The injury bug continues to haunt the Boston Bruins.
Just moments before the end of the Bruins’ 5-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators Friday night, Dennis Seidenberg became the latest victim. The German defenseman suffered a torn ACL and MCL and will miss the rest of the 2013-14 season with a expected recovery table of 6-8 months. As a result, the Bruins recalled David Warsofsky and Zach Trotman from Providence on an emergency basis.
There’s no denying that this leaves a hole on the Bruins’ defense. Sure they’ve gotten plenty of contributions from their young defensemen, including Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton (nursing an injury), Matt Bartkowski, Kevan Miller and Warsofsky, just to name a few. But the loss of Seidenberg – just one of many injuries the B’s had to overcome in the first three months of the year – is going to be a difficult one to overcome.
Just before opening night, Seidenberg signed a well-deserved four-year, $16 million contract extension. Even with a plethora of young defensemen in the system, it was a sign of loyalty to Seids by GM Peter Chiarelli.
Seidenberg’s hard work on the back end alongside captain Zdeno Chara was rewarded in good faith and, as impressive as he’s been during his four-plus years with the Black and Gold, things were only going to get better with another appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and a spot on team Germany for the 2014 Winter Olympics. That has all come to an end with Saturday’s news, and now Chiarelli has some work to do. But he’ll have his hands full in what’s considered a very thin market for blue-liners this season.
Chiarelli will have some cap relief when he puts Seidenberg on LTIR. He’ll also have a few prospects in the system to use at his disposal if needed, including Warsofsky, Trotman, Miller, Matt Fraser, Niklas Svedberg and Malcolm Subban.
Acquiring a defenseman needs to be on the top of Chiarelli’s wish list. But even if they acquire a veteran like Chris Phillips (Senators), Marek Zidlicky (Devils), Ron Hainsey or Tim Gleason (Hurricanes), it will be tough to replace Seidenberg’s grit and toughness on the back end.
Last year, Bartkowski, Krug and Hamilton filled in admirably when the B’s suffered injuries on the blue line. It is the reason why the Black and Gold parted ways with popular veteran Andrew Ference, and the three defensemen, when healthy, are picking up right where they left off.
In the long-term, however, Chiarelli is going to need to strengthen his blue line. That’s a far cry from the beginning of the season when many pundits considered the Bruins GM to be in a position of strength with their defensive depth.
With the loss of Seidenberg, Chiarelli has a large veteran hole to fill.