Throughout the NHL, defence is becoming more and more of a commodity. Defensemen across the league are being paid more money and have more teams chasing them come the oh, so fun free agency period. Unfortunately for the Boston Bruins, defence is not their strong suit. As of this moment, this is how the blueline core shapes up.
- Zdeno Chara – 39 years old
- Torey Krug – 25 years old
- Adam McQuaid – 29 years old
- John-Michael Liles – 35 years old
- Kevan Miller – 28 years old
- Joe Morrow/Colin Miller – 23 years old/23 years old
Notice one thing, the age. Zdeno Chara will turn 40 years old come March 18th. John-Michael Liles will turn 36 years old come November 25th. Right there, is two defenceman that won’t be able to chase down Connor McDavid or Patrick Kane on a breakaway. Both will play in Boston’s top 6. Another thing is injuries. Both Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller have suffered injuries in the past, with Kevan Miller having shoulder surgery in February of 2015. Now Kevan did have a career-best season last year, (3-15-18 totals; 71 games), but that injury risk is something to be aware of. Adam McQuaid was injured with a concussion last year after taking a hard hit from Zach Sill in a January game of this year. He was placed on the injured reserve on January 7th, but wasn’t taken off until February 16th.
That only leaves Colin Miller or Joe Morrow. Colin Miller was involved in the infamous Milan Lucic trade with the Los Angeles Kings back in the summer of 2015. C. Miller played in 42 games with Boston, but it seemed like he rarely got his chance to shine. In those 42 games, C. Miller put up 3-13-16 totals along with an even rating. Not too bad. While not in Boston, C. Miller played with the Providence Bruins for 20 games, putting up 4-8-12 totals in the games.
Joe Morrow was brought into the Bruins roster back in 2013 with another big Bruins trade, involving Tyler Seguin. Morrow appeared in 33 games last season, earning 1-6-7 totals with a disappointing -7 rating.
Now, the rumors are flowing fast for defenceman Kris Russell. According to NHL on NBC, the Bruins are in an appearant “bidding war” for Russell. This would take out one of these d-men. Either in a trade, or a trip to Providence.
Now like previously mentioned, the Bruins blueline has two aging defenders. In only a few years, players like Chara will be gone. It’s a sad thought, but it’s reality. To prepare for the exit of the older players, we need the entrance of the younger players. Who are the top blueliner prospects that are “owned” by the black and gold?
3: Jakub Zboril
Jakub Zboril was drafted by the Bruins 13th overall in the 2015 NHL draft. Zboril was apart of the “three amigos”, which was the three consecutive first round draft picks back in 2015. Zboril didn’t play with the B’s or the Baby B’s for that matter last season. He remained with the Saint John Sea Dogs for his second straight season. Zboril played in 50 games, producing 6-14-20 totals and a +10 rating. He brought his team to the third round of the QMJHL playoffs, but was eventually eliminated in 5 games to the Shawinigan Cataractes. Below, is a readup on Zboril via Elite Prospects.
“Jakub Zboril is a smart, fleet-footed two-way defenseman that plays to his strengths in all three areas of the ice. While he doesn’t aim to impress, he does all of the little things right and plays with an edge. The neutral zone is his launching pad: he is able to take off into the offensive end, or backcheck quickly into his own end. Very sound positionally. A smooth skater with lots of energy to burn. Not afraid to lay the body, or take a hit to make the play; can and will stand up for teammates. Possesses good hands and awareness on the ice, as well as a hard shot that is quite accurate. All-in-all, a complete defenseman that is relied upon to offset any oncoming attacks, as well as create chances in the opposing end.” (Curtis Joe, EP 2015)
2: Brandon Carlo
Yet another 2015 draft pick by the Bruins, this one is in the second round, it’s Brandon Carlo. Carlo is a big, solid defenseman who played the majority of the 2015-16 campaign with the Tri-City Americans in the Western Hockey League. Brandon played in 52 games there, producing 4-23-27 totals along with a +8 rating. After the Americans’ season had ended, the Bruins brought him up to Rhode Island. There, he appeared in 7 games, while he only received one point, (an assist), Carlo ended the 7 games with a +3 rating. Oh yeah, he happens to be 6’5″. Down below is Elite Prospects’ analysis on Brandon Carlo.
“Brandon Carlo is an industrious, shift-by-shift defenceman who lets the game come to him rather than chasing the play; he is able to quickly adapt to the pace of the game on the fly. Through maneuvering his way around the ice and making high-percentage, skilled decisions in all three zones, he is able to shut opposition offense down before it begins to take shape. Carlo is a smooth skater who can control the puck very well and get into open areas for scoring chances; that being said, he does and will need help finding offense due to his natural defensive style of play. All-in-all, a towering, defensive d-man that has very few holes in his game and is physically ready to make the next step.” (Curtis Joe, EP 2014)
1: Charlie McAvoy
It may be too early to get excited about Boston’s newest first round draft pick, but this Long Island native could be a solid part to the Bruins’ blueline future. McAvoy, stands at 6’0″, 208 pounds, and has most recently played with Boston University. In 37 games last season, Charlie achieved a total of 25 points, 22 being from assists. According to NHL.com, BU’s head coach, David Quinn says McAvoy has always been an elite talent.
“Charlie has been an elite player for a long time,” said Quinn, per NHL.com. “He’s got the great skills and vision and he’s a big, strong kid that skates well. He’s one of the top freshman defenseman in college hockey.”
McAvoy himself even wants to improve his defensive side and he is more than willing to spend the time on improving.
“My offensive game is there, but defense comes first,” said McAvoy, per SB Nation. “I want to sharpen up my defensive skills. I want to be responsible in my own zone and be trusted to be on the ice at the end of the game.”
If McAvoy can become the player that the Bruins can depend on late in a game or to log in big minutes, it could be a valuable piece to a confusing puzzle that is Boston’s future. Charlie would be a perfect d-man for a few decades at least. Hockey’s Future has the final analysis of this article.
“One of McAvoy’s greatest assets are his puck skills. He shows no panic with the puck and makes remarkably smart plays with it. McAvoy can make crisp passes as well. He does an outstanding job of finding open seams and getting pucks through to teammates. He possesses a heavy shot and can get pucks to the net.”
“McAvoy utilizes his strong 6’0”, 211-pound frame quite well at both ends of the ice and isn’t afraid to throw his body around. One notable area where he has continually improved this season has been in his ability to play a physical game without becoming a liability.”
“McAvoy is a superb skater with smooth, powerful strides. He can often be found jumping into plays or leading the rush. And because McAvoy transitions exceedingly well, he is rarely caught out of position when the play is coming into his zone.”
Looking ahead, the Boston Bruins are in a decent spot when it comes to defensive prospects. Although, don’t be too confident that these prospects will become something special, but the odds are quite good.