Bruins’ moves at defense on the first day of 2021 Free Agency.
After re-upping Mike Reilly for three years at $3 million per year, the B’s had one thing to do regarding their defense — replace retired Kevan Miller and expansion-draft casualty Jeremy Lauzon with a big, tough, and physical left-shot defenseman.
Instead of getting a big name, Sweeney elected to bring in one of the more unknown guys in this year’s free agency class in Derek Forbort. Ironically, the 29-year-old defenseman signed the same contract, in terms of length and price, as Reilly.
At 6-foot-4 and 219 pounds, Forbort brings size to rather small Boston defensive corps. Forbort is a stay-at-home defensive defenseman that brings you basically nothing offensively. However, with Grzelcyk, Charlie McAvoy, and Reilly in the top-four, the B’s really don’t need another defenseman to bring offense from the blueline.
Over the last few seasons, Forbort has been one of the league’s top shot blockers. With his strength, toughness, and shot-blocking ability, Forbort should help the B’s at both 5-on-5 and on the penalty kill.
Forbort is expected to slot in on the Black and Gold’s third pairing next to Connor Clifton, however, I think there’s a chance he starts off the season playing on the first pairing next to McAvoy if another two-way, shutdown defenseman is brought in via trade.
We saw this past season head coach Bruce Cassidy try to recreate the big stay-at-home defenseman and two-way defenseman dynamic that Zdeno Chara and McAvoy once had with Lauzon and McAvoy. However, with Lauzon struggling a bit and then getting injured he lost his top-pair job to Grzelcyk.
Forbort played some tough minutes on Winnipeg’s second pairing in 2020-21, so I think there’s definitely a possibility that Cassidy experiments with him and McAvoy.
Overall, I like the move as it gives the B’s backend some much-needed size and strength. However, $3 million a year for a defenseman that doesn’t do much of anything else besides block shots is a bit of an overpay.
Other Bruins defense news.
The B’s signed depth defenseman Tyler Lewington to a one-year, two-way deal worth $750,000 at the NHL level.
Additionally, now-former Bruin Jarred Tinordi signed with the Rangers on two-year deal with an AAV of $900,000.