Bruins Depth Players That Deserve Contract Extensions

( Photo Credit: Providence Bruins / Flickr )

By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney certainly has his hands full when it comes to restricted and unrestricted free agents whenever the “official” National Hockey Leagues offseason happens. Boston’s future sustainability depends on whether or not contracts go well or not with potential re-signings of current NHLer’s like Anders Bjork (RFA Arbitration Eligible), Zdeno Chara (UFA), Jake DeBrusk (RFA), Matt Grzelcyk (RFA), Torey Krug (UFA), Kevan Miller (UFA), and Joakim Nordstrom (UFA).

To me, out of the players mentioned above, the priorities have to come down to Bjork, DeBrusk, Krug, and Grzelcyk to be extended for either short-term bridge or longer-term contracts. Regardless of work that has to be done at the NHL level to stay competitive and compliant with a potential flat salary cap at $81.5 for two to three seasons, it’s not going to be easy. With a rumored $18 million in cap space preparing for the upcoming 2020/21 campaign, I have a feeling the organization, along with some players, might have stalled talks leading up to 11th-hour panic decisions.

Not all offseason negotiations during the upcoming offseason are going to be hair pulling or check your blood pressure stressful moments. For example, take a look at the excellent CapFreindly.com website and scroll down to players coming off entry-level contract deals that could easily accept qualifying offers and one or two-year two-way extensions. Below are my thoughts of what players I’d like to see the Boston organization keep in the fold when it comes to development and having that “break glass” in case of emergency availability close by for another year or two.

Brendan Gaunce

( Photo Credit: Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images )

One of the Providence Bruins bright spots last season and his first with the NHL Bruins organization. Gaunce agreed to a one-year, two-way contract on July 1st, 2019, after spending four seasons in the Vancouver Canucks organization. Brendan was a solid middle-depth signing that brought a lot to the Providence Bruins line when talking about an aggressive style game and offensive capabilities.

Starting the 2019-20 AHL regular season with Providence on the right foot going 3-1-4 in his first five games, he hit a bit of a speed bump to his fast start on the back-to-back weekend trip north of the border. When the Rhode Island club traveled to Laval, Quebec, to play the affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens, Gaunce would suffer a severe head injury. Laval forward, Michael McCarron hit Brendan with a center ice blindsided hit, which led to the then 25-year-old concussed and gruesome facial lacerations.

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Gaunce, who’s an absolute warrior at 6′-2″ and 217-pounds, only needed 22 days to get healthy enough to return to the ice with extra facial protection, of course. Brendan got back in the lineup and immediately produced offensively like the injury never happened. His return to the AHL Bruins lineup, he contributed 1-1-2 numbers in a 4-1 road victory against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and would continue the year as a valued asset to Providence Head Coach Jay Leach up and down the roster.

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As a veteran forward in the developmental ranks, Brendan never went more than four games without a point, and in fact, his offensive production kicked it up a notch in the send half of the 2019-20 campaign. Starting with an assist on February 9th, 2020, in a 2-1 overtime loss to Sound Tigers, Brendan went the next ten games (27 Days) riding a career-high scoring streak where he posted 7-7-14 in that timeframe. With the cancelation of remaining games and Calder Cup Playoffs due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Gaunce finished the 2019-20 regular-season with 18-19-37 numbers in 52 games. Brendan was everything the Bruins expected as a minor-pro system addition and a go-to if an emergency recall was needed. In one game with Boston last season, he contributed an assist in his first NHL game since he was with Vancouver, where he appeared in three in the 2018-19 season.

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If I were the general manager of the NHL Bruins and if Gaunce would accept an extension to stay within the organization, he’d undoubtedly be a low-risk, high-reward signing. Either a one-year deal or a two-year stay, I can see Gaunce coming back and possibly having a better year than the previous shortened season. He has tremendous leadership skills, along with offensive ability. He could definitely be a candidate if retained for the next Providence Bruins captaincy if current team leader Paul Carey departs after next season.

Karson Kuhlman

( Photo Credit: Steve Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images )

A sneakingly good signing from the skillful eyes of the Boston Bruins scouting staff, Kuhlman’s addition has added a significant amount of speed and talent to the forward depth of this organization. The 5′-11″ 185-pound versatile forward has been a useful plug-and-play no matter where the soon to be 25-year-old has been asked to play. Karson is a tremendously hard worker and never gives up, which is a driving force the B’s should seriously consider bringing back for extended development.

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He might be undersized and young, but he’s displayed a significant number of leadership qualities thus far in his young hockey career. Before coming to the Bruins as a free agent the Minnesota USA, native wore letters in three of his four seasons playing NCAA Division 1 hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He might not light up the AHL or NHL scoreboard with point production consistency, but he adds a decent element of speed when inserted at either level. Most coaches will say that it’s not all about getting marks on the scoresheet on a nightly basis, but did that player do something that most didn’t notice to make an impact during the contest. Kuhlman’s uncanny skillset on the forecheck has been a valued asset no matter what level he’s played in.

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As many NHL Bruins fans have seen at the highest level in the world, Kuhlman has done pretty much everything Boston Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has asked of him. In his limited time with Boston, he’s appeared in 36 games contributing 4-7-11 numbers playing in 11 contests in 2018-19 and another 25 in 2019-20. Karson was never a massive point producer at any level of developmental hockey and in fact, his best pro season with Providence was in the 2018-19 campaign where he notched 12-18-30 totals in 58 games played along with an impressive +23 on the year.

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Kuhlman’s speed and upside are certainly worthy of a contract extension and believe Cassidy has high respect for his work ethic, which might have serious consideration keeping him in the fold. Replacements are going to be needed with future roster departures at the NHL level, so why not take a low-risk contract with Kuhlman? I’d say a $1.5 million two-year, two-way contract extension allows the Bruins accessibility to capture lightning in a bottle and promote quickly if Karson kicks up his offensive production at the AHL level.

Zach Senyshyn

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com / @AHLBruins )

To many Bruins fans, the mention of Boston prospect Zach Senyshyn brings up trying times and a bit of a reach at the NHL Entry Draft table back in the summer of 2015. Regardless of what Zach has done in the B’s organization, he’s consistently being labeled as a “draft bust” and a huge mistake. There’s no doubt, better-talented players, and ones that have risen to the NHL sooner rather than later were passed over in the first round. This certainly wasn’t B’s General Manager Don Sweeney and scouting staff’s most beautiful moment, but what was done is done and have to move on.

I know I’m going to be in the minority here with my opinion, but I believe Senyshyn has provided an excellent service to the Bruins organization. He’s another player that hasn’t exactly blown anyone to the moon with the stats since leaving the 2015 Draft Podium at the, but his work ethic and aggressiveness to be better has been second to none. Providence Head Coach Jay Leach has used Zach up and down the B’s lineup to act like a sponge and learn all aspects of the game. His game with and without the puck attributes has been something both sides have been working on since his arrival to the AHL.

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Before turning pro, he spent three seasons with the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds starting his Canadian Hockey League career as a fourth-liner in his rookie year tallying 26 goals on a deep Soo club, to follow up the next two years with the Greyhounds posting two 40 goal seasons (45 & 42) before turning pro in 2017-18. In his OHL career, all with the Hounds he posted 114-63-177 numbers and so far in his AHL career he’s contributed 33-33-66 numbers in 174 games.

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Senyshyn is currently in the last year of his entry-level contract, and his speed and offensive skillset continue to be a work-in-progress and believe he’ll be re-signed during the offseason. The tricky part of a deal with a player like Zach is if he’s in fact extended, he’ll have to go through the waiver process if he doesn’t make the NHL team out of training camp. I’m not sure how much the Bruins would want to invest when it comes to money and term for a younger player that one might not have a spot at the NHL level, and number two a player who most likely won’t survive the 24-hour waiver process he’d have to go through returning to the AHL.

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If Senyshyn’s re-signed and able to squeak through waivers much like the path that former Bruins prospect Peter Cehlarik did, I can see the Boston organization offering Zach a $1.8 million contract. I believe a two-year, two-way deal will be beneficial and, with the term, can see him securing an NHL roster spot by the end of a two-year extension. His speed and stride is something that you can’t just walk away from. Senyshyn’s ability to create space quickly away from opponents with or without the puck is something I’d certainly like to keep around. He could even be a solid third-line or even second winger in the future if everything works out, of course, but I commend the path that the Bruins have gone with the now 23-year-old 6′-1″ 196-pound forward.

Jakub Zboril

( Photo Credit: David Kirouac / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images )

Much like Senyshyn above, this wasn’t Boston’s finest hour when they went to the NHL Draft podium three times mid-first round in 2015. Zboril is another player that has absorbed the pro level of hockey with a seeming grain of salt and no rush mentality. Jakub has all the characters of being a lower pairing defenseman right now, but his path to the highest level in the world has taken a lot longer than most want to fathom.

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As a later developing pro, Zboril, by far, had his best season this year before the Covid-19 pandemic halted life as we know it. Call it a contract year scenario, but I noticed something special in the final year of his entry-level contract that brings me to this mention of the B’s bringing him back. More of a stay-at-home defenseman, Zboril does have some offensive capabilities as he ended his third season in Providence, tying an AHL career-high of 19 points he posted for three consecutive years.

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Zboril is a player that is always learning something new no matter what level of developmental hockey. In a defensive-minded Jay Leach system, Jakub can adapt to the three defensive pairings no matter where slotted. His aggressive style and defensive prowess this season has gotten tremendous attention not only from me but other media members in Providence who also spend a great deal in the press box evaluating talent. Jakub isn’t a perfect defensive player and does have moments where I shake my head, but his ability to get back in the play and recover from a mistake is commendable. Accountability is at the highest of his game attributes and is not one to pass the blame when an error in judgment is made on or off the puck.

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If I was to give an extension to Jakub, I’d go another year or two with him with potential departures at the NHL level in the future. Zdeno Chara is always a candidate when talking about a roster spot if and when he retires. John Moore and his roster spot are still up for conversation and which young player can come in and cover for the declining blueliner. Or how about the upcoming Seattle Expansion draft, and if a current Bruins player on defense is appealing to the newest NHL franchise, who’s set to draft an initial lineup next summer? Zboril is a player that can easily slot into an NHL lineup with space availability, of course, and will be a backup plan for the foreseeable future if he’s retained. When it comes to a dollar value, I will look at the $1.5-$2 million range for Jakub’s extended services.

Also, keeping in mind any future negotiations with Zboril will also be heavily considered when thinking about his waiver priority. If retained for further services, he’d need to pass through waivers to be placed in Providence, and with the current situation ahead of him when it comes to NHL contracts, that’ll likely be the destination. Personally, I hope the B’s do whatever it takes to keep him around as an ace in the hole but would also hate to lose him and not seeing his full NHL potential.

Dan Vladar

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Probably the biggest re-signing for the Boston Bruins staff out of any mentioned above when it comes to middle depth sustainability in the crease. With one more year of NHL starter Tuukka Rask remaining in his contract and the recent extension to backup Jaroslav Halak, the NHL level is covered when it comes to netminding duties. This provides an adequate amount of time for further development of 2015 third-round selection Dan Vladar and recently signed to entry-level contract Jeremy Swayman out of his junior year at the University of Maine.

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Vladar, who’s in his last year of his ELC, really took a stranglehold in his development during the 2019-20 regular-season campaign. After a slow start to the soon to be 23-year-old Czech Republic native, he encountered an injury In the seasons first cross border roadie in Laval, Quebec which left him with a high ankle sprain. Dan’s season record began with the 0-1-1 record giving up six goals in three games, so there’s no real-time for an injury to happen, but in the end, it was, in fact, beneficial, to say the least.

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During Vladar’s recovery, which lasted a whole 45 days before he returned from his ankle sprain also was a student of the game during that duration when help from above came down lending professional advice. NHL Bruins Goaltending Coach Bob Essensa and assistant Mike Dunham took advantage of the young goaltenders “downtime” while rehabilitating for countless hours of video sessions breaking down his game while minimizing his crease movements. As a 6′-5″ 185-pound athletic netminder, Essensa and Dunham broke down his game with technology to teach the big Czech netminder a new way of manning the crease and using his size to his benefit.

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When Vladar returned to the ice after his lengthy injury, he absolutely put on a show blanking the 2018-19 Calder Cup Champion Charlotte Checkers 4-0 with 36 saves and first star honors. After Dan’s No-No on December 1st, 2019, at the Bojangles Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, he would go onto post a regular-season record of 14-7-1 with a stingy and league-leading 1.79 goals-against-average and .936 save percentage. He also ended the 2019-20 regular-season campaign with three shutouts.

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Before the coronavirus shut everything down, Vladar was on his way to having his best career year between the pipes. I know it’s a small sample size of his potential, but in my opinion, with the tutelage of Essensa and Dunham and how he came back strong and determined has me believe he will definitely be re-signed. With the stretch of games from the start of December to mid-March, Vladar was clearly the best goaltender in that duration and started turning heads when thinking about future NHL placement. Extending Vladar for two more years not only locks him up for another full AHL season and audition, but it also makes him a serious candidate when considering future options with Halak and Rask and expiring contracts.

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A two-year, two-way contract worth around $2 million is certainly not out of the realm for keeping a netminder like Vladar around. Also, keep in mind that my guess on what Vladar and others mentioned when talking about a contract is the dollar value and what the particular player will earn at the Level if lucky enough to spend time at the highest level in the world. When spending time in the AHL, obviously, that number goes down to a range of $70K to $150K depending on the two-way contract structure, and bonuses entailed.

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

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Boston Bruins Prospect Season Review: Zach Senyshyn

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(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Tim A. Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Next up on my list of prospect season reviews is a player who sparks many debates amongst Bruins fans. That player is none other than Zach Senyshyn. A native of Ottawa, Ontario, he was drafted 15th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. The drafting of Senyshyn has come under much scrutiny because people felt the pick would have been better used on someone else. Even though that debate will continue to rage on, I believe that Senyshyn took some steps forward this season.

 

The numbers may not jump off at you on the scoresheet. In 42 games, Senyshyn netted seven goals while dishing out nine assists for 16 total points (stats courtesy of EliteProspects). Despite this, the young forward started becoming more consistent with his play and stood out on the ice almost every game. He was even playing so well in Providence, that he received the call to Boston. The young forward was playing great in Boston, but unfortunately, injury cut his time short. In four games with the big club, he had two points, both assists (stats courtesy of EliteProspects).

 

After his return from injury, Senyshyn continued to play well for the Providence Bruins. He flashed spurts of brilliance on the ice. His biggest asset is his speed. The young forward has speed and ability to make a defensive stop in his own zone, and then get ahead of the opposition for a scoring opportunity at the other end of the ice. There are very few players in the league that possess this ability. He’s also proven that he can be a defensively responsible winger. This is something that the Bruins like to make their young players learn in Providence. They want everyone to be the best two-way player they can be.

 

One other area that Senyshyn can be a difference-maker on the ice is the power-play. His combination of speed and offensive-skill makes him a nightmare to play defense against. One major thing the former first-round pick needs to do to utilize these tools more often is to become even more consistent. Game consistency is something that took a step forward this season, but it is still something he needs to work on. Once he has that step figured out, the sky is the limit for Senyshyn. He posses the speed and offensive skill and instincts to become a top-notch goal-scoring winger in the NHL.

 

One major question remains with Zach Senyshyn. Where does he end up when all is said and done? I believe that Senyshyn will end up being a middle-six scoring winger for the Boston Bruins for many years to come. His speed, offensive ability, and instincts are too great to ignore. This season he really took a step forward with his defensive responsibility and his game to game consistency. If he’s able to continue making those strides, there is no reason that we shouldn’t seem him in Boston next season. I hope everyone is staying safe. Feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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

 

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Who Could Get The Call From Providence When Playoffs Begin?

Frederic Looking to Seize Opportunity
(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

It’s all but confirmed that we will be getting playoff hockey in the summer. But with this massive break between action, there is certain to be plenty of rust for this Bruins squad. With the season entering sink or swim mode, the Bruins don’t have the luxury to let everyday starters get out of their funk. Coach Bruce Cassidy will have some tough decisions to make if his NHLers aren’t up to the task, but the Bs have plenty of talent in Providence that will be chomping at the bit to see some ice in the Playoffs, especially with the increased roster space. Here are a few reinforcements from the AHL that I’d like to see if Boston runs into any issues.

Trent Frederic

( Photo Credit: Brian Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images )

Trent Frederic figured out pretty quickly how to become a fan favorite in Boston. By dropping his mitts in his first NHL game, he showed what type of player he really is. The 6’2, 203-pound center is tough as nails and would be a welcome presence to have in the bottom six. Remember earlier this season when the Bruins had no response for Tuukka Rask getting run over against the Blue Jackets? Well, Frederic certainly wouldn’t let that go.  

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We’ve seen the St. Louis native here and there with Boston, playing with the big club for 17 games in his brief career. And after watching those 17 games, you can’t question what the youngster brings to the table. He’s a big, strong and physical player with a gnarly edge to his game. The AHL penalty minutes leader would seamlessly slide into the intensity of playoff hockey.

Jack Studnicka

( Photo Credit: David Kirouac / Icon Sportswire- Getty Images )

In his first year as a pro, Studnicka looked anything but out of place. He led the entire AHL in shorthanded goals while reaching his first career All-Star Game in the process.  The rookie potted 23 goals to go along with 26 assists in 60 games, helping Providence have the best record in the Eastern Conference. The young centerman has WHEELS.

The former 2nd round pick hasn’t been shy from showing up in big games. In his OHL Playoff career (aside from his rookie campaign) Studnicka has potted 11 goals and 31 points in 27 games. How’s this for a stat line for an NHL debut? 1 assist, plus-1 rating, 67% on draws in 14:30 of ice time. Not too shabby for someone thrust into a prominent 2nd line role. Adding a guy as dynamic as Studnicka to an already potent 3rd line could be just what the Doctor ordered for the Bruins. 

Zach Senyshyn

( Photo Credit: Paul Chiasson / The Canadian Press via AP )

Has he found the scoring touch he had in Juniors? No. Has he been lighting up the AHL? No. Has he been as good as the other 2015 1st rounders that seem to follow him wherever he goes? No. Buuuuut when he was finally given the chance to impact the big club, he looked like he belonged in the NHL. 

In his short stint with the Bruins earlier this season, the former Greyhound was a part of a dynamic 3rd line with Anders Bjork and Charlie Coyle. Despite the minimal ice-time he got, Senyshyn showed off why he still has the pedigree of a 1st round pick. He and his linemates were buzzing around, creating a high possession, high energy 3rd line the Bruins had hoped to get. The now 23-year-old was enjoying a nice start to his 2019 NHL season with two assists (and if you remember, a goal that probably should’ve counted) in just three games until an unfortunate injury in his fourth game essentially cost him the rest of his season in Boston. 

As for defenders? I’m not sure we see any jump up from the AHL. We already saw Jeremy Lauzon jump into the NHL as smooth as one could, and with Connor Clifton coming back from an injury, I can’t see a guy like Urho Vaakanainen pushing any of them for a spot but with everything that has happened so far in 2020, you never really know.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 182 that we recorded below on 6-7-20! 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 Prospect Lauko Is Starting To Skate After Mid-Season Injury

( Photo Credit:  Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Per RinkSideRhodeIsland.com founder Mark Divver below, Bruins prospect forward Jakub Lauko attended a pre-practice skate session presumably for the first time since his mid-season knee injury. Lauko, a former 2018 third-round selection of the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins only managed to appear in one shift for his native Czech Republic U-20 team that happened to host this year’s 2020 IIHF World Junior Championships from the beautiful cities of Ostrava and Trinec. It honestly doesn’t matter what time of any game or everyday life an injury happens it’s certainly unfortunate but 53 seconds into the game was all that was needed before being taken off the ice seeking medical attention.

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Lauko’s development since he was selected in the summer of 2018 has been exciting to watch but it’s also come with a few unlucky times concerning the injury bug. Now I’m not saying this is trending into a prone situation or to be high alerted by my opinions but he did get banged up in his rookie year in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League scoring 41 points in 44 games. During his first full season of North American hockey and smaller ice sheet the game comes, quicker and he did see time on the IR during the regular season and 2018-19 Memorial Cup Championship year for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. Lauko has the capabilities to be a crafty fast forward and offensive threat on the scoresheet but his game also comes with a considerable amount of jam incorporated into his heavy style game.

This season with the American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins the top minor-pro affiliate of the NHL’s Boston Bruins the 19-year-old versatile forward has appeared in only 18 games posting 4-4-8 since his return from NHL training camp. In his AHL rookies season, Jakub played some hard minutes learning the professional game grinding it out on the third and fourth line left side as higher seniority players get top-six roles. had an upper-body injury (shoulder) early in the campaign to return and spend another stint on the IR with another upper-body injury (concussion) in the video provided below that he suffered just before reporting to his Czech Republic team for the mentions WJC tourney.

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It’s good to hear that he’s back on the ice taking the appropriate steps to make a healthy return and his timing might be perfect as he tries to catch a Providence club who seems destined to make an eighth straight Calder Cup Playoff appearance.  This playoff consistency came off of three straight years without a postseason appearance but has certainly been a player dating back to when current Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy and now Providence bench boss Jay Leach hope to bring the city’s second Calder Cup since being organized in 1992. The franchises first and only AHL league championship came in the 1998-99 campaign.

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The Providence club sits in the third position in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 25-16-2-3 record and 55 points. The B’s only trail Conference-leading Hartford Wolf Pack by four points with 30 games remaining in the 2019-20 regular season. Judging by Divver’s “timeline” of a potential return of Lauko would put him back with the team around the middle of February and a little more than a month and a half of regular-season games to stretch the legs and regain some chemistry. Jakub is a tremendously fast player with high intelligence of making plays in tight areas and the offensive ability to possess the puck in full stride and break away cleanly with some pretty filthy hands at times finishing it off is always a welcome wagon offensively.

Lauko is currently on year one of his three-year entry-level contract so there’s plenty of time to mold this young man to gain a little muscle and round out his overall game. Although, I heard he was tough to teach the North American two-way style game in the early season of his rookie year in the “Q” his knowledge grew stronger and how to be an effective 200-foot game forward was absorbed like a sponge leading him cracking the AHL roster after his time in the B’s NHL training camp. Jakub’s NHL expectations for me if you’re asking is at least two years away as this Boston organization has seemingly been comfortable at the patients of prospects and no rush tom insert said talent into the NHL lineup as soon as they leave the draft podium.

The Providence club gets back to work tomorrow night on the road in Binghamton, New York so get everything you need to know from our very own AHL Bruins writer Tim Richardson in his weekly Providence Bruins preview articles. Click HERE to read this week’s edition!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 163 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 Issue Update On Senyshyn, Recall Frederic

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Photo Courtesy Of Yahoo Sports

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced this morning that forward Zach Senyshyn suffered a lower body injury in the B’s game against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night and will be reevaluated in four weeks. Sweeney also announced the team has recalled forward Trent Frederic from Providence. Senyshyn has skated in four games for Boston this season, posting two assists. He’s also appeared in 12 games for Providence, recording a goal and two assists. Frederic has tallied five assists in 12 games for Providence. This will be his first appearance in Boston this season.

Frederic appeared in 15 games in Boston last year, going scoreless and making his debut on January 29th against the Winnipeg Jets. Frederic skated in 55 regular season games for Providence last year, posting 14 goals and 11 assists for 25 points. He also appeared in four playoff games, posting two assists. The St. Louis, Missouri native was originally drafted by the Bruins in the first round (29th overall) of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

On one end this is tough news for Senyshyn who seemed to be finding his footing at the NHL level on his second career call up but it’s obviously great news for Frederic who will make his second appearance in Boston since being drafted and may make his season debut tomorrow night in Toronto. The B’s continue to have the injury bug especially in their bottom six but it’ll be interesting to see what Frederic and bring to the table. Also here’s hoping Senyshyn can return to the NHL again this season after his return from injury.

Bruins Recall Senyshyn, Place Lindholm on IR

NHL: Boston Bruins at Minnesota Wild

Photo Courtesy of NESN.com

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced this morning that the team has placed forward Par Lindholm on injured reserve and recalled forward Zach Senyshyn from Providence. Lindholm suffered an upper body injury during the B’s 7-4 win over the Rangers on October 27th. Lindholm has skated in seven games for Boston this season, recording a goal. Senyshyn has posted two goals and an assist in 12 games for Providence so far this season.

Senyshyn skated in two games for Boston last season, scoring his first career goal in his first game on April 4th against the Minnesota Wild. Senyshyn appeared in 66 regular season games for Providence last year, recording 14 goals and ten assists for 24 points. He also appeared in four playoff games going scoreless. The Ottawa, Ontario native was drafted by the Bruins in the first round (15th overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Lindholm signed in Boston as a free agent this summer after spending time in Winnipeg and Toronto. The Kusmark, Sweden native was originally signed by the Leafs as a free agent in May 2018.

This is Senyshyn’s second recall of his career and he could potentially play tonight against the Canadiens. Lindholm’s placement on IR continues the rash of injuries the B’s have suffered especially in their bottom six. If Senyshyn does indeed slot into the lineup tonight, it’ll be interesting to see where he’s put and what he can do.

Providence Bruins Fall 4-3 To Belleville To Close Out Disappointing Weekend

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(Photo: Providence Bruins via Flickr)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

PROVIDENCE – The Providence Bruins fell to the Belleville Senators by a final score of 4-3 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Sunday afternoon. The loss came as the second in a row for Providence as the team fell in a shootout to the Laval Rocket at the Dunk on Saturday night during Pink in the Rink Weekend. Maxime Lagace got the start in net for Jay Leach’s group while Filip Gustavsson went for Belleville.

“It’s certainly disappointing,” Leach said of only getting one point out of the weekend after the loss. “We’ve certainly got our work cut out for us moving forward.”

The P-Bruins got out to a hot start in this one as Jakob Lauko took a feed from Zach Senyshyn, who danced though a couple Sens defenders, and shoveled a shot from the high-slot past Gustavsson, giving Providence a 1-0 lead just over three minutes into the opening frame. Alex Petrovic, who had himself a solid night, picked up the secondary assist.

Belleville answered quickly, though, as Jonathan Aspirot beat Lagace from long-range for his first professional goal to tie things at one apiece about three minutes after Lauko’s third of the year. Aspirot’s tally accentuated what was already a strong start for Belleville as the Sens had their way with the P-Bruins on the forecheck during the early proceedings of the first period.

Ryan Fitzgerald broke the tie for Providence with 8:10 to go in the first as Chris Breen’s shot with a purpose found Fitzgerald’s stick for the redirect into the back of the net. The Baby B’s were not able to enjoy the lead for long as a breakdown in coverage led to Michael Carcone blasting a one-timer into the wide open cage to tie things at 2-2.

Stuart Percy went to the box, giving Providence a power play late in the period, but the Bruins’ inability to capitalize was a huge lift for Belleville as Drake Batherson drove into the Providence zone on the rush after the penalty kill and zipped a slapper passed Lagace to give Belleville a 3-2 lead. It was the third goal Lagace had given on just six shots.

“I’m not going to blame Max on all of it, but I’m sure he’d like to have one or two of those back,” Leach continued. “Sometimes in these games we need a bit of a wakeup call, so he was more of a sacrificial lamb for us today.”

“[The decision to pull him] was almost like ‘look, this guy’s been great and he just had two shutouts for you–he’s now pulled–so it’s time to wake up.’ Certainly not going to put it on him.”

Kyle Keyser would get the nod in the second period after a shaky first from Lagace. About midway through an evenly-matched second, Providence forward Robert Lantosi went down in quite a bit of discomfort and eventually would head to the dressing room holding a towel to his face–he would return to finish the game, though.

Even though Lantosi would appear to be fine, his injury certainly was not ideal for the P-B’s as the team was already shorthanded up front as Anders Bjork and Peter Cehlarik are with the big club in Boston while Brendan Gaunce is out with a concussion.

The Bruins would ratchet up the pressure in the second as Keyser held the fort in his own end, highlighted by a sprawling save to keep Providence in it. With 4:00 remaining in the middle stanza and with Providence on a 5-on-3 power play, Petrovic sent a nifty cross-ice saucer pass to captain Paul Carey, who one-timed his fifth of the year by Gustavsson to bring the game back to even.

The tie would stand after two periods, but not before Lauko almost gave Providence the lead as his snapper found its way through Gustavsson’s paraphernalia before a Belleville defender was able to sweep the puck off the goal line.

Early in the third period, Trent Frederic and Robert LaBate would exchange pleasantries and eventually, fists in what was a spirited bout. LaBate may have had the advantage during the early going of the fight, getting Frederic to do his best headless horseman impression in the spirit of Halloween as his sweater was pulled over his head, but after the officials, surprisingly, did not step in, Frederic landed several haymakers, earning the knockout on LaBate.

The tempers and animosity would flare following the fight as Urho Vaakanainen would take exception to a Sens forechecker after a stoppage in play and Cooper Zech would take a hard cross-check from Vitalii Abramov later on.

Keyser would be tested frequently during the third as he made an impressive save on a point-blank one-time bomb look easy. However, after two initial saves from the Bruins’ goaltender, Abramov had the puck squirt out to him in front as he jammed it into the yawning cage to put the Sens up 4-3.

“On that last [goal] Keyser made about two real good saves at first before it even goes in, so we can’t really expect much more out of him on that,” Leach noted.

Although the P-Bruins had a solid push late in the game, Abramov’s tally would prove to be the game-winner. Keyser made 20 saves on 21 shots in relief of Lagace while Gustavsson came up with 28 saves in his own right.

“[Since the call-up] Keyser’s been real good,” the Providence bench boss spoke of his rookie goaltender. “He’s real athletic and he fights to see every puck . . . He’s given us a chance to win every night.”

The overall result is certainly disappointing, but there were still some impressive individual performances for Providence in this one, starting with Keyser. Senyshyn easily had his best game of the season while Petrovic had a two-assist night. With his goal, Fitzgerald now has five points (3G, 2A) over his last five contests, too. Also, Carey extended his point-streak to four games.

“I thought he was outstanding,” Leach said of Senyshyn’s performance. “If he can play like that it’s a great stride. [It’s] great for us and certainly great for him.”

Keyser was called up early on in the year for Providence after Dan Vladar went down with an injury. The goaltender in his first professional season was supposed to start the year in Atlanta, Boston’s ECHL-affiliate, but was pulled back to the Baby B’s before he even got a game in with the Gladiators.

“That’s pro hockey for you. You have to expect the unexpected at all times,” Keyser described. “You have to be ready to run whenever they call your name.”

“For me, it’s about staying focused and staying in the present. Whenever I’m called upon, I’ve just got to go out and do my own thing.”

Providence will return to action this Wednesday as the team will travel to Rochester for a tilt with the Americans, Buffalo’s AHL-affiliate. The action is slated to get underway at 7:05 pm–stay tuned for Tim Richardson’s preview for the week!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Prospect Podcast episode 003 that we recorded on 10-23-19 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!

Many Questions Face The Bruins Before Regular Season Begins

NHL: New York Islanders at Boston Bruins

(Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

Hockey is oh so close to being back. The Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo contracts have been signed, and the Bruins are beginning to play actual hockey again. But even with the regular season less than two weeks away, many questions still face the Bruins entering the year.

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(Photo Credit: Paul Sancya/AP Sports)

How Healthy Is The Team Going to Be?

It seems like the Bruins, and the injury bug are becoming synonymous terms. Following the long and grueling playoffs, it’s not a major surprise that health is a concern, but the Bruins already have multiple regulars that are questionable to begin the year healthy. On the back-end, John Moore and Kevan Miller are already confirmed to be out for the season opener, and Zdeno Chara is questionable for the opener due to the jaw injury he suffered in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Patrice Bergeron has been practicing in a non-contact sweater and is also questionable for the opener. Luckily depth on defense isn’t a real issue for the Bs, but if the Bergeron and Chara injuries take a wrong turn, the Bruins may be in trouble.

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(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer-Getty Images)

What Kids Can Make The Team?

The Bruins have a plethora of NHL-ready prospects that are fighting for a spot on the team. They have talented players like Jack Studnicka, Oskar Steen and Zach Senyshyn looking for their first extended looks in the NHL as well as Anders Bjork, Trent Frederic and Karson Kuhlman who are looking to add to their previous stints in the big-leagues. Obviously, the Bs just don’t have room for all of these guys with their already impressive roster, but I would not be surprised to see two or three cracks the opening night roster (as you will see me get more into later).

On defense, it’s unlikely that any youngsters can have an extended stay, but if Chara does end up missing some time, we may get to see a few games. Urho Vaakanainen has looked very comfortable in the pre-season and seems to be NHL ready. Jeremy Lauzon is another NHL ready defenseman we got to see last year and again, looked very comfortable in his 16 game stint last year.

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(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

Who Starts To Krejci’s Right?

So it seems Bruce Cassidy is sticking to his guns and keeping the top line of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Bergeron together so we should see a revolving door of players auditioning on that second line. Cassidy has said that Brett Ritchie, David Backes, Anders Bjork, and Danton Heinen will all get looks on the line, but it seems that Karson Kuhlman, who had some success with the duo of Krejci and Jake Debrusk in the playoffs, may get the nod to begin the year. After four seasons (and one championship win) at Minnesota Duluth, Kuhlman was a bit of a surprise call-up last season but had a good amount of success in both the regular season and the playoffs.

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(Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

How Does the Bottom Six Shake-Up?

The trio of Anders Bjork, Charlie Coyle, and Danton Heinen have played together in this pre-season and looked to already have developed some chemistry (all three tallied a point in the game). Albeit a very small sample size, but if the group continue to play well, they are a very strong candidate to begin the season as the third line. If Kuhlman ends up on line two and line three stays as it looks to be, that leaves a sea of players still vying for 4th line roles.

If previously mentioned young players like Frederic, Senyshyn, and Steen can’t crack the top nine, I see no reason to give them minimal minutes on the 4th line, eating up a lot of minutes in the AHL would be a far better alternative. The one kid that is the biggest wildcard is Peter Cehlarik. Unlike the other fringe-NHL prospects, Cehlarik is the only player that is not waiver exempt, meaning that if the Bruins want to send him to the AHL, he would need to pass through waivers. While he isn’t a game-changer, losing a guy with the skill and size for Cehlarik for nothing would hurt. Maybe that pushes him over the edge over players like Kuhlman or Bjork who don’t have to go through waivers but all we can do it wait and see.

That leaves David Backes, Brett Ritchie, Joakim Nordstrom, Chris Wagner Sean Kuraly and Par Lindholm all looking for 4th line minutes. Nordstrom, Kuraly, and Wagner partnered up to be one of the most effective 4th lines in the entire league last year, and are certainly a very good bet to start the season as the line.

Ritchie and Lindholm were both brought in this offseason as low risk, high(ish) reward players. Ritchie is a former 16 goal scorer and will certainly look to return to that form after two very lack-luster seasons. Lindholm was just under a point-per-game in his final season the SHL and will look to replicate that after a solid rookie year in the NHL.

Finally, we have David Backes, who I really think will come back and have a solid year. He’s obviously not the player he used to be in St. Louis. He is still an outstanding veteran presence with a lot to prove this season after the disappointing end of the playoffs. Both Bruce Cassidy and Don Sweeney still have their work cut out for them.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 146 that we recorded on 9-22-19 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!

For Bruins’ Bjork, Uncertainty Looms Ahead Of Training Camp

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(Photo: Paul Rutherford / USA TODAY Sports)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kuhlman, Senyshyn, Others Among Potential Second Line Solutions For Bruins, Per Bruce Cassidy

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(Photo: David Berding / USA TODAY Sports)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Among several stories to come out of the Boston Bruins Foundation golf outing Monday afternoon was head coach Bruce Cassidy’s comments regarding the state of the second line right wing situation, which has been a glaring issue for the better part of five seasons now. Cassidy told the media that Anders Bjork, Karson Kuhlman, Zach Senyshyn, Brett Ritchie, and potentially more are all among options he will consider to fill the open roster spot on David Krejci’s right.

All of the guys mentioned above are also assumedly in the mix for the open spot on the third line with Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen, barring a shift in the lineup for either of those two; however, the main concern is obviously who will take the third spot alongside Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.

The clubhouse favorite seems to be Kuhlman as he had success with the aforementioned duo last season and even came up huge in the playoffs. In 11 regular season games, the Minnesota-Duluth product posted three goals and two assists for five points, spending most of his time on the second line.

Leading into the postseason, the second line with Kuhlman on the right posted eight five-on-five goals in 68:21 of ice-time, and the 23-years-old stepped in seamlessly when asked to either slot in on either the third or second line during the playoffs, notching 1-2-3 numbers in eight games, including this SNIPE in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final:

Next on the wheel of possibilities is Anders Bjork, who, after a strong showing at the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo, is looking to prove that he is ready for an NHL role after his first two seasons were cut short by a pair of shoulder surgeries. Bjork is essentially starting from scratch this season, and the Prospects Challenge should have served as a good opportunity to help get his legs under him ahead of camp.

With 15 points in 50 games with the varsity club, Bjork has shown flashes of what many thought he could be when given the chance to actually play in the top-six. However, starting the year off in Providence may not be the worst thing for him as far as his confidence and conditioning goes. The 23-year-old’s NHL experience likely gives him leg up on guys like Senyshyn and even Jack Studnicka or Oskar Steen, both of whom may also get a chance to show what they can do on the second line.

Speaking of Senyshyn, the 15th-overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft is an interesting case. Boasting gobs of speed, tenacity, and skill, Senyshyn has not quite lit the world on fire at the AHL level (26-24-50 in 132 games) after going off in the OHL (114-63-177 in 195 games).

However, in two NHL games at the end of the regular season last year, the 22-year-old was quite impressive and even scored his first NHL goal against Minnesota; although it was an empty-netter. The speedy Ottawa, Ontario native certainly has the skill set for potential success next to David Krejci, and he’ll get a shot to show he’s the man for the job in what will surely be a “prove it” year.

Ritchie was already going to be an interesting guy to keep an eye on during training camp, but with Cassidy specifically mentioning him in the running for second line right wing, the intrigue has only heightened. The 26-year-old signed with the Bruins at the start of free agency for a one-year, $1-million deal–a pretty low-risk, potentially high-reward signing.

It is unlikely that Ritchie will miraculously become the player that the Dallas Stars thought he could have turned into, a bruising middle-six, or top-six, winger, but he does fit the mold of guys who have found success next to Krejci in years passed (Lucic, Horton, and Iginla–not to say he is or will be as good as those guys, but the comparison is there). Ritchie’s best season was two years ago with Dallas where he scored 24 points (16 goals and eight assists); he moved around in the top-nine, but also spent a decent amount of time with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.

The 16 goals he scored three years ago is the key stat. If he can tap into that goal production playing with skilled guys like Krejci and DeBrusk, the Bruins may have found something, so we’ll have to see where this goes during camp.

Cassidy only explicitly mentioned the four guys I talked about above, but that’s not to say someone like the aforementioned Steen or Studnicka won’t get a look either. Although, Steen is still likely a few seasons of way from being fully ready to make the leap to the NHL since this will only be his first professional season in North America.

Likewise with Studnicka, the 20-year-old is set to begin his first full pro season since joining Providence’s playoff run after lighting up the OHL. The former Oshawa Generals captain has experience playing wing even though he is a natural center, and he has made it clear to the organization he will play wing if needed–the skillset on this kid increases the possibility of making an impact with the big club. However, it may be best for him to get even more seasoning playing center in Providence; more on where Studnicka might fit in a future article to look out for. Also, I haven’t even mentioned Peter Cehlarik, but rest assured he’ll probably get a shot considering the flashes he’s shown in his NHL experience.

With training camp set to kick off this week, the ongoing saga at second line right wing is certainly among the top storylines, and Cassidy’s comment only increased the interest around the open roster spot.  It really is anyone’s guess as to who will seize the two open roster spots up front. Everyone will surely be curious to see where this goes and who steps up as the next man for the job.

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 144 that we recorded on 9-8-19 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 Link To Our YouTube Channel!