Bruins

Danton Heinen "wanted to be an offensive guy," now Bruins need him to be more of that guy

Danton Heinen "wanted to be an offensive guy," now Bruins need him to be more of that guy

Danton Heinen knows that his numbers dipped from his rookie season to this past year’s sophomore campaign where he posted 11 goals and 34 points in 77 games. Still, the 24-year-old earned a big pay raise with his two-year, $5.6 million contract signed earlier in the week to avoid salary arbitration, so he knows he’ll be sticking around in Boston for the next couple of season.

Heinen will also be looking to regain some of the offensive mojo that he lost from the first half of his first NHL season when he scored 11 goals and 33 points in his first 43 games. Since then Heinen has just 16 goals and 48 points in his last 111 games, and he finished with a very quiet two goals in 24 games during Boston’s Stanley Cup playoff run.

So the young winger knows he’s going to need to start gaining a little ground back offensively headed into his third NHL campaign and regain some of that hungry swagger that he seemed to have coming right out of the game in his rookie campaign. The Bruins will need it after watching Marcus Johansson leave in unrestricted free agency with some pretty big job openings on the right wing side on two of Boston’s top three lines.

Certainly, there are young players that will get cracks at top-6 winger positions headed into next season, but Heinen is a guy that has the potential to clinch one of those gigs if he can find his offensive confidence. The responsible two-way play is definitely there and he’ll play no lower than third line wing on next season’s Bruins team, but the feeling is that there is certainly a higher ceiling for a player that left college hockey after two dominant seasons at the University of Denver.

“I’m going to continue to work on [the little details] because I think if you’re good at the little details good things happen, and you’re put in better spots on the ice. I’m going to continue to work on those details and then when you get chances, grade-A looks or [chances to] be an offensive guy that’s kind of… do your follow up there. That’s the kind of player I see myself being,” said the 6-foot-1, 188-pound Heinen. “Coming into the league, I wanted to be an offensive guy. I wanted to, you know, create more, and I’m going to keep on working at doing that, trying to produce more for the team.

“I think I also need to, you know, kind of get in a mindset where I’m shooting more and am more confident in my shot because, you know, different opportunities I might pass up or whatever. I believe in my shot, and I believe I can score. I think it’s just continuing believing in that and working on it.”

To Heinen’s point, his shots on goal dropped from 135 in his rookie season to 114 shots in the very same 77 games played last season. Some of it is about firing more pucks on the net and seizing the good scoring chances when the puck is on his stick. Some of it is about getting stronger in the battles areas of the ice and simply going there more often than he does right now.

The Bruins have certainly placed the investment in Heinen that they believe he’s going to take the next step offensively after carving out a nice, little third line winger niche for himself over the last couple of seasons. Now it’s up to the 24-year-old nice kid from British Columbia to seize the opportunity he’s been given and unlock some of the hidden parts of his two-way game that never fully emerged in a sophomore season where he was invisible on the ice a little too often.

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Ex-Bruin Ryan Donato re-signs with Minnesota Wild on two-year deal

Ex-Bruin Ryan Donato re-signs with Minnesota Wild on two-year deal

Ex-Bruins forward Ryan Donato will be staying in Minnesota for the foreseeable future.

The 23-year-old, who was traded from the B's to the Wild for Charlie Coyle on Feb. 20, signed a two-year deal worth $3.8 million on Tuesday.

Donato played well after joining the Wild last season, notching 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in 22 games. The Scituate native tallied 18 points (11 goals, seven assists) in 46 total games with Boston over two years.

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Jakub Lauko ready to be 'humble & prepared' for Bruins training camp

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USA TODAY Sports Photo

Jakub Lauko ready to be 'humble & prepared' for Bruins training camp

It wasn’t a slam dunk that 19-year-old Bruins prospect Jakub Lauko was going to play in the QMJHL this past season.

In fact, Lauko admitted he had a lot of reservations when it was first discussed that the best move for the Czech winger would be to come over for North American junior hockey where he could begin to adjust away from the European game.

Lauko wanted to go right to the AHL in Providence after scoring a couple of goals early in his first NHL training camp before suffering an injury in a collision during camp practice with Noel Acciari. Clearly it was the right move for the teenager to head instead to junior hockey for his development, though, and that’s the way things played out for him in a year where he got better as things went along.

It still was tough as Lauko adjusted to a different language and culture over the course of the hockey season, but the top B’s forward prospect had zero regrets when it was all over with this summer.

Lauko didn’t skate at all in Bruins development camp a few weeks ago because his junior season had just wrapped up after Rouyn-Noranda made it all the way to the Memorial Cup, but the Bruins prospect says that his experience in Quebec ended up making him a better player. It also showed him to be a big game player as he led the way with his eight points (two goals, six assists) in the five games it took Rouyn-Noranda to hoist the Memorial Cup.

“I hated it for the first month,” said Lauko, who was playing through a lower body injury toward the end of his team’s postseason run. “But at the end of the season, you just look up and see that you won two trophies. It was the right choice after that. I think I changed a lot as a player. I improved my English, and I think I’m a different player after this season, different person. I’m just happy I made the choice.”

“It was a really big experience for me, through the regular season, playoffs and to the Cup. It was hell of a ride for us and I really enjoyed it. Just happy to have two trophies over my head after.”

He was always pretty good to begin as evidenced by his standout performance at last summer’s development camp, and in last fall’s Bruins rookie training camp as well. The 6-foot-1, 172-pounder has speed, tenacity and goal-scoring ability as evidenced by his 21 goals and 41 points in 43 games for the Huskies during the regular season. Then he poured on six more goals and 13 points in 19 games during the Memorial Cup playoffs and showed off the skill that got him drafted.

Now Lauko heads into his second NHL training camp one year bigger, stronger and more mature in his hockey game. Will he finally get his wish to be in either Boston or Providence this fall where he’s already shown some of the hard-nosed and skilled traits he’ll need to eventually stick at the NHL level?

"I think he came in last year and had a good training camp, he did a real good job of coming over to North America and adjusting a little bit. It was a little bit of a challenge early on. Tough going into Northern Quebec learning English and French at the same time to a degree,” said Bruins Player Development Coordinator Jamie Langenbrunner. “It was tough living-wise for him early on, but his game continued to grow and he played his best hockey at the end of the year. That's what we were hoping for. We will see when September and October comes with him."

Certainly the Bruins could use another top-6 or top-9 winger after they never replaced the departing Marcus Johansson, but it has to be considered a longshot for Lauko with more finished prospect products like Anders Bjork, Peter Cehlarik and Zach Senyshyn in the running for any vacant forward spots.

Whether it’s next season or a couple of years down the road, however, it’s beginning to feel like Lauko is going to be in Boston sooner rather than later. And he will make an impact with his two-way game when he finally does arrive after the Bruins selected him in the third round (77thoverall) in last summer’s NHL Draft.

“It’s hard to say (where I will play this season),” said Lauko, who signed his entry-level deal with the Bruins at the tail end of training camp last fall. “I will go into the year and just try to find a spot in Boston. You never know what’s going to happen. I will just stay positive and whatever happens is going to happen.

"I will just arrive here humble and prepared. I will try to fight for a spot here. If it will not go well, just keep working and try to fight for a spot during the season and next seasons.”

Lauko certainly has the right attitude and he’s got the goods as far as his game goes on the ice. Everybody will just have to wait a few months to see if the 19-year-old has matured enough to the point where he could use those electric skills and tenacity to challenge for a B’s roster spot at a precocious young age.

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