Deconstructing the Claude Julien firing

About 24 hours ago, the Boston Bruins and GM Don Sweeney officially swung the Sword of Damocles that had been hanging over the organization and coach Claude Julien’s head for weeks (some would even say years), dismissing the franchise’s all-time wins leader and Stanley Cup champion behind the bench, setting off a firestorm of criticism online and in the media for the timing and way it was handled.

This post will attempt to analyze the move and the subsequent naming of assistant coach Bruce Cassidy as the B’s interim bench boss. It is by no means the first and last word on the matter, nor will it hit every bucket that the firing impacts. Whether you were someone who felt it was time to go and are angered that the team elected to do it on the morning of the New England Patriots’ victory parade, are someone who felt he was not the problem and are even more irate at the timing, or are someone who feels like the move had to be made and have no issue with it (and everyone in between), this piece will try to raise multiple perspectives and shed light on some of the other factors that led to where we are on Wednesday, February 8, 2017- nearly a decade after Julien was brought in on the heels of the failed Dave Lewis experiment.

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TSP founder on Days of Y’Orr podcast- B’s prospects, 2016 draft

Greg Ezell and Bree Mellen hosted the Days of Y’Orr “Optional Skate” show- that award-winning Boston Bruins blog’s  flagship podcast.

We were on for about an hour and focused on myriad topics- a recap of Boston’s 1st 4 picks last June: Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk, Zach Senyshyn and Brandon Carlo. Against my better judgment, we also went down the road of Alex Khokhlachev…I just call it like I see it with Koko, and try to be as fair in my assessment as possible. We also talked goalies- Zane McIntyre, Malcolm Subban and Daniel Vladar.

When we transitioned to the 2016 draft- talked Dante Fabbro and Charlie McAvoy, plus Kieffer Bellows and a few others like Markus Niemelainen. Erie Otters 50-goal man and mighty mite Alex DeBrincat also gets some love because he’s just a pure shooter with killer instinct despite being only 5-7, and I close out with some capology talk and why the Winnipeg Jets are going to be making some real noise in the next few years.

Besides, any time I can make a Warrant “Cherry Pie” reference, it’s a good day on radio- give us that No. 1 single, Bruins!

Thanks again to the DOY gang for having me on!

Bruins prospects in their draft years 2010-2012

As a companion post to what I put up yesterday in going back to look at the Boston Bruins’ roster players and how they were projected in the annual Red Line Report June draft guide issues going back to 1999 (Chris Kelly) through 2014 (David Pastrnak), I thought we could also take a quick peek at the team’s prospects…the good, the bad & the ugly and see what is perhaps in store.

My conclusions from yesterday’s exercise- not enough production from the Bruins with their draft picks. Their best players (not including Zdeno Chara-I didn’t have a RLR 1996 draft year ranking for him, or guys like Tuukka Rask who were drafted by other teams) were all beyond the top-50 as ranked by Red Line, which goes to show you that hitting on first-rounders isn’t the be-all, end-all of developing players. However, there is clearly a dearth of high-end talent: All three of Phil Kessel (2), Tyler Seguin (2) and Dougie Hamilton (5) are gone. Boston had a chance to move up to grab Noah Hanifin (3- 2015) but it didn’t pan out, so they went with three picks in the middle of the round instead.

This gets to the heart of some of the concerns and criticisms fans and observers have voiced in recent years. It’s legitimate, but the B’s have also netted some value selections along the way as well.

So, let’s get onto the prospects, shall we? This post will cover most prospects/players still in the system (and in at least one case- on the way out) from 2010-12.

2010

Zane McIntyre (formerly Gothberg), G Drafted: 165 (6th round- Boston)

Red Line ranking: 154    Key comment: “Has all the technique of a gerbil on roller-skates.”

Observations: RLR nailed the pre-draft projection, and it is true- McIntyre (who changed his last name in 2014) had some technique issues coming out of Minnesota HS. He had a setback last season, as he struggled to adjust to the tempo and skill level in the AHL, but here’s betting that the soon-to-be 24-year-old will bounce back. The 2015 Mike Richter Award winner as the NCAA’s best goaltender has plus character and hockey smarts, but probably needs to settle down and simplify his approach. The shine is off his star a bit compared to where it was a year ago (and it had to hurt watching North Dakota win the 2016 collegiate title without him), but don’t count him out. McIntyre has shown a penchant for mental toughness, and he’s motivated to prove his worth. Watch for something from him this offseason here on the blog.

2011

Alexander Khokhlachev, C Drafted: 40 (2nd round- Boston)

Red Line ranking: 13        Key comment: “Little Russian offensive whiz is vastly underrated.”

Observations: ‘Koko’ slipped to the second round amidst concerns about his average size and relative skating for his diminutive stature, though for several years, he looked to be near the top of Boston’s prospects depth chart. On the plus side, he’s got high-end creativity and to his credit, evolved his game in Providence, going from a bumpy start in 2013 to becoming (now Boston assistant) Bruce Cassidy’s go-to guy up front with two consecutive productive AHL years. Unfortunately, in albeit limited chances in Boston, Koko could never get it going to stick. The debates are endless over whether he was given a real opportunity, but at some point- you have to look past the coaches and focus on the player. For whatever reason, he made barely ripple despite ample preseason ice time and team sources told TSP that Koko did not respond very well to what the coaches wanted him to do. His goose is essentially cooked in Boston, as he has reportedly signed with St. Petersburg SKA of the KHL and will return home to Russia unless the B’s can figure out a way to deal him elsewhere for anything they can get. It’s an unfortunate story for Boston, but the reality is- there is plenty of blame to go around for his inability to make it work here.

Brian Ferlin, RW Drafted: 121 (4th round- Boston)

Red Line ranking: 245

Observations: As a previously passed-up player in 2010, RLR wasn’t keen on Ferlin despite his highly productive 2010-11 campaign with the Indiana Ice. Despite an awkward-looking skating stride, the Jacksonville native did some impressive work at Cornell in three seasons before turning pro in 2014. He made gradual but steady progress in the AHL as a rookie in 2014-15, earning a late-season recall to Boston, where he played a solid, grinding game on the B’s fourth line. Unfortunately for Ferlin, he suffered a concussion in the 2014 AHL playoffs, and one game into this past season, took another high hit that aggravated that injury, costing him much of his second pro campaign. His challenge is to work himself back into the mix with so many other similar bottom-six forwards in the system.

 

Sean Kuraly, C Drafted: 133 (5th round- San Jose)

Red Line ranking: 263

Observations: Acquired from San Jose as part of the return for Martin Jones, the Ohio native joins Austin Czarnik as consecutive Miami Redhawks captains in the B’s system. Red Line was not all that keen on Kuraly in his draft year, ranking him significantly lower than where he ended up going. With a big frame and decent skating in a straight line, he isn’t naturally skilled or all that creative offensively. He looks and acts the part of a solid grinder who will likely transition to the wing at the pro level. A solid middle tier player, don’t expect any kind of extraordinary return on investment, and he’ll likely spend at least one full season in Providence, maybe two before he’s ready to seriously challenge for a full-time NHL position.

 

Rob O’Gara, D Drafted: 151 (5th round- Boston)

Red Line ranking: 73

Observations: This Red Line favorite went way beyond where that service projected him, but so far- the Yale grad has lived up to the promise he showed as a Milton Academy junior. A big and mobile shutdown defender, his offensive numbers dropped off in his senior season after a surprising junior year. He’s always been a fine skater with agility and fluid footwork even when a gangly teen, so now that he’s filled out to a solid 6-4, 225 pounds- he has the physical attributes to make a run at the pro level. The Long Island native looked real good in late-season work with Providence in the spring, scoring his first pro goal and demonstrating that he belongs. Watch for him to begin the year in the AHL, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility that he could make the big club with a strong camp and preseason or earn a call up at some point during the season. There isn’t a high offensive ceiling, but with his smarts and skating, O’Gara could stabilize the middle pairing one day.

 

Austin Czarnik, C Drafted: Undrafted (Free agent- Boston 2015

Red Line ranking: 142      Key comment:  “Yet another skilled, entertaining, feisty little dwarf.”

Observations: RLR was ahead of the curve on Czarnik in 2011, when he was ranked in the top-150, but despite being a talented scorer out of Green Bay of the USHL and later Miami University, no one took a flyer on him. Boston surprisingly won the free agent sweeps after he completed his senior season a year ago, and he immediately formed chemistry with fellow free agent Frank Vatrano in Providence and again in their first pro training camp together last September. Although just 5-7, Czarnik has blazing wheels, superior vision and a gritty, energetic game. All he needs is an NHL chance, and he doesn’t appear to be too far away from getting one.

 

Noel Acciari, C Drafted: Undrafted (Free agent- Boston 2015)

Red Line ranking: NR

Observations: Though not ranked by RLR in the 2011 draft guide, the service was onto him, listing him in the January issue as a player who played a very heavy and physical, but clean game. Four years later, Acciari parlayed that into the captaincy at Providence College and a national championship before signing with his childhood favorite Bruins. Undaunted by the prospect of being an undrafted free agent in a sea of like players, Acciari played hard for Providence and if not for taking a slap shot to the face that broke his jaw, would have made his NHL debut even sooner than he did. Acciari played 19 big league games (1 assist) but impressed with his adept faceoff skills, ability to hit hard but clean (ask Brooks Orpik about that) and ruggedness and mature character as a rookie. He did a fine job as Boston’s fourth line center, and he’ll never be one to put up much in the way of points at the NHL level, but more production would be welcome.

2012

Seth Griffith, RW Drafted: 131 (5th round- Boston)

Red Line ranking: 52       Key comment: “Average size, skating…all he does is light the lamp.”

Observations: Ranked later in the 2011 draft guide, Griffith was even more impressive  the following year, and like Jimmy Vesey, parlayed a superb 18-19-year-old season into a draft ticket in Pittsburgh after being snubbed. Griffith has a smallish frame and is not a dynamic skater, but boy- can he ever score! He finished near the top of the AHL in scoring last season and has an uncanny creativity and knack for generating offense. The biggest issue holding him back is the fact that he might be a classic ‘tweener: a highly effective AHL performer, but simply not fast or strong enough to be a top-six winger in the NHL, while lacking the ideal tools to be an effective bottom-six forward. He’s a heck of a talent, but might not be the right kind of fit to thrive in Boston. The key question is if that is in fact the case- can Don Sweeney leverage him into a helpful return, or will he be lost to another club for little to nothing?

 

Malcolm Subban, G Drafted: 24 (1st round- Boston)

Red Line ranking: 69                Key comment: “Catches pucks as though they are live grenades.”

Observations: The RLR staff were not fans, as evidenced by Subban’s third-round projection. Boston surprised by grabbing him in the top-25, which was an eyebrow-raiser at the time, mainly because the Bruins didn’t need a goalie and you could make a convincing case that he wasn’t the best player on the board. In fairness to Boston, the talent level in 2012 dropped off a steep cliff in the first around 20, so Subban wasn’t a terrible gamble to make, but he’s struggled to establish himself as the team’s future option in net. Last season, he suffered a lower body injury and then was pretty rotten in his first month of play as he worked through some movement issues. However, in early December through the end of January, it was  as if someone flipped a switch- he played the best hockey of his pro career to date. Then, during warmups against Portland, he took a shot to the throat, fractured his larynx, and was lost for the rest of the season. That’s simply how things have gone for Subban, but he might just get the opportunity to be Rask’s backup this season. The talent is there- even if the luck and playing experience hasn’t been. RLR’s low draft ranking reflected questions about his technique and overall long-term potential…he has yet to prove them wrong for the skepticism.

 

Matt Grzelcyk, D  Drafted: 85  (3rd round- Boston)

Red Line ranking: 237

Observations: This Charlestown native is another lower-ranked player that the B’s took much earlier, though in the Boston University captain’s case, he looks a lot better than where he was projected. A standout at Belmont Hill Academy before leaving Massachusetts for the National Team Development Program in 2010, the small but speedy and smart offensive blue liner was not a big riser at the draft, and Grzelcyk originally didn’t even plan to go to Pittsburgh to attend in person until he caught wind that it would be well worth his time. After the Bruins selected Subban in the opening round, they didn’t have a pick again until the late third round, and that’s where they grabbed him. He’s had his injury challenges- losing significant time to shoulder and knee surgeries, but with his wheels and natural offensive instincts, he could contribute at the NHL level one day after an AHL apprenticeship first.

 

Matthew Benning, D Drafted: 175 (6th round- Boston)

Red Line ranking: Not ranked

Observations: At the time, there were whispers of nepotism when the B’s drafted assistant GM Jim Benning’s nephew out of Spruce Grove of the AJHL, but to his credit, the younger Benning is legit and has worked his way into becoming one of Boston’s most underrated prospects. Although he has just average height, Benning is a punishing hitter who moves around the ice initiating contact.  He’s got the vision and a soft touch on the puck to be effective in the transition game, and he also showed some improved power on his point shot this season for the Huskies. He’s not a flashy or dynamic offensive presence, but he chips in with key production, as he did in helping the Dubuque Fighting Saints to the USHL’s 2013 league championship. Banning is positionally savvy with a willingness to do the dirty work and like his dad, Brian, might be one of those players who goes on to fashion a solid if unspectacular NHL career because of his versatility and smarts.

 

Colton Hargrove, LW  Drafted: 205 (7th round- Boston)

Red Line ranking: Not ranked

Observations: The rugged, older Texas power forward was picked up late and had very low expectations headed to Western Michigan University, but he has improved his offense in each season since the B’s grabbed him in the final round. With his big frame and natural strength, Hargrove showed some unexpected offense this season, doing some grunt work out in front of the opposition net and getting rewarded for it. Sweeney said that Hargrove put in diligent work last summer to improve his conditioning for the AHL and it paid off for him. He’s still a work in progress and will likely top out as a grinding third-line wing (at best) if he makes it to the NHL, but has the makings of a capable power forward and depth player for Boston. He needs to take the next step in 2016-17 and not regress after the pleasant surprise that was his rookie pro campaign.

 

Justin Hickman, C Drafted: Undrafted (Free Agent- Boston 2015)

Red Line ranking: 153               Key comment: “Strong centre with big shot is not the sum of his parts.”

Observations: The Seattle T-Birds standout was on the radar back then, but wasn’t picked up. The B’s ended up winning a bidding war for his services as a free agent 18 months ago, when he had to shut down his final WHL season for shoulder surgery. His rookie pro year was a disappointment in Providence, but reflects being eased back in more than anything. He didn’t play all that much and the production was certainly nothing to write home about, but Hickman has a natural edge and perhaps an untapped scoring skill set that could manifest itself as early as next year. Having said that- he was an undrafted free agent, so temper the expectations. (Of course- the next guy on the list didn’t have much in the way of expectations and look how that turned out…)

 

Frank Vatrano, LW Drafted: Undrafted (Free Agent- Boston 2015)

Red Line ranking: Not ranked

Observations: What a story- from the outhouse to the penthouse! Very few were on Vatrano in 2012 not because he didn’t have talent, but because he was overweight and didn’t show the requisite work ethic to give teams confidence in taking a draft flyer on him. Those clubs are all regretting that now, as he not only was a goal-per-game guy as a rookie AHLer (36) but even impressed in stints with the big club. Vatrano rededicated himself in the offseason and came to rookie camp in September about 20 pounds lighter, looking like a completely different player. He always had that laser wrister that struck fear into opposing goalies, but he didn’t always move his feet and without the right conditioning, took longer to recover in between shifts. Now, he plays with manic energy and uses his quickness to dart into skating lanes and get himself into scoring position. He was like a mini-Midas last season- practically everything the East Longmeadow native- we like to call him the Springfield Rifle- touched…turned to gold. He’ll have a lot of scrutiny on him in the new season- he won’t sneak up on people like he did this year, but some guys just have “it” when the puck is on their stick, and Vatrano is one. When you hit on an undrafted free agent like the Bruins did with him after just one full year at UMass, then it takes the pressure off of the lack of success the team has had at the draft.

Coming soon: Bruins prospects in their draft years, 2013-15.

 

 

 

Requiem for the Bruins: the Podcast

Oops- I did it again.

I wrote extensively on the demise of the Boston Bruins yesterday on this space and there was a lot (even after that near 3,000-word opus) I did’t say.

So, here’s the audio companion to that post. I know, I know, I have not yet put these podcasts on iTunes. I’m a bad blogger. But, you can click on the “Podcasts” category to catch up on anything you missed.

Expounded on each of the 4 points about the B’s talent (mainly on defense), Claude Julien, management (to include ownership and thoughts on el Presidente- Cam Neely) and the B’s core, including a bit of a rant on Tuukka Rask. I’m sure that some folks won’t be happy about that, but I just call it like I see it. When Rask has played well, I’ve been sure to single him out to provide balance. But, enough is enough with the extremes.

Finally, I closed out with what needs to come next for the Bruins (in my view).  Talked a little about the defense and who they might go after in the coming weeks, including local (Milton, Mass.) product Keith Yandle, one of the top unrestricted free agents hitting the market on July 1.

1 podcast. 50 minutes. If you get through it all, more power to you, but as always- appreciate the support.

It’s going to be a long offseason, but here’s to change and doing something different.

Update: final stats JFK, Grzelcyk, O’Gara

UPDATE 1 3/29/4:15 pm EST: TSP has confirmed that Rob O’Gara is signed and in the fold with Boston. Later this week, he will ink the ATO to join the Providence Bruins for the rest of the season. According to ESPN’s John Buccigross, Sean Kuraly is under contract as well. That would put the Bruins at 48  contracts (see update below), so it might be an indicator that Tanev is a bridge too far, so they’re getting Kuraly in the mix to start his pro career now. Also in play- the B’s could allocate their final contract spot on Matt Grzelcyk (more on him below).

Even more out of the box- Maxim Chudinov still technically belongs to the B’s but with the Russian Ice Hockey Federation holding the cards to a transfer of Chudinov to North America this late in the season, it’s a real long shot (h/t to friend Dominic Tiano for the connecting of the dots here). Just like Sweden did with Carl Soderberg back in 2013, the World Championship is coming up and Russia undoubtedly wants him for that event with Chudinov’s team out of the KHL playoffs. We’re not even sure Boston wants to sign Chudinov at this point (and I expressed my doubts about that in a previous post), but I guess we shall see. I wouldn’t close the book on Tanev just yet, but O’Gara is confirmed and with Kuraly appearing to be as well, that means there is one deal left- unless I got the math wrong, which is possible.

 

UPDATE 2 3/29/7:54 pm EST: Because of the ATOs, the confirmed contracts for O’Gara and Kuraly do NOT count against the 50-max limit for Boston. B’s currently at 48. Thanks to Dom for getting that information from someone in the know on CBA and contract-related stuff.

 

Original post:

Three more Boston Bruins prospects’ seasons ended in the NCAA over the weekend, with Boston University and Yale losing to Denver University and UMass-Lowell respectively.

Out of the NCAA tournament are BU Terriers Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson and Matt Grzelcyk. As reported on TSP yesterday, Rob O’Gara’s Yale Bulldogs fell in OT to UMass-Lowell and he should sign a 2-year entry-level deal with the Bruins real soon. What we don’t know yet is if the B’s will have him report to Providence to finish out the AHL season on an ATO (he won’t be eligible for the playoffs but can remain with the team to practice and work out with the minor league affiliate) but those details will follow.

Grzelcyk is in a similar boat: as a senior, his NCAA eligibility is exhausted, so he needs to be signed. Like Jimmy Vesey, he could opt for free agency on August 15 or sign with his hometown Bruins. TSP reached out to several sources about Grzelcyk’s status, but nothing solid has come back. In similar fashion to Sean Kuraly, the B’s can opt to wait on signing the BU captain until other contracts come off the books at the end of the season, but before the 15 August deadline to retain exclusive negotiating rights. The team could theoretically offer him an ATO to play in Providence, but without an NHL ELC in place, that would entail some risk on Grzelcyk’s part.

There has also been some below-the-radar buzz that the B’s were so impressed with JFK’s poise as a freshman that they might try to sign him right now (by right now I mean this offseason- not necessarily this week or next) and put him in the organization right away. That would be a tough loss to David Quinn’s Terriers, but if events of recent days are any indication, NHL teams might be forced to move earlier on prospects they feel strongly about rather than risk losing them to the existing NCAA loophole. Regardless, a decision on JFK doesn’t need to happen right now, so we’ll see how things play out in what is shaping up to be a very interesting offseason.

Don Sweeney and his team are still focused on trying to make the NHL playoffs, and given how much the Bruins were mocked at the 2015 NHL draft for what they were doing, they’re in a pretty decent spot as of right now. First things first, but signing O’Gara now makes sense and the team can afford to take a wait-and-see approach, especially with undrafted free agent Brandon Tanev still unsigned and the Bruins very much in the mix (though facing stiff competition from other serious suitors).

If Tanev signs along with O’Gara, that puts the Bruins at 49 contracts, so they might have to wait for the 2015-16 deals to expire before moving forward on anything else.

Here’s the final stats on JFK, Grzelcyk and O’Gara in the meantime. Since I covered him in depth in yesterday’s post, O’Gara’s writeup is a little thinner than the Terrier duo.

Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, C Boston University (HEA)

2015-16 final statistics:

Games played: 39  Goals: 10  Assists: 20  Points: 30  Penalty Minutes: 28  +/-  4

2014-15 stats differential (USHL)

Games played: -11  Goals: -5  Assists: -18  Points: -23  Penalty Minutes: -10  +/-  -6

Season in review: After being the 45th overall selection in 2015 (incidentally the same exact draft position as that of Patrice Bergeron in 2003 and Ryan Spooner seven years later), JFK opened a lot of eyes around the Hockey East with his smooth, poised and refined game as a freshman, playing all 39 of his club’s games. At least two NHL scouts told TSP at various times during the season that JFK was the top player on the ice in games they witnessed, marveling at his smarts and ability to play such an effective and complete 200-foot game. The Stockholm native who spent the previous two years with Omaha of the USHL (a big reason for the disparity in statistics between his last junior season and first NCAA campaign) finished third on the team in scoring behind accomplished seniors Danny O’Regan (Sharks) and undrafted free agent Ahti Oksanen, a former defenseman who converted to forward as a junior. More impressive than the numbers, however, was JFK’s defensive presence on special teams and a polished, veteran-like ability in the faceoff dot.

Outlook: It would be interesting to see the B’s lure the 19-year-old out of school so soon, but not all that surprising. With the possible (probable?) departure of enigmatic center and restricted free agent Alexander Khokhlachev in the offseason, the Providence Bruins would have room to accommodate another young and talented pivot. One thing that could keep JFK at BU is that he’s on the lower spectrum of his physical development at present. Although he’s about 6-foot-1, he’s still pretty light at under 190 pounds and has one of those body types that will be hard to keep weight on his frame during the season. He’s not one of those players who pushes the pace throughout a game- he’s a good skater with a rangy stride, but at times will slow the play down and be more deliberate in the way he operates. We’ve seen him drive defenders back on their heels, so the capacity exists for JFK to be a dangerous offensive table-setter when he wants to be. Right now, he appears to be well on his way to eventually making the Bruins as a third-line center with top-two line upside who can do a little bit of everything for his team. Forsbacka-Karlsson draws a lot of comparisons to Bergeron in terms of his cerebral approach and versatility, but you couldn’t heap more pressure on a kid by likening him to No. 37, so we’ll have to see where it all leads. For now, the first of two second-round selections as part of the trio of picks acquired from Calgary last June for Dougie Hamilton, appears to be on track for bigger and better things in the not-too-distant future.

Matt Grzelcyk, D Boston University (HEA)

2015-16 final statistics:

Games played: 27  Goals: 10  Assists: 13  Points: 23  Penalty Minutes: 36  +/-  17

2014-15 stats differential (USHL)

Games played: -14  Goals: even  Assists: -15  Points: -15  Penalty Minutes: even  +/-  -15

Season in review: It was a tale of two hockey seasons for the second-year captain and Charlestown native who was picked in the third round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by his hometown team. He missed the beginning of the year recovering from knee surgery last May and wasted no time making his presence felt, only to injure the opposite knee just six games into his schedule, forcing him to miss 12 total contests on the year. He tied his previous season high of 10 goals, including netting his first career NCAA hat trick against UMass. His assist totals dipped, but considering the number of games lost to injury, put him on a comparable pace to his junior year totals of 28 helpers and 41 total points. Offense was more of a challenge for BU this season, and that shouldn’t come as a major surprise given the loss of 2015 MVP and Hobey Baker-winning center Jack Eichel to the NHL. Grzelcyk gutted it out by playing through the pain associated with an LBI, and when speed is your bread-and-butter, that’s a significant challenge to overcome. He did it without complaint and aplomb, which is typical of his character and why his teammates elected him captain in a landslide. Twice.

Outlook: Although undersized, Grzelcyk has the speed, vision and hockey IQ to be an impact NHLer one day. The easy comparison in playing style is Torey Krug, but outside of the size, the two are their own defender. The former Belmont Hill and U.S. National Team star who led the Americans to a fourth-consecutive gold medal at the U18 championship in 2012 is a faster skater and plays more of a finesse game than Krug’s natural scrappiness. Krug is an aggressive shooter and despite his woes this season at finding the back of the net is probably the better finisher at the NHL level than Grzelcyk will be if he makes it. Both players can carry the puck out of their own zone and when the defender known as “Grizzy” has the time and gets it cranked up in his own end, he can effortlessly go coast-to-coast with the speed and puckhandling ability to beat defenses that try and stand up at the blue line. As mentioned previously, he has no NCAA eligibility remaining, so the Bruins have until August 15 to sign him to an ELC. Because the team is up against the 50 contract limit, they may opt to kick the can down the road until they get some breathing room at the end of the NHL season. Such a decision doesn’t speak ill of Grzelcyk, and where he fits into the organization’s plans going forward, but might reflect a desire for him to have a chance to get healthy and be fully ready to go for the 2016-17 season. Signing him now and sending him to Providence opens the door to the possibility of further injury; not sure the cost-benefit is there just to play a few pro games to close out the year.

Rob O’Gara, D Yale University (ECAC)

2015-16 final statistics:

Games played: 30  Goals: 4  Assists: 8  Points: 12  Penalty Minutes: 41  +/-  5

2014-15 stats differential (USHL)

Games played: -3  Goals: -2   Assists: -7  Points: -9  Penalty Minutes: +10  +/-  -10

Season in review: The numbers were down from what was expected a year after O’Gara posted his best offensive season with six goals and 21 points, to lead the Yale blue line in scoring. Even so, the senior logged consistent minutes in all situations and played a lot with Ryan Obuchowski (undrafted) as coach Keith Allain’s most trusted pairing. In bigger context, Yale is not an offensive team, but limits goals against and scores just enough to come out on top more often than not. Fixating on the statistics does not tell the entire story, even if the scoring totals were a step back for O’Gara this year.

Outlook: The former prep star and graduate of the Long Island Royals minor hockey program has the size (6-4/220) and smarts plus a top-shelf attitude to develop into an anchor-type presence on the Boston blue line. He’s not a flashy, top-end kind of defenseman but is a player you win with. He’s continued to grow and progress since the B’s took a chance on him in the wake of their Stanley Cup victory, but more seasoning and refinement for him in the AHL before he’s ready for primetime wouldn’t be a bad thing. At the same time, O’Gara has the maturity and physical attributes/experience to be a pleasant surprise at Bruins camp next year and challenge for an NHL job as early as 2016-17. Given that we don’t know what kind of offseason changes lie ahead, especially to Boston’s defense as a whole, trying to project O’Gara in the short term is premature.

B’s prospects deep dive 6: Griffith, Khokhlachev, Ferlin & Czarnik

After a few days of hiatus (and a solid B’s home win Saturday afternoon against the New York Islanders) TSP is back with another update on the Boston prospects. This post’s focus area is on the upstart Providence Bruins, who are a solid third place in the AHL’s Atlantic Division with a 30-19-9-3 record. What could have been a devastating loss when Malcolm Subban was hit with a puck during warmups nearly two months ago was mitigated by depth- Jeremy Smith and Zane McIntyre have ably filled in since then. The Springfield Rifle- Frank Vatrano– (profiled earlier in the series) has done much of the heavy lifting offensively, with a remarkable 31 goals in 31 AHL games this season, his first as a professional after signing with Boston out of UMass a year ago.

Here’s the deep dive on some of the key P-Bruins players making things happen this season:

Seth Griffith, RW

The AHL’s No. 2 scorer behind former Bruin Chris Bourque (but Griffith’s 63 points in 48 games have happened in 11 fewer contests than Bourque’s 66 points) has continued to roll in the Providence offense as he has done since starting the 2015-16 hockey season a little late due to a lower-body injury suffered in a preseason game with Boston. The former London Knights star and fifth-round pick in 2012 (acquired from Tampa Bay for Benoit Pouliot) has proven himself to be a dangerous scoring option at the AHL level but is still looking to carve a niche for himself in Boston.

Griffith has outstanding hockey sense and silky-smooth hands, which has allowed him to produce at every level to date, and he even invigorated the offense-starved B’s a season ago when he was called up and like Frank Vatrano flashed promising scoring chops before cooling off and being returned to the AHL (he scored 12 goals and 31 points in 39 AHL games in ’14-15).

Although Griffith lacks the pure speed and extra gear to separate in the open ice, he compensates with the natural instincts and feel for the flow of the game. He’s able to quickly dart into spaces in the offensive zone and use his excellent puck skills and lightning release to get pucks to the net and find teammates in scoring position.

At just 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds, Griffith doesn’t have the size and ideal explosive element to his offensive repertoire but is smart and finds ways to make plays when the puck is on his stick. He must continue to develop and refine his game away from the puck, however. He’s smart enough to understand positioning and his responsibilities within Boston’s possession system, but without the size and strength to fight through defenders, he often times must outwit bigger, stronger opponents in puck battles along the walls. He does use his lacrosse background to good effect in terms of how he slips through seams in traffic and bounces off of would-be checkers to establish position in front of the net.

Current assessment: The dreaded “‘tweener” tag is still hanging around Griffith, but if the Bruins could figure out a way to get him into the mix for more of an extended look, it might prevent a mistake of letting him go only to see him blossom into a top-six NHL forward in another team’s colors.

Even without dynamic stopwatch speed, Griffith has shown in the past that he can still go end-to-end and score the highlight reel goal. To whit (and granted, the Devils D didn’t do their job and put Cory Schneider in a tough spot here but full marks to Griffith for making this play happen start to finish):

It’s high time to determine the way ahead for Griffith and the clock could be running out given out the situation at forward and the other options that GM Don Sweeney must choose from. Having said that- he’s a top scorer in the AHL and we’ve seen him demonstrate a real killer instinct around the net. If there isn’t a future in Boston, here’s hoping the Boston brain trust can figure out how to properly leverage Griffith for the kind of return the team can build around.

Alex Khokhlachev, C

This polarizing figure among the Boston fanbase is the organization’s biggest enigma. In Providence, he’s producing at a 1.13 points-per-game clip (18-33-51 in 45 gp), playing in all situations and proving himself as an exuberant player who finds ways to make a difference.

Contrast that version of “Koko” with the guy who comes up to Boston and has a hard time contributing and making an impact at the NHL level. To simply point at linemates and ice time, thereby blaming the Boston coaches as the root cause of his lack of success is a lazy argument that does not take into account that with his natural talent and ability, even the limited action does not square with the wholly lackluster impressions he’s made in the NHL. Greater opportunities are earned, not given- just ask Noel Acciari.

Koko is a player who on talent and skill alone should have enjoyed more big league success by now, but that production and impact has eluded him. It’s possible that he has put much pressure on himself during his various stints in Boston and that self-imposed stress accounts for his inability to demonstrate any kind of real effect. It is also possible, that he has been unable to take the coaching he’s been given and translate into his on-ice play in the NHL to date. Whatever it is- there is such a dichotomy between the Koko we see scoring big goals and making brilliant passes in the AHL- it’s hard to project what he is right now.

In similar fashion to Griffith, Khokhlachev doesn’t have the size and speed that NHL teams embrace, but he’s got enough ability with the puck that he has developed into one of the more consistent scoring threats at the AHL level. He’s creative and can push the offensive pace when on top of his game. He will go stretches where he is ineffective, but he can just as easily blow a game open with a shifty move at the blue line or a nifty slip of a check inside the zone to fool the goalie with his blurry-quick shot or find a linemate for a layup.

Current assessment: As is the case with Griffith, the Bruins will soon find themselves making a decision on Koko. In fairness to the kid, he just wants to be able to show what he has at the NHL level, but it isn’t like Boston has buried him, either. It’s not a simple matter of just taking the most skilled players and plugging them any old place on the roster- there is still a need for grit, hustle, determination and effort.

Khokhlachev’s lack of a consistent game away from the puck is what has held him from earlier NHL opportunities when his offense was more of a need. Now, with the majority of the forwards finding ways to contribute, there isn’t much for a player of his style and position to do other than to keep producing in Providence and be ready should the team determine he’s worthy of another chance and summon him once more up I-95.

If the Bruins could somehow tap into the AHL version of Koko and see that level of energy and…here’s the key now…production- then things might be different. As it stands, he’ll likely be moving on and one can only hope that if he does the team won’t rue the day he didn’t get more of a look in Boston. There’s certainly a segment of fans out there who won’t let them forget it.

Brian Ferlin, RW

It’s been a tough year for the 2011 fourth-rounder who parlayed a solid rookie pro season in ’14-15 into a spring cup of coffee with the Bruins, where he did not look at all out of place on Boston’s fourth line. Unfortunately, a concussion suffered in the 2015 AHL playoffs bled into this season, as he played one game at the beginning of the 2015-16 AHL campaign before being lost for much of the schedule. With just eight games played total (three goals), Ferlin is still getting his timing and all-around play down, though he’s putting in the effort to be the heavy player his Providence coach Bruce Cassidy went out of his way to praise last season. He even got into a fight (though some will cringe at what that does for a guy coming back from post-concussion syndrome as Ferlin has endured) yesterday in Providence’s loss to Utica.

A big-bodied power forward at 6-2 and about 215 pounds, Ferlin is a straight-ahead player who has surprising agility and a deft touch with the puck as an underrated passer from the right side. He’s not overly creative or dynamic- more of a stick-on-the-ice and drive the net kind of winger. A superb athlete- his father played NCAA baseball- Ferlin grew up in the Sunshine State and left home to play in the USHL for the Indiana Ice (with fellow B’s prospect Sean Kuraly) before spending three seasons with the Cornell Big Red. A ’92-born player who was passed over in his first year of eligibility, Ferlin has worked hard to improve his all-around play and understanding of the game after being a player who was often counted on to just go out and score in minor hockey.

Current assessment: The concussion setback may have prevented Ferlin from seeing some NHL games this season, as the fourth line in Boston has been a bit of a revolving door all season. Right now, the priority is getting him back into game shape and making sure he’s able to continue to play effectively without suffering any after effects of his extended layoff.

That might mean he doesn’t get a chance to see NHL action this season, but in the longer run that may pay off for Boston. In any case- he’s not a high-end scoring type, but showed effectiveness as a heavy on the puck/possession style forward who is able to cycle the play down low and establish a net-front presence. If he can develop his shot and goal-scoring touch, he could eventually challenge for third-line duty somewhere.

Austin Czarnik, C

The Michigan native and former Miami University Redhawks captain might be just 5-9 and maybe 170 pounds soaking wet, but man- can he ever motor!

In retrospect, no one who saw the right-shooting center in the NCAA should be surprised at the fact that the AHL rookie has produced at nearly a point-per-game pace with 15 goals and 46 points in 53 games this season. He skates up the ice at a blistering pace, revving a never-stop motor into the red with his fast feet and eternal energy source from within. When you talk about small players needing to be dynamic, Czarnik fits that prototype. He explodes to top speed in just a couple of rapid, slashing strides and is also able to jitterbug through open space, daring bigger defenders to stay with him.

When the puck is on Czarnik’s stick, it’s almost like an extension of his own arm- he can handle it at top speed and takes it in and out of traffic with the effortless balance and grace of motion. He’s not a prolific goal scorer, but he knows how to finish plays off around the net and isn’t afraid to shoot pucks when the lanes are there. A superb passer who can make on-target feeds from both sides of his stick blade, Czarnik makes those around him better.

Alas, with his size- he’s got to be a consistently special player in order to find success at the highest level. His work ethic and hockey IQ will go a long way towards helping him get there. Czarnik does not have the strength to assert himself in the o-zone, but he is willing to go into the dirty areas and pay the physical price to make a play.

Current assessment: Boston’s cup runneth over…at least right now when it comes to the center position. Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Ryan Spooner are pretty entrenched up the middle as things stand right now, and Acciari has certainly made a convincing case to remain in Boston for now as a stabilizing force on the fourth line (just look at the ice time and special teams work Claude Julien has already given him), so it is difficult to project where and when Czarnik will fit in up in Boston.

Given that he’s made a career out of proving the doubters wrong, I wouldn’t count against him. He may be small, but he’s fast and simply dynamic…the NHL has room for players like Czarnik in the right role and given time to develop his all-around game, which was already pretty strong coming into the pro ranks.

Here’s his first career pro hat trick, which came against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in December (video courtesy of the Providence Bruins):

 

 

Bruins prospects update 2/15/16

Frank Vatrano continued his goal scoring blitzkrieg in the AHL since being returned to Providence late last month. He’s only a few markers off the AHL lead, but in far fewer games. The kid is a keeper.

Unfortunately for Providence, Malcolm Subban suffered a fractured larynx during warmups in Portland eight days ago. He had successful surgery but faces a minimum eight-week layoff before he’ll even be able to be an option to return to the nets. That prompted a recall of Jeremy Smith from the Iowa Wild and both Smith and Zane McIntyre have done well to keep the P-Bruins rolling.

Jesse Gabrielle leads all Bruins prospects with 35 goals and 67 points for the Prince George Cougars of the WHL. Zach Senyshyn is second in goal scoring with 33 tallies for the Soo Greyhounds.

Ryan Donato notched his first career NCAA hat trick over the weekend, while Ryan Fitzgerald continues to produce for BC- he now has 16 goals and 35 points- a new career best in points and just one off to Colin White for the team lead. Notre Dame RW Anders Bjork scored a highlight reel goal over the weekend as well- he continues to add to his breakout sophomore season.

On the defensive side of things, Jakub Zboril’s play is steadily improving and he’s now getting some production to go with his physical, edgy play. Jeremy Lauzon is back in action after dealing with a nagging groin injury that has limited his participation since January. Harvard sophomore Wiley Sherman did not find the back of the net at all during his freshman season, but already has four goals and has tripled his points totals. He’s raw but with his 6-foot-6 size and good mobility, he’s an intriguing project player to watch for the long term.

And now for the update:

AHL

Seth Griffith, RW Providence Bruins

GP- 40 Goals- 16 Assists- 35 Points- 51 Penalty Min- 22 +/-   5

Alex Khokhlachev, C Providence Bruins

GP- 38 Goals- 15 Assists- 26 Points- 41 Penalty Min- 8 +/-  -6

Austin Czarnik, C Providence Bruins

GP- 41 Goals- 13 Assists- 23 Points- 36 Penalty Min- 14 +/-  3

Frank Vatrano, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 19 Goals- 20 Assists- 10 Points- 30 Penalty Min- 8 +/-   7

Four goals and four assists in his last five AHL games for Vatrano to keep his stick red hot.

Colton Hargrove, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 41 Goals-12 Assists- 9 Points- 21 Penalty Min- 49 +/-   7

Colby Cave, C Providence Bruins

GP- 49 Goals- 10 Assists- 10 Points- 20 Penalty Min- 10 +/- -6

Chris Casto, D Providence Bruins

GP- 45 Goals- 5 Assists- 12 Points- 17 Penalty Min- 35 +/- -5

Tommy Cross, D Providence Bruins

GP- 38 Goals- 2 Assists- 13 Points- 15 Penalty Min- 61 +/- -4

Zack Phillips, C Providence Bruins

GP- 39 Goals- 5 Assists- 9 Points-14 Penalty Min- 8 +/- -14

Noel Acciari, C Providence Bruins

GP- 36 Goals- 6 Assists-7 Points- 13 Penalty Min- 15 +/-  5

Anton Blidh, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 47 Goals- 9 Assists- 3 Points- 12 Penalty Min- 27 +/- -3

Anthony Camara, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 29 Goals- 0 Assists- 5 Points- 5 Penalty Min- 37 +/- -1

Justin Hickman, RW Providence Bruins

GP- 39 Goals- 3 Assists- 2 Points- 5 Penalty Min- 36 +/- -4

Linus Arnesson, D Providence Bruins

GP- 35 Goals- 0 Assists- 3 Points- 3 Penalty Min- 4 +/- -3

Brian Ferlin, RW Providence Bruins

GP- 4 Goals- 1 Assists- 0 Points- 1 Penalty Min- 2 +/-  2

Ferlin is back from a concussion after missing all but one of the previous games on Providence’s schedule- he tallied his first goal of the season last week.

Malcolm Subban, G Providence Bruins

GP- 27 MIN- 1635 GA- 67 GAA- 2.46 Spct- .911 W- 14 L-8 OTL 5 SO- 1

Zane McIntyre, G Providence Bruins

GP- 20 MIN- 1146 GA- 55 GAA- 2.88 Spct- .892 W- 8 L- 6 OTL- 5

Jeremy Smith, G Providence Bruins

Iowa: GP- 23 MIN- 1326 GA- 65 GAA- 2.94 Spct- .911 W- 5 L- 14 OTL- 3

Providence: GP- 2 MIN- 120 GA- 4 GAA- 2.00 Spct- .925 W- 2 L- 0 OTL- 0

 

OHL

Zach Senyshyn, RW Saulte Ste Marie Greyhounds

GP- 52 Goals- 33 Assists- 16 Points- 49 Penalty Min- 20 +/- 3

 

QMJHL

Jeremy Lauzon, D Rouyn-Noranda Huskies

GP- 33 Goals- 5 Assists- 32 Points- 37 Penalty Min- 56 +/- 28

He’s back in action and has played 4 games (2 assists) since the last update as he works through constraints of a nagging groin injury.

Jakub Zboril, D Saint John Sea Dogs

GP- 35 Goals- 4 Assists- 12 Points- 16 Penalty Min- 36 +/- 9

With four assists in his last five games, Zboril is getting more done on the score sheet after a brutal statistical start.

 

WHL

Jesse Gabrielle, LW Prince George Cougars

GP- 57 Goals- 35 Assists- 32 Points- 67 Penalty Min- 86 +/- 8

With 11 points in his last six games, Gabrielle has elevated his overall game at the right time.

Jake DeBrusk, LW Red Deer Rebels

SCB: GP- 24 Goals- 9 Assists- 17 Points- 26 Penalty Min- 15 +/- -5

RDR: GP- 21 Goals- 8 Assists- 16 Points- 24 Penalty Min- 13 +/-  13

With eight points (seven assists) in his last six games, DeBrusk is often a forgotten player in major junior this year, but his more balanced offensive game is a good sign for the future, even if his goal numbers are way down from a year ago.

Brandon Carlo, D Tri-City Americans

GP- 35 Goals- 2 Assists- 17 Points- 19 Penalty Min- 69 +/- 0

 

NCAA

Ryan Fitzgerald, F Boston College Eagles (HEA)

GP- 29 Goals- 16 Assists- 19 Points- 35 Penalty Min- 39 +/-  21

Anders Bjork, LW University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish (HEA)

GP- 28 Goals- 11 Assists- 18 Points- 29 Penalty Min- 4 +/-  24

Danton Heinen, RW Denver University Pioneers (NCHC)

GP- 28 Goals- 12 Assists- 15 Points- 27 Penalty Min- 4 +/-   8

Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, C Boston University Terriers (HEA)

GP- 30 Goals- 7 Assists- 16 Points- 23 Penalty Min- 16 +/-   1

The scoring has cooled a bit for the BU freshman, but he’s still a high riser and strong bet for eventual NHL success as a top two-way center.

Sean Kuraly, C Miami University Redhawks (NCHC)

GP- 28 Goals- 6 Assists- 13 Points- 19 Penalty Min- 31 +/-   4

Matt Grzelcyk, D Boston University (HEA)

GP- 18 Goals- 8 Assists- 8 Points- 16 Penalty Min- 28 +/-  11

Ryan Donato, C Harvard University Crimson (ECAC)

GP- 23 Goals- 10 Assists- 6 Points- 16 Penalty Min- 18 +/-   5

Four goals in five games including a hat trick for Donato since last update.

Cameron Hughes, C University of Wisconsin Badgers (Big Ten)

GP- 23 Goals- 3 Assists- 13 Points- 16 Penalty Min- 12 +/- -10

Matt Benning, D Northeastern University Huskies (HEA)

GP- 30 Goals- 4 Assists- 9 Points- 13 Penalty Min- 25 +/- -6

Wiley Sherman, D Harvard University Crimson (ECAC)

GP- 25 Goals- 4 Assists- 5 Points- 9 Penalty Min- 8 +/-   8

Rob O’Gara, D Yale University Bulldogs (ECAC)

GP- 23 Goals- 1 Assists- 7 Points- 8 Penalty Min- 39  +/-  2

 

 

Europe

Peter Cehlarik, LW Lulea (Sweden)

GP- 36 Goals- 9 Assists- 8 Points- 17 Penalty Min- 2 +/-   4

Cehlarik established a new personal season high for  goals  in the Swedish Hockey League (formerly the elite league) to date, eclipsing his 6 goals in 46 games last year.

Emil Johansson, D HV71 (Sweden)

GP- 40 Goals- 0 Assists- 5 Points- 5 Penalty Min- 12 +/-  2

Maxim Chudinov, D St Petersburg SKA (Russia)

GP- 54 Goals- 8 Assists- 9 Points- 17 Penalty Min- 87 +/- -9

 

USHL

Daniel Vladar, G Chicago Steel (USHL)

GP- 19 MIN- 1106 GA- 39 GAA- 2.11 Spct .922 SO- 3; 6-7-4

Played one game since last update- a shutout.

Jack Becker, C Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)

GP- 40 Goals- 5 Assists- 8 Points- 13 Penalty Min- 12 +/- -11

Bruins prospects update 2/2/16

Just in time for the AHL All-Star festivities- Seth Griffith leads the league in scoring, while Frank Vatrano posted his 2nd AHL hat trick of the season (3rd this year) in an 8-1 drubbing of Springfield. Griffith and Koko were the Providence representatives at the All-Star affair.

With Jonas Gustavsson on IR, Malcolm Subban was brought up to Boston this week, but the team has been pretty mum on the veteran backup’s status and what that means for Subban in terms of whether he will see any NHL action.

Jesse Gabrielle and Zach Senyshyn have both broken the 30-goal plateau in their respective junior leagues as we enter the stretch run for the CHL regular season. A good chunk of B’s NCAA prospects are competing in the annual Beanpot Tournament, with Ryan Donato scoring a nice goal against BC in Harvard’s 3-2 loss yesterday. Sean Kuraly is quietly creeping up the NCAA scoring list after a brutal offensive start.

 

And now for the update:

AHL

Seth Griffith, RW Providence Bruins

GP- 35 Goals- 14 Assists- 32 Points- 46 Penalty Min- 20 +/- 3

Alex Khokhlachev, C Providence Bruins

GP- 33 Goals- 12 Assists- 24 Points- 36 Penalty Min- 4 +/- -7

Austin Czarnik, C Providence Bruins

GP- 37 Goals- 12 Assists- 21 Points- 33 Penalty Min- 12 +/- 1

Frank Vatrano, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 14 Goals- 16 Assists- 6 Points- 22 Penalty Min- 6 +/- 3

With six points in two games, Vatrano continues his torrid scoring pace at the AHL level.

Colton Hargrove, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 36 Goals-12 Assists- 8 Points- 20 Penalty Min- 42 +/- 6

2012 7th-rounder continues to contribute during impressive rookie pro season.

 

Colby Cave, C Providence Bruins

GP- 44 Goals- 9 Assists- 10 Points- 19 Penalty Min- 10 +/- -5

Two goals, three points this past week for the undrafted free agent.

Chris Casto, D Providence Bruins

GP- 40 Goals- 4 Assists- 11 Points- 15 Penalty Min- 26 +/- -7

Zack Phillips, C Providence Bruins

GP- 38 Goals- 5 Assists- 9 Points-14 Penalty Min- 8 +/- -14

Tommy Cross, D Providence Bruins

GP- 35 Goals- 1 Assists- 11 Points- 12 Penalty Min- 53 +/- -6

Anton Blidh, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 42 Goals- 9 Assists- 3 Points- 12 Penalty Min- 27 +/- -2

Noel Acciari, C Providence Bruins

GP- 32 Goals- 6 Assists-5 Points- 11 Penalty Min- 13 +/-  2

Anthony Camara, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 27 Goals- 0 Assists- 5 Points- 5 Penalty Min- 37 +/- -1

Justin Hickman, RW Providence Bruins

GP- 35 Goals- 2 Assists- 1 Points- 3 Penalty Min- 34 +/- -5

Linus Arnesson, D Providence Bruins

GP- 30 Goals- 0 Assists- 2 Points- 2 Penalty Min- 4 +/- -4

Malcolm Subban, G Providence Bruins

GP- 26 MIN- 1570 GA- 64 GAA- 2.45 Spct- .913 W- 14 L-8 OTL 4 SO- 1

Zane McIntyre, G Providence Bruins

GP- 18 MIN- 1026 GA- 52 GAA- 3.04 Spct- .884 W- 6 L- 6 OTL- 5

Injured- Brian Ferlin (upper body)- 1 game played.

 

OHL

Zach Senyshyn, RW Saulte Ste Marie Greyhounds

GP- 46 Goals- 30 Assists- 14 Points- 44 Penalty Min- 16 +/- -3

 

QMJHL

Jeremy Lauzon, D Rouyn-Noranda Huskies

GP- 29 Goals- 5 Assists- 30 Points- 35 Penalty Min- 52 +/- 26

Injured- (lower body) no games since last update.

Jakub Zboril, D Saint John Sea Dogs

GP- 30 Goals- 4 Assists- 8 Points- 12 Penalty Min- 32 +/- 8

 

WHL

Jesse Gabrielle, LW Prince George Cougars

GP- 51 Goals- 31 Assists- 25 Points- 56 Penalty Min- 71 +/- 6

Jake DeBrusk, LW Red Deer Rebels

SCB: GP- 24 Goals- 9 Assists- 17 Points- 26 Penalty Min- 15 +/- -5

RDR: GP- 16 Goals- 7 Assists- 9 Points- 16 Penalty Min- 13 +/-  6

Brandon Carlo, D Tri-City Americans

GP- 29 Goals- 2 Assists- 13 Points- 15 Penalty Min- 61 +/- -5

 

NCAA

Ryan Fitzgerald, F Boston College Eagles (HEA)

GP- 25 Goals- 14 Assists- 17 Points- 31 Penalty Min- 35 +/- 23

Anders Bjork, LW University of Notre Dame (HEA)

GP- 24 Goals- 10 Assists- 16 Points- 26 Penalty Min- 4 +/- 22

Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, C Boston University Terriers (HEA)

GP- 26 Goals- 7 Assists- 15 Points- 22 Penalty Min- 14 +/- 2

Danton Heinen, LW Denver University Pioneers (NCHC)

GP- 26 Goals- 10 Assists- 10 Points- 20 Penalty Min- 2 +/- 1

Sean Kuraly, C Miami University (NCHC)

GP- 25 Goals- 4 Assists- 11 Points- 15 Penalty Min- 27 +/- 1

Matt Grzelcyk, D Boston University (HEA)

GP- 14 Goals- 8 Assists- 6 Points- 14 Penalty Min- 22 +/- 8

Cameron Hughes, C University of Wisconsin (Big Ten)

GP- 21 Goals- 3 Assists- 11 Points- 14 Penalty Min- 12 +/- -8

The 2015 sixth-rounder has a goal and three points on the offense-challenged Badgers since the last update

 

Ryan Donato, C Harvard University (ECAC)

GP- 18 Goals- 6 Assists- 6 Points- 12 Penalty Min- 14 +/-  4

 

Matt Benning, D Northeastern University (HEA)

GP- 26 Goals- 4 Assists- 7 Points- 11 Penalty Min- 23 +/- -6

 

Rob O’Gara, D Yale University (ECAC)

GP- 21 Goals- 1 Assists- 7 Points- 8 Penalty Min- 20 +/- 0

O’Gara netted his first goal of the season for Yale; it’s been a statistical disappointment for the senior given expectations, but he still figures prominently into Boston’s future plans.

Wiley Sherman, D Harvard University (ECAC)

GP- 20 Goals- 3 Assists- 4 Points- 7 Penalty Min- 8 +/- 6

 

Europe

Peter Cehlarik, LW Lulea (Sweden)

GP- 33 Goals- 8 Assists- 6 Points- 14 Penalty Min- 0 +/- 2

Emil Johansson, D HV71 (Sweden)

GP- 37 Goals- 0 Assists- 4 Points- 4 Penalty Min- 12 +/- 1

Maxim Chudinov, D St Petersburg SKA (Russia)

GP- 52 Goals- 8 Assists- 9 Points- 17 Penalty Min- 85 +/- -11

 

USHL

Daniel Vladar, G Chicago (USHL)

GP- 18 MIN- 1046 GA- 39 GAA- 2.24 Spct .917 SO- 2; 5-7-4

Jack Becker, C Sioux Falls (USHL)

GP- 36 Goals- 4 Assists- 7 Points- 11 Penalty Min- 10 +/- -10

Bruins Prospects Update 1/4/2016

Welcome to 2016!

Since the last stats update, two of Boston’s three 2015 first-round picks- Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn had impactful weeks with their respectful clubs.

DeBrusk, originally credited with a four goal outburst in Red Deer’s 10-0 drubbing of the Brandon Wheat Kings Saturday night, had to “settle” for three goals and five points in that one, raising his totals to 5 goals and 10 points in 4 games since being traded from Swift Current the last week of December. Brent Sutter has since added two more veteran forwards and the 2016 Memorial Cup host team is probably not finished- that bodes well for DeBrusk’s continued offensive output, as he finds himself suddenly in a significantly better situation on the Rebels than he was with the Broncos.

Senyshyn has scored goals in his last several games and has been noticeable and effective offensively with each viewing. He continues to beat defenders wide with his impressive speed and powerful skating stride. As long as that continues, he’s on pace to crack the 40-goal mark in the OHL this season.

2015 fourth-rounder Jesse Gabrielle had a tremendous week as well, netting a hat trick and rising to second place in goals scored for the entire WHL. He’s not only producing but providing his patented gritty, agitating game,

Alex Khokhlachev continues to demonstrate the dichotomy between his AHL season (highly impressive) and his limited NHL stint (can’t get out of first gear). He tallied two goals and four points Sunday after being returned to Providence from Boston after the disaster of a Winter Classic. I posted on Twitter that it’s hard to square the Koko we’re seeing in the AHL with the passive, unengaged chap who has been brought up (and sent back down) three times by Boston. Yes, he hasn’t gotten much ice time in his limited opportunities (multiple not singular) but at some point- you have to do something with the ice you receive in order to get more. It certainly looks like his days in the Boston organization are numbered, but then again- I felt the same way about Ryan Spooner at this point last year.

Now, here’s the update:

AHL

Seth Griffith, RW Providence Bruins

GP- 25 Goals- 10 Assists- 20 Points- 30 Penalty Min- 20 +/- -2

Griffith played two games in Boston (1 assist) but was sent back down to Providence after the Winter Classic. He posted three assists in Sunday’s win to hold Koko at bay for the team scoring lead.

Alex Khokhlachev, C Providence Bruins

GP- 23 Goals- 11 Assists- 18 Points- 29 Penalty Min- 2 +/-  -2

Three AHL games since the last update- three goals and six points.

Austin Czarnik, C Providence Bruins

GP- 27  Goals- 9 Assists- 17 Points- 26 Penalty Min- 10 +/-  3

Czarnik’s passing has picked up- he added seven helpers in three games since the last update.

Colton Hargrove, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 26 Goals- 8 Assists- 6 Points- 14 Penalty Min- 30 +/- -7

Hargrove continues to be a pleasant surprise as a rookie pro- the former WMU product and seventh-round pick in 2012 was expected to be a bit player this season as he acclimated to the AHL, but instead, has opened eyes as an effective power play presence and consistent middle-of-the-roster option.

Chris Casto, D Providence Bruins

GP- 30 Goals- 2 Assists- 10 Points- 12 Penalty Min- 18 +/- -9

Tommy Cross, D Providence Bruins

GP- 26 Goals- 1 Assists- 10 Points- 11 Penalty Min- 45 +/- -11

Zack Phillips, C Providence Bruins

GP- 30 Goals- 3 Assists- 8 Points-11 Penalty Min- 4 +/- -11

The former 1st-round pick in 2011 is playing more effectively after recovering from a lower body injury that caused him to miss training camp and hampered him in the first couple of months.

 

 

Colby Cave, C Providence Bruins

GP- 34 Goals- 7 Assists- 4 Points- 11 Penalty Min- 8 +/- -11

Noel Acciari, C Providence Bruins

GP- 22 Goals- 3 Assists-3 Points- 6 Penalty Min- 9 +/- -1

Acciari returned to the lineup Sunday after being cleared to play post-surgery for a broken jaw.

Anton Blidh, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 32  Goals- 6 Assists- 0 Points- 6 Penalty Min- 14 +/- -5

Anthony Camara, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 17  Goals- 0 Assists- 1 Points- 1 Penalty Min- 31 +/- -4

Linus Arnesson, D Providence Bruins

GP- 21 Goals- 0 Assists- 1 Points- 1 Penalty Min- 2 +/- -2

Injured- has not played since last update.

Justin Hickman, RW Providence Bruins

GP- 28 Goals- 0 Assists- 1 Points- 1 Penalty Min- 27 +/- -7

The former Seattle Thunderbirds captain and undrafted free agent finally registered his first pro point last week. There is a lot to like about Hickman, but this season is a learning process for him as he will have to scrap for bottom line minutes.

Malcolm Subban, G Providence Bruins

GP- 19 MIN- 1141 GA- 51 GAA- 2.68 Spct- .904 W- 8 L-8 OTL 3 SO- 1

Two starts, two wins for Subban- he’s strung together a solid month of play after a brutal start to the season.

Zane McIntyre, G Providence Bruins

GP- 15 MIN- 842 GA- 42 GAA- 2.99 Spct- .885 W- 5 L- 6 OTL- 3

Injured- Brian Ferlin (upper body)- 1 game played.

OHL

Zach Senyshyn, RW Saulte Ste Marie Greyhounds

GP- 36 Goals- 24 Assists- 11 Points- 35 Penalty Min- 10 +/- -5

Three goals in four games since the last update- finished December with 11 goals, 17 points in 9 games.

QMJHL

Jeremy Lauzon, D Rouyn-Noranda Huskies

GP- 28 Goals- 5 Assists- 29 Points- 34 Penalty Min- 52 +/- 24

Missed the last couple of games due to injury.

Jakub Zboril, D Saint John Sea Dogs

GP- 21 Goals- 3 Assists- 6 Points- 9 Penalty Min- 26 +/- 2

After Zboril’s Czech squad was eliminated in the quarterfinal match against USA (7-0) he’ll be back in the Sea Dogs’ lineup this week. Zboril earned player of the game honors against USA in a contest that did not give the Czechs a whole lot to be positive about.

WHL

Jesse Gabrielle, LW Prince George Cougars

GP- 39 Goals- 25 Assists- 18 Points- 43 Penalty Min- 57 +/-  10

Gabrielle has really picked it up, scoring a hat trick this past week in a dominant performance against Vancouver and drawing raves from at least one other NHL team’s Western Canada scouts. He’s currently second in the WHL in goals and is outperforming more than a few players drafted well before he was. The 105th overall pick is feeling it- and grabbing a lot of notice in the process.

Jake DeBrusk, LW Red Deer Rebels

SCB: GP- 24 Goals- 9 Assists- 17 Points- 26 Penalty Min- 15 +/- -5

RDR: GP- 4 Goals- 5 Assists- 5 Points- 10 Penalty Min- 0 +/- 2

DeBrusk has looked every bit the 14th overall pick this past week playing on the top line with (undrafted) Ivan Nikolishin (son of former NHLer Andrei) and Sharks 2015 draft pick/overager Adam Helewka. There’s a lot more offense coming from this trio if Sutter keeps them together- they combined for 5 goals and 13 points in the Brandon game.

Brandon Carlo, D Tri-City Americans

GP- 22 Goals- 2 Assists- 12 Points- 14 Penalty Min- 57 +/- -5

Carlo’s Team USA squad faces Russia today in the WJC semifinal match- he’s been his club’s top defensive player and continues to demonstrate high-end shutdown potential at the next level.

NCAA

Ryan Fitzgerald, F Boston College Eagles (HEA)

GP- 17 Goals- 11 Assists- 10 Points- 21 Penalty Min- 33 +/- 18

Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, C Boston University Terriers (HEA)

GP- 18 Goals- 4 Assists- 10 Points- 14 Penalty Min- 10 +/- -2

JFK’s Sweden team takes on the impressive Finnish offensive juggernaut featuring offensive whiz kids (with size and skill) Jesse Puljujarvi and Patrik Laine. JFK has been very good in the tournament thus far and should return to BU with elevated confidence regardless of the WJC’s final outcome.

Anders Bjork, LW University of Notre Dame (HEA)

GP- 17 Goals- 5 Assists- 11 Points- 16 Penalty Min- 4 +/- 17

With Team USA at WJC.

Danton Heinen, LW Denver University Pioneers (NCHC)

GP- 18 Goals- 5 Assists- 6 Points- 11 Penalty Min- 0 +/- -3

No points in two games against Notre Dame, but it’s not for a lack of trying. Heinen is playing well and creating numerous scoring chances on a line with Trevor Moore and Dylan Gambrell, but the Pioneers ran into a hot goaltender (Cal Petersen) on Saturday night.

Ryan Donato, C Harvard University (ECAC)

GP- 10 Goals- 4 Assists- 5 Points- 9 Penalty Min- 10 +/- 6

With Team USA at WJC.

Cameron Hughes, C University of Wisconsin (Big Ten)

GP- 14 Goals- 1 Assists- 8 Points- 9 Penalty Min- 6 +/- -6

No games since last update.

Sean Kuraly, C Miami University (NCHC)

GP- 18 Goals- 2 Assists- 5 Points- 7 Penalty Min- 19 +/- -4

Matt Benning, D Northeastern University (HEA)

GP- 19 Goals- 2 Assists- 5 Points- 7 Penalty Min- 17 +/- -13

Matt Grzelcyk, D Boston University (HEA)

GP-6 Goals 2 Assists- 3 Points- 5 Penalty Min- 12 +/- 2

Grzelcyk is still out with a lower body (knee injury).

Wiley Sherman, D Harvard University (ECAC)

GP- 12 Goals- 2 Assists- 2 Points- 4 Penalty Min- 6 +/- 5

No games since last update.

Rob O’Gara, D Yale University (ECAC)

GP- 12 Goals- 0 Assists- 4 Points- 4 Penalty Min- 16 +/- -4

No games since last update.

Europe

Peter Cehlarik, LW Lulea (Sweden)

GP- 24 Goals- 7 Assists- 6 Points- 13 Penalty Min- 0 +/- 3

Emil Johansson, D HV71 (Sweden)

GP- 28 Goals- 0 Assists- 2 Points- 2 Penalty Min- 12 +/- 0

Maxim Chudinov, D St Petersburg SKA (Russia)

GP- 40 Goals- 6 Assists- 8 Points- 14 Penalty Min- 77 +/- -7

USHL

Daniel Vladar, G Chicago (USHL)

GP- 13 MIN- 737 GA- 26 GAA- 2.12 Spct .925 SO- 2; 3-5-3

Vladar will be back in the USHL this week.

Jack Becker, C Sioux Falls (USHL)

GP- 29 Goals- 4 Assists- 6 Points- 10 Penalty Min- 6 +/- 0

 

Bruins Prospects Update 12/28/15

It’s the last Bruins prospects update of the calendar year!

When next I post, it will be 2016 and we’ll be just about at the official halfway mark of the NHL season.

There’s a lot going on in the prospects world- six Boston futures (plus one current Bruin- David Pastrnak) are competing in the World Junior (Under-20) Championship in Helsinki, Finland, so their junior/NCAA stats lines will remain static until they return.

The Red Deer Rebels, host team of the 2017 Memorial Cup, made a big move Saturday to acquire Jake DeBrusk from Swift Current. That’s a typical junior trade when a team that has a legitimate shot at winning it all (the last time the Rebels won the MC was in 2001 when then-Bruins prospect Kyle Wanvig was the MVP…ah, the happier days for Boston and Wanvig before the fax machine fiasco in Toronto negated his signing deadline deal to the Leafs for Jonas Hoglund. If you’re too young to remember any of that consider yourself fortunate.)

Seth Griffith has been smoking hot for the past month in Providence, and the team is up and down in the standings.

Now, here’s your update:

 

AHL

Seth Griffith, RW Providence Bruins

GP- 24 Goals- 10 Assists- 17 Points- 27 Penalty Min- 20 +/- -1

Griffith vaulted over Koko for the team lead in scoring, posting 2 goals and nine points in five games since the previous update. He’s making a strong case to see some time in Boston, especially with Pastrnak now at the WJC and Brett Connolly struggling.

Alex Khokhlachev, C Providence Bruins

GP- 21 Goals- 8 Assists- 15 Points- 23 Penalty Min- 2 +/- 0

Four games since the last update- 2 goals and three assists, with a stint in Boston (2 scoreless games) sandwiched in between.

 

Austin Czarnik, C Providence Bruins

GP- 24  Goals- 9 Assists- 10 Points- 19 Penalty Min- 10 +/-  3

Four goals in five games including his first pro hat trick- sounds like someone who is deserving of seeing his first NHL action if David Krejci misses any games to the upper body injury he suffered against Ottawa Sunday evening.

Tommy Cross, D Providence Bruins

GP- 23 Goals- 1 Assists- 10 Points- 11 Penalty Min- 39 +/- -10

Returned from injury and added an assist to go with 10 penalty minutes in five games and a -5 rating.

Chris Casto, D Providence Bruins

GP- 27 Goals- 1 Assists- 10 Points- 11 Penalty Min- 16 +/- -7

 

Colby Cave, C Providence Bruins

GP- 31 Goals- 7 Assists- 4 Points- 11 Penalty Min- 8 +/- -10

Zack Phillips, C Providence Bruins

GP- 27 Goals- 3 Assists- 6 Points- 9 Penalty Min- 4 +/- -12

Colton Hargrove, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 23 Goals- 4 Assists- 4 Points- 8 Penalty Min- 28 +/- -7

He scored a big power play goal over the weekend in a win over Hartford.

Noel Acciari, C Providence Bruins

GP- 21 Goals- 3 Assists-3 Points- 6 Penalty Min- 7 +/- -1

Injured- did not play.

Anton Blidh, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 29 Goals- 6 Assists- 0 Points- 6 Penalty Min- 14 +/- -5

Gritty grinder is an agitator and energy guy, but not much offensive potential at the next level.

Anthony Camara, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 14 Goals- 0 Assists- 1 Points- 1 Penalty Min- 31 +/- -4

Pretty disappointing pro track record for a third-round pick. If you believe the story that the Bruins were interested in Johnny Gaudreau (I’m not so sure about the published reports, to be honest), then take comfort in the fact that they passed on him to take this guy. Just saying.

 

Linus Arnesson, D Providence Bruins

GP- 21 Goals- 0 Assists- 1 Points- 1 Penalty Min- 2 +/- -2

Arnesson will play for the Bruins one day, but his one assist in 21 games (no points since week 1 of the season) is indicative of the kind of player he is. Safe, steady mobile defense-first guy (I stop short of calling him a shutdown D- he’s not that either, IMO) who brings smarts and quickness if not offensive production to the mix.

Malcolm Subban, G Providence Bruins

GP- 17 MIN- 1027 GA- 46 GAA- 2.69 Spct- .901 W- 6 L-8 OTL 3 SO- 1

Six games since the last update- raised the save percentage up over .900- small victories, and a much better performance since being injured to start the year and then stumbling out of the gate.

Zane McIntyre, G Providence Bruins

GP- 12 MIN- 777 GA- 38 GAA- 2.94 Spct- .886 W- 5 L- 5 OTL- 3

Injured- Brian Ferlin (upper body)- 1 game played.

OHL

Zach Senyshyn, RW Saulte Ste Marie Greyhounds

GP- 32 Goals- 21 Assists- 11 Points- 32 Penalty Min- 8 +/- -6

Another hat trick before the holiday break (he tallied his three-goal game against Kitchener on the same night Frank Vatrano got his 1st NHL 3-goal game, and Czarnik also potted his first AHL hatty for the trifecta) helped get ZS to the point-per-game mark. He’s just five goals and 13 points away from equaling his scoring total from a year ago in half the games.

QMJHL

Jeremy Lauzon, D Rouyn-Noranda Huskies

GP- 26 Goals- 5 Assists- 28 Points- 34 Penalty Min- 50 +/- 26

The final Team Canada cut at the WJC- Lauzon did not play any games since the last update, but is back in action with Rouyn-Noranda this week. He’s a likely lock for next season’s WJC team given how far he got this time.

Jakub Zboril, D Saint John Sea Dogs

GP- 21 Goals- 3 Assists- 6 Points- 9 Penalty Min- 26 +/- 2

Zboril is with Team Czech Republic in Finland- he was ejected and received 25 minutes in penalties for a boarding call in the first period of his team’s 2-1 shootout loss to Russia on Saturday.

WHL

Jesse Gabrielle, LW Prince George Cougars

GP- 35 Goals- 20 Assists- 17 Points- 37 Penalty Min- 55 +/-  5

Three goals and five points in four games with PG since the last update. We’re going to predict that Gabrielle will be on the 2017 Team Canada WJC squad as well. He’s turning heads this season, but will have to prove his commitment to the Hockey Canada scouts. The production will certainly go a long way, though. He’s just three goals away from equaling his career high in a season.

Jake DeBrusk, LW Red Deer Rebels

SCB: GP- 24 Goals- 9 Assists- 17 Points- 26 Penalty Min- 15 +/- -5

RDR: GP- 1 Goals- 1 Assists- 1 Points- 2 Penalty Min- 0 +/- -2

Brandon Carlo, D Tri-City Americans

GP- 22 Goals- 2 Assists- 12 Points- 14 Penalty Min- 57 +/- -5

Carlo is with Team USA in Helsinki- had a high-level defensive performance in his team’s tourney-opening win against Canada.

 

NCAA

Ryan Fitzgerald, F Boston College Eagles (HEA)

GP- 15 Goals- 11 Assists- 10 Points- 21 Penalty Min- 33 +/- 17

No games since last update.

Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, C Boston University Terriers (HEA)

GP- 18 Goals- 4 Assists- 10 Points- 14 Penalty Min- 10 +/- -2

With Team Sweden at WJC.

Anders Bjork, LW University of Notre Dame (HEA)

GP- 17 Goals- 5 Assists- 11 Points- 16 Penalty Min- 4 +/- 17

With Team USA at WJC.

Danton Heinen, LW Denver University Pioneers (NCHC)

GP- 16 Goals- 5 Assists- 6 Points- 11 Penalty Min- 0 +/- -3

No games since last update.

Ryan Donato, C Harvard University (ECAC)

GP- 10 Goals- 4 Assists- 5 Points- 9 Penalty Min- 10 +/- 6

With Team USA at WJC.

Cameron Hughes, C University of Wisconsin (Big Ten)

GP- 14 Goals- 1 Assists- 8 Points- 9 Penalty Min- 6 +/- -6

No games since last update.

Sean Kuraly, C Miami University (NCHC)

GP- 16 Goals- 2 Assists- 4 Points- 6 Penalty Min- 17 +/- -5

No games since last update.

Matt Benning, D Northeastern University (HEA)

GP- 17 Goals- 2 Assists- 4 Points- 6 Penalty Min- 17 +/- -12

No games since last update.

Matt Grzelcyk, D Boston University (HEA)

GP-6 Goals 2 Assists- 3 Points- 5 Penalty Min- 12 +/- 2

Grzelcyk is still out with a lower body (knee injury).

Wiley Sherman, D Harvard University (ECAC)

GP- 10 Goals- 2 Assists- 2 Points- 4 Penalty Min- 6 +/- 5

No games since last update.

Rob O’Gara, D Yale University (ECAC)

GP- 12 Goals- 0 Assists- 4 Points- 4 Penalty Min- 16 +/- -4

No games since last update.

Europe

Peter Cehlarik, LW Lulea (Sweden)

GP- 22 Goals- 6 Assists- 5 Points- 11 Penalty Min- 0 +/- 1

Emil Johansson, D HV71 (Sweden)

GP- 26 Goals- 0 Assists- 2 Points- 2 Penalty Min- 12 +/- -1

Maxim Chudinov, D St Petersburg SKA (Russia)

GP- 40 Goals- 6 Assists- 8 Points- 14 Penalty Min- 77 +/- -7

USHL

Daniel Vladar, G Chicago (USHL)

GP- 13 MIN- 737 GA- 26 GAA- 2.12 Spct .925 SO- 2; 3-5-3

With Czech Republic at WJC; did not dress (3rd goalie) in 2-1 loss to Russia.

Jack Becker, C Sioux Falls (USHL)

GP- 26 Goals- 4 Assists- 5 Points- 9 Penalty Min- 6 +/- 0