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The Boston Bruins need someone to fill the defensive gap. Here are the in-house candidates

The Bruins have gaps in their defensive wall to fill. Here's the inhouse players they might be able to do it with.

2016 Beanpot Tournament - Semifinals Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

After writing how the Jimmy Vesey chase was distracting Bruins from solving the real problems on the blueline, I got a spirited set of comments back. They were, overwhelmingly, disagreeing with the article's point.

There were several comments, though, about the B's finding a new top-pair defenseman from within this season. That way lies all manner of intrigue.

While Charlie McAvoy, arguably the new shining star of the blue-line prospect group, would have to have a truly outstanding camp to make the NHL off his freshman college year, he looks a very exciting player indeed for a year or two down the road. But right now, who are the names who are most likely to be competing for the B's roster spot and hoping they can be the solutions to B's defensive woes come October?


Colin Miller: The artist known to all and sundry (on B's Twitter at least) as "Chiller" is poised for an NHL coming-out party after showing his talent in bursts last year whenever given the opportunity. Smooth skating and great offensive instincts mean the former LA Kings prospect is one to watch very closely indeed this season as he tries to nail that spot all the way down and build on a promising start.

Joe Morrow: The former Penguin has never really progressed beyond the "spot third-pair D" plateau thus far, but he will likely be given a chance to battle with Miller at the top of the prospect pile as both try to climb into a permanent roster spot this season.


Brandon Carlo: This kid is excellent. Big, mobile, with an edge and solid defensive instincts, he is exactly the kind of player the Boston Bruins love. The trouble is, there's a logjam of defensive defensemen in front of him (the likes of Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller) so he's going to have to force his way into the picture very strongly. He's looked confident playing with Providence and breaking him into the lineup would suddenly see Adam McQuaid (and his lump of a contract) surplus to requirements. He'll more than likely get NHL game time this season, especially if the B's go with a youth movement - the question is how much.

Matt Grzelczyk: A former BU Terriers captain and excellent puck mover, particularly in the offensive zone, Grzelczyk finally signed his entry-level contract this summer. At 5'9 and 175lbs he is small for today's NHL defensemen, but has the speed and mobility to be the rapier puck mover to someone else's club of a defensive defenseman. He may have to spend this year in Providence waiting for a chance, but there is definite Colin Miller-breakout potential there this season if he gets a shot.

Rob O'Gara: The big Yale University product needs to add a little more size yet to really fill out his 6'3 frame, but he is a solid two-way defenseman who would make an effective bottom-pair player right now given a little luck and a following wind. Development at the NHL level is probably still going to take a little while, but O'Gara is looking for a spot somewhere this summer and it's just as likely to be on the NHL/AHL bubble as a Providence fixture. His ceiling is high, and he's a very useful second option in the slightly more defensive looking role behind Carlo among the B's prospects.


Tommy Cross, Linus Arnesson: We can deal with these two players together, as solid AHLers who have been hanging around hoping for a shot but not really pushed the top tier of callup territory. Cross in particular is solid with the Baby Bruins and is their captain, while Arnesson was safe if unspectacular in his first full NA season last year. These two are probably not the flashiest nor the most exciting players in the pool, but they will likely be considered for a chance and shouldn't be counted out as a result.


Charlie McAvoy: A freshman jumping from the NCAA to the NHL as a sophomore in his draft year is not the most ordinary of outcomes, but Charlie McAvoy is not the most ordinary of players. He was hugely impressive on the BU blueline last year alongside Grzelczyk, and has nothing to lose coming into camp. It would take something truly special to make the NHL and also a willingness from McAvoy to forfeit three years of college development eligibility, and these are reasons why it's not a likely thing to happen.

But if by some miracle it does - let the hype train roll.

There are options for the Bruins if they're going to try to solve their defensive issues from within. None are sure things, but there are a good few that could pay off hugely if they're willing to go with a youth movement - both this season and in future.

The only question is - how brave are they?