After a frustrating second-round loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Boston Bruins are facing a crucial off-season for the organization. There are a lot of questions the Bruins need to answer regarding this core's chance of winning another Staley Cup. They also need to identify which young pieces to build around for years to come.
Here is what Boston's defense is looking like heading into the 2020-2021 season.
On the first day of free agency, puck-moving defenseman Torey Krug signed a 7 year deal with the St. Louis Blues. That leaves a big hole on the left side of Boston's defense.
Zdeno Chara is currently a free agent, but the Bruins remain in contact with their captain. If Chara wants to come back, it seems that Boston will have him back.
Matt Grzelcyk will be entering salary arbitration. Expect the Bruins to offer him a slight raise from his 2020 salary of $1.4 million.
Assuming Chara and Grzelcyk are back for the 2021 campaign, their defense will be those two, Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo as absolutes. Connor Clifton, Jeremy Lauzon, Kevan Miller, John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen, and Jakub Zboril then battle for the remaining two spots.
Clifton and Lauzon have both shown flashes but neither has been consistent enough to warrant a definite placing in the top 6. Miller has battled injuries and has not played since the 2019 season. Moore only played in 24 games for Boston last season. Vaakanainen appeared in just 5, while Zboril has yet to make his NHL debut.
If the Bruins are not yet sold on these young skaters to take the role or do not believe the veterans can handle the workload consistency, adding a left shot d-man would be a good call.
Also, it will be interesting to see how much time on the power McAvoy and Grzelcyk get with Krug gone. It would make sense to see their roles increase but that brings up 2 questions.
How will the power play operate with them as the primary defensemen? Will their added offensive responsibilities take away from their defensive assignments?
It will be really interesting to see how Bruce Cassidy runs the Boston power play. If McAvoy and Grzelcyk primarily paly together, short-handed goals should not be as problematic for the Bruins.
The Bruins defense is overall pretty solid. There are definitely aspects that need to be addressed in the offseason and regular season. With new opportunities available, it is up to these young defensemen to take the reigns and earn their expanded roles.
Story by Chad Jones
Follow Chad on Twitter @shutupchadjones