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My Kingdom for a Defenseman, part 10: The UFA thrift store offers the Bruins Wisniewski, Jackman, Weber, and Nakadal

We're gonna pop some contracts, Only got 8.5 million in cap space, I - I - I'm hunting, looking for a top 4, This guy's stats are awesome,

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

At this point, aside from a small piece of trash, all of the big free agency names are gone.

And you know what that means! It's time to head to the UFA thrift store!


They had a broken Wisniewski

I brought a broken Wisniewski

James Wisniewski is an RHD

Here he is next to our current #1 RHD.



The only reason Wis is still available is because he's, well, broken. At the start of last season, he had the same knee injury and the same surgery that Seidenberg had. Not a good sign. Afterwards, he was bought out of his contract. But, here's the thing. To be bought out, you need to be healthy. You need to pass a physical, and be cleared to skate. That doesn't mean you need to be able to skate as well as you used to, but you need to be able to play.

Considering he was a bonafide top pairing D prior to his injury, I'm guessing that his injury has scared most teams off. He's likely not getting anywhere near the 5.5 million he got prior to his buyout. Hell, he may not even get an NHL contract. If he ends up in the PTO market, you get your ass the Bruins should offer him one. But I'd bet that someone will throw him a 1 year, 2 mil contract.

James Wisniewski is the definition of a "low risk/high reward" signing. And the Bruins are going to need to get some sort of high reward from somewhere to fix their D.

Git 'er done, Donny.


Barret Jackman is another player who got bought out this season. Why?


I dunno, really

And neither do a lot of Preds fans, according to the comments on this article.

He was a little bit overpaid for a third pairing D, but not by that much. He has some issues with shot quality, but he suppresses shots enough that he still suppresses goals and drives possession at a top 4 rate. He's considerably better than our current shitty third pairing D's like Joe Morrow, Kevan Miller, and Adam McQuaid.

And while he would be an improvement over those 3, we also have, well, those 3 D. The problem with Jackman is that he's a left shot D, and Julien rarely ever plays D on their offside. We currently have Chara and Krug in our top 4, and Jackman isn't playing over either of them. So he'd be condemned to the third pairing. We've got a lot of third pairing D right now, like a ridiculous amount. You could easily argue that at this point, saving a roster spot is probably worth more than getting another good third pairing D.

I dunno. He was still bought out, so no matter what, that's sketchy as hell. But that likely means he'll sign for a lot less than what he's worth. And value signings are always a good thing.


Good player.

Was part of Washington's run this year.

Probably better than Barret Jackman. Probably a bit cheaper, too. Younger than him. Good shot quality effects.

But he's got the same problem as Jackman. He's a third pairing, left-hand defenseman. Yes, he'd be an improvement, but you'd have to clear out an exceptional number of roster spots for this signing to make sense. If the Sweenster can swing trades for Morrow and McQuaid, then I wouldn't mind seeing him come on on a cheap 1 year deal.


Now, Nakadal is a very interesting case.

He had a very similar career path to Carl Soderberg. He played most of his career in the KHL, before having the Flames knock on his door when he was 27 and offer him an NHL deal. He spent most of the year in the AHL, before getting a callup. He never got sent down after that, and played exceptionally well for the Flames down the stretch.

He's a right shot, puck moving D that has a very positive influence on possession. That's the exact kind of player the Bruins should be looking for. Unlike Jackman and Weber, he's not a left shot. The players he'd be competing with for a top 4 spot aren't Krug and Chara, but instead Liles, The Millers, and Adam McQuaid. A slightly different caliber of player, and he's only got to be better than 3 of them to earn a top 4 spot.

The problem is, while his sample of NHL play is rather sparking, it's still a very small sample. While so far, he looks better than Weber or Jackman, his stats may not be as as great with a larger sample size. He also has some questionable shot quality stats.

But if you ask me? He's a great sign. He should be a big priority for the Bruins to grab. There's a very, very good chance he's this year's David Schlemko. A player with no real offensive production, but very clear top 4 possession stats. A guy who gets a cheap deal on a team with bad D, and shines in top 4 minutes he'd never get on a good team.

The Bruins really, really should be the team that gets his cheap production. I doubt he'd need much more than 1 mil to be signed. He's a low risk, high reward guy, and again, the Bruins need some high reward right now.

Out of all the remaining UFA D, I think either Nakadal or Wisniewski should be signed to short, cheap deals. If either of them end up in the PTO market, you better believe that both of them should be given offers by the Bruins. Between Chara (LD), Krug (LD), Liles (LD or RD), Chiller (RD), and either one of Nakadal (RD) or Wis (RD), a passable top 4 should be possible.

I don't think we'll have trouble on the left side. Krug is a very, very good player. If you could get him with a good partner that's responsible in their own end, I could even see him as our new top pairing D. You could give Chara less minutes on the second pair with a young gun like Chiller. Or, you could have Krug and a player like Gryz on a killer offensive specialist pairing, and have Chara and Liles as the other 2 LD, who are both great shutdown specialists.

The right side, as it currently stands, is rather troublesome. Liles is a good defensive RD (read on him here) who's great at shutting down the other team. But, he's the only bonafide top 4 RD we have. He's also not even a natural RD. He's a natural left sided shot, but plays on his offside very often, like Seidenberg. He's also 35, and that means his play could drop off at any point.

The other option for a top 4 RD is Chiller. He's young, but his early play was very promising. Click here for a profile of him by the excellent Kirk Luedeke. Chiller is an offensive minded player, with all the physical talents required to be a top pairing D. He won the AHL's fastest skater and hardest shot award in 2015. But, he's very unpolished. He's still prone to making mistakes in the neutral and defensive zones. For that reason, the Bruins played "safer" options like Killer over him towards the end of the year.

Last year, they attempted to play him next to Chara for a few games. It didn't work out very well. It's not that they weren't a good pairing. But, because the Bruins needed Chara to shoulder such a giant load last season, they also needed Chara's partner to do the same. Chiller just wasn't ready for that just yet. But this year, Krug and Liles are in line to eat up more minutes. Chara and whoever his partner is shouldn't be hammered as much this season. In more of a second pairing role, a Chara-Chiller combo could be very, very successful.

But after Chiller and Liles, the right side is... not pretty. Hell, Liles and Chiller themselves aren't pretty options. Really, after those two the right side is just plain old ugly. You've got Adam McQuad and Kevan Miller. That's it. And we know from last season that giving either of them a top 4 role is a very, very bad idea.

Needless to say, the Bruins need help on the right side. Neither Liles or Chiller are guaranteed, bonafide top 4 D. They both have questions surrounding them. Betting on both of them to play well in the top 4 seems like a bad proposition. But, if you throw in Nakadal or Wis, now you've got 3 candidates to play in the top 4. Simple probability is all you need to see why this is a big improvement. It's much easier to hit on 2 out of 3 "maybes" than it is to hit on 2 out of 2 "maybes".

As for Weber and Jackman, I'd only give them contracts if you could somehow trade both McQuaid and Joe Morrow sometime this offseason.

So let's take stock, and look at some possible pairings the Bruins could ice. I'll order them from most likely to least likely.

First, assuming no signings are made:

Chara - Chiller
Liles - Killer
Krug - McQuaid

Chara - Killer
Krug - McQuaid
Liles - Chiller

Chara - Liles
Krug - Killer
Morrow - McQuaid

These are all pretty much trash. Let's just not do that.

Assuming one of Wis/Nakadal is signed, and one of McQuaid or Morrow is traded:

Chara - Liles
Krug - Wis/Nakadal
Morrow - Killer

Krug - Wis/Nakadal
Chara - Chiller
Liles - Killer

Chara - Wis/Nakadal
Liles - Killer
Krug - Chiller

Chara - Liles
Krug - Killer
Morrow - Wis/Nakadal

Assuming that Wis/Nakadal is signed, Morrow and McQuaid are moved, and one of Weber/Jackman is signed:

Chara - Liles
Krug - Wis/Nakadal
Weber/Jackman - Killer

Chara - Wis/Nakadal
Weber/Jackman - Liles
Krug - Chiller

Chara - Chiller
Krug - Liles
Weber/Jackman - Wis/Nakadal

Now, none of these are ideal. Weber/Jackman would basically just be straight upgrades to Joe Morrow, and would guarantee Liles could play on the right side without the Bruins having to have a trash third pairing. What the Bruins really need is a top 4 RHD, not a better bottom pairing LD. Wis/Nakadal could be the kind of top 4 RHD the Bruins need, but they're gambles. There's no way around that.

What the Bruins need to do is make a trade.

Back in the intro post to this series, I said there were 3 ways of building the defense that this series would look at.

There's 3 ways to improve your team. The first is via free agency. Free agency is to a hockey team what McDonalds is to your health. It's quick and provides an instant satisfaction, but will probably hurt your health in the long run and definitely, definitely shouldn't be the backbone of your diet. Next is trades. Trades are more like getting black market surgery. Pretty risky, but hey! You could get a great deal! Building from within is more like healthy, reasonable diet and exercise. It's going to take a while, and it won't be that fun, but it's what's good for you in the long run.

We've now reached the end of our look at the NHL's fast food menu.

As you may have already guessed, next stop is the back alley. There, we'll interview some guys in trenchcoats, somehow all named Tony, about their services and what they may be able to offer us.

But for now, which of these guys would you like to see the Bruins take a chance on?