On December 27, Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg was injured late in the third period in a game against the Ottawa Senators. Since then, the Bruins have played 6 games and have only won 2 of them, with an overall record of 2-4-0. Prior to losing Seidenberg, the Bruins had gone 26-10-2 which had them in 1st place in the Atlantic division. Boston has retained their position in the Atlantic, but are now in danger of losing it with Tampa Bay only two points behind them in the standings, and Montreal three points behind them.
Seidenberg is second on the Boston Bruins in Time On Ice Per Game, playing 21:50 a night on the top pairing with captain Zdeno Chara. Dennis Seidenberg also plays big minutes on the penalty kill, as he is on the ice 42.5% of the time while his team is shorthanded. Seidenberg’s injury will have him sidelined for the remainder of the season, and as you can see, losing him leaves a big whole to fill.
The Bruins need to find a way to compensate for Seidenberg while he is out of the lineup, whether it comes from within the organization or via a trade. Since losing Seidenberg, the Bruins have called up three different defensemen from the AHL, David Warofski, Zach Trtoman, and Kevin Miller. Of the three, Kevin Miller has played the most games in the NHL this year with 11, posting a goal and an assist in that span. David Warofski has played four games for the Bruins, and has scored a goal. Zach Trotman has only played one game for Boston this year, immediately following Seidenberg’s injury. Within that trio, the Bruins don’t have any one player that can replace Dennis Seidenberg. Matt Bartkowski has bounced between the AHL and NHL this year, but he has been with the big club since December 23rd and has played in all of their last 7 games. Bartkowski is only 25 years old and is still very inexperienced, but the Bruins seem to have a lot of faith in him, as he has averaged at least 17 minutes of ice time in all 28 games he’s played this season. Another player within the organization is Dougie Hamilton.Hamilton has played 32 games this season and has scored four goals and 10 points overall. Hamilton was the 9th overall selection in the 2011 entry draft.
Outside of the organization, there are many trade rumors revolving around top-four defensemen. The New York Rangers are shopping pending free agents Dan Girardi and Michael Del Zotto. Del Zotto isn’t a fit for the Bruins, but Girardi is exactly the kind of player head coach Claude Julien would like to have on his roster. Girardi is a shutdown defenseman who also has an underrated offensive upside. Mark Stuart is a dependable two-way defenseman who is reportedly being shopped by the Winnipeg Jets. Stuart was originally drafted 21st overall by the Bruins in 2003, and he played 6 seasons in Boston before being traded to the Atlanta Thrashers, which are now the Winnipeg Jets. Stuart is a rental player as the three-year $5.1 million deal he signed in 2011 expires at the end of the season. Ron Hainsey is a defensive defenseman who is reportedly being shopped by the Carolina Hurricanes. Hainsey is a veteran player, as the 32 year old has played 10 seasons in the NHL for the Montreal Canadians, Columbus Blue Jackets, Winnipeg Jets, and Carolina Hurricanes. Ron Hainsey also has experience in replacing a player, as he was signed to a 1-year $2 million deal this past offseason by the Hurricanes when it was discovered that their defenseman Joni Pitkanen would miss the entire season due to injury.
The Bruins have $3.2 million in cap space right now, and once they place Dennis Seidenberg on the LTIR, they will have $6.5 million in cap space to work with. Dan Girardi has the most expensive price tag of the players on this list, as he carries a cap hit of $3.4 million with him until his contract expires at the end of the season. In order to acquire a player capable of compensating for the loss of Dennis Seidenberg, the Bruins wold likely have to give up one of their many prospects playing in the AHL. Prime candidates would be Alex Khoklachev, Joe Morrow, or Ryan spooner. Last year the Bruins almost traded Alex Khoklachev and Matt Bartkowski to the Calgary Flames for Jarome Iginla, but Calgary backed out at the last minute and traded him to Pittsburgh instead. Since then, Both player’s stock has risen and they could likely acquire one of the defensemen on the list above with a combination of any one of these prospects and draft picks.