A lot of changes took place in Boston during the offseason when the Bruins lost the services of both defensemen Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara and decided to trust much younger players on the back end.
As a result, the Bruins’ entire left side on defense is made up of young talents in Jeremy Lauzon, Urho Vaakanainen and Jakub Zboril. The Athletic’s Boston insider Fluto Shinzawa analyzed the roster ahead of the tarde deadline and postseason, and believes it needs a boost.
“I don’t think this is a finished product,” said Shinzawa on the Brotherly Pod podcast of the Bruins’ plans approaching the deadline. “Short-term, the left-side of the defense is still an issue, just because even if you’re at full health, can you depend on Jeremy Lauzon to play playoff shifts against Backstrom, Ovechkin, Couturier, Crosby, whoever you face; that’s, I don’t know - I don’t know if he’s ready for that.
“Can they ask Grzelcyk to go up? I think he can handle that but, the injury thing, that’s always there and the size, can he play against Tom Wilson? I don’t know, physically he’s not going to win that match-up.”
That’s why it is believed that Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has specific targets ahead of the trade deadline to get the help needed on the blue line. The name of Nashville Predators blue liner Mattias Ekholm was brought up as a potential trade target in Boston.
“Can they go after Ekholm? Yes, that would be a good fit for them”, Shinzawa said. “But, many hands (are) raised for that kind of defenseman. So, you would have to pay the price.
“So short-term, I think left-side (defense) but, the (Ondrej) Kase thing because of the injuries, hasn’t worked out. So it circles them back to their years-long issue of No.2 right-wing.
“There’s going to be some upgrades here, for sure.”
Ekholm’s name has been mentioned several times in recent trade chatter and there’s no doubt he’d be interested in help a contender as things look grim in Nashville. His contract runs through to the summer of 2022 and carries an AAV of $3.75 million. The Bruins project to have a fair amount of cap space, according to Cap Friendly, roughly $5.3 million available by the deadline, which puts them ahead of several other teams who might be interested in Ekholm.
There is also the possibility of pending-UFA defenseman Alex Goligoski of the Arizona Coyotes, who carries an AAV of $5.475 million and a modified-NTC on his contract that expires after this season. He is however 35 and could not be the Bruins’ first choice who once eyed Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson and could rekindle talks to get him ahead of the postseason.
The Bruins are narrowing down their choices for a move to come next. Watch out!