Providence Bruins Announce Winners Of Team Awards

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

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

Rookie of the Year Award – Jack Studnicka

(Photo Credit: Boston Globe | Bostonglobe.com)

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

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

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Fan Favorite Award – Dan Vladar

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

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

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

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Three Stars Award – Brendan Gaunce

(Photo Credit: Causeway Crowd | causewaycrowd.com)

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

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

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Leading Scorer Award – Jack Studnicka

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

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

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

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Plus/Minus Award – Josiah Didier

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

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

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

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Hendricks Memorial Fan Appreciation Award – Paul Carey

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

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

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

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Best Defenseman Award- Josiah Didier

(Photo Credit: Providence Bruins | providencebruins.com)

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

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

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Team MVP Award – Jack Studnicka

(Photo Credit: Boston Globe | bostonglobe.com)

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

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

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Bruins’ Top 5 Underrated Draft Picks Of The Decade

(Photo Credit: The Boston Globe | bostonglobe.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

Every year, one of the most significant events in the National Hockey League occurs; the Entry Level Draft. Draft picks play an incredibly important role in a General Manager’s Strategy to improve his hockey team. Some picks carry high expectations from the start, and others become well over-looked. The Boston Bruins are well known for having three straight 1st round draft picks in 2015 and only one so far being a full-time NHLer. But, they have had other selections even in later rounds that ended up becoming a hidden gem for the organization that nobody would’ve predicted right away, or at all.

Many of these young talents boast so much potential, and others fly right under the radar of discussion. Today, I will be diving deep in the debate on who I believe are the most underrated draft picks for the Bruins this past decade (2010-2019). Please note, these are in no particular order.

Jakub Lauko (F) 3rd Round, 77th Overall Pick – 2018 Draft

(Photo Credit: The Boston Globe | bostonglobe.com)

Jakub Lauko is a versatile forward that brings a lot of energy and momentum to his game. After being drafted, he reported to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and played for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL) as an 18-year-old forward. The 6’0, 195-pound forward suited up for 44 games and posted 21-20-41 numbers with a whopping +34 rating from 2018-2019.

Lauko played a significant role for the Huskies (QMJHL) during their playoff run, contributing 6-7-13 numbers with a +10 rating in 19 games played, helping the team to win the President’s Cup in 2019. The Huskies went on to compete for the Canadian Hockey League’s championship, the Memorial Cup. They ended up winning the championship with Lauko taking home the CHL Ed Chynoweth Award for most points in the memorial cup (2-6-8 numbers in five games). With such an impressive rookie season, the Bruins decided to call him up to the Providence Bruins for further player development.

Most Bruins fans really caught a glimpse of Lauko’s work ethic and scoring potential during the 2019 NHL pre-season when he scored a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers. Since then, the forward has spent little time with Providence for the 2019-2020 season due to suffering back to back concussion and knee injuries. Lauko had battled back and returned with Providence for some games before the unprecedented pandemic ended the American Hockey League (AHL) season. He finished his first AHL season with 5-4-9 numbers with a +3 rating in 22 games played.

I believe Lauko has a massive up-side to his potential; he has an incredible work ethic, scoring ability, and isn’t afraid to be a physical player either. In a few years, Lauko could develop to be a very reliable mid-six forward for the Bruins in the near future.

Jeremy Swayman (G) 4th Round, 111th Overall Pick – 2017 Draft

(Photo Credit: News Break | newsbreak.com)

Swayman was a 4th round gem for the Bruins and could be a starter/backup for the Bruins in the next season or two. The 6’3, 185-pound goaltender has spent the past few seasons with the University of Maine and has found tremendous success. Swayman was named to the NCAA (East) All-Rookie Team in 2017-2018 after finishing the season with 2.72 GAA and a .921% save percentage.

This past season, Swayman had his most stellar year yet, playing 34 games and contributing a 2.07 GAA and a whopping .939% save percentage, ultimately winning the Hobey Baker Award (player of the year). He also won the 2020 Walter Brown Award as a top American-Collegiate college hockey player in New England, NCAA Goaltender of the Year, NCAA Top Collegiate Goalie (Mike Ritcher Award), NCAA (Hockey East) Player of the Year, and NCAA (New England) Most Valuable Player. With Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak entering the final year of their contracts, Swayman could be looking to make a significant impact within the organization sooner rather than later.

Swayman decided to forgo his senior year at Maine and signed his entry-level contract with the Bruins. Maxime Legace and Daniel Vladar both have expiring deals, so I imagine Swayman will be playing with whomever Don Sweeney ends up re-signing in Providence. The quiet 4th round selection might end up being part of the long-term solution for the Bruins’ future goaltending.

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Anders Bjork (F) 5th Round, 146th Overall Pick – 2014 Draft

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

Bjork is a speedy and creative player that has the potential to be a mid-six forward for the Bruins, in my opinion. After being drafted, Bjork committed to the University of Notre Dame and played from 2014-2017 but surrendered his senior year to ink his entry-level deal with the Bruins. Bjork had his most impressive campaign during his last year with Notre Dame, contributing 21-31-52 numbers with a +17 rating in 39 games played. Since then, Bjork was one of the Bruins’ most promising rookies but became plagued with season-ending injuries from 2017-2019, limiting his ice-time with Providence and Boston.

Bjork was finally able to showcase his talent at the NHL level this season, to manage a full-time position in line-up throughout most of the 2019-2020 season, suiting up for 58 games and posting 9-19-19 numbers with a +5 rating. He began to become a healthy scratch for stretches near the end of the season due to inconsistencies, but the left-winger has shown to be a difference-maker at the NHL level.

I hope that the Bruins can come to terms with Bjork this upcoming off-season, and they choose to protect him during the 2021-2022 expansion draft as well. For a 5th round selection, Bjork was an absolute steal for the Bruins.

Trent Frederic (F) 1st Round, 29th Overall Pick – 2016 Draft

(Photo credit: ESPN | espn.com)

Even though Frederic is a 1st round selection, I believe he is an underrated pick that deserves a lot more credit, especially after a strong 2019-2020 campaign with the Providence Bruins. Frederic is a diverse player and can spark his team in a lot of different ways. The 6’2, 203-pound forward, provides a lot of physicality to the line-up and led the AHL in penalty minutes (148) during the 2019-2020 campaign. Although many Bruins fans know Fredric for his rookie game with the Bruins that involved a fight with Winnipeg Jets’ Brandon Tanev, he has the potential to be a strong two-way player through development with Providence.

Before the AHL season ended due to the unprecedented pandemic, Frederic suited up for 59 games and contributed 8-24-32 numbers with a +10 rating. Although the forward has been placed on the wing with the Bruins more often than as a center, either position he can play well as long as he is not shy, isn’t afraid to be physical and uses his large frame to his advantage.

Even though Frederic has played a total of 17 games at the NHL level without yet producing a point, he has improved substantially and could be looking to crack the bottom-six line-up for the Bruins in the next season or two. Frederic has one year remaining on his Entry-Level Contract and will use this upcoming season to prove himself worthy of this thriving organization.

Matthew Grzelcyk (D) 3rd Round, 85th Overall – 2012 Draft

(Photo credit: Bleacher Report | bleacherreport.com)

Although this underrated category is in no particular order, I can safely say that Matthew Grzelyck turned out to be one of the Bruins’ most underrated draft picks of this decade, in my opinion. Not only has Grzelyck cracked the line-up the past few seasons as a full-time NHLer, but the undersized defenseman proved much of the hockey world wrong.

After being drafted, the 5’9, 175-pound defender committed to Boston University and played from 2013-2016, appearing in a total of 87 games and contributing 23-67-89 numbers with an astounding +61 rating. He also scored the game-winning goal for Boston University to win the Beanpot Championship in 2015.

Bruins’ fans can be relentless in their opinions about Grzelcyk because of his physical stature and the fact that he doesn’t hit everything on site. Still, fans undermine his puck-moving and scoring abilities. If Krug chose not to re-sign with the Bruins this off-season, then Grzelyck would be one of the best options for the central power-play unit unless Bruce Cassidy decides to use five forwards. His skating ability also does not grow on trees by any means. When watching him play, he becomes elusive around other forwards pressuring him. He’s able to get out of tight space situations and break out the defensive zone without giving up the puck.

In the past three seasons, Grzelyck has appeared in 195 games and posted 10-44-54 numbers with a +45 rating while managing an average of 18:07 on-ice time. During the 2019 playoffs, Grzelyck produced four goals, eight points, and 17 blocks in 20 games. The defender is continually improving year after year, and with his contract expiring at the end of this season, the Bruins should focus on re-signing him.

Unfortunately, if Grzelyck were to re-sign for at least two more years, he would most likely become exposed during the 2021-2022 expansion draft. Grzelyck holds more value than most people perceive, and I believe he can become a franchise defenseman for the Bruins if he keeps up his production.

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: Tuukka Rask’s Case For The Vezina

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

By James Slater | Follow Me On Twitter @WhatsJamesBruin

With the 2020 NHL regular season in the books, and everyone gearing up for the hopeful return of playoff hockey, it is time to take a look at some of the “individual” awards Bruins players will be up for. The center of today’s topic? The Vezina and why it should once again belong to Tuukka Rask.

Having previously won the Vezina back in the 2013-2014 season, the Finnish netminder has proven once again why he’s a top “tendy” in the league and has put himself in another position to potentially take home some hardware. This year the Bruins’ top goalie was on fire at virtually every moment of the season. Giving Rask haters all but no room for criticism. 

But before we can dive too far into Rask’s fabulous season (and it was just that) there may be some questions that need answering. Like “what is the Vezina trophy?” Or “Didn’t Rask already win an award?” First, yes, Rask and Halak won the Jennings trophy for the 2019-2020 season. The Jennings trophy is not a voted on the award and instead is awarded to the NHL goalie tandem that allowed the fewest goals all season. 

The Vezina, on the other hand, is awarded annually to the goalie who is considered the best at the position. This is determined by the 31 NHL general managers each voting for who they believe is best. The voting is based solely on regular-season performance and is not affected by playoff performance in any way. 

While it is true Rask benefited from splitting time with his 1A/1B tandem partner Halak, rest does not always correlate to premiere performance in the world’s top league. This is especially true for goalies, whose hot and cold streaks can baffle even the most tenured experts. So this brings us to the ultimate question, was Tuukka Rask’s season actually Vezina worthy?

Having played in just 41 games, before the season’s pause and eventual end, the former first-round pick still boasted  26 wins and only 8 regulation losses. Meaning the Bruins got at least 1 point in 33 of Rask’s 41 starts. That’s 80% for you math lovers out there. 80%! To compare with other Vezina caliber goalies, Tampa’s Vasilevskiy got points in 73% of his 52 games and Connor Helybuck posted a 64% through 56 starts.

Looking at Rask’s season from an even more statistical point of view (whether advanced metrics or otherwise) he is always a top name on the list. The veteran goaltender’s goals-against average (GAA) sits at 2.12, which is good for sole possession of first in the NHL(among goalies who played at least 23 games). While his save percentage (SV%) .929 is second only to his former teammate – and current Dallas Stars backup goalie – Anton Khudobin. Tuukka also ended the season with 5 shutouts, tied for second behind Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck (6).

I know goalies are a lot more than just stats. I agree that SV% and GAA are not always the most accurate depiction of a goaltender’s performance. But we can use them to help us indicate one thing: Tuukka Rask was an animal in the net. A man possessed if you will. Just check out this save of the year candidate. No paddle? No problem.

While Rask may not be on every highlight reel making the exciting diving save like above, there is something to be said for goalies who can make the game come to them, especially in the extremely fast pace of the NHL. 

In the Vezina race, there’s still a very strong case to be made for Connor Hellybuck, as his defense was non-existent for much of the season. Yet I can’t help but feel this year belongs to Tuukka. If you don’t want to take my word for it, maybe some of the experts can sway you.

Tuukka Rask IS an elite goalie. It’s not up for debate. But will he win his second award of the year? Will he win his second Vezina trophy ever? I guess we will all just have to wait and see. Two U’s, two K’s, two Vezinas, please. 

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

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The Boston Bruins Win The President’s Trophy

(Photo Credit – Greg M. Cooper-US Presswire)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

With the regular season now officially completed, the NHL had some awards to hand out earlier today. For just the third time in team history, the Bruins have won the Presidents’ Trophy for having the best record in the NHL. The Bs previously won the award in the 1989-90 season, where they lost in the Stanley Cup to the Edmonton Oilers, and in the 2013-14 season, where their year was cut short in the second round against the Canadiens. 

This Bruins team was awarded the Trophy with a record of 44-14-12, ending the season with exactly 100 points. From day one, the Bs’ year felt like a revenge tour, knocking off team after team, getting contributions from each and every part of the lineup. David Pastrnak was able to share the Rocket Richard with the living legend that is Alex Ovechkin. Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak split the William M. Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals in the league. We could very well see more hardware come the Bruins way, with the Hart, Selke and Vezina trophies all yet to be decided, and David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask all looking at their respective awards. 

Being awarded the President’s Trophy isn’t quite the honor you’d think however. Since its creation in 1985, the Trophy’s holder has won the Cup just eight times, and just twice in the Salary Cap era (starting in 2005). The last time a President’s Trophy winner went on to win the cup was, brace yourself, the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks. The Trophy’s winner has yet to make it back to the cup since, so it seems to be a bit of a curse the Bruins may need to break, but to say the city of Boston has a history of breaking curses would be putting it lightly.

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

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Bruins’ Rask, Halak Awarded Jennings Trophy For 2019-20 Season

NHL: Boston Bruins at Washington Capitals

(Source: NESN)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Boston Bruins goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak have officially been named the recipients of the William M. Jennings Trophy for the 2019-20 season, annually awarded to the goaltenders on the team with the fewest goals allowed during the regular season. Rask and Halak become the third duo in franchise history to earn the Jennings Trophy, joining Tim Thomas and Manny Fernadnez (2008-09), and Andy Moog and Reggie Lemelin (1989-90).

Boston’s duo allowed 167 goals-against during the regular season, the fewest in the NHL, seven clear of Dallas’ Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin (174). The Arizona Coyotes and Columbus Blue Jackets tied for the third-fewest goals-against with 183 each.

On the season, Rask finished with a 26-8-6 record and a 2.12 goals-against average (GAA), the best in the league among qualified goaltenders. The 33-year-old’s .929 save percentage sits second in the league behind Khudobin’s .930 marker. Rask also pitched five shutouts, one shy of Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck, who led the league with six.

The Savonlinna, FIN, native made a total of 1,189 saves on the year, allowing only 85 goals in 41 appearances. Rask previously won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender for the 2013-14 season.

Halak concluded the season with three shutouts, the fourth-most in the league, to go along with a record of 18-6-6 and a .919 save percentage over 31 appearances. The 35-year-old posted a 2.39 GAA, which finishes as fifth-lowest in the league. A native of Bratislava, SVK, Halak made 905 total saves and surrendered just 73 goals.

This mark’s the second time in his career that Halak has won the Jennings Trophy, having earned it alongside Brian Elliot during the 2011-12 season while playing for the St. Louis Blues. Halak and Elliot gave up 165 goals that season. Halak becomes the tenth goaltender to win the award multiple times, joining the likes of Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur, and Dominik Hasek.

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

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Bruins Prospect Jack Studnicka Selected To AHL All-Rookie Team

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(Source: providencebruins.com)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Boston Bruins prospect and Providence Bruins standout Jack Studnicka has been named to the American Hockey League (AHL) All-Rookie Team for the 2019-20 season as voted by coaches, players, and media around the league, per an announcement on Tuesday afternoon.

Goaltender Cayden Primeau (Laval), defensemen Joey Keane (Hartford/Charlotte) and Brogan Rafferty (Utica), as well as forwards Alex Formenton (Belleville) and Josh Norris (Belleville) round out the All-Rookie selections.

The 53rd overall selection to Boston in the second round of the 2017 National Hockey League (NHL) Entry Draft, Studnicka posted 23 goals and 26 assists for 49 points in 60 games for the P-Bruins en route to the Atlantic Division crown. The 21-year-old tied the AHL rookie record for shorthanded tallies with seven.

The Tecumseh, Ont. native has skated in two career NHL games with Boston, making his debut on Nov. 26 against the Montreal Canadiens, where he recorded an assist on Danton Heinen’s third period goal in an 8-1 win on the road.

In four seasons between the Oshawa Generals and Niagra Ice Dogs of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), Studnicka registered 80 goals and 153 assists for 233 points in 252 contests. Bruins past and present to have made the AHL’s All-Rookie squad include Zdeno Chara (1998), Jaroslav Halak (2007), Austin Czarnik (2016), and Frank Vatrano (2016).

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 179 that we recorded below on 5-17-20! 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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With Halak Locked Up, Bruins Have $18M To Solidify 2020-2021 Roster

( Photo Credit: ESPN | espn.com )

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

With the 2019-2020 season on pause due to the unprecedented pandemic, Don Sweeney has all the time in the world to weigh out all of his roster options and began the firework ceremony for the Bruins a few days ago with the re-signing of goaltender Jaroslav Halak. The netminder agreed to a team-friendly, one-year deal with a cap hit of $2.25M ($1.5M bonus if Halak plays ten games), solidifying the Bruins’ dominant goalie tandem for another year.

With yet another vital player on the Bruins roster taking a pay cut to stay with the team, Sweeney knows he has the advantage with contract negotiations. In my opinion, I don’t see him overpaying anybody at this point. With that being said, the Bruins have $18M left in cap space, and I believe Sweeney will continue to use the “winning culture” argument to sign his players under a team-friendly deal.

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Torey Krug (UFA)

Without a doubt, the Bruins’ main priority should be to re-sign 29-year-old defenceman, Torey Krug. There has been plenty of speculation on what Krug is worth, but if he wishes to stay in Boston, he will need to take a team-friendly deal and has claimed he is willing to do that. His current cap-hit stands at $5.25M.

Krug is a vital piece to the Bruins blue-line and continues to quarterback one of the top power-play units in the league. Before the world was put on pause, Krug had a stat line of 9-40-49 in 61 games played. He has managed to maintain 50+ point campaigns since the 2016-2017 season and has developed solid chemistry with his defensive partner, Brandon Carlo.

Injuries haven’t been a problem for Krug until the 2018-2019 season where he missed 18 games, and during the 2019-2020 season he had only missed a handful of games, so if he continued to remain healthy, he would’ve surpassed 70+ games played if the season had not been put on halt. Krug has been nothing but consistent his entire NHL career, so his argument will be strong, but the Bruins obviously cannot and will not dish out an $8M-$9M contract that he may be valued at. 

With Krug already being the top-paid defenceman on the Bruins, and David Krejci as the top-paid player on the Bruins ($7.25M cap-hit), I personally do not see Sweeney willing to offer him more than $7M per year. Therefore, if Krug decides to opt for a team-friendly discount to stay with the Bruins, I predict he will sign a contract worth $7M per year. 

Jake DeBrusk (RFA)

The 14th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Jake DeBrusk, has found himself in a peculiar position in regards to contract negotiations. Although he is known for his elite speed and goal-scoring ability, he has yet to remain consistent throughout the regular season. That will be the target area he will be looking to improve on according to a recent interview with Boston Bruins media.

After the acquisition of Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase, the left-winger found himself on the 3rd line with Charlie Coyle after spending most of his NHL career so far playing alongside David Krejci. So far this season, DeBrusk produced 19-16-35 numbers in 65 games played, a regression compared to his first two NHL campaigns. Even though DeBrusk has had trouble finding his spark so far this season, he posted a career-high 27 goals last season, proving he has the capability of being a 30+ goal scorer. If he can sustain steady chemistry with either Krejci or Coyle, I believe he will become a force to be reckoned with. 

With DeBrusk facing a regression this season and struggling to remain consistent, this will give Sweeney the upper hand in negotiations and could lead to offering a ‘prove-yourself’ bridge contract. With that being said, if both parties agree to terms, I predict he will sign a deal worth $3M per year.

Zdeno Chara (UFA)

The 43-year-old Iron Man, Zdeno Chara, recently stated in an interview that although he does not want to get ahead of himself, he believes he will be willing to return to Boston for another season. Let’s not forget, Sweeney has also made it clear last season that as long as Chara feels he is healthy enough for another season, they will offer him a deal. “As long as his game aligns with his pride and preparations that he wants to put forth to keep it at the level he’s accustomed to having it to then we are going to explore having him as part of our group. He’s an impactful player.”

Chara continues to be a valuable asset for the Bruins, scoring five goals and 14 points with a whopping +26 rating so far this season. He also maintains 20+ minutes of ice-time per game and plays a massive role in the Bruins penalty-kill unit. He is also the longest-serving captain for the Bruins (since 2006-2007), and his legendary leadership qualities continue to shape and influence the entire team, sustaining the successful system he has helped implement for many years. 

As long as Chara feels healthy enough to suit up after the conclusion of the 2019-2020 season, I predict he will sign a one-year deal worth $1.5M.

Kevan Miller (UFA)

The rugged 32-year-old defenceman hasn’t seen any NHL action since the tail-end of the 2018-2019 season, after suffering multiple knee-cap fractures in a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. According to Sweeney, he will not be expected to return this season or for the playoffs, given the NHL eventually resumes this season but also stated they are willing to offer Miller a deal if he entertains the idea of playing again.

With Miller heading to free agency, there is a chance other teams may be willing to pick him up, but with a small sample size over the past few seasons due to serious injuries, the Bruins could be the only contenders at this moment. 

The issue with re-signing Miller is finding him a place in the line-up, even as a depth player. Defencemen John Moore and Connor Clifton are continually fighting for a spot in the line-up, and with Miller often facing setbacks in his recovery, I do not see where he fits in the line-up anymore. I have always adored Miller as the fearless shut-down defenceman, but I predict he will not re-sign with the Bruins.

Matt Grzelcyk (RFA)

The 5’9, 174-pound defenceman has used his phenomenal skating ability and offensive-minded skills to cement his position in the Bruins’ lineup. So far this season, Grzelcyk posted career highs in goals (four), assists (17), points (21), power-play points (seven), blocks (67), hits (56), and games played (68). He also carries a heavier work-load, averaging a little over 18 minutes of on-ice time per game so far this season. 

Grzelcyk also plays a vital role in the Bruins’ second power-play unit as well as their penalty-kill squad. Although fans often overlook the value of Grzelcyk due to his size, there is no doubt he is a valuable piece to the Bruins’ blue-line and has continued to improve each year. He currently has a cap hit of $1.4M.

It would benefit the 26-year-old defenceman if the 2019-2020 season resumes and finishes appropriately, but regardless, I believe Grzelcyk has proven himself as a valuable asset for the Bruins. I predict he will sign a deal worth $2.5M per year.

Anders Bjork (RFA)

Anders Bjork has built a lot of hype regarding his potential since his successful run with the University of Notre Dame from 2014-2017, amassing 40-69-109 numbers in 115 games played. Since turning pro in 2017, the left-winger has split his time between the Providence Bruins (AHL) and Boston Bruins, but unfortunately, his first two seasons were cut short due to shoulder injuries requiring major surgery.

So far this season, Bjork found his rhythm and has managed to stay healthy, suiting up for 58 games and posting 9-10-19 numbers. Although consistency has been a struggle for the forward this season, he has flashed moments of his incredible talent and speed. A message was sent to the 23-year-old forward after the acquisition of Ritchie, and Kase forced Bjork to the press box for a stretch of games, reminding the winger that there is plenty of room for improvement before he can cement a permanent position in the line-up.

Even with the current NHL season on hold, Bjork has been taking the time to re-watch games and note how he can improve his performance, according to a recent interview with the Bruins’ media.

“That’s always been a motivator. But with the trades and going out of the line-up right after that, I feel like I’ve got to put my work in to earn my spot back. That’s the culture on the team, for sure. That’s how we’ve been successful. Guys are constantly pushing each other. You have to if you want to play…. My game wasn’t exactly where it needed to be at before this pause, so I have time to work on it as much as I can.”

With a small sample size stapled with two season-ending shoulder injuries, Bjork knows he needs to make up for lost time quickly. According to Cap Friendly, his current cap-hit stands at $925,000, and he will also be eligible for salary arbitration after the conclusion of the current season. If both parties agree to terms, I predict he will sign a deal worth $1.5M per year.

Joakim Nordstrom (UFA)

The 2015 Stanley Cup champion, Joakim Nordstrom, has been a critical piece to the Bruins fourth-line and penalty-kill unit. Although the forward is more known for his blue-collar shifts than his offensive abilities, he has been a reliable 13th forward that makes an impact when slotted into the line-up. So far this season, Nordstrom has suited up for 48 games, notching four goals and seven points with 31 blocks and 91 hits. 

With the acquisition of Ritchie and Kase, Nordstrom has found himself in the pool of depth players along with Anton Blidh, Par Lindholm, Karson Kuhlman, and Bjork, who is continually trying to crack the line-up. With the emergence of younger players like Trent Fredric and Jack Studnicka in Providence, the competition is becoming incredibly tight in Boston, and with the salary cap staying flat at $81.4M, it seems the writing’s on the wall for Nordstrom. I predict he will not re-sign with the Bruins. 

In a perfect world, my predictions would leave the Bruins with $2.5M leftover, enough room in case players like Krug and Debrusk end up taking $500,000-$1M extra depending on how the deals work out of course. 

It is also important to note that Sweeney could opt to use a compliance buyout on a player or orchestrate a trade to free cap space. Buying out or moving a player like Moore ($2.75M cap-hit until 2024), for example, could significantly help in creating more cap space.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 177 that we recorded below on 5-3-20! 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 And Goaltender Halak Come To Terms On One-Year Extension

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By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

As the National Hockey League remains on pause without a certain point of a return due to the Covid-19 worldwide pandemic, the Boston Bruins announced today that the club has agreed to a one-year contract extension with backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak. As seen below in the notification from the Boston Bruins official Twitter account the deal is worth a salary cap hit of $2.25 million, which is a cap-friendly deal from his last contract which paid him $2.25 million per season on a two-year deal.

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For the past two seasons for the Bruins team leading up to this unfortunate stoppage in life, the 34-year-old Halak has appeared in 71 games with a record of 40-17-10 with a 2.36 goals-against-average and .921 save percentage. Out of those 71 appearances, the veteran netminder has started in 66 games for Boston when starting goaltender Tuukka Rask needed a break as the aging netminder himself seems to thrive under the 1A-1B system. Halak who continues to play for his fifth team in his NHL career has impressive numbers in his 14-year career posting a record of 272-167-58 with a 2.48 GAA and .916 Save%.

By having Halak back for another season and under what many thought he could get on the open free agent market whenever the 2019-20 offseason actually happens, this is another way Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney is a genious. By getting these players under what they want for salaries with the strong words of “winning culture” it leaves space to re-sign other free agents like UFA Torey Krug, RFA Jake DeBrusk, RFA Matt Grzelcyk and so on. This will also likely mean the services of Max Lagace in Providence have come to an end making him a free agent again whenever the season officially is over and free agency actually begins.

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By this move, it creates a solid minor-pro tandem at the American Hockey League level in Rhode Island. With Dan Vladar who was playing phenomenally from the beginning of December 2019 to the Covid-19 work stoppage, and recently signed Jeremy Sawyman who left the University of Maine to sign a three-year entry-level contract to solidify the 1-A, 1-B in Providence, Lagace at this point of skepticism seems to be the odd-man-out. Before the stoppage, Lagace had a 2019-20 regular-season record or 22-7-3 with a 2.37 GAA and .919 Save%. assuming this all comes to fruition, that would leave prospect netminder Kyle Kyser to report to the ECHL if and when a new affiliation agreement becomes official. The current one-year agreement with the “AA” minor-pro ECHL affiliate Atlanta Gladiators was officially over with the cancelation of the remaining games of the 2019-20 season.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 176 that we recorded below on 4-27-20! 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 Post-Game Recap: Boston at Florida: 3/5/20

Florida Panthers vs. Boston Bruins - 3/5/20 NHL Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Photo Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Florida Panthers

Away: Boston Bruins

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Ritchie – Krejci – Kase

DeBrusk – Coyle – Wagner

Bjork – Kuraly – Nordstrom

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Lauzon

Goalies

Halak

Rask

Florida’s Lineup

Forwards

Huberdeau – Barkov – Dadonov

Vatrano – Haula – Hoffman

Toninato – Wallmark – Connolly

Sceviour – Acciari – Pysyk

Defense

Weegar – Ekblad

Stillman – Stralman

Yandle – Matheson

Goalies

Driedger

Montembeault

The Bruins stayed in Florida after a 2-1 win over the Lightning this past Tuesday night for a tilt with the Panthers. Anders Bjork made his way back into the lineup after sitting out the last two games as a healthy scratch as the Bruins searched for their fourth win in a row. Jaroslav Halak, opposed by Chris Driedger, got the start in net.

First Period

Ondrej Kase left the game at the 8:19 mark after making incidental leg-to-leg contact with Evgeni Dadonov. Kase was penalized as a result for tripping and Jake DeBrusk served the penalty for his injured teammate. The Bruins ended up killing the penalty and Kase returned to the bench shortly after the conclusion of it.

Nick Ritchie dropped the gloves with Riley Stillman less than a minute later and really pulled his weight in what was a great fight. Ritchie and Stillman each received fighting majors as a result.

With 58.2 seconds remaining, Mike Matheson took a tripping penalty, giving the Bruins their first power play of the game. Despite a couple of solid chances, the Bruins couldn’t score before the end of the period and the game remained scoreless. The Bruins outshot the Panthers 10-4 in the first period.

Score: 0-0

Second Period

What would have been a sure goal on his patented power play one-timer hopped up on David Pastrnak, prohibiting him to get a clean shot off. The power play soon concluded for the Bruins.

MacKenzie Weegar broke the scoreless tie on a one-timer from just inside the offensive blue line. It was 1-0 Panthers with 13:05 remaining. Just about four minutes later, Brandon Carlo took an elbow up high from Dadonov and went down in pain. The officials reviewed the play to determine how to penalize it, and determined it was a two-minute minor for elbowing.

The penalty was assessed with 9:14 remaining, and Patrice Bergeron tipped a Torey Krug shot past Driedger and in at the nine-minute mark. Bergeron’s 30th goal of the season was assisted by Krug (39) and Marchand (57). This is the third straight season that Bergeron has hit 30 goals and the sixth of his career.

Aleksander Barkov took a tripping penalty not long after the goal, and the Panthers killed it off to keep the game tied. Brad Marchand went off for hooking not too long after the Barkov penalty. That penalty was also killed off. The clock eventually hit zero and the score stayed tied at one. Florida flipped the script and outshot the Bruins 15-5 in the period, bringing the total to 19-17 in their favor.

Score: 1-1

Third Period

Former Bruin Frank Vatrano put the Panthers on the penalty kill early, as he broke Jeremy Lauzon’s stick with a slash. The first power play of the period for the Bruins came just two minutes and four seconds in. The power play didn’t last long, as Charlie Coyle went off for tripping 54 seconds later. Vatrano touched the puck while one of his skates was still in the penalty box as he was exiting it, so he went right back in for interference, creating 52 seconds of 4-on-4 time.

Bad news came in the form of Brandon Carlo’s absence for the rest of the game. Pastrnak also took a tripping penalty, so things weren’t going great to start the third period. Crazily enough, no one managed to score during any of this chaos.

The rest of regulation wasn’t all that eventful. A few decent chances, but nothing too crazy. Shots in the period were 12-7, bringing the game total to 31-24 in favor of the Panthers.

Score: 1-1

Overtime

Overtime was eventful. A couple great chances went both ways, including this one from Barkov, the best one. This was the best one until Krug sent a point hammer past Driedger with 51.2 seconds left to end it. Krug’s ninth goal of the season was assisted by Pastrnak (46) and Krejci (29).

The final shots were 33-28 in favor of the Panthers. The Bruins avoided the shootout and capped off their fourth straight win in the process. Halak made 32 saves in the win and made some massive, timely saves. Next up are the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden on Saturday at TD Garden at 7:00 PM ET. The Bruins are 43-13-12.

Final Score: 2-1 Boston

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 168 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’ Salary Cap Outlook: 2020 Off-Season

( Photo credit: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images )

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

With the trade deadline in the past and the playoffs starting in a few weeks, everyone’s focus is in the moment, but it’s essential to look ahead and see what the future holds, starting with the 2020 off-season. The Bruins are known for their tight salary cap situation, but thanks to the Bruins’ GM, Don Sweeney’s most recent trade deadline deals open up a significant amount of cap space, but who will the Bruins re-sign?

Projected Cap Space

According to CapFriendly, the Bruins are projected to have around $22.2M-$23.75M in cap space for the off-season, as it looks like there will be a bonus overage of $1.5M (TBD). At first glance, it seems like the Bruins have plenty in the bank to negotiate with, but players like Torey Krug, Jake DeBrusk, and Jaroslav Halak, may demand a pay rise that will put more than a dent into their salary cap for next season. With that being said, the Bruins will need to prioritize.

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Jaroslav Halak (UFA)

There is no doubt that the Bruins have one of the best goalie tandems in the league between Tuukka Rask and Halak. Both goalies sharing the starting duties have been a recipe for success starting in the 2018-2019 season, with Halak starting in 37 games, collecting 22 wins, and a .922% save percentage. Sharing starting positions allowed Rask to remain fresh entering the playoffs, where he had a historic playoff run leading the Bruins to a game seven in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Even though Halak didn’t start in a single game during the 2019 playoffs, if called upon, Halak would be the Bruins’ best option going forward in case of an injury to Rask. So far this season, Halak has started in 28 games, collecting 17 wins and a 0.917% save percentage. He will be a UFA at the end of this season, and will likely desire a pay raise worth $3M-$4M per season. Although Halak is 34 years old, he still has plenty of hockey left in the tank and will continue to be a valuable piece for the Bruins.

Torey Krug (UFA)

Torey Krug, the quarterback of the Bruins’ central power-play unit, will be one of the Bruins’ main priorities in the off-season. Krug is a vital piece to the blue-line and activates an offensive spark, especially on the man-advantage, and so far this season has two power-play goals and 24 power-play points, only four short of his career-high of 28 from the 2018-2019 season. During the 2019 playoffs, he continued to be an absolute force on the power-play, tallying two goals and 10 points.

Krug’s current cap hit stands at $5.0M per season, and with him setting up to become a UFA in the off-season, the Bruins’ management should not be stingy with the defenceman’s asking price. The recent deals made before the deadline have made enough room in their cap space for the Bruins to re-sign Krug no matter the asking price. So far this season, Krug leads all Bruins’ defenders with eight goals and 45 points. It is a no-brainer that the Bruins need to re-sign Krug, but at what cost? I believe Krug’s price range for the Bruins will be between $7M-$8M per season.

 

Jake DeBrusk (RFA)

The 14th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Jake DeBrusk, will be the most interesting contract negotiation this off-season. DeBrusk is known for his elite scoring ability and speed, but has shown to be inconsistent at times and is facing a regression this season.

Playing in 70 games his rookie season in 2017-2018, DeBrusk produced 16 goals and 43 points with a +16 rating. He carried that success over to the following 2018-2019 season, producing 27 goals and 42 points with a +2 rating in 68 games played. So far this season though, DeBrusk has suffered several cold-streaks off the score sheet, and currently has one goal, one assist and a -5 rating in the past 11 games.

Despite having only two points in his past 11 games, DeBrusk is only two goals away from having his second 20-goal campaign and is only nine points short of his career-high of 43. Because of his recent inconsistencies, Cassidy has moved DeBrusk down to the third-line with Charlie Coyle. DeBrusk can use this time to build chemistry with Coyle and regain his offensive touch again. His entry-level contract is about to expire, and I predict the price to re-sign DeBrusk will be between the $3M-$4M range.

Zdeno Chara (UFA)

Yes, the 43-year old Iron Man, Zdeno Chara. Even though fans were very reluctant to bring the Bruins’ Captain back on board last season, Sweeney has made it very clear that Chara has the right to play in Boston. “I think he’s earned the right to determine [his future here] and when his career will end,” Sweeney said back on Bruins Media Day. “As long as his game aligns with his pride and preparations that he wants to put forth to keep it at the level he’s accustomed to having it to then we are going to explore having him as part of our group. He’s an impactful player.”

Chara continues to be an impactful player, registering five goals and 13 points with a +24 rating so far this season. He also provides a wealth of leadership and continues to build on the legacy he’s been building with Boston since 2006-2007. Chara also continues to be one of the Bruins’ most reliable players on the penalty-kill unit and maintains over 20 minutes of average time-on-ice per game. If Chara believes he is fit for another season, it would be in the Bruins’ best interest to re-sign him for another year between $1M-$2M.

Bold Predictions

Other Bruins players who will be looking to extend their contracts at the end of the season are; Matt Grzelcyk (RFA), Joakim Nordstrom (UFA), Anders Bjork (RFA), Karson Kuhlman (RFA), and Kevan Miller (UFA). If the Bruins were to re-sign Halak, Krug, DeBrusk, and Chara at my predicted amount(s), they would have about $5M-$8M left in cap space. Does this leave room for Sweeney to make a trade, or sign other depth-players with expiring contracts?

I predict the Boston Bruins will re-sign Halak, Krug, DeBrusk, and Chara. I also believe the Bruins will look to come to terms with Grzelcyk, Bjork, and Kuhlman, but I believe they will let Nordstrom walk and because of injuries, will not re-sign Miller. If you were the GM of the Boston Bruins, what moves would you make this off-season?

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 168 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!!