Can Boston Bruins Rely on Rookie Defensemen Come Postseason?
The Boston Bruins took a crucial hit this past December when they lost defenseman Dennis Seidenberg for the year. The German tore both his ACL and MCL, leaving a giant hole in the Bruins’ blue line. However, despite losing one of their best defenseman, Boston has maintained their status as one of the Eastern Conference’s elite, thanks in part to some reliable play from minor league call-ups.
But, the question remains, do the Bruins feel they can rely on these youngsters come playoff time, or do they need to make a move before the March 5 NHL trade deadline?
Make no mistake; the difference between regular season and playoff games is night and day. As admirable it is for youngsters like Kevan Miller and David Warsofsky to be holding their own despite not having a ton of professional experience, it’s a big risk to assume they can keep the ship afloat come playoff time. What if Boston loses another defenseman? Johnny Boychuk has missed some time this year, while Adam McQuaid has yet to prove any sense of consistent durability. Will the Bruins be able to keep going to the well that is their minor league team in Providence?
If Boston does decide to take a look at the trade market, they don’t have a ton of solid options. Perhaps they could look a few miles down the coast at Dan Girardi of the New York Rangers, or take a low risk move in trying to acquire Tom Gilbert of the Florida Panthers. However, what complicates things is the fact that the Bruins aren’t in dire need to make a blockbuster deal, so they won’t be looking to pony up prospects and picks for a deal. Sitting comfortably at second in the East, Boston won’t be looking for the biggest name out there. So, if they do make a move, it won’t be an earth-shattering trade.
Perhaps, though, Boston looks to last postseason as evidence that they may be able to skate by just plugging in youngsters.
Remember, Seidenberg missed time last postseason as well, as he was one of a handful of Bruins starting defensemen who missed games. Because of this, Boston gave significant playing time to Matt Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug, who eventually became a playoff hero. Krug’s four goals in five games showed the Bruins that they had significant depth to withstand the loss of a key blue-liner or two.
But, does Boston think lightning can strike twice? Hamilton and Krug are now roster mainstays, and while the latter’s postseason emergence last year has carried over to this season, it’s lofty to assume every defenseman the team calls up from the minors will excel come playoff time.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to how much faith the Bruins have in their younger defensemen. If they truly believe that someone like Miller or Warsofsky can successfully fill the void left by Seidenberg’s absence without becoming a liability on the ice, then sure, leave everything as is.
However, if there’s even the slightest bit of doubt, Boston needs to look at the trade market for answers. This team came so close to winning a Stanley Cup last year, so don’t expect them to take any serious roster risks this time around.