October 9th, 2013 by

Interesting decisions ahead on Bruins blue-line

Interesting decisions ahead on Bruins blue-line

With Dennis Seidenberg now locked up after signing a four-year contract extension, the Boston Bruins rewarded another veteran with a well-deserved bonus.

There’s no denying that Seidenberg has found a comfortable spot with the Black and Gold. However, a dilemma potentially awaits for Peter Chiarelli.

Seidenberg, Zdeno Chara, Adam McQuaid, Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton each have more than one year left on their contracts that includes the German defenseman’s extension starting in 2014-15. Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski, meanwhile, are both RFA’s at the end of the 2013-14 season.

This is where things could get interesting for Chiarelli, as if it wasn’t already. With Krug, Bartkowski and Hamilton all eager to earn more ice time, and Boychuk and McQuaid playing to save their spots, the Bruins GM might have some decisions to make.

According to Cap Geek, the Bruins have over $61 million in salary committed for 16 players in the 2014-15 season. With three young defenseman currently on the roster, and several good young blue-line prospects in the system, come trade deadline time, Chiarelli might have to part ways with one of the current d-men on the B’s roster.

Of course, this is only speculation at this point as the deadline is several months away. But assuming the roster is still the same, let’s take a look at the five other defensemen currently on the Bruins roster.

Torey Krug

This is a no-brainer. Out of the five defensemen listed, Krug is the least likely – at this rate – to go elsewhere. The Michigan State alum is on the last year of his current deal, but after taking the playoffs by storm, and by helping solve the long-lost mystery of the Bruins’ power play, I’d be surprised if Krug goes anywhere else.

Matt Bartkowski

The Pittsburgh native was nearly dealt to Calgary last season, before current Bruin Jarome Iginla chose the Penguins. Good thing the trade didn’t happen, because Bartkowski’s services were needed during the playoffs, and he did quite well filling in for the injured defensemen.

Despite having been a healthy scratch the first two games, there’s no denying that Bartkowski will see some playing time. When he’s on the ice, Bart provides a good two-way game. That could be enticing for some cellar dwellers like Buffalo, Florida and Calgary and other teams looking to unload its veterans come trade deadline time.

Like Krug, Bartkowski is on the last year of his entry-level contract. In any event, the former Ohio State Buckeye, who is on a one-way contract, would certainly fill a void for a team looking for a young defenseman.

Dougie Hamilton

Despite some ups and downs in the first 10 months of his career, Hamilton still has plenty of potential. The former first round pick bulked up during the summer and had a pretty good pre-season. As a result, he found himself on the Bruins’ blue-line during the first two games.

On the other hand, there’s no denying that Hamilton would be enticing to many teams just on his potential. After all, the Bruins are known to put those type of players on the block, including Tyler Seguin and Phil Kessel. But with more development and growth, maybe this will be the exception. After all, the third time is always the charm, as they say.

Johnny Boychuk and Adam McQuaid

Both Boychuk and McQuaid provide the B’s with grit and strength in the back end. They’ve both delivered some big hits, dropped the gloves, and occasionally, chipped in offensively. Boychuk has developed into a top-3 defenseman, while McQuaid, despite being a bottom third defenseman, is still a reliable commodity.

Ideally, I don’t see either getting dealt anytime soon as they are both signed until next season. But, this does ring a similar situation to 2011, when Mark Stuart was dealt to the Atlanta Thrashers Winnipeg Jets as part of the Rich Peverley trade. So don’t be surprised, especially with a plethora of defensive prospects, if either are on the block if the B’s are in need of a third or fourth line veteran.

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