Could Whitney be a good fit on D for B's?

Could Whitney be a good fit on D for B's?
March 27, 2013, 9:15 am
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While everybody has been focused on the Jarome Iginla sweepstakes – and rightfully so – the Bruins and general manager Peter Chiarelli have other team needs that must be addressed prior to the April 3 NHL trade deadline.

Chiarelli told last weekend that he’s looking for a defenseman as well as a winger to enhance Boston’s  roster, and a puck-moving left shot blueliner would be at the top of the list. In a perfect world the defenseman would also serve as the power play quarterback that Tomas Kaberle never was two years ago for Boston on its way to the Stanley Cup.

The perfect name at the top of Boston’s list would be Swiss defenseman Mark Streit, who is entering the final month of his walk year with the New York Islanders as an offensive defenseman. Those within the Isles organization have sent out of the smoke signals that they’re hoping to sign Streit to a contract extension, and they sit only a couple of points out of a playoff spot. Streit has five goals and 16 points along with a minus-14 for the Bruins this season, and six of fellow defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky’s nine points this season have been on the power play.

Keith Yandle would be the perfect option if the Phoenix Coyotes ever made him available, but it would take a pretty hefty package to get him out of the desert.

Other defensemen like Jay Bouwmeester and San Jose’s Dan Boyle are familiar names with price tags that might be reasonable, but they also come with additional guaranteed seasons on their contract beyond this year.

That would essentially force the Bruins to pay full price for them at the deadline even though the organization would likely buy out the rest of their contracts following the playoff run. That might be a tough sell to Bruins ownership given it would be for 10-15 regular season games plus the playoff run. But it would also give the Bruins insurance/depth during the playoffs just in case they needed to scale back Dougie Hamilton's role amidst his first experience in the Stanley Cup playoff pressure cooker.

One intriguing name for the Bruins is Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney, who skated with guys like Shawn Thornton, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand and Adam McQuaid at informal skates during the NHL lockout. The 30-year-old Scituate native and former BU defenseman has 3 goals and 10 points in 27 games along with a minus-11 rating while averaging upwards of 18 minutes per game.

He’s a 6-foot-4, 215-pound offensive defenseman that could step in and give the Bruins another blueliner with some offensive skills, and Whitney will be highly motivated entering into unrestricted free agency following the season.

Not only that but Whitney is also a kid that grew up rooting for the Bruins, and would have the natural hometown pride donning the black and gold Spoked ‘B’ sweater. He also got along famously with the Bruins players when they got together early each morning at Boston University, Boston College or Harvard  for skating sessions that were sometimes joyless exercises during the lockout.  

“Whitney doesn’t skate as well he as he did prior to having some foot problems, but he can still play in this league,” said one talent evaluator that’s watched him play. “He can make every pass in the book and he’ll produce offense if he’s in a lineup like the Bruins.

“He could be a good fit there, but it all depends on if Claude [Julien] and [Peter] Chiarelli like him as a player.”

Stoking the fires even higher the Oilers had scouts watching the Bruins in both Winnipeg and Toronto on the road trip, and it would appear Edmonton is finally getting to the point where they’re ready to sell of some parts. There are also whispers that Ales Hemsky might be one of Boston’s backup plans at the forward position if things don’t work out in the Iginla derby. So it remains to be seen why the Oil took such a keen interest in Boston’s recent games on the road, and perhaps there will be a definitive answer prior to the trade deadline.