With the Sochi Games wrapped up, the NHL returned to action with a bit of a surprise. The Buffalo Sabres managed to squeak out wins against the playoff-contending Carolina Hurricanes, and Atlantic-leading Boston Bruins. Both Carolina and Boston headed into the break on rolls; Boston 7-1-1 in their previous 9 games before the Winter Games. The Bruins’ troubles defensively seem to have overshadowed Wednesday night’s overtime upset by the Sabres, who currently reside in the ‘dungeon’ of the NHL Standings. From Chara’s lackluster final shift which cost the Bruins the game to Matt Bartkowski’s fishing for the puck on the Sabres’ final goal, the Bruins defensive struggles were apparent Wednesday.
For months now, the speculation about the Bruins’ trade talks has been high; ever since Dennis Seidenberg’s devastating season-ending injury back on December 27th. Without Seidenberg, the Bruins’ chances at making a cup run appear very slim; especially with young Matt Bartkowski as their fourth defenseman. Boston’s dire need of a defenseman seems obvious, but the problem remains that there is a limited number of defensemen who fit the Bruins profile that can be acquired for a reasonable price; a price that does not include a first-rounder. The select few veteran rentals the Bruins would be interested in all come from contenders like Dan Girardi with the Rangers, Chris Phillips with Ottawa, and even Mark Stuart with Winnipeg who currently sit two points out of the eighth seed in the West. Andrew MacDonald of the Islanders is on the block, but worries about whether he could fit into a top-4 defenseman profile still remain. The Islanders are also seeking a 1st round pick in exchange for MacDonald who currently leads New York in time on ice per game. The asking price for most of the Bruins’ targets may just be too high.
While I’m certainly not going to replace [Dennis] Seidenberg, he’s too good and those players aren’t available, you’d like to think that there is a player with a little bit of Seids’ [Dennis Seidenberg] defending that we could find, and [that could] help us.
Peter Chiarelli, GM Boston Bruins
The Bruins will not be able to compete at a playoff level without an addition to their generally inexperienced backend. Boston must look deeper into the league to find someone who can improve their team at the right price. CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty brought up the idea of Mark Giordano; the long-time Calgary Flame. While Giordano may not be the ideal trade target, Boston must consider looking at the Flames’ top defenseman.
Mark Giordano is a strong two-way defenseman, but is known more for his abilities with the puck than without it. Giordano is not a “big” blueliner; however, his 6′ frame makes him an acceptable sized player. His tenacious style of play is an asset on the ice, and he would be an addition to the power play. Mark Giordano could be that fourth defenseman the Bruins are looking for to replace the struggling Bartkowski. He may not be one of the Dan Girardi’s of the trade market, but Giordano’s game may be worth the hefty price of a few valued prospects. Plus, Giordano is under contract through the 2016 season, which makes him more than just a rental. Mark Giordano could be a nice addition to improve the Bruins blue line.
Boston’s past interests in acquiring a veteran depth defenseman at the Trade Deadline could also be a focus of the Bruins front office. LA Kings’ defenseman Willie Mithchell and Buffalo blueliner Henrik Tallinder are also options if the Bruins choose to focus on depth more than impact players. Both Mitchell and Tallinder are currently being shopped by their organizations.
For the Bruins, the goal at the deadline is simply to improve, in whichever way possible, their defense. Boston will no doubt be buyers on March 4th, and look for an unexpected move to come from GM Peter Chiarelli. The Bruins have the frameworks to make another appearance in the Stanley Cup final, but will need the deadline to tie up some loose ends before playoff time.
Tyler Jones, Causeway Crowd