Biggest Questions Facing The Bruins As They Enter The 2020 Playoffs

Notes, Thoughts And Observations From Ondrej Kase's Bruins Debut ...
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By: Lucas Pearson | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

What is up with Kase and Ritchie?

There is a lot up in the air with the Bruin’s two most recent acquisitions. We know Ondrej Kase was the only player to not travel to Toronto with the team. It’s been said that the Czech Republic native will meet the team later, but if he’s healthy, what role will he have? He’s only played six games with Boston, and with younger guys (that will be mentioned later) getting more chemistry with the team, it will be interesting to see what type of role he’ll have when he’s with the team.

That same story remains true with Nick Ritchie. Despite traveling to Toronto with the team, Ritchie has just now made his first on ice appearance in Ontario’s capital, in an optional skate this morning. He wasn’t featured Bruin’s lineup in the exhibition game and it’s anyone’s guess as to when he’ll join the Bs for a game. The physical forward would be a really nice addition to the lineup, and his presence would be a welcome addition to the forward group.

How will the kids play?

MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 26: Jack Studnicka #68 of the Boston Bruins warms up prior to the game against the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL game at the Bell Centre on November 26, 2019 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Bruins seem to have three players penciled into their lineup that have yet to play a playoff game in their NHL career. The trio of players are Anders Bjork, Jack Studnicka and Jeremy Lauzon. I recently wrote an article about how I believe Bjork has a good chance to break out in the playoffs. He’s an incredibly skilled player that has had success in every league he’s been in. The Notre Dame alum has developed into a really good 200-foot player and is a guy I can totally see having a Marcus Johansson like run in the playoffs. 

As for Studnicka, it appears that he will get the start to the right of David Krejci on the second line and I love it. He’s done everything you want in a young player making the jump to the pros. He led the entire AHL in shorthanded goals and was within the top 15 in both total goals and points. Getting the chance to play in the top six in the NHL playoffs as a 21-year-old is not something many can do, especially for a President’s Trophy winning team. It’s been all praise from teammates and I’m really excited to see how he does after his promising showing in the exhibition game. 

We saw Connor Clifton take big steps in his NHL career last year as a rookie in the playoffs, and now Jeremy Lauzon is looking to do the same. The French-Canadian plays the perfect playoff style of hockey. The adjective I would use to describe him certainly wouldn’t be shy as he already has 10 fights in his short NHL career. He’s added a nice physical presence next to Matt Grzelcyk and that bottom pair has been a big part of the B’s success. Since joining the big club, the Bruins have had a 15-3-1 record in games Lauzon has played in.

Can Rask replicate last year’s playoff success?

Bruins' Tuukka Rask Reveals Item He Brought To Toronto, Game Plan ...
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Rask was excellent in the 2018-19 Playoffs. Saying anything but that would be idiotic.  Outside of the final game of the Cup, Rask was absolutely dominant in elimination and series clinching games. In five elimination games, the Finnish tender allowed just four goals to go with a .973 save percentage. And as crazy as it may sound, he was even better in series clinching games. He allowed ONE goal in the three games, good for a .990 save percentage and if you picked this up, well done, had more shutouts than goals allowed. Those are elite numbers. 

It will definitely be interesting to see how the time off will affect the B’s starter coming off of his best regular season since winning the Vezina in 2014. Luckily if Rask falters for any reason, they have one of the best backups in the league in Jaroslav Halak. But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. 

Will the formatting of the playoffs hurt the Bruins?

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 16: Torey Krug #47 of the Boston Bruins and Patric Hornqvist #72 of the Pittsburgh Penguins fight during the second period at TD Garden on January 16, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Well the immediate answer is yes. As they were six points up on the second place team in the league, Bs were poised to finish the regular season as the number one seed. They would’ve had home ice throughout the entirety of the playoffs but are now forced to play in a round robin to determine where they finish. If the Bs fail to maintain the top spot in the East they would end up playing a better team than they would have normally faced. Can you believe if they end up playing the Penguins in the first round instead of a team around the 7-9 seed? No disrespect to any of those teams, but that would be incredibly tough on the Presidents Trophy winning team. 

If there’s any pro out of this, it would be the fact that the Bruins now play high intensity games that matter, but without a lose or go home stipulation. Maybe if they don’t show up in the three round robin games it sends a message. Maybe if they DO show up it will give the team confidence and add a little swagger to their play. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. 

Can the veterans succeed after so much time off?

Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand - Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens
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There’s no questioning if the leadership of the Bruin’s veterans will be there when the playoffs begin, it will. But will their usual great play be there as well? Zdeno Chara (42), Patrice Bergeon (34), David Krejci (33) and Brad Marchand (31) have all had amazing NHL careers, but without a proper training camp and so much time off, it may be tough to get back into the swing of things with the intensity of playoff hockey. Brad Marchand said earlier in quarantine that he thinks younger teams like the Maple Leafs and Lightning will have the advantage over teams with an older core. With that being said, you know Bruce Cassidy and co will have the Bruins ready to play when the time comes. 

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 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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How the Boston Bruins’ 2020 Trade Deadline Acquisitions Look Today

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By Jack Cinquegrana | Follow me on Twitter @bruinschewy

On February 21, 2020, the Bruins traded David Backes, Axel Andersson, and their 2020 first-round draft pick to acquire Ondrej Kase, a 24-year-old Czech right-winger with a boatload of skill. In the following days, the Anaheim Ducks and Boston Bruins finalized another deal swapping the rights of Nick Ritchie and Danton Heinen, Ritchie, and Kase, each with an extra year on their current contract. Looking at the trade at the time, most would say Boston added some depth pieces and scoring, definitely added a big body in Ritchie, and that Don Sweeney and the Bruins had another successful trade deadline. And then Coronavirus halted the NHL season with the Bruins only having completed 71 games and at the top of the standings for the entire league.

Since time has passed and the league has restarted their season with a revamped 24-team playoff/play-in round, we can evaluate the deals that Sweeney made in February. When we were shopping for our next second-line winger near the deadline, I was excited to see some impressive names in the running. Guys like Palmieri from New Jersey or Tomas Tatar from Montreal seemed like an easy solution to our scoring issues. Even when we got Kase and Ritchie and we did not go for the big-name scorer, I was not that disappointed. Ondrej Kase has a ton of skill and an excellent offensive mind. He is young and still developing, and I believe he could be a Bruin for some years down the line.

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With the impression that Kase has made on the Boston organization so far, I am afraid we may never reap the benefits of trading that first-round pick. In six games, he has one assist as a member of the black and gold, and with the unfortunate stoppage the NHL had suffered, let us hope that is not the only production we see from Kase in the top-six.

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images )

Since the NHL has restarted its training camps on July 10, Kase has skated with the team once in Boston and was labeled “unfit to play.” Ritchie skated on the 18th and the 20th with the team and has not been back with the squad since. Some wonder if Ritchie is dealing with an injury, though it seems likely, it would be wise to not rush him back, especially for a round-robin tournament game. It is not looking too great for Sweeney’s deadline acquisitions; we gave up a first-round pick, a prospect, and Danton Heinen for two players that may be out for an extended period of time.

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Ondrej Kase is the main piece of this deal and the piece that I am most excited about. I wanted to extend him right away but would prove a foolhardy move to sign an extension without seeing the player play with the team. With one assist in his first six games as a Bruin, those extension talks that were going on in my head alone seemed to have ceased. Though the chances are slim, I am not going to write off Kase getting extended. He has skill and vision, a great fit next to David Krejci, a winger we have been waiting for since Nathan Horton left. If he can get healthy for the playoffs and produce some big-time plays and not be an absolute liability in the defensive zone, he could find himself in extension talks with Don Sweeney.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 185 that we recorded below on 7-13-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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Lineup Questions Facing The Bruins Going Forward

Bruins score 4 in 1st to chase Holtby, beat Capitals 7-3

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By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

While it’s not completely set in stone, things are trending in the right direction towards the NHL returning to play. The Bruins are going to be competitive no matter what lineup they put together, but there are certain line combinations that could work better than others. With two new forwards, Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase, getting some of their time to get acclimated cut short, it’s important that the coaching staff puts them in ideal situations as soon as possible.

The second and third forward lines

There are so many different ways that these lines can be put together, but there is one in particular that sticks out to me the most as the best option. Putting the lines together in this fashion would essentially give the team a line 2a, 2b situation because the lines are so balanced.

Ritchie – Krejci – Kase

DeBrusk – Coyle – Bjork

There’s no doubt that Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, and Ondrej Kase could find success together if that is how the second line is constructed, but I like this option a bit better. Ritchie and Kase have some familiarity together from their time as teammates in Anaheim, as well as Boston for a brief period of time, obviously.

Ritchie on the left-wing gives the line a physical boost and someone who can get pucks deep, make defenders sweat behind the net on the forecheck, and bring a formidable netfront presence. Couple those abilities with a savvy playmaker like Krejci, and a speed demon with great hands and shooting ability like Kase, and you have a dangerous line.

Moving DeBrusk down to the third-line left wing adds even more speed on the wing combined with Anders Bjork on the right-wing. The DeBrusk-Coyle-Bjork line has been pretty effective together in the past, and would give the Bruins an excellent third line. Speed to burn and plenty of skill on the wings, and an all-around beast in Charlie Coyle in the middle. Structuring the middle-six forward group this way gives the lineup the most balance in that area, in my opinion.

Karson Kuhlman and Chris Wagner

With the top line obviously intact, and the middle-six structured the way it is, that leaves the Bruins with a small quandary on the fourth line. With Par Lindholm most likely being the extra forward, it comes to down to who plays right wing, Chris Wagner or Karson Kuhlman.

I think they should roll with a committee at the position. Both are effective fourth-line players, so a committee would be ideal. If it gets to a point where one player is playing much better than the others, then roll with that player.

Jeremy Lauzon vs. Connor Clifton

The same thing goes for the third defensive pairing, who plays with Matt Grzelcyk? John Moore likely being the extra defenseman, leaves them with Jeremy Lauzon or Connor Clifton to play with Grzelcyk. Both players have had solid seasons and bring similar skill sets – defensemen that play physical and can move the puck effectively. A committee between the two gives the team more flexibility.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Ritchie – Krejci – Kase

DeBrusk – Coyle – Bjork

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner/Kuhlman

Lindholm

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Lauzon/Clifton

Moore

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Luckily for the Bruins, these lineup questions aren’t too pressing. They can be seen as good problems to have, and that’s how I view them. They’re in a great position as the league inches more and more towards returning to play.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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What The Bruins Forward Lines Could Look Like In The 2020 Playoffs

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By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

I think we all need hockey back in our lives ASAP. Thankfully the return is getting closer and closer by the day. But as hockey comes back, a lot of questions come back as well. The Bruins, especially after a pretty busy trade deadline, have one of the deepest and most interesting forward cores in the league. With such a competitive group and only a limited number of spots, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Bs forwards lines shake up. Here’s my best guess at what we see. 

1st Line: Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

It’s going to be reeeeally fun to see these guys dominate again. Obviously if the rest of the lines stall and aren’t able to generate offense, we’d likely see Pasta on the 2nd line to spread the wealth a bit, but there just isn’t a better line in hockey. To have a line that sports an 100 point player, Selke winner, and now Rocket Richard winner is something no other line in the league can do. 

Over the past three years, the trio has combined for 312 goals and 726 points in 625 games. Their success has been unparalleled by the rest of the league and man, I haven’t even started to talk about what they do in the playoffs. Obviously Marchand and Bergeron have a cup to their name and with the way Pastrnak has played in the postseason, I don’t think he’s too far behind. And for all of the advanced analytics guys, how does a combined 56.1 corsi sound? There’s not much more to say about the excellence of the three, so I’ll just move onto the more interesting lines of the Bruins. 

2nd Line: Jake Debrusk – David Krejci – Ondrej Kase

(Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports Images)

The age old question. Who the hell is playing on David Krejci’s wing? Well I think the Bruins may have found that answer in Ondrej Kase. The young Czech native does a lot well, but the most important thing for him (and the Bruins) is that he puts up points AT EVEN STRENGTH. Two seasons ago, Kase potted 20 goals and 38 points in 66 games and guess what, 19 even strength goals, 35 even strength points and five game winners. The next year he scored just one PP goal out of his 11 in total and didn’t score a single goal this season with a man up. If Kase can stay healthy, I think Krejci may have a permanent resident to his right. 

The other two members on the 2nd line aren’t too much of a surprise in David Krejci and Jake Debrusk. The veteran and the young winger have built some solid chemistry over the past couple years, and while they’ve been a bit streaky at times, when the two are on their game, it’s a major asset for the Bruins 2nd line. 

Everybody knows how lights out playoff David Krejci is. He’s led the league in playoff scoring twice, including in the Bruins’ cup victory in 2011. When intensity is at its peak, Krejci always seems to step to the plate and his winger Debrusk has started to follow in his footsteps. We saw Debrusk’s flair for the dramatic in the playoffs of his rookie year. He lit it up against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, scoring five goals (including this beauty) and seven points in seven games. 

3rd Line: Nick Ritchie – Charlie Coyle – Anders Bjork

(Photo Credit: Eric Bolte/USA TODAY Sports Images)

Outside of Charlie Coyle slotting in at 3C, the bottom six is basically all up for grabs. The Bruins and coach Bruce Cassidy have a lot of options. They could go young and fast, they could go with a more defensive outlook, they could try and out-muscle, or (like I have) a mix of all three: grit, size and speed. 

Nick Ritchie is a big dude. At 6’2, 234 pounds, the former Duck knows how to throw his body around. He averages over 200 hits a season and we saw pretty quickly that he knows how to drop the mitts. The winger has a surprisingly good set of hands in tight, and is not forgein to dishing out some A+ passes. Ritchie spent a lot of minutes in Anaheim centered by Ryan Getzlaf, and his new center in Charlie Coyle, has a lot of similarities to Getzlaf. He’s a big, strong center, just maybe with a bit more hair.

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Last year’s acquisition of Charlie Coyle may have been the best move Don Sweeney has made in his tenure as GM of the Bruins. After a slow start to his career in Boston, the Boston University product was a major part of the Bruins’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals. With Coyle anchoring the 3rd line, it gave Cassidy the option to simply roll four lines. On a line that was money all playoffs, Coyle put up nine goals and 16 points to go along with great 200 foot play. 

And then that leaves Anders Bjork. He’s got skill, he’s got speed, he’s got high hockey IQ and he finally began to put it all together this season. After a couple injury riddled years bouncing between the NHL and AHL, the Notre Dame grad finally found some consistency to his game. He’s looked stronger, more confident with the puck and most importantly, has been able to drive a play by himself. His 19 points in 58 games aren’t going to blow you away, but he’s got all the little things down, the points will start to come. 

4th Line: Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Karson Kuhlman

(Photo Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

Aside from Sean Kuraly, the usual members of the 4th line have not had the same success as they had last season. Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom have been far from bad, but they haven’t been as effective. So instead of the veteran Wagner on this line, I think Karson Kuhlman should get the nod. My reasoning? Speed. The entire league is going to have fresh legs, so having a guy who’s as tenacious as it gets on the forecheck with wheels is going to be key. We saw what Kuhlman can bring to the table in a handful of the regular season and playoff games and, he never looked out of place. In the playoffs, the waterbug ripped a goal (which was unreal) and had two assists in eight games. 

Like I said before, I think Kuraly is a shoo-in for a spot in the lineup when the Bruins return. He’s been as clutch as you can get when the playoffs begin. We saw it against Ottawa, we saw it against Toronto (a lot) and into the finals against St. Louis. He’s got a lot of skill for a bottom-six forward and has the perfect mix of size and speed. 

Stanley Cup winner Joakim Nordstrom (yeah, he won a cup) was awesome in the playoffs last season. After we curiously saw the speedster to the left of David Krejci a few times in the regular season, Nordstrom took off as a fourth-liner. He just works incredibly hard, winning puck battles and cutting off passing and shooting lanes. In 23 postseason games, the Swede had three goals, eight points and was second among Bruins forwards in blocked shots. 

As for the rest, we’ll certainly see Chris Wagner and Par Lindholm as defensive, able bodies. But I also think we get to take a look at some prospects from the AHL in the playoffs, you can take a look at who I think will have a shot here

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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Where Does Boston’s New Winger Fit Long-Term?

Kase

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

Trades that are executed throughout an NHL season carry some inherent risk.  These risks range from injuries to improper fit into the lineup and locker room.  Though, no one could have predicted a postponement in gameplay and watching their newly-acquired players’ contracts expire.

Thankfully, the Bruins traded for two players who have more than a year on their contracts: Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase.  The latter was acquired to compete for a role on David Krejci’s right-side.  Bruins fans sound like a broken record when they plead for a long-term solution for the second-line right-winger position.  General Manager, Don Sweeney, hopes the former Anaheim Duck fits that mold.

The Bruins acquired Ondrej Kase on February 21, 2020, for David Backes, Axel Andersson, and their 2020 first-round pick.   The Ducks have been staring down a rebuild for over a year.  Rebuilding teams generally hold onto one or two high-end talent players and unload the rest of their promising young stars.  The Bruins saw the opportunity to not only acquire a forward with some untapped potential but also rid themselves of a horrid contract signed back in 2014.  The large-cap hit forced the Bruins to sweeten to the pot for Anaheim, which is why their first-round draft choice was included.

It is a tough pill to swallow for an organization that missed out on a promising 2018 draft class because of a lack of a first-round selection.  Don Sweeney hopes Kase can make Bruins fans forget the same reality during the 2018 off-season.

Ondrej Kase is a former 2014 seventh-round draft selection.  He was drafted out of the Chance Liga, which is the Czech Republic’s second-highest level of professional hockey behind the Extraliga.  He was selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the final round of the 2014 draft.  It is not unheard of for a player to hail from the seventh-round and become an important NHL piece.  Henrik Lundqvist, Joe Pavelski, Patric Hornqvist, and Ondrej Palat were seventh-round draft picks who have had incredibly successful careers.  The 24-year old winger is in great company if he can replicate their paths.

Kase began his Duck career as a 21-year old rookie 2016, where he netted 15 points in 53 games.  He spent most of his time with Antoine Vermette and newly acquired Bruin, Nick Ritchie, on their third line.  A year later, Kase and his linemates experienced a more successful season, as he ended with 38 points in 66 games.  He’s been plagued by the injury bug during the first six years in the league.  He began the 2018-19 season on pace to crush his career point total, amassing 20 points in 30 games.  Unfortunately, Kase suffered a season-ending shoulder injury that would leave the Ducks waiting another year for Kase’s untapped potential.

Before the trade to Boston, Ondrej scored seven goals and 16 assists in 49 games with the Ducks.  He sustained an upper-body injury near the trade deadline, but Sweeney took the chance anyway.  Kase has only played six games for the Bruins, which is a small and difficult sample size to predict his role going forward.  Though, his skills haven’t faltered.  Kase has incredible vision along with great pucks skills and tremendous adaptability.  He has been described as a “toy-car that never seems to run out of energy.”  This is something the Bruins have needed in past playoffs, especially as the playoffs have transitioned to a faster, more creative gameplay.

Kase can keep up with the speed of the NHL and his elusiveness can wear teams down in the offensive zone.  The St. Louis Blues beat the Bruins in game seven of the Cup final last year because they were able to wear the Bruins down and capitalize on their few chances.  Kase fits that mold and his linemates will prosper.

Sweeney projects his newly acquired winger to play either with Krejci or Charlie Coyle.  Interestingly enough, Coyle could succeed Krejci as the Bruins’ second-line center, which allows Kase and Coyle to build chemistry in the meantime.  Before the season’s suspension, the Bruins had both Anaheim Duck forwards anchoring Krejci’s line.  If the season were to continue, Kase would be given a considerable chance to thrive on Krejci’s right side.  The season will look particularly different than a normal season, so Kase and his teammates will have to participate in a mini-camp before the playoffs.  This will allow Head Coach Bruce Cassidy the time to see how comfortable Kase is with Krejci.  Bruce has been known to tinker with the lines when something isn’t working, unlike his predecessor Claude Julien.

Long-term, Kase is a front-runner the second-line right-wing position.  He is a young, lethal forward who is still learning and growing into the player he is projected to be.  He has the great fortune to learn in a room full of seasoned veterans and talented leaders.  Whether the second-line features Coyle or Krejci, Kase projects to fit the glaring hole behind David Pastrnak.  Though, it would not be a disappointment if Kase sticks on the third-line for a longer period of time because the NHL has shown that teams need four well-rounded and effective lines to win Lord’s Stanley Cup.  Either way, Sweeney made the right decision in trading for a player who is a young, talented forward with the effective ability to be a force every time he is on the ice.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 179 that we recorded below on 5-17-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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Bruins Dodged a Bullet at Trade Deadline

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By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

The NHL season is stumbling forward into what very well may be a canceled schedule. From the perspective of team management, this leads to several issues. One of those that is rarely discussed is how management teams will recoup losses of hockey “assets” like prospects and draft picks that they dealt for the temporary service of rental players. Bruins’ GM Don Sweeney, however, unknowingly helped to mitigate his teams’ potential losses by exercising the prudence that has become his calling card during the trade deadline activities in February.

Leading up to the February 24th drop-dead time, most of the hockey world had the B’s pegged for bidding up the price on some of the top rental players in the league. Names like Tyler Toffoli, Chris Kreider, and even “Jumbo” Joe Thornton were all linked to the Bruins, at least for short periods of time. What these players all have in common is their free-agent status at the end of the season; all would be able to walk from their teams, no strings attached.

While Kreider ultimately signed with the New York Rangers for seven more years and about $45.5 million, trade packages were prognosticated to include a top-level prospect and a first-round pick. Toffoli yielded a highly touted prospect and a second-round pick in the upcoming draft. A plethora of other teams mortgaged parts of their future in exchange for reinforcements that were to aid in a tournament that will most likely not occur. Meanwhile, the Bruins essentially sent a package of Danton Heinen, David Backes, Axel Andersson and a first-round pick for Nick Ritchie, Ondrej Kase and cap space for an off-season featuring several big-name free agents. 

Most trades at the deadline occur between teams that are out of the playoff picture and those who have Stanley Cup aspirations in the current season. Rebuilding teams trade older, established players that have limited term on their contract or are seen as redundant to the roster while contending teams draw from prospect pools or future draft picks, assets they’d gladly forego for capturing glory. This deadline was no different and saw Toffoli dealt for the return noted above, Brenden Dillon flipped by the San Jose Sharks to the Washington Capitals for two second-round picks and the Ottawa Senators sent J.G. Pageau (!) to Long Island for their first two selections in the 2020 draft, with lottery protections.

While Pageau and the New York Islanders agreed to a deal, all of the other picks and prospects spent on unrestricted free-agents have been, essentially, wasted unless those players in the respective deals also sign with their new teams.  For the team acquiring the picks and prospects, development leagues are also facing shortened and canceled seasons, which will result in a more difficult evaluation process for prospects all through the draft, especially so for those outside the highest few picks.

The Bruins’ trades with the Ducks can largely be represented in terms of three pieces: the off-loading of the Backes contract, acquiring Kase and flipping Heinen’s two-way play and shiftiness for Ritchie’s hard-nosed, big-bodied presence. The price for Backes’ contract was determined when the Toronto Maple Leafs dumped Patrick Marleau to the Carolina Hurricanes. A first-round pick was what it would cost to off-load his deal, now or later. This is a trade that management would have made with or without a playoff appearance and regardless of the status of the current season.

The pick is destined to be in the lower first-round, where talent evaluation will at least begin to become difficult. With that in consideration, the latter two parts are essentially a good prospect with strong skating ability and an undetermined ceiling for a proven second line guy and “fancy stats” darling and an oft-maligned defensive-forward with the play-making ability for a power-forward. Both of the returns have contracts that extend through the 2020 – 2021 season, which means the B’s have cap control and stability in a potential career-defining off-season for Sweeney.

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While those in the organization and the fans have been missing games or worse, becoming ill, they can take some solace in the reality that Sweeney has helped the Bruins dodge a significant bullet in ignoring some of the talking heads (ah-hem) and sticking to his long-term plan. If the season, or some portion of it, is reinstated, great the B’s have a solid roster at all positions and saw an influx of talent; if the season is ultimately canceled, the Bruins will still have most of their cupboard filled as well as flexibility in the off-season. Of course, we can still always hope that we’ll see a full reinstatement of the season and playoffs! That’d be the icing on the cake.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 174 that we recorded below on 4-12-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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How The Trade Deadline Affects The Bruins Offseason Plans

Dallas Stars v Boston Bruins

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images )

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

It’s been a few days since the trade deadline and I still don’t quite know how to feel about it all. There’s no questioning if the Bruins improved, they did, but many (including myself) am still asking if Don Sweeney and co did enough for this season, but that’s not the point of this article. Regardless of what the Bruins did to affect the team for this year, the trades made certainly helped the team for years to come.

The Trades

To Boston: Nick Ritchie, Ondrej Kase

To Anaheim: Danton Heinen, David Backes ($1.5 mill retained), Axel Andersson, 2020 1st round pick
Nick Ritchie

( Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charles Krupa )

No Rentals

 

Unlike years in the past where we saw the Bruins’ management go after rentals like Marcus Johansson, Rick Nash (oof) and Lee Stepniak (even bigger oof), the Bruins acquired players with term. They saw how well it worked with last year’s acquisition of Charlie Coyle and looked to continue that success of grabbing players that won’t be gone at the season’s end. 

Both Ritchie and Kase have extra years on their contract and even more years of team control due to their RFA status. The duo are both young and have plenty of room to grow on their already solid NHL careers. Nick Ritchie is a hard-nosed player that fits the style of play the Bruins love. The former 10th overall pick is still young at 24 years-old and with his recent play (three goals and three assists in his last four game) has a chance to trump his career-high in goals of 14. 

If healthy, Ondrej Kase has a real chance to be a game-changer for the black and gold. Two seasons ago, the Czech Republic native hit the 20 goal mark in 66 games. The following season was unfortunately cut short due to injury, but Kase was well on his way to hit career highs in both points and goals with 11 goals and 20 points in 30 games. Now playing on a far better Bruins squad, we’d hope to see the improved play on his part.

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

( Photo Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports )

Offseason Plans

The Bruins have a lot on their plate this offseason. Powerplay QB Torey Krug is an upcoming UFA and will certainly get paid whether he stays or goes. Matt Grzelcyk, Jake Debrusk, Anders Bjork and Karson Kuhlman are among the slew of RFAs that will get a considerable bump in salary. There’s no guarantee if Zdeno Chara will call it quits after this season, but if he doesn’t, that’s another contract to add to the books. Fellow Slovakian and backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak has been huge for the Bruins over the past couple years and it would be a tough loss if the Bs weren’t able to resign him. 

The Bruins had about $17 million in projected cap space for next year before the deals. With the subtraction of Heinen and Backes’ combined $7.3 million and addition of Kase and Ritchie’s and additions of roughly $4.1 million, it gives the Bruins an extra $3.2 million worth of cap space to work with. If we loosely project what the Bruins UFA and RFAs we get contracts that look like this:

Torey Krug – 7.25m

Zdeno Chara – 1.5m

Jaroslav Halak – 3m

Joakim Nordstrom – 1.5m

Kevan Miller – Honestly no idea with all of his injuries, I think he’s a goner regardless. 1m

Jake Debrusk – This one really depends if it’s long-term or a bridge, I’d say 4-5m

Matt Grzelyck – 3m

Anders Bjork – 1.5m

Karson Kuhlman – 1m

Adding all these together gives the Bruins a rough estimate of $24 million worth of contracts to give. With Nordstrom and Miller likely gone, a number of $21.5 million seems doable with the amount of cap space the Bruins are projected to have. with that number likely increasing as the cap continues to grow. With the now over $20 million in space with that number likely increasing as the cap continues to grow, it seems more likely the Bruins will be able to keep most of the gang together. If the Bs fail to win the ultimate prize this season, Don Sweeney has set this Bruins team up for the future.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 168 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston at New York Islanders: 2/29/20

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Photo Courtesy Of NHL.com

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, New York

Home: New York Islanders (35-20-8)

Away: Boston Bruins (40-13-12)

New York’s Lineup

Forwards

Lee-Barzal-Eberle

Beauvillier-Nelson-Brassard

Dal Colle-Pageau-Bailey

Martin-Clutterbuck-Komarov

Defense

Greene-Pulock

Toews-Mayfield

Leddy-Boychuk

Goalies

Varlamov

Greiss

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Ritchie-Krejci-Kase

DeBrusk-Coyle-Kuhlman

Kuraly-Lindholm-Nordstrom

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Lauzon

Goalies

Rask

Halak

First Period

Neither team got much going offensively in the early moments thanks to strong defensive play. The B’s struck first as David Pastrnak scored his 47th goal of the season after Patrice Bergeron had a good net drive that took Semyon Varlamov out of the play.

The Bruins continued to be very strong especially in the attacking zone as they looked to extend their lead. The Islanders had a hard time getting the puck out of their zone as the Bruins seemed to be dominating every facet of the game. Boston made it two goals in the period as a shot by Matt Grzelcyk took a big deflection off a body and past Varlamov with about seven minutes to go.

Nick Ritchie took a penalty shortly after the goal as the Islanders got an opportunity to stop the bleeding. The B’s killed off the man advantage as they got a number of good blocked shots and a couple of key stops by Tuukka Rask. The Islanders seemed to get a bit of a jump from the power play as they started to find their skating legs. Pastrnak was called for tripping with about a minute left in the period as the Islanders got another opportunity on the power play. Boston killed the remainder of the period with New York still on the man advantage.

Score: 2-0 Bruins

Second Period

The Bruins killed off the rest of the penalty despite some very good puck movement by the Islanders. The Bruins continued to move the puck incredibly well in every area of the ice as they took the play to the Islanders. New York began to build a bit of momentum with some attacking zone chances but that stopped pretty quickly as the Bruins went to the power play for the first time in the game. The Islanders were called for a high stick during the man advantage which resulted in a five on three situation. New York killed off both penalties despite the Bruins moving the puck fairly well.

Zdeno Chara was called for a slash late in the period as the Islanders got yet another chance to get back into the game. The B’s killed it off yet again as they continued to have a very strong defensive game. Ritchie took another penalty, this time for a cross check as New York got another power play opportunity. The B’s were able to kill off the remainder of the period as the Islanders would only have two seconds of power play time in the final period.

Score: 2-0 Bruins

Third Period

The Islanders had a good push to start the period as they looked to cut into the Boston lead. Rask continued his strong game with a number of big saves to keep New York at bay. The Bruins began to have a lot of trouble manufacturing any offense as New York started to take the play to them. Brad Marchand made it 3-0 for Boston on a wrap around goal about midway through the period.

After a bit of scrum, Pastrnak was called for roughing resulting in a power play for New York as they got another opportunity to score on the man advantage. The Islanders were called for a penalty midway through the power play, resulting in a four on four. Charlie McAvoy made it a four goal lead with a bomb from the point on the man advantage with under four minutes left.

Jeremy Lauzon was called for a penalty with about a minute to go as he went off for holding. As a fitting end to the game, the Bruins killed off the remainder of the period as Rask picked up his fourth shutout of the year.

Final Score: 4-0 Bruins

Three Stars Of The Game

First Star: McAvoy

Second Star: Rask

Third Star: Pasternak

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 167 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!!

Boston Bruins Trade Deadline Additions And How They Fit

( Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images )

By Jack Cinquegrana | Follow me on Twitter @bruinschewy

The 2018-19 Boston Bruins made it to game seven of the Stanley Cup final last June and analysts and hockey-men alike agreed that they got bullied in the final by St. Louis. Depending on your loyalties, you probably thought the Bruins got jobbed on some calls and if you hate the Bruins then you’ll say they were outworked. It all comes back to the conversation of size and bringing in a big player who can hit but also score.

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The second deadline move consisted of trading away long-time controversial asset Danton Heinen for Nick Ritchie, which for some was a head-scratcher and others were disappointed. The Bruins fanbase expected a goal-scoring stud would be coming to Boston. Ritchie can score but he can also dish the puck and has great vision for a big man. He is not a burner, he will not skate around you, but he can go to the net hard and has an effective net-front presence. I can see Ritchie playing with Coyle and Bjork on the third line, giving 10 and 13 or whoever else he plays with space to roam the offensive zone while Ritchie can screen, tip pucks, and make net-front plays.

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The loss of Danton Heinen is an answered prayer for some Bruins fans and for others is was a punch in the gut. I belong to the latter group because I saw how much Heinen could bring to the table. Great hands, good playmaking ability, good stick, in the right spot, he could do all of that. But because he would not finish a check on the boards and because he was not willing to fight, most Bruins fans had written him off and wanted him gone months ago. I am going to miss Danton Heinen, but I wish him a healthy and productive career starting in Anaheim. As for David Backes, I think he was set up to fail in a hard city to fail in. A bad contract gets moved, he gets to play again and the Bruins get to move on.

( Photo Credit: John Tlumacki/GLOBE STAFF )

Going into the playoffs there will be many deep and formidable opponents, especially in the Eastern Conference. The Metropolitan division has many teams fighting for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, leaving only the New Jersey Devils the only team out of contention and the New York Rangers are two points out of the wildcard. The playoffs are going to be stacked and I think that Ritchie and Kase will give the Bruins the boost they need by filling in positions and roles that they lacked

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 167 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!!

Breaking Down The Bruins’ 2020 Trade Deadline

KaseRitchie.jpg
LEFT: Nick Ritchie (37) (Photo: Harry How / Getty Images North America)
RIGHT: Ondrej Kase (25) (Photo by Steve Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Another trade deadline in the National Hockey League has come and gone. With it, we saw the most trades in the history of the deadline (32) and only the second time that 55 total players have been involved in deals.

Once again, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was active in the trade market, with rumors of Boston being in on Ondrej Kase, Joe Thornton, Kyle Palmieri, Chris Kreider, and more heading into the deadline. Like last year’s trade involving Charlie Coyle and Ryan Donato, Sweeney consummated a trade with a few days to spare before the main event on Monday, acquiring Kase from Anaheim on Friday before dealing for Nick Ritchie on Monday.

Here are the details of the deals that Boston made before the 3:00 pm deadline on Monday afternoon:

Friday Feb. 21, 2020

To Anaheim:

F David Backes (25% retained), D Axel Andersson, 2020 1st-Rounder

To Boston:

F Ondrej Kase

Personally, I really like this deal for the Bruins. Either way, Boston was going to have to give up a higher end draft pick at this year’s deadline, and this year’s first was going to be a late pick in all probability. As far as Axel Andersson, while I think he has NHL potential, I’m not sure that he would have been able to contribute to Boston anytime soon, especially considering how loaded the Bruins are in terms of defense prospects. Anaheim gets two good pieces for their rebuild in the first and Andersson.

As for Backes, it feels like a miracle that Sweeney was able to clear his contract off the books, considering he still has a year left. While it would have been nice to completely move it out, only retaining 25% ($1.5 million) is still a huge win for the Bruins moving forward into this coming offseason with pending unrestricted free agents like Torey Krug and Jaroslav Halak and restricted free agents like Jake DeBrusk and Anders Bjork. It was certainly disappointing how Backes’ time in Boston went, but the former Blues captain is a great guy, by all accounts, and will likely get a chance to play in Anaheim.

Although he’s suited up in just one game for the Bruins, the acquisition of Kase has the makings to be an incredible bargain bin deal. The numbers have not really popped off the page this season for the 24-year-old (7-16-23 in 49 games), but there’s reason to believe he will improve his output on a team like Boston, especially if he is playing on David Krejci’s wing.

First off, Kase is an analytics darling, and shoots the puck a ton, registering 135 shots on goal this season and averaging 2.76 shots per game. However, his shooting percentage sits at 5.2% – not great. In Anaheim, Kase bounced around the lineup and was asked to play different roles on each line, but with stability, and the type of talent that Boston can put on the ice each night, it is reasonable to expect the shooting percentage and results to improve – he certainly has the talent for it.

Whats more, the 2014 seventh rounder is under contract at just $2.8 million until the end of next season, and even then Kase will only be an RFA. Also, after scoring 20 goals in the 2017-18 season, (maybe) not coincidentally the last time the Ducks iced a playoff team, Kase has struggled with staying on the ice consistently. If he can stay healthy with the Bruins, and his offensive output improves, the Bruins will have made out like gangbusters.

Monday: Feb. 24, 2020

To Anaheim

F Danton Heinen

To Boston:

F Nick Ritchie

Of course, as I write this article, Ritchie follows a minus-two, zero-shot performance on Tuesday with a goal and an assist against the Stars on Thursday, but either way, I’m not sure how to wrap my head around this one. Sure, the writing was on the wall for Heinen’s time in Boston – his confidence was totally out the window, he was not doing enough offensively, and it felt like he was on the outside looking in – so I support getting him a fresh start. However, the return of Ritchie in a one-for-one swap is where things get a little puzzling.

Like Kase, the numbers have not been dazzling for Ritchie this year, although the advanced stats are solid. The 10th-overall pick in the 2014 draft, Ritchie now has 9-12-21 numbers through 43 games, on pace for about 13-17-30 totals. His career-high for goals (14) came in his first full NHL season in 2016-17, while his career-high in points (31) came last season, his third full season – the previous two seasons he tallied 28 then 27 points.

I will commend Sweeney for the foresight in terms of this coming off-season, like the Kase deal. Compared to Heinen ($2.8 million through next season), Ritchie ($1.49 million through next year) is under a friendlier contract, will be an RFA next summer, and addresses a need within the organization as he brings a bigger body, more physicality, and interior scoring, when he’s clicking.

 

Admittedly, I genuinely want Ritchie to succeed in Boston – I think he could easily become a fan favorite and could hit some of that untapped potential – but it feels like this move has extreme boom or bust potential. Ritchie looked great on Thursday after Tuesday’s not-so-great showing, but I think consistency is a valid concern, especially after the national reaction seemed to label Ritchie as a weighty underachiever with a tendency for the dumb penalty. For me, Ritchie feels a lot like Matt Beleskey in terms of being a big, left-shot wing with a heavy style of play and having a very low floor and a high ceiling, but again, I seriously want to see this move pan out for the Bruins.

––––––––

Overall, I think the Bruins made out fine at the deadline, and although I’m a bigger fan of the Kase deal, both trades have boom or bust potential. Sure, it was a little disappointing not to see Kreider or Palmieri end up in the Black and Gold, but we’ve seen bargain bin additions work out in spades for the Bruins in the past (see: Coyle, Marcus Johansson). Boston is certainly better than they were at this time last week, but its worth noting how the rest of the Eastern Conference contenders, like Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Washington, and even Carolina, loaded up.

So, did the Bruins do enough compared to the rest of the field? We’ll have to wait and see, but there’s no doubt that this team still has Stanley Cup potential. The stretch run and the playoffs should be electric. Buckle up.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 167 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!!