Bruins

Anders Bjork to give Bruins a decision after world championships

Anders Bjork to give Bruins a decision after world championships

BOSTON – In a bit of an update on the Anders Bjork situation, the Bruins prospect is expected to notify the NHL club holding his rights about his plans for the upcoming season following his stint for Team USA at the World Championships.

The Notre Dame forward will be on the USA Hockey contingent set to travel over to Europe to compete in the world championships, and there he’ll be teammates with 19-year-old Charlie McAvoy after his successful run with the Black and Gold at the end of the season. Bruins President Cam Neely said the Bruins hope it doesn’t turn into a Jimmy Vesey-type situation if Bjork opts to return to the Fighting Irish for his senior season, and he’s given the club no reason to think that might be the case.

Vesey is among a number of college players in recent years that have spurned the teams that drafted them, and become an NHL free agent after not signing with the team holding their rights a few months after they’d left school.

“We’re doing everything we possibly can. He had a very difficult decision (about turning pro) right after his season was over. I think it was overwhelming for him. He’s at the World Championships now. His camp has told Don that he’s going to make a decision whether or not to return to college hockey or turn pro after the World Championships at some point,” said Neely. “Our hopes are that he sees where we’re at as a team and some of the young players we’re putting in our lineup. We hope that he understands that he’s a player that we think very highly of that can step in and contribute [in the NHL].”

Making matters more complicated is the fact that Bjork, who projects to be a top-6 left wing candidate playing on a line with David Krejci, could return to a Notre Dame team primed for an NCAA title run, and a possible Olympic chance to play for Team USA next winter if the NHL players don’t end up going to South Korea.

Bjork, a former fifth-round pick, has clearly elevated his NHL profile since he was drafted three years ago, and finished with 21 goals and 52 points for the Irish while getting major Hobey Baker consideration as a junior. There’s also the fact Bjork holds particularly strong ties to Notre Dame as a bit of a legacy there: His father Kirt was an All-American hockey player there and his cousin, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Erik Condra, also played for the Irish before jumping into the NHL. 

NHL free agents 2019: Ranking top 25 players available this offseason

NHL free agents 2019: Ranking top 25 players available this offseason

The 2019 NHL Draft is scheduled to begin Friday, and less than two weeks later free agency will open for all 31 teams.

It's going to be a busy and important couple of weeks for franchises looking to make major changes to their rosters with the hope of winning the Stanley Cup in 2020 and beyond.

Let's take a look at the top unrestricted and restricted free agents that could hit the market in July.

Click here for the top 25 free agents of the 2019 NHL offseason>>>

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Bruins plan to address Bruce Cassidy's contract as he enters final year of the deal

Bruins plan to address Bruce Cassidy's contract as he enters final year of the deal

As Bruce Cassidy enters the final year of his contract as head coach of the Boston Bruins, it probably goes without saying that he deserves an extension. 

The good news for B's fans, according to Joe McDonald of The Athletic, Boston is pleased with Cassidy's performance and plans to address his contract. 

'He’s under contract, so we have decisions that we’re going to progress with, and he’ll be part of that,' general manager Don Sweeney said. 'He’s under contract, so it’s not a concern right now, but we will address it.'

After a 107-point 2018-19 campaign, good for the second-best mark in the NHL, Cassidy led the Bruins to the brink of a Stanley Cup only to fall in Game 7 at TD Garden to the St. Louis Blues.

One of the major themes of this year's Bruins team was their resiliency under Cassidy. Boston fought back from a 3-2 deficit in the first round of the playoffs against Toronto and a 2-1 deficit against Columbus to win those series, and then won another Game 6 on the road down 3-2 to the Blues. 

The Bruins have made the playoffs in each of their first three seasons with Cassidy leading the charge, improving their finish in the postseason each year. 

BRUINS UNDER CASSIDY

2016-17: 44-31-7 (95 points), lost in the first round (4-2)
2017-18: 50-20-12 (112 points), lost in the second round (4-1)
2018-19 49-24-9 (107 points), lost in Stanley Cup Final (4-3)

Cassidy is the second-fastest Bruins coach to reach 100 wins as he has cemented himself as one of the best coaches in the league. And team President Cam Neely certainly thinks highly of him. 

'He’s done a very good job for us, obviously,' Neely said. 'Coming in when he did and getting us to the playoffs and then almost having two, back-to-back 50-win seasons — pretty impressive. He learned from our playoff losses and how to maybe coach a little bit differently in the playoffs.'

We'll see if the Bruins extend Cassidy before the 2019-20 season starts, but it definitely seems like they view him as their long term answer on the Black and Gold's bench. 

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