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Deadline Deals NHL

Analysis: Almost 11 years later, Taylor Hall is finally a Bruin

The Boston Bruins traded forward, Anders Bjork, and a 2021 2nd round pick to the Buffalo Sabres for forwards, Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar, late Sunday night/early Monday morning.

By the time TSN fired up their “TradeCentre” coverage, the Bruins and Sabres officially announced the deal.

Boston General Manager, Don Sweeney, emphasized the need to “add some juice” to the B’s lineup across both of his moves before Monday’s deadline.

Buffalo General Manger, Kevyn Adams, noted that he’s long-liked Bjork’s game and was tied up by Hall’s no-movement clause, which limited possible trade destinations.

Both Hall and Bjork were on pace for about three goals each this season at the time of the trade. Both players are looking to recapture former glories (Hall and his 2017-18 Hart Memorial Trophy winning regular season MVP performance, Bjork and his prolific scoring prowess in his junior year at Notre Dame in 2016-17).

In the end, however, the Bruins may have finally landed their missing piece to play alongside David Krejci on their second line, while the Sabres are prime for a resurgence by actually giving their youth (and Bjork) more playing time to develop.

And then there’s Lazar, who is the icing on the cake for Boston’s re-energized fourth line and not just at risk of being a rental, though Hall has indicated an interest in signing an extension with the Bruins if he can prove himself worthy.

All three players may suit up in their first game with their new teams against one another.

That’s right, the Bruins host the Sabres on Tuesday night– pitting Hall against Bjork in a head-to-head matchup, while Lazar (lower body) is a game-time decision.

Hall, 29, had 2-17–19 totals in 37 games with Buffalo at the time of the trade and has 220-362–582 totals in 664 career NHL games with the Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils, Arizona Coyotes and Sabres.

He had career-highs in goals (39), assists (54) and points (93) in 76 games en route to winning the Hart Trophy with the Devils in 2017-18, and was originally drafted 1st overall by Edmonton in 2010.

Hall is the first player since Jaromir Jagr in 2013, to suit up for the Bruins as a 1st overall draft pick and almost became a Bruin back in that 2010 Draft, as Boston had the 2nd overall pick that year (drafting Tyler Seguin after the Oilers in the process).

The 6-foot-1, 206-pound native of Calgary, Alberta has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 14 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, including 2-4–6 totals in nine games with Arizona most recently in the 2020 postseason.

Buffalo retained 50% of Hall’s salary in the transaction, which means his cap hit with the Bruins is set at $4.000 million and he is a pending-unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Lazar, 26, had 5-4–9 totals and zero penalty minutes in 33 games with the Sabres at the time of the trade and has 25-45–70 totals in 317 career NHL games with the Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames and Sabres since making his league debut in 2014-15, with Ottawa.

The 6-foot, 193-pound center was originally drafted by the Senators in the 1st round (17th overall) in 2013, and set career-highs in goals (6), assists (14) and points (20) in 76 games with the Sens in 2015-16.

Lazar brings stability to Boston’s fourth line with Sean Kuraly able to play center or wing and Chris Wagner likely fighting for a spot down the stretch with Anton Blidh, who’s been a welcome surprise in finding a consistent game since being drafted by the Bruins in the 6th round (180th overall) in 2013.

Though a lower body had him listed as “week-to-week” according to the Sabres at the time of the trade, Lazar may be ready to go with Boston on Tuesday night and make an immediate impact on a young lineup that’s faced numerous injuries of their own this season.

Lazar has no points in seven career Stanley Cup Playoff games, including one game most recently with Calgary in the 2017 postseason and is a native of Salmon Arm, British Columbia.

He’s signed through the 2021-22 season at an $800,000 cap hit.

Bjork, 24, had 2-3–5 totals in 30 games with Boston at the time of the trade and has 16-23–39 totals in 138 career games (all with the Bruins) since making his NHL debut in the 2017-18 season.

The 6-foot, 197-pound native of Mequon, Wisconsin set career-highs in goals (9), assists (10) and points (19) in 58 games with the B’s last season and can provide a much-needed spark in more playing time with the Sabres.

He was originally drafted by Boston in the 5th round (146th overall) in 2014.

His puck possession skills are unmatched among his peers, though his puck luck has been a bit of a detractor at times, especially more so this season than when shoulder injuries kept him out of the lineup in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Bjork has one assist in 10 career Stanley Cup Playoff games (all in 2020) and was a minus-three in that span.

Adams, in the meantime, can utilize the 2021 2nd round pick on a prospect or flip it for something better as he continues to make adjustments to his roster in the offseason with the Seattle Kraken expansion draft in mind.

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Bruins Forecast NHL Nick's Net Projected Stats Tracker

Boston Bruins 2020-21 Forecast Through 20 Games

O.K., so I’m still behind on some things around here.

Whether you’re new to DTFR or a long-time fan(?), you’re able to see the finished products around here and think “wow, that’s neat” and go about your day doing whatever the next thing on your mind happens to be.

You don’t have to wake up everyday to all the shot charts, player and team forecasts, expected points total models, Photoshop files, running list of game notes, podcast notes (yes, that’ll be back soon) and more that’s related to the day-to-day DTFR operations around here or other seemingly useless bits of information that may or may not see the light of day.

But that’s all the fun parts anyway. Hockey is my passion.

The long, grueling, season is counteracted by moments like Nathan MacKinnon underhand tossing Conor Garland’s helmet back to him and being fined $5,000 in the process.

Guess I’m going to have to start tracking how often that happens now.

In addition to everything mentioned above, you might not know that I’m constantly applying to jobs, so sometimes little things like this forecast write up gets put on the back burner until there’s a minute or two between games, guest appearances on other podcasts and more job applications.

Not trying to use anything as an excuse here, but please forgive me for being *checks notes* 15 games behind on the latest forecast, which will be irrelevant in another five games anyway, because it’ll be time to update Boston’s forecast through 40 games this season.

I do this all by hand in Microsoft Excel, so you know I’m not a real mathematician or statistician.

If you ask me to code something, I’ll ask you “what ‘R‘ you talking about? Get it? Did you see the pun I made there? Words, am I right?”

15 games ago, I updated each individual Bruins player’s forecast after writing my recap about Zdeno Chara’s first game back in Boston as a member of the Washington Capitals then eventually got around to updating the corresponding chart that you’ll see below.

Then I had to do that for whatever other teams I’ve been able to keep track of on time and I promise I’ll be writing about those forecasts… …eventually.

Oh and apply to more jobs.

Anyway, you probably don’t care about the life behind the screen, so let’s get to Boston’s forecast through 20 games, shall we?

As always, remember that my degree is in communication and my minor was in sport management. I got a “C” in my Intro to Stats class back in my first semester of college, which was eight years ago this fall.

Between then and now, I’ve worked in live sports production (TV and radio) and been unemployed, which explains why I’m constantly applying to jobs.

First year players are impossible to predict until they’ve built up some time in the National Hockey League. Generally at least a game will suffice, but their numbers might look a little “inflated” (for the lack of a better term) until the season rolls on and their expectations fall back to Earth.

In other words, Zach Senyshyn is now forecasted for 18 assists in this latest forecast, but that shouldn’t surprise you since he only had two assists in six career NHL games over the last two seasons.

That will change in the 40-game update, since he’s played in at least seven more games between the time this report was originally intended to be done and the next one.

Remember that forecast is different from pace.

Finally, remember that there’s a lot of variables, like injuries, being a healthy scratch or on the taxi squad, other American Hockey League related or waiver related transactions, trades, sickness, COVID protocol, general superstitions, hot and cold streaks, etc. that can (whether scientifically proven or not) disrupt a player’s season.

None of these can be accounted for in Microsoft Excel’s forecast function.

In a perfect world, everyone plays a full season. Every player has a chance to live up to expectations, hit and/or exceed their mark or miss it by a little/a lot.

Hockey is a game made up of collective actions and sheer puck luck. It’s unpredictable, which technically defeats the purpose of this (so if you’ve made it this far, give yourself a pat on the back).


Boston Bruins Forecast Through 20 Games (36 Games Remaining)

David Pastrnak came back from offseason surgery and looked like he hadn’t missed a step, since his scoring prowess left an immediate impact on the team and kept him forecasted as the team’s leader in goals by season’s end with 26, though Boston’s forecasted points leader has now shifted from Pastrnak to Brad Marchand.

Marchand’s forecasted 23-31–54 totals lead Pastrnak’s 26-26–52 totals, while B’s captain, Patrice Bergeron is on track to round out the top-3 in scoring with 20-30–50 forecasted totals– good enough for the second-most assists on the roster, one behind Marchand’s 31 and three ahead of David Krejci’s forecasted 27 assists.

It’ll be fun to see just how much things have changed in the next forecast, since Krejci’s gone off in the assist department lately and Marchand missed a couple of games due to COVID protocol, but let’s save that speculation (or hindsight) for the 40-game report, O.K.?

On defense, Charlie McAvoy continues to lead the way with 7-29–36 forecasted totals, while Matt Grzelcyk (13 points) and Jakub Zboril (12 points) are the only other defenders expected to reach double-digit points totals.

That’s quite an area of concern for the Bruins.

Not so much in the “oh no, who might get taken by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 Expansion Draft” sense, but rather, the general “oh no, this team is not as good as they were last year, but we expected that, so they still need to acquire a defender and more at the trade deadline this year” sense (especially if one of the younger blue liners like Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon or Urho Vaakanainen aren’t developing as fast or as well as Boston desires).

Nevertheless, what might be more pressing than ever before is the question of what comes next after Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak?

Rask (2.27-2.37 forecasted goals-against average, .914-.921 forecasted save percentage) is expected to have decent numbers this season if he can make a return to full health, while Halak (2.45-2.48 forecasted GAA, .910-.916 forecasted SV%) looks solid for a backup.

Yet, at the time of this writing, both goaltenders are out of Boston’s lineup– Rask due to injury and Halak due to COVID protocol.

Stay tuned for first impressions on Dan Vladar and Jeremy Swayman in the next forecast and what that might mean for the offseason’s plans with both Rask and Halak as pending-unrestricted free agents.

For a look at how things might have gone for the Bruins entering the 2020-21 season, feel free to read the original forecast through zero games played.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #214- 2020-21 Season Preview: West Division

Zdeno Chara signed with the Washington Capitals, the AHL announced plans for the 2020-21 season, the NHL divisions are sponsored for 2020-21, what’s going on with the New York Islanders, Pierre-Luc Dubois wants out (maybe) and we preview the West Division for the 2020-21 season.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and/or on Spotify.

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Free Agency NHL

Braden Holtby heads north to Vancouver

Braden Holtby signed a two-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks worth $8.600 million ($4.300 million AAV) on Friday– moving on to the Canucks after the Washington Capitals picked up former New York Rangers goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, as their new backup to Ilya Samsonov.

Holtby’s deal contains two minor interesting details.

One, it has a modified no trade clause in which Holtby can submit a list of up to four teams he won’t accept being traded to if Vancouver decides to move him. And two, it doesn’t contain a no movement clause, which means he’ll likely be available next offseason for the expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken, who will begin play in the 2021-22 season.

Last season Holtby went 25-14-6 in 48 games played (47 starts) and had a 3.11 goals against average, as well as an .897 save percentage to go along with 1,243 saves on 1,385 shots faced and 142 goals against.

For just the second time in his career he failed to record a shutout on the season.

With Thatcher Demko taking on a larger role for the Canucks– including some healthy competition with Holtby for the starting job, Holtby adds experience to the crease and is already willing to work with the young goaltender of the future in Vancouver.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #206- What’s Kapanen, My Dudes?

The DTFR Duo discuss Photoshop, Todd Reirden’s firing, Arizona Coyotes draft violations, the Kasperi Kapanen trade back to Pittsburgh and the Second Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #204- Late For Everything!

Nick and Colby talk about what went wrong for the Toronto Maple Leafs and other teams eliminated in the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier, as well as preview the already in progress 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #203- Hockey Christmas In August

The 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers and Round Robin tournament are almost underway, but this episode has almost nothing to do with that!

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and/or on Spotify.

Categories
Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #202- What Are Your Qualifications?/Let’s Get Kraken

Using Qualifiers to enhance this postseason (it’s a breakdown of the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers and Round Robin action). Plus the Seattle Kraken!

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify.