will. But will their usual great play be there as well? Zdeno Chara (42), Patrice Bergeon (34), David Krejci (33) and Brad Marchand (31) have all had amazing NHL careers, but without a proper training camp and so much time off, it may be tough to get back into the swing of things with the intensity of playoff hockey. Brad Marchand said earlier in quarantine that he thinks younger teams like the Maple Leafs and Lightning will have the advantage over teams with an older core. With that being said, you know Bruce Cassidy and co will have the Bruins ready to play when the time comes. 

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 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!!

Is Jack Studnicka The Answer To The Bruins Search For Krejci’s Right Wing?

( Photo Credit Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers )

By: Jack Gotsell |Follow me on twitter @jackgotsell

Bruce Cassidy has a big decision to make when it comes to who will be playing on the right side of David Krejci this postseason for the Boston Bruins. With Ondreje Kase unable to get on the ice in the return to play phase of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, being deemed “unfit to play”, the Bruins will look to their young prospect and 2nd round pick in the 2017 entry draft Jack Studnicka to fill the void next to Krejci. If Studnicka plays well he will likely keep the role; and if not, Anders Bjork could likely get a look before we see Kase back next to Krejci.

Studnicka was drafted 53rd overall by the Bruins and has not disappointed. In his rookie season for the organization the 6’2” 21-year-old forward was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team. He led the Providence Bruins in scoring this season with 23 goals and 26 assists for 49 points in 60 games. He brings a promising finishing touch that the Bruins and General Manager Don Sweeney have been searching for to boost the top six.

Sweeney was confident he found that boost when the Bruins acquired Kase from the Anaheim Ducks on trade deadline day. The COVID break has left that question still unanswered as we enter the return to play phase. Kase is a shoot-first forward and much like Studnicka, he brings a tremendous amount of speed to his game. In Kase’s time in Anaheim he dealt with a lot of injuries and despite the time off the ice was able to tally a ton of shots. Unfortunately, he was unable to convert on many of those as he continued to struggle with his finish. Kase is in his fifth NHL season and when he’s healthy he shows some flashes of high-end talent. Nothing exemplifies that more than his last healthy season which came in 2017-2018 where he was able to find the back of the net 20 times.

Kase’s battle for the second line right wing will have to wait until he is able to get in the bubble. With that out of his control for now, Studnicka will look to fight for and hold the job. Studnicka only played two games with the big club this season and has never played in an NHL postseason. Being a natural center, he will have to adjust to the responsibilities of the wing while dealing with the pressure of his first postseason minutes. That’s not to say he never played wing; Jack played wing for the Canadian junior team in the 2019 World Junior Championship. In that tournament he tallied 1 goal, 3 assists, and 4 points in 5 games for the silver medalists.

Bruins teammate Patrice Bergeron has been impressed with Studnicka saying “he seems to be getting faster, which is scary.” Bergeron also mentioned that he looks a lot stronger than he did in camp at the beginning of the season and that he plays the game the right way. That’s quite a compliment coming from a future Hall of Famer like Bergeron. Studnicka will continue to look to that vetran leadership as he joins this hungry club in the postseason. 

Cassidy has said “It wouldn’t be automatic that I put Ondrej [Kase] in if the young kid was playing really well.” Cassidy has also made some comparisons between Bergeron and Studnicka referencing that he hopes that Studnicka is the next Patrice Bergeron. He’s noted that it would be great for everyone in the organization if he is and I have to agree. However, Cassidy has said all camp that Anders Bjork looks like one of the best players out there, so he is another guy seeking that job. If Studnicka slips up, Bjork could get that chance not only on the third line with Sean Kuraly and Charlie Coyle, but on the second line as well with Krejci. Clearly the Bruins have some faith in Bjork’s future as they just recently signed him to a 3-year extension. 

The unfamiliarity that Bruce Cassidy has with Kase really hurts him. He doesn’t know him as a player. He was only able to see him in 6 games before the season was put on pause. Cassidy is more familiar with Studnicka and Bjork and he is ready to see both of them lace up in this round-robin tournament. 

For now, it looks like Studnicka will be the guy on the second line when the Bruins play Columbus at 7PM. However, Cassidy confirmed earlier today Bjork and Karson Kuhlman will also see some time at second line right wing tonight. Unfortunately for Kase, he will be watching this one from home as he has still not been able to make the trip to Toronto. It remains to be seen how the lineup will look when the Bruins face the Flyers to open the round-robin tournament. If Studnicka is able to produce some secondary offence it will be an uphill climb for Kase to get back into the Bruins lineup. This is a good problem for Bruce Cassidy and the Boston Bruins to have.  

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below on 7-26-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

Boston’s Newest Winger’s Future

kase 1

(Photo: Maddie Meyer, Getty Images)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

The Boston Bruins’ phones are generally ringing off the hook at each trade deadline.  This year, they made two moves, with the same team, in two separate trades.  The Bruins acquired Anaheim Ducks’ Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase for David Backes, Axel Andersson, a 2020 first-round pick, and Danton Heinen.  General Manager, Don Sweeney, received tons of praise for these separate deals because it relieved some cap stresses and brought NHL-ready talent to a team that is in a “win-now” mode.

Ondrej Kase is a 24-year old right-winger who hasn’t tapped his full potential.  His last meaningful game with the Bruins was on March 10, and he’s been a ghost since the NHL announced its Return To Play plan.  The NHL’s Return To Play plan consists of four phases, with the second phase being one of the more important ones. Step 2 of Return To Play allowed players to practice in small-group sessions, without contact.  NHL clubs were not permitted to require players to practice, making them voluntary.  In the world of COVID, Kase opted not to skate.

The NHL’s training camp, beginning on July 10, was its third phase of the plan.  These camps were to be held in the club’s respective cities and last about two and a half weeks.  The Bruins had a near-perfect attendance during training camp.  David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were the regular absentees.

The Bruins went about their regular business during these two and a half weeks and did not give the media any info to work off of related to the two absentees.  Recently, however, news broke as to why both players were held out.  Kase and Pastrnak attended a practice unrelated to the NHL’s Return To Play plan a few days before Phase 3, which required them to quarantine for 14 days.  Pastrnak joined the team on the charter to Toronto; however, Kase did not.  He had to fly coach, which means he needs to quarantine for an additional four days before rejoining the Bruins.

The problem here is, he is new to the Bruins.  Pastrnak has been with the Bruins for five years now and can integrate with his linemates with ease.  Kase has played a whopping six games with the club and was coming off of a concussion that he suffered earlier this year.  The Phase 2 training camp was the best thing that could have happened to Kase to allow time to get his skating legs back and chemistry flowing with his new teammates.  The unregulated practice was harmless, but it costs him time with his team and, now, potentially his spot on the second line.

Jack Studnicka is a promising young right-winger, who was drafted 53rd overall in the 2017 NHL draft.  The pick was acquired from Edmonton in return for Peter Chiarelli, their former General Manager. Studnicka played two games with the Bruins this year, tallying an assist against Montreal on November 26, 2019.

He has a nose for the net, averaging 1.4 points per game in the Ontario Hockey League in the 2018-19 season.  Jack has been hyped as maybe the best prospect the Bruins have in the system, and he’s showing Head Coach, Bruce Cassidy, he can earn a spot in the starting lineup in Thursday’s exhibition game vs. Columbus.

One scenario that would be quite troubling for Kase is if Studnicka is given the right-wing spot for the beginning of the playoffs and plays well enough to stay in the lineup.  Would Bruins fans be okay with spending a first-round draft selection on a player who watches the more playoffs than not from the ninth floor?

The above scenario would be a tough pill to swallow for Sweeney, but it’s unlikely it to happen.  Kase will likely play the majority of the playoffs, but his current absence is troubling.  His playoff performance could determine his future with the Bruins.  If Kase plays from the beginning and plays stellar, he’ll probably be on the second line come next season.  But if he doesn’t play well or at all, Sweeney could move him in the upcoming off-season.

The Bruins announced a contract extension for one impending restricted free agents last night.

The NHL announced next season will feature a flat salary cap, meaning the cap will neither increase nor decrease.  The Bruins currently have $18M in cap space after the Bjork extension.  They still need to sign Torey Krug, Jake DeBrusk, Zdeno Chara, and Matt Grzelcyk.  There are some murmurs DeBrusk’s agent pegs him at $6M per year, and Krug has stated he is looking for a 6-year, $49M deal this off-season.  If both players receive what they’re asking, the Bruins will have $4M left in cap space.  Don Sweeney has not given a current Bruin their first figure at the negotiating table, and he’ll continue that trend.  But what if Kase doesn’t have a fruitful playoff and the DeBrusk does?

The Bruins could be staring down another cap clearing trade this off-season.  If the Bruins decide to trade Kase and his $2.6M cap hit, they would increase their current cap space number to $20.6M.  Trading Kase wouldn’t mean that he is damaged goods, it’s just the timing of everything.  He hasn’t practiced with the team, he hasn’t played a meaningful game in 4 months, and he had been coming off an injury in March.  Some players need ample opportunity to get up to speed, especially on a new team.  The playoffs are not the time to get back up to speed, hence why the NHL allowed a two and a half week training camp.

The Bruins would have to look for a trade partner who is in need of a top-nine forward.  They could package Kase and another draft selection or higher-end prospect to get back into this year’s first-round.  The Bruins have been stockpiling their prospect pool for a few years under Sweeney, and it would be challenging to watch newly-acquired Kase and another prospect leave for a draft selection we already possessed.  But, the Bruins face more significant issues with their impending free agents that they’ll have to address, and freeing up cap space is the number one priority.

Another scenario is Kase plays unbelievable and DeBrusk is unwilling to sign a bridge deal that would pay him significantly less than his $6M per year ask.  Maybe the Bruins look to trade DeBrusk’s rights to a team.  This would allow the Bruins to get compensated for their player, sign Krug and Grzelcyk, and the receiving team would be able to sign DeBrusk before July 1.

Trading Kase seems to only happen if he doesn’t participate in the playoffs or play up to his potential.  It would be more beneficial to the Bruins and management if their newly-acquired right-winger can step into a top-six role and have an immediate impact.  Most Bruins fans want the latter scenario and hope both Kase and Studnicka can take a leap forward this playoff and beyond.  But, if Kase is unable to keep pace, there could be some new unforeseen changes on the Bruins horizon.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below on 7-26-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

 

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

Providence Bruins 2020/21 Roster Predictions – Part #1 The Forwards

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

In part one of my American Hockey League Providence Bruins 2020/21 roster predictions, I’ll provide an opinion of what an upcoming regular season lineup could look like in a Head Coach Jay Leach system. I’m keeping in mind that the offseason has yet to be determined. Not knowing what’s to happen in free agency is a bit tricky, so please take my thoughts with a grain of salt and bare with me.

On paper, the potential roster of the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins top minor-pro affiliate is certainly intriguing throughout with recent youth additions and league advancement with player promotions. In the first article in this mini-series, I’d like to focus on the 12 forwards that I believe will provide the most offensive punch in the upcoming season whenever when the AHL gets back up and running.

Below are three scenarios of line combinations that I came up with as an idea of how things can fluctuate with promotions to the NHL and departures of last season’s roster. At the minor-pro levels of hockey, having backup plans is never more important when thinking of middle depth competitiveness and sustainability.

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Scenario #1 – What if Jack Studnicka Gets Promoted?

As someone who’s followed Jack Studnicka’s hockey career since being selected in the second round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, I do feel his time is coming quickly concerning advanced placement. I’m confident in the Bruins staff that if the NHL is a potential destination next season, he’ll be placed in a position to not only succeed but also continue to develop. He needs to be playing consistently, and if his role is a 13th or 14th forward, I think that role as a revolving forward would be a detriment to said development. Below is my lineup if Jack makes the Boston club out training camp for the upcoming season.

#24 Hughes – #7 Frederic – #20 Kuhlman

#13 Lauko – #29 Steen – #28 Carey

#16 Gaunce – #11 Asselin – #9 Senyshyn

#45 Koppanen – #27 Woods – Voyer

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There are two areas of the third line that I’d like to mention as potential departures. We don’t know if the Bruins and forward Brendan Gaunce are going to agree on another deal to place him back in the AHL when he could seek a better path for NHL work in free agency. The other is the idea of bringing back Zach Senyshyn, who I strongly agree they should but will be exposed to the waiver process if his services are needed in Providence if he doesn’t make the team out of camp.

If Gaunce and Senyshyn don’t make returns to the Providence lineup next season, this is where that backup plan comes into play. When talking about the right-wing position possibly vacated by the former 2015 first-round pick Senyshyn, I think of a player like Robert Lantosi who can fill that position seamlessly. The 5′-11″ 185-pound Lantosi is currently in the final year of his one-year AHL only contract and posted 11-20-31 numbers in 50 games in his first season of North American Pro Hockey.

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Now moving onto the Gaunce departure theory. If the 26-year-old chooses to leave for better pastures, I believe a solid replacement would be former Brown University forward and left shooting left-winger Tommy Marchin. The 6′-2″ 216-pound Michigan native played his first professional season since leaving the Ivy League has played with Providence a total of 12 games in two seasons posting 2-0-2 numbers. Marchin played his first full pro season this year with the Bruins “AA” minor-pro ECHL affiliate the Atlanta Gladiators. In 49 games for the Glads, he posted impressive 27-21-28 numbers and looks like he could fill the bottom six if a left-wing position is available. Marchin is currently on an expiring AHL only contract, but I mention him as a solid backup option if he’s retained.

Sticking with the third line in this scenario is the mention up the middle with Samuel Asselin. The 21-year-old left shooting center currently has one-year remaining on his AHL only contract. In 53 games with the ECHL Atlanta club, this season, the 5′-9″ 185-pound forward did very posting 26-26-52 numbers in his first year of professional hockey after leaving the QMJHL a year prior. Asselin will be a reliable option with the upshift if Studnicka finds a roster spot with Boston.

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Another thing to consider here and wanted to mention something before moving on, but the Karson Kuhlman contract negotiations should be interesting as an RFA this offseason. Obviously, an upshift would occur if he made the NHL roster or didn’t want to return to the Boston organization with the progressive bottleneck in Providence. I believe the Bruins are going to re-sign Karson to keep him in the fold, but is he legitimately going to stay with the limited path upward? Kuhlman has tremendous upside for a shifty, speedy forward, but (Hate Saying This!) he might have better NHL success elsewhere. Maybe even getting a deal worked out with Minnesota for a fourth-round draft pick from the Minnesota Wild to return him to the state he was born.

Scenario #2 – What If Studnicka Remains In Providence For Further Development?

As mentioned, I’m a massive fan of Studnicka and what he’s done thus far as a developing asset with the Bruins organization and hope he secures a roster spot in the NHL next season first and foremost. What if he doesn’t make the final cuts out of the NHL Bruins training camp whenever that may be and needs to be sent down to Providence to continue working on an already highly skilled set of attributes? Here’s what a potential AHL Bruins lineup could look like with a Captain Jack return to Rhode Island.

#13 Lauko – #23 Studnicka – #20 Kuhlman

#24 Hughes – #7 Frederic – #28 Carey

#16 Gaunce – #29 Steen – #9 Senyshyn

#45 Koppanen – #27 Woods – Voyer

To me, this is a solid lineup above and one that, in my opinion, has unfinished business. Due to the Covid-19 shutdown, the Providence team played well in the early parts of the season and really turned it up with a 12-game winning streak marching up the Atlantic and Eastern Conference. Who knows what would’ve come for this team in 2019-20 Providence club this year, but it was certainly fun to watch, and a long Calder Cup run was absolutely possible. The only change I’d make from the lineup obviously if Jack returns is the addition of a new Providence player that the AHL club signed earlier this spring.

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Voyer signed a two-year AHL only contract in April of 2020 and will be entering his first full season of minor-pro hockey after posting decent numbers in the QMJHL with the Sherbrooke Phoenix. The Sherbrooke, Quebec native posted 44-44-88 numbers in 63 games for the Phoenix franchise, which was a career-high. Sherbrooke is the second team Voyer has played for in his QMJHL career. The rugged 6′-2″ 192-pound right-winger started his Canadian Hockey League career with the Rimouski Oceanic, where he appeared in 158 games and contributed 22-35-57 numbers. His offensive production would almost double when he was moved to his hometown. Voyer Would play the past two seasons with the Sherbrooke club and posted 73-73-146 totals in 131 Phoenix games.

Forward Reesignments & Unfortunate Departures

Pavel Shen – A fast forward who just completed year one of his first season of North American hockey as the first Russian drafted out of the Boston organization since the selection of Alexander Khokhlachev in 2011. Shen had a decent AHL rookie season, but I believe he’d benefit from a full season in the ECHL with Atlanta next season. The 6′-1″ 183-pound forward has two more seasons remaining in his entry-level deal and continues to be a work in progress. He was demoted to the ECHL after being outplayed in the Providence forward rotation last season and believe he should at least start with the Gladiators for the upcoming 2020/21 campaign.

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Brett Ritchie – This is an interesting scenario with Brett’s future with the Boston Bruins organization. Ritchie is a hard worker and certainly wants to work hard to get back to the NHL. With that being said, I don’t see an option with both sides agreeing on more time in the minors for him. I can see either he gets moved for a late-round draft pick, or the Bruins flat out walk away from his future services or cap space he could be asking for if retained. His salary should go in every effort to re-sign NHL players like Torey Krug, Jake DeBrusk, and Matt Grzelcyk, to name a few. The potential $81.5 flat cap just has me see the Boston club moving on from him.

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Ryan Fitzgerald – This one is going to kill me moving forward because I believe Ryan is a dependable middle-depth professional, but the road has certainly been tough trying to get to the NHL. Fitzy is an unrestricted free agent during this offseason, and with four bottom-six forwards already at the NHL level contracted for another year, I find it hard to believe he’d come back to play in the AHL. Honestly, the kid has busted his ass but keeps getting overpassed for looks, and like I’ve said so many times, he might be better off leaving for better opportunities. Ryans had some bad luck with injuries throughout his entry-level contract and the one-year extension he signed last summer. I actually thought Fitzgerald would’ve been a perfect low cap hit promotion before the Mayor Chris Wagner signed long-term. Regardless of my opinion, if Fitzy does, in fact, leave the Bruins organization, I hope nothing but the best for him.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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Providence Bruins Announce Winners Of Team Awards

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

Every year the Providence Bruins (AHL) hosts their awards for their players who exemplified excellence and leadership throughout the season. If you followed Providence in any way this season, then you’ll recognize a few of these names and might have predicted who would win a particular award. Some players won more than one award and blew away people’s expectations. There is a good chance some of the players you see here today might crack the Bruins roster for the 2020-2021 campaign. Here are the winners of Providences’ awards!

Rookie of the Year Award – Jack Studnicka

(Photo Credit: Boston Globe | Bostonglobe.com)

The ‘Rookie of the Year’ Award presented by Cross Insurance goes to the one obvious choice, Jack Studnicka. Since graduating from juniors and getting the promotion to Providence, the 21-year-old forward has showcased his talents at the AHL level and even at the NHL level when called upon for two games where he also collected his first career NHL point.

Studnicka not only produced offensively 5-on-5 and on the power-play but was an absolute brute on the penalty-kill unit and led the AHL in shorthanded goals this season (seven). He also led Providence in goals, assists and points this season. He took the professional hockey world by storm this year, and I believe if anybody deserves a chance in the Boston Bruins lineup this upcoming season, it is Studnicka. Congratulations, Studnicka!

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Fan Favorite Award – Dan Vladar

(Photo Credit: National Hockey League | nhl.com)

The ‘Fan Favorite’ Award presented by Electrical Wholesalers goes to goaltender Dan Vladar. He has been apart of the organization since being drafted by the Bruins in the 3rd round of the 2015 NHL Draft. He has split his time between the Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL) and Providence since his career in the organization but had his most stellar campaign in 2019-2020.

The 6’0, 185-pound goalie led the AHL in goals-against average (GAA) with 1.79 and in save percentage with a whopping .939%. Vladar also set a career-high 14 wins at the AHL level while collecting three shutouts. He has seemed to find his game this past season. With Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask holding down the goalie tandem for 2020-2021, Vladar will be looking to spend another year in Providence, given he re-signs his soon-to-be expired contract after the NHL season. Congratulations, Vladar!

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Three Stars Award – Brendan Gaunce

(Photo Credit: Causeway Crowd | causewaycrowd.com)

The ‘Three Stars’ Award presented by AAA Insurance is an award for the player with the most ‘Three Stars’ nominations this season, and it goes to Brendan Gaunce. He led the team in first star, second star, and overall nominations this season. The 6’2, 207-pound forward was a spark plug for his team all season long and placed third in points with Providence (18-19-37 numbers). Gaunce has been very reliable for Providence, and when he was called up to the Bruins for a game and was able to produce a point.

Gaunces’ contract expires at the end of the NHL season and will be a restricted free-agent (FA). I believe another one-year deal will get done, and they will be able to rely on Gaunce to help with the development of their younger prospects and serve as a depth piece for the Bruins. Congratulations, Gaunce!

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Leading Scorer Award – Jack Studnicka

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

The ‘Leading Scorer’ Award presented by National Grid is awarded to Jack Studnicka. As mentioned above, Studnicka led Providence in goals (23), assists (26), and points (49) this season. Averaging 0.81 Pt/G with three power-play goals and seven shorthanded goals, there is no doubt Studnicka will be the offensive spark the Bruins have been looking for within their young pool of prospects.

If Studnicka doesn’t crack the Bruins lineup the next campaign, then expect for him to be putting up even more points than this past year with Providence. At this rate, he will be a point-per-game player at the AHL level and can produce 40-50 points within his rookie year in the NHL, in my opinion. The opportunities and possibilities are endless for this rising star. Congratulations, Studnicka!

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Plus/Minus Award – Josiah Didier

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

The ‘Plus/Minus’ Award presented by RI Medical Imaging goes to the player who led the team in plus/minus, Josiah Didier. New defensive addition, Didier, has done a tremendous job of holding down the blue-line for Providence this season and has earned this reward for finishing with an impressive +32 rating. The 6’3, 207-pound defender has been consistent throughout his first campaign with Providence and is a solid depth piece for the Bruins blue-line.

Didier also re-signed with Providence on a two-year deal before the season ended and will be looking to repeat that same success in the next two seasons. Players like Didier exemplifies leadership in the locker room, and that presence alone can help take Providence to the next level, especially during the playoffs. Congratulations on your hard work, Didier!

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Hendricks Memorial Fan Appreciation Award – Paul Carey

(Photo Credit: The American Hockey League | theahl.com)

The Hendricks Memorial ‘Fan Appreciation’ Award goes to the player who shows exemplary leadership & on-ice performance, and this award goes to Providence captain, Paul Carey. There is no doubt, returning captain Carey deserves this award. He plays a significant role in molding and teaching the younger prospects in the organization and remains productive as a forward as well, finishing second on the team with points.

The 6’1, 196-pound forward appeared in 60 games this season while racking up 22 goals and 39 points with a +9 rating. Carey also played in 30 games with Providence in 2018-2019 and produced 33 points during that time. Carey serves as a leadership role for the young prospects as well as an offensive plug for Providence. The 31-year-old has one more year left on his contract and will most likely serve that time with Providence unless he is called upon by the Bruins. Congratulations, Carey!

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Best Defenseman Award- Josiah Didier

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

The ‘Best Defenseman’ Award presented by Dunkin’ Donuts goes to Didier, who collects his second award. Along with being team-best in plus/minus, he also led the AHL in that same category. Didier played in 61 games this season and contributed 3-12-15 numbers with 79 PIM.

Didier will be a crucial piece to Providence, especially during the playoffs next season because of his experience after winning the Calder Cup with the Charlotte Checkers in 2018-2019. He collected four assists in 19 playoff games during that championship year. With his defensive skills, leadership, and physicality, he will be able to help Providence to their first Calder Cup Championship since 1999. Congratulations, Didier!

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Team MVP Award – Jack Studnicka

(Photo Credit: Boston Globe | bostonglobe.com)

The ‘Team MVP Award’ presented by Metlife is awarded to Jack Studnicka. The 21-year-old forward walks away with three team awards from the 2019-2020 campaign and rightfully so. In his first year in the AHL, he led his team in goals (23), assists (26) and points (49), while leading the entire league with shorthanded goals (7) and setting a new team record in that category.

If Studnicka remains healthy and performs well at camp this year, I expect him to be slotted into the Boston Bruins lineup almost immediately. I don’t think his rookie year was a fluke, and his hard-work ethic is going to reward him soon. There is no question Studnicka deserves this award. Congratulations, Studnicka!

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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

Who Could Get The Call From Providence When Playoffs Begin?

Frederic Looking to Seize Opportunity
(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

It’s all but confirmed that we will be getting playoff hockey in the summer. But with this massive break between action, there is certain to be plenty of rust for this Bruins squad. With the season entering sink or swim mode, the Bruins don’t have the luxury to let everyday starters get out of their funk. Coach Bruce Cassidy will have some tough decisions to make if his NHLers aren’t up to the task, but the Bs have plenty of talent in Providence that will be chomping at the bit to see some ice in the Playoffs, especially with the increased roster space. Here are a few reinforcements from the AHL that I’d like to see if Boston runs into any issues.

Trent Frederic

( Photo Credit: Brian Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images )

Trent Frederic figured out pretty quickly how to become a fan favorite in Boston. By dropping his mitts in his first NHL game, he showed what type of player he really is. The 6’2, 203-pound center is tough as nails and would be a welcome presence to have in the bottom six. Remember earlier this season when the Bruins had no response for Tuukka Rask getting run over against the Blue Jackets? Well, Frederic certainly wouldn’t let that go.  

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We’ve seen the St. Louis native here and there with Boston, playing with the big club for 17 games in his brief career. And after watching those 17 games, you can’t question what the youngster brings to the table. He’s a big, strong and physical player with a gnarly edge to his game. The AHL penalty minutes leader would seamlessly slide into the intensity of playoff hockey.

Jack Studnicka

( Photo Credit: David Kirouac / Icon Sportswire- Getty Images )

In his first year as a pro, Studnicka looked anything but out of place. He led the entire AHL in shorthanded goals while reaching his first career All-Star Game in the process.  The rookie potted 23 goals to go along with 26 assists in 60 games, helping Providence have the best record in the Eastern Conference. The young centerman has WHEELS.

The former 2nd round pick hasn’t been shy from showing up in big games. In his OHL Playoff career (aside from his rookie campaign) Studnicka has potted 11 goals and 31 points in 27 games. How’s this for a stat line for an NHL debut? 1 assist, plus-1 rating, 67% on draws in 14:30 of ice time. Not too shabby for someone thrust into a prominent 2nd line role. Adding a guy as dynamic as Studnicka to an already potent 3rd line could be just what the Doctor ordered for the Bruins. 

Zach Senyshyn

( Photo Credit: Paul Chiasson / The Canadian Press via AP )

Has he found the scoring touch he had in Juniors? No. Has he been lighting up the AHL? No. Has he been as good as the other 2015 1st rounders that seem to follow him wherever he goes? No. Buuuuut when he was finally given the chance to impact the big club, he looked like he belonged in the NHL. 

In his short stint with the Bruins earlier this season, the former Greyhound was a part of a dynamic 3rd line with Anders Bjork and Charlie Coyle. Despite the minimal ice-time he got, Senyshyn showed off why he still has the pedigree of a 1st round pick. He and his linemates were buzzing around, creating a high possession, high energy 3rd line the Bruins had hoped to get. The now 23-year-old was enjoying a nice start to his 2019 NHL season with two assists (and if you remember, a goal that probably should’ve counted) in just three games until an unfortunate injury in his fourth game essentially cost him the rest of his season in Boston. 

As for defenders? I’m not sure we see any jump up from the AHL. We already saw Jeremy Lauzon jump into the NHL as smooth as one could, and with Connor Clifton coming back from an injury, I can’t see a guy like Urho Vaakanainen pushing any of them for a spot but with everything that has happened so far in 2020, you never really know.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 182 that we recorded below on 6-7-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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Boston Bruins Prospect Season Review: Trent Frederic

trentfred

(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim A. Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Trent Frederic came into the season with some buzz surrounding him. The 2016 first-round draft pick had just come off of his first professional season in which he netted 14 goals while dishing out 11 assists for 25 total points in 55 games played (stats courtesy of EliteProspects). The young center had also spent some time in Boston that season. He quickly became a fan favorite winning a fight in one of his first games.

There was talk at the beginning of the year that Frederic could potentially grab one of the bottom-six center positions out of training camp. Unfortunately, that wasn’t in the cards this year. The young center would spend all but two games in Providence. It was a less than ideal start to the season for Frederic. He would only register five points, all assists in his first 15 games (stats courtesy of the AHL). Despite the slow start, he would go on to have a fantastic season. In 59 games, he netted eight goals while dishing out 24 assists for 32 total points (stats courtesy of EliteProspects).

This is the type of season you’d like a young player to have in their second year. Assists, shots, and points were all up from his previous season. This shows growth. Frederic was able to round out his game more and find his playmaking ability. Some people may be concerned about the drop in goal production. I am not because his shooting percentage went from 13.7% to 6.1% (stats courtesy of AHL). One area of Frederic’s game that needs serious work is penalty minutes. He went from 67 to 148 (stats courtesy of EliteProspects).

Frederic is a physical player. It’s one of his biggest strengths. His willingness to play physical at any level is going to be a big reason why he sticks in the NHL. One thing the young center will have to manage is knowing when not to cross the line and cause a penalty. Something else that he was able to show off is how defensively responsible he is. Frederic played very well on the penalty kill. You also don’t have to worry bout him in his own zone. It was a very successful second full season for Trent Frederic. It’s one he’ll be able to build upon moving forward.

The biggest question that has yet to be answered regarding Frederic is; what does the future hold? Some people think he’s a potential top-six center. Others think he’s a bottom-six center. When all is said and done, Frederic will likely end up being a middle-six center. The former first-round pick possesses size, strength, skill, and defensive awareness.  He’s able to use his size to shield defenders from the puck and create scoring chances. These attributes are going to allow him to fit in with any team.

The future of the Bruins at the center position looks bright. They have Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic, and of course, Charlie Coyle signed long-term. Frederic will end up having a good career in Boston, and I cannot wait to watch it unfold. I hope everyone is staying safe during this time. Feel free to send me any questions or comments on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 181 that we recorded below on 5-30-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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Could Bruins Prospect Beecher Jump From The NCAA To The CHL?

( Photo Credit: Kevin Light/Getty Images )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Covid-19 virus continues to be a thorn in the side of humanity but also in the sports world that many of us loved following on a daily basis before the pause. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel as numbers are dropping in North America, and some pro leagues such as the National Hockey League are looking to get back to work. The NHL has a 24-Team playoff format laid out to start in the next two months in an effort to return to the ice and award a 2020 Stanley Cup Champion. 

Leagues below the professional level are projected to not start their regular seasons on time because they don’t have the financial gain the best hockey league in the world has. Take, for instance, the scenario in the NCAA and the Canadian Hockey League made up of three different entities. The Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League are rumored to start in late October, but the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League may get started months later even as far as January per source. 

I was listening to the 31 Thoughts Podcast hosted by Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek a few weeks ago, and Mr. Marek brought up an interesting thought in when talking about the NCAA. Jeff pointed out that if the collegiate level of hockey has a late start with the continued virus concerns, some athletes may defect to the CHL for an opportunity to play sooner. Listen to the whole podcast and subscribe, of course, but if you’re looking for a timestamp for the start of the topic, it’s at the 33:30 below.

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Bringing this to a Boston Bruins related article, Marek mentioned 2018 first-round selection John Beecher and his loophole to possibly defect to the CHL. This might be a bit of a stretch after Beecher just finished his freshman year at Michigan with the Wolverines, but it’s a sneakingly good way to keep his development going and on time. I know some are thinking of waiting it out for the NCAA to get back on track and return to a Mel Pearson coached Michigan club.

I’m a huge fan of whatever decision Beecher, his agent, and Bruins organization see fit for his development moving forward, but the OHL might be an enticing landing spot with increased opportunity. Beecher was drafted by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the 2017 OHL Priority Draft but with all intentions of committing to Michigan. The benefitting factor by defecting is the increased games that the OHL plays compared to the mandated 34 in the NCAA. If he decides to cross the border into Canada, and in fact, join the Soo Greyhounds club, his games per season would almost double.

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Another thing that Jeff Marek brought up on the aforementioned 31 Thoughts Hockey Podcast was another highly profiled prospect in the Montreal Canadiens organization could do the same. Under the keen eye of former NHL’er and Head Coach Tony Granato of the Wisconsin Badgers is Cole Caufield, who had a tremendous 19-17-36 season in 36 games. Caufield, as Marek mentions in the podcast, was also selected in the OHL Priority Draft, but unlike Beecher in 2017, Cole was selected the following season (2018) by the same Greyhounds club.

There are so many avenues and logistics that have to be considered here about this topic but can you imagine an OHL Greyhounds team with the additions of Beecher and Caulfield with such mainstays as current Soo roster players who had five 25 goal scorers accompanied by six 50 point go-getters in the 2019-20 regular season campaign that had the Hounds appear in 64 games before the arrival of the Covid-19 virus. The Soo ended last season with a record of 29-31-3-1, and if the worlds line together to see this though, if both want to leave the NCAA, of course, they would be solid additions to a potential 2020-21 Greyhounds roster.

I’m not exactly an expert when it comes to the difference between the CHL and the NCAA, but when it comes to the games played a factor that always wins for me in the speed of development. If the Boston Bruins see a serious fit for Beecher in the next season or two, this aggressive approach might be beneficial to that avenue. Also, keeping in mind that as a 19-year-old, Beecher, even though drafted in the CHL would be eligible for the American Hockey League before the age of 20-year-old. 

Like I have mentioned several times before, this is a stretch, but it’s something to consider when thinking about the player and progression timeline. Most Boston Bruins prospect gurus have Beecher making an impact in the next two or three seasons regardless of this article topic, but a planned full 76 game year with the AHL’s Providence Bruins wouldn’t be out of the question and has to be accounted for.

Take B’s prospect Jack Studnicka who also plays up the middle, had a decent first-year pro season in the AHL, and looks to lock up a roster spot when the 2020-21 campaign officially starts. Patience has been key lately for Bruins management when inserting younger talent into the lineup but has also been smart to re-sign team members to give some of that mentioned youth more time in the minor-pro system.

Wolverines Head Coach Mel Pearson has put Beecher in areas to succeed with his versatility. Not sure if this is the idea from Bruins management passed down to the coaching staff of the NCAA club, but it creates a few options moving forward in the forever battle of planning ahead and prospect NHL timelines. Just think of the possibilities at the center positions in the next few seasons with the additions of Studnicka, Trent Frederic, and now Beecher awaiting in the midst. The Bruins have been unreal at identifying what’s needed at center and seemingly build around them, and there’s no doubt about that when you think of current members like Patrice Bergeron, Charlie Coyle, and David Krejci. 

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 180 that we recorded below on 5-25-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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