Well just about everyone knows the the Boston Bruins have too many defensemen and that somebody has to be moved, traded or waived. Right now the locks for spots are Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg and Doug Hamilton. Normally I include John Boychuk on this list, but as a budding free agent next year and the recent signing of David Krejci, I wonder can the Bruins afford to keep him and if not, does he become a salary cap saving player to be moved. Right now in the absence of Torey Krug being signed and hearing so little about him from the team, I'm starting to wonder if he has a future here as well. The three fringe players are Matt Bartkowski, Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller. Why fringe, because they will not capture much salary cap relief if moved and would obviously have to be pieces of a package to find significant relief. I'm not going to speculate at this time what the Bruins may or may not do during camp. What I am going to talk about is what's down in Providence to draw on should some players be moved or remain unsigned.
Who's in Providence? We saw a couple of players get a cup of coffee type look last year in David Warsofsky and Zach Trotman. By all accounts Warsofsky is ready development wise to step up and be an everyday NHL player. If Krug remains unsigned going into opening night, he'll be one of the defensemen that will make the team or be a last cut. David like Krug is 5'9" and about 180lbs. He has many of the offensive upsides as Krug and the same downsides. He's capable of running a power play from the point and has tremendous speed and agility. in a one on one Krug gets the nod over Warsofsky with a better shot and ability to get it through to the net. Defensively, he's small and will be challenged by the size that most everyday NHL wingers bring. It's not that he can't play defense, it's can his body take the abuse of the pounding over time and if it can't, is he a liability. Trotman on the other hand is a 6'3" 205 lb defensman with as much offensive upside as John Boychuk. He can hit, is smart in the corners and can use his body effectively to clear the front of the net. He has a hard shot, but has trouble getting it through blockers. He could easily step past McQuaid on the depth chart and would probably be paired with a Chara or Seidenberg while learning at the higher level.
The next tier of defensemen are Joe Morrow and Linus Arnesson. Both are right at 6'0" and 200 lbs. Arnesson has the defensive upside and Morrow the offensive upside. Both have excellent puck moving speed and good first pass skills. However, we already have Matt Bartkowski to play that 5 spot overall skill role on this team or 7 spot if Krug is in the lineup. Arnesson reminds me of a former Bruin named Michel Thelvin from the late 1980's. Good size, good speed, patrols his zone and takes the hit to make the play. Morrow on the other hand reminds me visually on the ice of Ray Bourque. He looks solid and hard, has unexpected speed and can find that crease to skate or pass through. I believe both could jump up in a pinch and back fill injuries, but another season in Providence would improve their game especially if they remained healthy and if Trotman and Warsofsky minutes were available to them.
The next tier of defensemen down in Providence are are Tommy Cross, Chris Castro and Christopher Breen. Breen at 6'7" and 225lbs is a monster with fairly good skating skills. He reminds me of Hal Gill when he first came up. All heart and grit. He's a stay at home shutdown defenseman with good reach. Tommy Cross is a Defenseman with skills across the board. He doesn't excel at anything and doesn't lack skill either. He's had some knee issues and that could hold back his hopes to elevate to the next level, much as people worry about McQuaid now. At 6'4" and 215 lbs he can hold his own in the corner and very smart in the hockey IQ area and was the captain of the BC Eagles his last two seasons in college. Chris Castro at 5'10" is more in the mold of Krug and Warsofski. He's fast, good offensive skills, but often a liability when in overmatched size contests in the corner and behind his own net.
Looking past the top eight defensemen that have played on the Bruins, I'd rank Warsofsky as the number one prospect if Krug doesn't sign. He's certainly trade bait in the event Krug re-signs and maybe deserves his chance elsewhere. Trotman would be my number two if Krug remains unsigned, but if he does sign, he moves past Warsofsky as a replacement for McQuaid, Miller or Boychuk should one of them be traded or injured. The Bruins could also call up Cross at any time as an injury replacement. Arnesson and Morrow are my numbers 4 and 5 and have more upside heading into camp as affordable replacements for McQuaid, Bartkowski and Boychuk next year.
Breen and Castro will probably be AHL journeymen for their hockey careers. Rob O'Gara and Bill Sweezey will be moving into the pro ranks in the next two years and could surprise as their college careers end.
Until Next Time!
Just a few writers from Boston passionate about their sport's teams. Feel free to comment and leave your own opinion. I hope you enjoy! NHHockeyGuru