Boston Bruins: Salary Cap Projections In Three Years

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

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

It has been a successful week for General Manager Don Sweeney and the rest of the Boston Bruins management staff. On Sunday, the Bruins re-signed RFA defenceman Charlie McAvoy to a three-year contract with an annual average salary (AAV) of $4.9 million and also managed to lock up the other RFA defender – Brandon Carlo – to a two-year contract worth $2.85 million per season.

Throughout the league, the Bruins are being praised for their “genius” work to re-sign both of these future franchise defensemen while keeping forward David Backes and not making any other trades to free up cap space and rightly so. I was one of the people who was convinced that Boston would be forced to ship out a body in order to make room for both players. Evidently, Sweeney knew he could sign both without making other adjustments and he proved it.

However, things might not seem so perfect after taking a further glance. In the lead-up to the signings, it was made clear that Charlie McAvoy wanted to stay in Boston for the long-term and it was clear that the organization felt the same way. In that case, many imagined that when the details of the contract would be released, it would lock up the 21-year-old for the next seven or even eight years.

Due to the fact that people assumed the length of McAvoy’s deal, it was expected for Carlo to have a shorter, bridge-type deal because of the lack of cap space available to spend on Carlo. In a perfect world, Boston would have traded David Backes and signed both Carlo and McAvoy to contracts with long terms to solidify the defensive core for years to come.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and in some cases, we have to be thankful and settle for what we do have. As we look ahead for the 2019-2020 NHL season, the Boston Bruins have a true chance to contend again for the Stanley Cup or at the very least, contend in the Eastern Conference. Regardless, it is good to keep an open mind on the future and the next half-decade for Boston could be a stressful one.

2020 Expiring Contracts:

Forwards:

  • F Charlie Coyle (UFA)
  • F Jake DeBrusk (RFA)
  • F Karson Kuhlman (RFA)
  • F Chris Wagner (UFA)
  • F Joakim Nordstrom (UFA)
  • F Brett Ritchie (RFA)
  • F Anders Bjork (RFA)
  • F Zach Senyshyn (RFA)
  • F Ryan Fitzgerald (RFA)
  • F Brendan Gaunce (RFA)
  • F Peter Cehlarik (RFA)

Defensemen:

  • D Torey Krug (UFA)
  • D Kevan Miller (UFA)
  • D Zdeno Chara (UFA)
  • D Matt Grzelcyk (RFA)
  • D Jakub Zboril (RFA)
  • D Wiley Sherman (RFA)
  • D Jeremy Lauzon (RFA)

Goaltenders:

  • G Jaroslav Halak (UFA)
  • G Daniel Vladar (RFA)
  • G Maxime Legacé (UFA)

If you thought that this past off-season was hectic and stressful, just wait for the stress a year from now. The Bruins will have big-name players such as Torey Krug, Jake DeBrusk, Jaroslav Halak, and Charlie Coyle that will have an expiring contract. According to CapFriendly, the Bruins are projected to have $25,158,334 in available cap space for the 2020 offseason, so it is inevitable that players will have to be let go – whether it is in a trade or just leaving on July 1st.

However, there are a few players that I’d imagine are guaranteed to return to Boston – forward Jake DeBrusk, defenceman Matt Grzelcyk, forward Karson Kuhlman, forward Anders Bjork, defenceman Jeremy Lauzon, and forward Zach Senyshyn. The remaining players are up in the air and their performance and/or development in the 2019-20 campaign will prove their worth.

Sticking to NHL roster, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller, Zdeno Chara, Charlie Coyle, and Jaroslav Halak are the biggest pieces that are question marks for me. In regards to the captain, Zdeno Chara, his decision on whether or not he wants to continue playing hockey is still up in the air. When his current deal expires this July, he will be 43 years of age.

Kevan Miller has dealt with numerous injuries and with the rising defensive prospects, I don’t see him returning. Charlie Coyle was great in the playoffs last season, but a full year wearing the Spoked-B sweater will really show what he is worth contract-wise. Jaroslav Halak is a big piece, but same thing with Coyle, this season will show what he can demand in the negotiations. Finally, Torey Krug could be a player for trade bait, but he brings a high-level of play to Boston’s defense and it is likely that he returns.

For Chris Wagner, Joakim Nordstrom, and Brett Ritchie – I personally don’t see them re-signing with the organization mainly due to the plethora of talent in the AHL that Boston can use to fill those bottom-six roles.

2021 Expiring Contracts:

Forwards:

  • F David Krejci (UFA)
  • F David Backes (UFA)
  • F Danton Heinen (RFA)
  • F Sean Kuraly (UFA)
  • F Par Lindholm (UFA)
  • F Trent Frederic (RFA)
  • F Cameron Hughes (RFA)
  • F Anton Blidh (RFA)
  • F Paul Carey (UFA)

Defensemen:

  • D Brandon Carlo (RFA)
  • D Steven Kampfer (UFA)

Goaltenders:

  • G Tuukka Rask (UFA)

After the Bruins make some difficult decisions in the 2020 offseason, the 2021 offseason proves to be one of the biggest in a long time for the organization. Core players such as David Krejci, Brandon Carlo, and superstar goaltender Tuukka Rask have expiring deals. However, the Bruins will be free of $6 million due to David Backes’ contract and the likely departure of Steven Kampfer, Paul Carey, and Par Lindholm.

I’d imagine that Krejci and Rask take a decrease in pay when they negotiate a new deal, as both will be in their mid-30s at the end of the 2020-2021 season, (Krejci – 35, Rask – 34). That saved salary will likely be thrown right back into Brandon Carlo’s deal which will hopefully be a longer contract in comparison to the two-year deal that he recently agreed to.

It’ll also depend largely on the success of the young players like Danton Heinen, Trent Frederic, Anton Blidh, and Cameron Hughes – but I don’t see any of them earning a large deal with only Heinen in my eyes making more than $1.5 million.

2022 Expiring Contracts:

Forwards:

  • F Patrice Bergeron (UFA)
  • F Pavel Shen (RFA)
  • F Oskar Steen (RFA)
  • F Jakub Lauko (RFA)
  • F Jack Studnicka (RFA)

Defensemen:

  • D Charlie McAvoy (RFA)
  • D Urho Vaakanainen (RFA)
  • D Axel Andersson (RFA)

Goaltenders:

  • G Kyle Keyser (RFA)

The list takes a dramatic decrease in the number of players and that is a result of all the short-term deals or the longer deals that are nearing the conclusion. At this point, it is nearly impossible to predict the numbers and the results, especially because of all the restricted free-agents in this class. Everyone but Patrice Bergeron and Charlie McAvoy have something big to prove if they want that NHL contract. I expect everyone to sign in this free-agent class, but who really knows.

Another thing to note is that at this point, previous players on the list could be expiring this year too due to the possibility of one or two-year deals signed as well as free-agents and acquisitions in trades.

Players Extended Past 2022:

Forwards:

  • F Brad Marchand (2025-26)
  • F David Pastrnak (2023-24)

Defensemen:

  • D John Moore (2023-24)
  • D Connor Clifton (2023-24)

With only four players signed past 2022, the Boston Bruins franchise as we know it will be completely different. Retirements, departures and arrivals are going to be surrounding the management team and for Don Sweeney, his job will be the most difficult as it ever has been. These next three years will prove how good of a General Manager he is.

A lot of this will also come down to the players. Now is the time to prove yourself for that contract – big or small. If you want to remain a member of the Boston Bruins and skate on that TD Garden ice with the historic Spoked-B on your chest, this is your moment. No pressure.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 145 that we recorded on 9-15-19 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!

2019-20 Is A Year Of Opportunity For Bruins F Karson Kuhlman

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

The 2019 Boston Bruins Rookie Camp begins on September 5th and a week later on September 12th, the official Bruins Training Camp begins. During these two main events of the offseason, players break-out and impress the likes of Don Sweeney and the other members of Boston’s management staff while others fail to meet the expectations and are cut from the camp or are sent down to the American Hockey League.

Lately, on the Black N’ Gold Hockey website, my fellow teammates have been listing their top-10 prospects within the organization and there are some great names to watch out for in the future. Urho Vaakanainen, Jack Studnicka, Kyle Keyser, Oskar Steen, and John Beecher are in the minds of most Bruins fans while others such as Anders Bjork and Zach Senyshyn are the players just on the cusp of making it, with their fair share of doubters surrounding them. On my own personal list, forward Karson Kuhlman is always on the top, or close to it at the very least.

Karson Kuhlman first caught the eye of the Boston Bruins during his time with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs where he spent four seasons. After only one season with the Bulldogs, Kuhlman was handed the “A”, becoming assistant captain – a position he held for two seasons before being promoted to team captain in the 2017-18 season.

That campaign was a solid one for the Esko, Minnesota, USA native, as the forward scored 13-7-20 numbers in 44 games but it was during the NCAA Championship where he really had a successful run. Kuhlman was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2018 NCAA Tournament following a goal and an assist in the 2-1 win over Notre Dame to win the championship. The now 23-year-old center was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team and also won the NCAA Sportsmanship Award.

On April 10th, 2018, General Manager Don Sweeney announced that the Bruins had signed Kuhlman to a two-year NHL contract and that he would be sent to the Providence Bruins on an Amateur Tryout Agreement, playing only two games, but did record an assist in the process.

In this past 2018-19 season, Kuhlman spent the majority of the hockey year with the P-Bruins, scoring 12 goals, 18 assists for 30 points in 58 games played. At the same time, Karson scored an additional five points in eleven games up in the big leagues, scoring his first career goal in only his second NHL game.

Karson’s speed and dangerous shot earned him some playing time in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, playing in a combined eight games. Kuhlman recorded one assist in five games against the Maple Leafs in the opening round, scored another assist in Game Three against the Columbus Blue Jackets and would not play another postseason game for Boston until Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals against the St. Louis Blues.

The Bruins were down the series three-games-to-two and the play of David Backes on the second line was not up to the standards required so Head Coach Bruce Cassidy went faster and put the youngster in with Krejci and DeBrusk and stepped up to the plate and put up Boston’s third goal of the game with a total of 13:07 of time on the ice. Kuhlman displayed his rocket of a wrist shot and showed his chemistry with Krejci and DeBrusk as the line finished the do-or-die night with three points.

For a brief time, we saw that the trio of DeBrusk-Krejci-Kuhlman has the combination of speed and skill along hockey IQ that can bring some additional scoring to the line. It has been a long time since Krejci has had a legitimate offensive threat on the right-wing, some would argue that he never has had one, but Kuhlman could eventually grow into that player that is so desperately desired with that leadership and veteran experience of Krejci.

Earlier this offseason, I published an article that outlined by ideal opening night lineup for the Boston Bruins and I had Kuhlman in that competitive spot. This allows the Bruins to keep David Pastrnak on the first line in an effort to continue the dominance that was found with his linemates, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. The fourth line can also stay the same, leaving the third line up for debate.

Having Kuhlman’s speed and skill on the second line would leave an opening for a young rookie on the third line alongside Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle. Whoever that ends up being will get the playing time but will not have the large responsibility as they would have in the top-six. Regardless, the upcoming Training Camp will be the time for these players to battle for their spot on the NHL roster. In my books, Kuhlman’s performance in the Finals was enough to earn him a little bit of an advantage over the other candidates listed above.

In addition, Chris Mazza from Dobber Prospects said the following about the center in April 2019 in a post on the site:

“Signed as a college free agent in 2018, Kuhlman enjoyed a successful first year of pro hockey, managing 30 points through 58 games with Providence in addition to five points in 11 NHL games while playing primarily on Boston’s second line. He captained the University of Minnesota-Duluth to the 2017-2018 National Championship, taking home tournament MVP honors in the process. Kuhlman’s offensive upside is limited, however, he has been touted as a strong leader everywhere he has played. He excels in board battles, has a decent shot and is seemingly always in position to make a play. Look for Kuhlman to push for a full-time role with the NHL Bruins next season.” – Chris Mazza

On my official Twitter page, (@tkdmaxbjj ), I posted a poll asking for your thoughts and opinions regarding the thought of throwing Kuhlman on the second line and the results were quite similar to mine. Either way, the efforts and production of the 2018-19 season for Kuhlman have created big opportunities – will he capitalize on them? Only time will tell.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 143 that we recorded on 9-2-19 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 Link To Our YouTube Channel!

Boston Bruins 2019-20 Breakout Candidates

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(Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

Training camp is right around the corner, and the Bruins are almost back. From David Pastrnak to Brandon Carlo, it seems almost every year a player “breaks out” and really exceeds expectations. Here’s six who I think have a good shot and having big years for the black and gold.

Jake Debrusk

In his rookie season, Jake Debrusk tallied 43 points in 70 games, good for 8th in point-per-game out of all rookies. He added to those numbers by notching six goals and eight points in an excellent playoff showing. In just his second NHL season, Debrusk was able to light the lamp 27 times in only 68 games. After two solid seasons mixed with equally solid playoff runs, Jake Debrusk seems poised to take the next step in his NHL career and really have a big year. All of that may depend on who plays to the right of David Krejci. If Debrusk, Krejci and one of David Pastrnak (who would be my choice to play with the two) Charlie Coyle, Danton Heinen or an unmentioned winger can develop some good chemistry, a 30 goal, 60 point campaign is not out of the question. 

(Photo Credit: STEVE BABINEAU/NHLI VIA GETTY IMAGES)

Danton Heinen

It baffles me how many people dislike Danton Heinen. He began his tenure with the Bruins with a great rookie season where he notched 16 goals and 47 points to go with a +10 rating in 77 games (outscoring the aforementioned Jake Debrusk).  The following year did not begin the way Heinen would have liked, in his first 40 games he reached the back of the net just four times and added six assists but the second half of his year was a different story. The 24-year-old was able to score seven goals and 24 points in his final 37 games and was apart of arguably the Bruins best line in the playoffs with Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson. He’s one of the best defensive forwards on the Bruins and constantly does the little things right, and I really think this is the year that things will start to go his way.

Jack Studnicka

Probably the most well-known talent out of all forwards in the Bruins’ farm system, Jack Studnicka has all the tools to become a really good player in the NHL. I praised him in my “Top-10 Bruins Prospects” piece, and after an outstanding year in the OHL and strong play in the World Juniors for Team Canada, Studnicka seems to be a strong contender to make the big club this season.

If he’s able to crack the roster, I’d love to see him (and the two players you will see below) play alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. We’ve seen what that duo has done for players like David Pastrnak, a struggling Danton Heinen and others in the past. If Studnicka is able to make the big club and have a role on the team, a 40 point season is certainly obtainable.

NHL: Preseason-Philadelphia Flyers at Boston Bruins

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

Zach Senyshyn

This coming season will be Senyshyn’s first season with a legitimate chance to make the Bruins roster. The 6’1 winger hasn’t blown anyone away in his two years in Providence, but as a two-time 40 goal scorer in the OHL, the skill is certainly there. We saw a glimpse of what Senyshyn could do at the tail-end of the season, and he didn’t look out of place at all and was able to light the lamp once (albeit an empty netter, but still good to see). Just like Studnicka, a stint on the top line could be huge for Senyshyn, and a big right-shot winger could prove to fit very well.

Anders Bjork

Anders Bjork has had a tough go in his first two years playing pro hockey. After bouncing back and forth between the NHL and AHL, Bjork’s past two years have been unfortunately cut short due to shoulder injuries. If we’re able to see a healthy Anders Bjork in the NHL this year, I expect big things. The former Notre Dame star is arguably the most talented player in the Bruins’ system and has the speed to make it in today’s NHL. While he struggled in the NHL last season, totaling just three points in 20 games, he had quite a bit of success playing with the top line the season before which is where he should be playing if he’s able to edge out the previous two players and make the roster I see big things for this year.

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(Photo Credit: nhl.com)

Matt Grzelcyk

Matt Grzelcyk isn’t on this list because I think he’s going to turn into the next Torey Krug and put up a 60 point season. He’s on this list because this year is the perfect year to give Gryz a bigger role on the team. It seems the big man Zdeno Chara is nearing the very end of his career and we’ve seen that his age is starting to catch up with him. This past season, the Charlestown native developed into the Bruins’ best 5v5 defenseman and really showed he was ready for more than a bottom-pairing role. If coach Bruce Cassidy is able to rotate the duo of Chara and Grzelcyk with Charlie Mcavoy, Gryz should have his best, and most impactful season yet.

 Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 142 that we recorded on 8-25-19 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 Link To Our YouTube Channel! 

B’s Season Can Be Successful Without A Return Trip To Final

 

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Photo Courtesy Of NBC Sports Boston

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Ideally, when you start a season in any sport the goal is to win a championship. That’s what you work for, what you put in so much for and what you hope to be rewarded for. The Boston Bruins are no stranger to knowing what it takes to win a championship and how much sacrifice it takes. Oftentimes in the NHL, one team’s overall success is often defined by the championships they win because of the nature of the postseason and the level of sacrifice it takes. In a city like Boston, championships are expected this day in age and when a team comes so close to winning a title and doesn’t get it done, words like failure get brought up. In this case it’s fair to label losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final at home to be a failure because the Bruins lost to an inferior team and got blown out. As Boston fans, especially recently we expect our teams to win in those situations but sometimes it doesn’t work out and as much as it is hard, it’s what makes sports so captivating. Ideally, the Bruins are out for redemption this season as they look to finish the job, but even without a championship they can still have a successful season.

I’ll reiterate that ideally, the Bruins do want to raise the cup after coming so close about two and a half months ago but a championship doesn’t need to define their success for the upcoming season. Oftentimes we as Boston sports fan focus too much on winning championships that we lose track of a team’s progression. For example, when Bruce Cassidy took over for Claude Julien, the B’s were a team stuck in neutral and looking for a new direction. The Bruins had missed the playoffs for two straight seasons and were dangerously close to becoming a mediocre hockey club. Hiring Cassidy was the perfect medicine as he’s led the team to three consecutive playoff appearances including a Stanley Cup Final appearance. It’s not just the team that’s progressed so well, the front office has had a successful few years including really solid free agent acquisitions such as Riley Nash, Tim Schaller, and Chris Wagner. Don Sweeney has done a fabulous job drafting players like Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy, and Brandon Carlo who are now a big part of the B’s core.

There are certainly ways the B’s can have a successful season including the continued success of the young players and prospects and whether they’ll be a part of the team’s future. It’ll be exciting to keep track of players such as Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic, and Urho Vaakanainen just to name a few. It’s not crazy to think a few of these players play meaningful games for the B’s this season. Another player to be excited about is Charlie Coyle. The Weymouth native was acquired by the Bruins prior to the trade deadline and paid huge dividends with a great playoff performance. Coyle is playing for a new contract perhaps in Boston and could give the front office an option should they decide to move on from a player like David Krejci.

There’s a very good chance the B’s don’t return to the Final this season and personally I believe people need to be ready for that reality. The Bruins got some serious help in the playoffs last season with both Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh being swept in the first round. This isn’t to discredit the B’s at all because making it to the Final is a great accomplishment no matter how you get it done. However, it’s hard to believe the Bruins won’t have to go through at least one of those teams next spring, so the expectation to get back to the Final may need to be tempered a little bit. There’s a reason why teams often don’t repeat as Cup champions or don’t even return to the Final the following season. Only seven teams since 1990 have returned to the Final the following season. Not to say the Bruins can’t do it because looking at their roster there isn’t a ton of changeover from last season but it certainly isn’t easy and history is not necessarily in their favor. 2019-2020 will be an exciting year for the Boston Bruins but they shouldn’t be judged solely on whether they return to the Stanley Cup Final.

Contract Year Could Mean Big Things For Bruins DeBrusk

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Photo Courtesy Of NHL.com

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

It’s been quite a two year ride for Jake DeBrusk. He’s seen a lot, from scoring a goal in his first career game to dominating his first playoff experience to losing on home ice in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. The former first round pick has excelled for the most part since his debut, putting together a rookie season of 16 goals and 27 assists for 43 points. DeBrusk performed above expectations and followed up his impressive regular season with an even better postseason. He posted numbers of six goals and two assists for eight points in just 12 playoff games. The young winger surprised everyone by performing so well, playing with an edge not typically seen in a rookie. His energy and excitement was unmatched in his first season that was full of great moments.

After having such a successful rookie season, the pressure was on DeBrusk to duplicate those numbers or perhaps go beyond that. After performing so well with virtually no expectations, DeBrusk struggled at certain points last year with expectations to improve on his rookie numbers. The crazy thing about it is, this happens in every sport after a player has a strong rookie season. The particular player is expected to perform the same or better despite considering their age and experience. It seemed like these expectations got to DeBrusk and caused him to go through some tough stretches. Ironically, Number 74 finished his second season with just one fewer point than the season before. DeBrusk posted 27 goals and 15 assists for 42 points, drastically improving his goal scoring total. DeBrusk also saw more time on the power play, especially on the top unit with players like Patrice Bergeron and Torey Krug.

DeBrusk then had an up and down postseason that ended with a Game 7 loss in the Stanley Cup Final. It was revealed after the series that the young winger had played through a concussion in the postseason and potentially could’ve been the reason why he didn’t seem to perform at the same level as did the year before. DeBrusk posted four goals and seven assists for 11 points in 24 postseason games which in terms of raw production was better than his first postseason but appearing in so many games perhaps should’ve had him produce more than he did. Obviously though playing through a concussion has serious effects on a player and perhaps DeBrusk was effected in a such way that it changed the way he played. With a player his age, using this past spring as a learning experience certainly would go a long way as he continues to grow as a professional.

DeBrusk will almost certainly come into training camp with something to prove after perhaps a less than stellar postseason. The good news is his place in the lineup likely won’t change barring something unforeseen such as an injury. DeBrusk will almost certainly start the season on David Krejci’s left wing and should continue to see time on that first power play unit. DeBrusk is certainly going to get a ton of scoring chances and it’s not unreasonable to think he could reach 30 goals. With this season being a contract year, expect DeBrusk to play with that energy we all saw in his first year. It’s been a bumpy ride for DeBrusk in his first two seasons but expect his best season yet in 2019-2020.

Khokhlachev And His Bruins Comeback

( Photo Credit: Richard Wolowicz )

By: Michael Robert   Follow me on Twitter: @b_blackandgold

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Koko highlights to enjoy.

Bruins’ DeBrusk At Crossroads After Difficult Postseason

NHL: Florida Panthers at Boston Bruins

(Photo credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)

By Carrie Salls | Follow me on Twitter @nittgrl73

There is no doubt that Jake DeBrusk is a Boston fan favorite, known just as much for his infectious off-ice personality as his puck-handling skills and scoring touch on the ice. Still, it was hard to ignore the fact that DeBrusk was a proverbial ghost in the last three rounds of the team’s 2019 playoff run.

Two issues arose in the first round of the playoffs that may well have contributed to DeBrusk’s noticeable decline in production, and both stemmed from the same incident. DeBrusk was the victim of a Nazem Kadri hit that shook the 22-year-old Bruins right wing and resulted in Kadri being suspended for the remainder of the Toronto/Boston series.

Although DeBrusk would return to game action in the series against the Maple Leafs, he later revealed that he had battled throughout the ensuing three rounds of the playoffs with concussion symptoms stemming from the Kadri hit. DeBrusk also said he was forced to delete the social media apps from his phone because he and his family were receiving death threats from Toronto fans who felt DeBrusk was not properly penalized for his role in the Kadri incident.

Even though it seems extenuating circumstances were at play, the fact remains that DeBrusk was quiet for the remainder of the postseason, contributing to the mediocre play of a much-maligned second line. Now, DeBrusk is heading into the final year of his contract, he will be a restricted free agent after the 2019-2020 season and needs to produce to maintain his spot on the second line and to convince the Bruins that he is worth a longer-term deal.

DeBrusk had a solid 2018-2019 regular season, scoring 27 goals in 68 games played. If he can continue to score goals at that pace, and it is quite possible that he would have potted 30 goals this past season if he had not missed 14 games, Bruins management should be happy enough with his output to offer him a new deal when his contract runs out next year.

That being said, DeBrusk contributed 42 points in the 2018-2019 regular season, one fewer than during the 2017-2018 campaign, which he finished with 16 goals and 27 assists. Although DeBrusk’s goal total increased from season to season, he had just 15 assists this past year, a decline of 12 from his rookie-year assist total.

Perhaps the decline in assists can be partially attributed to the fact that DeBrusk played on a line with veteran center David Krejci, who plays a pass-first game, and a revolving door of right wings. DeBrusk himself spent some time in the 2RW slot, although he struggled to produce playing his off wing.

It stands to reason that team president Cam Neely, general manager Don Sweeney and head coach Bruce Cassidy are going to expect DeBrusk’s, or any young player’s, overall production to increase each year. In DeBrusk’s case, that did not really happen in the 2018-2019 season.

It’s quite possible that injuries, line changes, and the off-ice issues experienced during the Toronto series all combined to make this past season an exception to the norm for Jake DeBrusk. However, if he does not return to form in the upcoming season, the team will have a difficult decision to make regarding his future in Boston.

Less Is More For The Bruins In Free Agency

CMAC

Photo Courtesy of Bob DeChiara – USA TODAY Sports

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Many Bruins fans, as soon as the final horn sounded ending the 2018-19 Stanley Cup Final and the Boston Bruins and fans alike watched the St. Louis Blues celebrate on TD Garden ice turned to free agency to see how this team could be improved. There are many talented players hitting the market this year, and the Bruins have around 14 million dollars in cap space. Now, I know a lot of you are thinking that with that kind of money our favorite team in black and gold could get an elite player or two and this team who was one game away from being Stanley Cup Champions, would be in a great position to get back there. Now, I don’t mean to burst your bubble but the Bs should not, and probably will not be very active in free agency.

The first reaction some of you may have had seeing that news may be a bit on the reactionary side, but I’ll explain why you should temper free agent expectations. The major reason is the amount of restricted free agents the Bruins have both this year and next year that they will likely keep. Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Danton Heinen are all restricted free agents this offseason and all three need to be re-signed. Brandon Carlo had an excellent season and played in his first playoffs ever despite this being his third year in Boston. The young defenseman played extremely well during the run to the Stanley Cup Final. A longterm four or five-year deal will probably be reached, and it’ll likely be for over four million dollars a year.

Danton Heinen is a player who some fans have soured on a bit because his offensive numbers were down from last season. While this may be a cause for concern, something that some people fail to realize is Heinen is one of the Bruins best defensive and possession forwards, which is hard to see on a scoresheet. At any rate, the down offensive season may actually end up working in the Bruins favor because in contract negotiations he probably will not be able to command as much money as he would have. I definitely see the Bruins and Heinen working out a four-year deal worth anywhere from two to three million dollars a year.

That leaves our final restricted free agent Charlie McAvoy. This one is a little bit trickier because McAvoy definitely deserves a big payday, and the Bruins want him to be a cornerstone of the team and defense for many years to come. However, giving him that huge contract he deserves may not be in the best interest for the Bruins right away. Next season, the Bruins have Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, Connor Clifton, and Karson Kuhlman who are also RFAs. All four of those players are ones you’d probably like to keep. On top of that, Torey Krug is going to be a UFA, and that is someone the Bruins may also try to keep. They need as much cap space as possible.

What the Bruins will probably try and do is sign McAvoy to a smaller “bridge” contract with the promise of a big payday after that. A major reason why this would work out in the B’s favor is after the 2020-2021 season the Bruins have David Krejci, Tuukka Rask, and David Backes all coming off the books. That will give the Bruins a little more than 20 million dollars to spend. If you give McAvoy a two-year “bridge” contract, you could line up his payday perfectly with that money coming off the books. The young Bruins defenseman seems to like Boston and wants to stay long term so I can see a “bridge” deal being agreed upon and then the big payday coming in a couple of years.

Ultimately, these are my thoughts as to why we shouldn’t expect the Boston Bruins to be too active in free agency. I think they have internal options to fill needs at the second-line right wing and I’d like them to keep their own guys. Despite losing in game seven of the Stanley Cup Final, the future is bright for the boys in black and gold. I think if they stay the course, and keep their own guys, the team will be in great shape going into next season. My biggest advice to Don Sweeney is no reactionary moves to the Stanley Cup Final loss. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. I hope everyone has a fantastic offseason and enjoys the draft. As always GO, Bs, GO!

Check out this week’s Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 132 below!!

Everything You Need To Know About The Boston Bruins Break Up Day

Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33), of Slovakia, lies on the ice after getting hit in the face with the puck during the second period of Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues Monday, June 3, 2019, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

( Photo Credit: Jeff Roberson/Associated Press )

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

Break up day happens every single year, but this one obviously hurt more than the rest. You could tell that every guy in the room went through a ton throughout the entire year, here’s what we’ve learned so far.

Zdeno Chara

This news doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but Chara confirmed that he had multiple fractures to his jaw, and his expected recovery is 5-6 weeks.

Kevan Miller

It seems like we’ve been waiting forever to hear some sort of update on Miller’s injury, but it’s been confirmed that he broke his kneecap vertically in a regular season game against the Wild in April. He was reportedly close to returning in the Carolina Hurricanes series, but re-fractured it while rehabbing, capping off an absolutely brutal year for the defenseman.

Dec 15, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins center David Krejci (46) takes a knee on the ice during the second period against the Anaheim Ducks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

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

David Krejci

No injury news or anything like that, but it’s worth noting that in an interview Krejci said that he hoped that there weren’t going to be many changes to the roster this offseason, “we are very tight, very close.”

Jake Debrusk

He didn’t say much about the topic, but it was clear that when Nazem Kadri cheap-shot Debrusk, it (likely a concussion) had lasting effects on him throughout the playoffs.

Brad Marchand

It was pretty obvious that something was up with Marchand in the playoffs, he revealed that he was dealing with a sprained hand (that he re-aggravated during their scrimmage), a strained groin and abdominal injuries.

( Photo Credit: Steve Babineau/Getty Images )

Patrice Bergeron

Bergeron dealt with a groin injury throughout the playoffs but won’t need surgery.

David Pastrnak

Pasta said that he re-aggravated his thumb during the Columbus series.

John Moore

This one surprised me a bit. Moore was hit from behind during a game in Tampa, and it blew out his shoulder and broke his humerus and could be out for four to six months. “I could barely hold a stick with two hands.”

Charlie Mcavoy

Finally, some good news, when asked about his future with the team he said, “I don’t want to go anywhere. This is the best place on Earth. This has become home for me. I want to be here forever.” Hopefully, this bodes well in contract negotiations.

Boston Bruins’ Marcus Johansson was hospitalized after an enormous hit by the Hurricanes’ Micheal Ferland sent him flying to the ice during Tuesday’s game.Â

( Photo Credit: Getty Images )

Marcus Johansson

Some more good news. Johansson continued to say that he loved his time in Boston and is very eager to hear what the Bruins have to offer, “hopefully they can work something out.”

Noel Acciari

The 4th liner played with a fractured sternum and also injured his foot while blocking a shot in game seven against St. Louis that will need to be evaluated.

Steven Kampfer

The upcoming UFA noted that he wants to stay but realizes that the defense is “a bit of a logjam.”

David Backes

Backes was very vague when talking to the media and knows that there is a lot of uncertainty about his future, but reiterated that he wanted to stay in Boston.

Torey Krug

One of the biggest question marks of this offseason is “definitely very aware of the situations and scenarios that can play out” but also “wants to be here forever.”

How the Boston Bruins Constructed their Stanley Cup Roster

Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Jake Debrusk puts on a team jersey after being selected as the number fourteen overall pick to the Boston Bruins in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

(Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

There’s no denying that this Bruins Stanley Cup roster is incredible, but how did they all get to the Bruins? Let’s take a look at their journeys to Boston.

Brad Marchand

Drafted by the Bruins in the 3rd round, 71st overall in the 2006 NHL Draft. The Bruins actually acquired this pick from the New York Islanders during the draft for their 4th and 5th round picks (who amounted to a whole lot of nothing).

Patrice Bergeron

Drafted by the Bruins in the 2nd round, 45th overall in the 2003 NHL Draft.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 27: David Pastrnak is selected twenty-fifth by the Boston Bruins in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 27, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

David Pastrnak

Drafted by the Bruins in the 1st round, 25th overall in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Jake DeBrusk

Drafted by the Bruins in the 1st round, 14th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft.

David Krejci

Drafted by the Bruins in the 2nd round, 63rd overall in the 2004 NHL Draft. Krejci was actually another player the Bruins traded up to the draft. They acquired this pick during the draft for a 3rd, 4th, and 9th round pick.

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(Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports Images)

David Backes

Originally drafted by the St. Louis Blues 62nd overall in the 2003, Backes left the Blues and signed with Boston July 1st, 2016, signing a five year, $30 million deal.

Marcus Johansson

Originally drafted by the Washington Capitals 24th overall in 2009, Johansson was traded to the New Jersey Devils in the 2017 offseason for a 2nd and a 3rd round pick. He was then traded to the Bruins at this trade deadline in exchange for a 2nd and a 4th round pick.

Charlie Coyle

Drafted by the San Jose Sharks 28th overall in 2010. He was a key piece in bringing Brent Burns to San Jose, getting dealt to the Minnesota Wild with a 1st and Devon Setoguchi for Burns and a 2nd rounder. Right around the trade deadline this year he was dealt to the Bruins for Ryan Donato and a conditional 4th rounder.

Danton Heinen

Drafted by the Bruins in the 4th round, 116th overall in the 2014 NHL Draft.

(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Joakim Nordstrom

Drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 3rd round, 90th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft. He was later traded to the Carolina Hurricanes before the 2015 season with Kris Versteeg and a 3rd rounder for a couple prospects and a 5th round pick. In 2018 he signed a two year, $2 million deal with the Bruins.

Sean Kuraly

Drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the 5th round, 133rd overall in the 2011 NHL Draft. He was traded to the Bruins before the 2016 season

Noel Acciari

Acciari was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Providence College in 2015.

Chris Wagner

Drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the 5th round, 122nd overall in the 2010 NHL Draft. After a small trade to Toronto and a couple of waiver claims later, Wagner ended up back on the Ducks. At the trade deadline last year he was dealt to the New York Islanders for Jason Chimera and after the season, he made his way to Boston, signing a two year, $2.5 million contract.

Karson Kuhlman

After four seasons at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Kuhlman signed with the Bruins in 2018 as an undrafted free agent.

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(USA TODAY Sports Images)

Zdeno Chara

Originally drafted by the New York Islanders in the 3rd round, 56th overall in the 1995 NHL Draft. He was traded with Bill Muckalt and the 1st round pick that became Jason Spezza for Alexei Yashin. As a UFA in 2006, he signed with the Boston Bruins and has been with them ever since.

Charlie McAvoy

Drafted by the Bruins 14th overall in 2016 NHL Draft.

Torey Krug

Another undrafted free agent signed by the Bruins in 2012 after three years at Michigan State.

(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Brandon Carlo

Drafted by the Bruins in the 2nd round, 37th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Matt Grzelcyk

Drafted by the Bruins in the 3rd round, 85th overall in the 2012 NHL Draft

Connor Clifton

Originally drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in the 5th round, 133rd overall in the 2013 NHL Draft, Clifton never signed a deal with the Coyotes and elected to sign with the Bruins in 2018.

(James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports)

John Moore

Originally a 21st overall pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2009 NHL Draft. He was involved in a big trade when he went to the New York Rangers with Derick Brassard, Dereck Dorsett and a 6th rounder for Marian Gaborik. He was later dealt to the Arizona Coyotes with Anthony Duclair, a 1st and 2nd rounder for Keith Yandle and was signed by the New Jersey Devils in 2015. He finally made his way to Boston in 2015, signing a 5 year, $13.75 million contract.

Steven Kampfer

Kampfer was actually drafted in the 4th round, 93rd overall in 2007 by the Anaheim Ducks and ended up being basically gifted to the Bruins in a trade in 2010 for future considerations. After a couple years (and a Stanley Cup win) Kampfer was traded to the Minnesota Wild for Greg Zanon in 2012, and was signed by the New York Rangers in 2014. He was traded again later that year to the Florida Panthers for Joey Crabb and in 2016, was traded back to the Rangers for Dylan McIlrath. Kampfer was brought back to Boston before this season with a 4th and a 7th round pick for Adam Mcquiad.

(Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Tuukka Rask

We all know the story here. Originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs 21st overall in 2005, Rask was traded to Boston before playing a game with Toronto for Andrew Raycroft.

Jaroslav Halak

First drafted in 2003  in the 9th round, Halak spent a lot of time with Montreal until he was traded in 2010 to the St. Louis Blues for Ian Schultz and Lars Eller. He was then traded three times in 2014, the first being to the Buffalo Sabres along with William Carrier, Chris Stewart, a 1st and 3rd round pick for Steve Ott and Ryan Miller. Halak was then flipped to the Washington Capitals with a 3rd round pick for Michal Neauvirth and Rostislav Klesla. Finally, his FA rights were traded to the New York Islanders for a 4th round pick before free agency began. In 2018 he signed a two year, $5.5 million deal with the Bruins.

In all, this Bruins team is made up of 37% (nine) drafted players, 21% (five) acquired through trade, and 42% (10) free agency signings, although it is worth noting that four of the ten free agency signings were college free agents.