2015 NHL Draft - Round One
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Bruins’ top picks fail conditioning test


A summer rife with not-so-good headlines continued for Boston Bruins fans, as the team’s trio of 2015 first-round picks seem to be limping out of the gate.

All three of those top picks – Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk and Zach Sensyshyn – failed the team’s conditioning test on Thursday, according to CSNNE.com.

Here’s a quick description of the drill, which could be filed under “reasons fans shouldn’t always envy professional athletes.”

The test consists of a series of six back-and-forth 300 meter sprints with three minutes of rest in between each run, and all of them must be completed in under one minute’s time.

There are some caveats, as GM Don Sweeney told CSNNE.com that they were running on a “wet, slippery turf surface.”

On the other hand, it’s worth noting that the trio fell short of the mark with that same test back in July.

DeBrusk was the closest one to pass the drill, and he seems confident that he’ll do better next time.

For naysayers, this is another bullet in the chamber after some labelled one or more of those picks as “reaches.”

More sober observers will probably laugh the whole thing off.

Let’s not forget that:

  • People freaked out about Calgary Flames prospect Sam Bennett being unable to do pull-ups, and he’s looking like a gem. (He’s also able to do pull-ups now.)
  • The Bruins’ training staff once worried that Milan Lucic was too much of a “string bean” to make it in the NHL. Yes, that Milan Lucic.
  • These players are very young and the Bruins probably want to bring them along gradually rather than throwing them right into the fire.

Hockey fans will look back at this off-season as turning point for the Bruins, but few will remember anyone’s sprint times.

At least we got some jokes out of it.

Report: Bruins extend tryout offer to Gustavsson

Jonas Gustavsson

The Boston Red Sox have “The Green Monster” and now the Boston Bruins might add a Swedish “Monster” as a backup goalie.

The Bruins extended a professional tryout contract offer to Jonas Gustavsson, HNIC’s Elliotte Friedman reports.

Some greeted the announcement with sardonic responses while others wondered if the offer is an indictment of the Bruins’ pipeline beyond Tuukka Rask.

Really, though, it’s a pretty low-risk move by the Bruins.

Gustavsson, 30, is far removed from the hype he brought to Toronto back in 2009-10, and it’s true that his overall stats are lacking (no one’s too excited about a netminder with a career save percentage of .901).

If you want to stretch the boundaries of optimism a bit, you could point to Gustavsson’s sneaky-solid work in just seven appearances last season: his even-strength save percentage was .939. Many believe that’s a more honest indicator of a netminder’s effectiveness, so perhaps he could revamp his career in Boston, at least as a backup?

It probably won’t hurt the Bruins to find out what he can offer.

In other Bruins news, Lee Stempniak and Daniel Paille were involved in an informal practice with Bruins players, according to CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty.

The Bruins are fighting the tax man over expensed meals

Jeremy Jacobs

The Boston Bruins are in a battle with the Internal Revenue Service in U.S. Tax Court, with the hockey team arguing that player meals on the road should be 100 percent tax deductible.

From the Boston Globe:

The IRS limits deductions for meal expenses to 50 percent in most cases.

The Bruins contend the 50 percent cap — contained in a section of the tax code for “entertainment, amusement, or recreation” — should not apply because fueling world-class athletes for competition is a fundamental part of their business.

“In short, the pregame mandatory meals and the meetings at away city hotels allow the club and the players to prepare for the upcoming game — both physically and mentally,” the petition by the Bruins owner said. “In this regard, the pregame meals and the meetings serve as a necessary component of the Bruins’ hockey operations.”

We’re no tax experts here at PHT, but we’d tend to agree with the team’s assertion that fueling Zdeno Chara is a “necessary component of the Bruins’ hockey operations.” Even more so next season!

Bloomberg BNA was the first to report on this story.

Boston Bruins ’15-16 Outlook

Tuukka Rask, Patrice Bergeron

Considering the significant changes that took place this summer, you’d think that the Boston Bruins fell from contender to cellar-dweller.

In truth, they didn’t miss the 2014-15 postseason by much, falling two points behind eighth-place Pittsburgh. Losing Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic won’t help matters, yet it’s not outrageous to imagine them back in the playoffs next season.

They do still employ Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron, after all.

Now, it’s reasonable to wonder if they’re still a Cup contender, but what are their chances of making the playoffs?

Let’s ponder that in a slightly different way: by looking at how they compare to the rest of the Eastern Conference.

Division opponents

Lightning – Tampa Bay made a huge leap last season, but they didn’t lose any significant players and are buoyed by young talent. They’re likely out of Boston’s league right now.

Canadiens – Some question Montreal’s possession merits, yet the Habs’ results have been satisfactory so far.

Senators – A clash of fading veterans in Boston and up-and-comers in Ottawa made for an exciting stretch run in 2014-15. Expect a sequel.

Red Wings – A franchise experiencing comparably large front office changes, although Detroit made some key additions instead of subtractions this summer. These two veteran-heavy teams may just battle it out in the bubble.

Panthers – The Bruins must watch out for a team brimming with young talent and familiar faces from the past in Jaromir Jagr and Roberto Luongo.

Sabres – Much improved, yet it’s an open question regarding how far Buffalo must go to merely be respectable again.

Maple Leafs – Lottery fodder, you’d think

Metro considerations

Capitals and Islanders – Two teams that may only climb further out of Boston’s reach in the race for playoff spots.

Rangers – Could this team be a little vulnerable? Martin St. Louis’ retirement and Carl Hagelin’s trade lowers the skill level a bit, while a regime change is in order with Jeff Gorton taking over GM duties for Glen Sather. One would think that the defending Presidents’ Trophy winners hold an edge over Boston, perception-wise.

Penguins – Pittsburgh was right there with Boston as far as almost missing a playoff spot goes. The Pens’ outlook sure looks different with former Bruin draftee Phil Kessel in the mix, though, right? If it does come down to these two teams, just imagine Kessel being the deciding factor.

Blue Jackets – A dangerous team that almost seems like it’s being built in the bruising, Bruins’ mold.

FlyersDevils and Hurricanes – You’d think these teams will struggle in 2015-16, but at the same time, it’s dangerous to write these franchises off entirely. Still, you’d think that the Bruins would pass them by.


Looking at the East teams, do you think the Bruins might make the playoffs? Could they even threaten to win the Atlantic or, conversely, fall into the lottery? It’s an interesting outlook when you try to ponder Boston’s place compared in this mix.

Bruins’ biggest question: Is the blue line good enough?

Boston Bruins v Carolina Hurricanes

It was no coincidence that the Bruins missed the playoffs after trading Johnny Boychuk to the Islanders in October.

Boychuk’s departure left a big hole in Boston’s top four, one that became even more pronounced when Zdeno Chara was injured a short time later.

Now consider that young Dougie Hamilton is gone from the B’s, too. Last season, Hamilton led all Boston d-men with 42 points in 72 games, while logging an average of 21:20 per game.

Minus Boychuk and Hamilton, the Bruins have been left with Chara, who’s 38, Dennis Seidenberg, who’s 34, plus Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Matt Irwin, Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow, and Colin Miller.

Of those nine defensemen, only two — Chara and Seidenberg, neither young anymore — have ever averaged more than 20 minutes per game in a full NHL season.

Hence, the ongoing speculation that GM Don Sweeney will sign a veteran free agent, someone like Cody Franson, Christian Ehrhoff, or Marek Zidlicky. (The B’s were believed to be in talks with Mike Green, before he signed with Detroit.)

But regardless if that happens or not, expect the Bruins to make some tweaks to their system.

“At times, we probably got a little bit too stationary on our breakouts,” Sweeney said, per the Boston Globe. “We need to be in motion a little bit.”

Of course, for any system to be successful, it needs the right horses. And as it stands today, the Bruins’ stable of defensemen is more questionable than it’s been in quite some time.

Related: Vote on whether the Bruins’ Stanley Cup window has closed