Game 5 against the Senators featured the following defensemen: Zdeno Chara, a barely-out-of-college Charlie McAvoy, Joe Morrow, John-Michael Liles, Colin Miller and Kevan Miller.
Yup, that was the blue line during a playoff game. Remarkably, the Bruins actually won that game in double-overtime, but I digress.
That series proved the old sports cliche that you can never have too much defense. But here we are, a little more than a year later, and that’s exactly what the Bruins have: too many defensemen.
Last Sunday’s signing of John Moore gave the Bruins another guy on the blue line. He joins the NHL-ready group below:
- Zdeno Chara
- Brandon Carlo
- Matt Grzelcyk
- Torey Krug
- Charlie McAvoy
- Adam McQuaid
- Kevan Miller
- John Moore
That list excludes Jakub Zboril (oddly enough, he’s listed on the roster on the Bruins’ website), who’s expected to make a push for a big-league spot in camp.
Regardless of what happens with Young Z, you can spot the issue with the list above: there are 8 NHL regulars on that list.
The Bruins COULD be trying some wacky new roster where they roll three lines and play with 8 defensemen, but that’s probably not it.
Sure, there are questions about how Carlo and Krug will be as they return from injury, but it’s pretty safe to assume that they’ll be ready to go come October. Even if you assume Grzelcyk might regress and be the guy on press box duty, there’s STILL an extra defenseman.
This begs the question: who’s going to get traded?
Of the guys on the list above (i.e. excluding Zboril), the Bruins have 4 right-shot defensemen and 4 left-shot defensemen, so it’s not as easy as “pick the extra handedness and start there.”
Who are the Bruins not going to trade?
- Charlie McAvoy: Just...no. There’s no way on Earth, Mars, Saturn or anywhere in between.
- Zdeno Chara: Chara is right up there with McAvoy, though I could talk myself into a scenario where the Bruins moved him in the right situation. However, it’d be a colossal risk and a slap in the face of a guy who just signed a new contract, so I’m pretty comfortable saying Chara joins McAvoy on the “definitely not” list.
Who are the Bruins probably not going to trade?
- John Moore: The Bruins just signed Moore, so chances are they’re not planning on dealing him. Bold prediction, I know.
- Brandon Carlo: Carlo has been rumored to be on the block before, but given the severity of his injury, you’d be trading him for pennies on the dollar at this point. There’s always a chance he could be dealt, especially considering he needs a new contract after this season, but his chances went down after the injury.
So...who would be the most likely trade candidates?
- Matt Grzelcyk: Grzelcyk made incredible strides last season, finally cementing his place in the NHL lineup. He can skate, is a decent passer and has offensive upside. He’s also cheap, signed for $1.4 million per season for the next two years (he’s also a restricted free agent at the end of that deal). While it’d be frustrating to see the team move him after he finally realized his potential, he’s an asset that would likely attract the attention of the league’s GMs.
- Kevan Miller: Miller is a guy who had a pretty solid season last year, making strides over the previous season. He’s a controlled asset at a reasonable price, which would likely attract interest on the market. Throw in the fact that he hits/fights and you know there’s a GM out there who’d love to add him.
- Adam McQuaid: As a good soldier and the ultimate team guy, trading McQuaid would probably have locker room implications. However, he’s going to be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. Kevan Miller (assuming that they wouldn’t deal both guys) can fill his pugilistic duties, and freeing up $2.75 million would certainly give the Bruins some flexibility.
- Torey Krug: Ah, the ultimate trade chip. Aside from McAvoy, Krug is the Bruins’ most dynamic defenseman. He had a career year last season, registering 71 points in 87 games (regular season and playoffs). He’s popular in the locker room, is an offensive weapon...what’s not to love? The issue, really, is that Krug is probably the defenseman who would bring the most value back in a trade. He’s only 27 and is signed for the next two seasons. The Bruins could hope that a combination of Grzelcyk and McAvoy would replace Krug’s offensive output. However, it’d be a pretty big risk.
So...who’s it going to be? It kind of depends on what Don Sweeney is trying to do. If he’s just trying to clear a roster spot and get an asset (second-round pick, mid-level prospect, something along those lines), McQuaid and Grzelcyk are more likely to head out.
However, if he’s trying to make a splash and land a big name (Artemi Panarin, anyone?), Krug would clear the most space and would have a lot of value on the market.
There are (at least) 8 NHL defensemen on the roster. There are only 6 spots in the lineup.
Something’s gotta give.