Going into the 2013-14 NHL season the Boston Bruins will have roughly 3-4 jobs available on their blue-line and there will be a handful of youngsters competing for those coveted spots.
What we do know is that grizzled veterans Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk and Adam McQuaid are all penciled in to be in the Bruins top-6, that leaves two starting positions up for grabs.
So lets take a look at some of the young guns who will be vying for a spot on the big club:
Dougie Hamilton – It wasn’t a bad rookie campaign for the former top-10 pick, however it wasn’t overly impressive either. In 42 regular season games Hamilton had 5 goals and 11 assists, like I said, not bad but not overly impressive either. In the playoffs, Dougie played in 7 games and had no goals to go with 3 assists (he eventually became a healthy scratch). Hamilton showed flashes of what he can/will be and just needs more time at the NHL level to develop. I expect him to be in the top-6 when the season starts but if he fades like he did last year he could easily end up back in the press-box.
Torey Krug – I don’t think a Bruin player made a bigger splash last year than Krug who spent most of the year in Providence. While playing in 63 games for the Baby-B’s, Krug scored 13 goals to go with 32 assists. Pretty solid numbers for an undersized defenseman, but what Krug lacks in size he more than makes up for with heart, skill, speed and strength. He burst onto the NHL playoff scene last year and scored 4 goals in his first 5 games. He slowed after that and but played well in all 3-zones throughout the playoffs and showed what he can do when given a chance. He will compete all year for a top-6 spot if he doesn’t earn one out of camp.
Matt Bartkowski – Bartkowski is a solid two-way defenseman, while he won’t contribute too much offensively he isn’t a liability anywhere on the ice. He is a good skater who makes a quick first pass and he throws his weight around willingly and often. He was playing well for the Bruins in the playoffs but ultimately lost his spot when Ference returned and Krug was just on such a roll he couldn’t be benched. Bartkowski was almost lost in the failed Iginla deal but show all of us in the playoffs that turned out to be a blessing in disguise and the Bruins ended up signing Iggy anyway. Bartkowski also has a shot to make the big club out of camp and probably deserves it, however he could once again be a victim of the Bruins solid depth.
Joe Morrow – Acquired by the Bruins in the Seguin-Eriksson deal, Morrow could be the dark horse and end up stealing a spot from one of the above mentioned players. Here’s what HockeysFuture.com had to say about him, “A mobile and aggressive two-way defenseman who can play in all situations, Joe Morrow has seen his stock rise meteorically since his draft year in 2010-11. Playing with poise and maturity far beyond his years, Morrow possesses the ability to retrieve the puck from his own zone and start the play up ice. His puck-distribution ability is top notch and he has a hard and heavy shot that typically hits the net. He also owns a high hockey IQ and does an excellent job of keeping his head up when moving the puck up ice and carrying it along the blue line.” Sounds good to me.
Longshots – David Warsofsky, Kevan Miller and Chris Casto.