The Arms Race In The East, And How It Affects The Bruins

( Photo Credit: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer )


By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

 

With just days to go until the Trade Deadline, the dominos have already begun to fall. Teams have been gearing up for the great battle that is the Stanley Cups Playoffs. In the West, we’ve seen a few moves to bolster some already strong roster. The Canucks went out and acquired Tyler Toffoli, the Jets nabbed Dylan Demelo from Ottawa and Vegas added Alec Martinez. But the biggest story as of now has been the massive arms race that’s been shaping up the in the Bruins’ Conference.

On February 5th, the arms race began and has already paid dividends for the teams involved. The Toronto Maple Leafs kicked it all off when they fixed two of their biggest issue, toughness and backup goaltending. They received that aid in the form of Kyle Clifford and Jack Campbell from LA. In doing so, they gave up young forward Trevor Moore and a pair of 3rd rounders (one of which has the chance to bump up to a 2nd if conditions are met). The two have fit right in, Jack Campbell is 3-0-1 between the pipes and Clifford has added nice grit in their bottom-six.

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 23: Minnesota Wild left wing Jason Zucker (16) screens Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) on the power play during a game between the Boston Bruins and the Minnesota Wild on November 23, 2019, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

( Photo Credit: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images )

A few days later, we saw the always active Jim Rutherford and the Pittsburg Penguins find a replacement for the injured Jake Guentzel when they acquired Jason Zucker from the Wild. Minnesota received a nice haul for the forward with a 2020 1st round pick, Calen Addison (a top prospect in Pittsburgh’s system) and the struggling Alex Galchenyuk. Zucker has been awesome since sporting the Penguins’ colors and has three goals and an assist in four games.

After losing Adam Pelech to injury, the New York Islanders shored up their defense and gave veteran Andy Greene a new home, sending a 2nd rounder and Dave Quenneville to the New Jersey Devils. Greene has helped off the bat, contributing an assist in his first game. The hottest team in the league, the Tampa Bay Lightning, made a big splash with the aforementioned Devils when they acquired Blake Coleman for the big package of Nolan Foote and a 1st round pick. And just recently, the Capitals added the physical Brendon Dillon from the Sharks for a 2nd and 3rd rounder.

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins

( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports )

So with three of the four top teams in the East (as well as two contenders) all making moves, it’s crucial the Bruins don’t fall behind. The acquisitions of Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson last season proved that when moves are made right, they have huge pay-offs. The Bruins yet again need to make a move to keep up, and that move needs to be for some help upfront.

With Tyler Toffoli recently dealt to the Canucks, that leaves one less option for Boston to add, so what’s left? For guys that can play in the top-six, we have Chris Kreider, Mike Hoffman, and my personal favorite, Kyle Palmieri. As we’ve seen from the trades already made, the prices for impact players are as high as they’ve ever been. You’d have to think that the three listed would go for a 1st rounder, plus a variety of players, prospects, and picks.

If the Bruins choose to balk at those prices, some second-tier options would be the likes of Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Josh Anderson, Ondrej Kase a the duo of Predators in Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith. I’d assume the baseline for these players would be similar to the price the Bruins paid for Marcus Johansson at last year’s deadline, a 2nd rounder plus a sweetener. Some help in the bottom-six (which really shouldn’t be a priority) could have options like Vladislav Namestnikov, Derek Grant, Barclay Goodrow, Wayne Simmonds or maybe even Joe Thornton. Much of the East has already made improvements so Boston, you’re up.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 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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The Bruins’ Last Minute Trade Options

(Photo Credit: Yahoo! News / news.yahoo.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

The clock seems to be ticking for Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney as breaking news alerts continue to show another potential trade target being shipped off to another team. Even though big names like Blake Coleman, Tyler Toffoli, and Brendan Dillon are now off the market, there are still more options available on the trade block for Sweeney to make a move before the deadline. The one name the Bruins nation is waiting on, Chris Kreider.

The Big Names Still On The Market

Kreider not only brings the talent and speed that makes him a top-six forward in any lineup, but he brings a large 6’3″, 226-pound frame that will surely help the Bruins in games against heavier teams like the Washington Capitals or St.Louis Blues. Even though Kreider seems like an excellent fit for the Bruins, he does carry a cap hit of $4M+, which may hurt the Bruins if they were to try and re-sign him in the off-season as he’s projected to make around $7M+. Kreider has been on a tear recently, potting 3 goals and 4 points in his past 5 games while maintaining a +2 rating. The original asking price for Kreider is a first-round pick, a possible conditional draft pick, and an NHL ready prospect. Because of recent trades, Kreider’s trade value has skyrocketed, making it more difficult for Sweeney to negotiate a deal that doesn’t involve giving up too many valuable assets.

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Another rumored trade piece still on the market for the Bruins is Kyle Palmieri. The 29-year-old, 5’11 195-pound natural right-winger is one of the most underrated players this season. Even on a struggling Devils’ team, Palmieri has produced 22 goals, and 41 points with a +2 rating in just 55 games played this season. Palmieri also has 10 power-play goals this season, only one away from his previous high of 11. He is also maintaining an impressive shot percentage of 16.5% this season, so far surpassing his previous high of 13.5% in the 2016-2017 season.

With Palmieri currently averaging a career-high 0.75 points a game this season, the Bruins could use his scoring depth to strengthen the Krejci or Coyle line. Palmieri would be more than a rental, as he has one year left on his $4.65M contract. His current contract may not seem too threatening to the Bruins cap space at first glance, but with less than $20M in cap space available after this season, it will still be difficult for the Bruins to re-sign players like Debrusk and Krug, with or without Palmieri’s cap hit. Since New Jersey traded forward Blake Coleman, the Devils now may not have a reason to part ways with their top producer anymore.

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Other Potential Targets That Could Help The Bruins

There are other potential trade targets the Bruins could engage in that may not require surrendering too many valuable assets.

For scoring depth, the Bruins have had their eyes on 5’11, 186-pound right-winger Ondrej Kase since January, and for the right price, Kase could be the best option if the Bruins were to pick up another forward. While Kase’s numbers may not look pretty on-paper, he has a fantastic set of wheels that could match DeBrusk’s speed and also gives the Bruins another option on the penalty-kill and possibly the power-play as well. Kase has yet to play an entire 82-game season though, the most games he’s suited up for in a single season was during the 2017-2018 season with 66 games played. During the 2017-2018 season, Kase’s sophomore season in the NHL, he eclipsed 20 goals and 38 points with an impressive +18 rating, proving he’s a defensively responsible forward as well. So far this season, Kase’s point production stands with 7 goals and 23 points with a -7 rating in 49 games played with the rebuilding Anaheim Ducks.

Other than scoring depth, the Bruins may also look into players that will add size and grit, especially for the playoffs with Kevan Miller most likely out for the remainder of the season. Forward Josh Anderson is currently on the trade block, and according to Joe Haggerty of NBC Sports, the Bruins have been keeping a close eye on Anderson.

Josh Anderson, the 6’3, 222-pound winger was an absolute force last season producing 27 goals, 47 points, +25 rating, and an astounding 214 hits. Unfortunately, he has only played in 26 games so far this season due to a shoulder injury. Although his production severely regressed so far this season (1 goal and 4 points), it was proven last season and during the playoffs that he is one of the hardest players in the league to play against. Not only will Anderson bring the size and physicality the Bruins need, but he brings promising offensive talent that could fill the hole on the right-wing beside David Krejci.

Go-All-In Or Trust The System?

It’s no secret what the Bruins are looking for to improve their team before the deadline, but will it be worth giving up possible valuable assets for a rental? The Bruins proved last year that they have enough roster depth overall to survive the injury bug that left players like Pastrnak, McAvoy, Bergeron, etc., out for considerable time and continued to win games with the “next man up” mentality.

Although Boston’s core players are not getting any younger, there is still a lot of risk in going all-in for one player, especially after the 2018 Rick Nash trade that ended up going sideways due to Nash’s concussion problems. The Bruins have the competitive spirit and hockey talent from both their NHL and AHL rosters, to climb back up to the Stanley Cup Finals if they can rally around each other and continue to trust the system. The Bruins may not have the luxury of avoiding Tampa and Washington in the playoffs again, but they certainly have the talent to beat any team in the NHL.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 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 Should Go All-In At The Trade Deadline

By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

 

The Boston Bruins fancy themselves contenders for a National Hockey League title which would see them the first group to have their names etched into the Stanley Cup for the decade. Most of the hockey world would agree with their position seeing that as of their February 16th, 2020 win against the New York Rangers, they sit atop of their division and the League’s standings with 84 points on the back of a 36-11-12 record. However, the Tampa Bay Lightning have rebounded after a brutal start and sit only 3 points behind and the Toronto Maple Leafs seem to be finding their groove. The path to the Eastern Conference Finals most likely features one of the star-studded teams in blue and white so the Bruins may as well swing for the fences before the Trade Deadline on February 24, 2020.

The Bruins lay claim to the Leagues 5th worst Expected Goals For (xGF) in the league. While this is partially offset by a stellar 3rd place position in Expected Goals Against (xGA) the fact of the matter is that both of their division rivals sport more potent offenses, especially the deep forward corps of the Lightning. More notably, the Lighting feature a similar defensive profile and it’s reflected in their numbers. This means the B’s will be in it for a forward, as so many are predicting. Why stop there though? The Bruins should buck expectation and bolster their top-nine by being aggressive and grabbing two… at least.

Why Not Have it All?

In upgrading their forward group, the consensus is that the B’s are gunning for Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers. If they miss out on the deadline prize, the pundits proclaim, then they will settle for secondary rental options like, Kyle Palmieri on the New Jersey Devils, Ondrej Kase in Anaheim, or Ilya Kovalchuck who they could have had for the cost of a roster spot and .0002% of Charlie Jacobs net worth (read: essentially free). Candidates are becoming fewer and farther between as Tyler Toffoli, Blake Coleman and Jason Zucker have all found new homes in the past week. The trade price of Kreider has been previously been reported as a first-round round pick and a top prospect and may have increased since, per Pierre Lebrun.

That’s a nice chunk of change, no doubt in a draft year that scouts are proclaiming will yield a deep crop of young talent, per the contributors at The Hockey News. The market on the other forwards has likely been set by the Toffoli deal that saw the Kings bring in Tim Schaller on an expiring contract, a good prospect’s signing rights in Tyler Madden, a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL draft and a conditional fourth-rounder contingent on the Vancouver Canucks signing the 28-year-old right-wing. If those prices hold and the teams are still looking to sell, the B’s may possess the currency to deal for Kreider and one of the “second-tier” options, specifically Kyle Palmieri.

What Would the Prices Translate To?

Consider a total trade package consisting of the Bruins’ 2020 first-round pick, a roster player such as Danton Heinen and prospects such as Urho Vaakenainen or Trent Frederic for the Blueshirt’s Chris Kreider. Is that a palatable rental arrangement if you’re Don Sweeny? Alternatively, you have a package similar to a 2020 second-round pick and Jakob Zboril, Jakub Louko or possibly even Zach Senyshyn for one of the second-tier options. Which would you pick? Again, the answer is both. Let’s delve into the reasons why.

The Cap Situation is Getting Murkier

On the Bruins’ current roster, eight players will need new deals or replacements.  This figure does not include Kevan Miller’s expiring contract, as he seems destined to spend the entirety of this season on the Long-Term Injured Reserve list, taking him to free agency.  This situation leaves approximately $18M to distribute over 8 players, two spots of which represent the player with the second-highest Time on Ice on the Penalty Kill and a back-up goaltending position that has become of increasingly more important to the B’s, if not to all teams across the league. Obvious new deals include the resigning of Torey Krug and Jake Debrusk, which will most likely eat $11 – $12 million of that for at least the next few years.  With only six million in cap space, the Bruins will have to, most likely, replace Zdeno Chara, Joakim Nordstrom, Jaroslav Halak, potentially Matt Grzelyck and almost certainly one of Karson Kuhlman, Anders Bjork or Danton Heinen. 

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None of this considers a David Backes buyout or retained salary trade, which is to say one way or another, the Bruins will be carrying dead cap space immediately after the Matt Belesky and Dennis Seidenberg money was to come off the books. With so many question marks in the future, why not take stock of what’s important to the organization (also known as Jack Studnicka, Jeremy Swayman and potentially John Beecher), identify your roster’s weaknesses today and deal from a position of strength to address them for a long run? The deals on the highest-profile trade targets are expiring after the season allowing for cap flexibility to either resign home-grown players, re-sign the acquired players or dip into the free-agent market.

The Core is Getting Older (For Real This Time)

The remnants of the 2011 Cup-winning team are all into their 30’s. Brad Marchand, the youngest of the bunch, is 31 and will be 36 when his deal expires. Chara will most likely not be resigned, whether he wants to hang ‘em up or not, and will become an Unrestricted Free Agent at the ripe age of 43. Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Tuukka Rask round out the veteran leaders. All of these players still fill irreplaceable roles on the squad, no matter how much flak Krejci and Rask take from the local supporters. If management wants to give their team the best chance to win, it’s today because tomorrow doesn’t look great according to statistics.

Below, one can inspect the average values of players’ Expected Goals For +/-, which is an aggregate number of Expected Goals-For and -Against – a stat based on comparing shots generated or yielded in specific locations with league-wide shooting percentages from those locations at even strength –  for the seasons including and between 2014 – 2015 and 2019 – 2020. Included were only those players who played in 25 or more games in each of those seasons and the data was split between forwards and defense. The trend is quite clear. (All Stats aggregated from Hockey Reference and manipulated by the author as described above).

Along with the bulk of the line, one can clearly identify the downward trend for both groups of skaters. Anomalies occur on the two extremes of age where we see individual performances from the likes of Connor McDavid and Jaromir Jagr, indicating well-above-average skill, at ages with few samples dominate the averages. That the B’s core skaters are still on the good side of this curve is a testament to their quality. Even the oft-maligned Krejci has proven to be the team’s best option on the 2nd line in the 1b role. As seen below, however, their implied effectiveness is slowing down.

Everyone understands the physical beating that Chara, Krejci, and Bergeron have taken in support of the organization’s success. Brad Marchand will only follow that script as he accumulates more years, games and negative attention from opposing defenses. Expected goals for is not an end-all, be-all number, there are other reasons Jagr is no longer in the League, but it is a solid indicator of a player’s contribution to the team. This regressive trend punctuates the point that if the team is going to win with these players, this year might as well be their year.

Bruins Thin on the Wings

Beyond players named David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand who comprise 66% of the highly touted top line, the team’s biggest weakness it on the wing. This weakness is of the physical variety and in terms of their underlying performance. Much has been made about the Bruins’ apparent lack of size against opponents like the Washington Capitals, the Tampa Bay Lightning and last year’s Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues. The places where that differential is most important though is exactly where you need your wingers to spend most of their time: the corners of the offensive zone and around the opposing netminder’s crease. Heinen isn’t terrible at controlling the puck in those tight spaces and Bjork’s board play has improved by leaps and bounds, but in reality, physical size is still a variable that needs to be considered in a high octane contact sport. Here we see how the Bruins’ wingers compare to the teams of the Eastern Conference that are either in or in striking distance from a playoff position by team average (excluding goaltenders) and then the average of their defensive players.

No question, the Bruins wingers are at a size disadvantage, particularly when considering the opposing teams’ defensive players. Boston’s presented figure is actually lifted by the inclusion of Sean Kuraly who ordinarily plays center but his found himself on the wing for parts of this season. It isn’t enough to have a willingness to go to the net or engage in battles; one must possess that tenacity but also the physical traits that will prevent the player from being shucked off of the puck or out of inside position. The big prize of the deadline, Kreider will add physical size and not sacrifice much if not anything in regards to foot speed. Palmieri might not swing the numbers on size but he provides excellent offensive prowess and aside from the top line wingers, the Bruins lack impact forwards that don’t man the middle of the ice.

Boston’s wingers, broadly sport poor possession metrics, indicated by their Fenwick-For Relative, which is a measure of how a player impacts unblocked shots. Outside of Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, only three wingers that have played at least 25 games (outside of Karson Kuhlman who was on the shelf for most of the first half of the season) are influencing the flow of play in a positive manner and all of those forwards have a metric below one suggesting they do not have much of an impact. The average for that group in the 2019 – 2020 season is -1.9 against the average for all forwards on those same playoff teams of .3. Against wingers on that group of teams over the same time period, the average Fenwick-For Relative is .1. Less to be sure, but by and large, all of the forwards on teams in the East expected to make noise are having a positive impact on possession or at least, not a negative one.

Here again, the addition of both Kreider and Palmieri immediately addresses the need for wingers that help control play. They sport sterling possession metrics across the board and would lift the team’s ability to control play on both wings. If management is going to subject poor David Krejci to a revolving door of line-mates, they might as well keep that portal twirling and stick these two above average, in-their-prime players in there and hope for some magic. Don’t care for “fancy stats?” Well, Kreider would immediately rank 4th in points on the team while Palmieri would be 5th. They would bring a collective 45 goals on the season with little to suggest their production will slow down on a superior team headed to the playoffs.

Little Evidence that the D-Corps Needs an Upgrade

The Bruin’s defense has been one of the most under-sung successes of the year. In some ways, like goals-against average, defensive metrics can be a team stat incorporating efforts from the forwards and goalies in addition to the blue-liners. Regardless, the Bruins sport one of the best-expected goals-against metrics in the League and the 3rd best actual vs expected goals against differential, behind Colorado and Tampa Bay. Torey Krug is still one of the premier power-play quarterbacks, Charlie McAvoy has started to find twine, Brandon Carlo is reminding all who really follow the team that he isn’t some 3rd rate talent behind the B’s 14th overall pick in 2016 and the rest of the cast is providing great support both on five on five and on special teams. Furthermore, options on the trade market are dwindling as Marco Scandella and Brenden Dillion have both moved from selling teams to contenders.

In an ideal world, the Bruins would acquire a depth option to add to the top-6 defenders that would address some size concerns and perhaps take some pressure off of Chara and Carlo on the PK. This is not an ideal world however and there are other teams seeking to do the same. In such a case the Bruins management ought to focus on the primary roster weaknesses addressed above

Five on Five Scoring wins Championships

Gone are the days when B’s fans could tout that their team was “built for the playoffs.” This current roster relies far too heavily on the power-play to get into the win column and love it or hate it, the way that referees interpret the rules in the playoffs changes. Fewer penalties are called, period. One only needs to look at the Bruins’ game seven defeat in 2019 against the St. Louis Blues. The only penalty called was a mandatory puck-over-glass delay of game against Colton Parayko. Although there was plenty of physicality, clutching and grabbing the rest of the game, only the Blues managed to score the meaningful even-strength goals.

In order to accomplish that, you need a top-six set of forwards that will force opposing teams to make choices instead of shutting down one troika for the duration of even-strength play in the playoffs. Providing Krejci not one, but two, real offensive threats that will get to the danger areas and use speed and tenacity to provide him time and space is imperative to forcing hard decisions on even strength coverage. The positive impact on Krejci’s line alone would sure up the third line that has been relatively weak when compared to seasons between 2010 and 2013 where versatile options like Michael Ryder, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly, among others, combined to create fantastic checking lines with the ability to chip in on the score sheet. One of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak or Patrice Bergeron may win the Conn Smythe, but one player (or even all three) will not win the Stanley Cup.

If the Bruins are to return to the Cup Final for a second consecutive year, they must realize that they will face tougher competition than the year prior and ensure that they add reinforcements that will truly address their roster weaknesses. With salary cap uncertainty, flexibility will remain of the utmost importance so a rental option is likely to be considered. The core of the group is certainly deep into their back nine in terms of both time under contract and ineffectiveness. Their defense, while flawed in some ways, is the envy of all but perhaps 5 teams in the entire league and they are bolstered by proven, above-average goaltending. With all of these things considered, the B’s should go all-in on Chris Kreider and Kyle Palmieri (or someone who is available and similar) to address their weaknesses with conviction.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 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!!

NHL Trade Deadline: Who Boston Should Be Looking At Moving Forward

( Photo Credit: Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images )

By: Jack Cinquegrana  |  Follow me on Twitter: @bruinschewy

 

The Boston Bruins have had a great sense of team defense and acquiring two-way forwards in order to retain that reputation, a good defense is the best offense they always say. But, for the past few seasons, since the trading of Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton after the cup win, the Bruins have had a hard time scoring goals. Boston’s top line does most of the scoring currently tallying 45% of all of the team’s goals, compared to the second line scoring at 19% of the team’s total goals, not ideal.

With an addition of a bonafide offensive scorer that can be had for a good team-friendly contract, preferably a right-handed winger, the offense can be much more balanced offensive attack. When we rely too heavily upon 63-37-88 the frustration starts to show and that makes it even more difficult to stay composed and score goals.

These players that the Bruins should be targeting are not necessarily perfectly attainable but would be a great fit on the team filling the wide-open second-line winger spot beside David Krejci. The Bruins currently sit with 3.1 million in cap space to make a signing or have money going out for money coming in. Trade bait would include one of Jokiam Nordstrom/Danton Heinen and a prospect (Zach Senyshyn, Cameron Hughes, or Peter Cehlárik) and depending on the player, a pick as well.

Tomas Tatar

( Photo Credit: Montreal Canadiens / NHL.com )

A versatile C/W that has produced consistently throughout his entire career. He has a left-shot but can play a complementary game with DK46 and has proven himself a steady defensive forward. He is currently having the best season of his career on the stat sheet and commands a 5.3 million dollar cap hit for this year and next. That is a steep price but Sweeney can definitely move some money around. The only issue may be Tatar’s No-Trade Clause that was issued on February 2 includes 15 teams. Another potential issue could be that he plays for Montreal and there are not many trades between Boston and Montreal.

Kevin LeBanc

( Photo Credit: Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group )

The 24-year-old winger who has great playmaking and scoring ability has burning speed and some playoff experience. San Jose seems like they are blowing it up to reload for next season, they will want picks or prospects. I think he is an easy choice being that he is on a one-year, one million contract, he can potentially resign and will not command a high cap hit. He is a right-shot and can play the off-wing, I think he is a weapon that we need to pounce on.

 

Kyle Palmieri

( Photo Credit: NJ.com )

Palmieri from the New Jersey Devils has been a solid top-six winger throughout his entire career. Like Tatar, he is a seasoned veteran that can score, be a complementary player to the center and is currently on pace for his career-best goal-scoring season. Palmieri is a right-shot and his contract holds an annual average value of 4.65 million. Slightly a better deal than Tatar would be and having another right-handed forward would not hurt on Krejci’s wing.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 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!!

Bruins Fail To Land Affordable Winger

( Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea | USA TODAY Sports | http://www.usatoday.com/sports )

By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

Tyler Toffoli has been traded by the Los Angeles Kings to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for former Bruin Tim Schaller, the signing rights of prospect Tyler Madden a 2020 second-round pick and a conditional 2020 fourth-round pick dependent on if Toffoli resigns with Vancouver. The trade was announced by the Canucks’ official Twitter account at 8:50pm EST on February 18, 2020, six days ahead of the NHL trade deadline. The trade is the second by the Kings in advance of what will most likely be a fire-sale in the city of Angels and follows a deal that sent Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford to the Toronto Maple Leafs to address concerns around goal-tending and team toughness of the Canadian hockey club.

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Toffoli has registered 34 points, including 18 goals, in 58 games with the floundering LA team which seems content to book its ticket for best odds in the draft lottery later this year on its way to the golf course. Tim Schaller, the roster player going to the Kings, has posted 5-1-6 totals in 51 games with a -13 rating and clearly represents a bit of salary cap maneuvering and roster management by the Canucks’ top brass. He was undrafted but signed with the Buffalo Sabres organization in 2013. Following a year in the AHL and parts of two seasons in the NHL, he signed with the Bruins in the summer of 2016 and played in 141 regular-season games for the Black and Gold notching totals of 19-17-32 with a cumulative -11 and also appeared in all 17 playoff games over those two seasons. His current contract, which he signed with the Canucks in 2018, expires after the 2020 season and he will most likely walk to unrestricted free agency.

Tyler Madden is an unsigned, NCAA centerman who was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks 68th overall in the third round of the 2018 NHL entry draft. He currently plays for North Eastern University and sits atop of the team’s with leader-board in goals and points with 19 and 37 respectively. Although undersized at 5’11” and 155 pounds, the 20-year-old forward is considered a solid NHL prospect and helped the Huskies to a third consecutive Beanpot title on February 12, 2020. The rest of the package includes futures in a draft that is reported to be one of the deepest, if not sublimely talented, prospect pools in some time. This is a price, one would imagine, the B’s could have paid.

The Bruins Missed Out

Tyler Toffoli has the same point total as Jake Debrusk on an inferior team while possessing better underlying statistics. Toffoli would have immediately upgraded the Bruins in terms of size on the wing, goal-scoring ability, ability to possess the puck and drive play as represented by Fenwick-For Relative (a measure of a player’s impact on unblocked shot shares while on the ice) and would help bring balance to the top-six forward unit that most nights does not represent a potent even-strength threat. (All stats obtained from Hockey Reference.)

This upgrade would have preserved future cap flexibility in a year where the Bruins have no fewer than six potential roster holes to fill in the coming season and provided the reigning Eastern Conference champs with the forward depth they will need to compete against teams in the East like Tampa Bay and Washington that boast excellent defense each complimented by a robust group of heavy bodies that enable their coaches to roll four lines in all situations.  All of this at a relatively small cost.

The price paid by Vancouver can be translated as something similar to Danton Heinen, any prospect outside of Jack Studnicka and Urho Vaakanainen and the Bruin’s second pick in the 2020 draft.  Perhaps the B’s would have sweetened the pot in a similar way with an additional pick or dealt from their deep pool of defensemen in lieu of a prospect, Heinen or both. If one cannot see a trade like that as a fair deal, then that person is not ready to make any realistic trades to bolster the Boys’ chances in the playoffs this season. There are few things more readily apparent on this current roster than the lack of scoring beyond the top line and management failing to provide David Krejci a capable third member on his line. Specifically, a right-winger on his strong side with a shoot-first mentality.

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There are still options for the Bruins to seek as upgrades for their top-six. Names like New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider and Kyle Palmieri of the New Jersey Devils are being tossed about and can represent good additions to the team. While the Bruins’ recent willingness to deal with both of these clubs is noteworthy, it seems that they will have to pay a much steeper price than Vancouver did to bag the biggest name on the rental list or a former All-Star who is signed to another year with a reasonable cap-hit, especially after considering the escalating price for forwards like Jason Zuker and Blake Coleman. Sweeney and Co. may have missed out on the best value the market had to offer.

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Five Non-Rental Players The Bruins Can Target At The Trade Deadline

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(Image: Noah K. Murray / Associated Press)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

The NHL Trade Deadline is nearly upon us, and with it comes the rumor mill that has been running rampant all over Twitter. Whether it be about a big fish like Artemi Panarin or a lesser-known commodity like Ryan Dzingel, fans and analysts have shared opinions while insiders have provided reports that have sent Twitter into shambles.

There has been plenty to discuss about the Bruins, given the team’s scoring struggles and the recent loss of David Pastrnak–you can read about the injury in Garrett Haydon’s article breaking the news.

With plenty of concern about trading for a rental player given the Bruins’ recent history with those types of moves in mind (see Nash, Rick), here are five non-rental forwards that the Bruins can target to help the team for now and in the future:

Tyler Toffoli

Toffoli’s name came up in Mike Cratty’s recent article, detailing five scorers the Bruins could target outside of Artemi Panarin. Toffoli has had a down year while playing on the Kings–one of the league’s worst teams–with only 12 goals and 15 assists. The 26-year-old is only on pace for 18 goals and 40 points, compared to last year’s clip of 24 goals and the 31 goals he scored in 2015-16.

However, if given the right situation (alongside a gifted playmaker, like David Krejci), Toffoli could return to that form; he’s currently slotted in on the King’s third line alongside Mike Amadio and Brendan Leipsic–not exactly a combination that sets Toffoli up for success.

Toffoli is locked up for this year and next at a $4.6-million cap hit, and trading him would allow the rebuilding Kings to recoup some assets; it’s just a matter of what the Bruins might have to give up to get the winger.

Kyle Palmieri

The Devils have regressed quite a bit since their playoff birth last season, largely due to Taylor Hall’s inability to stay healthy, the team being ahead of schedule with its performance last year, and not being able to get a save from either goaltender. This gives reason to believe that the Devils may not be totally out of the woods yet with their rebuild.

Since arriving in New Jersey in 2015-16 after a trade from the Anaheim Ducks, Palmieri has been a perennial 20-30 goal-scorer. The 28-year-old has 24 goals and 42 points on a putrid Devils team this season and is on pace for 35 goals and 63 points.

With a cap hit of $4.65-million for this year and the next two seasons with a modified no-trade clause, Palmieri would be a fantastic addition to the Bruins’ top-six as he is not only capable of providing more-than-adequate offense, but he is also an excellent all-around player and leader. The Smithtown, New York, native also lives and trains in Boston over the off-season.

With that being said, we are left with three burning questions. First, would the Devils even be willing to move Palmieri? Second, would Palmieri waive his NTC? Then number three, if they are willing to move Palmieri, what would the asking price be? Presumably, I would guess the price would be high,  considering Palmieri’s age, production, importance to the Devils, and term remaining on his deal–but man, would he look great on the Bruins.

Brayden Schenn

Schenn’s name has been tossed around a bit this season, especially given the St. Louis Blues’ early struggles. The 27-year-old center has had an “okay” season with 10 goals, 25 assists, and 35 points, and is on pace for 16 goals and 51 points.

Schenn had a career season with 28 goals, 42 assists, and 70 points in his first campaign with St. Louis last season; before that, he scored at least 25-goals in two-straight years with the Flyers. Luke Schenn’s younger brother can also play both wing and center, bringing a complete 200-foot game, and doesn’t shy away from throwing his body around.

So, Schenn could be a potential solution at wing in the top-six, as he was featured on his off-side (right wing) during his days in Philadelphia, or he could also play third-line center if the Bruins were to choose to load up down the middle.

Schenn carries a cap hit of $5.125-million until the end of next season. Again, it’s just a matter of what the asking price would be.

Chris Kreider

Much like Schenn, Kreider’s name has been tossed about frequently in the same breath as the Bruins. The Rangers forward and Boxford, Massachusetts, native is signed through next season with a $4.625-million cap hit.

The 27-year-old currently has 24 goals and 43 points for a middling Rangers team and is on pace for 36 goals, 27 assists, and 63 points, all career-highs. The Boston College product is a prototypical power forward for today’s NHL; he can skate like the wind, makes a living in front of the net, uses his body, and can rifle the puck off the rush.

On the Bruins, Kreider would slot in to aid the top-six. Yet again, the predicament arises when considering New York’s willingness to move him, and the potential asking price.

Charlie Coyle

It seems like the Weymouth, MA, native has been linked to the Bruins in trade rumors for nearly his entire career. The Boston University product has 10 goals and 18 assists this season, on track for 15 goals, 26 assists, and 41 points.

At 26-years-old, a 15-20 goal-scorer and 40-50 point-getter is by and large what Coyle likely is at this point in his career. He has scored at least 15 goals twice previously in his career with 18 in 2016-17 and 21 in 2015-16. This season would also mark the third time Coyle has surpassed the 40-point plateau in his career as he had 42 in 2015-16, and 56 in 2016-17.

Like Kreider, Coyle can play a heavy, powerful game at 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds, and has the ability to answer the bell if he has to.

Coyle is locked up at $3.2-million through the end of next season and is capable of slotting anywhere in the top-nine, whether it be at wing or center. The Wild’s lines have been shuffled around nearly all season as Coyle has been featured at center and right-wing on the first, second, and third lines; a firm role alongside David Krejci or as third line center could provide certainty and do him a world of good.

Bonus/Wildcard: Adam Henrique

After spending the first six-and-a-half seasons of his career with New Jersey, Henrique finished with 20 goals and 36 points last season after being traded to the Ducks. The 29-year-old center has the exact same numbers as Coyle this year with 10 goals and 28 points–on pace for 15 goals and 41 points.

Including last season, Henrique has totaled at least 20 goals three times while reaching the 30-goal mark once. As for as points go, Henrique has had at least 40 points on three occasions to go along with one 50-point campaign.

A center who is defensively responsible and has a solid ability to put the puck in the net, Henrique has a $4-million contract that runs out after this season before a five-year, $5.825-million extension with a modified-NTC kick in. That contract extension alone makes it unlikely that Henrique is part of the “major surgery” general manager Bob Murray is considering that Elliotte Friedman talked about in his weekly 31 Thoughts column. Even with that being said, Henrique is just some food for thought, hence the “wildcard” label.

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