The Boston Bruins have some work to do this offseason as for a second straight season, they were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs earlier than anticipated. A big reason for this was their inability to be difficult to play against. In other words, they need to get bigger, stronger, and tougher players to fill in their bottom-six forward group and third defensive pairing.
With the retirement of defenseman Kevan Miller and the loss of defenseman Jeremy Lauzon to the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft, the B’s now have even more pressure not them to add a physical blueliner to the mix this offseason.
The Black and Gold are currently in talks with trade deadline addition Mike Reilly on an extension, but he’s more of an offensive-minded and puck-moving defenseman than a shutdown and physical one. Boston is also interested in veterans Keith Yandle and Ryan Suter. But like Reilly, they are both more offensive and puck-moving than physical and shutdown.
One defenseman that fit the physical and shutdown mold that the B’s could’ve had this offseason was Alec Martinez. However, it’s being reported by Frank Seravalli that Martinez will not be hitting free agency this offseason as he is nearly a three-year extension with an average annual value (AAV) of around $5 million with the Vegas Golden Knights.
Alec Martinez would’ve been the perfect signing for the Bruins’ defense.
If Boston would’ve been able to add Martinez this offseason it would’ve been perfect. The addition of Martinez would’ve left the B’s with a legitimate shutdown second pairing with him and Brandon Carlo. However, this is now just a dream.
Even if Martinez did hit free agency, there was no guarantee that B’s general manager Don Sweeney would’ve paid the 34-year-old blueliner. Especially considering Martinez probably could’ve gotten around $6 million on the open market. We all know Sweeney is very reluctant in paying market value.
Martinez isn’t as physical as he once was, but he still plays a great shutdown style of defense. He’s good for over 100 block shots a season and just had the best offensive season of his career, scoring nine goals and 23 assists for 32 points in just 53 games.
With Martinez no longer an option, the focus once again shifts to Reilly, Suter, and Yandle. Personally, I know I want Reilly back. But, I would prefer him on the third pair. Suter I’m indifferent towards. He’s not what he used to be, but could prove to be a nice partner for Carlo.
Yandle, however, I know I don’t want. He’s a great powerplay quarterback but is almost worthless at 5-on-5 hockey. And with John Moore still not the team making almost $3 million, Boston doesn’t need another offensive defenseman that can’t play defense.
Overall, the B’s priority should be to re-sign Reilly to play not he third pair. Then go out and get a physical, shutdown defenseman to pair with Carlo on the second pair.