These Bruins Will Be Fighting For A Spot On The Defensive Pairing

Hunter Bowman
September 7, 2023  (3:36)

The 2023-24 season brings about a significant change for the Boston Bruins, marking one of the most transformative offseasons in their century-long history.

Notable departures, including captain Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Taylor Hall, Nick Foligno, Connor Clifton, Tyler Bertuzzi, Garnet Hathaway, and Dmitry Orlov, have reshaped the team's roster.
Despite these departures, the Bruins have worked diligently to assemble a competitive lineup for the upcoming season, all while keeping an eye on a more substantial overhaul in 2024 when the salary cap becomes more favorable.
Still, amidst these changes, the task of defining player roles within the Bruins' roster remains complex. While the forwards have garnered significant attention, the focus on the defensive pairings has been somewhat understated.
The Bruins' top four defensive slots will continue to be anchored by Charlie McAvoy, Hampus Lindholm, Brandon Carlo, and Matt Grzelcyk.
This quartet ranks among the NHL's elite, which explains the limited discussion about the blue line. Nevertheless, it's crucial to highlight the Bruins' third defensive pairing. Connor Clifton's move to the Buffalo Sabres left a substantial void in the Bruins' blue line.
Clifton, who signed a three-year, $10 million contract with the Sabres, had an impressive season, setting career highs with five goals, 18 assists, 23 points, and 78 games played during the 2022-23 campaign.
The Bruins responded by signing Kevin Shattenkirk to a one-year, $1.05 million deal, potentially filling Clifton's shoes. Shattenkirk, a seasoned defender, contributed four goals and 27 points in 75 games last season.
Notably, both Clifton and Shattenkirk started the majority of their shifts in the defensive zone, making this swap a reasonable proposition, although it hinges on Shattenkirk's performance this season.
The Bruins have several other options for their third defensive pairing, including Jakub Zboril, Ian Mitchell, Reilly Walsh, and Mason Lohrei.
Each of these players brings unique qualities to the table, creating competition during training camp. Lohrei may benefit from additional time in the AHL before making the jump to the NHL, but his name remains in consideration for the opening-night roster.
Zboril, a versatile player who can handle both sides, could secure an everyday role if he maintains consistency. Walsh, known for his offensive prowess in the AHL, could be a breakout player if he translates his skills to the NHL.
Mitchell, who joined the Bruins in the Taylor Hall trade, boasts 82 games of NHL experience and could play a significant role this season.
Derek Forbort, known for his solid penalty-killing abilities, adds further depth to the Bruins' defensive options. The Bruins' third defensive pairing presents an intriguing puzzle, with multiple contenders vying for spots.
It's unlikely that the lineup will be set in stone on opening night, as coach Jim Montgomery faces the challenge of experimenting and finding the right combination throughout the season.
Source: Thehockeywriters

NHL players in this story
Nick Foligno
Kevin Shattenkirk
Dmitry Orlov
Taylor Hall
Derek Forbort
Connor Clifton
Tyler Bertuzzi
Brandon Carlo
Hampus Lindholm
Charlie McAvoy
Garnet Hathaway
Ian Mitchell
Reilly Walsh
Mason Lohrei
These Bruins Will Be Fighting For A Spot On The Defensive Pairing

Do you think the Boston Bruins' offseason changes will positively impact their performance in the 2023-24 season?

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