Allred: Top-10 Bruins Prospects

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

As a diehard Boston Bruins fan, I also pay close attention to the organization’s prospects in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins and lower levels of developmental hockey around the world. I believe it’s important for B’s fans to not only be up to date with what’s going on with the National Hockey League team in Boston but also who’s standing out in the prospect pool and about to cross the threshold of future NHL professional careers.

These top-ten ranking below are my thoughts on where I see these prospects in the B’s developing depth with minimal if no games in the NHL. This was a great idea from our Senior writer Mike Cratty who came to our writing team of 17 members for that offseason content and to keep the B’s conversation going. Check out the two previous prospect ranking articles from Mike Cratty HERE, and writer Lucas Pearson’s rankings Here to see the difference in opinions when it comes to this offseason topic. Without further ado, here are my Top-10 Boston Bruins Prospect Rankings.

10) Jakub Zboril

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com )

Sometimes first-round NHL drafted players don’t get to the highest level in the world after leaving the draft podium, but with NHL contracted players ahead of Zboril it gives time to properly develop. The now 22-year-old two-way defenseman has one-year remaining on his current entry-level contract before becoming a restricted free agent. Jakub will most likely spend another season with the Providence Bruins where he’s played in 124 career games posting 8-30-38 numbers. In two career NHL games during his callups from the AHL, Zboril went pointless but did get a taste of the NHL which could drive him to seriously compete for a spot at training camp in September.

9) Zach Senyshyn

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com )

Another young player with tremendous upside when he was selected in the first round in 2015 along with the aforementioned Zboril. In my opinion, Senyshyn has the attributes to be an NHL’er, but the pipeline ahead of him hasn’t been easy to crack the code to be a regular. With one-year remaining on his entry-level deal Zach is going to have to work harder than ever to get the attention of the Bruins brass high above to address a serious need on the right side of the B’s forward core.

In 132 career AHL games with Providence, the 22-year-old has 26-24-50 numbers and in two games during the 2018-19 campaign got his first career NHL goal when he was called up and played in a 3-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild. I can see Senyshyn playing a majority of next year in Providence, but he could also get more looks during this upcoming 2019-20 NHL season.

8) Jeremy Lauzon

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com )

Jeremy is another prospect that is being hindered by the bottlenecking factor of this Bruins organization, especially for a depth defenseman. Lauzon is on the last year of his entry-level deal and overly not sure of his NHL timeline with the core ahead of him. I’d expect he’s going to have a solid camp and will impress those who are constructing a winner in the next regular season campaign but another season in Providence developing is what I see in my crystal ball. Lauzon did play in 16 games at the NHL level during the 2018-19 season and thought he played well earning his first and only NHL goal in that timeframe. With Providence appearing in 81 games the former 2015 second-round selection posted 2-12-14 numbers in his career thus far in the AHL.

7) Trent Frederic

( Photo Credit: Team Shred Photography )

By far, one of my favorite prospects in the Bruins system. Frederic has speed and creativity, but above all, he plays with that edge that can get him into the NHL Bruins lineup no matter what forward line. He has good speed with or without the puck, and his strength in the faceoff circle is another tremendous attribute when winning draws in critical situations.

The 2018-19 season was Frederics first full season of AHL hockey and as a rookie in the league contributed offensively with 14-11-25 numbers. I still believe that Trent’s game can only get better with his time developing in Providence but did have a few good looks in his first career NHL games in the 2018-19 season where he spent 15 games with the Boston club failing to register a point.  Frederic is another big kid with serious upside as a 21-year-old and can definitely see his offensive numbers getting better with the upcoming season with two more full seasons under his current entry-level contract.

6) Kyle Keyser

( Photo Credit: TheAHL.com / NBCSports.com )

Signed to an entry-level contract as an undrafted free agent back in October of 2017 after losing former Bruins prospect netminder Malcolm Subban via the waiver process to the Vegas Golden Knights. Since Keyser’s addition to the future plans of the Bruins crease, the Coral Springs, Florida native has really impressed me and continues to pass other goaltending prospects that were drafted in previous years.

Keyser is a 20-year-old netminder who’s eligible for the AHL action in the upcoming season. With Zane McIntyre out of the picture and the Bruins signing Maxime Legace to a one-year deal to add to the netminding depth there are rumors he could start his minor-pro career in the ECHL. The AHL full time is not out of the realm depending on what the B’s want to do with goaltender Dan Vladar. Kyle had a career year last season playing for the OHL’s Oshawa Generals where he tied his career-high in games played with 47 and a record of 32-8-0 with a 2.45 goals-against-average and .915 save percentage.

5) Axel Andersson

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

One of the more intriguing defensive prospects, in my opinion.  Drafted in the second round in 2018, Andersson was quickly signed to an entry-level contract after the close of the teams annual Development Camp. The 6′-0″ 180-pound defenseman has impeccable skating abilities along with impressive edge work. He has a high hockey IQ and the ability to snap tape to tape stretch passes for quick transition offensively.

Andersson is not a point-producing blueliner, but that part of his game could be incorporated with his time in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Moncton Wildcats a team who selected him in the 2019 CHL Import Draft where he went 30th overall in the first round. From the folks I talk to in the Moncton, New Brunswick Canada area is that he’s going to be heavily relied on the backend and could see top-line minutes in all situations.

4) Jakub Lauko

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Probably one of the most exciting prospects when it comes to raw talent. Lauko’s speed and puck control in full speed has been a pleasure to watch in his first development camp and his games in the “Q” with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. After he was selected in the third round of the 2018 NHL draft, he joined the Huskies club a year later as the Rouyn-Noranda club had his rights from drafting him in the CHL import draft. Lauko and the Huskies would go onto have one of the best seasons known to be with the team being the best in the QMJHL during the regular season, capturing the Presidents Trophy in the playoffs, and marching into Halifax, Nova Scotia to take home the Memorial Cup,

In 44 games for the Huskies, Lauko contributed with 21-20-41 numbers and 6-7-13 totals in the postseason. He’s definitely a work in progress and will be in the pro ranks soon enough, but I’m a firm believer in properly developing players and could see him back with the Huskies for the upcoming 2019-20 season. The AHL is another possibility but like I said another solid year in the QMJHL defending the outstanding President Trophy and Memorial Cup-winning year wouldn’t be a bad idea.

3) John Beecher

( Photo Credit: by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images )

Beecher is a 2019 first-round draft pick that has intimidating size and speed for an 18-year-old that’s about to start his NCAA hockey career at the University of Michigan in the fall of 2019. With players like Studnicka, Lauko, and Keyser excused from the 2019 Bruins Development Camp festivities, Beecher had the spotlight on him as the new kind in the system. His power forward mentality and creativity for a bigger player has been something to watch that’s for sure. His tremendous upside was on full display in the 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase held in Plymouth, Michigan where he was in the top-six of the tournament scoring for earning 4-1-5 numbers in five games played.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what this type of player he becomes at Michigan in his first year of collegiate hockey. If he can earn five points in five games on a team highlighted with names like Cole Caufield, Arthur Kaliyev, and Joel Farabee, the young Beecher could see an increased role with the NCAA Wolverines in a top-six powerhouse role under the tutelage of Head Coach Melvin Pearson and play with fellow B’s prospect Jack Becker.

2) Urho Vaakanainen

( Photo Credit: NBC Sports )

If any prospect defenseman is ready to cross the threshold of a long NHL Bruins career, it’s former first-rounder Vaakanainen. Due to an unfortunate head injury to start the 2018-19 NHL regular season, Urho would come back to the game later after recovering from a concussion to play the remaining games of the year with the Providence Bruins. The 20-year-old Vaakanainen started his pro career with Providence and was called up in October of 2018 due to injuries at the NHL level.

After only two NHL games and zero points, Urho suffered a concussion and didn’t return to the game for two months. When he did return to the game, he was placed in Providence where he played the remainder of the 2018-19 AHL season. Vaakanainen’s return would be in mid-January of 2019 and in 30 games to close the regular season Urho posted 4-10-14 numbers. As mentioned above a few times, current NHL contracts in Boston could hinder Vaakanainen from an NHL return for the upcoming season but the rumors of B’s defenseman going on the LTIR to start the year, Urho could easily make a return to the NHL lineup without a doubt.

Jack Studnicka

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Drafted in the second round of the 2017 NHL Draft, Studnicka has worked extremely hard the last couple of seasons trying to make the NHL out of training camp. This year he could very well be in the mix for a forward position, but with the current depth up the middle, jack very well could see time on the wing if needed. The 6′-1″ 172-pound natural center has spent the last four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League and last season posting 12-22-34 numbers in 30 games for the Oshawa Generals before being shipped to the Niagara Icedogs via trade where he posted 24-25-49 numbers in 30 games played.

Between Oshawa where Captain Jack played three seasons prior and Niagara for a 30 game stint, Studnicka had his best offensive numbers posting 36-47-83 totals for his best OHL career season surpassing his previous career-high of 72 points in the 2017-18 campaign. As a person that like to see Bruins prospects properly develop, I’d like to see Studnicka play at least a full season in the AHL because if the B’s organization is seriously considering moving him to a wing position, he should learn that transition in Providence with what’s looking like a very impressive lineup for the upcoming season.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 139 that we recorded on 8-2-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Sticher.

The Future Of The Boston Bruins ECHL Affiliation

( Photo Credit: icethetics.co )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The Boston Bruins recently announced a 10 year extension with their AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins. It was a record agreement and a tribute to the successful partnership between the two teams, which Bruins president, Cam Neely, cited as a major factor in securing a long-term deal. With the AHL affiliation tied down until 2029, the B’s have yet to make a decision, at least publicly, on the agreement with current ECHL affiliate, the Atlanta Gladiators, which ends this season.

The Gladiators became the ECHL affiliate of both the Boston Bruins and the Providence Bruins after signing a two-year agreement in 2015. In February of 2017, the agreement was extended a further two years, securing the affiliation until the end of the current season. With the announcement of the 10 year extension with Providence back in March, many expected the B’s to follow-up with news on their relationship with Atlanta, but we are still waiting. With the Bruins focused on the Stanley Cup playoffs, an announcement on the future of the ECHL affiliation is unlikely until the team is finished on the ice.

Boston has a number of options, the most obvious would be to extend the affiliation with Atlanta. The Bruins have a number of goaltenders in their prospect pool and the ECHL is a great place for them to hone their skills. Providence goaltender Dan Vladar featured regularly for Atlanta in the 2017-18 campaign and with Kyle Keyser eligible for the pros next season, Atlanta would be an ideal spot for him to continue his development. Throughout the regular season, as players were summoned from Providence to Boston, Atlanta reinforced Providence with the likes of Tanner Pond and Sean Bonar, while giving regular playing time to Olivier Galipeau, Joel Messner and Brett McKenzie. The fundamental role of a minor-pro affiliate is to support the senior teams, Atlanta has certainly fulfilled that role for the Bruins.

It is possible that the Bruins part ways with Atlanta. If they do, there are currently two independent ECHL teams that they could partner with, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits or the Rapid City Rush. Geographically this would not make much sense, as neither team is close to New England. Unless the B’s plan on bringing the affiliation closer to home, it would be a shame to sever ties with Atlanta after building a close relationship with them, only to start over with another team based so far away.

It was reported earlier in the season that the Manchester Monarchs are seeking new ownership, casting doubt on their future. This creates a potential opportunity for the Bruins to step in and replace the LA Kings as the senior affiliate. It would make sense to have an affiliate closer to both Boston and Providence to reduce travel between the teams, making it easier for players to move up and down and allowing the organization to keep a closer eye on prospects. Perhaps a relationship with the Bruins would help the Monarchs, who have seen their attendance decline since they were switched to the ECHL. This is of course speculation, for now the Monarchs are still affiliated with the LA Kings, though things could change quickly with new ownership.

If the Bruins were to end the affiliation with Atlanta, expect the Glads to strike a deal with the Nashville Predators organisation. The Gladiators have worked closely with the Nashville’s AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals this season. Atlanta coach, Jeff Pyle, likes to push his players towards the higher levels and a relationship with a senior team makes that possible. Atlanta would most likely become Nashville’s ECHL  affiliate if Boston were to move on.

The Gladiators have certainly lived up to their side of the bargain, what Boston decides to do remains to be seen. For now we can only speculate on the future of their ECHL affiliation.

World Juniors 2019: Bruins Prospects Heading Into Quarter-Finals

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PHOTO CREDITS: (saultsports.com)

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

The 2019 World Junior Championships have truly been entertaining so far this year. From dominating performances such as the 14-0 by Canada over Denmark and Slovakia’s 11-2 win over Kazakhstan. Valiant comeback efforts such as the United States scoring four unanswered goals in the final ten minutes to force overtime versus Sweden. And of course, the feel-good stories like the support of the underdogs – Team Kazakhstan as every shot, save, and goal were met with loud, roaring cheers.

The Boston Bruins, like many NHL teams, are well represented in the tournament. Jakub Lauko and Daniel Bukac on the Czech Republic, Jack Studnicka on Canada, Kyle Keyser on the States, Pavel Shen on Team Russia, and the addition of Urho Vaakanainen just before the tournament to Team Finland. Not only are these players playing in the tournament, but they are playing a crucial role for their respective countries.

G Kyle Keyser – United States

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PHOTO CREDITS: (JONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

As one of the favourites to win the gold medal when the under-20 tournament concludes, the United States used the four preliminary games to judge who gets the starting role in between the pipes because once the team makes it into the Quarter-Finals, it is not too common to switch goaltenders as you would see in the National Hockey League regular season.

Keyser’s teammate, Cayden Primeau, is the other goaltender that is looking to grab that starting role. The Montreal Canadiens’ 2017 seventh-round selection played two games and so did Bruins’ goalie prospect Keyser. Keyser played two games – the 5-4 OT loss to the Swedes and the 2-1 win over Slovakia on Boxing Day.

Keyser’s 1-1-0 record alongside his 0.87 save percentage and 2.95 goals-against-average is ranked as the second-worst for goaltenders heading into the Quarter-Finals. Only Switzerland goalie, Akira Schmid has worse statistics so far in the World Juniors. It is fair to note that the five goals he allowed versus Sweden drastically impacted those numbers.

Against the Swedes, Keyser made many solid saves off of poor plays by his defensemen. The Swedish players had numerous 2-on-1s that were stopped by Keyser and his saves arguably gave the team the drive to come back and tie the game.

With that said, Team USA announced that Cayden Primeau, the other American goaltender, will get the start in the crease for the United States in their Quarter-Final game against the Czech Republic. Yesterday, Head Coach Mike Hastings said it was a coin toss as to who will get the starting role as both goalies earned it, but clearly, he decided to go with the Canadiens prospect due to his strong 4-to-1 win over Finland.

F Jakub Lauko – Czech Republic

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

Drafted 77th overall (3rd Round) by the Boston Bruins in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, forward Jakub Lauko has had a successful season with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), scoring 12-14-26 totals in 26 games this season before being called to the World Juniors.

While at the U20 World Junior Championships, Lauko has one goal and one assist in four preliminary games. The 18-year-old forward scored his lone goal of the tournament in the 4-0 win over Denmark on New Year’s Eve. The tally ended up being the game-winning goal for the Czechs. Lauko also helped out in the opening game of the tournament, recording his only assist thus far on the overtime-winning goal against Switzerland.

Lauko has been good on the other end of the ice too. In the same game as his assist versus the Swiss, Lauko made a great defensive block on a 2-on-1 that kept the game tied around the midway point through the third period of play. Without that Lauko block, the Swiss may take a 2-1 lead and may end up winning the hockey game.

D Daniel Bukac – Czech Republic

Only one team in the World Juniors this year has two Bruins prospects on its roster – the Czech Republic and it seems more and more that the Bruins like having Czech players when you look at David Pastrnak and David Krejci on the full-time Boston roster up in the NHL.

As with the already-mentioned Jakub Lauko on the forward core, the Czechs have 6-foot-5, 209-pound defenceman Daniel Bukac on their blueline as well. The Bruins drafted Bukac with their seventh-round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft. The former player in the Western Hockey League joined the Niagara Ice Dogs of the Ontario Hockey League in the 2018 CHL Import Draft.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Doug Westcott)

Bukac is not known as an offensive defenceman by a stretch of the imagination. With his big frame, he is a solid shutdown defender on the back end and that was mentioned by the Ice Dogs General Manager, Joey Burke, when they added Bukac to their roster.

“Daniel is a big addition for our club. He provides help in an area we needed to improve in. A proven player at this level who brings size, defensive prowess as well as strength, adds a special dynamic to our group. Anytime you can add an NHL drafted player,  it always makes an impact. We look forward to the pedigree Daniel will bring. This is yet another exciting signing for us this offseason, and Daniel will be fun to watch in Niagara.”

Bukac has six points (two goals, four assists), in twenty-four games with the Ice Dogs before going to the WJC. Bukac has one assist in the World Juniors, against Denmark, when he assisted on the fourth and final Czech goal in the 4-0 win. Bukac has also been one of the top penalty-killers for the Czech Republic, who has a third-best 85.71% success rate on the penalty-kill.

Bukac, Lauko, and the Czech Republic battle Kyle Keyser and the United States in today’s quarterfinal.

D Urho Vaakanainen – Finland

Coming off a concussion that he suffered during his brief tenure in the National Hockey League, the eighteenth-overall draft pick in 2017 by the Boston Bruins joined his national country of Finland for the World Juniors.

Due to his NHL experience earlier in the year, Finland knew that they had to play Vaakanainen in a top role on the defensive core due to the lack of experience on the rest of the team. For the majority of the preliminary games, Vaakanainen played in the most minutes over all of the other Finnish players.

Dawning the “A” on his sweater, Vaakanainen also added two assists in the four games – in a 5-1 win over Slovakia on December 29th and assisted on the only goal by Finland in the 4-1 loss to the United States. Below are some scouting reports on the Finnish defenseman.

“An intelligent, two-way defender…reads the play really well, has his head up all the time and makes quick decisions with the puck.” – Futureconsiderations.ca 2017

“He has good puck moving ability and strong offensive upside. He is also a good skater and can rush the puck up ice with confidence.” – Hockeyprospect.com 2017

Urho Vaakanainen and Team Finland will play Jack Studnicka and the Canadians in the second quarterfinal of the day.

F Jack Studnicka – Canada

Before the tournament started, many analysts covering the competition said that Jack Studnicka was the best player in the pre-tournament events including the multiple games that Canada played in.

While Studnicka did not play at the high-scoring level that say, a Maxime Comtois on Team Canada has, but he has been key on the Canadian power-play, even though it has struggled. Studnicka played right in front of the opposing net on that man-advantage, in a position called the “bumper spot”. Someone else who is great in that spot on the ice on the Bruins, a guy by the name of Patrice Bergeron.

Studnicka is currently on a point-per-game status, scoring four points in four games. Three of those points are assists, but he did add a goal back on December 26th in the 14-0 Boxing Day shutout over Denmark. Jack continues to be one of the better players on Canada’s bottom-nine forward core.

The Bruins drafted Studnicka in the second-round, fifty-third overall in the 2017 NHL Draft. He is currently playing in the Ontario Hockey League with the Oshawa Generals, where he had 12-21-33 totals in 29 games before being sent to Vancouver/Victoria for the World Juniors.

F Pavel Shen – Russia

The final prospect of the Bruins to be listed and he just happens to be on the team who took the first place in Group A, after a narrow victory over Canada on New Year’s Eve. Shen has played a big part in Russia’s success in the tournament so far. Shen is currently tied for second on the team in points with four points in four games.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

In the December 31st game against Canada, a game between two undefeated countries and that would decide who wins Group A, Pavel Shen had a game that put himself on the hockey map. The Russian drafted in the 7th Round back in this past draft scored the game-winning goal late in regulation off of a nice zone entry, drive to the net and a goal past DiPietro of Canada.

Shen’s goal-scoring talent has been shown in the past, such as when he scored three goals and one assist in six games during the CIBC Canada/Russia Series, where the top Russian prospects play the best CHL players in the three different leagues (WHL, OHL, QMJHL). Shen has the ability to score and he can do it well.

Many have said that Shen is a sleeper player in the tournament and one of the underrated prospects in the Bruins system. If his development continues the way it has, he very well could make the Providence Bruins and maybe even the Boston Bruins in the near future. Pavel Shen and Russia play Slovakia in the Quarterfinals tonight.

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Bruins Prospects Keyser & Studnicka’s Recent Contributions In The OHL

      ( Photo Credit:  Both Images Above Courtesy Of Aaron Bell / OHL Images )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

A Little History……..

The Oshawa Generals are currently playing in their 56th season since rejoining the Ontario Hockey League in 1962. Per Wikipedia, the organization’s roots go back to the 1937-38 season and continue to 1953 before a fire at their home rink forced to club to take a ten-year leave of absence from the league. The Boston Bruins played a key role in the resurrection of the Generals club and new Oshawa Civic Auditorium construction which opened in 1964.

Again, Per Wikipedia, Bruins President at the time Weston Adams would go on to oversee the construction of the new arena and manage the Oshawa team as a Bruins minor-league affiliate having access to legendary B’s player Bobby Orr. Former Bruins legends Rick Middleton and Terry O’Reilly played for Oshawa in the late 1960s and early 1970s before their NHL careers, and Marc Savard was also a member of the Oshawa club in the early to mid-1990s and had a successful junior career for himself.

Present Day

Jumping ahead to the start of the 2018-19 regular season for the Generals club, things were a bit shaky as seen below from Twitter account Generals Live ( @GeneralsUpdates ) below, the team struggled to start but have really made some noise gathering 14 points in their last 17 games since October 16th. The Gens are now in second place in the Eastern Conference 10 points behind the Ottawa 67’s who are having an outstanding season so far with 42 points in 26 games played.

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Two Boston Bruins prospects currently playing with the Oshawa club are contributing at career-high paces and have been key members to the team’s recent success. Since being returned from their respected Boston Bruins training camps, prospect goaltender Kyle Keyser and forward Jack Studnicka have been pleasant additions to a very sneaky Gens team. Many highly respected analyst that cover the league has mentioned the Generals could be a “dark horse” club that could be head turners this season regardless of their slow start.  Below is a little more insight and my personal opinion from what I’ve seen thus far this year and what’s to be expected in the future from both B’s prospects.

Goaltender Kyle Keyser

( Photo Credit: Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland )

Definitely, one of my favorite goaltending prospects to watch with his agility and athleticism. At 6′-2″ 183-pounds he’s aggressive netminder that is often at the top of his crease commonly cutting down his angles and squaring his body to the puck. Often these days, well in my opinion anyway, goaltenders above his height or equal to play deeper in the net while Keyser plays out relying on his quick lower body reflexes to get where he needs to be laterally. His quickness and reaction time is second to none and with those attributes has acquired an increasingly better-developed glove hand that seems to be getting better year-by-year with his puck tracking ability.

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The 2017-18 season was Keyser’s breakout year as a starter, and with his free agent signing with the Boston Bruins in the fall of 2017 shortly after the Vegas Golden Knights waiver claim of former B’s first-round prospect Malcolm Subban, Kyle has seemingly taken the umbrella of the B’s organization to a whole new level. In the aforementioned breakout year, he went 28-13-2 with a 3.16 goals-against-average, and .904 save percentage which had him ranked ninth overall in the OHL. A solid season nonetheless minus the two concussions he battled during the last season’s campaign which could’ve had major setbacks in his development.

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This year Kyle started the 2018-19 season on the shelf nursing an injury from Bruins training camp but as soon as he was cleared to play his mission has been focused on improving and helping his Generals team all he can as the last line of defense. In 18 games played so far the Coral Springs, Florida native has a 12-3-1 record, a 2.43 GAA and .929 Save% which is ranked third overall in the OHL. Keyser is currently on a five-game winning streak which he tied of a season-high this year and is one win away from tying a career-best six-game winning streak. Kyle has the chance to tie his career-high string of “W’s” tomorrow afternoon when the Generals host the Sarnia Sting from the Tribute Communities Centre when the puck drops at 2pm.

Forward Jack Studnicka

( Photo Credit: Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland )

Determination is a word that I constantly think about when talking about Jack and the skill set he brings to so many levels of competitive developmental hockey. As a guest media member during the offseason’s development camp to rookie camp and NHL training camp participation, being close to Studnicka in that timeframe has allowed me to get a sense of what type of player he can be while presenting himself in a professional manner. From the Bruins training facility at Warrior Ice Arena Jack’s efforts and drive can be seen up close along with the surrounding voice of reason from supporting members such as Bruins training staff for on and off-ice training sessions during the offseason.

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Having the opportunity to interview Studnicka on several occasions, he’s said he’s here to challenge for an NHL roster spot and will continue to showcase his skills with close up looks from the B’s brass whenever possible. All those attributes were on full display as the team was heavily considering a spot as a third-line center but elected to return him to his junior team in favor of further development. This move back to Oshawa was not a knock against his development moving forward but was a smart idea when looking at his American Hockey League eligibility and the potential of starting his NHL career as close as next year.

Studnicka had a career year last season posting 22-50-72 in 66 games and is already on pace to break those totals this year. After being returned to Oshawa from Bruins camp, he’s appeared in 23 games and has 9-21-30 numbers. He’s currently on a five-game point streak which he can extender to six-games with a tilt tomorrow afternoon against Sarnia. So far this season the highly touted center has only gone pointless five times this season and in his last ten games has 3-9-12 numbers in that timeframe.

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This year Generals Head Coach Greg Walters has used Jack’s skills all over the lineup with him playing a majority of time in the top-six but often as low as the third line when matching up pre-game lineups. Regardless of what line he plays on his speed and the two-way game is impressive to watch. I wish I were close to seeing him play games live, but I’ve been fortunate enough to stream about 60 games since leaving the Draft podium in the summer of 2017. Great 200-foot game and high hockey IQ in tight situations. Big slap shot playing the point on the power-play acting like a quarterback with a man advantage and unreal release in front of the net.

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The 6′-2″ 179-pound forward took his demotion back to his Junior Club as a positive with the mindset that the journey to conquering his life-long goal was not yet over. In an October 1st, 2018, an article from Brain McNair of the DurhamRegion.com website, Studnicka had these things to say below upon his return back to the historic OHL franchise.

“It was awesome, they’re fast, you’ve got to keep up with them,” Studnicka said. “I think of myself as fast, but it really helped me to kind of be fast 24-7 and keep moving because those two are obviously two of the most skilled wingers in the game, but they’re also two of the hardest workers.”

Studnicka on working alongside current Boston Bruins player Patrice Bergeron.

“He’s an older guy, but you wouldn’t know it. He interacts with all the young guys due to his leadership, and it’s something I want to bring back to our room,” he said of Bergeron. “A lot of guys that get caught in my situation are going to hang their head and kind of walk through juniors, but I’m going in with my head held high here and I’m going to do everything I can to help the team succeed.”

Some word from Generals Head Coach Greg Walters on his return back to the league and organization.

“As you can see, his skill set is off the charts,” Walters said after Studnicka’s two-goal, four-point night in Sunday’s home opener against North Bay. “He’s a great leader, a true professional in the way he acts in the dressing room and in practice. We haven’t seen the best of Jack Studnicka yet.”

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McIntyre Clears Waivers But Future With Bruins Remains Unclear

(Photo Credit: Heather Rose/Smoke & Honey Photography)

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

As the Boston Bruins roster gets set to finalize its player roster to the league-mandated maximum of 23, some players like goaltender Zane McIntyre had to go through the grueling waiver process before being sent down to the American Hockey League yesterday. After the 24-hour time period on the waiver wire, the 26-year-old netminder who’s been Bruins property since he was drafted in 2010 has cleared waivers and will report to the Providence Bruins for the upcoming 2018-19 campaign, which kicks off on Friday in Hartford, Connecticut against the host WolfPack.

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So, now that Providence Bruins training camp is already underway with their first preseason game tonight at the Dunkin” Donuts Center in Providence, the team’s goaltending tandem for the season is pretty much set in stone, but what’s next for McIntyre and his future with the Bruins organization? The North Dakota native has one more year left on his current 2-year two-way contract that he signed in July of 2017, but it remains to be seen what both sides will do when he once again becomes a restricted free agent in the summer of 2019.

Zane is a hard-working netminder and fan favorite who will no doubt take his placement back in the AHL with pride and continue to work on the attributes that got him to the pro level in the first place. He will once again gain valuable knowledge from goaltending coaches and former NHLers Bob Essensa as well as Mike Dunham, who was hired last summer as a developmental coach making his rounds around to the Bruins prospect goaltenders worldwide. Below are a few scenarios that could happen in McIntyre’s immediate future.

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Stays With The Bruins Organization

Although McIntyre will be in Providence for the upcoming season continuing to craft his skills, he will be a valuable asset when it comes to leadership with his goaltending partner, Dan Vladar, who recently spent the past two seasons with the Bruins Premier “AA” minor-pro affiliate — the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL. This will be Vladar’s first full season of AHL action and will split the 76 game schedule with McIntyre, which could very well be the AHL’s best netminding tandem in the league. McIntyre, an AHL veteran of 109 games with a 61-29-10 record, a career GAA of 2.41, and a .914 save percentage, will provide great tutelage to the 21-year-old Vladar, who’s only been involved at the AHL level in 12 games posting a 6-2-1 record, a GAA of  2.42, and a .922 save percentage.

Vladar is more than ready for this promotion and has impressed the Bruins brass in recent years either in his tenure with Atlanta, his short time in Providence covering for injuries at higher levels, or his outstanding work ethic in previous Bruins camp events such as the annual development camps, rookie camps, and NHL training camps. Now that McIntyre has cleared waivers, I’m really looking forward to what these two goaltenders can do as the Providence organization is in prime shape to challenge for a Calder Cup this year.

Trade McIntyre

I know what I’m about to say isn’t going to sit well with the fans of Zane and what he’s brought to the Providence club and surrounding community, but a trade out of the Bruins organization wouldn’t be a bad idea at least for him. The ultimate goal for every hockey player either at the AHL level or below is to be a permanent fixture in the NHL so I believe after nine years in the B’s depth he’ll have a better opportunity with another NHL franchise. This would certainly put the Providence club at a disadvantage with having to find another netminder to fill his shoes, but it can be facilitated by looking for talent around the world to come in as a free agent and could give Vladar even more time in the crease to get better with a hefty load of games favored his way.

In return, if the Bruins were to trade a player of McIntyre’s caliber to another team that can make his dream of NHL sustainability, the B’s could very well get something in return by way of a draft pick or developing player that the B’s scouting staff may be keeping an eye on. Zane still has what it takes to be a fantastic middle depth goaltender for an NHL franchise around the league, but it’s going to be up to him to reach the next level and how bad he wants it.

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Both Sides Agree To Part Ways After The 2018-19 Season

McIntyre is set to be a restricted free agent next summer as I’ve mentioned above but with a few prospect goaltenders seemingly passing him in the depth chart, it might be an opportunity to seek work elsewhere. With names like Vladar, Kyle Keyser (OHL Oshawa Generals) who will be eligible for AHL action next season, and Jeremy Swayman (NCAA) who’s entering his sophomore season at the University of Maine, Zane might look at that and not want to return to the Bruins organization. This will not be the first time a prospect has seen what’s ahead of him and decide to leave. A few seasons ago, former Bruins defensive prospect Matt Benning did the same thing when he looked at the competition ahead of him and requested to leave for greener pastures.

This is always a tough route for Bruins fans because a player will just pack up and leave without getting anything in return. With nine good years under the Bruins prospect umbrella, you know McIntyre’s fan favorites will go off the deep end if he walks with nothing coming back. Everything mentioned above is totally on the player and where he wants to be as an individual, but when it comes to both sides of the coin, it’s a business and a strong reason why most should not get too attached with the vast turnaround of talent at the developing depths of any NHL organization.

Prospects Challenge: Part 2 — A Tale Of Three Goalies For The Bruins

Round Up ( Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Stasio Coombe )

By: Jen Stasio Coombe  |  Follow Me On Twitter @hockeygirl2976

Dan Vladar, Kyle Keyser, and Dawson Weatherill were three netminders who played their way to Buffalo representing the Bruins in net over the four-day extended weekend event. Three men to tend the pipes gave Boston Brass the opportunity to scrutinize the skills and tenacity each of these players brought to the game.  As well as giving each of them their opportunity to shine as the squads starting goalie.

Game 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, was to be Kyle Keyser’s night in the spotlight. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound goalie has played for the Oshawa Generals since 2016 and at the young age of 19 was looking to convince the people upstairs that their faith in his growth and development were not misguided. Attending the development camp in the spring, there were a few doubts about his ability to keep the pace and continue to build his repertoire.  Kyle took Game 1 by the horns and left little doubt that he was here to work hard and win.

Keyser 2( Photo Courtesy of Joshua Bemis @ToCauseway )

Through the first two periods, Keyser was on fire, not letting one of the many shots he faced past his post. His determination in net saw the B’s entering the third with a 4-0 lead. This iron curtain did falter a bit in the third as he allowed two pucks to find their way into the net, but his composure was not to let him down.

Finishing his night off with a total of 35 saves, it was reasonable to think that perhaps fatigue is what caused the two pucks to slip by in the third, so the next day I asked Kyle his take on the situation. “Honestly, I didn’t feel fatigued at all in the third, sometimes when you are as a team 4-0 and you are going into the third, you maybe take your foot off the gas a little, even me, and I think that is just an area to focus in on to improve for everybody.”  Backing up his confident statement regarding his endurance Keyser did show a good bit of athleticism late into the third, using the butt of his stick while making a nice leap to ensure the puck would not find its intended target.

Vladar( Photo Courtesy: Joshua Bemis @ToCauseway )

Game 2, the feature game of the weekend, saw Dan Vladar take his place in the crease to put a kibosh on the Buffalo Sabres scoring chances.  His 6-foot-5, 185-pound frame towered over the net as the puck was dropped at the Harbor Center. After spending two seasons with the Atlanta Gladiators, Boston’s ECHL Affiliate, Dan was ready to make his next step up the pro ladder taking place in Providence as the second goaltender for the organization this coming year. His performance would not disappoint those invested in this 21-year-old’s blossoming career.

While the Sabres came into the weekend not only with a home-ice advantage but a strong and wily group of youngsters, the first period ended with only a single puck making it past this Czech beast. Not completely satisfied with his first period, Vladar came into the next two periods with a galvanized resolve and a positive outlook. Not one of the battery of shots on goal was able to penetrate this jolly giant’s façade.

Vladar 2 ( Photo Courtesy of Joshua Bemis @ToCauseway )

Finishing the night with a record of saving 38 of 39 shots on goal would leave many a goalie, tooting his own horn, but not our Vlad. When asked about his performance in the net his humble attitude and desire to continually better himself was on full display. “I feel good, but it is my first game of the season … I felt a little bit off my posts, but I got a little bit stronger over the summer, so my pushes were good…To be honest, it was not my best hockey. ”  In contrast, Jay Leach felt Vladar had an outstanding performance. “I think at first he had a few saves that looked like he hadn’t played in six months, which he hadn’t, but he settled right in, and ‘Vlady’ will always give you his best effort … guys love playing in front of him … and he was really very impressive.”

The third and final game of the weekend saw Dawson Weatherill step up in an attempt to send the New Jersey Devils packing. Another formidable obstacle at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, Weatherill came to the prospect challenge as an invite. Basically, he was brought up to test the waters and fill out the third roster spot as some would say.  Not taking this merely a chance to mingle with the pro boys or a holiday with a bit of hockey thrown in, Dawson buckled down, worked hard at all practices and morning skates, and soaked up all the information he could from the coaches and teammates here in Buffalo.

Unfortunately, learning does not occur overnight and being the least seasoned of the goalies here for Boston, Dawson saw the third game come to a disappointing close with a score of Devils 6, Bruins 2.  He was not as focused or as agile as Vladar and Keyser, and he appeared to have trouble from time to time with letting the frustration overtake him.  While he was not able to vanquish these Devils, Weatherill will take what he has learned in this tournament back to the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL and continue to grow and develop, hoping for another shot in future seasons.

Finishing with a strong showing of winning two of the three matches, the Bruins goalies were ready to head back home and get the rest of the preseason underway.  Don Sweeney confirmed that Vladar would be heading to Providence to split time in net with Veteran P-Bruin Zane McIntyre. “We play a lot of three in three situations in Providence, where one goalie gets two out of those three,” he said. “You want that competition, he really needs to challenge and push Zane for as many starts as he can get.”

So, while Keyser and Weatherill set off to mature for another season, it is up to Dan Vladar to determine his own next big move.

Bruins Vladar Is Ready For Full-Time Role In Providence

(Photo Credit:   Alan Sullivan Photography)

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Last season the American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins agreed to accept goaltender Jordan Binnington on loan from the St. Louis Blues organization because the team from The Show Me State didn’t have a top minor-pro affiliate throughout the 2017-18 campaign. For the upcoming 2018-18 season the Blues new AHL affiliation will be with the San Antonio Rampage and all team players that were scattered around North America in search of ice-time for one season will be welcomed back to the organization with a new home in the great state of Texas.

With news of the Blues developing youth and depth veterans returning, yesterday the St. Louis team announced that they’ve agreed to a one-year, two-way contract worth a reportedly  ( Unconfirmed per Cap-Friendly ) $650K at the National Hockey League level. While on loan playing in Providence, the 24-year-old Binnington appeared in 28 games for the B’s posting a 17-9-1 record, a 2.05 Goals-Against-Average, and .926 Save Percentage working with depth netminder Zane McIntyre.

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The departure of Binnington back to the Blues organization creates a fantastic opportunity for Boston Bruins prospect goaltender and 2015 third-round draft pick Dan Vladar. The 6′-5″ 185-pound netminder has spent the first two seasons of his minor-pro career with the Bruins “AA” minor-pro affiliate the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL after signing his three-year, entry-level contract in April of 2016. Atlanta was a great place for the now 20-year-old Vladar to learn the pro game as both goaltending positions were occupied at the higher AHL level in Providence.

In 59 games with the Gladiators team, Dan posted a record of 22-27-2, a 3.42 GAA, and .899 Save% but his time in the AHL with the Baby B’s has been impressive when called upon for emergency coverage. With Vladar’s limited time with Providence, he’s shown he can handle the higher competition and step up when needed with a better-structured core in front of him over the lower-level ECHL Atlanta franchise. In 12 AHL appearances with the B’s spanning over two seasons, he posted a 6-2-1 record with an impressive 2.42 GAA and .922 Save%.

When it comes to ranking the goaltending depth, I can see Vladar taking a huge step in his development in the upcoming AHL season and be given more time in the crease over future teammate Zane McIntyre. The 25-year-old McIntyre has one-year remaining on his current two-year deal and will most likely be the last year in the Bruins organization as netminders in the developing systems below will seemingly push him out of the picture and that roster spot may be needed for continued progression forward for a younger player such as goaltender Kyle Keyser who will spend at least another season in the Ontario Hockey League with the Oshawa Generals.

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McIntyre, who was drafted in the sixth-round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft has played at the AHL level for three seasons now and has a record of 61-29-10 and a 2.41 GAA and .914 Save% in 109 career games. His best season with Providence came in his second season in the league (2016-17) when he posted a 21-6-1 record and took home AHL All-Star game recognition and the Leagues best goaltender when it came to save-percentage. His ability to perform at the NHL level is most likely the reason why the organization is preparing to move on from his talents as he’s only appeared in eight games posting a 0-4-1 record and hasn’t seen the ice at the highest level of hockey in the world since the 2016-17 season when he was called up, and former Bruins backup goaltender Anton Khudobin was sent down for his season-long struggles.

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It’s hard for me to calculate just when a goaltender like Vladar is going to make an impact in the NHL, especially with starter Tuukka Rask under contract for another three seasons and the recent free agent signing of veteran netminder Jaroslav Halak for two years is an interesting predicament. A young goaltender like Vladar needs the benefit of playing more games and with the upcoming hockey season being the last year of his entry-level contract, I can see the Bruins organization take the approach like they did with McIntyre and sign him to a two-year, two-way extension and reevaluate the situation. Vladar is certainly a work-in-progress, and it remains to be seen if he can be the next netminder to take over as a franchise player if in fact Rask is not extended past the 2020-21 season.

Dan has a great attitude on and off the ice and has certainly gained the trust throughout his development from Bruins management who’ve spoken highly of him at every development camp he’s attended since 2015. Vladar had this to say in an article ( CLICK HERE )by Boston Globes Matt Porter at last week’s development camp from the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Massachusetts. “I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be, whether it’s in Atlanta or Providence or here for the playoffs,” said Vladar, who served as Boston’s third-string emergency goalie for Round 2 of the playoffs against Tampa Bay and did not see action. “I feel comfortable everywhere. I just try to stop the puck. That’s all that matters.”

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Bruins Prospect Keyser Is Owning The Crease In Oshawa

( Above Photo Credit:  Goodall Media Inc. )

By: Mark Allred                Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Boston Bruins scouting staff under the close vision of General Manager Don Sweeney have seemingly made out like geniuses when it comes to finding available talent when it comes to development/rookie camp invites. Last summer while looking for a place to display his talents as an undrafted goaltender, Kyle Keyser found himself at the Buffalo Sabres development camp. After the unsigned free-agent was released, the Boston Bruins came calling with an invite to rookie camp where he impressed the Bruins Brass enough for the organization to place him in the depth chart signing him to a three-year entry-level contract in early October of 2017.

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Besides the game tonight where he got pulled after four goals in 14 minutes of action against the Sarnia Sting, the 18-year-old goaltender has played quite well in his return to the ice since mid-December after suffering an upper-body injury that had him miss a short stretch of games due to protocol. As mentioned below from Matt and DJ’s @IceDogsThisWeek Twitter account, he’s heavily relied on and missed when not in the lineup.

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As mentioned before today’s shelling in the first period, the 6′-2″ 181-pound Coral Springs, Florida native has only one regulation loss in his previous 11 games and in that time strung together a nice six-game winning streak before the loss last week against the Owen Sound Attack. Although Keyser got the no-decision today, he remains on a three-game winning streak and has faced 401 shots in his last 12 games.

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Below are video highlights to give folks who don’t watch his games on a regular basis a small sample size of his skills in a recent game this season.

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Very mature in his interviews and understand the value of teamwork over individual efforts as seen in this video below after a loss in Early December of 2017.

Boston Bruins Sign Goaltender Keyser

( Above Photo Credit:   Zimbio .com )

By: Mark Allred        Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

After losing goaltender Malcolm Subban to the National Hockey League waiver process to the new Las Vegas Golden Knights franchise, the Boston Bruins announced yesterday that the team has signed netminder Kyle Keyser to an entry-level contract.

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Drafted in the fourth round (#74 Overall) in the Ontario Hockey Leagues Priority Draft by the Flint Firebirds, Keyser would appear in 17 games posting a 4-10-0 record with a goals-against-average of 4.37 and save percentage of .880 in 2015-16. His second season in the OHL didn’t fare much better-going 7-9-0 with a GAA of 3.40 and save% of .891 with his new team the Oshawa Generals after being traded from Flint for a 2017 second round draft pick. After joining the Bruins in September for the teams annual rookie camp as an invite, the 18-year-old undrafted goaltender has played in four games this season posting a 2-1-0 record, and a GAA of 3.50 and .903 save%.

It’s hard to tell where the Bruins are going with the young netminder that will seemingly stay in the OHL until the age of 20-years-old but he does add to the depth of the organization at that particular position and could be ready for the American Hockey League when he’s eligible in two years.

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The 6’-2” 185-pound Coral Springs, Florida native must have shown a lot more than his recent numbers in the OHL when the Bruins scouting staff were around the Generals when they were there looking at 2017 NHL draft selection Jack Studnicka who plays center and was recently named Captain of the Gens.