GM Peter Chiarelli is making sure the Boston Bruins have no shortage of defensemen next season. While there are several question marks on offense, the signing of Matt Bartkowski to a one-year, $1.25 million deal is just a step in the right direction.
Torey Krug still needs to be re-signed and the B’s do not have a not of room to work with, but having Bartkowski sign on to an affordable and flexible contract may just help Chiarelli do that. It is clear that the organization was wary of offering any long-term contract to the 26-year-old, but the one-year deal may push Bartkowski to perform to the best of his ability.
Knowing he needs to impress other teams to earn any sort of substantial contract will make Bartkowski fight as hard as he can to work toward the top six rotation.
It will not be an easy fight, though. The Bruins have a plethora of defensemen who are all capable of starting next season. Several Providence Bruins like David Warsofsky and Zach Trotman are looking to claw their way into the lineup, while injured veterans like Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid hope to solidify their spots.
No matter who head coach Claude Julien puts on the ice, it’s going to be a battle that comes down to the wire. One thing is for sure, though; whoever is on the blue line is going to have to work for it.
Bartkowski was largely criticized for his play in the 2014 postseason. NHL commentators, especially Mike Milbury, frequently exposed Bartkowski’s poor decision making and errant passes. Although Bartkowski can faultier at times, this season he proved that he can play a regular shift.
With several players going down to injuries, Bartkowski saw his opportunity and was able to post 18 assists in his 64 starts this season. He also appeared in eight postseason games. Bartkowski failed to get on the score-sheet, but he contributed in other ways. He is a strong skater with and without the puck, and his solid frame makes him a tough customer in the corners.
Between his luscious hair, hard-working mentality and surprising speed, there are more than enough reasons to keep the kid in Boston. Chiarelli made a smart move.