Don Sweeney and the Boston Bruins continue to stay below the radar this off-season. After a disappointing 2017 post-season run, some fans were hoping for a big splash in the opening of free agency. While that did not come, one highly discussed topic was changes on the Bruins blue line.
It is no secret that their playoff shortcomings were due in large part to the lack of bodies defensively. Between injuries and lack of experience, the blue line became a major pain point for Boston at the end of the season. Nevertheless, minor moves and strong internal development have Boston’s current blue line status in a much stronger position than what was seen last April.
A Look at the Boston Bruins Blue Line
In the first round of the playoffs, the Bruins found themselves without three of their top four defensemen due to injury. By the end of Game Two against Ottawa they were missing Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo, Adam McQuaid, and Colin Miller. An already tough battle with Ottawa seemed almost impossible simply because of a lack of bodies. Players can certainly return from injury, but there was still a gap on the left side and lack of experience to address in the off-season.
Bruins Lose Miller to Vegas
The Bruins left eight defensemen unprotected and available for the Vegas Golden Knights. Of those eight, Adam McQuaid and Colin Miller seemed to be at the top of the list for Vegas. Ultimately it was Miller who had to pack his bags and head to Las Vegas. Now the Bruins were left without a young, 6’1” defenseman with great potential. However, they still seemed to be covered on the right side with Carlo, McQuaid, and young stud Charlie McAvoy.
Bruins Draft Defenseman Urho Vaakanainen 18th Overall
Then, for the third-consecutive year, the Bruins used their first pick in the draft to select a defenseman. In 2015, it was Jakub Zboril 13th overall and then Charlie McAvoy 14th overall in 2016. This year it was 6’1” Finnish defenseman Urho Vaakanainen. While Vaakanainen does not seem to be as NHL-ready as McAvoy, he and Zboril may be the future in two or three years time. The Bruins have now selected nine defensemen throughout the past three drafts.
Veteran Presence Added to the Blue Line in Postma
Drafting young defensemen with plenty of potential is all well and good, but there was still the lack of depth on the left side. Yet, Sweeney stayed patient and Bruins fans watched as defensemen like Trevor Daley and Kevin Shattenkirk were rumored to come to Boston, but ended signing elsewhere. While not a left-handed shot, the Bruins did add a veteran presence to the blue line in the signing of Paul Postma. This cheap one-year, one-way deal adds depth and veteran experience to the roster.
If the season started tomorrow, the Bruins have seven solid defensemen that have shown the ability to handle themselves at the NHL level to some degree. Whether Zboril, Vaakanainen or any other young defenseman is able to make the jump to the professional level, only time will tell. At this time, Postma may be the seventh man, but by no means should be overlooked. A potential top seven would most likely look like this:
Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid
Charlie McAvoy – Kevan Miller
While a strong left-handed defensemen should still be on the front office’s mind, the current status of the Boston Bruins blue line should not have any fans worried. Barring any serious injuries, this group of seven and the handful of young developing talent, makes Boston a lot stronger defensively than what was seen during this past postseason.