Defense is still an issue for Bruins
by Michael Settipani
Don Sweeney has done a good job of getting Bruins fans off the ledge after the first day of free agency. Sweeney made a good signing in Beleskey, and a great trade for Jimmy Hayes. There is just one problem with Sweeney’s moves though: he hasn’t addressed the defensemen position. It is still early on in the offseason, so I don’t want to hammer Sweeney right now, but the defense position looks pretty weak going into the year. Last year when Chiarelli traded Boychuk the Bruins missed him on the back end with no replacement. This year before the draft Sweeney made a bold move by trading Dougie Hamilton. Sweeney got a ton of heat for this move, rightfully so. This is the second defensemen in two years that a Bruins’ general manager has traded with no replacement in sight. This move is very troubling going into next season.
The Bruins, as of now, are going into the year with Chara, Seidenberg, Krug, Kevan Miller, McQuaid, and either Colin Miller, Trotman, or Joe Morrow. Let’s start with Adam McQuaid. The resigning of McQuaid was a Peter Chiarelli special, with an over payment and no movement clause, but it makes sense now because the Bruins need help. To be blunt, I hate the contract and thought he would sign elsewhere because he is not that good. He is a bottom pair defensemen that will not help out significantly. The Bruins tried to play McQuaid in one of the top pairings last year before he was hurt and it did not go well. Speaking of hurt, McQuaid is injury prone and has missed significant time. The best two defensemen on this team Chara and Seidenberg are getting up there. Chara should be healthy going into this year, but the Bruins are relying on him being a number one and that is worrisome. I don’t think Chara should be considered a #1 defensemen anymore. He is 39 years old and his playing ability has fell every year. Against quick and shifty forwards, Chara sometimes gets burned and you can see how slow he is. Chara has been great in Boston throughout the years, but expecting him to play the way he did in 2011 is farfetched. Seidenberg is only 33, which isn’t too old, but he looked like a shell of himself this year. He came off of major knee surgery the year before, so I do give him the benefit of the doubt. Seidenberg is a workhorse and a good #2 defensemen, when he is on. If he only plays as well as last year though, the Bruins will be stuck with average play on the back end. I do not expect anything big from both Miller, Trotman, or Morrow. They are young, inexperienced, and not fit for a top four role yet. One could be great down the road, but it is asking too much going into next year. The only defensemen I am excited for and confident in is Krug. He has performed better in the league each year thus far. He is not the best defensive defensemen, but he is the most skilled and active. Two years ago, the Bruins had six really great defensemen, now they barely have three.
There are so many unknowns with this group. Sweeney needs to be active in trying to sign or trade for better more established defensemen. Last year, everyone knew defense was an issue, and currently, no additions have been made. Sweeney better begin to actively address this problem or it will be another year of Tuukka Rask having to stand on his head.
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