Report: Bruins ‘believed’ to be in the market for a left defenseman originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Bruins are the favorites to win the Stanley Cup this season, but they could still use some reinforcements before the March 3 NHL trade deadline.
There’s no doubt the Bruins would benefit from another defenseman. But which type of defenseman might they target?
Here’s what Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wrote in his latest 32 Thoughts column Wednesday:
“Boston is also believed to be in the left-defence market. Would not be surprised if they’ve checked in on Jakob Chychrun and Vladislav Gavrikov, among others. They’ve got special chemistry, and tampering with that can be dangerous. But this is an absolute go-for-it year because you don’t know how long the group will be together. You also don’t know how long you’ll have your top two centres combining for $3.5 million against the cap — an absolute gift from Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. (Yes, they’ll have to deal with bonuses next season, but it’s still a gift.)”
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The Bruins are in pretty good shape on the left side of the blue line.
Hampus Lindholm is on pace to set a new single-season career high in points, and he has played like a true top-pairing defenseman all season. His excellent two-way performance has given the Bruins two legit No. 1 d-men, along with Charlie McAvoy. It’s been a while since Boston was in that position.
Matt Grzelcyk also is playing well on the left side. He’s been driving puck possession at a good rate and producing offense on a more consistent basis. Ten of his 19 points have come in the last 15 games. Derek Forbort has been a strong, physical presence on the third pairing and one of the most important players on the league’s top-ranked penalty kill. He ranks No. 1 on the B’s with 5.53 blocked shots per 60 minutes.
Boston also has veteran defenseman Mike Reilly, who is a left-hand shot, buried in the minors with the AHL’s Providence Bruins. Jakub Zboril plays the left side, too.
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So, the B’s have pretty good depth on left defense, but there’s always room for improvement.
Chychrun would be an upgrade over Grzelcyk. They have similar skill sets, but Chychrun is a little more skilled and can hold up better against bigger, tougher competition. He also is signed for two more seasons at a team-friendly $4.6 million salary cap hit. While Chychrun is an exciting offensive player, durability is a concern. He’s battled multiple injuries in his career and has played more than 60 games in just two of his first six seasons with the Coyotes. Chychrun has tallied 25 points (five goals, 20 assists) in 34 games, while playing 23:05 per game.
The Bruins reportedly had interest in Chychrun last season. They ended up making a blockbuster trade for Lindholm, which has worked out very well. The asking price for Chychrun reportedly was very high, and since he’s not a free agent this summer, the Coyotes don’t have to rush into anything with him.
Gavrikov would be a good addition, too. His scoring is down compared to last season, but he plays a physical style, kills penalties and can log 20-plus minutes per game versus quality competition. He will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and has a cap hit of just $2.8 million.
You can never have enough defensemen for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Bolstering the team’s depth on the blue line, on either side, would be a smart approach to the trade deadline for Bruins general manager Don Sweeney.