Can Backes Still Be A Valuable Contributor For The Bruins?

david-backes-e1520460522906( Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports )

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow me on Twitter @thesportsguy97

Two years ago, the Bruins made an overpay in free agency. Frequently on the first day of free agency teams will pay too much for players that won’t ever live up to their contract. Overpaying happens all the time, very rarely is a player paid the right amount based on their skills. Often, a player will score a rich deal based on their past performance and won’t be able to be the same player. These are some of the risks teams take when making a decision to sign players in free agency. The Bruins made a decision to bring in David Backes two years ago on a five-year $30 million deal and this season will be a make or break year for the 34-year-old winger.

In two seasons in Boston, the former St. Louis Blues captain has recorded point totals of 38 and 33 respectively. He played in 74 games his first season and then just 57 games last season after dealing with injury issues early in the season. Obviously, the point production has gradually gone down for him the last three years, going from 45 his last year in St. Louis to 33 last season. Missing 17 games last season certainly put him behind the eight ball but he ended up finishing just five points behind his previous season total. To me, there are still positives to carry away from last season for Number 42. Playing with Danton Heinen and Riley Nash for most of the season, Backes looked comfortable in his role and provided some much-needed leadership for a team still adjusting to life with Bruce Cassidy. Backes has played in 84 regular season games under Cassidy, recording 49 points.

There have been trade rumors galore this offseason which have included Backes, and this is a popular idea because of his big contract. Backes was signed in 2016, a summer in which many players were given huge contracts but most of these players have failed to live up to these rich deals.

Now in no way, shape or form am I saying Backes isn’t overpaid because in retrospect a five-year deal to a 32-year-old player is very dicey, especially when currently he is the sixth-highest paid player on the roster according to Cap-Friendly. You certainly wouldn’t say he’s the sixth-best on the roster, but I still believe he can be a valuable piece for the team going forward. He was one of the main reasons the Bruins were able to regroup and make the playoffs two years ago as he demonstrated great leadership and solid play down the stretch. After recording just 22 points in his first 57 games that year, he put up 16 points in his final 27 games to help the B’s return to the postseason for the first time in three seasons.

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Obviously, yes there are concerns about his age and his style of play but looking at what he’s done under Cassidy, I’d say give him a chance to be a solid player this season. Backes’ style of play is definitely being fazed out in the current NHL, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t still be a physical force of a player. Backes can still be an effective player on the power play and can still be relatively solid in five on five play and if he can hit people and get to the front of the net than that’s a bonus. In my opinion, to win a Stanley Cup, you need players like Backes you will give it all for the team, mentor the younger players and give you solid performances when needed. Certainly, it’s very easy for players this day-in-age to be overpaid and it’s possible that the player won’t live up to the money but sometimes you make sacrifices in the name of salary to bring in players you believe can help win a championship.

What To Expect From Bruins’ Sean Kuraly

 

sean-kuraly_1mpv81awsrr0p1wh2p2pwy7ua2 22( Photo Credit: Getty Images )

By: Jamie Gatlin   |   Check Me Out On Twitter: @JamieGatlin1217

Earlier in the offseason, the Bruins re-signed Sean Kuraly to a three-year deal. Kuraly was key on the Bruins fourth line last year in his second NHL season. With the departures of Riley Nash and Tim Schaller, he could see time on the Bruins third line this upcoming season. Kuraly is not an explosive offensive player like his teammates Brad Marchand or David Pastrnak. He is still valuable to the Bruins in many different ways.

Kuraly endeared himself to Bruins fans last season with his all-out play. The Bruins fourth line of Kuraly, Noel Acciari, and Tim Schaller was one of the most popular in recent memory. They drew comparisons to the Bruins fourth line in 2011 due to their grit and physicality. Kuraly, in particular, is not afraid to skate through someone to get to the puck or sacrifice his body for the team. In his second NHL campaign, he had six goals and eight assists. In the playoffs, he had two goals and two assists including a goal that exemplified his style of play. In Game one of the first-round against Toronto Kuraly batted a rebound out of the air to give the Bruins a 4-1 lead. Kuraly did not give up on the play and showed tremendous concentration by being able to locate the puck while in mid-air.

This goal was not Kuraly’s first impactful playoff moment. During the 2016-2017 season, Kuraly appeared in four playoff games for the Bruins. He had two goals including the game winner in game five against the Senators. Before last season he was not seen as a key piece on the Bruins roster. As Kuraly has gained more experience, he has only gotten better. He is not only fun to watch because of his grit but the energy he brings to the ice.

Kuraly is a bottle of energy on the ice which showed when the Bruins fourth line reenergized the team throughout the season. Every time the Bruins needed a boast the Bruins fourth line was there to shift the momentum. When the Bruins scored a goal with Kuraly on the ice, you would have thought he just scored the game winner to win the Stanley Cup based on his reaction. That is one of the characteristics Kuraly brings to the table that does not show up on the stat sheet.

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Kuraly will never be a thirty goal scorer or record 100 points in a season. Next season his goals and assists should improve If he moves up to the third line. If he remains on the fourth line, he will not see a significant point increase but should still be able to score more than six goals. Last season he was third on the team in hits which shouldn’t change in the 2018-2019 season. Regardless of what line he is on Kuraly will bring the same grit and energy every shift. He affects the game in ways that do not show up on the stat sheet, and that will only continue next season.

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Boston Bruins, Sean Kuraly Agree To Three-Year Deal

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PHOTO CREDITS: (AP Photo)

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

The Boston Bruins have announced today, July 3rd, that restricted free agent Sean Kuraly to a three-year contract worth $1.275 million per season.

Kuraly recently joined the Bruins back in 2015 in a trade involving the San Jose Sharks. The Bruins sent recently acquired Martin Jones to the Sharks in exchange for Sean Kuraly and San Jose’s 2016 1st Round Pick in the NHL Entry Draft (Trent Frederic).

Drafted 133rd overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Kuraly never got the change to play in the big leagues. He spent the majority of his time post-draft in the NCAA with Miami University, where he scored 93 points in 154 career games. The first year after the trade to the Bruins, Kuraly remained with Miami University, racking up 23 points in 63 games that year.

The next season, however, Kuraly would get the opportunity to play in the American Hockey League with the Boston Bruins’ affiliate team, the Providence Bruins. Joining the P-Bruins at age 24, Kuraly would play in only eight games, scoring a single point with Providence, before getting the call to join the Bruins in the National Hockey League. During the five games he played in November, Kuraly would fail to score a point. The lack of production would find him back in Providence for a good portion of the season.

Again in April, Kuraly would get another opportunity to prove his worth in Boston due to a lower-body injury to Jimmy Hayes. In his first game back in the NHL on April 2nd, Kuraly would assist on a Zdeno Chara goal, signifying his first career NHL point. Sean played in another two games during the regular season of ’16/’17 but managed to remain off the score sheet.

Sean Kuraly would stay with the team heading into the playoffs, skating in both Game One and Two against the Ottawa Senators. Having not played in the third or fourth game of the series, Kuraly would get yet another chance to perform in the postseason in Game Five, replacing Ryan Spooner who was not quite ready to enter the lineup following an injury.

It would be Game Five where Sean Kuraly won over the hearts of the Boston fan base, scoring two goals including the double-overtime winner that cut the Senators’ series lead to 3-2. In addition, Kuraly’s post-goal celebration showed the passion that this man possesses.

In August of 2017, Sean Kuraly was interviewed by the Columbus Dispatch during the Bruins’ training camp, wondering if the two goals in the playoffs would earn him a spot in the upcoming season.

“It starts all over again,” he said. “Did I help myself by scoring two goals in the playoffs and playing my role? Absolutely. But it really does start over. We have so many good, young players going to camp.” 

Turns out, Sean would indeed impress the Bruins management, earning a full-time spot on the Bruins’ bottom-six. Kuraly would play in all of the first 76 games, before dealing with an upper-body injury prior to the playoffs. The injury would cost him seven games, but he managed to be ready for Game One versus Toronto.

In the seventy-six games of the regular season, Sean finished with 6-8-14 totals with a -5 rating. He would finish third on the team for most hits, (143), behind only Kevan Miller and Noel Acciari. Kuraly had a good takeaway to giveaway ratio considering the lack of ice-time, ending the year with 32 takeaways and only 28 giveaways.

The playoffs would not be as legendary as the 2017 Playoffs, however, he would still score four points (two goals), in the twelve postseason games.

Heading into the 2018-2019 season, Kuraly positions himself in a good spot for a third-line center role. Due to the loss of Riley Nash and Tim Schaller in free agency, Kuraly seems like the best option to man the middle on the third-line. Regardless, the signing of Kuraly is a steal for both term and salary. Below is the current cap space of the Bruins following his signing.

So, was the Kuraly signing a good one? Let me know on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj.

Bruins Should Avoid Making Waves In Free Agency

Don Sweeney

Credit: Chris Christo

By: Drew Johnson | Follow Me On Twitter: @doobshmoob

The Boston Bruins must re-sign Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Ryan Donato, and Danton Heinen next summer. That is in addition to guys like Noel Acciari and Adam McQuaid if they earn an extension this season. Think about how much that may cost.

For this reason, and a many more, General Manager Don Sweeney ought not to make a big splash in free agency this offseason.

Who Will The Bruins Re-Sign?

The Bruins have a number of players they will be looking to re-sign this offseason. While they are looking to reel in Rick Nash for another year (or more), that could potentially be a mistake looking at the salary cap.

Sweeney has just shy of $9 million to work with, according to capfriendly.com. With that, Boston should most definitely be signing four players: Sean Kuraly, Tim Schaller, Anton Khudobin, and Matt Grzelcyk.

Kuraly and Schaller have proven to be solid bottom-six forwards. While it is arguable that space should be made for younger players, those younger players aren’t a shoe-in for success. Some of them, like Donato, may need another year or two to become dependable contributors to Boston’s success. For this reason, re-signing Kuraly in Schaller is an inexpensive investment well worth the safety net it resembles.

Sean Kuraly, Tim Schaller

Credit: Matt Stone

Grzelcyk is young and still improving. He has anchored the third defensive pairing in terms of moving the puck – something the Bruins have lacked in recent years. For these reasons, inking him to a contract renewal is a must.

Khudobin has proven to be a very solid backup for the Bruins. Many have argued that Zane McIntyre should be making the jump sooner rather than later, but for ensured success in the regular season, Khudobin is your man.

The debate over Riley Nash is one of pros and cons. On the pros side, you get a very capable bottom-six center. On the side of cons, he could be expensive given his play last season.

I would expect Riley to be looking for $2-3 million in annual salary – a price the Bruins may be unable to afford, especially next summer. For this reason, I think we see the center walk this offseason. Kuraly should get the chance to fill his skates and improve his defensive game.

Bruins Free Agency Options

It has been rumored that Ilya Kovalchuk may make his way to Boston this summer. On a one-year deal, this writer may not be opposed to such a move. However, the Bruins will not be able to take him on during the 2019-20 season, so a multi-year contract is simply not a good investment.

There are a number of UFA’s that may make their way to the open market this offseason, such as John Tavares, James Neal, and John Carlson. However, Sweeney should skip out on any of these free agency races. They will result in big bucks and long-term deals – something the Bruins can’t afford in the slightest.

Instead, the Bruins should look to sign some depth – if anyone at all. Bringing in a bottom pair defenseman to replace McQuaid, who has been unimpressive in recent seasons, may be a smart move. I see Boston trading McQuaid in the very near future – maybe even this summer. Moving the defenseman and signing another would not be a waste and would basically pay for itself if McQuaid’s $2.75 million cap hit is shipped off.

Sweeney could also look to bolster Boston’s bottom-six in case young Providence Bruins are unsuccessful in making the leap to the NHL. Any transactions such as these ought to be short-term deals.

In reality, I don’t see the Bruins signing any players on July 1st unless it is Kovalchuk. If they do bring any free agents aboard, look for it to be a depth player in late July.

Sweeney really does not have the cap space to take on any hefty contracts this summer. For that reason, don’t expect a huge splash to be made by Boston in free agency.

Boston Bruins Roster Breakdown: Part 3

heinan backes nashPhoto Credit:  Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

By: Chris Nosek | Follow Me On Twitter: @cnosek6342

Now that we have examined nine of the Bruins starting twelve forwards, it’s time to examine the line that experienced the most changes during this past season. Before we get into how the line was set up at the end of the season, we first need to look at the piece it lost during the season.

Ryan Spooner fell victim to the same circumstances that plagued both Alexander Khokhlachev and Tyler Seguin – too many centers. Now, I’m not going to rehash who won or lost the trade of sending Tyler Seguin to Dallas (if that’s what you want to read about then click HERE). The only reason I mention this trade is that it highlights what you can be forced into when you invest too much money in the wrong players to emphasize how important it is they don’t do it again this offseason.

The reason the Bruins had to even think about making the Seguin deal was that they had a top line centerman, who was about to start making over $6 million, and was playing out of position and not to his strengths. With two “elite” centermen already in the lineup, and Seguin’s abilities not aligning with that of the third or fourth line, it was better to deal away the money and player to see if they could recoup a more useful piece that would fit in better with the rest of the roster. They ended up losing Alexander Khokhlachev, who went to play in Russia, for nothing because he saw the logjam at the center position and didn’t want to fall a victim of a trade himself.

The Spooner/Nash deal made a lot of sense for both teams and the players involved, and overall I really like the deal. I do wish that Sweeney had kept the 2018 1st round draft pick, but I have a feeling that pick was why the Rangers were willing to take on Matt Beleskey and half of his ridiculous contract. Ultimately, I think getting rid of that contract helps them moving forward, and it could have cost them more to deal with later. I don’t think it will come back to haunt him too much since they have other players within the organization they can move and can afford to lose, for more draft picks.

Danton Heinen – Riley Nash – David Backes

David Backes is the most significant piece on this roster they could stand to lose and yet the most difficult one for them to get rid of. Even though his salary is only $3 million for next season, his cap hit of $6 million is detrimental. It also will last for the next 3 seasons! With a no-movement clause going into next season and the last two years of the contract having modified no-movement clauses, the Bruins are going to be stuck with Backes for the next three years, and now they have an additional concern about his latest concussion. There is no way that any other team will even consider dealing for him unless they are getting a blue-chip prospect with years remaining on their ELC along with him. For now, the Bruins need to focus on getting Backes healthy for next season and getting him to a point where he can battle with some of the young guys for a spot in the starting lineup.

Buying out Backes’ contract sounds like a viable option, but the thought of it is much more glamorous than the reality and the result of actually doing it. If bought out, Backes would remain on the Bruins books for six more seasons (instead of three) and for the first three of those he would be on the books for $3.77 million, $5.77 million, and $3.77 million. The last three would only be $777,778 which doesn’t sound too bad. By itself it wouldn’ be the end of the day – HOWEVER when you add to one more season of Jimmy Hayes at $866,667 and two more seasons of Dennis Seidenberg at $1.167 million that’s a total of almost $4 million in money being thrown away. Having dead money against your cap is never a good thing. As long as Backes is healthy enough to compete for a starting spot and has the right attitude, then it is more valuable to have him on the roster than his dead money hurting the roster. As long as he keeps a positive attitude, even if he sees the 9th floor at times, then he still has value – even Matt Beleskey took a designation to Providence with the utmost class.

Knowing that Backes is still going to be around, you need to keep inexpensive players who are hungry for a starting spot and will fight for every minute of playing time they can get. Danton Heinen has earned the right to stay in this LW role at least through the last season of his ELC. I would not be upset if they hung onto the 22-year-old forward, but I would certainly be looking to see what he can bring you on the trade market. Rumor has it that Sweeney could be looking to get back up into the 1st round of the draft after he sent what turned out to be the 26th overall pick to the Rangers in the deal acquiring Rick Nash. Adding a player like Heinen to a 2nd round pick Sweeney might just have enough to entice a team with multiple 1st-round picks to be open to dealing one them. Some teams may require an additional piece, but at least you’ll get them to the table starting with a young prospect who has one more year before qualifying for restricted free agency AND has shown that he can play a role in scoring goals.

Lastly, we come to “the other Nash.” Riley Nash saw the best statistical year of his career and did nothing but help himself earn a pretty significant pay bump. Nash isn’t a top line center, but he proved his versatility this season by taking over for Bergeron on multiple occasions. In total the team won 13 of the 20 games with Nash between Marchand and Pastrnak – a decent 65% of their games. This versatility will certainly result in him seeing a pay raise from the $900,000 he has been receiving from the Bruins for the past two seasons.

In summary: David Backes is their worst contract right now, and yet they need to find enough young guys who can fight their way into the starting lineup that Backes finds himself watching for the 8th floor. Dealing him away isn’t much of an option, so they have to find a way to manage the situation until his contract runs out. Sweeney should be looking to see what the trade value of Heinen is, but shouldn’t pull the trigger on moving him until next seasons deadline, unless he can help them get back into the first round of this seasons draft. Riley Nash will ultimately need to be replaced because the money another team will offer him is going to be more than Sweeney should commit because of other prospects in the organization.

Boston Bruins: A Tale Of Two Nashes.

 

Riley+Nash+Boston+Bruins+Vs+Toronto+Maple+ArOYPvQiYkzl.jpg

Riley Nash #20 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game Six of the Eastern Conference First Round in the 2018 Stanley Cup Play-offs at the Air Canada Centre on April 23, 2018, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Bruins 3-1.(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
(April 22, 2018 – Source: Claus Andersen/Getty Images North America)

By: Andrew Thompson                                                             Twitter: @godwentwhoops

With just over a month before the start of free agency, the Boston Bruins are going to have some tough choices to make on which of their free agents will be staying with the team next season. Among the UFAs the B’s will have to make a decision on are the two players with the last name Nash.

Riley Nash had a solid year as a three-zone, two-way center. With a 41 point (15 goals) season, he put up the best stats of his career while wearing the spoked ‘B’. He even held his own as the B’s top-line center while Patrice Bergeron was dealing with an injury.

Rick Nash was brought on as a late-season rental for Boston. The B’s were hoping he would be a dynamic player in the playoffs and he was mostly invisible. The B’s were hoping for Milan Lucic 2.0 and ended up with Zac Rinaldo.

So much for giving up Ryan Spooner, who finally seemed to have found a solid and steady stride with the Black and Gold (not to mention a first-round pick in 2018).  The losses sustained by the B’s organization weren’t worth the three goals put up in 12 games by the 33-year old Nash.

Riley Nash certainly wouldn’t mind coming back to Boston.

“I’ve been around for a while, so winning is going to be one of my top priorities,” said Nash. “If they see a fit here, then I’ve truly enjoyed my two years here, it’s been awesome and I’d love to come back. I think they have one of the best teams coming up with the young players and the veteran leaders, so this has been a good fit for the last two years. We’ll see if we can figure something out.”

Rick Nash would also enjoy playing another season with the Black and Gold.

“The organization was great,” offered Rick Nash on his hopes of coming back to Boston. “The guys were awesome…So, it was a great chapter here and hopefully, it can continue.

“I would love to [return], for sure. They’ve got a special group here and a lot of talent. It’s a great place to play.”

So, what are the odds that one or both Nashes remain in Boston?

Frankly, not very good. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney knows the odds are long on retaining the current squad.

“Obviously, our team accomplished a lot to get to the 112-point level. Ideally, you’d like to bring everybody back and think you take another run at it. I don’t think that’s realistic in a cap environment,” said Sweeney on the B’s current roster. “We can afford the salaries they’re currently at, but some of the guys had very good years and you expect that to change. I’ve had discussions periodically with some of those players and will have with their representatives going forward in the next month or so.

Bruins President Cam Neely wasn’t entirely optimistic either, especially when it came to Rick Nash.

“It’s unfortunate that [Nash] got banged up near the end of the season there, and it really took him a while to get back. I don’t think he was himself. He said that during the exit meetings that he wasn’t quite himself. It’s disappointing because we felt we had a guy that was really going to help our secondary scoring and that line and help David [Krejci] get going in some offensive situations,” said Bruins team president Cam Neely at the end of the season press conference.

“You could see the big body and how he protects the puck, and how good he is in the corners and along the walls. But he just wasn’t quite himself after coming back from that [concussion] injury.

“As Don [Sweeney] mentioned, we’re going to look at every UFA that we have, and RFA, and come to conclusions on whether or not it makes sense for us to move forward with those players.”

At the moment, the Bruins look fine when it comes to cap space in the offseason. But is it worth taking a gamble on a player like Rick Nash? Not really.

A stronger case can be made for Riley Nash (who should have won this season’s 7th Player Award).  Riley Nash became the B’s Swiss Army Knife of forwards, playing in all four lines at some point during last season. The biggest problem for Riley is that his career season may have priced him out of the TD Garden.

It will certainly be an interesting free agency period in Boston, that’s for sure.

 

 

Lineup Shifting Could Be Beneficial For The Bruins Going Forward

 

Image result for ryan donato

(Photo Credit: James Carey Lauder/USA Today Sports)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

It is no secret that the Bruins were out of wack at certain times throughout games two and three. Part of this funk they have been in has come because the second and third lines just haven’t been themselves.

(Via @bruins_stats on Twitter)

It gets to a point where Bruce Cassidy is going to need to mix things up to get better results. Tommy Wingels slotting in for Tim Schaller won’t do that. Change should start with the second and third lines who just haven’t been performing well on both sides of the puck. The Bergeron line has shown the capability to carry the team, but that just simply won’t happen every game. Getting used to relying on them when the rest of the team can’t score would be very counterproductive.

The defense could use some minor changes as well. Not necessarily in terms of subbing anyone out, but rather shifting the pairings a bit.

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Donato

Heinen-Backes-Rick Nash

Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-McQuaid

Grzelcyk-Miller

Goalies

Rask

Khudobin

This is how I see it. The second line hasn’t been converting on their scoring chances, that’s where Ryan Donato comes in. Despite scoring two goals in game one, Rick Nash just hasn’t been effective enough to warrant top-six minutes. Giving a hungry, young, dynamically skilled player looking to prove himself in the playoffs in Ryan Donato could give that line the spark that it needs right now.

As for the third line, Riley Nash just simply hasn’t been cutting it for the majority of the playoffs. Although I do have my doubts that Bruce Cassidy will actually sub him out, I still think he should. Moving David Backes to the center position, sitting Riley Nash, and putting Rick Nash in Backes’ spot would give the line a nice change of pace and give Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper something new to gameplan for.

The final change in the forward core would just be to swap Tim Schaller back in for Tommy Wingels. Schaller has been a solid fourth-line fix and penalty killer all year and has just been more effective all around than Tommy Wingels. Both are similar players and play similar roles, I just think Tim Schaller does things a little better is all.

With the defensive core comes reuniting Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid. The pairing has had its ups and downs in the past, but they are experienced with one another and compliment each other well. The differing skill sets that they possess that allow them to take care of all three zones.

Tuukka Rask hasn’t been perfect, but he has made some huge saves when they were desperately needed. The team around him hasn’t been perfect, so keep him in the blue paint. Tuukka’s the head honcho.

The odds of this lineup being rolled out verbatim are unlikely, but changes are needed regardless. With the most important change in my mind being to give Ryan Donato another chance. Game four will turn the tide of the series regardless of the result and changes may be needed to turn the tides in the Bruins’ favor.

Boston Bruins: Round 2 Game 3 Preview

Photo Credit: (Winslow Townson/AP)

By: Lucas Salvatore | Check me out on Twitter @lsalvatore29

The Boston Bruins just could not overcome their terrible start in game 3 despite tying the game. Many issues involving turnovers and break out passes continue to be a problem for the Bruins in this series. Will these areas improve as we get ready for game 3?

A full 60-minute effort will be what the Bruins need to get back the series lead tonight and being back on home ice may just be what the team needs to establish some pressure early in this one. Boston needs more out of their depth players if you do not count Danton Heinen goal in game 7 against Toronto because Rick Nash and David Krejci were on the ice the third line has zero even-strength goals in these playoffs. This isn’t good enough we saw the Tampa Bay Lightning 2nd line come through for them in game 2 this should be a good time for the Bruins depth players to make an appearance. The officiating will need to be better we do not like to talk about the referees, but after last game, we need to address it. The only thing fans want from both organizations is consistency, and we have not gotten it so far in every game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Look for the Bruins to come out with a better effort tonight as they try and get a win for the Garden faithful.

Lineup

Things You Need To Know

  • Tommy Wingels returns to the lineup tonight
  • Tim Schaller will be the healthy scratch
  • No changes on the blueline
  • Boston has averaged 45.9% of faceoffs in this series
  • Stamkos and Kucherov have a combined 2 high danger scoring chances

Player To Watch

Boston

Riley Nash: Since his brief appearance on the top-line against Toronto Riley has been invisible in these playoffs. After a terrific regular season, he should be producing more no question, but Riley is recently coming back from a concussion. One has to expect if Riley’s struggles continue would head coach Bruce Cassidy consider scratching Riley Nash like he has done with Tim Schaller tonight? Everyone talks about Ryan Donato and it might not be out of the question if Nash does not pick it up soon.

David Backes: Boston was pushed around last game as it seemed like every shift someone of the team was getting destroyed out there. Look for David to come out like a beast in front of the home crowd, got to get the feeling that Backes isn’t too happy about seeing his teammates being thrown around like that. If it takes a fight or a big hit to get the team going expect Backes to do what it takes tonight as it is a pivotal game in this series. The Bruins third line will need to have their best game of the playoffs, and with the home crowd with them, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them excel in tonight’s game.

Tampa Bay

Steven Stamkos: After being a passenger in the first two games of the series it is time for the captain to have his break out game tonight if his team expects to pick up wins in Boston. Stamkos has been struggling since March as it is likely that he is dealing with an injury which would not be surprising. He needs to return to his bread and butter which is his power play one-timer. Getting away from Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy will be crucial for his production.

Ryan Callahan: Talk about turning back the clock. The former New York Rangers captain was terrific last game he was a massive physical presence and his 5 on 3 penalty kill shift was some of the best penalty-killing we have seen in recent memories. This Tampa Bay fourth line has been giving the Bruins troubles thus far, and it is critical for Bruce Cassidy and his staff to find an answer for them if they expect to win the physical battles.

BNG Prediction

Lucas Salvatore: 5-2 Boston

KG: 4-3 Boston

Mike Cratty: 3-1 Boston

Garrett Haydon: 3-2 Boston in OT

Max Mainville: 4-1 Boston

Mark Allred: 5-2 Boston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riley Nash Deserves A Pay Raise

riley-nash

PHOTO CREDITS: (cbsboston.com)

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

One of the most underappreciated players on the Boston Bruins this season is without question Riley Nash. For a player of his current salary ($900,000 AAV), Nash has a two-way game that excels when needed the most.

As according to @bruinscapspace on Twitter, Riley Nash’s contract expires on July 1st and if it was up to me, he would be staying on the team heading into the 2018-19 season.

Riley Nash joined the Boston Bruins back on July 1st, 2016 – the first day of free agency.

The signing with the Bruins meant that Riley Nash would be playing for an NHL franchise not named the Carolina Hurricanes. Since being drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft in the first round, (21st overall), Nash played in three different leagues before finding his home in the National Hockey League.

The 28-year-old was tossed around the league even before he was officially drafted. On two different occasions, Nash’s draft rights were traded from the Dallas Stars to the Phoenix Coyotes and then again a few months later, one day before the ’07 draft, the Coyotes moved Riley’s draft rights to the Edmonton Oilers, who as we know, selected him 21st overall.

Even though Nash was drafted by the Oilers in 2007, he would not experience NHL hockey until the 2011-2012 regular season. Prior to that, he played in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) for three seasons with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. Following an impressive 38-46-84 season in only 55 games played, Nash would sign with Cornell University in the NCAA.

Following three near-identical seasons with Cornell University (32 points, 35 points, and 35 points), Riley Nash would be traded from the Edmonton Oilers (Edmonton still owned his rights from drafting him) to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a 2nd round selection in the 2010 NHL Draft which later became D Martin Marincin.

The trade to Carolina would give Riley Nash that big break he so desperately needed. Although he only skated in five NHL games throughout the 2011-2012 season, Nash would be given the chance to show off in the 2012-2013 regular season, playing 32 games, producing nine points during the time frame.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images)

The remainder of Riley Nash’s career in Carolina would be highlighted with an 8-17-25 season back in 2014-15. The performance earned him a one-year, $1,150,000 contract with the Hurricanes. However, Nash would not be able to match the point total but would improve his plus/minus stat to a -5 rating from a -10 rating.

The Hurricanes felt that they didn’t need the services of Riley Nash any longer, leaving him to the free agent market, where of course, the Bruins signed him. Boston would give Nash his second-highest yearly salary, a two-year deal with an annual average salary of $900,000.

In his very first season with Spoked B on his chest, Nash would skate in 81 games, a career-high. Right off the bat, Riley’s two-way game awarded him with a promotion to the first line, replacing David Pastrnak who was dealing with an injury. Although the move only lasted a single game, it showed that management had trust in Nash.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (rotoworld.com)

Not expected to be a point producer, Riley Nash finished the 2015-2016 campaign with 7-10-17 totals along with a -1 rating.

Still, Nash was just another bottom-six forward with a decent two-way game. However, this past season, Riley Nash would be noticed on the ice more by Bruins fans and management. On December 27th, 2017, Nash would strike twice along with an assist in a 5-1 win over the Ottawa Senators. Later on in early-January, Riley would have a mini point streak, four points in five games. Nash would do the same later in the month, putting up three points in four games, including a big goal against the Montreal Canadiens.

The success for Nash would continue into February, scoring three goals and an assist in four games, hitting the ten-goal milestone for the first time in his young NHL career. Slowly but surely, Riley Nash would surprise people with his efforts on both ends of the ice. Head coach Bruce Cassidy would say the following about Nash back on March 1st after he scored a goal and an assist. Quote according to Boston Herald.

“He did his best Bergy (Tuesday) night,” Cassidy said. “He did a job, he defended well but he wasn’t on the ice with those two when he scored. He did a good job with them but he is not going to be Bergy every shift, every night, but he was one of our better players.”

As reported by Matt Kalman of CBS Boston, Nash stepped in for the injured Bergeron. In seven games, Nash had eight points (three goals and five assists) and helped the Bruins to a 6-1-0 record in the games without Patrice Bergeron in the lineup.

The play would continue for the remainder of the season, easily surpassing his career-high in goals, assists, and points. Even with a shortened 76 games on ice, Nash had 15-26-41 totals with a +16 rating. Another impressive stat for Nash this season was the ratio of takeaways to giveaways. Throughout the course of the ’17/’18 season, Riley Nash had 55 recorded takeaways and only 14 giveaways.

Along with that, Riley won 459 faceoffs, finishing with an average of 48.4% on the draw. For one last impressive stat for a bottom-six player, Nash finished the season with a shooting percentage of 13.3%, good for sixth-best on the team.*

Now, the title of this article states that Riley Nash should get a pay raise for the upcoming season, whether that is with the Bruins or another NHL franchise. With the talk of possible contracts, it is common to compare a similar player who recently earned a contract. Former Bruin, Ryan Spooner, earned a one-year, $2.85 million contract with Boston back in July of 2017.

Although Spooner did not have the defensive talent that Nash possesses, he does have offensive talent that you could argue is greater than Nash. There is an argument somewhere that the two may balance each other out.

Prediction

So, in a final conclusion, I will make my contract prediction as of April 30th. Riley Nash will re-sign with the Boston Bruins on a two-year, $6 million deal ($3 million AAV) come July 1st, 2018.

This leaves it to you BNG fans, do the Boston Bruins bring back Riley Nash for the upcoming 2018-2019 regular season and if so, what are the details of the contract. Let’s play some armchair GM. Tweet at me @tkdmaxbjj. 

*With a minimum of sixty games played.

Boston Bruins: Round 1 Game 3 Preview

stanley cup playoffs 2018

Photo by Jeff Chevrier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

By: Lucas Salvatore | Check me out on Twitter @lsalvatore29

Following two blow out games at home the Boston Bruins will be tested in a hostile environment Monday night at the Air Canada Center.

The story of the series so far has been the Bruins top line posting 20 points in two games between them. David Pastrnak has been exceptional so far with nine of those twenty points and will look to continue his strong play on the road for game three and four.

The Bruins may be getting a familiar face back into the lineup as it is expected that forward Riley Nash will make his series debut returning from an ear injury that left him with concussion symptoms.

The Toronto Maple Leafs continue to down spiral as forward Leo Komarov will be held out of game three as he was injured from a hit by Kevan Miller during game two. Look for former Bruin Dominic Moore to make his series debut and be the new fourth line center for the Leafs.

Matt Grzelyck was not on the ice for morning skate Monday morning coach Bruce Cassidy said he has a lower-body injury and if the young defensemen cannot play tonight trade deadline acquisition Nick Holden will slide in on the third pair along with Adam McQuaid.

Here is what to expect out of the Bruins lineup for game three. 

Things You Need To Know

  • Ryan Donato will return to the press box after playing in game two.
  • The Bruins will have both Nash’s in the lineup for the first time since March 17th.
  • David Pastrnak has as many goals as the entire Maple Leafs squad so far ( 4 goals).
  • Tomas Plekanec will play on the Leafs second line tonight.
  • Nazim Kadri is serving game two of his three-game suspension.

Players To Watch 

Boston

David Pastrnak: After scoring four goals and five assists in two games so far this series it is vital for the Leafs to solve Pasta if they expect to win at least one game this series. The lost of Komarov and Kadri make the Leafs even weaker on defensive depth and really should make this an even more laborious task. Look for Mike Babcock to chase matchups all night long which should not worry Pastrnak or the entire team for that matter.

David Krejci: Playoff David Krejci is back, but this time he’s quietly going about his business as the Bruins top line has been getting the spotlight. The Bruins power play is running at 50%, and Krejci is a big part of it, but it is the Bruins second line which fans should look at. Jake DeBrusk and Rick Nash have already gotten on the board and have looked dominant so far in the series. Krejci is the driving force of this line and should the Bruins top line stop producing which is unlikely at this point this line is more than capable of running the show for Boston.

Toronto   

Auston Matthews: The Leafs first line center was overwhelmed in Boston as he could not get anything going. Look for him to be explosive tonight in front of his home fans and really push the pace and show once again how great of a player he really is. If this series is going to change for Toronto, Matthews will be the guy leading the charge.

Nikita Zaitsev: After being on the ice for four goals against in game two many speculated that Zaitsev would be taken out of the lineup for game three. Looking at morning skate for the leafs Zaitsev will be playing tonight with Jake Gardner as the Leafs defense remains untouched. This is a massive opportunity for Zaitsev look for him to be more physical in front of the net and try and be more of an offensive presence which Toronto desperately needs.

BNG Predictions 

Lucas Salvatore: 4-2 Boston

KG: 4-2 Boston

Max Mainville: 3-2 Boston in OT

Mike Cratty: 4-3 Boston in OT

Garrett Haydon: 4-2 Leafs