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Cassidy On Injured Kase: A Return To Bruins Lineup ‘Will Be Gravy’

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It’s beginning to feel like it will be a lost year for Boston Bruins winger Ondrej Kase due to injury. And that begs the question exactly what they’re going to get for a player that came to Boston in a trade package that sent a first round pick going the other way to the Anaheim Ducks last season. Part of the trade cost was unloading the David Backes contract as well, but the 25-year-old Kase was somebody that definitely factored into the Boston Bruins’ plans as a top-6 winger capable of providing even-strength offense.

Instead Kase has played exactly eight regular season games for the Bruins over the last two seasons and compiled exactly five assists in a B’s uniform counting the playoff games in the Toronto bubble last summer. Kase has skated intermittently on his own for weeks now while never feeling well enough to join the team for practice, and there is no timetable for his return from a suspected concussion suffered in a collision with Miles Wood back in January.

Bruce Cassidy was pretty frank with the media during a Tuesday afternoon zoom call saying anything that the Bruins get out of Kase this season would be considered “gravy” given his current situation.

“Will we ever be 100 percent healthy?” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “Only Don Sweeney can answer that whether we need to do something where we may not be [100 percent healthy]. For our performance, I certainly anticipate we’ll have our full group soon.

“Kase has skated, but he’s such an unknown for him that you always have go forward assuming it will be gravy if he’s able to get back in there. It’s been such a long time [that he’s been out] since the second game of the year.”

The Kase situation has led the Bruins to scramble once again at the right wing position on their second line, a constant problem since Jarome Iginla left Boston following the 2013-14 season. It’s developing into a situation where the Bruins may need to go searching for another long-term solution for the second line right wing spot given a situation where Kase feels like he’s become damaged goods for the Black and Gold.

Injuries are something that Bruins GM Don Sweeney admitted could impact their strategy headed into the April 12 trade deadline.

“The health of our group and how well we’re playing will sometimes determine [the trade deadline], as well as the availability of players you might like to add. There are all sorts of variables associated with it, and I can’t tell you whether or not we’re going to make a move in any direction because as I’ve said before, we’d like to. But a little bit of the health for our hockey club may dictate that,” said Sweeney. “We’re facing more compressed schedules through the next 28 games, and it’s going to be against a war of attrition.

“In the playoffs you have a war of attrition, but I think the balance of the schedules is going to represent some of those challenges. Some players are getting an opportunity — we’re testing depth and we’ve played twelve defensemen over the course of 28 games. Obviously, several forwards are getting an opportunity. We’d like to be healthy and fully evaluate, but that might not be possible as well. It is a factor of what we’re trying to do and what we’d like to do.”

The recent trade rumors surrounding Arizona Coyotes right wing Conor Garland may have as much to do with Kase’s health situation as they do a Boston desire to bring the Scituate native into the Black and Gold fold. Of course, there are also opportunities for young guys like Jack Studnicka, Oskar Steen and Zach Senyshyn as well, but to date none of them have seized on those chances created by Kase’s long term absence from the Boston Bruins scene.

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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Rick W Fleming

Get rid of this guy! Kase couldn’t score on my granddaughters squirt division team. Need a secondary scorer Kase isn’t it! Worst choice for a 1st. Round draft pick ever!! Getting Kale is almost as bad as the 2015 draft blunder. I said almost, nothing will ever top that debacle.

Comrie

I agree. The 2015 draft blunder was bad. Here are true first rounders that were still available when the Bruins picked 13, 14 and 15. Barzal 16, Connor 17, Chabot 18, Boeser 23 and Konecny 24. Imagine if the Bruins had three of those players in the lineup. Wouldn’t have lost to the Blues or TBay.

RayBaz

I think it’s unfair to say Senyshyn hasn’t seized the opportunity. He looked good in his brief appearances but unfortunately got injured both times.

Mike S

LOL, I was thinking the same… Senyshen and his 1 game this year, to go along with Steen and his 2…

RayBaz

And it is very unfortunate that Kase has been injured although he seems to not be able to score a dang goal when he is in the line-up. As it stands now, it was a waste of a first but who knew this is how it would turn out.

Nostre Dummass

Sweeney has simply obliterated Krejci’s career with neglect. Krejci, once a first line center, has all but disappeared, flanked by a host of inconsistent wingers, no where near his talent level.

Cassidy has spoken vaguely about moving Pastrnak to Krejci’s line. Only to give up after a shift or two, well before the two can find any chemistry. And every playoff season, opposing clubs stick their best defensive players on the perfection line, and the B’s offense dries up.

The one giant Achilles heel to this team, and neither Sweeney nor Cassidy do anything to fix it. So frustrating.

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