Boston Bruins 2020-21 Depth Chart: Defense

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 04: Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins skates with the puck during a game against the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden on February 4, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 04: Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins skates with the puck during a game against the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden on February 4, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

The Boston Bruins will have a different look on defense in 2021.

When the Boston Bruins were eliminated from the Toronto playoff bubble, everyone knew that there were going to be changes on their defense. Those changes became reality when Torey Krug left in free agency to join the St. Louis Blues and Zdeno Chara on Dec. 30 announced that he was joining the Washington Capitals on a one-year free-agent contract.

With the Bruins going younger on defense, they still have some veterans mixed in, but there is no question that there are going to be growing pains in the upcoming 56-game season. With that said, let’s take a look at the Bruins depth chart on defense for this season.

Charlie McAvoy

As McAvoy begins his fourth season with the Bruins, he will be looked upon as the new leader on the blue line. Last season in 67 games, the 14th pick in the first round of the 2016 Entry Draft set a career-high with 27 assists, along with equaling his career-high in points with 32. He averaged 23:10 a night and played a career-high 1,552 minutes. His average time-on-ice should increase this season and look for him to be one of the replacements for Krug on the top power play unit.

Matt Grzelcyk

Grzelcyk avoided arbitration in October when he agreed to a four-year, $14.75 million contract to return. Last season, he had career-highs in goals (four) and assists (17). He averaged 18:04 a night and that number should increase in a big way this season. Along with McAvoy, Grzelcyk will look to fill the defensemen void on the Bruins power play. In his first three seasons, the former Boston University blueliner has 13 power play assists.

Brandon Carlo

By far the most physical defensemen of the group at 6-foot-5 and 212 pounds, he will look to take over the role left by Chara as the defensemen whose long reach will frustrate opponents. Entering his fifth season at 24 years old, Carlo has missed just 20 regular-season games, despite playing a physical game. More will be expected from him this season.

Jeremy Lauzon

After McAvoy, Lauzon is the second left-handed shot, which would most likely pair him with Carlo should coach Bruce Cassidy decided to go that route. In 35 regular-season games over the past two seasons, Lauzon has not provided much offense, but at 6-foot-1 and 204 pounds, he’s not afraid to muck it up anywhere on the ice. A bigger role could be put on his plate this season and we will see if the 23-year-old is up to the challenge.

Connor Clifton

Clifton had his moments in the eight playoffs games in Toronto over the summer that he dressed for. He had a goal and an assist in the Bruins’ 4-3 Game 4 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes last August. When healthy, he’s not a bad option on a middle or bottom defensive pairing and the 25-year-old is in the second year of a three-year $3 million contract signed prior to the 2019-20 season. One would think this is a big year for him.

John Moore

When the Bruins signed Moore to a five-year, $13.75 million contract in July of 2018, they were hoping to have got a lot more out of him than what they have got so far. Plagued by injuries, he has played in just 85 games in his first two seasons in Boston. At 30 years old and with three more years remaining on his deal, if Don Sweeney could move him in a trade, then I think he would, but finding a team to take on his contract with his injury history won’t be easy.

Kevan Miller

Speaking of injuries, it was a surprise to see Sweeney re-sign Miller in October to a one-year, $2 million contract. His contract is loaded with incentive bonuses this season, so if he is good to go, he’ll most likely make the team. He has not played in a game since fracturing his kneecap in the playoffs in April of 2019. At 33 years old and with 324 games under his belt, he would be the veteran of the defense this season.

Urho Vaakanainen

Don’t be surprised to see the 18th overall pick in the 2017 Entry Draft make a serious run at a roster spot in camp. In five short stints because of injuries over the last two seasons, the 21-year-old did not look out of place. A good puck mover, he will most likely battle Miller and Providence teammate Jakub Zboril as the third left-handed shot defensemen.

Jakub Zboril

Speaking of Zboril, the first draft pick by Sweeney as GM in 2015 was taken 13th overall. The 23-year-old has seen a big improvement in his game and he is not afraid to join the offensive rush. He was playing his best hockey with Providence last season when the season was stopped in March. He had three goals and 16 assists but had an impressive plus-20. He certainly will have a say in camp as to who makes the last roster spot.

Next. Providence Bruins Opt Into 2021 AHL Season. dark

There are a lot of questions surrounding the defense going into the season. There is also the Seattle Kracken expansion draft coming up this summer and it’s more than likely that some of the names mentioned above could be lost there. It’s safe to say that 2021 will be a big year on the Bruins blue line.