Providence Bruins Sign Sheppard To AHL Deal

( Photo Credit: Cliff Mander / Charlotte Checkers / gocheckers.com )

By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Per RinksideRhodeIsland.com writer Mark Divver, the Providence Bruins have signed defenseman Derek Sheppard formerly of the Charlotte Checkers. The top minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins locked up the blueliner to a one-year American Hockey League contract.

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As you can see in Divver’s tweet above, Sheppard certainly doesn’t back away from the opposition and is always there to stick up for a teammate when liberties are taken. The Scarborough, Ontario, Canada native is listed at 6′-0″ and 216-pounds per the EliteProspects.com website and has bounced around the AHL and ECHL in the last two seasons as a professional hockey player. In 71 games played for the ECHL Florida Everblades, he posted 18-33-51 numbers and in the AHL with Charlotte contributed 2-3-5 totals in 36 games for the former minor-pro affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes.

The 26-year-old Sheppard is an AHL Calder Cup Champion with his former Checkers team in 2018-19, and in that same year earned honors being selected to the ECHL All-Rookie Team and ECHL Second All-Star Team selection. It remains to be seen if Derek actually makes the Providence roster in the upcoming 2020-21 AHL regular season, or this could be a one-year insurance signing and place him with the NHL Bruins “AA” minor-pro affiliate in the state of Georgia with the Atlanta Gladiators.

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With defensemen Josiah Didier, Stevan Kampfer (If he survives the waiver process), Urho Vaakanainen, Cooper Zech returning to Providence next season, and if new additions like Brady Lyle, Nick Wolff, and Jack Ahcan, a player like Sheppard seems destined for Atlanta. Also, have to keep in mind Bruins 2015 first-round selection Jakub Zboril and whether or not he’s retained for further service in the B’s organization and where he’ll play. The signing of Sheppard could be as I mentioned above an insurance move in case Kampfer or Zboril are no longer under the umbrella of the Boston NHL team.

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Options For The Bruins If Torey Krug Doesn’t Re-Sign

Torey Krug #47 of the Boston Bruins
(Photo Credit: Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

The Bruins are going to have a biiiiig decision this offseason when dealing with upcoming UFA Torey Krug. Now that there’s a flat cap for the next couple years, Don Sweeney and co will have their work cut out for them. Personally, I think the Bs need to resign Krug, his departure would leave a big hole at the left side and on the powerplay. But what if, for whatever reason, Torey Krug and the Bruins don’t find common ground and he walks? I’ll go through a couple options that the Bruins can do. 

Cap Projections

The Bruins are projected to have a tad under $18 million in cap space. They have options on what kind of contracts to give to guys like Jake Debrusk and Matt Grzelcyk; they may choose to save cap now and sign their younger players to bridge-like deals or choose to give out longer deals. With a Krug contract likely taking up around  $6.5-7 million in cap per season, the Bruins would have around $11 million to work with to sign Zdeno Chara, Matt Grzelcyk, Anders Bjork, Jake Debrusk and Joakim Nordstrom (who is likely gone). It will be a hard task regardless of what Sweeney decides to do. 

Option 1: Fix the problem internally

(Photo Credit: Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

If Krug says goodbye to Boston, there will certainly be a missing presence at defense. But one thing’s for sure, the Bruins have a plethora of guys in Providence and Boston ready to fill the void. One player that would have a far bigger role with Krug’s departure would be Matt Grzelcyk. He would likely take over powerplay duties and with the success he’s had when featured on the 1st PP unit, I don’t think the Bruins will be too upset. 

Chara will likely be around again next year, leaving one more spot on the left side. The contenders for that spot would be: Jakub Zboril, Urho Vaakanainen, John Moore and Jeremy Lauzon, with the latter two able to play the right side as well. Zboril is an interesting case. In most other organizations, he’d likely be an everyday NHLer right now,  but with the Bruins depth at the back end, he’s spent most of his professional career in Providence. He’s eligible to be claimed on waivers starting next year, so it’s a sink or swim situation for the Czechman. 

(Photo Credit: Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports)

Urho Vaakanainen is still just 21-years-old and has loads of potential. He’d certainly be up to the task of becoming an everyday dman but if it doesn’t seem like he’s ready, the Bs can still send him to Providence to eat a ton of icetime up. Jeremy Lauzon has been really good since getting called up to Boston. The big, physical defenseman has played both sides and has been a solid presence to have on the bottom pair. I can’t see him not retaining some sort of role on the blue line next year. And finally John Moore, who has always been a good bottom pairing guy for the Bs. With the low cap, Moore’s days in Boston may be numbered, but if he stays a Bruin, he’ll be a solid, mobile dman for them. 

If the Bruins decide to go in house with their team next year, that would allow them to sign guys like Jake Debrusk and Matt Grzelyck to longer term deals rather than bridge deals. Instead of giving them contracts around 2×4.5 and 2×2.5 respectively, they could look to go for deals around 6×6 and 5×4 to set up the team in a better long term position. 

Option 2: Fix the defense internally, use the money to acquire another forward. 

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Instead of the money being allocated to longer deals for Gryz and Debrusk, the Bruins could use the hypothetical $7 million from Krug and go out and sign a big time forward. There’s a solid crop of UFAs to hit the open market that would look great wearing the spoked-B. I’m not too sure the Bruins have the real estate to pull off a big signing like Taylor Hall, but there are plenty of B+ players the Bruins could go after. 

There are a couple of forwards (who can play both wings) coming out of Florida who would fit very well to the side of David Krejci. Those two names being Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov. Hoffman has spent his entire career in the Atlantic division and hasn’t scored under 22 goals and 56 points since the 2014-15 season (where he had 27 goals and 48 points). He’s a creative player a lot of skill and a great release. With a playmaker like Krejci and speedy winger like Jake Debrusk, it would be hard to think of him not putting up 30 goals and 60 points. 

Dadonov is another skilled winger and is coming off of a big 70 point season. He’s been a great possession player since returning to the NHL, averaging a 52.5 Corsi% in three seasons. Something that may get overlooked are the players Dadonov had success with in Florida. He’s used to a center that likes to slow the game down (Alexsander Barkov) and playing with a similar player in Krejci could prove to be beneficial for both players.

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 28: Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) makes a save on Los Angeles Kings right wing Tyler Toffoli (73) during a game between the Boston Bruins and the Los Angeles Kings on October 28, 2016, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Kings defeated the Bruins 2-1 (OT). (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

And then there’s a player who’s been linked to Boston for years, Tyler Toffoli. He’s always been a player who can play anywhere in the top nine, and always performs in the playoffs. After watching him succeed in Vancouver this year, there’s clearly not an issue of fitting a new system. I’d think Toffoli would be a bit cheaper than the previous two options, and money is everything these days.

Guys like Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula, Alex Galchenyuk and Derick Brassard are some others the Bruins could choose to buy low on. Granlund had many great seasons in Minnesota but hasn’t looked the same in Nashville. Haula erupted in Vegas but hasn’t been quite as good after his gruesome injury last year. Galchenyuk has all the talent in the world and I would be really interested how he’d fare in a system like the Bruins, with leaders like Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron. Brassard could slot in a lot of places and with his playoff track record, could be really solid. To end this off, just take a look at this hypothetical disguuuusting lineup.

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Debrusk – Krejci – Hoffman/Dadonov/Toffoli

Bjork – Coyle – Kase

Ritchie – Kuraly – Wagner

Option 3: Sign a replacement defenseman

(Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

The market for defensemen isn’t flowing with crazy talent, but there are a lot of solid pieces in free agency. If the Bs can’t sign Krug, they likely wouldn’t be able to go after Tyson Barrie either. He’d probably have a cap hit a bit under Krug’s, but with how good the Bruin’s right side is, wouldn’t make much sense regardless of his cap hit. But there are two targets that would likely come in at a decent cap number if they hit the open market.

Those two are a pair of Calgary Flames dmen by the names of Erik Gustafsson and T.J. Brodie.  Gustafsson had an excellent 2018 campaign. He broke out with a 60 point season and actually had more even strength assists than Krug. After a down season this year, it would certainly be more of a gamble but I can’t see his cap hit getting too high. A one-two year deal around $4 million could be a good, prove it contract for both sides. 

T.J. Brodie has had a couple really solid years in a row. He’s averaged over 30 points, a +20 rating and right around a 54.2% Corsi, despite not having a big role in the Flames powerplay. He’s more reliable than Gustafsson and if Grzelcyk or McAvoy can take over powerplay duties from Krug, the Bs would still have a great defensive core. 

Obviously trades can also happen. If the Bruins sign a forward, they could trade one of their middle-six guys, maybe for a defenseman, maybe for a draft pick, who knows. But at the end of the day, Krug or no Krug, the Bruins will still be a competitive team next year. I just hope he’s a part of their success. 

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 185 that we recorded below on 7-12-20! 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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Bruins Depth Players That Deserve Contract Extensions

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney certainly has his hands full when it comes to restricted and unrestricted free agents whenever the “official” National Hockey Leagues offseason happens. Boston’s future sustainability depends on whether or not contracts go well or not with potential re-signings of current NHLer’s like Anders Bjork (RFA Arbitration Eligible), Zdeno Chara (UFA), Jake DeBrusk (RFA), Matt Grzelcyk (RFA), Torey Krug (UFA), Kevan Miller (UFA), and Joakim Nordstrom (UFA).

To me, out of the players mentioned above, the priorities have to come down to Bjork, DeBrusk, Krug, and Grzelcyk to be extended for either short-term bridge or longer-term contracts. Regardless of work that has to be done at the NHL level to stay competitive and compliant with a potential flat salary cap at $81.5 for two to three seasons, it’s not going to be easy. With a rumored $18 million in cap space preparing for the upcoming 2020/21 campaign, I have a feeling the organization, along with some players, might have stalled talks leading up to 11th-hour panic decisions.

Not all offseason negotiations during the upcoming offseason are going to be hair pulling or check your blood pressure stressful moments. For example, take a look at the excellent CapFreindly.com website and scroll down to players coming off entry-level contract deals that could easily accept qualifying offers and one or two-year two-way extensions. Below are my thoughts of what players I’d like to see the Boston organization keep in the fold when it comes to development and having that “break glass” in case of emergency availability close by for another year or two.

Brendan Gaunce

( Photo Credit: Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images )

One of the Providence Bruins bright spots last season and his first with the NHL Bruins organization. Gaunce agreed to a one-year, two-way contract on July 1st, 2019, after spending four seasons in the Vancouver Canucks organization. Brendan was a solid middle-depth signing that brought a lot to the Providence Bruins line when talking about an aggressive style game and offensive capabilities.

Starting the 2019-20 AHL regular season with Providence on the right foot going 3-1-4 in his first five games, he hit a bit of a speed bump to his fast start on the back-to-back weekend trip north of the border. When the Rhode Island club traveled to Laval, Quebec, to play the affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens, Gaunce would suffer a severe head injury. Laval forward, Michael McCarron hit Brendan with a center ice blindsided hit, which led to the then 25-year-old concussed and gruesome facial lacerations.

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Gaunce, who’s an absolute warrior at 6′-2″ and 217-pounds, only needed 22 days to get healthy enough to return to the ice with extra facial protection, of course. Brendan got back in the lineup and immediately produced offensively like the injury never happened. His return to the AHL Bruins lineup, he contributed 1-1-2 numbers in a 4-1 road victory against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and would continue the year as a valued asset to Providence Head Coach Jay Leach up and down the roster.

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As a veteran forward in the developmental ranks, Brendan never went more than four games without a point, and in fact, his offensive production kicked it up a notch in the send half of the 2019-20 campaign. Starting with an assist on February 9th, 2020, in a 2-1 overtime loss to Sound Tigers, Brendan went the next ten games (27 Days) riding a career-high scoring streak where he posted 7-7-14 in that timeframe. With the cancelation of remaining games and Calder Cup Playoffs due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Gaunce finished the 2019-20 regular-season with 18-19-37 numbers in 52 games. Brendan was everything the Bruins expected as a minor-pro system addition and a go-to if an emergency recall was needed. In one game with Boston last season, he contributed an assist in his first NHL game since he was with Vancouver, where he appeared in three in the 2018-19 season.

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If I were the general manager of the NHL Bruins and if Gaunce would accept an extension to stay within the organization, he’d undoubtedly be a low-risk, high-reward signing. Either a one-year deal or a two-year stay, I can see Gaunce coming back and possibly having a better year than the previous shortened season. He has tremendous leadership skills, along with offensive ability. He could definitely be a candidate if retained for the next Providence Bruins captaincy if current team leader Paul Carey departs after next season.

Karson Kuhlman

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

A sneakingly good signing from the skillful eyes of the Boston Bruins scouting staff, Kuhlman’s addition has added a significant amount of speed and talent to the forward depth of this organization. The 5′-11″ 185-pound versatile forward has been a useful plug-and-play no matter where the soon to be 25-year-old has been asked to play. Karson is a tremendously hard worker and never gives up, which is a driving force the B’s should seriously consider bringing back for extended development.

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He might be undersized and young, but he’s displayed a significant number of leadership qualities thus far in his young hockey career. Before coming to the Bruins as a free agent the Minnesota USA, native wore letters in three of his four seasons playing NCAA Division 1 hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He might not light up the AHL or NHL scoreboard with point production consistency, but he adds a decent element of speed when inserted at either level. Most coaches will say that it’s not all about getting marks on the scoresheet on a nightly basis, but did that player do something that most didn’t notice to make an impact during the contest. Kuhlman’s uncanny skillset on the forecheck has been a valued asset no matter what level he’s played in.

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As many NHL Bruins fans have seen at the highest level in the world, Kuhlman has done pretty much everything Boston Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has asked of him. In his limited time with Boston, he’s appeared in 36 games contributing 4-7-11 numbers playing in 11 contests in 2018-19 and another 25 in 2019-20. Karson was never a massive point producer at any level of developmental hockey and in fact, his best pro season with Providence was in the 2018-19 campaign where he notched 12-18-30 totals in 58 games played along with an impressive +23 on the year.

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Kuhlman’s speed and upside are certainly worthy of a contract extension and believe Cassidy has high respect for his work ethic, which might have serious consideration keeping him in the fold. Replacements are going to be needed with future roster departures at the NHL level, so why not take a low-risk contract with Kuhlman? I’d say a $1.5 million two-year, two-way contract extension allows the Bruins accessibility to capture lightning in a bottle and promote quickly if Karson kicks up his offensive production at the AHL level.

Zach Senyshyn

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com / @AHLBruins )

To many Bruins fans, the mention of Boston prospect Zach Senyshyn brings up trying times and a bit of a reach at the NHL Entry Draft table back in the summer of 2015. Regardless of what Zach has done in the B’s organization, he’s consistently being labeled as a “draft bust” and a huge mistake. There’s no doubt, better-talented players, and ones that have risen to the NHL sooner rather than later were passed over in the first round. This certainly wasn’t B’s General Manager Don Sweeney and scouting staff’s most beautiful moment, but what was done is done and have to move on.

I know I’m going to be in the minority here with my opinion, but I believe Senyshyn has provided an excellent service to the Bruins organization. He’s another player that hasn’t exactly blown anyone to the moon with the stats since leaving the 2015 Draft Podium at the, but his work ethic and aggressiveness to be better has been second to none. Providence Head Coach Jay Leach has used Zach up and down the B’s lineup to act like a sponge and learn all aspects of the game. His game with and without the puck attributes has been something both sides have been working on since his arrival to the AHL.

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Before turning pro, he spent three seasons with the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds starting his Canadian Hockey League career as a fourth-liner in his rookie year tallying 26 goals on a deep Soo club, to follow up the next two years with the Greyhounds posting two 40 goal seasons (45 & 42) before turning pro in 2017-18. In his OHL career, all with the Hounds he posted 114-63-177 numbers and so far in his AHL career he’s contributed 33-33-66 numbers in 174 games.

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Senyshyn is currently in the last year of his entry-level contract, and his speed and offensive skillset continue to be a work-in-progress and believe he’ll be re-signed during the offseason. The tricky part of a deal with a player like Zach is if he’s in fact extended, he’ll have to go through the waiver process if he doesn’t make the NHL team out of training camp. I’m not sure how much the Bruins would want to invest when it comes to money and term for a younger player that one might not have a spot at the NHL level, and number two a player who most likely won’t survive the 24-hour waiver process he’d have to go through returning to the AHL.

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If Senyshyn’s re-signed and able to squeak through waivers much like the path that former Bruins prospect Peter Cehlarik did, I can see the Boston organization offering Zach a $1.8 million contract. I believe a two-year, two-way deal will be beneficial and, with the term, can see him securing an NHL roster spot by the end of a two-year extension. His speed and stride is something that you can’t just walk away from. Senyshyn’s ability to create space quickly away from opponents with or without the puck is something I’d certainly like to keep around. He could even be a solid third-line or even second winger in the future if everything works out, of course, but I commend the path that the Bruins have gone with the now 23-year-old 6′-1″ 196-pound forward.

Jakub Zboril

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

Much like Senyshyn above, this wasn’t Boston’s finest hour when they went to the NHL Draft podium three times mid-first round in 2015. Zboril is another player that has absorbed the pro level of hockey with a seeming grain of salt and no rush mentality. Jakub has all the characters of being a lower pairing defenseman right now, but his path to the highest level in the world has taken a lot longer than most want to fathom.

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As a later developing pro, Zboril, by far, had his best season this year before the Covid-19 pandemic halted life as we know it. Call it a contract year scenario, but I noticed something special in the final year of his entry-level contract that brings me to this mention of the B’s bringing him back. More of a stay-at-home defenseman, Zboril does have some offensive capabilities as he ended his third season in Providence, tying an AHL career-high of 19 points he posted for three consecutive years.

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Zboril is a player that is always learning something new no matter what level of developmental hockey. In a defensive-minded Jay Leach system, Jakub can adapt to the three defensive pairings no matter where slotted. His aggressive style and defensive prowess this season has gotten tremendous attention not only from me but other media members in Providence who also spend a great deal in the press box evaluating talent. Jakub isn’t a perfect defensive player and does have moments where I shake my head, but his ability to get back in the play and recover from a mistake is commendable. Accountability is at the highest of his game attributes and is not one to pass the blame when an error in judgment is made on or off the puck.

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If I was to give an extension to Jakub, I’d go another year or two with him with potential departures at the NHL level in the future. Zdeno Chara is always a candidate when talking about a roster spot if and when he retires. John Moore and his roster spot are still up for conversation and which young player can come in and cover for the declining blueliner. Or how about the upcoming Seattle Expansion draft, and if a current Bruins player on defense is appealing to the newest NHL franchise, who’s set to draft an initial lineup next summer? Zboril is a player that can easily slot into an NHL lineup with space availability, of course, and will be a backup plan for the foreseeable future if he’s retained. When it comes to a dollar value, I will look at the $1.5-$2 million range for Jakub’s extended services.

Also, keeping in mind any future negotiations with Zboril will also be heavily considered when thinking about his waiver priority. If retained for further services, he’d need to pass through waivers to be placed in Providence, and with the current situation ahead of him when it comes to NHL contracts, that’ll likely be the destination. Personally, I hope the B’s do whatever it takes to keep him around as an ace in the hole but would also hate to lose him and not seeing his full NHL potential.

Dan Vladar

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Probably the biggest re-signing for the Boston Bruins staff out of any mentioned above when it comes to middle depth sustainability in the crease. With one more year of NHL starter Tuukka Rask remaining in his contract and the recent extension to backup Jaroslav Halak, the NHL level is covered when it comes to netminding duties. This provides an adequate amount of time for further development of 2015 third-round selection Dan Vladar and recently signed to entry-level contract Jeremy Swayman out of his junior year at the University of Maine.

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Vladar, who’s in his last year of his ELC, really took a stranglehold in his development during the 2019-20 regular-season campaign. After a slow start to the soon to be 23-year-old Czech Republic native, he encountered an injury In the seasons first cross border roadie in Laval, Quebec which left him with a high ankle sprain. Dan’s season record began with the 0-1-1 record giving up six goals in three games, so there’s no real-time for an injury to happen, but in the end, it was, in fact, beneficial, to say the least.

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During Vladar’s recovery, which lasted a whole 45 days before he returned from his ankle sprain also was a student of the game during that duration when help from above came down lending professional advice. NHL Bruins Goaltending Coach Bob Essensa and assistant Mike Dunham took advantage of the young goaltenders “downtime” while rehabilitating for countless hours of video sessions breaking down his game while minimizing his crease movements. As a 6′-5″ 185-pound athletic netminder, Essensa and Dunham broke down his game with technology to teach the big Czech netminder a new way of manning the crease and using his size to his benefit.

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When Vladar returned to the ice after his lengthy injury, he absolutely put on a show blanking the 2018-19 Calder Cup Champion Charlotte Checkers 4-0 with 36 saves and first star honors. After Dan’s No-No on December 1st, 2019, at the Bojangles Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, he would go onto post a regular-season record of 14-7-1 with a stingy and league-leading 1.79 goals-against-average and .936 save percentage. He also ended the 2019-20 regular-season campaign with three shutouts.

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Before the coronavirus shut everything down, Vladar was on his way to having his best career year between the pipes. I know it’s a small sample size of his potential, but in my opinion, with the tutelage of Essensa and Dunham and how he came back strong and determined has me believe he will definitely be re-signed. With the stretch of games from the start of December to mid-March, Vladar was clearly the best goaltender in that duration and started turning heads when thinking about future NHL placement. Extending Vladar for two more years not only locks him up for another full AHL season and audition, but it also makes him a serious candidate when considering future options with Halak and Rask and expiring contracts.

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A two-year, two-way contract worth around $2 million is certainly not out of the realm for keeping a netminder like Vladar around. Also, keep in mind that my guess on what Vladar and others mentioned when talking about a contract is the dollar value and what the particular player will earn at the Level if lucky enough to spend time at the highest level in the world. When spending time in the AHL, obviously, that number goes down to a range of $70K to $150K depending on the two-way contract structure, and bonuses entailed.

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!

Bruins Recent History (And Success) With Czech Republic Players

Dallas Stars v Boston Bruins
(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

At this year’s Trade Deadline, the Bruins were pretty active players. They made two deals with the Anaheim Ducks, the most interesting being the acquisition of Ondrej Kase. While Kase is a highly skilled player with blazing speed and age on his side, the most interesting thing to me, is actually his nationality. The winger is of course a native of the Czech Republic, and the Bruins have quite the success rate with players that hail from the Czech Republic. So naturally, I had a little look at the Czech players that have donned the spoked B in the past ten or so years and wrote an article on it. The Bs have some skilled prospects in the system like Jakub Zboril, Jakub Lauko, and Daniel Vladar but due to their minuscule time in the NHL, they will only get this mention. 

David Krejci

David Krejci of the Boston Bruins celebrates after
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

It’s crazy to think that when it’s all said and done, David Krejci will likely go down as one of the top Czech players of all-time. He currently sits at 11th all-time in scoring with 686 points and can realistically get to number three by the end of his career, passing Milan Hejduk with 805 points. I feel Krejci never gets the recognition he truly deserves. He’s been instrumental in each and every deep playoff run by the Bruins. He’s in 11th place when talking about active players in playoff scoring and continues to prove how important he is to the Bruins. 

The slick playmaker has been a Bruin his entire career. After a few seasons where many though the best of Krejci may be behind him, the center had quite a resurgence last season. He put up 20 goals and 53 apples with a successful go of it in the playoffs with 16 points in the Bruins cup run. As underrated as a #2 center can be, it would be weird to think of Krejci sporting any jersey besides the black and gold. He’ll be a Bruin for life.

David Pastrnak

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 06: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins plays against the St. Louis Blues during the first period of Game Five of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 06, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

He’s just so damn good. Just as the aforementioned Krejci, Pasta will also likely go down as one of the greatest Czech players we’ll ever see. He’s second (to a player that will be mentioned shortly) in points-per-game of all Czech players and he’s only going to continue to improve. Since he stepped on the scene, Pastrnak has been a game-changer for the Bruins. After two seasons where he played just about half the schedule and put up a respectable 53 points, Pasta took massive strides. He helped the Bs get back into the playoffs with his 70 point performance and his partnership with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand has developed into the best line in all of hockey. 

This season, Pastrnak was able to capture his first career Rocket, Richard, sharing the honors with Alex Ovechkin. He would’ve almost certainly hit the 50 goal and 100 point marks had the season continued, but his 48 tucks in 70 games aren’t too shabby. Since coming into the league as a teen, Pasta has grown into an incredible player, and most of all, a complete player. I’m sure his linemates in Bergeron and Marchand have contributed to his growth, but there is no question the 24-year-old will continue to have his name among the current greats for years to come.

Jaromir Jagr

(Photo Credit: Michael Ivins/ USA TODAY Sports)

And here’s the top Czech player of all time. There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said about Jagr. Despite going overseas for three seasons (plus a season and a half missed worth of lockouts) the living legend has still managed to sit second all-time in points. A year after returning to the NHL, Jagr made his way to Boston at the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline. The Bs pulled off a deal to acquire the veteran, sending a 2nd rounder (which ended up being Jason Dickinson) and a couple of minor leaguers. 

On a shaky Dallas team, Jagr put up a respectable 14 goals and 26 points in 34 games. At the ripe old age of 40, the forward became a solid veteran presence for a Bruins team looking to capture their 2nd cup in three years. When he got to Boston, it was no surprise that Jagr was able to adapt to the Bruins’ system quickly and put up nine points in the last 11 regular-season games. 

When Jagr and the Bs got into the playoffs, it was a bit of a different story. After failing to get Jarome Iginla at the deadline and “settling” for Jagr, the Bruins were of course still able to go on a hell of a run in the playoffs. It’s not that Jagr was bad, he wasn’t, but it was remarkable how snakebitten he was throughout the playoffs. It felt like he hit a billion posts, and without a goal in 22 games, he still put up 10 assists in the Bs’ run that ultimately ended in the dying moments of Game Six. 

Tomas Kaberle

(Photo Credit: Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

Now here’s a player that was on a Bruins team that went on a run, and DIDN’T lose in the Stanley Cup. Tomas Kaberle was yet another trade deadline acquisition by the Bruins, and man did they give up a haul for him. Going to the Toronto Maple Leafs was Joe Colborne (who at the time was a highly-touted prospect) a 1st round pick (which was used on Rickard Rakell) and a 2nd round pick (which was used to draft Mike Winther). Despite what they gave up, the Bruins went on to win the cup so there’s not much to deliberate on if the trade was a win for the Bruins.

Kaberle didn’t have a massive role in the Bs’ Stanley Cup run, as seen by his 16 minutes of ice time a game, but still remained solid throughout the playoffs. The defenseman played all 25 games and notched 11 assists and a plus-8 rating. And yes, they won the cup nine years ago on this day.

Clearly, the Bruins have had a pretty good track record with Czech players in their team. All four have reached the Stanley Cup and captured the gold twice with Boston and I think we all hope that Ondrej Kase can do the same. The speedy winger had just one assist in his six games with the Bs, but with all the talent he has, I can’t see the youngster’s drought lasting much longer as we enter the playoffs.

I’m not going to lie, I originally had a funny little piece on Andrej Meszaros and his storied Bruins career. But when reviewing the article, I realized he is in fact Slovakian. Nice.

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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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 24 Preview

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(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

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

Week 24 of the AHL season has arrived. The Providence Bruins skate into it 32-18-3-3 (82 points) and 10-0 in their last 10 games. This is good for first in the Atlantic Division and first in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is coming off a stellar week that saw them push their win streak to 12 games. Our boys in black and gold were able to beat Springfield twice before beating Hershey and Hartford. This weekend will have exciting hockey that you do not want to miss.

The weekend kicks off on Saturday, March 14, 2020, when the Providence Bruins invade Charlotte, North Carolina, to take on the Checkers at Bojangles’ Coliseum. The weekend action wraps up on Sunday, March 15, 2020, when the Providence Bruins take on the Charlotte Checkers at The Biscuit in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Saturday, March 14, 2020, and Sunday, March 15, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Charlotte Checkers (AWAY)

The weekend series between the Providence Bruins and Charlotte Checkers will be the fifth and sixth of eight meetings the two teams will have. In the first battle, the Providence Bruins would win 4-1. Brendan Woods (2), Scott Conway, and Robert Lantosi scored goals for the Bruins. Max Lagace was excellent in net stopping 28 of the 29 shots fired his way.

The second matchup saw the Bruins shutout the Checkers 4-0. Brendan Woods, Urho Vaakanainen, Pavel Shen, and Jack Studnicka found the back of the net. Dan Vladar was a wall, stopping all 36 shots he faced. The third game saw the Bruins fall 4-0. Max Lagace would go on top stop 39 of the 42 shots he faced. The most recent matchup wasn’t much better. The Bruins would be beaten 4-1. Robert Lantosi scored the lone goal for Providence.

Last season, the Charlotte Checkers were dominant. They would beat the Bruins in four games in the first round of the playoffs on their way to their first Calder Cup Championship. This season has been a bit of a different story. The Hurricanes’ affiliate skate into the match up 34-22-5 (73 points) and 5-4-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference.

Something that led to their dominant season last year was their defense. Their defense only surrendered 189 goals, while they scored 255. That’s a +66 goal differential. This season has been a little different. The Charlotte club on the year has scored 202 goals while giving up 172. That’s a +30 goal differential. That means they’re scoring 3.31 goals a game while giving up 2.81.

To put those numbers into perspective, the Providence Bruins have played in one more game than Charlotte. They’ve scored 197 goals while giving up 154. That’s a +43 goal differential. This means they’re scoring 3.17 goals a game while giving up only 2.48. The Providence Bruins are 8-7-1 against Charlotte over the past five seasons. This includes 5-3 at the Checkers.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

Hot

Jack Studnicka: Jack Studnicka finds himself in the hot category once again. The young forward is having a stellar season. In 60 games, he’s netted 23 goals while dishing out 26 assists for 49 total points. This includes netting nine goals while dishing out 14 assists for 23 total points over his last 18 games. Studnicka also finds himself registering a point in six of his last seven games. He’s netted three goals and dished out 5 assists for eight total points during that time. Studnicka is also becoming an elite penalty kill weapon. He’s registered seven shorthanded goals on the year. This is the most in the AHL.

Peter Cehlarik: Peter Cehlarik has fallen out of favor with the Boston Bruins in recent years. He’s had a few players jump ahead of him on the depth chart when it comes to callups. Despite this, the veteran forward has played well this season. In 48 games, he’s netted 16 goals while dishing 21 assists for 37 total points. This includes netting three goals and dishing out six assists for nine total points in his last nine games. Cehlarik has been a large part of the Bruins’ win streak.

Not

Robert Lantosi: Robert Lantosi is in his first full season with the Providence Bruins. Overall, it’s been a successful first season. In 50 games, he’s netted 11 goals while dishing out 20 assists for 31 total points. Despite these numbers, he’s only dished out two assists in his last six games. The young forward came to Providence after spending the previous season in his native Slovakia.

Brendan Woods: Brendan Woods came to Providence after spending the last two seasons in the Vancouver Canucks organization. In 49 games this season, he’s netted eight goals while dishing out 12 assists for 20 total points. This includes dishing out two assists in his last 10 games. Despite this, the 20 points did eclipse his total of 17 from last season. Hopefully, the veteran forward’s offense game is back soon.

My Player To Watch This Weekend

Up Front

Jakub Lauko: Jakub Lauko came into this season with a lot of publicity. The young forward came to Providence after having a stellar season in the QMJHL with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. This season was derailed because of injuries before and during the World Junior Championships. In 22 games this season, he’s netted five goals while dishing out four assists for nine total points. He’s played in four games since returning from injury, netting a goal. Look for him this weekend.

On The Blue Line

Jakub Zboril: Jakub Zboril has had an up and down season with Providence. He’s also a player that has caused many different arguments amongst Bruins’ fans. In 58 games this season, he’s netted three goals and dished out 16 assists for 19total points. This includes netting one goal and dishing out four assists for five total points in his last four games. The young defenseman has also been playing better defense recently. Look for him this weekend.

In Net

Dan Vladar: Dan Vladar has had a superb season for the Providence Bruins. On the year, he’s 14-7-1 with a 1.79 GAA and a .936 save percentage. The young netminder has also registered three shutouts on the year. Vladar is also 1-1 with 1.51 GAA and a .956 save percentage against Charlotte this season.

The Providence Bruins are playing excellent hockey right now. Earlier in the year, I hammered home the point that this team was one of the most talented teams in the league. We are seeing that tenfold right now. The Providence club looks primed to make a deep run in the playoffs. I hope you enjoy the games this weekend. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 21 Preview

ProBru8

(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week 21 of the AHL season as arrived. The Providence Bruins are looking to maintain their playoff position as teams make a final push towards the post-season. The Bruins skate into the week 29-18-3-3 (64 points) and 6-2-1-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for third in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is coming off a week that saw them beat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 4-2. They would also beat Laval 3-0 before beating Bridgeport 3-2.

The hockey action starts on Saturday, February 22, 2020, when the Springfield Thunderbirds invade Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Bruins at the Dunk. The action continues on Sunday, February 23, 2020, when the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins come to town to take on the Providence club at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. The action wraps up on Wednesday, February 26, 2020, when the Providence Bruins invade Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania, to take on the Penguins at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

Saturday, February 22, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (HOME)

The Saturday matchup will be the ninth of 14 these two teams will have. In the first meeting, the Bruins would fall 5-2, getting goals from Peter Cehlarik and Anders Bjork. Goalie Dan Vladar was subpar in net stopping 23 of the 28 shots fired his way.

The second game saw the Bruins losing 5-4 in overtime while getting goals from Robert Lantosi, Joona Koppanen, Scott Conway, and Jack Studnicka. Netminder Max Lagace stopped 30 of the 35 shots fired his way. The third meeting saw the Providence club come out on top 5-4 in overtime. They would get goals from Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic, Robert Lantosi, Peter Cehlarik, and Paul Carey (OT). Veteran netminder Max Lagace stopped 24 of the 28 shots he faced.

The fourth battle saw the Bruins come out on top 5-0. Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, Jack Studnicka, Paul Carey, and Oskar Steen had the goals for Providence. Dan Vladar was out of this world in net stopping all 42 shots fired his way. The fifth game saw the Bruins come out on top 4-3. Robert Lantosi, Jack Studnicka, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Pavel Shen were the Bruins goal scorers. Dan Vladar was on his game, making 31 stops out of 34 shots.

The sixth battle would prove to be a good one. The Bruins won 5-2. Trent Frederic, Brendan Gaunce, Ryan Fitzgerald, Anton Blidh, and Karson Kuhlman would score goals. Dan Vladar stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced in net. The seventh matchup would also be a good one.

The Bruins would win 5-3. Brendan Woods (2), Peter Cehlarik, Karson Kuhlman, and Anton Blidh would net goals. Max Lagace would go on to stop 21 of the 24 shots he faced in net. The most recent battle saw the Bruins lose 6-5 in OT. Paul Carey (2), Brendan Gaunce (2), and Peter Cehlarik had goals. Martin Ouellette stopped 24 of the 30 shots he faced.

The Springfield Thunderbirds come into the game 28-23-2 (58 points) and 5-5 in their last 10 games. This is good for fifth in the Atlantic Division and eighth in the Eastern Conference. Despite this, this is still a favorable matchup for the Providence Bruins. Over the past five seasons, the Bruins are 28-15-5 against the Panthers’ affiliate, including 14-8-2 at home.

The Thunderbirds have been winning with excellent defense. They’ve only given up 160 goals in 53 games while scoring 168. This is a plus-eight goal differential. This also means they are only giving up 3.01 goals a game while scoring 3.16. The Springfield club is 7-3 when leading after the first period. They are also 19-2 when leading after two periods. On the flip side, they are 5-10 when trailing after one period. They are also 1-17-1 when trailing after two periods.

To give some perspective to those numbers, The Bruins have given up 138 goals in 53 games while scoring 164. That is a +26 goal differential. That means they are only giving up 2.60 goals a game while scoring 3.09. The Providence club is 17-0 when leading after one period and 24-0 when leading after two. However, they are 3-11-1-1 when trailing after the first period and 1-14-1-2 when trailing after two. These two teams are evenly matched and getting and sustaining an early lead, are imperative to winning.

Sunday, February 23, 2020 (HOME) and Wednesday, February 26, 2020 (AWAY), Providence Bruins vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

The home and home series will be the fourth and fifth of six matchups these two teams will have this season. In the first meeting, the Bruins won 6-0. They got goals from Tommy Marchin (2), Pavel Shen, Robert Lantosi, Jack Studnicka, and Peter Cehlarik. Goalie Max Lagace was superb in net, stopping all 38 shots fired his way. The second game saw the Bruins get shutout 1-0. Dan Vladar stopped 19 of the 20 shots he faced.

The most recent meeting saw the Bruins win 4-2. Josiah Didier, Brendan Gaunce, Joona Koppanen, and Jack Studnicka scored goals for the Providence club. Max Lagace would go on to stop 28 of the 30 shots he faced in net.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins skate into the contest 25-20-3-5 (58 points) and 5-4-0-1 in their last 10 games. This is good for sixth in the Atlantic Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference. The Providence Bruins have had some success against the Pittsburgh affiliate over the past five years, going 14-7-3-3.

This could be an opportunity for the Providence Bruins power-play to gain some momentum. The Penguins have taken 207 penalties in 51 games. That means they are giving up 3.98 penalties a game. They’ve also given up 38 goals out of those 207 penalty kill opportunities. That’s 81.6%, which is good for eighth in the Atlantic Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference. This seems like the perfect storm for the Providence club to gain confidence on the power-play.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is also excellent when they get an early lead and keep it. They are 12-2-1-1 when leading after the first period and 13-0-1-1 when they are leading after the second period. The home and home series should be a close one. These two games are ones the Providence Bruins need to win to maintain their playoff spot.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

Hot

Brendan Gaunce: Brendan Gaunce is in his first season with the Providence Bruins. The veteran forward spent the beginning of his career in the Vancouver Canucks’ system. In 43 games this season, he’s netted 14 goals while dishing out 13 assists for 27 total points. This includes netting three goals and dishing out two assists for five total points in his last six games. He’s also coming off an excellent weekend that saw him net goals in all three games. Let’s hope he keeps it up.

Jack Studnicka: Jack Studnicka is in his first full season with the Providence Bruins. The young forward is having an excellent season. He’s fully solidified himself as the Bruins’ top prospect. In 51 games this season, he’s netted 19 goals and dished out 20 assists for 39 total points. This includes netting five goals and dishing out four assists for nine total points in his last seven games. Studnicka is also coming off an excellent weekend that saw him record a point in all three games.

Not

Robert Lantosi: Robert Lantosi is another guy that is in his first season with the Providence Bruins. The young forward came to Providence after spending last season in Slovakia. In 44 games this season, he’s netted 10 goals while dishing out 18 assists for 28 total points. This includes dishing out three assists for three total points in his last eight games. Despite an overall excellent season, his production has slowed down. Let’s hope he can find his offensive game this weekend.

Paul Carey: Paul Carey is in his first season as the Providence Bruins’ Captain. Overall he’s had an excellent season. In 52 games, he’s netted 18 goals while dishing out 15 assists for 33 total points. This includes netting one goal and dishing out two assists for three total points in his last 10 games. Despite his All-Star season, his production has also slowed down a bit. Let’s hope the former Boston College Eagle can find his offensive game soon.

My Players To Watch This Weekend

Up Front

Trent Frederic: Trent Frederic has had an excellent season for the Providence Bruins. In 50 games, he’s netted seven goals while dishing out 19 assists for 26 total points. The 26 total points are a new career-best for the former University of Wisconsin Badger. The young forward has also played well against the Bruins’ two-weekend opponents. In 10 games against Springfield and Wilkes-Barre Scranton, he’s netted two goals while dishing out eight assists for 10 total points. Look for him this weekend.

On The Blue Line

Jakub Zboril: Jakub Zboril is a guy who has had an up and down season with Providence. In 49 games this season, he’s netted two goals and dished out 10 assists for 12 total points. Despite his offensive numbers not being there, he’s played better this year than last. In nine games against Springfield and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season, he’s netted one goal and dished out three assists for four total points. Look for him to have a big weekend.

In Net

Dan Vladar: Dan Vladar has been excellent this season. The young goalie was injured early in the year but came back strong after. On the year, he’s 8-7-1 with a 1.79 GAA and a save percentage of .936. Vladar has also played well against Springfield this season, going 3-1 with a 2.51 GAA and a .924 save percentage.

The Providence Bruins are sitting firmly in a playoff position. Their games this weekend are against teams below them in the standings. This means they should come away with at the very least four points when all is said and done. This would help cushion their spot in the Atlantic Division. It should be an exciting weekend of hockey that you do not want to miss. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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Bruins Prospect Lauzon Is Making A Case To Stay At The NHL Level

( Photo Credit: Boston Bruins / @NHLBruins / NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Boston Bruins defensive prospect Jeremy Lauzon’s road to the National Hockey League has certainly been fun to watch as a person that tracks developing players selected in the annual league draft at the beginning of every summer. A product of the controversial 2015 Entry Draft that was held at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, Lauzon was selected in the second round (52nd Overall) and with the small sample size at the NHL level thus far, the selection of the Quebec, Canada native is definitely paying dividends and proof that the scouting staff didn’t exactly fumble the whole weekend in Florida that was Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney’s first event as an NHL executive.

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Jeremy and his hockey development really got exposed as so many other young talented men increase their competitive edge and draft expectations in leagues like the nationwide Canadian Hockey League. Playing for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the skilled Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Lauzon caught the eyes of many thirsty scouts that were in the house on a game by game basis watching his strong defensive game and crushing hits either along the boards or opposing players entering the defensive zone. With the QMJHL Huskies, he contributed offensively with career 35-95-130 numbers in 200 games played but has seemingly transitioned his game to a shutdown role in the higher professional hockey leagues.

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Since joining the American Leagues Providence Bruins Lauzon has appeared in 126 career games production 3-24-27 and has been a workhorse getting himself noticed for opportunities like he’s currently having with his recalls to Boston. In my opinion, he boxes out players very well and has the intelligence enough to have defensive responsibilities against bigger forwards trying to create havoc in front of his fellow goaltender. Jeremy is a really good special teams asset as he forces players to make immediate decisions as he minimizes opponents space but also quick enough to get back and help with defensive coverage.

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In 19 career NHL games with Boston, he’s seen 16 appearances in the 2018-19 season contributing a goal to three games thus far in the 2019-20 campaign adding his second NHL tuck. It’s going to be interesting to see what the Bruins are going to do with the young up and comer and forever question of when veteran defenseman Kevan Miller is going to make a return this season or be ready for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. To me, if the Miller option of off the table, I’d like to see Lauzon get more time obviously but would hate to see him being used to go down to Providence just because he’s waiver exempt. The better players should get the time in my opinion, regardless of seniority.

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In the above tweet, co-host of the Big Bad Bruins Podcast Chris Blackey brings up a valid point of Lauzon’s presence when it comes to the B’s organization moving forward. If he’s not being shopped as mentioned above, what if he’s in fact with the higher Boston club to show what he can do while the Bruins look to move a current blueliner with the 2020 NHL trade deadline coming later this month on the 24th. Could John Moore be shopped or a player like Matt Grzelyck be a candidate to be shipped out of town to make room for the young Lauzon who in my opinions certainly deserved more time at the NHL level and adds that element of physicality on the backend that was missed during the 2019 Stanley CVup Playoffs? All remain to be seen of course.

Going back to his time with the Bruins top minor-pro affiliate the Providence Bruins, I like the game time situations Head Coach Jay Leach has put the developing defenseman to grow his game and allow him to dictate his ultimate success. He’s certainly been a rock on the blueline in his time in the AHL particularly this season with fellow players like Jakub Zboril, Urho Vaakanaienen, Alex Petrovic, and recently signed to AHL extension Josiah Didier. Hats off the Providence coaching staff and the support of veterans on the team that has all molded this work in progress into what many folks are seenin for the first time when he makes it to the NHL level.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 163 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 14 Preview

PBruins

(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Week 14 of the AHL season and week one of 2020 are here. The Providence Bruins skate into it 20-12-1-2 (43 points) and 5-5 in their last 10 games. This is good for second in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference. The Providence club is coming off a week that saw them beat the Springfield Thunderbirds 4-3 before falling to the Hartford Wolf Pack 4-1. The Bruins will start off 2020 at home for three games in three days after ending 2019 with a five-game road trip.

The hockey action starts on Friday, January 3, 2020, when the Hartford Wolf Pack invades Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Bruins at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The action continues on Saturday, January 4, 2020, when the defending Calder Cup Champion Charlotte Checkers come to town to take on the Providence club at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The weekend wraps up on Sunday, January 5, 2020, when the Providence Bruins take on the same Charlotte Checkers at the Dunk in Providence, Rhode Island.

Friday, January 3, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (HOME)

The Friday matchup will mark the seventh of 10 meetings the two teams will have this year. In the first meeting, the Bruins would fall 2-1. Providence got their lone goal from Jack Studnicka. Goalie Kyle Keyser was up to the task in net stopping 23 of 25 shots that were fired his way. The second battle saw the Bruins win 4-3 in a shootout. They got goals from Scott Conway, Jack Studnicka, and Robert Lantosi. Max Lagace was able to stop 35 of the 38 shots he faced.

The third game saw the Bruins fall 5-2. They received goals from Ryan Fitzgerald and Jack Studnicka. Netminder Kyle Keyser was able to stop 24 of 28 shots he faced. The fourth battle saw the Providence Bruins fall 4-1. They got their lone goal from Cameron Hughes. Goalie Max Lagace stopped 18 of 22 shots he faced.

The fifth matchup was a bad one, the Bruins would lose 3-0. Goalie Max Lagace was up to the task in net stopping 18 of the 20 shots he faced. The most recent game saw the Providence Bruins lose 4-1. They got their lone goal from Joona Koppanen. Max Lagace had a rough night in net stopping 26 of 30 shots fired his way.

The battle with the Hartford club is going to be challenging. The Rangers’ affiliate comes into the game 19-8-2-5 (45 points), including 6-4 in their last 10 games. This is good for first in the Atlantic Division and first in the Eastern Conference. Even though it’ll be a tough game, there is hope for the Bruins.

Over the past five seasons, our boys in black and gold have gone 22-16-4-2, including 14-6-1-1 at the Dunk. The Wolf Pack has seen success this season thanks to a stifling defense. They’ve given up only 89 goals in 34 games. That means they are only giving up 2.61 goals a game. Providence, on the other hand, has scored 114 goals in 35 games. That’s 3.25 goals a game. It’ll be a great battle between the two teams.

Saturday, January 4, 2020, and Sunday, January 5, 2020, Providence Bruins vs. Charlotte Checkers (HOME)

The weekend series between the Providence Bruins and Charlotte Checkers will be the third and fourth of eight meetings the two teams will have. In the first meeting, the Providence Bruins would win 4-1. They got goals from Brendan Woods (2), Scott Conway, and Robert Lantosi. Max Lagace was excellent in net stopping 28 of the 29 shots fired his way.

The second matchup saw the Bruins shutout the Checkers 4-0. They got goals from Brendan Woods, Urho Vaakanainen, Pavel Shen, and Jack Studnicka. Dan Vladar was a wall, stopping all 36 shots he faced. The Providence Bruins are 8-5-1 against Charlotte over the past five seasons. This includes 3-2-1 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

Last season, the Charlotte Checkers were dominant. They would beat the Bruins in four games in the first round of the playoffs on their way to their first Calder Cup Championship. This season has been a bit of a different story. The Hurricanes’ affiliate skate into the match up 16-13-3 (35 points) and 7-3 in their last 10 games. This is good for sixth in the Atlantic Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference.

Something that led to their dominant season last year was their defense. Their defense only surrendered 189 goals, while they scored 255. That’s a +66 goal differential. This season has been the opposite. The Charlotte club on the year has scored 94 goals while giving up 87. That’s a plus-seven goal differential. This isn’t very good if you want to sustain longterm success.

To put those numbers into perspective, the Providence Bruins have played in three more games than Charlotte. They’ve scored 114 goals while giving up 90. That’s a +24 goal differential. The Providence club has been better this season than Charlotte, and these are two games that they should absolutely win.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

Hot

Joona Koppanen: Joona Koppanen has had a good season for Providence thus far. He started the year spending time in the ECHL with the Atlanta Gladiators. In 25 games since being with Providence, the young forward has netted seven goals and dished out six assists for 13 total points. This includes a two-game point streak that saw him score a goal and dish out an assist. Koppanen joined the Bruins three years ago after spending the beginning of his career in Finland. He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2016 NHL Draft.

Robert Lantosi: Robert Lantosi continues his stellar first season with the Providence Bruins. In 31 games this season, the young forward has netted nine goals and dished out 14 assists for 23 total points. This includes three goals and four assists for seven total points in his last seven games. He came to Providence on an AHL deal after spending the beginning of his career in his home country of Slovakia. If he keeps up this play, we could see him land an NHL deal soon.

Not

Peter Cehlarik: Peter Cehlarik has had a good season overall for Providence. In 27 games, he’s netted nine goals while dishing out 13 assists for 22 total points. Despite this, the veteran forward has not registered a point in his last four games. Even though he is on a mini cold streak, I would expect Cehlarik to break out of the funk soon.

Trent Frederic: Trent Frederic has had an up and down season for Providence. In 32 games, he’s found the back of the net four times and dished out 13 assists for 17 total points. Despite this, he hasn’t registered a point in his last four games. Another thing he needs to reign in a little bit is his penalties. He already has 93 penalty minutes on the year. He had 67 all of last year. Hopefully, the former Universit of Wisconsin Badger can turn it around soon.

My Players To Watch This Weekend

Up Front

Jack Studnicka: Jack Studnicka has had an excellent first season in Providence. In 33 games, he’s netted 14 goals and dished out 12 assists for 26 total points. The young forward has also netted four goals and dished out an assist for five total points over his last seven games. Studnicka’s special teams play has really stood out this year. He’s netted three power-play and five shorthanded goals this year.

On The Blue Line

Jakub Zboril: Jakub Zboril has had a good season for Providence Bruins. In 32 games, he’s netted two goals and dished out eight assists for 10 total points. The young defenseman is going to have to step up the next few games. Vaakanainen missed the last few games with an injury, and Lauzon was called up to Boston. I would expect Zboril to be a focal point for the defense this weekend.

In Net

Max Lagace: Max Lagace has had an excellent first season with the Providence Bruins. The veteran netminder came to Providence after spending the past few seasons in the Vegas system. Lagace is 13-5-2 with a .916 save percentage and a 2.44 GAA. He’s also recorded a league-high five shutouts.

The Providence Bruins are in an excellent position as we head into the new year. They sit firmly in a playoff spot. I would expect the Providence club to sustain and build upon their success from the first half of the year. They’ve traditionally been better in the second half of the year. If they can continue that trend, we are going to be in for a spectacular end to the season. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and new year! Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, BS, GO!

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Bruins Call Up Jeremy Lauzon From AHL, Place Charlie McAvoy On IR

(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)

By: Carrie Young | Follow me on Twitter @carrieyoung512

On Monday morning, the Boston Bruins announced that defenseman Jeremy Lauzon has been recalled from Providence on an emergency basis and Charlie McAvoy was placed on injured reserve.

Lauzon has been developing as a strong defensive defenseman for Providence this season. The 22-year-old leads the team in plus-minus with a plus-16 rating in 35 games. He has also set a personal record in points, recording one goal and nine assists. Lauzon has also shown that he can be an intimidating physical presence and a challenge to play against. At 6’1″ and 205 pounds, he has the tools to keep this up at the NHL level. He has logged 16 games with Boston, all coming during the 2018-19 season, recording one point (a goal against the Vegas Golden Knights), two penalty minutes, and a minus-1 rating.

Lauzon’s call-up gives the Bruins another opportunity to see how well the defensive prospect has been developing and test his NHL readiness. The Quebec native was drafted in the second round of the 2015 NHL draft, 52nd overall. This was the sixth Bruins pick of the draft, with Lauzon being the last of three defensemen taken in the first two rounds by Boston, the other two being Jakub Zboril (13th overall) and Brandon Carlo (37th overall). Lauzon, Zboril, and Urho Vaakanainen are widely considered to be the Bruins’ top defensive prospects and the best options for call-ups when injuries arise. That Lauzon got the call this time is a vote of confidence in his abilities by the Bruins’ coaching staff and front office.

McAvoy Placed on IR

Charlie McAvoy was injured on a hit by Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie on December 23rd. He has not played or practiced with the team since then. It has been officially listed as a lower-body injury, but the Bruins have not given a timeline for his recovery as of yet.

McAvoy has skated in 38 games so far this season, recording 13 assists and a plus-13 rating. The defenseman’s injury comes at an inopportune time as he has been pushing to score his first goal of the season and get the offensive part of his game moving. His move to IR shows that he might be out longer than coach Bruce Cassidy anticipated.

Injuries Piling Up

The addition of Lauzon adds a healthy body to a depleted Bruins blue line. Connor Clifton was injured last night in a matchup with the Buffalo Sabres. There has been no official report as of yet about the nature of his injury, but the Boston Globe’s Matt Porter reported on Twitter during the game that he did not return to the bench after the end of the first period. The Bruins later tweeted that he was officially ruled out of the game with an upper-body injury.

The Bruins face off against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday. Depending on which players return from injury and what the coaching staff decide, Lauzon could be making his 2019-20 debut with Boston.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 160 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Providence Bruins’ Vaakanainen Named AHL Player Of The Week

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By Carrie Young | Follow me on Twitter @carrieyoung512

 

It was announced on Monday morning that Urho Vaakanainen was named as the AHL’s Player of the Week. In two games over the weekend, the defenseman had two goals and three assists and registered a plus-six rating. This was an offensive breakout for Vaakanainen, who had just two points in his first fifteen games with Providence. He recorded two assists in an overtime loss in Springfield on Saturday, then scored his first two goals of the season and added an assist on Sunday in a 6-3 win over the Hershey Bears.

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Vaakanainen was assigned to Providence on Saturday after playing five straight games with Boston, in which he registered zero points and a plus-two rating and averaged just under seventeen minutes per game. He showed no signs of fatigue after over a week of playing and practicing with the NHL squad and finished out the weekend strong, with Sunday’s game being his third in four days. His call-up to Boston seemed to give him a boost in confidence which translated nicely into an all-around effort on both Saturday and Sunday.

 

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Vaakanainen has been lauded as a prized prospect since he was chosen 18th overall by Boston in the 2017 NHL Draft. There has been tight competition within the organization to fill spots on the blue line, with the Bruins prioritizing the acquisition and development of defensemen in recent history. Vaakanainen was picked in the third of four straight years that the Bruins used their first draft selection on a defenseman (the others being Jakub Zboril, Charlie McAvoy, and Axel Andersson).

This is the 20-year-old’s second season in North America, though his first was significantly shortened by a concussion sustained in his second NHL game when the Ottawa Senators’ Mark Borowiecki caught him in the head with an elbow. The injury kept Vaakanainen out of game action for months. He returned in time to help Team Finland to a gold medal victory at the 2019 World Junior Championship in January, then headed back to Providence to finish out the season.

The Bruins are hoping that Vaakanainen continues to find his game in the AHL. After a slow start, he has been steadily improving on both ends of the ice. Sunday’s contest was a perfect example of his two-way potential, as he put in a solid defensive effort as well as registering the second two-goal game of his professional career. He is on pace to beat last year’s point total of 14 (4 goals, 10 assists) in 30 games. His play in Boston has also proved that he can be relied upon as a call-up when injuries arise.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 155 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!!