For Bruins’ Bjork, Uncertainty Looms Ahead Of Training Camp

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(Photo: Paul Rutherford / USA TODAY Sports)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Anders Bjork has not had the start to his professional hockey career that he, or anyone else for that matter, likely envisioned. Between inconsistency at the NHL level, a demotion to Providence that led him to miss the Winter Classic at his alma mater, and two season-ending shoulder surgeries, the forward is basically starting from scratch this season.

Surprising or not, the fact that Bjork was included on the Bruins’ rookie camp and Prospects Challenge roster should have been beneficial to his chances of having a good showing at training camp. The Notre Dame product said he was fully cleared to play in July and trained hard all summer; however, few things can simulate game speed, but the Prospects Challenge should have served as a great chance for Bjork to get his legs back under him ahead of what looks to be an extremely competitive training camp. From the way things sounded on Twitter (because most of the games were not streamed, of course), Bjork was among the standouts during the games in Buffalo.

The Mequon, Wisconsin, native is among other prospects, like Jack Studnicka, Zach Senyshyn, Peter Cehlarik, and more, who are looking to make a strong impression at camp and seize one of the two forward spots that are up for grabs. With 50 games of NHL experience under his belt, Bjork has a leg up on most of the others, likely aside from Cehlarik and Karson Kuhlman, though.

In those 50 games (5-10-15 numbers), Bjork has shown flashes of the skilled, speedy, all-zones force that many thought he would become in time with the Bruins. He looked most promising when playing on Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand’s right wing during his rookie season, but struggled when suiting up further down the lineup in a bottom-six role last season.

Entering the last year of his entry-level contract, the 23-year-old will not only be looking to stand out to secure a spot in the NHL, but also to earn a decent pay raise this off-season when his deal is up. So, if Bjork wasn’t motivated enough to prove that he still has the potential to become the player everyone once thought he could be after shining at Notre Dame, the added factor of it being a contract year almost certainly adds to the fire under him.

So where exactly does Anders Bjork fit within the Bruins’ organization? The answer to that question is hard to pinpoint. In an ideal world, the Bruins have the two wide open forward spots sorted out, which would allow Bjork to start the year in Providence to regain his confidence and get up to speed. However, this is not a perfect world, so it remains to be seen who might step up during training camp and seize the spots. Head coach Bruce Cassidy even specifically named Bjork as one of the guys in the running to slot in on David Krejci’s right on the second line; you can read about that in my last article here.

On paper, based on Bjork’s skillset alone, the obvious choice for where he would go in the NHL lineup would be in the top-six next to either Krejci or Bergeron, whom he has found success with in the past, as I previously mentioned. However, a third-line role next to Charlie Coyle would not be the worst thing in the world, especially considering Bjork would be making a significant upgrade from the start of last season when he flanked David Backes.

Long story short, Bjork needs to play meaningful minutes, whether it is in top-flight role in Providence, or a top-nine spot in Boston. With training camp beginning tomorrow, there is no doubt that he needs a strong showing at camp to ensure that he is still in the organization’s future plans.

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How Could A Potential Trade Of Bruins Charlie McAvoy Work?

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(Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

I want to preface this article by saying this is INCREDIBLY unlikely and that I do not want the Bruins to trade Charlie Mcavoy. There’s probably a better chance of Bobby Orr lacing them up again than the Bruins trading Mcavoy at the moment but regardless, I thought it would be a fun idea to dive into and see some hypothetical trades and how it may affect the Bruins lineup.

Number one right defensemen don’t grow on trees, so if the Bs were to trade Mcavoy, it would have to be a massive haul. While trading Mcavoy would obviously create a hole on defense, the Bruins’ biggest hole at the moment is a top-six winger. A young, highly skilled forward should be the target for Boston.

Rationally thinking, the Bruins would never trade Mcavoy to an Eastern Conference team. With that being said, I have created a couple mock trades with teams that could be a realistic trade partner for Boston.

VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 2: Brock Boeser #6 of the Vancouver Canucks skates with the puck during their NHL game against the Nashville Predators at Rogers Arena on March 2, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Nashville won 4-3. (Photo by Derek Cain/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Derek Cain/NHLI via Getty Images)

Vancouver

To Vancouver: Charlie Mcavoy, Peter Cehlarik

To Boston: Brock Boeser, Troy Stecher

Why it works?

With phenom Elias Petterson, likely future captain Bo Horvat, recently acquired JT Miller and newly drafted Vasili Podkolzin, Vancouver has a plethora of young talent at forward. Obviously losing a potential 40 goal scorer is never going to feel good, but with their organizational depth, it’s something they could certainly give up for a stud like Mcavoy.

The addition of Mcavoy would drastically improve Vancouver’s defense. A pairing of Quinn Hughes and Charlie Mcavoy could very well be the best pair in the NHL for years and years. This offseason, the Canucks went out and signed Tyler Myers to play the next six years for them at right defense, and with veteran Alex Edler, that would give the Canucks a very formidable top four. Cehlarik has minimal value, but he would be a cheap bottom-six forward for the Canucks.

On defense, Troy Stecher is a very underrated top-four guy. He can play powerplay and penalty kill minutes and was a +9 on a poor Canucks team last season. With Mcavoy’s departure, Brandon Carlo would slide into his top pairing spot with Stecher filling in on the second pairing.

The Bruins with Brock Boeser may tout the best forward core in the entire NHL. Boeser would likely slot into David Krejci’s right, allowing the perfection line to stay together and keep a great 1-2-3 core of Patrice Bergeron, Krejci, and Charlie Coyle.

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Debrusk – Krejci – Boeser

Heinen – Coyle – Studnicka/Kuhlman/Bjork

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

Chara – Carlo

Krug – Stecher

Grzelyck – Clifton

That’s a formidable lineup.

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Dallas Stars

(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Winnipeg

To Winnipeg: Charlie Mcavoy

To Boston: Kyle Connor, Sami Niku, 2020 3rd round pick

With the departure of Jacob Trouba (NYR) and Tyler Myers (VAN), the Jets have a big hole to fill on their right side. Just like Vancouver, the Jets have a ton depth at forward. Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers, Blake Wheeler, Patrick Laine, and Kyle Connor are all 60 point players, and with 4/5 of those players being 26 or younger (and guys like Jack Roslovic, Kristian Vesalainen and Mason Appleton nearing their breakout years) they will have a formidable core for years to come.

The Bruins would certainly look to acquire one of the younger top six guys have, a guy like Patrick Laine could look really good in the black and gold, but his upcoming contract would likely prove too big for the Bruins and their already tough cap situation. Scheifele seems to be the guy that will take the “C” once Wheeler calls it quits and is as untouchable as any other guy in the league. That leaves Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers. Connor is a slightly better player, but Ehlers brings the ability to play right wing. It’s a bit of a toss-up, but I’d like Connor simply because he’s the better player and I can see his skill set being able to transition to the right side.

Along with Connor, the Bruins would get Sami Niku who is a very solid prospect on the verge of eating some big minutes in the NHL. He had a great year in the AHL two seasons ago and bounced between the NHL and AHL last season, playing well in each league. He’s not ready for a top-four role quite yet, but he’s another guy like Urho Vaakanainen and Jeremy Lauzon that could be a big piece of the defense of the future. The 3rd rounder is added for some decent value in a deep draft.

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Debrusk – Krejci – Connor

Heinen – Coyle – Studnicka/Kuhlman/Bjork

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

Krug – Carlo

Chara – Grzelyck

Niku – Clifton

The defense for this lineup is definitely not as good as the hypothetical Vancouver trade lineup as it’s a bit of a question mark on how good Gryz can be on his off-side (although I don’t see him having a major issue with it) and the decrease of flexibility it gives for coach Bruce Cassidy.

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Other Potential Suitors

Anaheim

Rikard Rakell would definitely be a good fit in Boston, if the Bs were able to pry away a guy like Josh Manson to go along with Rakell, it would be a very interesting trade, but I couldn’t see Anaheim moving two key pieces away for just one coming back.

Chicago

I was close to putting some sort of swap of Alex Debrincat and Mcavoy but decided against it as the Blackhawks have far too much money already locked up on defense.

Arizona

Clayton Keller? A swap of two former teammates at Boston University could’ve been very enticing for both sides.

I’d say Vancouver is the best fit out of all the teams I listed but again, there’s next to no chance anything like this would happen and quite frankly, I don’t even want to see Mcavoy wear another jersey for the rest of his career. Still an enjoyable article to write.

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Bruins Re-Sign Forward Peter Cehlarik

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

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Bruins general manger Don Sweeney announced this morning that Boston has re-signed forward Peter Cehlarik to a one-year, two-way deal. The winger’s contract will carry an NHL cap-hit of $700,000.

The Zilina, Slovakia native has mostly spent the past three seasons with the Providence Bruins of the AHL with various cameo appearances with the varsity club in Boston after signing his entry level contract and coming overseas to North America in 2016.  In 137 games played in the AHL over that span, the 23-year-old registered 43 goals and 56 assists for 99 points as well as a plus-17 rating. Additionally, in 37 career games played in the NHL, Cehlarik has 5-5-10 totals with a plus-5 rating.

Last season, Cehlarik tallied 38 points (12 goals and 26 assists) for Providence in 53 games, matching his career-high for points in the AHL. In 20 games for the Bruins last year, the forward notched 6-4-10 totals, highlighted by a two-goal performance against the Philadelphia Flyers in his season debut.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound winger was selected by Boston 90th overall in the third round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. The subject of trade rumors and other speculation a few times in his career, this new deal is likely one more chance for Cehlarik to make a meaningful, lasting impact with the big squad in Boston. It is also worth noting that should Cehlarik not make the NHL roster out of training camp and need to be sent down to the AHL, he will need to clear waivers before reporting to Providence.

Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Weekend Recap

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Sam Fryman  |  Follow Me On Twitter @sfryman20

The Providence Bruins celebrated Star Wars weekend at home, and the Force of offense was certainly with them as they looked to pick up four points and further distance themselves from their playoff challengers.

Friday, March 22nd, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. The Belleville Senators (Home)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

First Period:

Throughout the first period, there wasn’t much scoring to be noted or even critical chances. With two minutes to go in the period, defenseman Jordan Murray got whistled for interference, and the Bruins pounced on the opportunity. Trent Frederic and JFK set up Peter Cehlarik in front of the net to give Providence the first goal of the game. With lineup changes affecting all three of those men in recent weeks, it was a wonderful surprise to see that they hadn’t lost any offensive touch.

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Score: 1-0 Bruins

Second Period:

The second period featured a collection of close calls for both teams, but physicality would come to be the story as the score remained the same. In the closing seconds of the period, Trent Frederic received a nasty hit from Darren Archibald, and the team didn’t take to it kindly. While Anton Blidh only received a roughing minor for sticking up for his teammate, Archibald was slapped with a five-minute cross-checking major as well as a game misconduct. Frederic was shaken but thankfully was able to return to the game.

Score: 1-0 Bruins

Third Period:

With the third period getting started, the Senators had racked up almost half an hour of combined penalty minutes. Goaltender Marcus Hogberg kept them in the game with Jedi like reflexes but the offense needed to get one more past the Providence netminder Zane McIntyre. Providence would hold Belleville to just one shot on goal in the final frame and the captain Jordan Szwarz finished off the game with the empty net tally. It was the fourth straight game in which the Bruins collected points. Next up to finish out the weekend was the Binghamton Devils, who simply hoped to stop the bleeding of a long drought.

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Final: 2-0 Bruins

Saturday, March 23rd, 2019, Providence Bruins vs. The Binghampton Devils (Home)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

First Period:

The game began with an unusual amount of stoppages as there were four icing calls against both Binghamton and Providence within the first minute and a half. With the Devils holding on to the final playoff spot in the Atlantic, a road win was critical for improving their chances. Binghamton was also hoping to end a massive losing streak, which has left them struggling to find points down the stretch.

The visitors finally began the scoring with six minutes to go in the opening period. Tariq Hammond delivered a great pass to the far side circle, and Nick Lappin was able to pick up his 17th goal of the year. The goaltenders had put on a good show before then as “Darth Vladar,” and Evan Cormier were the men between the pipes on the backend of Star Wars weekend in the Dunk. The Bruins would also gain some late opportunities with the man advantage, carrying over just short of a full power play to the beginning of the second period.

Score: 1-0 Binghamton

Second Period:

The Bruins wouldn’t capitalize on those chances, but just like the Empire, the Bruins would strike back with just about six minutes gone in the second period. After a great block in the offensive zone by Kyle Cumiskey, a two on one went back the other way, and Jordan Szwarz buried the goal to tie the game.

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As the game went on to the late stages of the second Gemel Smith made a great pass off of another turnover as Paul Carey finished with the goal to give the Bruins the lead. It was yet another multi-point game for Carey in the month of March as he has been the shining star offensively for Providence. The Bruins also vastly improved the shot total in the second frame as they had been trailing Binghamton in that department after the first twenty minutes.

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Score: 2-1 Bruins

Third Period:

The third period started with a penalty that would work in Providence’s favor. A double minor was assessed to defenseman Eric Gryba, who almost couldn’t stay out of the sin bin the entire night. Early in the four-minute advantage, Paul Carey picked up his second goal of the night. Jordan Szwarz and Gemel Smith again picked up assists.

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The victory was clinched with Carey’s stellar performance, and the Bruins now stand seven points clear of fifth place Wilkes Barre/Scranton with nine games left to be played. Providence will hit the road against those Penguins on Thursday, their first of three consecutive road games to end the month of March.

Final: 3-1 Bruins

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Bruins AHL Affiliate: Providence Bruins Week 23 Recap

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By Sam Fryman | Follow me on Twitter @sfryman20

Friday, March 15th, 2019, Providence Bruins Vs. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Road)

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

Since its founding, Pennsylvania has always been known as the Keystone State. Beginning on Friday, the Bruins hoped two key victories against teams in that state would offer them the key to a playoff berth. First up were the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, a team sitting five points behind Providence after just three wins in their last ten games. The Bruins also looked much different than last weekend with Connor Clifton, Trent Frederic, and Paul Carey all up with the big club and five more players out with injuries.

First Period:

The action started just 47 seconds as Zach Senyshyn got a lucky deflection right in front of Alex Lyon. The first shot was set up by Karson Kuhlman who continues his consistent offensive play for Providence. Not even a minute later, the oldest member of Bruins proved he is still a force to be reckoned with. Lee Stempniak made it two goals on two shots and the Phantoms were quickly back on their heels. For the rest of the period, Dan Vladar came up with some huge saves, including a pair of robberies on Mike Vecchione and Justin Bailey.

Score: 2-0 Bruins

Second Period:

Special teams became the story for both Providence and Lehigh Valley as the game got to its late stages. After David Kase out the Phantoms on the board just 56 seconds in the second period with a power play, Lee Stempniak continued his brilliant night early in the third. From a good steal by Karson Kuhlman, Stempniak got the puck unchallenged and easily found the back of the net.

Score: 2-1 Bruins

Third Period:

Two minutes later, the ever aggressive Tyrell Goulbourne got sent to the box for roughing and Gemel Smith made him pay. The Bruins forward picked up his 13th goal of the season to give Providence a 4-1 lead.

As the minutes ticked down in regulation, Lehigh Valley applied a highly aggressive strategy by pulling goalie Alex Lyon with over seven minutes remaining to try to stage a comeback. The plan backfired as Peter Cehlarik put one into the empty net. A couple of garbage time goals from Connor Bunnaman and Greg Carey gave the Phantoms a glimmer of hope, but in the end, it wasn’t enough as Providence walked away with a 5-3 victory to begin the weekend.

Final: 5-3 Bruins

Saturday, March 16th, 2019, Providence Bruins Vs. The Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

First Period:

Coming off of a solid win against the Phantoms, the Bruins went a little further up the Northeast Extension to take on the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins. Through the first period of play, there were no goals to talk about although the Bruins held Wilkes Barre/Scranton to just five total shots in the period, many of them coming late.

Score: 0-0

Second Period:

The even battle was finally put to an end late in the second period with Jake Lucchini netting his first career AHL goal. He waited at the side of the net as a great two on one was started by Jimmy Hayes. Before that tally Zane McIntyre had been having one of his strongest periods of the season, turning aside many close chances from the Penguins.

Score: 1-0 Penguins

Third Period:

At the halfway point of the third period, the hard checking pressure for the Bruins finally paid off as they tied the game at one. Tristan Jarry was caught out of position and Ryan Fitzgerald found the puck on the doorstep. A three on two rush got the offense going for Providence and Karson Kuhlman was able to send in a deadly slap shot for his teammates to collect. Jakub Zboril thought he might have had the go-ahead goal with two and a half minutes to go but Jarry denied him with an aggressive, spinning save to keep the game tied.

Score: 1-1

Overtime:

Adam Johnson ended the game just over a minute into the overtime period for Wilkes Barre/Scranton. He lifted a superb forehand to backhand shot top shelf over Zane McIntyre to give the Penguins their 30th win of the season. The Bruins have one more game on the road against the Laval Rocket before returning home on Wednesday, March 22nd against the Belleville Senators. Every point will be on the line and we’ll recap every game!

Final: 2-1 Penguins

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What Do The Bruins Gain With Carey/Frederic Over Cehlarik?

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Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports

By: Cam McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter: @CSthinks

I will not sit here and pretend to be some kind of savant who has superior knowledge over NHL GMs when it comes to the business side of hockey. The extent of my knowledge on the business side of an NHL team could be summed up by the phrase, “pay the better guys more money.”

With that out of the way, my focus shifts to the prolonged influx of Providence Bruins that have been gracing the lineup of their older brother (or sister) team over the course of this season. Names like Vaakanainen, Clifton, Frederic, Lauzon, Kuhlman, Forsbacka-Karlsson, Zboril, Bjork, Smith, Stempniak, and now Carey, have all found shelter from the AHL storm for at least a few nights this season. Some have shown more promise than others. Some have demonstrated that they are not yet ready for the NHL. Some showed the raw talent that has yet to be harnessed into an effective system within the confines of a team.

And almost all of them have demonstrated that their names are difficult to pronounce. Kudos to Gemel Smith, Connor Clifton, and Paul Carey for making it easy on me.

Importance

With the Bruins settled fairly squarely in a playoff spot barring any sort of colossal blunder to finish the season, the quest for home ice is one that cannot, in my opinion, be under-emphasized. Currently, the Bruins are the meat in the Tampa/Toronto sandwich (there are so many better ways to say that, but I’m very hungry). This group of three teams (TB, BOS, TOR) currently sits as three of the top five teams in the entire league.

With the notion that Toronto will almost certainly be the first-round matchup for the Black and Gold, a rational hockey observer will take note of how things have changed since last season’s matchup with the Leafs. Matthews and Marner are both having career years, and John Tavares has brought even more offensive punch to the lineup. With Morgan Reilly gaining another year’s experience, Toronto is a better team than they were last year. This makes home ice all the more important for the Bruins to secure.

This doesn’t happen without a strong finish—something that will require a lineup that is most conducive to effective and sustained play. As things look now, the influx of players from Providence– most recently Trent Frederic and Paul Carey (along with Connor Clifton)– constantly joining then leaving the Bruins does not seem most conducive to success down the stretch for the team.

 

Win Now.

The Bruins have a team that is good enough to pursue a “win now” approach. While many might rightfully slot Tampa as a stronger team entering the playoffs, it is well within the realm of possibilities that Boston squeaks out a win in a seven-game series against the Bolts. I mean, this is sports. Don’t be ignorant.

For a team that needs to place significant importance on maintained success heading into the postseason, their lineup is changing far too much. Spotty, three-game stints for more than half a dozen AHL-ers might be something that is more fathomable when the playoffs and home ice is so close within reach. If the Bruins were out of playoff contention, then, by all means, I might say “go nuts” and maybe even support a scenario where the P-Bruins and the big club even switch jerseys and have a fun little time! But that’s not the case. Also sounds like a decent idea for a screenplay. So I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.

Consistency.

Anyone who has played hockey at a high level understands that chemistry, consistency, and familiarity with those around you are all conducive to enhanced on-ice performance. With the exception of Karson Kuhlman and Cehlarik, no call-up from Providence has been able to quickly gel with the line-mates with whom they are placed. This speaks volumes about the versatility of each of these two.

The events of the past few days have defied logic in the sense that the Bruins are now relying on players unfamiliar with the Bruins personnel and style of play to join the squad and move things forward. Chemistry is fostered through players being given sufficient time to learn one another’s play styles. Sure, it would be awesome if everyone knew one another’s tendencies on the ice after just shaking hands. But to my knowledge, we don’t have the technology to make that happen yet. And thus, that is not how things work.

Peter Cehlarik got sent down to Providence after Bruce Cassidy made him put on his seatbelt, securing him to the bench, for the third time in less than two weeks. Cehlarik was afforded a bafflingly short leash, and by all accounts actually played a strong style of hockey when he was allowed to be on the ice. He found early chemistry with David Krejci, and more recently proved to be a compatible linemate for newcomer Charlie Coyle amidst an absolute jumble of forwards thanks to injuries. Coyle and Cehlarik strung together shifts that consisted of sustained possessions, offensive zone time, and that resulted in offensive zone face-offs. While not a whole lot of scoring resulted from the play of these two, it’s difficult to produce when you are secured to the bench.

While the handling of Cehlarik is a touch bothersome, it has been clear that of the AHL call-ups this season, he has been far and away the most effective. Which makes it even more frustrating that he has been sent to Providence in favor of Paul Carey and Trent Frederic. Frederic had around 10 games with the Bruins earlier in the season. He showed toughness, strong skating, and a good compete level. But what shone through even more than these things was that he was both raw, and not ready to join Bruins regularly.

Carey is new to the Bruins organization, and has shown consistent production and reliability at the AHL level. However, he has seen time in just five NHL games this season, amassing zero points with zero goals, and zero assists. There is a lot more to hockey than point production. But Cehlarik has proven that he brings more than scoring, so the decision to go with an untested call-up inserted into the lineup when consistency and chemistry are at a premium is a real kick in the shin.

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Photo Credit: David Zalubowski/ AP

Moving forward.

I hope I’m wrong about the drawbacks of the recent activity between Providence and Boston. If I’m wrong, then we win.

Here’ the thing, though: I don’t think I’m wrong. I will be absolutely shocked if suddenly Trent Frederic and Paul Carey outshine Peter Cehlarik’s 200-foot game in their time with the Bruins.

If I’m right, then not only will the Bruins suffer, but they will have thrust more young prospects (Carey is not all that young) into the fire before they were ready. Confidence is a real thing that coaches and GM’s should be expected to manage, and if these prospects are treated with the same zero-tolerance policy that Cehlarik was, then we might see a tucking of tails among them.

In any case, it’s unreasonable to expect a player to find their groove in their first game or two. Unless that player is Dean Youngblood.

But even he was given a short leash by his coach.

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Bruins Assign Peter Cehlarik To Providence

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(Photo Credit: Steve Babineau / Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy announced this afternoon that forward Peter Cehlarik has been assigned to Providence, in addition to several other updates, including Connor Clifton and Paul Carey being recalled. The 23-year-old has split time between the big club in Boston and the Providence Bruins this season, having suited up in 20 games for Boston and 39 for Providence.

During his time with the Bruins this season, Cehlarik has 4/2/6 totals to go along with a plus-3 rating and six penalty minutes; with Boston’s AHL club, the Czech has totaled 10 goals and 19 assists for 29 points in addition to a minus-1 rating and eight penalty minutes. In 37 career games played in the NHL, the 6-foot-2, 202-pound winger has amassed 5/5/10 numbers on top of a plus-5 rating and eight penalty minutes.

“The time for him [Cehlarik] to get better is in Providence,” Cassidy said of the team’s decision to re-assign the winger. Cassidy also mentioned that, ideally, Cehlarik would stay and practice with the team; however, the way the schedule looks for the near future, the team felt the best option would be to send him down.

A third-round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft (90th-overall), Cehlarik returns to a P-Bruins lineup that sits fourth in the Atlantic Division–two points off sole possession of third place–and is entering an important stretch of games as the team jockeys for position with the Calder Cup Playoffs creeping closer. With 41 goals and 49 assists for 70 points in 123 AHL games played, Cehlarik will look to return to his role as a key contributor for Providence as the team’s regular season draws to a close.

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Bruins’ Johansson Sustains Lung Contusion

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photo credit: Getty Images

By: Mandi Mahoney | Check me out on Twitter @phonymahoney

The Boston Bruins announced this evening that Bruins forward Marcus Johansson has sustained a lung contusion. Tuesday night in Boston, the newly acquired Johansson was injured during the first period of a 4-3 win against the Carolina Hurricanes. Johansson collided with Hurricanes wing Micheal Ferland immediately after dishing the puck to linemate Jake DeBrusk. Johansson would not return to the game after the hit.

As it turns out, Johansson was brought to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was admitted and stayed overnight for observation. The 28-year-old Swede suffered a lung contusion and will be re-evaluated by specialists in a week’s time. Cross your fingers, Bruins fans.

Johansson being sidelined for an extended period would be quite the blow against the Bruins’ postseason aspirations, but given the timeline announced by the team, that likely will not happen. MoJo has a history of concussions — one of them thanks to the antics of new teammate Brad Marchand — so there is almost definitely a feeling of relief in regard to today’s diagnosis.

As for the Bruins’ lineup in Johansson’s absence, expect Slovak wing Peter Cehlarik to continue to play right wing on the second line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. Cehlarik did an admirable job filling in for the injured Johansson for the remainder of the game against Carolina and is the best choice out of the options the Bruins have (Joakim Nordstrom and David Backes) to slide into Johansson’s roster spot.

With any luck, this will only be a temporary setback for Johansson and the Bruins. Acquiring him was a smart trade deadline move on Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney’s part, and he certainly has a lot to offer.  Let’s hope for a smooth recovery and return to the lineup.

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The Value of Peter Cehlarik Down the Bruins’ Homestretch

( Photo Credit: Stan Szeto/ USA TODAY Sports )

By: Cam McCusker  |  Follow Me On Twitter @CSthinks

 

Similar to last year, late in the season the Bruins now again find themselves playing some of their best hockey in a time where securing a playoff spot is paramount. While they pose no threat to the Lightning in terms of contention for the Presidents’ Trophy, they do have an opportunity to build and secure the necessary chemistry with their post-deadline roster that will be instrumental to their postseason success. If their first couple games with new additions Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson are any indication of the Bruins’ current state, then their ceiling is likely higher than any of us may have thought.

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The needs that Coyle and Johansson address for the Black and Gold are forward depth, and secondary scoring. Both players are proven contributors at the NHL level and bring strong skating, reliability, and even some playoff experience to a relatively young Bruins roster.

But what might be overlooked amidst the arrival of these deadline acquisitions is the homegrown talent that the Bruins’ development system has provided to the big club in Peter Cehlarik.

After a first half of the season where the absence of secondary scoring was excruciatingly apparent, questions were raised as to who would man David Krejci’s right side, and who would play with Danton Heinen on the third line.

Enter Cehlarik, in mid- January. Sure he’s been a regular in the lineup alongside Krejci during the Bruins’ recent stretch of brilliance where they’ve been able to, at the time of this writing, take points in 14 straight games. But I’m not one of those who would advocate that he remain in the lineup because of the team’s success. If he were playing horribly, I’d want him gone. But he hasn’t. So I don’t.

Cehlarik brings much more to the Bruin’s squad than taking up space near David Krejci in the musical chairs game that was the second line right wing. And, now that it looks like that spot might be best suited for Marcus Johansson, it becomes all the more important to acknowledge the depth of Cehlarik’s game.

At first glance, the most notable asset of Cehlarik’s is his frame. He’s a big boy, but not lost in his size is the grace with which he plays the wing. More than just a big body Bugatti, he’s a strong skater who is heavy on pucks and plays with the poise of a more experienced player. Cehlarik’s patience and puck possession lent themselves well to a forward core that was looking for maintained offensive zone time once 37, 88, and 63 got off the ice. Now, those traits only deepen the Bruins’ forward unit.

( Photo Credit: Rocky W. Widner/ NHL/ Getty Images )

There is no panic in Cehlarik’s game, and he’s shown that he can be effective on both the second line as a right winger or on the third line as a left winger. Now, with Coyle and Johansson joining the Bruins’, Bruce Cassidy essentially has 3 seriously versatile wings that can realistically slot in anywhere among his top 9 forwards. And not just slot in, but affect the game positively. With the B’s fourth line essentially set in stone, many might naturally assume that veteran David Backes or Joakim Nordstrom might be looked to as Coyle’s (for the time being) linemates on the third forward unit. If Cassidy is looking to maximize the effectiveness of his forward lines, playing either of these two would be a mistake.

Why not Backes?

Certainly fans of the Bruins’ will look at Backes’s contract and see that he has underperformed incredibly… so much so that it leaves someone like me wondering if they misplaced a decimal point somewhere in his contract.

At any rate, while Backes and Cehlarik both benefit from their size, Cehlarik has proven to be a significantly stronger presence in the offensive zone. While his scoring hasn’t blown anyone away, his PPG is higher than Backes, despite Backes having had almost an entire year to try and grace the scoresheet on the second powerplay unit. Cehlarik has proven to be both a stronger passer and a far more effective and creative playmaker than Backes. If Cassidy decides to play forwards who are oldest, then he should certainly play Backes over Cehlarik. However, if he decides to maximize the potential and effectiveness of his forward units, then expect to see Cehlarik in the lineup.

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What about Nordstrom?

While I don’t suspect that many people will be making a case for Nordstrom to be slotted into the Bruins top 9, there undoubtedly will be a few. These are likely the same fans that scream “SHOOT” as soon as the puck crosses the offensive blueline. It’s likely they’ve seen Nordstrom skate in a straight line and marveled at his speed. Don’t get me wrong, being fast is almost always a good thing. Unless you don’t know how to stop (See: Luis Mendoza, 1994 Junior Goodwill Games).

I don’t want to be cynical. I even liked Nordstrom in the lineup at the beginning of the season, when the Bruins would come out flat at times. He brought speed, energy, and in the eyes of this writer he is a strong shot blocker. There’s always room for guys that block shots on my teams. However, like Backes, Nordstrom’s bag of tricks have left him in “No Man’s Land” on a lineup of forwards that has become significantly deeper over the past month and a half.  He doesn’t possess the skill and poise that Cehlarik does, and his skating is not enough to counteract that fact.

( Photo Credit: Harry How/ Getty Images )

Homestretch

With all of that being said, I do like having two veteran forwards in the on-deck circle. And it’s easy to be objective about the displacement of said veteran forwards from behind a keyboard, and not in the locker room with them (both are, by all accounts, awesome teammates). But that’s exactly how putting together the best possible lineup should be done: objectively.

And who knows, with the injury troubles the Bruins have faced this season and for last year’s playoffs (*knocks on wood while crossing fingers, hoping the hockey Gods didn’t hear*), Backes and Nordstrom might be called upon to pinch hit.

But until that day comes, I say let Young Celery wheel and deal.

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Could The Bruins Have Matched An Offer On Stone?

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By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

The prize of the NHL trade deadline has been dealt. Mark Stone ends up in Las Vegas with the Golden Knights. The cost? Erik Brannstrom, Oscar Lindberg and a 2020 2nd round pick.

Stone is well-regarded as one of the best two-way wingers in the entire league and is still just 26 years old. This season he has already set a career high in goals (28) and is two points away from his career high of 64. Another major factor about Stone is the fact that, soon after the trade went through, he signed an eight-year extension worth $9.5 million annually.

(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The main piece the Senators got in return was 19-year-old defenseman Erik Brannstrom. Brannstrom was drafted 15th overall in 2017 and is widely considered as an A+ level prospect. The general consensus during “TSN Tradecentre” was that Brannstrom is easily a top-ten prospect in the league right now.

The young Swede has played well in his first season in North America, totaling 28 points in 41 games in the AHL as a D-man. The year prior, he posted 15 points in 44 games playing as a kid against men in the SHL. Brannstrom has also had a lot of international success. Last year, he was paired with phenom Rasmus Dahlin on Sweden’s World Junior team and was a big reason why the team got to the finals. This past World Juniors, he led the Swedes in goals with four. While the comparisons to Erik Karlsson may be a bit far-fetched, there’s no question Brannstrom will develop into a great NHLer when the time comes.

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 24: Oscar Lindberg #24 of the Vegas Golden Knights skates with the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during the game at T-Mobile Arena on October 24, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

The only other player Vegas gave up was forward Oscar Lindberg. Lindberg hasn’t quite replicated his successful rookie season with the New York Rangers where he tallied 13 goals and 28 points in 68 games but has been a reliable two-way forward since then. At 27, he still has time to grow into a better player.

A lot of Bruins’ fans were salivating at the potential of Stone being in the black and gold, and there’s no doubting he would be a perfect fit for Boston, but the biggest problem was clearly the price. Seeing what Stone was able to get in return, what would be a similar return from the Bruins?

Despite having a great farm system, the Bruins don’t tout an A+ prospect like Brannstrom. The closest player to would be fellow 2017 1st rounder, Urho Vaakanainen. While Vaakanainen doesn’t have the offensive pedigree that Erik has, he is still a highly touted two-way defenseman with a ton of upside.

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When Vaakanainen was drafted, Jamie Langenbrunner, Boston’s player development coordinator, had a lot to say about the young Fin. “I think Scott mentioned to me … which I thought was high praise for a guy that could effortlessly skate around the rink,” Langenbrunner said. “[Vaakanainen] seems to have a little bit of those tendencies that he kind of floats on his skates a little bit, and it’s something that I don’t believe you can really teach.” Any comparison to a Hall-of-Famer is a good thing.

The Bruins clearly think highly of the 20-year-old. When the Bruins D-core was riddled with injuries, the Bruins decided to call up Vaakainanen despite being just 19 at the time and within his first season in North America. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see much of the defenseman as he suffered a concussion in just his second game in the NHL. When healthy. Vaakanainen went on to win the gold medal in this year’s World Juniors, tallying four assists in seven games with a +5 rating for team Finland.

Since Vaakanainen isn’t quite the player that Brannstrom projects to be, you’d think a pick would need to be added to even out their hypothetical values there. Maybe exchanging the 2nd rounder that Vegas gave up for a 1st and adding a lower pick, let’s say a 4th.

Boston Bruins v Anaheim Ducks

(Photo Courtesy Of CBS Boston – CBS Local)

So at this point, the deal is Stone for Vaakanainen, a 1st round pick, and a 4th round pick. I’m sure Ottawa wanted a roster player in return, preferably a younger player with a bit of room to grow (just as Oscar Lindberg was), so maybe a guy like Peter Cehlarik would also go the other way.

Cehlarik, 23, is a smart player with a great work ethic; however, he doesn’t have a massive ceiling. With that said, he has shown quite a bit of promise throughout his brief stint in the NHL. This season, he has four goals and six points in his 14 games with Boston.

So would a realistic offer for Mark Stone be Urho Vaakanainen, a 2020 1st, 2019 4th, and Peter Cehlarik? I’d say it’s pretty similar in value to what Vegas gave up, but I’m not sure either team would end up doing it. According to @BruinsNetwork on twitter, it was what Vegas offered, not what the Bruins didn’t in regards to Stone so maybe he was destined to never be a Bruin.

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