The NHL draft is Friday night in Buffalo. Photo courtesy of sabrenoise.com

The Bruins hold two picks in this years 2016 NHL Draft, the 14th and 29th overall selections, and will be looking to add premier talent to a squad that doesn’t have much to brag about as of late. Much like last years draft, this class of eligible players is highlighted by multiple elite names at the top, including presumptive number one selection Auston Matthews, as well as forwards Patrick Laine, and Jesse Puljujarvi. By the time the B’s select at 14, there won’t be a franchise player like Matthews available, however there will be numerous players that could prove to be valuable assets in the near-future. Here are seven skaters that could end up donning the spoked-B Friday evening.

  1. Jake Bean (Defenseman): Arguably the most offensively gifted defenseman in the entire draft, Bean left nobody questioning his talent level after he recorded the most goals for a defenseman in the Western Hockey League this past season with 24. Bean’s smooth skating ability and wicked wrist-shot are his best attributes and is regarded as a pure offensive D-man, but his defensive ability is suspect. This has me wondering if he is the best option for the Bruins as they need a defenseman who can actually play defense, and not another Torey Krug-esque player on the back-end.
  2. Clayton Keller (Center): Keller, the Swansea, ILL native and former U.S National Team Development Program standout is one of a few forwards on the smaller side in this draft. At 5’10”, Keller does everything you want as a center but teams are concerned his small stature will hinder his NHL play. He had a tremendous season earning 107 overall points and is committed to Boston University next fall. While I would approve of this pick, the Bruins are stockpiled with centers, therefore he simply might not have a spot on the club.
  3. Dante Fabbro (Defenseman): Regarded as a natural leader and shutdown defender, Fabbro may be the safest pick available for the B’s. His keen offensive instincts combined with his impressive D-zone coverage skills make him a perfect target for the Bruins desperate for solid two-way defenseman. My only knock towards Fabbro is that the competition he faced these past couple years has been sub-par. Instead of playing major junior hockey he played a tier below in Jr. A. This might end up being a non-factor but it I wouldn’t overlook it too much.
  4. Logan Brown (Forward): Brown isn’t a popular name popping up regarding this pick, however I have a feeling the obsession with big, intimidating players B’s management has may make him an option here. Brown is a 6’6″ center who plays a heavy game and has great vision. He posted respectable numbers in the Ontario Hockey League netting 74 total points and projects to be an all-around center in the NHL. I would keep an eye-out on this guy being an out-of-the-box selection for the Bruins.
  5.  Charlie McAvoy (Defenseman): Another rearguard with high offensive capabilities, McAvoy completed his freshman season playing for the Terriers of B.U. and the 18 year old may not have to travel far after his college days are over. He didn’t have the eye-popping numbers like Bean did but he isn’t that far below Bean’s overall game either. Obviously, McAvoy’s local roots make him an automatic favorite as the B’s love drafting close to home, yet I’m not certain McAvoy has enough defensive responsibility in his game to make this a home-run selection.
  6. Kieffer Bellows (Forward): Keller’s teammate on the U.S Under-18 team, Bellows didn’t accumulate as many points as Keller, but he did rack up 50 goals and was a constant scoring threat for the American squad. Bellows has a bit more size at 6’1″ however he doesn’t have as complete of a game as Keller. Also committed to B.U, Bellows could be the best available player for the Bruins at 14 and I’d have a hard time passing on a 50 goal man in the middle of the first round, especially since the B’s are starved for goal scoring forwards.

Player to Watch = Alex DeBrincat (Forward): The small, speedy winger was at the top of draft boards last year but injuries and worries about his 5’7″ frame pushed his stock to the end of the first round. If the B’s keep their 29th pick and nobody takes the undersized scorer, the Bruins should jump all over this guy.

The draft begins Friday night at 7pm at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, NY.

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Atlantic Division

Last season the Boston Bruins went 15-9-6 against their Atlantic Division opponents. Good but not great, and it could have been better. The Bruins and the rest of the division have gotten better this offseason, making moves and signing free agents. Some have new head coaches and new general managers.

It’s a known fact that if you want to be a top team in the NHL you have to dominate your division or you won’t fare too well the rest of the season.

This is part 1 of a 2 part preview of the Bruins versus the Atlantic Division this upcoming season. Let’s start with the 3 teams that finished below the Bruins in the division standings last season. Continue reading 2015-2016 Atlantic Division Preview for Bruins Fans, Part 1 »

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Jimmy-Hayes

The Bruins announced on Monday that they had signed restricted free agents Jimmy Hayes and Brett Connolly. Hayes, who was recently acquired from Florida, signed for three years at $2.3 million per season. Connolly, acquired at last season’s trade deadline from Tampa Bay, signed a one year deal worth $1,025,000 million.

Hayes played in 72 games for Florida last season and was third on the team in goals with 19. Connolly saw limited action with the Bruins due to a broken hand, playing in five games and registering two assists with Boston. While with Tampa Bay last season, he scored 12 goals and notched three assists.

Connolly is only 23 years old and Hayes is 25, each being a player that the Bruins feel can improve and be a part of their future. Both players figure to be a significant part of the Bruins forward lines, with Connolly a top six forward and Hayes potentially moving between top six and bottom six depending on production.

The team also announced the signing of forward Brandon DeFazio to a one-year, two-way contract that is worth $575,000 if he plays at the NHL level.

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martin jones usa today

The Bruins sent recently acquired goalie Martin Jones to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2016 first round pick on Tuesday. The Bruins also received center prospect Sean Kuraly as part of the deal. Jones had been acquired last week from Los Angeles as part of the return package for Milan Lucic.

Essentially, the Bruins dealt Lucic and have gotten a return of two first round picks and two prospects, which is a pretty impressive haul if the draft picks end up being used correctly. Although this move may not make the team better in 2015-16, it sets up well for the future. Jones, who had been a back up goalie for the Kings, was unlikely to stick around and this was likely the best offer Boston received for him.

The Sharks picked ninth in this years draft and aren’t likely to get better so this pick could end up being a high one for Boston. The Bruins also extended qualifying offers for Ryan Spooner and Brett Connolly on Tuesday, which are likely to be accepted. Don Sweeney has already made four trades in the last week and it is likely he is not done yet.

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lucic hamilton

The Bruins were busy for the early part of Friday, trading away both Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic. The Bruins then made three selections in a row in the first round,a  move that was unprecedented across the NHL. Hamilton was the best young defenseman the Bruins had and Lucic was a major piece on two Stanley Cup Finalist teams who embodied much of hard-nosed, physical style the Bruins have been known for. The shakeup comes at time when the team is bumped up against the cap and still reeling from missing the playoffs.

The day began with Hamilton being shipped off to the Calagry Flames. The Bruins received the 15th, 45th, and 52nd picks in the 2015 draft in return. Not long after, the Bruins sent Lucic to the L.A. Kings in exchange for the 13th pick in the 2015 draft, goalie Martin Jones, and defenseman prospect Colin Miller. The Bruins absorbed $2.75 million of Lucic’s 2015-16 cap hit to make the deal work.

Hamilton was an unrestricted free agent and his unwillingness to accept Boston’s contract offer ended up being the major factor behind the Bruins decision to move him. It is definitely a downgrade to their defense corps overall and will force the Bruins to rely heavily on young, unproven players next season. Zach Trotman and Joe Morrow have seen limited action with Boston and may end up playing a majority of the season with big club. Miller could also factor in as well.

Lucic was in the final year of a contract that would have cost the Bruins a $6 million cap hit. The power forward suffered through one of his worst NHL seasons in 2015, leaving some to question if had begun breaking down. There is no question that the Bruins will miss his presence both on the ice and in the locker room and he could be a major help to a Kings team trying to return to Stanley Cup form.

These moves left the Bruins with picks 13 (Kings), 14 (their own), and 15 (Flames) in the draft and the team used all three. They became the first team since 1968 to make three straight first round picks. With the 13th pick, the Bruins selected Jakub Zboril, a defenseman who plays a tough style at 6’1″, 185 pounds. The Bruins then took left wing Jake DeBrusk with the 14th pick and  wing Zachary Senyshyn with the 15th pick. Zboril is the most NHL ready of the three and Senyshyn has the farthest to go in terms of development. It was reported that the Bruins tried hard tp move in to the top five to take impact defenseman Noah Hanifin, but they were unable to close the deal.

The Bruins still have the rest of the Summer to alter and upgrade their roster but barring anything else drastic, this will be a much younger looking Black and Gold Squad when the puck drops in October.

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Patrice+Bergeron+Washington+Capitals+v+Boston+JZKm2Shu5BSl

Bruins center Patrice Bergeron won the 2015 Selke Trophy on Wednesday for the league’s best defensive forward. It was his second Selke win in a row and his third overall. Bergeron won the award in 2012 and 2014 while finishing second in 2013.

His 60.2% faceoff percentage was the best in the NHL and he also led the Bruins in points with 55. It was also the second year in a  row Bergeron led the league in total faceoff wins. According to analytics, Bergeron was one of the best puck possession players in the league in 2014-15.

He finished ahead of Jonathan Toews and Anze Kopitar in the voting, two players Bergeron has a lot of respect for.

“You’re always very happy about that, and obviously it’s all about the help you get from your teammates. But I’m not surprised to see Jonathan and Anze again this year. They’re two amazing players, and I’m very honored to be nominated in the same category as them,” Bergeron said in an interview.

 

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The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 on Monday night to capture the franchise’s third championship in six seasons and sixth overall. Chicago won the series 4-2. Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Not only was it the third championship since the 2010 postseason for the modern day dynasty, but it was also the first time Chicago won a Stanley Cup at home since 1938.

Game six saw Duncan Keith score the first goal in the second period and Patrick Kane but the icing on the cake with a goal late in the third. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford had 25 saves in the clinching win. It was a heroic performance from Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, who revealed after the series that he had been playing with a torn groin since game two.

Keith, who played more than 700 minutes this posteason, scored 3 goals and added 18 assists during the Blackhawks Cup run. The series began with the teams splitting the first two games in Tampa Bay and game three saw the Lightning take a 2-1 series lead with a win in Chicago.

After two straight 2-1 wins for Chicago, the Blackhawks entered game six with a chance to end the season. The 2-0 win helped Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews win his third Stanley Cup with the team. The Blackhawks overall core is young but the team will have to battle the salary cap as well as opponents to keep the core intact.

This Chicago team had previously won championships in 2010 against Philadelphia and 2013 against Boston.

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