It can be incredibly redundant when someone points out the obvious. In this particular case, guilty as charged.
However, the metaphorical “elephant” that is spreading like wildfire in the locker room of the Boston Bruins needs to be addressed.
This team just cannot seem to get healthy and it may be quite some time before the team will be back at full strength. Technically speaking, that will not happen until next season because defenseman Dennis Seidenberg is out for the remainder of this season due to a torn ACL and MCL that he suffered in garbage time of Friday’s victory over the Ottawa Senators.
Seidenberg, 32, was in the last season of his four-year, $13 million contract; his four-year, $16 million extension kicks in next season.
The injury came at a point in time where the Bruins needed to rely on Seidenberg much earlier than expected. With Dougie Hamilton still out of the lineup with a lower-body injury and Adam McQuaid just recently making his return, speculations are already running rampant in the social media “stratosphere” about what the Bruins should do.
The depth that Boston has at the forward and goaltender positions have been put on full display over the last couple of weeks. We know that the likes of Shawn Thornton, Loui Eriksson, and Chris Kelly will return to game action shortly. At the same time, Chad Johnson and Niklas Svedberg (waiting in the wings) provide Tuukka Rask with enough backup not so much to have him constantly look over his shoulder, but more so for insurance purposes.
Now, we look at the blue line.
Seidenberg, arguably the B’s second-best defenseman behind Zdeno Chara, will be a huge loss long term. Holes can be filled and voids can be plugged through the regular season by mixing and matching. The real issue will come during the postseason. He provides a veteran presence, as well as the skill necessary to be successful in all three zones.
Is Hamilton ready to assume the number two defenseman role? Although he may be that guy in the future, the kid still has a little longer to go. Regardless, he will still make an impact when he returns. Barring health, Chara and Hamilton join McQuaid, Johnny Boychuk, and Torey Krug as the defensive core we will see for the rest of the season.
So now the question that arises is as follows: Will the Bruins seek outside help via trade or will they handle this matter internally?
The Bruins recalled Kevan Miller for the second time this season on Sunday afternoon. This is significant because if he plays in one more NHL game this year, he would have to pass through waivers in order to be sent back down. Rumor has it that the organization feels like that he has played well enough in his first nine games with the big club that he would indeed get claimed.
Miller would be a solid option, much more solid than offensive defensemen like David Warsofsky and Zach Trotman (with all due respect). Matt Bartkowski should also have a chance to earn that final spot. He has played in 24 games so far this season and has posted seven assists.
Above all else, those players would provide great depth. Unfortunately, they could also provide great trade bait.
Of course, there is also the chance that the Bruins could seek help outside of the organization. If that is the case, there are some interesting options out there for a potential number two d-man.
Kimmo Timonen (PHI) and Marek Zidlicky (NJ) are both in similar situations. They both are in the last year of their contracts and their respective teams are just riding with the pack in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers and the Devils could be sellers from now until the trade deadline.
Also, Mark Stuart (WPG) would be welcomed back to Boston with open arms if the Jets were willing to part ways with the veteran blue liner. Ryan Whitney (FLA) may also be another suitable option.
It may take a combination of draft picks and prospects to acquire any one of the above-mentioned players. We will see when the time comes.
As for right now, the Bruins are approaching the halfway point of the season and they have the internal depth on defense for the short term.