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Bruins Defensive Options in This Summers NHL Free Agency

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By: Nicholas Parker | Follow Me On Twitter @NickParker15

The Boston Bruins are looking to make some changes going into the 2021-2022 season. Team President Cam Neely has stated that they are looking at adding a strong left-shot defenseman. I thought I would go through some options via free agency that would match up with what Boston needs. 

Marc Staal – DET

After starting his career in the shadow of his older brother Eric, Marc Staal was drafted and played over 900 games with the New York Rangers between regular season and playoffs. Staal is a 6’4’’ 214-pounds and would be the kind of player that Boston is looking to pair up with a guy like Brandon Carlo. Over his career, he has been dependable and has multiple 70+ game seasons under his belt aside from over 100 games of playoff experience.

The fact that Staal is left-handed also allows Boston to keep their D-pairs on their strong side. After a disappointing year with Detroit, Staal could be looking to join a known competitor in Boston. Staal will be 34 when the season starts. Staal finished last season playing 56 games with three goals and seven assists. A reasonable price would be $3.5 million for a year. Staal would be a guy that Boston fans would recognize from facing the Rangers in the east and would like his tough style of play. 

Alec Martinez – VGK

The guy whose name has been linked to Boston as being one of the best fits for what they are looking for in a left-shot defenseman. Martinez has playoff experience from his time with Los Angeles winning two Stanley Cups with them in 2012 and 2014. Martinez is a great puck mover and comes up with big goals in the playoffs. Last season with Vegas, he had nine goals and 23 assists. Martinez would be able to pair up with someone like McAvoy nicely, giving Matt Grzelcyk the ability to move to the second pair. 

Jamie Oleksiak – DAL

The Northeastern 2011 First-round pick for the Dallas Starts is a big man at 6’7” and 255-pounds. Oleksiak has experience in 369 regular-season games with 43 playoff games of experience. He really shined in the bubble during the pandemic where he had five goals and four assists in 27 games. Dallas failed to make the playoffs, and Boston has the core to be able to make a deep playoff run with plenty of cap space to work with going into next year. Oleksiak finished last season with six goals and eight assists. At 28-years-old he has the size and ability to chip in and would be a great addition to the Bruins.

Niklas Hjalmarsson – ARI

Hjalmarsson is known for having spent the bulk of his NHL career with the Chicago Blackhawks and won the Stanley Cup with them in 2010,2013, and 2015. Another left-shot defenseman with size at 6’3” 200-pounds with 821 games played in the regular season and 137 playoff games. He is known for being a solid two-way defenseman who is able to lead from his experience with his time in Chicago. Hjalmarsson will be 35-years-old at the start of the upcoming 2021-22 season. In 41 games last season, Hjalmarsson had five assists. 

Boston needs to do everything they can to provide guys like Bergeron and Marchand a chance to win another cup before they retire. One of the reasons they exited early this postseason was not being able to take injuries on defense. Based on available free agents, these four are great options for Don Sweeney to look into.


  1. Comrie

    Here is my take. No on Hjalmarsson. He has the size the Bruins need but his age 35 is against him for anything longer than a year. Yes on Oleksiak. Definitely has the size only 28 years old. Good replacement for Chara. Maybe on Martinez. Not as big as the others on the list 6′ 1″, 209 lbs but only 33 and some offensive skills. Staal at 6’4″ , 214 lbs and 34 is a good choice. Whatever the Bruins do, they need more size and mobility to get them thru the rigors of playoff hockey. Look at Montreals top 4. Weber smallest at 6’2″. Tampa Bay the same thing. Big tough D. If Grzelcyk doesn’t start putting up Krug type stats it is time to get rid of him. He is not built for the grind that is the Stanley Cup playoffs.

  2. Max A. Assenheimer

    Please share my comment with GM Sweeney. If the Bruins want the Cup next year then a little revamp on the D will need to take place.

    My first move would be to protect Mac, Carlo and Lauzon.

    Trade Gryzelek for a right wing to play with Coyle and Ritchie, maybe Rackell before the Seattle draft. Need to get bigger and better defensively by saying goodbye to Gryz. Would be able to protect Our top line, Smith, Coyle, DeBrusk and the new guy. Providing we do not have to protect Studicka for the draft.

    After the draft,
    Before going after Oleksiak, I would try to trade DeBrusk and some thing else to Buffalo for Ristolainen. If you can not get the deal done for Ristolainen, then go after Dunn for DeBrusk, with St. Louis. If Ristolainen and Dunn can not be had then go after Oleksiak. Whichever left side d man Sweeny gets out of these 3, he should pair with Mac to play defense first!

    Sign Reilly as a free agent in addition, to pair with Carlo or down to third pair with Miller/Clifton/Zobril or Moore.
    Lauzon can play any one of the 3 spots on the left side in any of the pairings for defense first.

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