What The Bruins Defensive Pairs Could Look Like In The 2020 Playoffs

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By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

The Bruins have arguably the deepest defensive core in the entire league, and that can never be a bad thing. It’s going to be very intriguing to see how each defenseman comes back from all the time off and will be very telling on who gets the nod when playoffs begin. I just recently gave my opinion on the Bruins forward group, and here are my thoughts on the defense.

1st Pairing: Matt Grzelcyk – Charlie McAvoy

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Starting out with a bit of a surprise, I really think the Bruins should keep the former Boston University pairing together. I talked a bit about it in my last article about how important speed is going to be in the upcoming playoffs, and here is exhibit A. Taking nothing away from the future first-ballot Hall of Famer that is Zdeno Chara, but he doesn’t have the legs he used to and I’m not sure how the time off will affect his game. Matt Grzelcyk should get a bulk of shifts with Charlie McAvoy.

He’s undersized, not very physical, and doesn’t put up crazy offensive numbers, but Matt Grzelyck may be the most underrated defensemen in the league. His importance to the Bruins is wildly understated, he just does everything right. The mobile defenseman always makes a good first pass and is excellent at the transition game.

The Charlestown native is an analytical darling. Among NHL defensemen with 40+ games, Gryz ranks third in even-strength goals per 60 minutes. He has a very solid 52.8 Corsi and 54.6 Fenwick. And did all of Grzelyck’s success halt in the playoffs? Nope. In last year’s playoff run, the 26-year-old totaled four goals and eight points. Despite being put in tough positions and starting in the Bruins’ end 53.4% of the time, Grzelyck still managed to post a 54.4 Corsi. It’s going to suck seeing him in Seattle…

Boston media was all over Charlie McAvoy at the beginning of the season. Pekka Rinne (yes the goalie) scored a goal before Chucky Mac did, but he was still playing good hockey. He’s constantly paired against his opponent’s top lines and has proven time and time again that he can take any task he’s assigned. McAvoy came to Boston as a teenager and averaged 26 MINUTES a game in the playoffs without a lick of NHL experience. He’s done a remarkable job against the likes of Steven Stamkos, Auston Matthews, and Nikita Kucherov in the playoffs and deserves to eat up as many minutes as Bruce Cassidy gives him.

2nd Pairing: Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo

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Yin and Yang. The pairing just works. On the left, you have one of the most dynamic offensive defensemen in the league. On the right, you have a 6’5 defensive specialist who’s grown into an incredibly reliable player on the back end for the Bruins. 

When I think of playoff Torey Krug I think of two things. The first being his 2013 run where he was plucked out of Providence and lit it up for the Bruins. Watching him against the Rangers was special. He displayed a crazy amount of poise and skill, scoring FOUR goals in five games. The subtle things are what stood out. Getting into open space, a little footwork before scoring are just a few examples. The second thing is this.

Brandon Carlo is a defenseman every team wishes they had. He reminds me of Niklas Hjalmarsson. He’s not a player that will light up the scoresheet (although his offensive output has been far more impressive as of late) but he’s so hard to beat one on one, he blocks everything that comes his way and is the type of guy you need to win a cup (see Hjalmarsson’s three Stanley Cups). The 2015 2nd rounder has become a great skater, and he’s finally using his size against opponents. And the craziest thing is he’s still just 23. 

3rd Pairing: Zdeno Chara – Jeremy Lauzon

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 31: Jeremy Lauzon #79 of the Boston Bruins waits for a face off during an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils on December 31, 2019 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Devils won 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

I need to retcon a bit on having Grzelcyk on the first pairing. Maybe it’s a 30%-70% split, maybe it’s a 50%-50% split, but there are still circumstances where Chara needs to be with McAvoy because they are so effective in so many situations. In last year’s postseason, he had six times the amount of giveaways as takeaways and had a tough 46 Corsi, but he led the entire playoffs with a plus-11 rating and you can’t argue with the captain of a team that was a game (or a penalty call) away from winning the cup. He’s the ultimate competitor, not many people can break their jaw and play the next game. 

I had to deliberate a lot with the sixth man at the backend. Bruce Cassidy could go for experience and play John Moore (who I thought played very solid in the Cup), he could elect for someone to play on their strong side like Connor Clifton, or go with the “hot” hand (if you could call it that after all the time off) with Jeremy Lauzon, who I think should get the nod. 

Lauzon doesn’t have any playoff experience, but like we’ve seen with some of the aforementioned players, that may not be an issue. The French-Canadian has a whole lot of grit to his game, he already has two fights under his belt, one against the tough bastard that is Matthew Tkachuk, which is something you love to see from a young player. His style of play should mesh perfectly with the pace of typical playoff hockey.

Having John Moore, Connor Clifton, and even Steven Kampfer are huge luxuries to have and will all be big assets if Lauzon (or any others) look out of place. And of course, Tuukka Rask will be the starter, don’t need anyone to say otherwise.

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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Three Bruins To Watch In The 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs

(Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara / USA Today Sports)

By Carrie Young | Follow me on Twitter @carrieyoung512

The National Hockey League is planning to hold the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs at some point this summer, though the exact dates are yet to be determined. The Boston Bruins hold the number one seed in the playoff bracket, having finished the shortened regular season as the President’s Trophy winners with a 44-14-12 record and 100 points. Finishing the season strong is no guarantee of success, however, especially with the new playoff format that the league has instituted this year. The Bruins will need both their stars and depth players to perform well in their quest for the Stanley Cup.

Which players should fans keep an eye on when the playoffs begin? There are the obvious choices: David Pastrnak, who shared this year’s Rocket Richard Trophy alongside Alex Ovechkin for the most goals scored in the regular season (48); Tuukka Rask, who has been one of the best goalies in the league for years but has yet to win the Stanley Cup as a starter; and dependable veterans like Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara. For this list, I chose players who are not quite so obvious but could still impact any potential playoff series.

Torey Krug

Torey Krug has been a mainstay on the Boston blue-line for years and is a top offensive defenseman in the league. He performed well during the Bruins’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2019, leading all players in playoff assists with 16. He scored 49 points 2019-20 regular season including 28 power play points.

This year, Krug is an unrestricted free agent. The Bruins are certainly interested in keeping him, but he could demand big bucks on the free agent market and there are other teams that would love to coax him away from Boston. A strong performance in the playoffs would be a cherry on top of an already impressive resume for the 5’9″ defenseman.

I think that Krug will be one to watch when the playoffs get underway. He is the power play quarterback for a Bruins team that was second in the league in power play goals and power play percentage this year. A strong man advantage is crucial to a deep playoff run, so Krug will need to keep it running smoothly (and get the puck to Pastrnak!) if the Bruins want redemption for last year’s Finals loss. A few big hits like the one on Robert Thomas in game one wouldn’t hurt, either.

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Ondrej Kase

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As a trade deadline acquisition meant to aid the team in the playoffs, Ondrej Kase is a player looking to turn heads. Unfortunately, he was never able to settle into his role on the team because the season was paused so soon after the trade deadline. If he can stay healthy and remain on David Krejci’s right wing, he could be an impact player when the playoffs begin.

The Bruins traded a 2020 first-round pick, David Backes (25% of salary retained), and prospect Axel Andersson to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Kase.

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Though Kase scored just 24 points in 55 games this season, he is only 24 years old and has the chance to play with a highly skilled center in David Krejci. If the Bruins’ second line can score consistently and take some of the pressure off the Pastrnak-Bergeron-Marchand top line, it would mean better chances for a deep playoff run.

One of the players that impressed me the most during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs was Marcus Johansson, who fit right in on the Bruins third line with Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen. That third line scored some huge goals and were definitely a factor in propelling the Bruins to the finals. This year, I think Ondrej Kase has similar potential. Fans of analytics already know that Kase is an impact player when given the opportunity. This is why I consider him to be a player to watch.

Brandon Carlo

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Brandon Carlo has been one of my favorite unsung heroes on the Bruins roster for a few years now. Beginning in his rookie year, his shutdown style and ability to move past mistakes have been impressive to watch. Bad luck and timing meant that Carlo was unable to participate in the playoffs for his first two years in the league: first he was concussed in the last game of the 2016-17 season, then he suffered a leg injury late in the 2017-18 season. 2019 was finally his chance to contribute in the playoffs. He played a strong defensive game and was second among all players in plus/minus (trailing only Zdeno Chara). I would argue that Carlo was a huge part of the Bruins’ success.

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This year, Carlo has the chance to do the same. 2019-20 was his best season yet in regards to points production, recording 19 points in 67 games. His game has matured and he has become a stronger and more physical player, which will translate well into playoff hockey. His shorthanded play is another asset. The Bruins were third in the league this year in penalty kill percentage (84.2). Carlo was ranked 13th in the entire league in shorthanded time on ice per game (second on the team behind Chara). As important as the power play is in the playoffs, so is the penalty kill. The combination of Chara and Carlo should help to keep the puck out of the net.

Boston is a well-rounded team, boasting superstar scorers, underrated analytics darlings, puck-moving defensemen, and shutdown blue-liners. They also have an elite goaltender as the last line of defense. This team should be fun to watch when the playoffs begin.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 178 that we recorded below on 5-10-20! 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!!

What Could the Bruins’ Power Play Look Like Next Year If Krug Leaves?

( Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports )

By: Lydia Murray | Follow Me on Twitter @lydia_murray12

As I’m sure most of you reading this know, Bruins defenseman Torey Krug is an unrestricted free agent this summer. Krug is one of the top power-play quarterbacks in the NHL, and he’s improved greatly at both ends of the ice at even strength in recent years as well. He’s also become a good leader on and off the ice. Contrary to what some still think, Krug is an extremely important player to the Bruins, and losing him will create a huge hole on the back end that won’t be easily filled.

Thankfully, both the team and Krug want him to stay, so hopefully, he does. But an agreement hasn’t been reached yet, and it’s still possible one never will be. I don’t think that’ll be the case, but since it’s possible, we should start thinking about what things could look like without Krug. So, I decided to take a look at what the first power-play unit could look like next year should Krug depart.

Current PP Structure

Before I get too far into this, I thought it’d be good to provide a refresher of the way the Bruins structure their first power-play unit. The Bruins use four forwards and one defenseman on their PP in the 1-3-1 format. Krug is the point man, Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak are the attackers (bumper, right half-wall, and left elbow, respectively), and DeBrusk is the net-front presence.

This is the typical structure of it, but the true beauty of the Bruins PP is how fluid it is. You’ll often see Marchand (or even Pastrnak) switching positions with Krug, or Pastrnak switching with DeBrusk, among many other switches. While they may technically have an assigned spot, they rarely stay in it the whole time, and it’s a big reason why the Bruins’ PP is as successful as it is. Krug is a big reason why they are able to do this because, as an offensive-minded defenseman, he is very comfortable jumping up in the offensive zone, as evidenced by his point totals.

Keep The Same Format

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The easiest option if Krug departs is to keep the same format (four forwards, one defenseman, 1-3-1 set-up), and plug either McAvoy or Grzelcyk into Krug’s point spot. Both McAvoy and Grzelcyk have proven that they’re able to man the PP, as they run the second unit and sub in for Krug if he’s hurt. They aren’t as good as Krug, but they’re capable and will likely improve if given more time there. Unfortunately, though, if McAvoy or Grzelcyk was the point man, the PP would likely not be as fluid.

While both players are comfortable jumping up into the offensive rush, they aren’t quite as offensive-minded as Krug. So, I have my doubts that either of them would be comfortable rotating around as much as Krug does, or at least they wouldn’t be for a while. So, this style of PP would be less effective for the Bruins not only because Krug wouldn’t be there, but because it wouldn’t be as fluid and therefore it’d be just like everyone else’s, and so teams will be better prepared to defend it. So, Cassidy has reportedly been considering another option, one that no other team currently uses in the NHL.

Five Forward Unit

According to this article by Fluto Shinzawa of The Athletic, if Krug leaves, Cassidy is considering a first PP unit made up of all forwards. Please note, much of what was said in that article I fully agree with, so I am not simply parroting what he said. I actually hold the same opinions that he does on this. Moving on, this PP structure has the potential to either be really good or really, really bad. The reason teams don’t do this is that obviously when they’re on the PP, they want to lower the chances of a shorthanded goal being scored.

Having a defenseman man the point (most of the time) does that. Anybody who watches a lot of hockey can tell you that defensemen are almost always far better at transitioning and skating backward than forwards are. Plus, they obviously know their defensive positioning angles better. If you stick a forward back there, it’s probable that opposing teams will take more chances shorthanded to know they aren’t as equipped to handle it. As a result, they’ll likely score more shorthanded goals, which is obviously not what you want.

However, this may not be the case with the Bruins, and I can see why Cassidy is at least considering it. The Bruins have several forwards who would be capable of manning the point and handling a shorthanded break should one happen.

( Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer/Associated Press )

Krejci is the first player who comes to mind as a forward who would be good at quarterbacking the PP. He’s one of the smartest players on the team, so he would likely be fine with his positioning on a shorthanded chance. Also, because of his high hockey IQ, he’d be able to handle rotating with some of the others a lot, thus allowing them to keep the fluidity they have. That’d also make it so the point responsibilities wouldn’t all fall on him.

Plus, he’s a pass-first guy, making him perfect for manning the point on the first unit because he’ll have plenty of eager shooters to pass to. But, Krejci also has a great one-timer and isn’t afraid to use it, so if the opportunity presented itself, he could also rotate down one of the walls, particularly the left one. His ability to slow the game down is incredible as well, which is a skill that is very useful for the guy operating the point on the PP to have. In short, a five forward unit of Krejci, Pastrnak, Bergeron, Marchand, and DeBrusk has the potential to be lethal offensively as well as sound defensively.

( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/Associated Press )

Another forward that could work well as the point man is Coyle. He’s a solid skater all around, and he has a good hockey IQ, so he’d probably be able to contain shorthanded chances fairly well. He probably wouldn’t be as likely to rotate all over the place, but I think he’d be capable of it, so it’d still be an option, just to a lesser extent probably. Coyle also has a nice shot, so if the best option was to shoot, he’d probably be able to get it through a fair amount of traffic. He’s also great at passing and setting others up, so regardless of what the best option was, he’d be able to handle it well. 

If the Bruins are going to go with this, they really need to pick a center to be the primary guy to man the point. They have other options that could work, but centers are often (but not always) better at skating backward and playing defensively than wingers are, and in the case of the Bruins, they have two great all-around centers (besides Bergeron) to choose from. Both Krejci and Coyle would likely be fine handling the point, although I’ll have to give the edge to Krejci, given his incredible vision and ability to slow the game down.

So, What’s the Best Option?

All of this being said, I’m not sure we can say with much certainty which option would be better for the Bruins if Krug leaves. At first glance, it seems like they’d be better off just sticking to the usual 4F/1D, but at the same time, the 5F format could be really interesting. No other team uses it, so teams wouldn’t be as good at defending it. Plus, unlike some other teams, the Bruins have some solid options for forwards to run the point that would not only be good offensively but would be capable defensively as well.

So, in the unfortunate (and in my opinion unlikely) event that Krug leaves this offseason, I think we see Cassidy try the 5F configuration for at least a few games. He’s certainly not afraid of mixing things up and trying new things, and this could end up being really successful. If it goes well, he’ll keep it, and if not, it’ll be easy for them to revert back to the old format.

Or, it’s possible that he could practice both and have them as options, so depending on the opponent or how the PP is playing, they could switch it up. Regardless of what they do, though, the PP wouldn’t be the same without Krug. He’s a huge part of why it’s so successful, so no matter which option they choose, it probably won’t be as good as it is right now. But hopefully, they’ll be able to find a way to minimize the damage caused by Krug’s departure should it unfortunately happen.

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!

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

NHL Seattle Expansion And What It Could Mean For The Boston Bruins

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By: Maria From Watertown  |  Follow Me On Twitter @mariaofh2otown

Once the NHL makes a determination to resume league play in whatever form that may take in order to complete the 2019-2020 season, it will likely be “business as usual” in terms of teams getting ready for the 2020 draft, free agency, and the Seattle expansion draft.  One of the looming questions surrounding the Bruins will be how they might approach the Seattle expansion draft and the potential impact those decisions may have on players currently on the roster.

The Bruins seemingly have quite a few roster decisions to address what with all the pending UFA’s and RFA’s (https://www.spotrac.com/nhl/free-agents/boston-bruins [spotrac.com]), as well as projecting who to protect (or not, as the case may be) in connection with preparing for the Seattle expansion draft.  At the time of the Vegas draft, the Bruins protected seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie.  Assuming they use the same formula, a few of the protected players are relatively easily identified in my view:  Patrice Bergeron (F), Brad Marchand (F), David Pastrňák (F), Charlie Coyle (F), David Krejci (F), and Tuukka Rask (G).

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The status of David Krejci is intriguing.  Most consider the center iceman to be one of the “core” members of the current Bruins roster.  There is no arguing that he’s played a significant role in the recent successes of the team.  Having said that, however, Krejci has one year left under his current contract, which will pay him a base salary of $7,000,000 with a cap hit of $7,250,000.  Krejci will be a UFA in the 2021 offseason and will also turn 35-years-old.  Krejci currently has a no-trade clause.  Under the rules of the expansion draft, if he declines to waive that clause, the Bruins must protect him.  With only one year left on his current deal, protecting Krejci might be risky unless he’s willing to sign a team-friendly deal to potentially finish his career as a Boston Bruin. 

Jake DeBrusk is another question mark for me.  While he exhibits a tremendous amount of talent and ability, he can be an inconsistent player.  Jake’s current contract is a very team-friendly entry-level base salary of $832,500 with a cap hit of $863,333.  He will be an RFA in 2020, and it will be interesting to see how the Bruins handle Jake’s next contract or where he may land in planning for the expansion draft.  

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The looming concern for me is how the Bruins will handle the defensive core when it comes time for the expansion draft.  Much of this decision could be further complicated by the Torey Krug contract situation.  If and/or when the Krug extension gets done, then it’s safe to assume that Krug becomes a member of the protected group.  In my opinion, Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy are future franchise defensemen, and they need to be protected. Matt Grzelcyk may likely find himself as the odd man out in this scenario, which is unfortunate.  He is developing into a solid defenseman, with offensive output potential.

I don’t envy Don Sweeney and company.  These upcoming decisions could likely have a significant impact on the future of the Boston Bruins roster.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 178 that we recorded below on 5-10-20! 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!!

With Halak Locked Up, Bruins Have $18M To Solidify 2020-2021 Roster

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By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

With the 2019-2020 season on pause due to the unprecedented pandemic, Don Sweeney has all the time in the world to weigh out all of his roster options and began the firework ceremony for the Bruins a few days ago with the re-signing of goaltender Jaroslav Halak. The netminder agreed to a team-friendly, one-year deal with a cap hit of $2.25M ($1.5M bonus if Halak plays ten games), solidifying the Bruins’ dominant goalie tandem for another year.

With yet another vital player on the Bruins roster taking a pay cut to stay with the team, Sweeney knows he has the advantage with contract negotiations. In my opinion, I don’t see him overpaying anybody at this point. With that being said, the Bruins have $18M left in cap space, and I believe Sweeney will continue to use the “winning culture” argument to sign his players under a team-friendly deal.

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Torey Krug (UFA)

Without a doubt, the Bruins’ main priority should be to re-sign 29-year-old defenceman, Torey Krug. There has been plenty of speculation on what Krug is worth, but if he wishes to stay in Boston, he will need to take a team-friendly deal and has claimed he is willing to do that. His current cap-hit stands at $5.25M.

Krug is a vital piece to the Bruins blue-line and continues to quarterback one of the top power-play units in the league. Before the world was put on pause, Krug had a stat line of 9-40-49 in 61 games played. He has managed to maintain 50+ point campaigns since the 2016-2017 season and has developed solid chemistry with his defensive partner, Brandon Carlo.

Injuries haven’t been a problem for Krug until the 2018-2019 season where he missed 18 games, and during the 2019-2020 season he had only missed a handful of games, so if he continued to remain healthy, he would’ve surpassed 70+ games played if the season had not been put on halt. Krug has been nothing but consistent his entire NHL career, so his argument will be strong, but the Bruins obviously cannot and will not dish out an $8M-$9M contract that he may be valued at. 

With Krug already being the top-paid defenceman on the Bruins, and David Krejci as the top-paid player on the Bruins ($7.25M cap-hit), I personally do not see Sweeney willing to offer him more than $7M per year. Therefore, if Krug decides to opt for a team-friendly discount to stay with the Bruins, I predict he will sign a contract worth $7M per year. 

Jake DeBrusk (RFA)

The 14th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Jake DeBrusk, has found himself in a peculiar position in regards to contract negotiations. Although he is known for his elite speed and goal-scoring ability, he has yet to remain consistent throughout the regular season. That will be the target area he will be looking to improve on according to a recent interview with Boston Bruins media.

After the acquisition of Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase, the left-winger found himself on the 3rd line with Charlie Coyle after spending most of his NHL career so far playing alongside David Krejci. So far this season, DeBrusk produced 19-16-35 numbers in 65 games played, a regression compared to his first two NHL campaigns. Even though DeBrusk has had trouble finding his spark so far this season, he posted a career-high 27 goals last season, proving he has the capability of being a 30+ goal scorer. If he can sustain steady chemistry with either Krejci or Coyle, I believe he will become a force to be reckoned with. 

With DeBrusk facing a regression this season and struggling to remain consistent, this will give Sweeney the upper hand in negotiations and could lead to offering a ‘prove-yourself’ bridge contract. With that being said, if both parties agree to terms, I predict he will sign a deal worth $3M per year.

Zdeno Chara (UFA)

The 43-year-old Iron Man, Zdeno Chara, recently stated in an interview that although he does not want to get ahead of himself, he believes he will be willing to return to Boston for another season. Let’s not forget, Sweeney has also made it clear last season that as long as Chara feels he is healthy enough for another season, they will offer him a deal. “As long as his game aligns with his pride and preparations that he wants to put forth to keep it at the level he’s accustomed to having it to then we are going to explore having him as part of our group. He’s an impactful player.”

Chara continues to be a valuable asset for the Bruins, scoring five goals and 14 points with a whopping +26 rating so far this season. He also maintains 20+ minutes of ice-time per game and plays a massive role in the Bruins penalty-kill unit. He is also the longest-serving captain for the Bruins (since 2006-2007), and his legendary leadership qualities continue to shape and influence the entire team, sustaining the successful system he has helped implement for many years. 

As long as Chara feels healthy enough to suit up after the conclusion of the 2019-2020 season, I predict he will sign a one-year deal worth $1.5M.

Kevan Miller (UFA)

The rugged 32-year-old defenceman hasn’t seen any NHL action since the tail-end of the 2018-2019 season, after suffering multiple knee-cap fractures in a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. According to Sweeney, he will not be expected to return this season or for the playoffs, given the NHL eventually resumes this season but also stated they are willing to offer Miller a deal if he entertains the idea of playing again.

With Miller heading to free agency, there is a chance other teams may be willing to pick him up, but with a small sample size over the past few seasons due to serious injuries, the Bruins could be the only contenders at this moment. 

The issue with re-signing Miller is finding him a place in the line-up, even as a depth player. Defencemen John Moore and Connor Clifton are continually fighting for a spot in the line-up, and with Miller often facing setbacks in his recovery, I do not see where he fits in the line-up anymore. I have always adored Miller as the fearless shut-down defenceman, but I predict he will not re-sign with the Bruins.

Matt Grzelcyk (RFA)

The 5’9, 174-pound defenceman has used his phenomenal skating ability and offensive-minded skills to cement his position in the Bruins’ lineup. So far this season, Grzelcyk posted career highs in goals (four), assists (17), points (21), power-play points (seven), blocks (67), hits (56), and games played (68). He also carries a heavier work-load, averaging a little over 18 minutes of on-ice time per game so far this season. 

Grzelcyk also plays a vital role in the Bruins’ second power-play unit as well as their penalty-kill squad. Although fans often overlook the value of Grzelcyk due to his size, there is no doubt he is a valuable piece to the Bruins’ blue-line and has continued to improve each year. He currently has a cap hit of $1.4M.

It would benefit the 26-year-old defenceman if the 2019-2020 season resumes and finishes appropriately, but regardless, I believe Grzelcyk has proven himself as a valuable asset for the Bruins. I predict he will sign a deal worth $2.5M per year.

Anders Bjork (RFA)

Anders Bjork has built a lot of hype regarding his potential since his successful run with the University of Notre Dame from 2014-2017, amassing 40-69-109 numbers in 115 games played. Since turning pro in 2017, the left-winger has split his time between the Providence Bruins (AHL) and Boston Bruins, but unfortunately, his first two seasons were cut short due to shoulder injuries requiring major surgery.

So far this season, Bjork found his rhythm and has managed to stay healthy, suiting up for 58 games and posting 9-10-19 numbers. Although consistency has been a struggle for the forward this season, he has flashed moments of his incredible talent and speed. A message was sent to the 23-year-old forward after the acquisition of Ritchie, and Kase forced Bjork to the press box for a stretch of games, reminding the winger that there is plenty of room for improvement before he can cement a permanent position in the line-up.

Even with the current NHL season on hold, Bjork has been taking the time to re-watch games and note how he can improve his performance, according to a recent interview with the Bruins’ media.

“That’s always been a motivator. But with the trades and going out of the line-up right after that, I feel like I’ve got to put my work in to earn my spot back. That’s the culture on the team, for sure. That’s how we’ve been successful. Guys are constantly pushing each other. You have to if you want to play…. My game wasn’t exactly where it needed to be at before this pause, so I have time to work on it as much as I can.”

With a small sample size stapled with two season-ending shoulder injuries, Bjork knows he needs to make up for lost time quickly. According to Cap Friendly, his current cap-hit stands at $925,000, and he will also be eligible for salary arbitration after the conclusion of the current season. If both parties agree to terms, I predict he will sign a deal worth $1.5M per year.

Joakim Nordstrom (UFA)

The 2015 Stanley Cup champion, Joakim Nordstrom, has been a critical piece to the Bruins fourth-line and penalty-kill unit. Although the forward is more known for his blue-collar shifts than his offensive abilities, he has been a reliable 13th forward that makes an impact when slotted into the line-up. So far this season, Nordstrom has suited up for 48 games, notching four goals and seven points with 31 blocks and 91 hits. 

With the acquisition of Ritchie and Kase, Nordstrom has found himself in the pool of depth players along with Anton Blidh, Par Lindholm, Karson Kuhlman, and Bjork, who is continually trying to crack the line-up. With the emergence of younger players like Trent Fredric and Jack Studnicka in Providence, the competition is becoming incredibly tight in Boston, and with the salary cap staying flat at $81.4M, it seems the writing’s on the wall for Nordstrom. I predict he will not re-sign with the Bruins. 

In a perfect world, my predictions would leave the Bruins with $2.5M leftover, enough room in case players like Krug and Debrusk end up taking $500,000-$1M extra depending on how the deals work out of course. 

It is also important to note that Sweeney could opt to use a compliance buyout on a player or orchestrate a trade to free cap space. Buying out or moving a player like Moore ($2.75M cap-hit until 2024), for example, could significantly help in creating more cap space.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 177 that we recorded below on 5-3-20! 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 Will Have Challenging Offseason With New Salary Cap Reports

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( PHOTO CREDIT: Stephanie Gois on Pinterest )

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

With the NHL on pause due to the current COVID-19 pandemic that is essentially putting the entire world on hold, there have been a large number of questions regarding the future of the 2019-2020 regular-season as well as the subsequent postseason and how it may have an impact on the 2020-2021 campaign.

Today, April 17th, 2020, St. Louis Blues reporter Andy Strickland tweeted that the players of the league were informed on a call that the salary cap will remain the exact same for the upcoming season, flatlining at $81.5 million. Strickland went on to say that there were many ideas and scenarios presented to the players, including this one, and there are “several variables” that played a part in this decision.

Going back to earlier in the season, on March 4th, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly announced that the salary cap would increase from the current $81.5 million to anywhere from $84 million to $88.2 million. This, of course, was before the COVID-19 pandemic, and it created a sense of security for teams around the league who have numerous players with expiring contracts come July 1st. One of those teams that would have benefited greatly from a raise in salary cap? The Boston Bruins.

Below is the full list of Boston Bruins players that have expiring deals come July 1st, 2020 as per CapFriendly:

NHL Roster:

  • F Anders Bjork – RFA
  • F Jake DeBrusk – RFA
  • F Joakim Nordstrom – UFA
  • D Torey Krug – UFA
  • D Zdeno Chara – UFA
  • D Kevan Miller – UFA
  • D Matt Grzelcyk – RFA
  • G Jaroslav Halak – UFA

AHL Roster (Providence):

  • F Brett Ritchie – RFA
  • F Zach Senyshyn – RFA
  • F Karson Kuhlman – RFA
  • F Ryan Fitzgerald – UFA G6
  • F Brendan Gaunce – RFA
  • F Peter Cehlarik – RFA
  • D Jakub Zboril – RFA
  • D Wiley Sherman – RFA
  • D Alex Petrovic – UFA
  • G Daniel Vladar – RFA
  • G Maxime Lagacé – UFA

For simplicity’s sake, in this article, we will only take a look at the eight players on the current Boston Bruins NHL roster and not the ones in the American Hockey League as the majority of them can be placed on a qualifying offer. According to @bruinscapspace on Twitter, the B’s will have roughly $20 million in available cap space to sign players this offseason.

Starting off, it is very likely the Bruins do not re-sign goaltender Jaroslav Halak. At 34-years-of-age, Halak is making $2.75 million, but with his impressive performances in both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns, Halak has proven that he deserves a pay raise, and he can very well be a solid starting goaltender for a franchise who’s looking for a more experienced netminder. With funds running dry and the potential for goalies such as Daniel Vladar to become the new backup goaltender behind Tuukka Rask, it makes the most sense to move on from Halak.

To add to my releases, I do not see the Bruins re-signing forward Joakim Nordstrom. The 28-year-old has been making $1 million for each of the past two seasons and has been a solid depth player for the B’s, but it’s a spot that can be replaced by a depth player from the Baby Bruins. His short tenure with the Black and Gold is valued and appreciated, but it is, unfortunately, time to move on.

This brings us to the two restricted free-agent forwards – Jake DeBrusk and Anders Bjork. DeBrusk has been a consistent 40-point scorer (he was only five points away from hitting 40 again this season) and last season in his sophomore campaign, scored 27 goals. Again, I look to @bruinscapspace on Twitter, who created a simple graphic on some comparable contracts for DeBrusk.

The comparables listed make it appear that DeBrusk could be looking at an average cap hit of somewhere around the $3.5 million number on likely a three or four-year contract. At a young age, DeBrusk has been a good top-six winger for the Bruins but has also faced times of inconsistency throughout his tenure. Those inconsistencies are what brings his salary cap number down. I have DeBrusk re-signing with the Bruins on a three-year, $3.5 million AAV contract. 

Anders Bjork is the other RFA forward on the Bruins roster that will return. Bjork is finishing up his entry-level contract and has played 108 regular-season games for the B’s, scoring 14-20-34 numbers during that time. Bjork has 19 points in 58 games this year, meaning he won’t ask for a large salary. For a comparable, the Penguins re-signed Zach Aston-Reese when he was 24 (Bjork is 23) for $1 million AAV for two years. Aston-Reese had a 0.38 points-per-game average in 59 games, whereas Bjork has a 0.31 points-per-game average in 108 games played. I have Anders Bjork re-signing with the Bruins on a two-year, $1.25 million contract. 

Now, the defencemen. With a doubt, the blueline of the Bruins has been the number one talking point in regards to the offseason with powerhouse defender Torey Krug and captain Zdeno Chara each on expiring deals as well as the young offensive Matt Grzelcyk and the injury-riddled Kevan Miller. With today’s news of the new salary cap, it appears to be unrealistic for all four to re-up their deals.

Earlier this month, General Manager Don Sweeney said that if the NHL season does resume this year, that defenceman Kevan Miller will likely not be healthy enough to return to the team. However, in an article by 985TheSportsHub.com writer, Ty Anderson, Sweeney said, “Our intentions are for Kevan to be 100 percent healthy so he can resume when we start the next season. We know Kevan is a UFA, so we will entertain the opportunity to bring Kevan back, and he will also entertain whether or not he wants to be back.”

Injuries have prevented Miller from playing in over a full calendar year, and for that reason, he is expendable in my eyes and I believe the Bruins will not re-sign him prior to the July 1st deadline.

At 26-years-old, Charlestown, Massachusetts native Matt Grzelcyk is the future of the Bruins defensive core and in my humble opinion, is a must re-sign. In 68 games this year, Grzelcyk has 4-17-21 numbers, a new career-high in goals, assists, and points. Grzelcyk, like Krug, is a 5-foot-9, left-handed defenceman who is primarily known for his puck handling and offensive capabilities. With room to improve as well, Grzelcyk is one of those players teams would love to have on their backend. I have the Bruins re-signing Matt Grzelcyk on a two-year, $2.5 million contract. 

Zdeno Chara has been the captain of the Boston Bruins since the 2006-07 season and ever since, has been the backbone of the leadership core in every way possible, guiding the way for countless rookies on the roster to make their mark on the league. However, at 43-years-old, Father Time is going to catch up on Chara eventually. Retirement is very likely around the corner but I doubt it happens this offseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Zdeno still averaged 21:01 minutes on the ice this year, proving he is still capable, so I predict he re-joins the Bruins organization. The only way this happens is on a one-year, $1.5 million contract. 

Finally, Torey Krug. Krug is the quarterback of the power-play and the driver of offense on the blueline. At 29-years-old, the Michigan native has 337 career points in 523 regular-season games and put up 9-40-49 totals in 61 games prior to the pause. With the signings above, the Bruins would have $11.25 remaining in available cap space. Krug has made it clear he would rather remain a Bruin and the message seems to be the same on the management side as well. The Bruins could re-sign Krug on a seven-year, $7 million contract, leaving just around $4 million in cap room to get depth players or even a backup goalie if they feel Vladar cannot take the role.

Before we conclude, it is fair to note that comparisons of other players league-wide are nearly impossible given the worldwide circumstances. Times are not the same whatsoever so these numbers can fluctuate entirely. In addition, the Bruins could pull off a trade if they so feel necessary to free up more cap space or pick up another piece heading into the upcoming season.

Things could be a lot worse for the Boston Bruins, but with the talent in Providence and the strong depth, it makes more players a bit more expendable. However, predictions like these are very difficult to predict and these upcoming months will be fascinating to follow.

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.

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: Happy Birthday Torey Krug

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports)

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

Happy 29th Birthday to Boston Bruins Defenceman Torey Krug!!

Torey Krug was born on April 12th, 1991 in Livonia, Michigan, United States. At the age of seventeen, Krug started off playing for the Indiana Ice in the United States Hockey League (USHL), scoring 10-37-47 numbers in 59 games in the 2008-09 campaign, setting an Indiana Ice record for most points by a defenceman.

In 2009-10, Krug joined Michigan State University as a fifth or sixth defenceman on the roster, but before long, Krug skated in all 38 games that year and put up 3 goals and 21 points. That point total placed him second in rookie scoring on the team and led all CCHA first-year defenceman in points. In his second year, Krug was named the captain of the team and was named to the First-Team All-CCHA and was voted the CCHA’s Top Offensive Defenceman.

The 2011-12 regular-season was the final one for Krug with the Spartans and was also his best, as he scored 12 goals and 22 assists for 32 points in 38 games played. Krug was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award and tied for the scoring title, making him the first defenceman to win the scoring title in the league since Wayne Gagner in 1986-87. Torey’s stellar collegiate performance led him to be one of the most sought-after free agents for NHL teams, thus signing with the Boston Bruins on an entry-level contract in 2012.

The 5-foot-9, 195-pound defender played only two games for the B’s in the 2011-12 season, and only one regular-season game in the following 2012-13 campaign, spending the majority of the time with the Providence Bruins where he produced 45 points in 63 games. Torey Krug finally made his mark on the NHL in the 2013 playoffs when he scored four goals and two assists in 15 playoff games – all of the goals coming in the semi-finals against the New York Rangers.

Seeing the success he had in the postseason, the Bruins used Krug in their regular-season lineup for 79 games in the ’13/’14 campaign, allowing him to put up 14-26-40 totals in that time as well as another impressive ten points in twelve playoff games. From this point on, Krug has become a dynamite offensive threat on the Bruins’ blueline, constantly putting up 50+ points per season.

As of 2019-2020, Krug’s best season came in the 2017-2018 year when he recorded 45 assists and 59 points in 76 games. In 2019-20, Krug has 9-40-49 numbers in the 61 games before the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a pause of league operations. On March 27th, 2019, Torey became the all-time leader in points by an American-born player in Boston Bruins history. Also, in Game Three of the Stanley Cup Finals, Krug became the first player in Boston Bruins history to score four points in a Finals game.

Torey has been in a lot of Bruins news as of late, mainly due to his contract that expires on July 1st, 2020. On April 7th, Krug said, “I really hope I haven’t played my last game as a Boston Bruin” in a video call and that idea was reiterated by General Manager Don Sweeney who stated, “I dearly hope that Torey hasn’t played his last game this year or going forward”, in a video conference on April 10th.

“Every negation has its own timeline. We’re hopeful that we’ll find a resolution with Torey and [his agent Lewis Gross]. At this point, we haven’t been able to do so. But it’s very amicable and we’ve made our feeling perfectly clear that we respect and acknowledge what Torey has done and what he’s capable of doing for the Boston Bruins. We hope that continues.” – GM Don Sweeney, April 10th, 2020

In 535 games for the Boston Bruins, Torey Krug has 67 goals and 270 assists for 337 points along with a +23 rating in addition to 11 goals and 35 assists for 46 points in 62 playoff games. Happy Birthday, Torey Krug!

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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Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston at Florida: 3/5/20

Florida Panthers vs. Boston Bruins - 3/5/20 NHL Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Photo Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: Florida Panthers

Away: Boston Bruins

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Ritchie – Krejci – Kase

DeBrusk – Coyle – Wagner

Bjork – Kuraly – Nordstrom

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Grzelcyk – Lauzon

Goalies

Halak

Rask

Florida’s Lineup

Forwards

Huberdeau – Barkov – Dadonov

Vatrano – Haula – Hoffman

Toninato – Wallmark – Connolly

Sceviour – Acciari – Pysyk

Defense

Weegar – Ekblad

Stillman – Stralman

Yandle – Matheson

Goalies

Driedger

Montembeault

The Bruins stayed in Florida after a 2-1 win over the Lightning this past Tuesday night for a tilt with the Panthers. Anders Bjork made his way back into the lineup after sitting out the last two games as a healthy scratch as the Bruins searched for their fourth win in a row. Jaroslav Halak, opposed by Chris Driedger, got the start in net.

First Period

Ondrej Kase left the game at the 8:19 mark after making incidental leg-to-leg contact with Evgeni Dadonov. Kase was penalized as a result for tripping and Jake DeBrusk served the penalty for his injured teammate. The Bruins ended up killing the penalty and Kase returned to the bench shortly after the conclusion of it.

Nick Ritchie dropped the gloves with Riley Stillman less than a minute later and really pulled his weight in what was a great fight. Ritchie and Stillman each received fighting majors as a result.

With 58.2 seconds remaining, Mike Matheson took a tripping penalty, giving the Bruins their first power play of the game. Despite a couple of solid chances, the Bruins couldn’t score before the end of the period and the game remained scoreless. The Bruins outshot the Panthers 10-4 in the first period.

Score: 0-0

Second Period

What would have been a sure goal on his patented power play one-timer hopped up on David Pastrnak, prohibiting him to get a clean shot off. The power play soon concluded for the Bruins.

MacKenzie Weegar broke the scoreless tie on a one-timer from just inside the offensive blue line. It was 1-0 Panthers with 13:05 remaining. Just about four minutes later, Brandon Carlo took an elbow up high from Dadonov and went down in pain. The officials reviewed the play to determine how to penalize it, and determined it was a two-minute minor for elbowing.

The penalty was assessed with 9:14 remaining, and Patrice Bergeron tipped a Torey Krug shot past Driedger and in at the nine-minute mark. Bergeron’s 30th goal of the season was assisted by Krug (39) and Marchand (57). This is the third straight season that Bergeron has hit 30 goals and the sixth of his career.

Aleksander Barkov took a tripping penalty not long after the goal, and the Panthers killed it off to keep the game tied. Brad Marchand went off for hooking not too long after the Barkov penalty. That penalty was also killed off. The clock eventually hit zero and the score stayed tied at one. Florida flipped the script and outshot the Bruins 15-5 in the period, bringing the total to 19-17 in their favor.

Score: 1-1

Third Period

Former Bruin Frank Vatrano put the Panthers on the penalty kill early, as he broke Jeremy Lauzon’s stick with a slash. The first power play of the period for the Bruins came just two minutes and four seconds in. The power play didn’t last long, as Charlie Coyle went off for tripping 54 seconds later. Vatrano touched the puck while one of his skates was still in the penalty box as he was exiting it, so he went right back in for interference, creating 52 seconds of 4-on-4 time.

Bad news came in the form of Brandon Carlo’s absence for the rest of the game. Pastrnak also took a tripping penalty, so things weren’t going great to start the third period. Crazily enough, no one managed to score during any of this chaos.

The rest of regulation wasn’t all that eventful. A few decent chances, but nothing too crazy. Shots in the period were 12-7, bringing the game total to 31-24 in favor of the Panthers.

Score: 1-1

Overtime

Overtime was eventful. A couple great chances went both ways, including this one from Barkov, the best one. This was the best one until Krug sent a point hammer past Driedger with 51.2 seconds left to end it. Krug’s ninth goal of the season was assisted by Pastrnak (46) and Krejci (29).

The final shots were 33-28 in favor of the Panthers. The Bruins avoided the shootout and capped off their fourth straight win in the process. Halak made 32 saves in the win and made some massive, timely saves. Next up are the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden on Saturday at TD Garden at 7:00 PM ET. The Bruins are 43-13-12.

Final Score: 2-1 Boston

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.

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Report: Krug Asking For Six-Year, $49M Deal From The Bruins

Krug

( Photo Credit: Patrick Smith / Getty Images )

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

There has been a great deal of speculation about the status of Torey Krug and the contract negotiations between his camp and the Bruins. Krug has said he would like to remain in Boston and Don Sweeney has categorized the talks as “cordial”. On Saturday, reporter Shawn Hutcheon threw a little gasoline on the fire with this tweet:

Right off the bat, I want to say that I am a huge Krug fan. My son is an undersized defenseman as well, so I have always had a soft spot for players like that. Krug started off as an undrafted college free agent and through hard work transformed himself into one of the top offensive D-men in the NHL over the last five years or so.

Krug became a regular in the 2013-14 season and from that time to the present, he’s 8th in the NHL for scoring by defensemen. The names in front of him: Hedman, Karlsson, Burns, Carlson, Josi, Yandle, Barrie, are regarded as some of the best D in the game. The majority of them are also paid that way. Erik Karlsson tops the list at $11.5m, with perennial Norris contender Drew Doughty coming in at $11m. Roman Josi and PK Subban are next at $9m, with five players at or around the $8m mark (Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Brent Burns, Jacob Trouba, Thomas Chabot, and John Carlson).

A defenseman that many consider the closest comparable to Krug, Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon, just signed a seven-year deal worth $7.575m per this past offseason. Spurgeon does not provide the offense that Krug does, but plays more minutes and is generally considered to be better in the defensive zone.

Which brings us to the elephant in the room when it comes to Krug, his defense. While everyone acknowledges that he is one of the best offensive catalysts in the NHL, Krug is not in the same category as guys like Josi and John Carlson when it comes to his two-way game. As important as the offense is from the back end these days, many fans (and some GM’s) don’t seem to think it’s prudent to pay a defenseman a huge contract unless they can contribute at both ends of the ice.Carlo and Krug ( Photo Credit: Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald )[/caption]

Even with all that, I just can’t see the Bruins giving him $8m plus over six or seven years on a new deal. I’m not saying that sum is not fair, given what other defensemen have signed for, or that it is not “market value”. However, that’s not the way that Boston has done business for a number of years. A lot of players talk about taking a “hometown” discount, but members of the Bruins have put their money where their mouths are when it came time to negotiate their deals. Last year during the playoffs, in an interview with SI’s Alex Prewitt, Brad Marchand was quoted as saying,

“If you want to try to make every dollar you can, unfortunately, that’s not going to be with this group.”

Pastrnak, Marchand all took less than what they could have demanded based on performance. This past summer young veterans Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo took very team-friendly deals in comparison to some of their peers, in what appeared to be moves designed on keeping this group of guys together. A lot of credit has gone to Don Sweeney for the recent signings and while he does deserve some praise, these deals would not have been possible without the players buying in and legitimately wanting to be in Boston, surrounded by guys that feel the same way.

In recent days Krug has talked about balancing being paid fairly while playing for a winning team. However, he also said, “The Bruins are going to do whatever they need to do and their situation.”

When I look at the way the Bruins have approached these contracts in the past and what other players have done, unfortunately, I only see this going one of two ways. Either Krug follows the examples set by so many other players in the room and takes less than market value to stay. Or, the Bruins try to make another strong run at the Cup and let Krug walk this summer. The question that remains for Krug and Boston is what qualifies as “taking less to stay”? My guess would be a number around $6.75m for six years. If Krug cannot live with that, I believe his days as a Bruin are numbered.

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!!

Bruins’ Salary Cap Outlook: 2020 Off-Season

( Photo credit: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images )

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

With the trade deadline in the past and the playoffs starting in a few weeks, everyone’s focus is in the moment, but it’s essential to look ahead and see what the future holds, starting with the 2020 off-season. The Bruins are known for their tight salary cap situation, but thanks to the Bruins’ GM, Don Sweeney’s most recent trade deadline deals open up a significant amount of cap space, but who will the Bruins re-sign?

Projected Cap Space

According to CapFriendly, the Bruins are projected to have around $22.2M-$23.75M in cap space for the off-season, as it looks like there will be a bonus overage of $1.5M (TBD). At first glance, it seems like the Bruins have plenty in the bank to negotiate with, but players like Torey Krug, Jake DeBrusk, and Jaroslav Halak, may demand a pay rise that will put more than a dent into their salary cap for next season. With that being said, the Bruins will need to prioritize.

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Jaroslav Halak (UFA)

There is no doubt that the Bruins have one of the best goalie tandems in the league between Tuukka Rask and Halak. Both goalies sharing the starting duties have been a recipe for success starting in the 2018-2019 season, with Halak starting in 37 games, collecting 22 wins, and a .922% save percentage. Sharing starting positions allowed Rask to remain fresh entering the playoffs, where he had a historic playoff run leading the Bruins to a game seven in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Even though Halak didn’t start in a single game during the 2019 playoffs, if called upon, Halak would be the Bruins’ best option going forward in case of an injury to Rask. So far this season, Halak has started in 28 games, collecting 17 wins and a 0.917% save percentage. He will be a UFA at the end of this season, and will likely desire a pay raise worth $3M-$4M per season. Although Halak is 34 years old, he still has plenty of hockey left in the tank and will continue to be a valuable piece for the Bruins.

Torey Krug (UFA)

Torey Krug, the quarterback of the Bruins’ central power-play unit, will be one of the Bruins’ main priorities in the off-season. Krug is a vital piece to the blue-line and activates an offensive spark, especially on the man-advantage, and so far this season has two power-play goals and 24 power-play points, only four short of his career-high of 28 from the 2018-2019 season. During the 2019 playoffs, he continued to be an absolute force on the power-play, tallying two goals and 10 points.

Krug’s current cap hit stands at $5.0M per season, and with him setting up to become a UFA in the off-season, the Bruins’ management should not be stingy with the defenceman’s asking price. The recent deals made before the deadline have made enough room in their cap space for the Bruins to re-sign Krug no matter the asking price. So far this season, Krug leads all Bruins’ defenders with eight goals and 45 points. It is a no-brainer that the Bruins need to re-sign Krug, but at what cost? I believe Krug’s price range for the Bruins will be between $7M-$8M per season.

 

Jake DeBrusk (RFA)

The 14th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Jake DeBrusk, will be the most interesting contract negotiation this off-season. DeBrusk is known for his elite scoring ability and speed, but has shown to be inconsistent at times and is facing a regression this season.

Playing in 70 games his rookie season in 2017-2018, DeBrusk produced 16 goals and 43 points with a +16 rating. He carried that success over to the following 2018-2019 season, producing 27 goals and 42 points with a +2 rating in 68 games played. So far this season though, DeBrusk has suffered several cold-streaks off the score sheet, and currently has one goal, one assist and a -5 rating in the past 11 games.

Despite having only two points in his past 11 games, DeBrusk is only two goals away from having his second 20-goal campaign and is only nine points short of his career-high of 43. Because of his recent inconsistencies, Cassidy has moved DeBrusk down to the third-line with Charlie Coyle. DeBrusk can use this time to build chemistry with Coyle and regain his offensive touch again. His entry-level contract is about to expire, and I predict the price to re-sign DeBrusk will be between the $3M-$4M range.

Zdeno Chara (UFA)

Yes, the 43-year old Iron Man, Zdeno Chara. Even though fans were very reluctant to bring the Bruins’ Captain back on board last season, Sweeney has made it very clear that Chara has the right to play in Boston. “I think he’s earned the right to determine [his future here] and when his career will end,” Sweeney said back on Bruins Media Day. “As long as his game aligns with his pride and preparations that he wants to put forth to keep it at the level he’s accustomed to having it to then we are going to explore having him as part of our group. He’s an impactful player.”

Chara continues to be an impactful player, registering five goals and 13 points with a +24 rating so far this season. He also provides a wealth of leadership and continues to build on the legacy he’s been building with Boston since 2006-2007. Chara also continues to be one of the Bruins’ most reliable players on the penalty-kill unit and maintains over 20 minutes of average time-on-ice per game. If Chara believes he is fit for another season, it would be in the Bruins’ best interest to re-sign him for another year between $1M-$2M.

Bold Predictions

Other Bruins players who will be looking to extend their contracts at the end of the season are; Matt Grzelcyk (RFA), Joakim Nordstrom (UFA), Anders Bjork (RFA), Karson Kuhlman (RFA), and Kevan Miller (UFA). If the Bruins were to re-sign Halak, Krug, DeBrusk, and Chara at my predicted amount(s), they would have about $5M-$8M left in cap space. Does this leave room for Sweeney to make a trade, or sign other depth-players with expiring contracts?

I predict the Boston Bruins will re-sign Halak, Krug, DeBrusk, and Chara. I also believe the Bruins will look to come to terms with Grzelcyk, Bjork, and Kuhlman, but I believe they will let Nordstrom walk and because of injuries, will not re-sign Miller. If you were the GM of the Boston Bruins, what moves would you make this off-season?

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