Fourth of July fireworks came early for hockey fans this past week. Montreal’s dynamic defenseman P.K. Subban was sent to Nashville for Shea Weber. Former first overall pick Taylor Hall was dealt from Edmonton to New Jersey for defenseman Adam Larsson. The Steven Stamkos sweepstakes never took off after he announced a contract extension in Tampa Bay.
Many analysts speculated that Boston was looking to trade for a number one or two defenseman like Kevin Shattenkirk back on draft day. It is no secret that the Bruins have struggled in their own end. Don Sweeney knows all too well and made two pivotal decisions in order to improve their defensive woes in the past 24 hours.
— 98.5 The Sports Hub (@985TheSportsHub) June 30, 2016
Sweeney decided it was in Bruins’ best interest to buy out 34-year-old defenseman Dennis Seidenberg’s contract. The veteran played seven seasons of hockey on Causeway Street and was one of the most important blue liners during their 2011 Stanley Cup run. Seidenberg tore his ACL in December of 2013. Unfortunately he hasn’t been able to return to his former stature.
The Seidenberg move is evidence that the team is in the process of rebuilding their lackluster blue line. It also managed to free cap space to resign another pending free agent on their roster.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) June 30, 2016
Torey Krug was resigned Thursday to a four year contract worth an AAV of $5.25 million. Krug is only 25 and possess the ability to move the puck up and down the ice. He is also a valuable powerplay asset for Claude Julien. He just finished a one year, $3.4 million dollar contract with the Bruins in which he was second in overall time on ice (21:37). Krug also totaled 40 assists this past season. I love the move.
With Seidenberg's buyout he will cost 1.2, 2.2, 1.2, 1.2 against the cap the next four years, instead of 4.0, 4.0 for the next two.
— Bruins Stats (@bruins_stats) June 30, 2016
The Bruins are taking a more youthful approach to their defensive core; it’s a good thing. Seidenberg was getting paid $4.5 million a year and only totaled 12 points last season. While offensive play was never Seidy’s strong suit, his game had declined immensely in his own end. Approaching the ripe age of 35 years old, it’s more more likely he continues to decline than improve.
Krug is almost 10 years younger than Seidenberg. It’s very promising to see ownership investing in the team’s younger players instead of continuing to roll out veterans who are past their prime.
These two moves mean only four defensemen remain on contract for the Bruins next season: Zdeno Chara (39), Adam McQuaid (29), Kevan Miller (28), and Torey Krug (25). With the contract extensions of both Miller and Krug, McQuaid and Chara are the oldest players remaining on their blue line. Chara will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018-19′, McQuaid in 2019-20′. Zach Trotman was informed he will not receive a qualifying contract offer from the Bruins. JM Liles, who was acquired by the Bruins last trade deadline, may receive a new contract offer from Boston this offseason.
#Bruins only have 4 D signed (5 if they sign Colin Miller). Expect them to sign a blue liner fairly early on in free agency.
— Dave (@BmoreDaveS) July 1, 2016
The other two names the Bruins may potentially resign are Joe Morrow and Colin Miller. Both players are young, only 23 years old. Colin Miller is the more promising prospect of the two. He totaled 52 points in 70 games for the AHL Manchester Monarchs in 2014-15′. Miller also has an impressive shot. Morrow was obtained via trade when the Bruins sent Tyler Seguin to Dallas. I’m hoping that the Bruins dump Morrow, and sign Miller.
Here are some good UFA defensemen options:
Hamhuis wearing a fake moustache
*if time machine is included
— Robert Tiffin (@RobertTiffin) June 30, 2016
The UFA defensemen market isn’t the strongest seen in recent years. Some of the top players named by TSN include Jason Demers (28), Brian Campbell (37), Kris Russell (29), Dan Hamhuis (33), Luke Schenn (26), Justin Schultz (25), Ben Lovejoy (32), and Roman Polak (30). Keep an eye on Lovejoy. He played his college hockey at Boston College. Hopefully, Sweeney likes one of the younger UFA’s like Schenn, Demers, or Schultz.
The list of UFA right-handed defensemen is shallower than a California puddle.
— Platinum Seat Ghosts (@3rdPeriodSuits) June 30, 2016
Keep in mind the lame UFA market likely means that teams will have to overpay for defensemen.
Sweeney still has major work to do in his own defensive end. Acquiring a veteran defenseman through free agency or trade is pivotal for their chances to contend in this upcoming season. Thursday was just the beginning of more moves to come.