By: BNG Staff | Follow Us On Twitter @BlackNGoldPod
Despite the top record in the NHL during the season, the Bruins struggled in the Eastern Conference, seeing round-robin, losing all three. They advanced to the second round of the playoffs before being ousted by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now there are questions about the Bruins’ lackluster offseason and what to expect next year, particularly defensively.
Although the Bruins allowed the fewest goals in the league last season, Zdeno Chara has yet to be signed, Torey Krug left for St. Louis after nine seasons with the Bruins, and no trades or free-agent signings have been made.
It’s not as if the Bruins have been completely silent. The Boston Bruins roster is competitive; they did resign Matt Grzelcyk to a four-year contract worth nearly $15 million and brought back injury-prone Kevan Miller for a season. In addition to Miller and Grzelcyk, the defense currently consists of Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, John Moore, and Jeremy Lauzon.
The good news is that high round draft picks Jeremy Lauzon, Urho Vaakanainen, and Jakub Zboril are in the wings waiting for their shot at the show. The Word is that Zboril is quickly becoming a stalwart defenseman and was awarded a 2-year contract during the off-season.
Should the Bruins opt for defense outside their system, there are still some plenty available to be had either during the next season or after. Players such as Sami Vatanen, Thomas Hickey, Ian Cole, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Alex Martinez could be on the trading block. All of those would help solidify the left side of the Bruins defense.
Zdeno Charo is clearly on the tail end of a great career, but he adds experience, leadership, and stability that would be missed if he is not resigned. Despite being 43-years-old, Chara is still a top defender on the power play, which is a critical part of a defense.
Some young players could step into the mix next season. Also, watch for St.Cloud State’s Jack Ahcan, who will be playing for Providence next year and has already been compared to Torey Krug, who not only excelled defensively but was a key component of the Bruins’ power play.
Questions still float around with just a couple of months before starting the 2020-2021 NHL season. Will the recently signed Grzelcyk be enough to replace Krug on the power play? Could you see more of David Krejci on the power play in an all-forward lineup? What about McAvoy and his so-far lackluster play on the offensive end?
After missing the playoffs in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, the Bruins have been one of the top regular-season teams in the NHL the past three seasons, narrowly missing out on the Stanley Cup in 2018-2019. However, the team with a rich history with six Stanley Cup titles hasn’t won one since 2011. Their regular-season defense has been outstanding, and it’s not all doom and gloom moving forward. They just need a little more to get over the playoff hump. With time remaining before the regular season, stay tuned to see what moves they will make, particularly on the defensive end of the ice.