In this edition of Boston Bruins News & Rumors, Linus Ullmark made it clear he isn’t concerned over the status of Tuukka Rask. In other news, Charlie Coyle began training camp in a non-contact jersey after having a pair of knee surgeries this offseason. Meanwhile, Jake DeBrusk, who was involved in many trade rumors this offseason after two straight disappointing seasons, is heading into 2021-22 with a clean slate in preparation for a bounce back campaign. Last but not least, general manager Don Sweeney was able to sign forward Zachary Senyshyn to a one-year contract extension.
Ullmark Not Focused on Rask’s Status
When the Bruins chose to sign former Buffalo Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark to a four-year, $20 million deal this offseason, it appeared that they were set to move on from Tuukka Rask. However, that may not be the case, as Sweeney has not ruled out a return for the longtime B’s netminder, who is currently recovering from a torn labrum. Despite rumors of a midseason return however, Ullmark is not spending his time wondering how the situation may play out.
“I stay in the present, stay in the moment,” Ullmark said when asked about the possibility of Rask returning. “That’s something for the future. That’s nothing I can focus on right now.”
Expectations will be high for Ullmark as the team’s new starting goalie. He has big shoes to fill, given that Rask was considered one of the games best during his 12 seasons with the team. The 28-year-old Ullmark could be in for a big season with the Bruins, given that he has been forced to play behind a very weak Sabres roster through the first 117 games of his career. Despite his team’s struggles last season, he was still able to record a solid 2.63 goals against average along with a .917 save percentage.
Coyle Still Recovering
Much has been made this offseason regarding the departure of David Krejci, as well as who fill replace him as the teams second line center. Most signs point to his replacement being Coyle, who is set to play in his fourth season with the Bruins. However, his opportunity to secure the role won’t happen just yet, as the 29-year-old began camp in a non-contact jersey.
This doesn’t come as a complete surprise, given that Coyle had two surgeries on his left knee this offseason. From the sound of things, he should be ready to go by the time the 2021-22 season gets underway. Though he seems to be the frontrunner to land the number two center spot, he struggled last season with just 16 points in 51 games, and is by no means a lock. If Jack Studnicka has a great camp, it is possible that role could go to him instead. It will be an interesting situation to watch as the season closes in.
DeBrusk Starting from Scratch
It is no secret that the past two seasons have been a struggle for DeBrusk. The 24-year-old, who was taken 14th overall in 2015, has struggled to be the player he was during his first two seasons in the league. In fact, the 2020-21 season was his worst to date, as he recorded just five goals and 14 points in 41 games. On Saturday, he told media he’s trying to erase his struggles from his memory.
“I pretty much forgot my whole career,” said DeBrusk. “I’m clean-slating it. I think it’s a pivotal point in my career as well, so just trying to do the little things every day, take it day by day, and not look too far in advance or at anything in the past.”
He is not alone in hoping he can get past his struggles and be a major part of this Bruins team in 2021-22. Head coach Bruce Cassidy, who healthy scratched DeBrusk on multiple occasions last season, said he spoke with the forward this summer to try and get things figured out.
“We had a good talk about some of the things that didn’t allow him to be at the top of his game away from the rink,” Cassidy explained. “The COVID protocols affect people differently, what they can and can’t do. I think Jake was one of those guys, being by himself, it was a little tougher on him. We discussed some of those things and how we can help as a staff and how it was probably on both of us to reach out a little more.
“I think in today’s game, with today’s athlete, there has to be a little more of that. I think we both held ourselves accountable in that regard – open the lines of communication better and that may bleed into the on-ice performance and that will take care of itself.”
There is no denying what DeBrusk can bring when he is on top of his game. In 2018-19, just his second season in the league, he recorded 27 goals and 42 points in just 68 games. If he is able to get back to being that player, that would be huge news for this Bruins squad who is set to contend for a Stanley Cup once again.
Senyshyn Signs Extension
Last Monday, the Bruins announced that they signed Senyshyn to a one-year, two-way extension. The 24-year-old forward played in eight games with the Bruins last season, but failed to hit the scoresheet. However, he also played in 18 American Hockey League (AHL) games with the Providence Bruins and was much better, scoring seven goals and 13 points.
Senyshyn, who was taken one pick behind DeBrusk at 15th overall in 2015, has failed to turn into an every day NHLer to this point in his career. He has played in a total of just 14 NHL games, scoring a single goal and adding two helpers. Up until this past season, he hadn’t provided much offence at the AHL either, so hopefully his 2020-21 production was a sign of things to come. This is likely his last shot at earning a full time NHL spot, at least with the Bruins.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Oil On Whyte, NHLtradetalk.com, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.