There are a few things that will certainly result from Dennis Seidenberg missing the rest of the season. The Bruins will be worse defensively. They won’t be as intimidating. They won’t shut down top lines as effectively. Their top D-men will be worn thin with greater ice-time. Without a replacement, Boston will be hard-pressed to challenge for the Cup.
Even though the Bruins were without both Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara on Saturday night against the Senators, there were indications that the assertions above will prove true as Boston competes without their No. 2 blueliner.
The Sens, minus Jason Spezza, chased Tuukka Rask early in the second period before the Bruins stormed back to tie late in the third. Then, with five minutes left, Torey Krug coughed up the puck to Bobby Ryan, who scored the game-winner on a breakaway. A night earlier against a healthy defense, the Sens couldn’t manage a goal as the Bruins cruised to victory. Not to extrapolate too heavily from these two games or exaggerate the importance of Seidenberg on the Bruins D, but the loss will be enormous.
Because Seidenberg, he’s a mean son-of-a-gun whose game exemplifies Bruins hockey. As a fan of a Bruins rival, you hate him because of how effectively he shuts down your top players, and you secretly wish he were on your team. The Bruins have lost a playoff-seasoned impact player, one who will be incredibly difficult to replace via trade. But if you’re Peter Chiarelli, a GM with a history of deadline maneuvering, you’ll try anyway.
Remember, Seidenberg himself was a deadline acquisition back in 2010. Sometimes rentals turn into long-term investments if the fit is right (See also: Kelly, Chris).
Who would Chiarelli be wise to target through trade approaching this year’s deadline? Here’s a few options to get the conversation going.
Andrew MacDonald (NYI)
Contract status: UFA 2014, 550k cap hit
Garth Snow will do everything in his power to retain the blossoming 27-year-old D-man, but if an extension can’t be reached before the deadline, the rebuilding Isles could look to acquire something for their asset. At half-a-million dollars, MacDonald could fit within any team’s cap constraints. He’s a far different player than Seidenberg, but unlike some of the others on this list, he’s a true top-four defender who can play in all situations — he averages 3:06 on the power play and 2:42 shorthanded. The price would be steep, but an aggressive bid by Chiarelli could get it done.
Mike Weaver (FLA)
Contract status: UFA 2014, $1.1 million cap hit
As reliable and cheap a third-pairing option as you’ll find, Weaver gets it done defensively at only 5-foot-10, 180 pounds. He and Jason Garrison formed one of the league’s best defensive duos in Garrison’s final season in Florida — the season that Garrison cashed in on when he signed in Vancouver. Weaver is 35 and probably not an ideal top-four defender, but could be great playing with a younger player like Dougie Hamilton on a third pairing.
Mark Stuart (WPG)
Contract status: UFA 2014, $1.7 million cap hit
This would be a low-end acquisition, similar to the trade that brought Greg Zanon to the B’s in 2012. The plus side for Boston would be familiarity, as Stuart was drafted and developed by the club before being dealt in 2011. Stuart hasn’t shown the ability to log big minutes, but he could supply some of the snarl once provided by Seidenberg.
Nick Schultz (EDM)
Contract status: UFA 2014, $3.5 million cap hit
Defensive defensemen aren’t appreciated when they play for losing teams. Schultz was a heart-and-soul player for the Wild before being dealt to the Oilers for Tom Gilbert. After 100-plus games with the Oilers, the 31-year-old is just another of the losing bunch in Edmonton. He’s a defensively reliable left-handed shot capable of logging 20 minutes a night, especially playing in an insulated system like Boston’s. Schultz won’t provide a ton of physicality, but he’s a capable top-four defenseman if paired with someone more physical and skilled like Chara or Johnny Boychuk.
Kris Russell (CGY)
Contract status: UFA 2014, $1.5 million cap hit
The player Boston would most covet from Calgary is Mark Giordano, but it’s unlikely he’ll be moved, considering his bargain $4-million cap hit over the next two seasons. Russell wouldn’t quite fit the bill physically (5-foot-10), but he’s having a solid offensive year (16 points in 36 games) and could round out Boston’s defense if Chiarelli opts for a strength-in-numbers approach. He’s played for defense-first coaches in Columbus and St. Louis, so playing under Claude Julien wouldn’t be too jarring for the 26-year-old. Calgary would probably like to keep Russell, but he’ll be one of the most productive young players on the UFA market next summer and they may feel pressure to deal.