Boston Bruins: Projecting The Kids

 

( Above Photo Credit:  NHL .com )

By: Jesse Jimenez                             Follow Me On Twitter @Jessemedscience

How many times over the last 2-3 years have we heard the terms “speed,” “youth,” and “skill” thrown around the NHL? The league is evolving at a rapid rate, and many teams have already started to adopt the new model. Enforcers seem to have been put on the “endangered” list, conceding to the less violent albeit a much more entertaining brand of hockey. The new style of play has no doubt benefited the league from a marketing and promotional perspective, attracting a diverse global audience. Boston, an original six team, and one of the NHL’s most prestigious organizations have already started putting its fingerprints on the new culture.

It’s no secret the Boston Bruins have one of the deepest prospect pools in the NHL and fans got a small taste of it this past season. Young 20-year-old defenseman Brandon Carlo exceeded expectations, making the team out of training camp and putting up a solid line of  6g-10a-16pts with a plus 9 rating while averaging just north of 20-mins TOI per game. University of Denver sophomore standout Danton Heinen had a cup of non-expresso coffee with the parent club before being sent down to Providence for some seasoning. Despite not registering a point in 8 games with the Bruins Heinen showed flashes of creativity, smarts, and essential tools that allowed him to capture 2015 NCHC Rookie of the year and 2016 NCHC best forward awards. After a dry spell for Providence Heinen really turned it on during the last quarter of the season and into the playoffs, leading the team in scoring with 18 points in 17 games including 9-goals. Youngsters such as Austin Czarnik, Peter Cehlarik, Sean Kuraly, Noel Acciari, Rob O’Gara, Anton Blidh and Matt Grzelcyk also got brief stints during the 2016-2017 campaign.

Ironically enough, we have not even touched on the top-tier prospects knocking on the door for the Bruins. Recently signed Notre Dame sophomore dynamo Anders Bjork tops the forward list with his dynamic skating, exceptional hockey sense, and world-class creativity. Bjork was named a finalist for the Hobey Baker this past year after posting 21g and 52-points in just 39 games for the Fighting Irish. Bjork may top the list for forwards due to his polished offensive game, but Zachary Senyshyn may have the purest natural ability of the crop. After registering back to back 40g+ seasons for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL Senyshyn is poised to make the best out of development camp after missing out last year due to mononucleosis — He saw limited time at the tail-end of the main camp in September. Then there’s Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, the Sweedish Bergeron as I like to call him. The Boston University product, whose game resembles the 4-time Selke award winner (not too shabby), may be the most rounded forward prospect and Boston’s top prospect at the center position. JFK possesses excellent hockey sense and vision and has a knack for potting big goals. His two-way game is polished and will translate to the NHL, making him an immediate contributor in all situations.

These are three excellent and exciting prospects, but none make you reach for the popcorn more than Charlie McAvoy will. Equipped with a 3-zone game, smooth skating, excellent vision, and a physical edge McAvoy may be the favorite for the Calder trophy this coming season. The former Boston University standout and 2017 WJC Gold Medalist took the NHL by storm as a 19-year old baby-faced rookie during the Stanley Cup playoffs. While the offensive numbers don’t jump off the page, 3 apples in 6 games, it was his matured play in all 3 zones that really captured the attention of fans, team executives, league analysts, and scouts. McAvoy averaged more than 25-min TOI per game — And was the go to quarterback for Boston’s first power-play unit. His ability to jump into the play, provide support for his forwards and transition defense to offense with a crisp first pass pretty much cemented how special and unique he is. McAvoy has generated lots of comparison to Los Angeles Kings stud defensemen Drew Doughty, sure Bruins fans weren’t too disappointed to hear that.

With an influx of young talent knocking on the door this year lets take a look at some lineup possibilities along with realistic expectations for each player.

Boston Bruins 2017-2018 Opening Day lineup:

Marchand-Bergeron-DeBrusk

Bjork-Krejci-Pastrnak

Heinen-JFK-Backes

Kuraly-Czarnik-Nash

Chara-Carlo

K.Miller-McAvoy

Krug-McQuaid

Projections

Jake DeBrusk — 18g 24a

Anders Bjork — 20g 28a

Danton Heinen — 16g 25a

JFK — 13g 30a

Charlie McAvoy — 10g 32a

Of course, there are plenty of moving parts and variables in play. Free agency is around the corner, and the Bruins remain very active in the trade market as they continue their search for a top-4 left shooting defensemen and top-6 forward. That being said, the Toronto Maple Leafs proved that young, inexperienced players can compete in the NHL. With a well-rounded veteran core of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, David Backes, Tuukka Rask and Zdeno Chara the Bruins find themselves in an excellent position to integrate their young talent.

Other Prospects that could push for spots:

Jakub Zboril

Jeremy Lauzon

Jesse Gabrielle

Agree? Don’t agree? I’d love to hear your thoughts as well. Who do you have making the Bruins this year?

Signing off,

Jesse “The Dominican PuckHead”

-Stay Inspired

 

 

 

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Pre Free-Agency 2017-2018 Boston Bruins Lineup Outlook

By: Mike Cratty                              Follow Me On Twitter @Mike_Cratty 

The main storyline for the Boston Bruins this offseason is, what will they do with all of their young players that are on the cusp of making the big club? Many of these players that are on the cusp are left-handed forwards. These forwards include Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk, the newest Bruin, Anders Bjork, Peter Cehlarik and Sean Kuraly. All have seen their own respective successes and growth over the past year in particular. Whether it was in Providence, short time with the big club, or at the University of Notre Dame.

Projected Lineup

The Bruins roster for next year currently looks something like this:

Forwards

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak (RFA)

Anders Bjork – David Krejci – David Backes

Jake DeBrusk – Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson – Drew Stafford (UFA)

Sean Kuraly – Riley Nash – Noel Acciari (RFA)

Players that will compete for offensive ice time: Tim Schaller (RFA), Danton Heinen, Peter Cehlarik, Frank Vatrano, Austin Czarnik (RFA) Jimmy Hayes, Matt Beleskey

Players that will go elsewhere: Ryan Spooner (RFA)

Defense

Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug – Charlie McAvoy

Kevan Miller – Adam McQuaid

Rob O’Gara

Goalies

Tuukka Rask

Anton Khudobin

David Pastrnak is the biggest free-agent name. He should fetch a deal in the six-eight year range at around $36-50 million. According to capfriendly.com, the Bruins’ projected cap space is $13,468,332. I think David Pastrnak will take $6-7 million of that in his first year of his new contract. Pastrnak had a career year with 34 goals and 70 points and just recently turned 21 on May 25.

Drew Stafford is another interesting name. In a lineup that will surely see younger and inexperienced players, a guy like Stafford could help on a reasonable contract. He fit very well with the Bruins after being acquired at the trade deadline this past year. He had 21 points in 58 regular season games last year, eight with the Bruins. He added two goals in six playoff games. He could fetch Don Sweeney a draft pick as a rental at the deadline with a possible one-year deal.

Tim Schaller is a guy that I could see coming back, but being an extra or playing in Providence. He could be a solid guy to call up to man a fourth line spot if someone goes down, he fit well last year in his NHL role. But the youth movement has other plans. What he wants to do is yet to be seen, and he won’t command much money. He had seven goals and 14 points in 59 games last year and a goal in six playoff games. Austin Czarnik is in a similar predicament, both are ok players, but always need to battle for ice time.

Noel Acciari more than earned a fourth line position after his resurgence late last year and in the playoffs. A late season demotion sparked a fire in his mind, and he looked like a transformed player. For part of his NHL career, contrary to his NCAA career at Providence College, he couldn’t generate much on the score sheet. That all changed after his demotion, he wasn’t lighting it up, but you could see he was more confident and aware of how to generate chances. Not to mention, physically, he is a wrecking ball.

For part of Acciari’s NHL career, contrary to his NCAA career at Providence College, he couldn’t generate much on the score sheet. That all changed after his demotion, he wasn’t lighting it up, but you could see he was more confident and aware of how to generate chances. Not to mention, physically, he is a wrecking ball.

Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk, and Sean Kuraly will all secure lineup spots. Anders Bjork was the prized NCAA addition and is way too talented not to make the lineup. Jake DeBrusk took a huge step with the Providence Bruins, and Don Sweeney has a lot of confidence in him. Sean Kuraly showed up in the playoffs when his name was called and looks to be a prototypical fourth-liner.

Don Sweeney could dump a bad contract or two with a trade outside of Ryan Spooner. Jimmy Hayes and Matt Beleskey are the two most likely names. Hayes will be an unrestricted free-agent next summer and is making $2.3 million, while Matt Beleskey is locked up at $3.8 million through the 2019-2020 season. But, they are both coming off of dreadful seasons and have bad contract situations. I don’t see anyone wanting them unless Sweeney adds something on top or retains salary.

Not to mention both players are coming off of dreadful seasons and have bad contract situations. I don’t see anyone wanting them unless Sweeney adds something on top or retains salary.

The verdict

I think Tim Schaller and the Timmy Heads, Austin Czarnik, and Noel Acciari will come back on deals similar to their past contract, Pastrnak signs long-term and Drew Stafford signs an agreement that will work after David Pastrnak. This will help shape a pretty decent looking lineup. Two young studs on the back end, a couple up front, a good mix of veterans, skill, speed, and physicality.

Ryan Spooner’s rights will be traded to the Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings or New Jersey Devils for a 2018 third-round pick. This depends on whether they would want Spooner in the Western Conference or not.

The Kings don’t have a ton of free agency work to do and could use Spooner. They have been speculated to acquire a top-6 left winger so they may save their $10,006,440 for that player, according to capfriendly.com. Spooner has struggled on the wing in the past but could be of interest to Los Angeles Kings general manager, Rob Blake due to his youth and potential.

The Devils have reportedly shown interest in trading for Spooner in the past and have plenty of cap space, $24,472,499 of it, according to capfriendly.com. Their total cap space is the third most in the NHL. They are just in need of offensive help in general and could use a young player like Ryan Spooner.

The Canucks and Devils have many similarities. They have both reportedly shown interest in Ryan Spooner in the past, they have plenty of cap space, and they both need offensive help. The Canucks have $19,475,001 of it at the moment, according to capfriendly.com.

I have a strange feeling, at this point, that Don Sweeney won’t pull off a trade for a left-handed defenseman like many have speculated. In the back of his mind, I think he really wanted the 18th overall pick to be the centerpiece in such a trade. He used the 18th overall pick last Friday on Finnish defenseman Urho Vaakanainen.

The 2017 NHL offseason will surely be one with many tough choices for the Boston Bruins. The expansion draft made things a little easier, but now free agency and training camp lie ahead to hopefully make the process even easier. Teams knocking on Don Sweeney’s door could help. The free-agent frenzy will be upon us in five days.

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Lalonde: My Bruins Picks For The 2017 NHL Draft

Robert Thomas of the London Knights. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.   7spits

(Photo Credit: Terry Wilson, OHL Images (Left) Jason Kirk, Windsor Star (Right)

By Court Lalonde @courtlalonde

It’s that time of the year again when teams get to start with a clean slate and think about their future. The National Hockey League entry draft is today, and the excitement around the league seems to be about what trades are going to be made more than who teams are going to select in the entry draft this year. I can understand some of this excitement because we had an expansion draft this year and the Las Vegas Golden Knights decided to accumulate more draft picks over taking the best player available. I’m intrigued because this draft is being pegged as a weak draft compared to previous years and that we don’t have any superstars available.

I have been looking into who the Boston Bruins might be able to take, and I think this draft might surprise people down the road. I don’t believe that they will be Connor McDavid type players, but this draft seems to have players that will play in the NHL. This draft is full of potential role players and second line players; some have the ability to become first line players. We also seem to have a healthy crop of goaltenders in this year’s draft, which is good because (spoilers) I’m going to suggest the Bruins take a goalie with their second round pick. I stated on the Black N’ Gold podcast last week that I think the Bruins should take Isaac Ratcliffe from the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League with the 18th overall pick and Michael Dipietro from the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL with the 53rd overall pick. I still think the Bruins should choose Dipietro, but I have changed my mind on Ratcliffe. I feel now that the Bruins should go with Robert Thomas from the London Knights of the OHL.

Boston Bruins 18th pick in the 2017 NHL entry draft is Robert Thomas from the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League

Thomas_Robert_NHLDraft-1021x580

(Photo Credit: CHL Images)

When you look at Thomas at first, you see 6-0 centermen, 188 pounds that only played second line minutes last year in the OHL. What you need to realize is, he is a second line center that played on one of the offensive juggernauts of the OHL. He was able to have 16 goals, 50 assists, 66 points, with a plus 44 rating with only second line minutes. He thinks defense first and worries about the offense later and is known as an unselfish player by his teammates.

“Robert is a good 200-foot player, he’s intelligent,” Matt Ryan of NHL Central Scouting said. “He’s an excellent passer and has a good vision of the ice. He can create in traffic, doesn’t panic and makes smart decisions with the puck, He’s a natural playmaker.”

His hockey IQ is off the charts and was touted as one of the best playmakers in the OHL last year. I went looking back into what scouts said about current Bruins Patrice Bergeron, and it’s uncanny how similar the scouting reports are. I’m not saying he is the next Bergeron, but he plays a similar style of game. Thomas knows how to win and won a Memorial Cup with the London Knights in 2016 and will get a chance to play for team Canada this year as he has been invited to camp for the Canadian World Junior team. He seems to me to be the prototypical Bruins, and if he is available when Don Sweeney steps up to the podium for the 18th pick, I hope they take him.

Boston Bruins 53rd pick in the 2017 NHL entry draft is Michael Dipietro from the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League

image

(Photo Credit: Adrian Wyld, The Canadian Press)

The knock on Dipietro is that he is short and at 6-0 for a goalie, I guess you can say that with the goaltenders nowadays in the league. I have never believed a goalie has to be tall to succeed in the NHL, and the Bruins own Tim Thomas who backstopped us to a Stanley Cup Championship is a prime example of that. Thomas came in a 5’11 but played like he was Zdeno Chara’s size. Dipietro knows how to win big games as well, his Spitfires won the Memorial Cup Championship this year and he was 4-0 with a 2.00 GAA and a .932 SV%. His coach Rocky Thomspon said, “When we make mistakes we have a great goaltender who can make a save for us.” This season he tied a Spitfires franchise record with a GAA of 2.35 for the season and set the shutout record with six. Three of the shutouts were in a row, and he stood on his head all three games. He has a strong mental focus and plays big for his size. He grew up idolizing Johnathan Quick from the Los Angeles Kings and has quick reflexes like him as well. Boston is a hard city to play in for some players, and the pressure can get to some.

” I like that I can be a game changer, a factor, I love the pressure,” said Dipietro.

He played for team Canada at the Ivan Hilinka Tournament this year and had a .920 SV%. He has been invited to camp as well for the Canadian World Junior team, and if the NHL players don’t go to the Olympics, he might represent his country there. I want the Bruins to select a goalie in the second round because it’s a strong draft for goaltenders this year and goaltending prospect haven’t worked out lately, and it’s time to refill the cupboard. My hope when Don Sweeney announces their second round pick, he calls the name of Michael Dipietro.

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PuckNerd: My Bruins Picks for the 2017 NHL Draft

 

 

Photo Credits: Michigan Hockey Now (Left) and Mile High Sticking (Right)

By: Spencer Fascetta                    Twitter:  @PuckNerdHockey

So, has everybody been able to recover after last night’s Expansion Draft? Well, too bad! It’s Draft Time! This is quite literally my favorite time of year, so I thought I’d provide some insight into who the Bruins will take in one of the wildest draft years in recent history. I want to start with a disclaimer – while this draft likely does not have a generational talent in the mold of Auston Matthews or Connor McDavid, this is by no means a weak draft. In fact, it seems to be one of the deeper ones in recent memory, as there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty and possible fluidity between picks 11 and 60. This causes quite a bit of trouble when attempting to project who will be taken at a specific pick within that range. Both players I will be discussing fall between the Bruins’ first two picks (18 and 53) in consensus rankings. Now, with that out of the way…

 

In the First Round, at 18th Overall, the Boston Bruins are proud to select from the US National Team Development Program in the USHL, center Joshua Norris.

Photo Credits: US National Team Development Program

Norris has been a curious prospect all year. He has been praised for his two-way acumen – something that we know this Boston regime covets in their offensive picks. This is not why I think he makes a lot of sense, however. First of all, I would like you to all look at the Bruins’ prospect depth chart in the middle of the ice… Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, and that’s it. I don’t particularly like drafting for need, but David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron are both 31, and David Backes is 33. Someone eventually is going to need to play center for this team.

Norris’ primary asset is the one that I covet the most in a young player – Hockey IQ. This is the one skill (apart from height) that you cannot teach. Either a player has it, or they don’t. Players who think the game at a higher level can find ways to outperform their potential shortcomings, whereas a player who relies solely on their physical abilities can sometimes crash and burn at the next level when, suddenly, everyone else has the same physical abilities. Norris is more quick than purely fast at 6’1”, 192 lbs, but is not slow by any means, and will head to the University of Michigan next fall. He also wore a letter at the USNTDP program this year, which shows that he is a high character individual. He put up 60 points in 61 games this past year and provides a wicked wrist shot and unabashed ferocity in the middle of the ice. Oh, and he also obliterated the NHL Combine. So, on top of his high-end hockey IQ, he clearly has the physical abilities to be successful at the next level. I see him as a potential Top 6 centerman when the current roster begins to be phased out due to age, and since he will be attending Michigan for at least next season, they can afford to allow him to develop until he is actually ready to step into the lineup.

With their second pick, 53rd Overall, the Boston Bruins select from Brynäs IF of the Swedish Elite League, forward Jesper Boqvist.

Photo Credits: OilersNation

While most people have Boston taking a goalie here, I think that there is too much value to pass up on with Boqvist. He is an offensive wizard, who can play all three forward positions, and part of the reason he potentially is available at this point is a year that is perceived to have been a struggle. He scored zero goals and 6 assists in 16 games for Brynäs, then only 12 points in 19 games after being sent to Timrå IK in Sweden’s second division. However, he is 18 years old and got into 16 games in the SWEDISH ELITE LEAGUE. He wasn’t just along for the ride either, as shown by his 6 assists. This is a professional league, one of the best outside of North America, and Brynäs apparently believes that he has the ability to already play at that level. Receiving playing time at that level cannot be understated as it translates to the NHL, and Boqvist could be a perfect complement to a David Pastrnak or Zach Senyshyn in a few years.

 

In the next 72 hours, Boston needs to stand pat and make its picks. Nothing crazy, don’t reach, just take the best player available at each pick. With a prospect pool as deep as theirs, there is no need to reach for a specific position or player type at any point in the draft (this should not be done anyways, but GMs be GMin’). Keep an eye on overage defenseman Jack Achan and USHL goaltender Maxim Zhukov in the later rounds as potential steals, and Russian winger Klim Kostin if he manages to fall to the 18th pick. Kostin is another player who received playing time in a professional league (the KHL) this year but struggled with injury problems and inconsistency that spawned from the time he missed and the fact that he played for four different teams throughout the season. He’s also Russian with a KHL contract, which tends to be a turn-off for NHL teams. However, were his name Joe Smith, and he played in Kitchener, he would, without question, be a Top 5 pick. With a deep pool of prospects, the Bruins can afford a gamble at that point. Also keep an eye on Timothy Liljegren, who was a Top 3 player in the preseason, but contracted Mononucleosis, and has tumbled down draft boards as a result. Mono is a tricky illness, in that it can often take months to regain full physical strength despite not showing any symptoms, so I completely discount his struggles this season. If Kostin or Liljegren is available at 18, and Boston passes on them, my Twitter account may explode. You have been warned.

Please check me out on YouTube (@PuckNerd) and Twitter (@PuckNerdHockey) for more hockey commentary and analysis. Subscribe, follow, like, etcetera. This week has been crazy. So excited for it to continue!

Posted in Boston Bruins, Bruins Prospects, NCAA Mens Hockey, NHL, NHL Draft, SHL | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Cratty: My Boston Bruins Picks For The 2017 NHL Draft

(Photo Credit: HFBoards, The Daily Free Press)

By Mike Cratty                                                Twitter: @Mike_Cratty

The first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft will take place tomorrow night, Friday, June 23. This draft is a little different than the past two in the sense that there isn’t a stud considered to be at Auston Matthews and Conor McDavid level. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a wealth of talent within the draft class. The Bruins first two selections in the draft are the most important, 18th overall and 53rd overall. Those are the picks that will be highlighted going forward. Their other selections include picks #111, 173, 195, and 204.

18th overall: C/RW, Kole Lind, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

Image result for kole lind

(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

With the 18 overall pick, Don Sweeney attacks the team’s biggest prospect hole, the right wing position by selecting Kole Lind of the Kelowna Rockets. One major thing that will stick out to Don Sweeney is his positional versatility. What General Manager wouldn’t love a player who can play multiple positions? Lind can do that.

Where Lind will go is kind of a tossup, but Bruins fans shouldn’t be disappointed if they see Lind taken 18th overall. He is typically projected from pick 18 to late in the first round. He would add a great set of skills to a position within the organization that needs it. He was ranked 23rd on the NHL Central Scouting List for North American skaters. Lind is a player with high hockey IQ, an impressive ability to make things happen offensively and a solid shot. His high hockey IQ allows him to make plays with the best possible outcome in mind, set up offensive chances and pounce on loose pucks in the defensive, neutral and offensive zones. He isn’t the biggest kid, listed at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds according to eliteprospects.com, but that doesn’t seem to bother him.

This past season with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, Lind exploded for 30 goals, 57 assists, and 87 points in 70 regular season games. He then added six goals, six assists, and 12 points in 17 playoff games. This was a massive improvement on the 14 goals, 27 assists, and 41 points he tallied in the 2015-2016 season with the Rockets. In this same season, he had zero points in the playoffs. To go from zero to 12 points during the part of the season with the highest amount of pressure shows great poise and confidence.

This was a massive improvement on the 14 goals, 27 assists, and 41 points he tallied in the 2015-2016 season with the Rockets. In this same season, he had zero points in the playoffs. To go from zero to 12 points during the part of the season with the highest amount of pressure shows great poise and confidence.

Another impressive facet of Lind’s game is his speed. His speed is a huge reason as to why he is so good at pushing the pace in the offensive zone especially. The combination of his many skills, mostly offensively, make him an attractive draft target. With some work on his defensive gain and physical maturity, Lind would be a welcome addition. David Pastrnak has clearly surpassed prospect status and Zachary Senyshyn needs some company in the right-wing core. Insert Kole Lind.

(Kole Lind, NHL Combine) (Video Credit: NHL.com)

53rd overall: G, Jake Oettinger, Boston University (NCAA)

Image result for jake oettinger

(Photo Credit: SI.com)

The Boston Bruins need a high-end elite goaltender prospect. They can get one this year and Jake Oettinger would be an excellent choice. Goaltenders are a bit trickier to project and evaluate than centers. Oettinger could very well be taken before pick #53, but his projections show him as a late first-round to second round prospect and possibly the first goalie off the board.

Having seen Jake Oettinger hold down the crease live numerous times, as well as on TV, he plays well above his age. As just a freshman this past year playing in Hockey East, one of the toughest conferences to play in throughout the NCAA, he was one of the nation’s top goaltenders. His poise, talent and athletic capabilities in the net are top notch. He displays excellent vision as well which makes tracking pucks easy and allows him to see the play in front of him at a high level.

He is a tower in the crease at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds according to eliteprospects.com and moves very swiftly and effectively for someone of that size. NHL Central Scouting has Oettinger ranked as the #1 North American goalie in this year’s draft class. He led Boston University to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament before falling to tournament finalist, Minnesota-Duluth. Oettinger’s endurance was tested in the two NCAA tournament games he suited up for. The Terriers first round matchup went to double OT against the University of North Dakota, then OT against Minnesota-Duluth. Both games in which Oettinger played very well in.

In 35 appearances with the Boston University Terriers, Jake Oettinger finished his freshman year with a record of 22-11-3, a 2.11 GAA, and a .927 save percentage. Extremely impressive numbers for any goalie, nevermind a freshman. Oettinger is a guy that I see as an elite NHL goaltender someday and Sweeney would be foolish not to take him, if he’s available, at 53rd overall.

(Jake Oettinger, NHL Combine) (Video Credit: NHL.com)

If Don Sweeney manages to snatch up Lind and Oettinger, Bruins fans should be very happy. The Bruins would address their two biggest prospect needs and add some more talent to be excited about down the road.

Posted in NCAA Mens Hockey, NHL Draft, WHL | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Boston Bruins Release List Of Protected Players (or how Kevan Miller won the Expansion Draft Sweepstakes)

kevan-miller

Photo Courtesy of NESN

By Andrew Thompson                                                                       Twitter: @Godwentwhoops

The Boston Bruins released their list of protected players for the upcoming Expansion Draft. The Bruins have two options in protecting their players from the new Las Vegas team joining the league this year.  The Black and Gold chose to employ the 7-3-1 option, meaning seven forwards, three defencemen, and Tuukka Rask were taken off the board for Vegas.

The Bruins chose to protect (or had no choice due to contact clauses) the seven players among the forwards:

David Backes
Patrice Bergeron
David Krejci
Brad Marchand
Riley Nash
David Pastrnak
Ryan Spooner

Riley Nash was a bit of a surprise.

The 28-year old forward did his job as a bottom-six player for Boston. His 17 point (seven goal) season wasn’t thrilling overall, but the former Cornell product ate up minutes and helped make the B’s fourth line the best it has been since the time of the Merlot Line.

For some reason, some people scratched their heads at Ryan Spooner.

In all honesty, keeping Spooner was a no-brainer for Boston. Not so much for what he brings to the team, but what moving him could bring to TD Garden.

Unless something drastically changes in the offseason, Spooner is leaving Boston. While he still has a decent amount of value (and a certain level of untapped potential), he’s just not cutting it in the Black and Gold. Claude Julien didn’t like his defensive game at the start of the season. Bruce Cassidy didn’t like his offensive game at the end of it.

Still, Spooner can be used as part of a package deal to get either a depending top-six left-winger or a left-shooting blueliner.

The Bruins could only protect three defencemen, and they (for better or worse) made the best of an unpleasant situation. Here are the protected blueliners for Boston.

Zdeno Chara
Torey Krug
Kevan Miller

During the offseason, it became clear that the Bruins were only going to protect one of the Millers when it came time for the expansion draft. The B’s decided to protect the 29-year old Kevan Miller rather than the 24-year old Colin Miller.

Personally, I thought keeping Kevan Miller was a mistake. It almost seemed an act of hubris on the part of the Bruins front office. The Bruins believe they can be a Stanley Cup team next year. That’s either fantastically optimistic or someone’s been putting too much bourbon in that dirty water at the TD Garden.

There is also the ugly fact that Kevan Miller is at the edge of his skill set and Colin Miller is still improving. Kevan Miller is a bottom-pair blueliner, while Colin Miller could be more for Boston. (‘Could’ being the operative word.) That’s part of the reason why the B’s went with the pugilistic Miller over the potential Miller. (The B’s were willing to go with what they know they had over what they might have.)

The other part of the Kevan of Colin choice is the B’s depth chart. Charlie McAvoy will be a full-time Bruin next year.  Rob O’Gara and Matt Grzelcyk are playing with Providence, and both have a shot of making the roster in October.  Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril could be ready in the next 18 months. With so much talent in the barn, the B’s front office might have thought that Colin Miller would be superfluous.

We’ll see how this plays out at the Expansion Draft. A few months ago, I argued that whichever Miller wasn’t protected would be grabbed by Las Vegas. That still seems to be the plan. The Golden Knights may choose defenceman Adam McQuaid, but his extensive collection of injuries might make Vegas wary.

So, congratulations to Kevan Miller the winner of the Expansion Draft Sweepstakes.

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NHL Salary Cap To Be Raised For 2017-18 Season

( Above Photo Credit: Sportsnet .ca )

By Mark Allred                           Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The National Hockey League announced today that the mandated Salary Cap of $73 million last season will be operating on a league-wide cap of $75 million for the 2017-18 year. This is great news for teams like the Bruins who could use all the room they can as they work hard this offseason to build a solid roster for next year and future needs.

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According to what the experts at Cap Friendly have to say the Bruins team could have as much as $12 million in available funds. Of course, a better part of that might be contributed to restricted free agent David Pastrnak as he looks to stay with the team. Regardless of when deals are going to be made a little wiggle room, and flexibility with the cap might not be a bad situation for the Bruins especially if this organization is in desperate need of additions via trade at deadline time in the spring of 2018.

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My Bruins Picks For The 2017 NHL Entry Draft

Above Photo Credits: Elite Prospects .com (Left) and Mass. high School Sports (Right)

By Mark Allred                                Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

On yesterday’s Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast with co-hosts Court Lalonde and Rob Tomlin, we looked at the first two rounds of the upcoming National Hockey League Entry Draft held next Friday at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. As of right now the Boston Bruins don’t have the third and fifth selection and later rounds being a “crap shoot,” we focused our attention to the first two selections for time reasons on the show and thought it would be a cool idea to write about it as well.

I believe the Bruins should target a versatile forward with the 18th pick and go, goaltender when they come back around in the second round with the 53rd pick. I know it’s trendy in Boston to look for defensive needs first but looking at the prospect pool, I think this organization can go a year or two without a problem addressing the defensive position. The second round pick I’d like to see this organization go goaltender to add to the depth but to also map his development according to the Bruins plans and the prospects ahead in the prospect pool. I’m all for proper development for all the goaltenders

I’m all for proper development of goaltenders in the various minor/NCAA levels taking their time in school and use this pick as a timeline to a possible pro career that could see the likes of a Dan Vladar in the prospect tandem in Providence, Rhode Island with the Baby B’s. Both Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban are slated to become restricted free agents as of July 1st, and both will be looking for new deals regardless of who’s coming and going in the upcoming hockey madness that is the offseason. Who knew the offseason could be so exciting! Definitely, my favorite down time interest is how an NHL organization builds for the now and the future at the top level in the world

Below are my favorites when the Bruins step to the podium to make dreams come true and set the trail for future pros. After doing my homework and due diligence with the fantastic website draft content available now, and the podcasts to listen, I came up with these two talented players that could be that diamond in the rough type player and hope you enjoy the information that’s shared about them.

With the Bruins first round selection in the 2017 National Hockey League Entry Draft, the Boston Bruins are proud to select…..

Kailer Yamamoto

( Above Photo Credit:  NHL .com )

A quick player with a high hockey IQ for the young star for the Spokane, Washington native playing for the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League. The versatile forward can play the center and left wing position, but a few websites have him spending a little time on the right side as well. I believe with the way he can potentially be slotted anywhere on a forward line might be an asset that the Bruins might not want to pass up if he’s in fact, available when the Bruins pick in the 18th position of the first round.

Not only is the 18-year-olds speed and skill amazing to watch, I find his vision and knack to be at the right place at the right time one of his better attributes. Don’t let the 5″-8″ size fool you as he’s a player with uncanny determination to drive the net and create opportunities for those dirty goals. His shot and quick release is a pleasure to watch as he’s mostly the pivot point on the Chiefs power-play with his blast of a shot and down low one-timers.

Selected by the Spokane team in the fifth round of the WHL Bantam draft, the crafty forward has spent the last three seasons with the Chiefs playing in 190 games contributing 84-143-227 career numbers. Also a key member of the United States Developmental Program under 17 and under 18 International tournaments representing the United States. The 2016-17 WHL regular season was by far his best year ranking him sixth in the league with 42-57-99 numbers including 10 power-play goals and 25 power-play assists so a player like him would be my best selection if I were doing the decision making.

 

With the second round selection in the 2017 National Hockey League Entry Draft, the Boston Bruins are proud to select…..

Keith Petruzzelli

( Above Photo Credit: Inside Hockey )

As stated above I’d like to see the Bruins go after a goaltender with their second round pick and I believe that selection should be Massachusetts native Keith Petruzzelli. Now I know a few reading this are thinking what about the talents of Micheal DiPietro who just won a CHL Memorial Cup or how about Boston University’s Jake Ottinger who’s close by and easily available to close proximity scouting? There’s no question those goaltenders are outstanding prospects but are they going to be available when the Bruins pick at #53? I’m not too sure of that and as always, remains to be seen.

I do believe Petruzzelli who’s a Wilbraham, Massachusetts kid who grew up loving the Bruins. He’s the second-ranked North American Goaltender by NHL Central Scouting and played last season with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League a development program for aspiring collegiate players. Petruzzelli is committed to Quinnipiac University in the fall, and the timing for his professional debut regardless of the level of minor-pro placement may work to the Bruins advantages when actually called upon. Quinnipiac’s Head coach Rand Pecknold and coaching staff have really turned that school around and have seen a wave of successful goaltenders anchoring the last line of defense for the Bobcats in recent years.

In 35 games played for the USHL Lumberjacks the 6′-6″ 190-pound netminder had a 22-10-0-1 record in 2016-17 accompanied by a 2.40 goals-against-average and .918 save percentage. Keith also spent time with the Springfield Cathedral High School team and splitting time with the junior select programs such as the Junior Bruins (USPHL 16U) and Springfield Rifles (MHSL U16)  from 2013-14 to 2015-15. This season his rankings during his rookie season in the USHL were 13th in games played (35), 7th in wins (22), 12th in GAA (2.40), 7th in Save%, and had two shutouts.

I think this would be a solid addition to the Bruins developing core in the crease area and believe this season the team should address this as I’ve mentioned above. Next year draft is heavily rumored to be slightly better than this wave of availability via the draft so it’s hard to judge exactly what direction the Bruins want to go with this second selection or address the problem with talent in goal available for the 2018 Draft. Regardless of who and when the Bruins pick this year it’s going to be an exciting time to get everything I need to know about the futures and be prepared to offer my opinion about them to those willing to listen.

He Even Scored A Goal Last Season………

 

 

 

 

Posted in Boston Bruins, Bruins Prospects, NCAA Mens Hockey, NHL Draft, WHL | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Bruins Release Expansion Protection List

( Above Photo Credit:  1st Ohio Battery )

By Mark Allred                        Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The National Hockey League has officially released every team’s list of players they’ve protected, and players left exposed to the new Vegas Golden Knights franchise set to begin to play in October of 2017. The Expansion rule is that the Vegas team has to select one player from all 30 team’s in the NHL and the draft to select those players will be this Wednesday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Below are the two list’s provided to the NHL by the Boston Bruins and separated by availability to the new franchise and one that’s protected from being selected.

Protected Players

(F) David Backes, (F) Patrice Bergeron, (F) David Krejci, (F) Brad Marchand, (F) Riley Nash, (F) David Pastrnak, (F) Ryan Spooner. (D) Zdeno Chara, (D) Torey Krug, (D) Kevan Miller, and (G) Tuukka Rask

Available Players

(F) Matt Beleskey, (F) Brian Ferlin, (F) Jimmy Hayes, (F) Alexander Khohlachev, (F) Dominic Moore, (F( Tyler Randell, (F) Zac Rinaldo, (F) Tim Schaller, (F) Drew Stafford, (D) Linus Arnesson, (D) Chis Casto, (D) Tommy Cross, (D) Alex Grant, (D) John-Michael Liles, (D) Adam McQuaid, (D) Colin Miller, (D) Joe Morrow, (G) Anton Khudobin, and (G) Malcolm Subban

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The Boston Bruins And NHL Free Agency This Offseason

Image result for Don Sweeney

(Photo Credit: The Boston Globe)

By Mike Cratty                                                      Twitter: @Mike_Cratty

The NHL free agency pool is interesting this year and may force the Boston Bruins to build a roster within the organization for this upcoming season. Some free-agent names include former Bruin Joe Thornton, former St. Louis Blues, Kevin Shattenkirk and T.J. Oshie, as well as other players like Patrick Sharp, Justin Williams, Jaromir Jagr, Alexander Radulov and Dmitry Kulikov. Some of those guys may sound like promising fits, but the Bruins might not have enough space to accommodate them.

Sportsnet’s John Shannon reported in late May that Oshie’s new deal with the Capitals is ‘all but done.’ There is the possibility of their discussions going south, but it doesn’t sound likely at this point.

Don Sweeney chased defensemen Dmitry Kulikov and Kevin Shattenkirk hard in the past, to no avail. Personally, I’m not interested in either of them anymore. It sounds like with Kevin Klein’s possible NHL retirement and with Dan Girardi being bought out, the New York Rangers are making room to accommodate Shattenkirk.

Some other free-agent defensemen include Andrei Markov, who is 38-years-old and will undoubtedly re-sign in Montreal, former Bruin Dennis Wideman, Mark Streit, Dan Girardi, Francois Beauchemin, Michael Stone, Trevor Daley, Johnny Oduya and Karl Alzner.

Karl Alzner might make sense, but will probably look for a raise from his $2.8 million cap hit. Michael Stone would make sense if Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy weren’t players vouching for top-four ice time on the right side.

The other free-agent names are just aging and not what the Bruins need right now on their back end. Dan Girardi and Francois Beauchemin were just bought out, which should be a telling sign to stay away from them in free agency.

Patrick Sharp or Mr. Game 7, Justin Williams, might make sense on the right wing if you can get one of them on a reasonable deal. Maybe Sweeney drops Stafford to free agency and replaces him with Sharp or Williams. Stafford and Sharp put up similar numbers last year and have both seen scoring prowess in the past.

Justin Williams, on the other hand, had 24 goals and 48 points in the regular season at age 35. He would probably cost the most to obtain of the three due to his recent production and playoff success.

The other guys listed really just don’t make a lot of sense and will likely re-sign with their current teams. Guys like Sharp, Williams, Thornton, and Jagr are aging veterans that might not make sense in a Bruins lineup that is working on a youth movement. I think it’s safe to say the Bruins won’t make much noise in free agency. Looking at it from a different perspective, a veteran that could help bridge the gap for some of the young, rising Bruins forwards could be beneficial.

( Above Photo Credit:  TSN .ca )

It has been speculated that the Boston Bruins could invest in a backup goaltender via free agency. I’m gonna put it out there and say I just don’t see it happening. Anton Khudobin still has a year left on his deal and came together towards the end of the season. Zane McInytre is still an option as well, even though he struggled at the NHL level last season.

Realistic unrestricted free-agent goaltender options include a member of the Calgary Flames goaltender tandem, Brian Elliott or former Bruins backup, Chad Johnson, Darcy Keumper, Keith Kinkaid, Peter Budaj, Anders Nilsson, or Massachusetts Native, Mike Condon.

Bringing in another goaltender could impact the confidence of Zane McIntyre, and it’s doubtful that anyone wants that.

If anything, the verdict here is, the Bruins could pick up a right-winger via free agency. That right-winger would be one of the names that I mentioned, Patrick Sharp or Justin Williams. They could also just re-sign Drew Stafford and be done in that department. The defense and goaltender free-agent market will be one that the Bruins will have no involvement with.

 

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