Going into this season the Bruins have nine NHL ready defensemen according to GM Peter Chiarelli. Now clearly we can't keep all nine on the Bruins so the question is who will stay and who will be moved down. Let's also not forget the possibility of one or two being traded to bring some much needed cap space to the team. Clearly some of these names are not going to be a surprise but a few newcomers are going to get a shot this season.
The first pairing is likely going to be Chara and Seidenberg but I don't see it lasting the whole season. The reason being putting Seidenberg with Chara will ease him into the season so he can get back into the groove of playing after missing so much time with his knee injury. So once Seidenberg is up to speed I see Dougie Hamilton moving up to the first pairing. The reason behind this move is Chara is getting older and is not as quick as he once was and Hamilton brings some speed to shut down those faster forward lines. This will likely be Hamiltons break out year much like Krug had last season and he could see significant power play time after his playoff performance. So with these factors in mind I see Hamilton vastly increasing on his 25 points from last season. I am expecting 15 goals and 33 assists for a total of 48 points to go with a plus 28 rating so he could get some Norris attention. Meanwhile Chara should increase his scoring stats simply because we have a better offensive team so 18 goals and 28 assists for a 46 point season and a plus 33 rating. With the hardest shot in the league it's either going in or rebounding back out for an easy put back.
The second pairing will be Boychuk and Seidenberg once Hamilton moves up to the first pairing. This pair provides mostly defensive stability with less offensive scoring punch but they make up for that by shutting down the opponent. Boychuk has a hard shot as well which has been coined the Johnny Rocket by Jack Edwards, personally one of my favorite goal announcements but his highest goal total has only been 5 in a season. I see that changing this season with Boyckuk firing 8 goals to go with 15 assists for 23 points and a plus 23 rating. Seidenberg is also not the most offensively gifted of defensemen but I see 6 goals and 21 assists for 27 points and a plus 26 rating. As long as this paring stays healthy they will be a force to be reckoned with not many teams have a second pairing as defensively talented as the Bruins and with Bergeron on the second line it's like there are three defensemen on the ice. This will likely be the bruins shut down pairing to keep Chara fresh for the playoffs.
The Bruins third line is a bit of a mystery with so many quality names left on the list but only two can make the last pairing. First I see McQuaid being traded to clear some cap space since he was hurt most of last year and the Bruins were able to replace him with Kevin Miller. Another name that could be on the move is Bartkowski who has not made much of a major step forward with his expanded roll taking some bad penalties in the playoffs. So that leaves Krug who will be resigned with the extra cap space saved by the trades and McQuaids replacement Kevin Miller. Krug had a break out season last year even throwing his name in the Calder Trophy conversation. Unfortunately his offensive numbers dipped towards the end of the season with McQuaid out. This was likely do to McQuaid being a stay at home defenseman which allowed Krug to take more chances offensively knowing his partner had his back. With a full offseason to work with Miller hopefully they will have that same comfort level. With this new found comfort level I see Krug again taking full advantage of his offensive gifts with ample power play time there is no reason he can not improve his numbers from last year. I'm going to go big and predict he hits 20 goals this season with 32 assists for 52 points and a plus 13 rating with a majority of those points coming on the power play. Miller is not an offensive specialist like Krug but his numbers should benefit from having being paired with him to the tune of 4 goals and 13 assists for 17 points but his plus minus will be a little higher around plus 19. With the Bruins talent on their third line they will score more then enough to make up for any defensive short comings. The seventh defenseman spot will go to David Warsofsky who brings a similar game to Krug as he finished with 32 points in 56 AHL games.
The Bruins have a very talented group of defensemen and they still have a few prospects in the AHL like Joe Morrow who could be called up if injuries strike. This team is ready to make a deep cup run and it will be a healthy defense that carries them to their goal. With Rask in net and a defense first coaching style plus great two way players like Bergeron and Eriksson this team will likely have a top 5 goal differential to go with a top 5 defense. I would also not be surprised to see either Chara or Hamilton nominated for the Noris trophy which should hopefully be more focused on the best defenseman instead of best offensive defenseman which should have it's own award already but that is another article all together. Next up a fantasy sleeper watch so keep checking back for any more news about all your favorite teams.