Bruins Showing Interest in Free-Agent Defenseman

The Boston Bruins’ off-season has been one that many fans would like to have already forgotten as it has been full of dysfunction and question marks as to the direction this franchise is headed. One of the biggest question marks has been the state of the roster as, at the moment, the Bruins lack a true number one center with Patrice Bergeron still not making a decision. The Bruins’ defense is also in shambles as Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, and Mike Reilly all underwent off-season surgery that has them sidelined for four to six months. Add on the hip surgery that Brad Marchand underwent, and the Bruins are in an interesting position once the 2022-2023 season kicks off.

Bruins Look For Defensemen at Trade Deadline

Ahead of the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline on March 21st, there was no doubt that the Bruins were looking to acquire a top-four defenseman to help bolster their roster. They were especially looking for a left-shot one to pair with Charlie McAvoy. The Bruins were linked to many names such as Jakob Chychrun, Ben Chiarot, and John Klingberg before finally striking a deal with the Anaheim Ducks that brought Hampus Lindholm to Boston. Now that they addressed their need for a top-four left-shot defenseman, the Bruins can look to upgrade their top four in free agency if they choose. It was evident in this year’s playoff run that Matt Grzelcyk and Brandon Carlo are not the right fits to man your second pairing long-term and would be the two names most likely moved in a trade if the Bruins wished to upgrade at the position.

Bruins Tied to Klingberg Again

Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now recently reported the Bruins are once again linked to one of those other defensemen, who will now be a free agent come July 1st. John Klingberg of the Dallas Stars is still an option for the Bs. The 29-year-old was in the final year of his deal and had reportedly requested a trade earlier in the season, but the Stars decided to hold onto him at the trade deadline. He will now enter free agency and be free to sign with any team he chooses to.

Upgrading the Blue line has to be priority number two for the Bruins behind finding a top-line or top-six center, depending on what Patrice Bergeron decides to do. The Bruins have missed the offensive abilities of Torey Krug since he departed after the 2019-2020 season. The Bruins need to get more offensive output from the blueline, and Klingberg would be the best fit to do that. The right-shot Klingberg has been a consistent offensive threat since entering the league as he has topped ten goals in four of his eight seasons and has 303 career assists.

Since Klingberg has such highly desired consistent offensive talent for a defenseman, he will not come cheap in free agency. Even on a Stars team that struggled offensively last season, Klingberg was still able to collect 47 points in 74 games which would have been sixth-best on the Bruins for the 2021-2022 season. He would instantly improve this Bruins defense and, most importantly, be able to fill in on the top pairing for an injured Charlie McAvoy, who is sidelined until Christmas.

Bruins Must Clear Cap Space

The Sweden native will turn 30 this summer, so the Bruins and Don Sweeney must ensure they don’t overpay too much, which will leave them in a tight spot five to six years from now. If the Bruins can lock him up, though, it will be a significant addition as they move forward, having Klingberg, Lindholm, and McAvoy all signed long-term. These three would create one of if not the best top three defensive core on a team in the NHL. For all this to happen, though, the Bruins will need to make cap space which they can begin to do by buying out Nick Foligno’s final year before moving to trades. Moving on from Brandon Carlo and his $4.1 million cap hit would be the first move Don Sweeney would have to make, along with Matt Grzelyck’s $3.68 million AAV and even Mike Reilly’s $3 million. The Bruins only have a few weeks to get their ducks in a row before the free agency frenzy opens up at noon on July 13th.

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Kevin Santangelo

Co Host of Cue' the Duck Boats Podcast Writer for Inside the Rink

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