|09.27.16 at 6:55 pm ET|
When Danton Heinen decided to turn pro after his sophomore year at University of Denver, he eyed the NHL, but he’d have been warranted if he assumed he’d start the 2016-17 season in Providence.
Fast forward to this week, and a job in Boston is there for the taking. While the left-shooting Heinen’s best chance of stealing a job once looked to be on the right side, Frank Vatrano’s foot surgery means that there’s a job to the left of either David Krejci or Ryan Spooner/David Backes up for grabs. One will be filled by Matt Beleskey. The other, reserved for Vatrano, could be filled by Heinen and he knows it.
“Maybe,” Heinen said. “You never like seeing a guy go down, and he’s such a good player, but I guess that opens up another spot. I’m just going to work as hard as I can and see what happens.”
Heinen, a fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft who quickly shot up prospect rankings with 45 points in 40 games as a freshman and 48 points as a sophomore, spent his first preseason game Monday logging big minutes and playing on the penalty kill and power play. In the third period, he cut through the slot and redirected a point shot in for the game-tying goal of an eventual shootout loss.
That wasn’t the only bright spot for Heinen, who was noticeable on nearly every shift — mostly for good. Yet he also looked a bit overzealous at times, such as when he made a blind pass in the offensive zone that was intercepted and went the other way for a Blue Jackets goal. Still, it was a mostly strong debut for a 21-year-old who had never gotten to experience an NHL training camp due to NCAA restrictions.
“He looks to make plays every time he’s on the ice,” Bruins assistant coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Like a young player, he’s going to have to learn to manage it, when the play’s there and when he’s going to have to put the puck in a place where we can get it back, [make a] safe play. I think every young player goes through that. You want players that want to make plays and have the ability to do that, so I think that’s a good problem to have. He’ll just have to learn to manage it.”
Heinen was robbed by Curtis McElhinney on a second-period 5-on-3, preventing him from notching a two-goal night. On the other side of special teams, Heinen was deployed to kill multiple penalties.
“You’ve got to be good in all three zones,” Heinen said. “[Playing] the PK just makes you more versatile. I thought I was alright on the PK. I think there’s room for improvement, but it was definitely fun just to get some reps.”
Heinen was centered by Riley Nash on Monday. Where Nash seems ticketed for a fourth-line job on the wing, it will be interesting to see how he looks if and when he’s played alongside the likes of Krejci, Spooner or Backes. He and Krejci were linemates on the first day of training camp, and if they can show any chemistry this preseason (and Heinen can fend off Peter Mueller), there’s a decent chance they could be linemates come mid-October.
Heinen is far from a sure thing to make the NHL as a first-year pro, but his chances are looking a lot better than they were just a week ago.
|09.26.16 at 9:43 pm ET|
The Bruins opened preseason play Monday night with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Blue Jackets at TD Garden. Danton Heinen, Jimmy Hayes, Brandon Carlo, Jake DeBrusk, Jakub Zboril and Anton Khudobin were among those in uniform for the B’s, with Hayes and Heinen both scoring goals in regulation.
The B’s will next play Wednesday when they host the Red Wings. Here are some takeaways from Monday night’s exhibition:
– Two top prospects collaborated on the Bruins’ second goal Monday, as Heinen capped his first (preseason) NHL game by redirecting a point shot from Carlo.
Heinen, who stands a good chance of helping fill the void created by Frank Vatrano’s injury, was utilized heavily with mixed results. Skating with Riley Nash and Seth Griffith, Heinen moved the puck well for the most part in 5-on-5 play and also saw time on the power play and penalty kill, but a blind pass in the second period led to a turnover that yielded a Blue Jackets goal on the ensuing possession.
– Carlo was paired with John-Micheal Liles Monday. He looked mostly solid prior to his goal, with a bright spot coming when he skated the puck around Brandon Saad coming out of the defensive zone in the first period. He got caught high in the offensive zone after the B’s entered, however, and with better puck management Columbus could have had a 2-on-1 as a result.
“Arguably our best D, if not our best D,” Bruins assistant coach Bruce Cassidy said of Carlo’s performance against the Jackets. “Real good decision-making, gaps are good… he jumped up the ice, got his shot through when it was there. He matched up well with whoever was put out there, pushed back in front of our net. Lot of good things.”
– Boston’s first goal came from Hayes, who completed a give-and-go with DeBrusk after a pass from Austin Czarink in the neutral zone. Hayes going to the net and scoring was a welcomed sight for a Garden crowd that didn’t see it often enough last season. True to their concerns, Hayes couldn’t handle a bouncing loose puck in the slot during a third-period power play.
– Heinen wasn’t the only top notable Bruins prospect at fault for Columbus’ second goal. Jakub Zboril left Daniel Zaar alone in front of the net to tend to Sam Gagner, who fed the puck in front to the open Zaar to set up the goal. There appeared to be some confusion between Zboril and Seth Griffith as to who should have had whom, leading to some unsuccessful job duplication.
– It was an up-and-down night for Griffith overall. He missed the net on a good chance during a second-period 5-on-3, and though he appeared to make up for it moments later by setting up Danton Heinen, Curtis McElhinney robbed Heinen to keep the score 2-1. Griffith later picked up an assist on Heinen’s goal, sending the puck to Carlo from the wall. He was called for a delay of game minutes later for sending the puck over the glass.
– Peter Mueller didn’t necessarily stand out in his preseason debut. The most notable thing the camp invite did Monday was take a second-period hooking penalty.
– Anton Khudobin played the first two periods and Zane McIntyre played the third and overtime. No major issues with either performance, although I still have no idea how/if Sonny Milano’s first-period power play goal went in.
Sonny Milano, 1-0.
This probably would have been reviewed, but they’ll let it slidehttps://t.co/KDqpHBODAT
— Chris Abraham (@CrzyCanucklehed) September 27, 2016
– The lineup for the Bruins Monday was as fallows, with Kevan Miller and Liles both serving as alternate captains:
|09.26.16 at 11:16 am ET|
The Bruins and Brad Marchand have agreed to an eight-year, $49 million contract extension that carries a confusingly team-friendly cap hit of $6.125 million. News of the agreement and terms were first reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
“This is an extremely exciting day for me and my family,” Marchand said in a press release Monday. “I would like to thank the Jacobs family, Cam Neely, Don Sweeney, Claude Julien, the coaching staff, my teammates and our fans for their continued support and belief in me. I have been a Bruin since the start of my pro career and there is no place I would rather play. I look forward to doing everything I can to help our team achieve success and bring the Stanley Cup back to Boston.”
Marchand’s deal will begin in the 2017-18 season, meaning he will be signed from age 29 until 36, as he will turn 37 in May of the final year of the deal. He is coming off the best season of his career, a campaign in which he scored a team-leading 37 goals.
According to ESPN’s Craig Custance, Marchand’s deal carries a full no-movement clause for the first five years before becoming a limited no-trade clause.
Between Marchand’s cap hit and Patrice Bergeron’s $6.875 million hit, the B’s will have their two best forwards signed for a combined $13 million against the salary cap.
|09.24.16 at 3:25 pm ET|
The Bruins announced Saturday that Frank Vatrano will miss three months due to a left foot injury. Vatrano will undergo surgery Monday at Mass General to repair torn ligaments in the foot.
The left wing suffered the injury while training, though he skated on the foot for weeks at captain’s practices leading up to Thursday’s off-ice testing. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney clarified to reporters that the injury was suffered days before testing. Vatrano was then kept off the ice when practices began Friday.
The timetable for the injury means the B’s will be without Vatrano’s services until late December, meaning he could miss a little less than half the season. If he were to miss exactly three months, Vatrano would be out for 37 games.
Though Vatrano was not relied on heavily at the NHL level last season (many of his 39 games as a rookie were spent in a bottom-six role), his loss is a big one for a team that was counting on him to help replace the offense lost when the team opted to sign David Backes instead of Loui Eriksson. Vatrano led the AHL in goals (36) last season, his first professional campaign, despite playing in only 36 games for Providence.
Vatrano being out means that players like training camp invite Peter Mueller and first-year pro Danton Heinen now have a better chance of making the team.
|09.23.16 at 3:02 pm ET|
BRIGHTON — The Bruins began practicing for the 2016-17 season Friday, holding split-group sessions at Warrior Ice Arena.
With Claude Julien back in Toronto with Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey, the practices were run by coaches Joe Sacco, Bruce Cassidy, Jay Pandolfo and Kevin Dean.
Some quick observations from the opening sessions:
– Due to injury, Frank Vatrano did not take the ice for either session. Sacco said the player will be evaluated.
– As expected, David Krejci and Torey Krug both practiced as they look to return from offseason surgeries. Krejci centered Danton Heinen and Zach Senyshyn in drills.
– Speaking of centers, Ryan Spooner was indeed used as a pivot during Group A’s sessions. Spooner was in the middle of Matt Beleskey and Peter Mueller, the latter of whom is in camp on a professional tryout.
– Brandon Carlo was paired with John-Michael Liles. Carlo, a second-round pick in the 2015 draft, has AHL eligibility the season, so he doesn’t need to worry too hard about making the B’s out of camp in his first pro season.
– David Pastrnak showed up after returning from the World Cup of Hockey, but he did not take the ice. Pastrnak and David Backes are expected to be back skating with the team soon.
|09.22.16 at 3:50 pm ET|
BRIGHTON — With Team Canada being given
a break from destroying everyone at the World Cup of Hockey an off day, Claude Julien flew from Toronto to Boston to brag about destroying everyone at the World Cup of Hockey check in with the Bruins for the start of training camp.
Julien, who is running Team Canada’s penalty kill under Mike Babcock, said that he came back to “make sure everything got off on the right foot” before his assistants take over for the opening days of practice. Canada, which won all three of its first-round games, will play an elimination game Saturday in the tournament semifinals. Canada would be a heavy favorite against its potential opponents (Russia or Team North America), so it could be a few days before Julien is in Boston again.
Two thirds of Canada’s top line is made up of Bruins, as Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron have flanked Sidney Crosby in the tournament. Julien said he didn’t need to talk Babcock into forming the line given Bergeron’s chemistry with Crosby in the Olympics and Marchand since the 2010-11 season.
“I didn’t have to push for any of that, to be honest with you,” Julien said. “One of the reasons is Sid and Bergy have obviously played together before. At the same time, when you look at Bergy and March, they’re pretty good together as a pair. It just seemed to be the right fit to start with, and it just worked out. We weren’t necessarily thinking, ‘That’s the line, it’s going to stay that way.’ They certainly had to prove that they were a good line and they did that. Our two guys have no doubt been dialed in from Day 1 and to me have been tremendous players for our hockey club.”
Marchand, who is entering the final year of his contract, scored a career-best 37 goals last season.
“I think Brad’s been that kind of a player for quite a long time,” Julien said. “We just have to look back from his first year to where he is now. When I say he’s matured as a hockey player, he’s also matured as a person because he’s also become a pretty good leader. Right now, where he is with Team Canada, he’s also very respected by his teammates for the way he prepares, the way he plays and everything else. He’s come a long ways, and at the same time, what better way to grow and become better than when you’re playing alongside probably one of the best two-way centers in the league? He’s had that luxury, and as a coach, you’re extremely proud of what they’ve done so far.”
|09.22.16 at 2:53 pm ET|
BRIGHTON — If and when Zac Rinaldo makes it back to the NHL, he’ll have to serve a five-game suspension. That won’t apply during the preseason, however, as B’s general manager Don Sweeney said that the league will allow him to play in exhibition games.
Rinaldo was given a five-gamer for a hit on Cedric Paquette that he committed on Feb. 28, the same day he was waived by the team with the intention of being sent to Providence. He has one more year on his contract and plans to push for a return to the NHL.
Sweeney said that Rinaldo is currently injured, but clarified that he should play in the preseason.
“That’s been clarified by the league. He’s eligible to play in preseason games,” Sweeney said. “He has a little bit of a lower-body injury that he’s nursing right now. He’ll be out for the first couple of days of camp, and we’ll monitor and see, but he doesn’t have any restrictions in preseason. He’s still under suspension in the regular season; he’ll have to serve those, but he doesn’t have any restrictions in preseason.”