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UFA Defensemen the Bruins Should Target

By on July 10, 2016 at 6:24pm

Since the Bruins failed to address their one glaring need of signing a capable defenseman at the start of free agency, they are left with limited options and signing an unrestricted free agent seems to be the way to go. Don Sweeney and Cam Neely must find a diamond-in-the-rough type of player in the remaining UFA group of defensemen now that big names Keith Yandle (6 years, 44 million with the Panthers), Alex Goligoski (5 years, 27 million with the Coyotes), and Jason Demers (5 years, 22.5 million with the Panthers) have already inked large deals. The B’s must bring in another blue-liner if they want any shot at a playoff spot this upcoming season so with that said, here are a few available defensemen that could fill the void on the backend and be relatively cheap options at the same time.

James Wisniewski: The 31 year old had a rough season last year after he blew out his knee just minutes into the first game, causing him to miss the remainder of the year with the Hurricanes.  Wisniewski has been injury-prone during his career but he might be the best all-around defenseman still on the open market. He’s a bit of a journeyman in his 10 year NHL career suiting up for eight different teams, yet he’s still put up decent numbers in that time. His best year came with the Blue Jackets in ’13-’14 when he recorded 51 points for Columbus. Wisniewski’s injury problems and lack of production might keep him off other teams radars for now, however look for him to be a prime candidate for a professional try-out (PTO) this fall. Given what the Bruins currently have and the likelihood that they can get him for cheap, the B’s should absolutely bring Wisniewski in just to see what he can still do.

Kris Russell: Russell has gotten a lot of flack around these parts as being the one guy the B’s should avoid, and I’m not exactly sure why. From what I can tell, his game hinges around shot-blocking and a strong first pass out of the zone, similar to newly-signed Bruin John-Michael Liles. That doesn’t sound so bad to me as I liked what JML brought to the Bruins last year after the trade deadline. However, he is criticized for his unreliable defensive play and that’s one thing that would worry me if they did bring him in. The 28 year old might not be the most polished option, but he can’t be as bad as some of the players the B’s tried last year, cough Matt Irwin cough.

Luke Schenn: The former fifth overall selection in 2008 probably won’t be looking at Boston as a future destination after spending most of his career in hockey crazed cities such as Toronto and Philadelphia, but if it turns out Schenn does enjoy the high-pressure markets, Boston might be the right place for him. He isn’t a player that’s going to wow anybody with his stats but his physical, in-your-face style of play will surely have Sweeney and Neely eyeing his services. With Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid already locked up for a few years, it would only make sense to sign Schenn if Sweeney plans on trading one of the two.  This wouldn’t be the most ideal situation for the B’s as they really don’t need another hulking defenseman, however if he is signed, I’d trust him more with the puck on his stick than I would Miller or McQuaid.

Marek Zidlicky: Zidlicky was linked to Boston a few years back as another blue-line addition, but he was ultimately traded to the Red Wings that season. The 38 year old right shot defenseman would make a lot of sense on a one year deal with the B’s since his skill-set along with his age would create a low-cost, high-reward scenario. Zidlicky isn’t the same player he once was but his game also isn’t as diminished as it could be at this point in his career. His skating ability and offensive presence would certainly help a defensive squad often seen out of position, and off the score sheet, and his overall experience could replace that of Dennis Seidenberg, who was bought out last week. Zidlicky’s veteran presence, reliable game, and low cost seems like a great fit for a Bruins team that desperately needs fresh faces on defense.

 

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Jacob Trouba isn't worth the astronomical price the Bruins would have to pay for him. (Photo courtesy of bleacherreport.con

Jacob Trouba isn’t worth the astronomical price the Bruins would have to pay for him. (Photo courtesy of bleacherreport.com)

 

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have Jacob Trouba on the Boston Bruins. He’s a promising young defenseman that instantly makes the B’s blueline more skilled. However, if the Bruins plan on using an offer sheet on the 22 year-old, forcing them to give up their next four first round picks plus pay him a $7-8 million salary, they are incredibly stupid. Continue reading Trouba is NOT the Savior the Bruins Need »

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Bruins 14th pick, Charlie McAvoy. (Photo courtesy of causewaycrowd.com)

The Bruins went into the 2016 NHL draft with relatively high expectations. With the Celtics head-scratching draft the night before stealing much of the attention of casual Boston sports fans, the B’s entered the draft with uncertainty around who would be available for their first selection at 14, as well as the constant rumors that Don Sweeney would acquire defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk or Cam Fowler. Similar to the C’s draft night, it seemed there would be at least one big move that would change the landscape of the team and give the fan base something they’ve been pleading for. At this moment, it’s safe to say that didn’t happen. Continue reading Bruins Draft: Good But Not Great »

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The NHL draft is Friday night in Buffalo. Photo courtesy of sabrenoise.com

The Bruins hold two picks in this years 2016 NHL Draft, the 14th and 29th overall selections, and will be looking to add premier talent to a squad that doesn’t have much to brag about as of late. Much like last years draft, this class of eligible players is highlighted by multiple elite names at the top, including presumptive number one selection Auston Matthews, as well as forwards Patrick Laine, and Jesse Puljujarvi. By the time the B’s select at 14, there won’t be a franchise player like Matthews available, however there will be numerous players that could prove to be valuable assets in the near-future. Here are seven skaters that could end up donning the spoked-B Friday evening.

  1. Jake Bean (Defenseman): Arguably the most offensively gifted defenseman in the entire draft, Bean left nobody questioning his talent level after he recorded the most goals for a defenseman in the Western Hockey League this past season with 24. Bean’s smooth skating ability and wicked wrist-shot are his best attributes and is regarded as a pure offensive D-man, but his defensive ability is suspect. This has me wondering if he is the best option for the Bruins as they need a defenseman who can actually play defense, and not another Torey Krug-esque player on the back-end.
  2. Clayton Keller (Center): Keller, the Swansea, ILL native and former U.S National Team Development Program standout is one of a few forwards on the smaller side in this draft. At 5’10”, Keller does everything you want as a center but teams are concerned his small stature will hinder his NHL play. He had a tremendous season earning 107 overall points and is committed to Boston University next fall. While I would approve of this pick, the Bruins are stockpiled with centers, therefore he simply might not have a spot on the club.
  3. Dante Fabbro (Defenseman): Regarded as a natural leader and shutdown defender, Fabbro may be the safest pick available for the B’s. His keen offensive instincts combined with his impressive D-zone coverage skills make him a perfect target for the Bruins desperate for solid two-way defenseman. My only knock towards Fabbro is that the competition he faced these past couple years has been sub-par. Instead of playing major junior hockey he played a tier below in Jr. A. This might end up being a non-factor but it I wouldn’t overlook it too much.
  4. Logan Brown (Forward): Brown isn’t a popular name popping up regarding this pick, however I have a feeling the obsession with big, intimidating players B’s management has may make him an option here. Brown is a 6’6″ center who plays a heavy game and has great vision. He posted respectable numbers in the Ontario Hockey League netting 74 total points and projects to be an all-around center in the NHL. I would keep an eye-out on this guy being an out-of-the-box selection for the Bruins.
  5.  Charlie McAvoy (Defenseman): Another rearguard with high offensive capabilities, McAvoy completed his freshman season playing for the Terriers of B.U. and the 18 year old may not have to travel far after his college days are over. He didn’t have the eye-popping numbers like Bean did but he isn’t that far below Bean’s overall game either. Obviously, McAvoy’s local roots make him an automatic favorite as the B’s love drafting close to home, yet I’m not certain McAvoy has enough defensive responsibility in his game to make this a home-run selection.
  6. Kieffer Bellows (Forward): Keller’s teammate on the U.S Under-18 team, Bellows didn’t accumulate as many points as Keller, but he did rack up 50 goals and was a constant scoring threat for the American squad. Bellows has a bit more size at 6’1″ however he doesn’t have as complete of a game as Keller. Also committed to B.U, Bellows could be the best available player for the Bruins at 14 and I’d have a hard time passing on a 50 goal man in the middle of the first round, especially since the B’s are starved for goal scoring forwards.

Player to Watch = Alex DeBrincat (Forward): The small, speedy winger was at the top of draft boards last year but injuries and worries about his 5’7″ frame pushed his stock to the end of the first round. If the B’s keep their 29th pick and nobody takes the undersized scorer, the Bruins should jump all over this guy.

The draft begins Friday night at 7pm at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, NY.

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Atlantic Division

Last season the Boston Bruins went 15-9-6 against their Atlantic Division opponents. Good but not great, and it could have been better. The Bruins and the rest of the division have gotten better this offseason, making moves and signing free agents. Some have new head coaches and new general managers.

It’s a known fact that if you want to be a top team in the NHL you have to dominate your division or you won’t fare too well the rest of the season.

This is part 1 of a 2 part preview of the Bruins versus the Atlantic Division this upcoming season. Let’s start with the 3 teams that finished below the Bruins in the division standings last season. Continue reading 2015-2016 Atlantic Division Preview for Bruins Fans, Part 1 »

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Jimmy-Hayes

The Bruins announced on Monday that they had signed restricted free agents Jimmy Hayes and Brett Connolly. Hayes, who was recently acquired from Florida, signed for three years at $2.3 million per season. Connolly, acquired at last season’s trade deadline from Tampa Bay, signed a one year deal worth $1,025,000 million.

Hayes played in 72 games for Florida last season and was third on the team in goals with 19. Connolly saw limited action with the Bruins due to a broken hand, playing in five games and registering two assists with Boston. While with Tampa Bay last season, he scored 12 goals and notched three assists.

Connolly is only 23 years old and Hayes is 25, each being a player that the Bruins feel can improve and be a part of their future. Both players figure to be a significant part of the Bruins forward lines, with Connolly a top six forward and Hayes potentially moving between top six and bottom six depending on production.

The team also announced the signing of forward Brandon DeFazio to a one-year, two-way contract that is worth $575,000 if he plays at the NHL level.

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martin jones usa today

The Bruins sent recently acquired goalie Martin Jones to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2016 first round pick on Tuesday. The Bruins also received center prospect Sean Kuraly as part of the deal. Jones had been acquired last week from Los Angeles as part of the return package for Milan Lucic.

Essentially, the Bruins dealt Lucic and have gotten a return of two first round picks and two prospects, which is a pretty impressive haul if the draft picks end up being used correctly. Although this move may not make the team better in 2015-16, it sets up well for the future. Jones, who had been a back up goalie for the Kings, was unlikely to stick around and this was likely the best offer Boston received for him.

The Sharks picked ninth in this years draft and aren’t likely to get better so this pick could end up being a high one for Boston. The Bruins also extended qualifying offers for Ryan Spooner and Brett Connolly on Tuesday, which are likely to be accepted. Don Sweeney has already made four trades in the last week and it is likely he is not done yet.

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