By: Spencer Lindsay | Follow me on Twitter @dispencer88
The Expansion Draft kicked off last night at 8 PM Eastern and featured the newest NHL franchise, the Seattle Kraken, taking one player from every team to form their squad. The news was leaked earlier in the day by the President of Hockey Content over at Daily Faceoff Frank Seravalli and confirmed by the Boston Bruins later in the evening when the Expansion Draft picks were made public.
While this news may not surprise most Bruins fans, it is still bad news. Lauzon showed flashes of a good solid defenseman in his time with the Bruins in the last couple of seasons, and at a time where the Bruins look thin at left side defensemen, the pick of Lauzon just made them another man thinner.
Jeremy Lauzon was picked 52nd overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins. 2015 you’ll remember, was also the year that the Bruins passed on Matt Barzal, Kyle Connor, and Thomas Chabot with three straight picks and opted for Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk, and Zachary Senyshyn. Sorry to harp on that draft, Bruins fans. But in the second round of that draft, the Bruins drafted Brandon Carlo and Jeremy Lauzon, two decent picks. While Carlo was able to establish himself earlier, Lauzon took a bit longer.
First called up in the 2018-2019 season during an injury bug, Lauzon played in 16 games before he was sent back down to Providence. Called up again in 2019-2020, Lauzon played in 19 games, and this time was much more noticeable on the ice and at many times showed flashes of being a good stay-at-home defender with the ability to move the puck well. He did still make some mistakes, but it was obvious that there was a good player there. From a Bruins perspective, the hope had to be that if they continued to develop him and be patient, eventually that patience would pay off in the form of a top-four left-handed defenseman that the team has been crying out for what feels like years.
Lauzon played 41 of the Bruins 56 games in this past season and again a noticeable progression was visible while he was playing. Those who watched Bruins games every night recognized a legitimate NHL player who was hopefully bound for a solid Bruins career. Unfortunately while he may still have a solid career, it will likely not take place in a Bruins jersey. With Lauzon now belonging to the Seattle Kraken, the Bruins once again will have to re-ignite their hunt for that top four left-handed defenseman.
The Bruins Options
The Bruins options regarding filling this gap are not fantastic. Unless Urho Vaakanainen is able to make big steps in his progression, there does not seem to be a player of that mold that is currently in the Bruins system. This means that the hole will need to either be filled through the draft, free agency, or a trade. On the draft front, while this would be the cheapest option, it would undoubtedly take time for a player drafted to step into that role. Especially when you consider that the Bruins have the 21st overall pick (technically picking 20th due to Arizona Coyotes forfeiture of their first-round pick), it seems unlikely that a player drafted at this position will be able to step into the NHL right away. For a team trying to maximize its tight Stanley Cup window, that won’t do.
Free agency would bring in a player who is NHL ready right now, but so far the free-agent market looks to be very hospitable to the players, and much more harsh on the teams signing them. Bringing in a talented free agent means paying that player top dollar. Finally a trade, trades too are looking to be very pricey right now, especially for the type of player the Bruins need.
Lauzon Will Be Missed
Taking all of this into account, the picture is plain to see. The loss of Lauzon is one that hurts the Bruins now and in the future. Developing a player for six years, only to have them taken just as they seem poised to become a regular NHLer, and a defenseman nonetheless? Yeah, that one is going to sting. Seeing how the Bruins are able to overcome this loss will be interesting.