BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 16: Daniel Winnik #34 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the first period against the Washington Capitals at TD Garden on September 16, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Daniel Winnik‘s Chance for a Roster Spot Could Help the Bruins Going Forward. The experienced and versatile veteran could fill voids at wing or center on the third and fourth lines. Adding depth up front with Winnik will help keep the B’s in contention in the even stronger Atlantic Division.

Winnik’s Chance to Claim a Job Just Got Better

Let’s Deal

Daniel Winnik has been down the PTO road before. The 6 foot 2 left shot forward was dealt the same hand last season. The end result was a one year contract with the Minnesota Wild. Positives can come from working on a PTO. If the Boston Bruins decide a prospect or two are ready for the big show, Winnik could latch on to another NHL club. Even if there are no takers at the NHL level, it could be an audition for an interested club in another league like the KHL.

At 33 years old, Winnick still has plenty to offer but he knows he has his hands full in Boston. The initial split camp offering was ideal for Winnik. With one squad in China, the B’s coaching staff in Boston got a longer look at what Winnik brings to the table.

Career Guy

The three season UNH product went 265th overall (round nine) in the 2004 NHL entry draft to the Phoenix Coyotes. Winnik’s career started with less than full seasons with the AHL’S San Antonio Rampage and a handful of games with the ECHL’s Phoenix Roadrunners through 2005-07. Winnik’s NHL career took flight in the 2007-08 season with the Coyotes.

With previous stops in Phoenix, Colorado, San Jose, Anaheim, Toronto, Pittsburg, Washington and Minnesota (eight NHL teams), 798 games later, Winnik would love to land a job with team number nine.

Statistically Speaking

In 2007-08 with the Phoenix Coyotes, Winnik buried the puck 11 times and added 15 assists for 26 points in 79 games.  In 2010-11 with the Colorado Avalanche, he registered 11 goals, 15 assists for 26 points in 80 games. Logging roughly 18 minutes of ice time per game, Daniel earned the coaches trust.  In 2013-14 with the Anaheim Ducks, Winnik popped in 6 goals, 24 helpers for 30 points in 76 games.

His best goal total came in 2016-17 with the Washington Capitals. Winnik, as I love to say, “Put the Biscuit in the Basket” 12 times. He supported that with 13 assists for 25 points in 72 games. Click the YouTube link to check out Daniel Winnik’s two goal game as a member of the Capitals https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7vCJ_vRUhw.

In that same season with the Caps, he started 60 percent of his shifts in the defensive zone. Twelve goals for a defensive minded bottom six isn’t too shabby. Although, he is average when we get into statistics like plus/minus. Plus 15 with the Maple Leafs and Capitals was his best season total. Many players’ stats are likely to improve if you play for a loaded squad like the 2016-17 Caps.

Overall, Winnik carries a resume listing 798 NHL contests with 82 goals, 169 assists for 251 total points. Click the YouTube link to watch Daniel Winnik score one of his goals last season as a member of the Minnesota Wild https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7vCJ_vRUhw.

Versatility a Strong Point

Winnik is no sniper, but that is not his job. What you get with Daniel is third line-fourth line experience.  A bottom six that you can count on game in and game out.

Versatility is one of Winnik’s strong points. Experience could be just what the B’s need with the handful of young players already in the line-up. Familiar with Bruins assistant coach, Joe Sacco, from their time spent in Colorado, Winnik can fill a roster spot at center or wing; a big body, who skates with a decent pace. He can handle situational defensive responsibilities or help kill off a PK.  Winnik positions himself well away from the puck. Through the last five seasons, Winnik was at 2:31 per game on the penalty kill. That statistic was fifth best for active forwards in the NHL with a hundred games as the measuring stick. If he winds up at center, he can be hot and cold at the face off dot.

A Coaches View

After Friday’s practice, I spoke with assistant coach Kevin Dean and asked him about Daniel Winnik and what he brings to the table. This is what he had to say. “He has always been in another conference it seems; he’s a really smart player. He has a ton of experience so he will be some glue to whatever line he plays on because of his intelligence, because of his smarts and his experience, so he is good that way.”

I then asked, “With Patrice Bergeron’s nagging back spasms or maybe an injury issue, having Winnik in camp is not a bad insurance policy, correct?” Dean said, “Exactly. You know he is a good penalty killer and he is a good shut down guy, so if you get the lead, he is a guy you can trust.”  I said, “Right, you’ve got that big body that can pop in at left wing or center.” Dean responded, “Yeah and play against big bodies so for that reason I think he is intriguing.”

Final Thoughts

A huge reason to keep Daniel Winnik in town is Bergeron’s delayed start. The “Selke Master” is dealing with the after effects of off season groin surgery. This could be a lingering issue for Bergeron during the course of the season. At Friday’s training camp session, I did not see Bergeron on the ice.

Although it’s always tough to join a new team and learn that coach’s style and systems, Daniel Winnik has proven time and time again, he is up to the task. The forward’s intelligence keeps pushing him to land a spot in an NHL line-up. His biggest battle in Boston is likely the boatload of talented B’s prospects.

Decision Time

Don Sweeney and his staff must decide who stays and who goes. The Bergeron situation, trades, cap space, waiving players and the prospects are just some of what Bruins Management has on their minds. Sweeney and Coach Bruce Cassidy must also decide which forward’s playing style is best suited for the big club. Sweeney does have something valuable in Winnik. A pretty solid insurance policy!

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