Bruins

Bruce Cassidy happy with Anders Bjork's Bruins season debut

Bruce Cassidy happy with Anders Bjork's Bruins season debut

BOSTON — Anders Bjork earned a promotion to the NHL based on his play in Providence this season, and he may have just also earned himself a longer stint with the Bruins based on a solid first game for the Black and Gold.

The 23-year-old Bjork didn’t break into the scoring column or put together any kind of dominant game in Boston’s 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night, but he also looked like he might be ready for a consistent, productive run in a Bruins uniform this time around. Bjork finished with four shots on net in 13:17 of ice time and was a speedy, aggressive left wing who paired nicely with Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner for his first game of the season.

Certainly B’s head coach Bruce Cassidy liked what he saw and that bodes well for Bjork sticking around in Boston with Karson Kuhlman out for at least the next month with a fractured tibia.

“We’ll see where Bjork fits best. I don’t think he hurt himself at all tonight. With [Karson] Kuhlman out, you lose a bit of that motor, a younger guy that get on pucks, and that’s where Bjorkie was good tonight. That’s what we’re looking for,” said Cassidy. “Can he sustain it, can he be strong on it? He was. He didn’t hurt us defensively, so that’s a good thing and that bodes well for him. We’ll see if we find a spot for him on Saturday. But it’s looking that way.”

One would suspect that Bjork will be moved up to the third-line left wing once Joakim Nordstrom is ready to return the lineup, and Danton Heinen could swing around and possibly play on the right side to make room for his fellow twenty-something winger.

Bjork appeared to regain his scoring touch with three goals and eight points in seven games for the P-Bruins prior to Tuesday night, and the confidence is very clearly there after watching the way he played a 200-foot game against Toronto. Now Bjork simply wants to produce and play consistently good hockey while he’s up with Boston and work toward once again nailing down an NHL roster spot after serving as the Bruins' top forward prospect just a couple of short seasons ago.

“I think overall I was pleased that we got the win, so you can’t be unhappy with that. I can bring a little more of my speed and my confidence when I’m playing up here,” said Bjork. “I definitely think there’s a bit more of my game that I didn’t show tonight, so I’m going to try and do that.

“I need to show consistency both game-to-game and also throughout the course of a game. It’s really important to show that I can compete every night, and that I’m going to be reliable and that I can be trusted. It’s one of my focuses, and my offensive ability is something I was honing down in Providence. I want to contribute in that way up here.”

After a strong training camp and a solid start to his season in AHL, Bjork is now in a position to contribute with the Bruins now that Kuhlman is on the shelf. It’s completely up to him what he’s going to do with it, but it goes without saying that the Bruins need another productive top-9 winger and Bjork could be that guy after getting sidetracked by shoulder injuries for a couple of years.

WATCH: Pastrnak scores incredible between-the-legs goal>>>>

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Bruins' David Pastrnak enjoying MVP-caliber season on NHL's best contract

Bruins' David Pastrnak enjoying MVP-caliber season on NHL's best contract

Don Sweeney has made several shrewd moves as Boston Bruins general manager, and signing David Pastrnak to a six-year, $40 million contract extension in 2017 stands above the rest.

It's become the best contract in the NHL among players who aren't on their rookie deals.

The Bruins exit their bye week Friday with a road game against the Winnipeg Jets, where Pastrnak will try to build on his league-leading goal tally of 37. He also ranks fourth in scoring with 70 points in 51 games. Barring injury, he'll almost certainly become the Bruins' first 50-goal scorer since Cam Neely in 1993-94.

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His advanced stats are stellar, too. The Bruins control puck possession at a high rate with Pastrnak on the ice. They own a plus-123 edge in shot attempts, a plus-63 advantage in shots on goal, a plus-67 lead in scoring chances and a plus-19 tally in goals scored during 5-on-5 play when Pastrnak is on the ice.

In a world where the best young players are getting as much as $9 million, $10 million, $11 million or more per season on their second contracts, Pastrnak is making far less than his counterparts. Pastrnak's contract ranks 74th among all players in salary cap hit at $6.67 million. His cap hit ranks 13th among all right wingers, 15th among players who've scored 20 or more goals and 15th among players with 50-plus points.

Speaking to reporters in November of 2018, Pastrnak had no regrets about the contract he signed.

Here's a look at all the forwards in the top 30 in scoring (as of Wednesday morning) who are 26 years old or younger and not playing on their rookie contracts. You'll notice that only three of the 16 players have a lower cap hit than Pastrnak, including none in the top five.

 

Auston Matthews is a tremendous player for the Toronto Maple Leafs who has scored 30-plus goals in all four of his NHL seasons, but is he really worth more than 1.5 times as much as Pastrnak? No, he certainly isn't. Edmonton Oilers star Leon Draisaitl is ultra-talented, but he plays two-thirds of his 5-on-5 minutes alongside Connor McDavid (the best player in the world). Draisaitl's cap hit is almost $2 million more than Pastrnak's. Mitch Marner is a damn good player who tallied a career-high 94 points last season, but he's not $4 million better than Pastrnak.

Pastrnak did not dominate in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, but to be fair, few of Boston's best players showed up in the last four games (of which the St. Louis Blues won three times, including a Game 7 victory in Boston). The star winger also didn't appear to be 100 percent after battling a thumb injury earlier that season. His overall playoff résumé is quite impressive with 43 points (17 goals, 26 assists) in 42 postseason games.

There's no doubt Pastrnak's contract has been a huge advantage to the Bruins, but it's not even the best story when it comes to the team's salary structure. Boston's top trio of Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, also known as the "Perfection Line", is signed through 2021-22 at a combined cap hit of $19.6 million (!), which is absurdly good value and should help the team remain a top Stanley Cup contender in the short term.

(Salary information via CapFriendly)

Haggerty: Bjork a pleasant surprise in B's first half

NHL rumors: Bruins reportedly interested in Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon

NHL rumors: Bruins reportedly interested in Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon

As the Bruins look to bolster their blue line, they are interested in trading for San Jose Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon, according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun. Dillon is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and LeBrun notes that he's "going to be dealt" by the Sharks.

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Here's what LeBrun said about a possible Dillon-to-Boston deal:

He’s a No. 4 for some teams, a No. 5 for others. I can tell you half a dozen teams so far have shown interest – including, I’m told, the Boston Bruins. Obviously a rugged defensive-defenceman in Brenden Dillon would be a nice fit there in Boston.

Dillon, 29, has one goal and 11 assists playing on the Sharks' top defensive pairing alongside Brent Burns. He carries a $3,270,000 cap hit, but will become a UFA after the season.

The Bruins have struggled to find their physical game throughout the season. Our Bruins insider Joe Haggerty notes that Dillon would add exactly what Boston needs -- "physicality and snarl" to the blue line.

San Jose, sixth in the Pacific Division with 48 points, has a plus-38 advantage in shot attempts, a plus-15 in shots on goal and a plus-16 in scoring chances in 5-on-5 play when Dillon is on the ice, according to Haggerty. At that rate, Dillon could be worth pursuing if he came at the right price for Bruins general manager Don Sweeney.

Haggerty says that if Dillon can be had for strictly draft picks, then he's worth snagging. LeBrun noted that Dillon could be had for a second-round pick and possibly a prospect, likely an ideal price range for Sweeney.

While Boston could add defense, they'll also need to address their second-line right-wing situation. Adding Dillon and a legit winger for David Krejci's line could be a tall order for Sweeney ahead of the Feb. 24 trade deadline.