It’s no secret that the Boston Bruins have lost their swagger. Their defensive woes are well documented. Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg are no longer a formidable duo, capable of suffocating the very best that the NHL has to offer. While it’s easy to throw blame throughout the B’s front office as to who is responsible for their decline, it doesn’t solve the problem. The Bruins are a leaky bunch on the back end.
This June’s NHL draft may offer a solution for Boston, provided they are willing to part ways with blue chip prospect Malcolm Subban. Subban is simply a luxury Don Sweeney cannot afford to retain; not with Tuuka Rask signed through 2021 and former North Dakota backstop Zane McIntyre blocking shots with the Providence Bruins. The Bruins also drafted 6’5 netminder Daniel Vladar of the Czech Republic who is currently playing in the USHL with the Chicago Steel and boasts a .920 save percentage. Needless to say the Bruins are pretty safe when it comes to goalies.
The NHL recently announced partial details of what teams may expect with 2017’s expansion draft. Every GM is following these developments closely. Players in the first two years of their entry-level contract are exempt, and you’re only allowed to protect one goalie. This means that unless the Bruins trade Subban to help clean up their mess on the back end, they will risk losing him for nothing the following year. Let’s just say the odds of a new franchise in Quebec City or Las Vegas plucking Subban away are better than certain.
The thought of packaging Subban and Alexander Khoklachev to a team like Buffalo in exchange for a young NHL blueliner like Jake McCabe is interesting. They could also reach out to Ottawa and inquire about Cody Ceci. Any return for Subban would need to bring back a promising defender just beginning his NHL career. Simply acquiring a pick or two doesn’t solve the dilemma they find themselves in.
If the Bruins can manage to clear Seidenberg and Chara’s cap hits off the books this June while moving along young players in need of a change of scenery like Subban, Khoklachev, and Seth Griffith it would be a start. It would also allow Sweeney to possibly bring in UFA Keith Yandle at the same 3 million cap figure and extend Torey Krug. 6’5 Brandon Carlo has all the makings of that physical two way defender who can fill Dennis Seidenberg’s shoes. He is also capable of manning the power play and running the umbrella if needed. Colin Miller would be able to pair up with a veteran like Yandle and regain the confidence that he lost last season. The talent is there, and one can’t blame him for losing his game when every defender in Boston had done the same.
In the end, all the Bruins would be losing are two players with huge cap hits long past their prime. The potential return they could very well acquire with two first round picks, the Islander’s second rounder, and the haul from moving Malcolm Subban at this year’s draft will be needed to reshape the back end if they have any plans of returning to the Stanley Cup.