NHL Trade Thoughts: Boston Bruins Don’t Need a Stronger Defense


Jan 20, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) and defenseman Johnny Boychuk (55) during the first period at TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Bruins‘ defensemen have lately been under the microscope with the combined absences of Zdeno Chara, Adam McQuaid, and Dennis Seidenberg. The NHL trade window closes on March 5.

Overall Outlook on B’s Defense, Trade

While Seidenberg is out for the season, Chara sat out for only a couple of games before he departed to Sochi. McQuaid, sidelined for nine games with a leg injury, is expected to return for Bruins after the Olympic break.

So, when the NHL season gets back on track in late February, the Bruins will have two of their missing defensemen available.

Do they need to trade for a defenseman then? Probably not, even though it would be prudent to do so for depth purposes according to Peter Chiarelli. The best defensemen available that would fit the Bruins’ standard are Henrik Tallinder, Dan Girardi, Chris Phillips, and Andrew MacDonald.

"“There’s not much of a market right now,” Chiarelli said. “I like the personality of our team. If we don’t end up doing anything, we don’t end up doing anything. I’m OK. But I’d like to add some depth at some point defensively.”"

Dennis Seidenberg’s season-ending injury definitely hurts the B’s, but they are still a Stanley Cup-worthy team without him. Seidenberg is an excellent two-way defensemen, so it is unlikely that the Bruins would be able to replace him with the accessible players on the trade market. Seidenberg has great awareness on both sides of the ice; he can be up front and physical with opponents, or he can embody a cunning, finesse role. The B’s can feature him as either a left or right defensemen.

You also have to realize that Bruins have Chara. The 6’9” Slovakian is the B’s captain and one of the best defensemen in the league. He can step up on Claude Julien‘s demand and has displayed his ability to fill Seidenberg’s void over the last couple of months. Also, the younger, less seasoned defensemen–Torey Krug, Kevan Miller, Matt Bartkowski, and Dougie Hamilton—have shown that they can carry the workload without veterans’ guidance on the ice. This belief was especially true in the 7-2 rout of the Ottawa Senators in which Miller, Bartkowski and Hamilton took care of the puck better than usual in their own end.

"“He’s (Bartkowski) learning better how to defend,” Chiarelli stated. “He’s getting more minutes. He’s still making mistakes, but the rest of them (young defenders) are, too. I’ve been looking closely at his defending. He can certainly wheel the puck out well and turn the net well, but he’s maturing as a defender.”"

Maturing is the important word from Chiarelli in this quotation. The NHL season is extensive, and amateur players generally improve as the year progresses. When playoff time rolls around, I think that these young defenders  of the Bruins will capable of holding their own. Remember Krug coming out of nowhere in the playoffs last year? He was an emergency call-up from Providence in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. He became one of the Bruins’ best “offensive defensemen” in their quest for Lord Stanley’s prize.

This year, however, all of the B’s defenders are seeing a great deal of regular season action. From a statistical viewpoint, too, the Bruins have the best defense in the league, holding the smallest goals against total (125). It’s obvious a trade isn’t necessary at this point in time. We’ll see how the defense performs during the first couple of games back from the Olympics.